Barcelona (DC)

Finally made it to a Barcelona Wine Bar in DC.  They have several locations and I hit the one in Cathedral Heights.

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I was going to have wine, of course, but when reading the menu I was lured to the sangria.  At this time of year they make it with lavendar, sage and rosemary.  That…tasted…so…good.

The venue is tapas-styles, so small plates with many cheeses and charcuterie.  After much glancing at the menu, with many choices of sheep and goat cheese, we opted for the Cabra Romero, which is goat’s milk crusted in rosemary and the drunken goat, which has had it’s share of wine.

Also went with some Hand-Sliced Jamon Mangalica, which is cured Hungarian pig and a Catalan sausage (I believe).  They bring this all out with some amazing bread.

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I can’t believe it has taken me so long to get to this place.  I can’t wait to go back and try more of their food and wine.  They also have locations on 14th St. and in Reston.

Seasons 52, North Bethesda

Visited Seasons 52, in North Bethesda, MD.  They have locations across the country, as well.  Their name stems from the (four) seasons in the year, and the 52 weeks that comprise it.  The menu is very seasonal, so if you go often, you better not have a favorite.  And they use this theme so everything can be very fresh.

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Since it’s fall, squash and pumpkin is everywhere.  They even had it in the bar.  I went with a Pumpkin Pisco Sour, Crop Organic Pumpkin Vodka, Pisco, Aromatic Bitters.  Tell you what, pretty good.

IMG_3979Took awhile to choose the main course, so my friends and I decided to split a flat bread.  The one with the goat cheese caught my eye since I can eat that stuff.  I’ll always give it a chance since many goat cheeses are now made less goat-y, as in a bit harder than they used to be.  So we went for the Artichoke & Laura Chenel Goat Cheese with leaf spinach, balsamic onions, roasted peppers.  Was a very nice start to the meal.

IMG_3984Then main course selection became harder, because of my lactose intolerance.  Many of the dishes had some form of dairy (from cow) and normally it can be eliminated. But when I asked the waiter he said it would be tough.  It wasn’t that easy to find something I could eat, which was surprising with the type of restaurant it is.  Fresh, seasonal.  He then mentioned they have a ‘special’ menu for those with allergies, intolerances, etc.  The menu was cut more than 1/2.  Then when ordering you had to be sure to ask for the elimination of specific ingredients in dishes.  This is an extreme case, but if I ordered mac & cheese, I would need to be sure to ask for it without the cheese and milk.  Some weren’t that bad, but some were complex.

I was a bit disappointed.  I ended up ordering the Asian-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass from the lactose-free menu – Organic black rice, snow peas, shiitake mushrooms, micro wasabi **request without brown butter sherry vinaigrette (wouldn’t that be the glaze? — as I had no glaze on mine).

IMG_3986Overall the whole dinner was good, I was just a bit disappointed with the overall feel of the menu.  The service was also very slow.  Took over 20 minutes to get drinks and then a glass of wine.  But, was there with friends to catch up so it wasn’t that bad.

Kapnos, DC

As a person who could live on a mediterranean and mexican diet, I recently had to check out Kapnos in Washington, DC.  It is one of Mike Isabella‘s (from Top Chef) many restaurants.  It’s in the U St. corridor, just a few blocks from the U St./Cardozo Metro on the Green Line/Yellow Lines.

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The restaurant is said to have small plates so you can have a few per person.  That’s a good thing to know because there were too many mouth-watering options on the menu!  Several of us were there so there was good sharing opportunity.  We were able to cover the menu quite well.

Started with the pikilia, aka a sampling of three spread and got revithosalata (chickpea, tahini, sultan chutney), melitzanosalata (smoked eggplant, roasted peppers, walnuts, feta) & favosalata (yellow lentils, scallions, black garlic, pine nuts).

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After much debate, the rest of the food that hit the table was:

roasted duck phyllo pie  cress, cherries, pistachio yogurt

IMG_3955roasted cauliflower baharat spice, pistachio, golden raisin

IMG_3959charred brussels sprouts  sweet potato, coriander honey, candied pecans

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fava yellow lentils, spinach, butternut squash, saffron, pearl onions

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american red snapper sunchoke, celery root, saffron broth

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marinated lamb bulgur, cous cous, wild rice (didn’t get a picture of this one)

spit roasted chicken  lemon potatoes

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Some of these ‘small’ plates were huge.  There were five of us at the table and there was more than enough.  We weren’t going to let any of this go to waste so made room…  Everything was mouthwatering and beyond delicious.  Since there were so many options on the menu totally worth going back to explore other options.  Isabella also has other places in DC and there is a Kapnos opening in Bethesda in early 2016 which will be a good one to check out.

Green Hat Distillery

Microbreweries are expanding/exploding but now so is something else…microdistilleries.  What is the world coming to?  HEAVEN!  In DC there is a gin distillery, Green Hat (they hope to make more than gin in the long run).

IMG_2680They have been around for a little over 3 years now and are located in NE (the North East quadrant if you’re not completely familiar with the area).  It’s one of the less expensive areas so this is of course where a lot of the growing micro (alcohol) folks in DC are going because of the cost.  It’s amazing, there is so much potential and it’s really helping these areas grow.  It’s also where Union Market (drove near it since the street sign isn’t actually on noted off of NY Ave so took a couple extra turn and my GPS was taking me some extra places).  Ok, anyway, back to in.

So to actually visit the distillery you can only go on Saturdays from 1-4pm.  The rest of the week they are busy making this good gin for us.  You go in and get to taste a couple gins and get a tour of the place.  What was great on the tour is that you walk to the back of the distillery (maybe the width of a football field) and the guide said ‘ok, this is the whole size of the place, nothing more, are you disappointed that more of your tours are so much bigger?’  This ‘tour’ was very interesting because I’ve only done beer and wine tours so I learned the process of distilling gin.  They have gone through a long process of who to work with for getting their product and are working with relatively local farmers in Virginia.  Then we learned about everything from start to finish, from grains going in, to heating to the ‘flavor’ choice going in to bottles.  The whole process can take about a month.

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With the tour you of course get a taste.  They consider a variety of spices when making the gin, from juniper berries to celery seeds, so have these out for you to smell why enjoying the gin.

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The first gin we tasted was their tradition gin. This one was about 41% alcohol.  They hand write the percentage and proof on each bottle in case anything changes and anybody comes in to inspect them.

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The second tasting was the Navy Strength which was around 57% alcohol.  WOW!  I think I was shivering when I sipped that stuff.

Though we didn’t get to taste them, they received awards for two of their gins last year — Ginavit and Spring-Summer.  Side note — I though we were tasting all 4 of the gins, so I was carefully sipping the first 2.  Not that I needed to down them, but still, I wanted to taste the awards winners.

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They are also working in whiskey.  They hope to have this ready in about 3 years.

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So, if you live in DC, head to NE on a Saturday afternoon and check this out.  Go to Union Market after it and get some food, or there is a MOMs 3 blocks away.  This area is growing and it’s great.  Cheers.