by Debby Critchley
It’s quieted down a bit, but there’s still a lot going on around town. We’ve got two new Vietnamese locations nearby. Pho Deluxe owners Dan and Hue Nguyen have opened a third location at 2300 Clarendon Blvd. in the former Toscana Grill location in Arlington, Va. According to their website, “Our dishes are made with a blend of high-quality ingredients using in-house recipes. Come and indulge in the rich aromas of Vietnamese cuisine.” For those not familiar with Pho (pronounced Fa), it is a flavorful beef soup that is garnished with a variety of meats of your choosing. Add bean sprouts, slivered onions, hoisin, sriracha, and thai basil to taste. You can also get Pho Ga, the chicken soup version. Both are wholesome and healing.
The Eden Center in Falls Church is welcoming the Banh Ta Deli. They feature banh mi sandwiches as well as buns and summer rolls. Find them at 6783 Wilson Blvd., Falls Church, Va. If you have not had a banh mi, you are in for a treat. The sandwich starts with a wonderfully crusty French roll and is filled with your choice of meat and then topped with pickled daikon, carrots, fresh cucumber, cilantro, and jalapenos. These sandwiches are a fine example of the French influence on Vietnamese cuisine. Try the one made with pate; my favorite is the roast pork version.
Four Mile Run Farmers Market is growing. The newest vendor is Selo Market & Eatery. Matt Pellerito, owner, and chef says, “Selo Market & Eatery combines locally-grown products and worldly influence in everything we do. With a focus on detail and design, the market represents our love and passion for food, from childhood memories to experiences traveling and living abroad. “Selo” means “village” to us (Matt and Joanna) it also means home-grown and local, meant to be shared with family, friends and community.” Furloughed Feds started as an idea borne out of the Federal Furlough. This local pair brings home-baked goodies (cupcakes, brownies, coffee cakes, caramel candies) and breakfast treats (muffins, biscotti, granola) to the market for a reasonable price.
More good news about our Mt. Vernon Ave. friend, The Happy Tart, 2307A Mount Vernon Ave, will be adding a second location in Falls Church sometime in mid-summer, according to a post on its Facebook page and information on its company website. If you have never been in the Del Ray location, they create gluten-free baked goods, ranging from cakes and cookies to cupcakes and pies.
Magnolia’s on King, 703 King St., opened July 1 with southern food flavors, tropical ceiling fans, and a pineapple chandelier. They boast, “A contemporary twist on classics and new dishes sure to be favorites, our cuisine offers locally and sustainably sourced seasonal ingredients.” The lounge features craft cocktails by Zachary Faden including the signature Magnolia’s Old Fashioned.
Chef Brian Rowe, formerly of several Wolfgang Puck restaurants including Spago, prepares sweet tea-brined buttermilk fried chicken, molasses-crusted pork belly, and bison meatloaf. Hans Fogleman is baking the pastries. They are currently open for dinner and will feature a Sunday brunch in August. Check out Yammi Market and Café, a coffee shop in Landmark Center 5245 Duke St. They feature indoor and outdoor dining. They are currently serving breakfast and lunch.
Washingtonian recently singled out two local businesses. Balducci’s, 600 Franklin St., as the Best Shop for Charcuterie. They offer an exceptional selection of smoked and cured delicacies including Virginia-made Surryano ham and Olli salamis, aged prosciutto di Parma, juniper-smoked German ham, and jamón Ibérico made from acorn-fed Spanish pigs. Fresh Crunch was named for the best pickles. You can find Virginia native Matt Bressan’s handcrafted pickled veggies and cucumbers at the Del Ray Farmer’s Market every other Saturday. Pickles come in 10 different flavors; my favorites include the Balsy, made with balsamic vinegar, and the Hot and Savory. Other specialties include sweet and savory pickled veggies such as the Curried Cauliflower. For $7 a jar, you can snack on locally-sourced green beans, okra, or radishes, and enjoy unusual flavor combinations such as Citrus Ginger Beets. Bressan offers pickling classes in the winter.
Speaking of Giant Food, the old Giant at 425 E. Monroe Ave. is closing in August. The new Giant – no opening date yet – is going in the new apartment building at the corner of E. Glebe and Rt. 1. More Giant news includes Chef Robert Irvine and Giant Food of Landover, Md., announcing that the renowned Chef’s new company of nutritionally improved food products will initially be available exclusively at Giant’s 168 stores throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
“Building this company and launching these products is one of the most important projects of my career to date. It allows me to finally share some of my favorite foods with a healthier approach. These foods are perfect for busy families across the country who strive to improve their diet, but lack the time or resources to do it on their own,” said Chef Irvine. If you don’t recognize his name, Robert Irvine has more than 25 years in the culinary profession, cooking his way through Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the host of one of the Food Network’s highest rated shows, Restaurant: Impossible and is the author of two cookbooks, Mission: Cook! and Impossible to Easy, and one healthy living book, Fit Fuel: A Chef’s Guide to Eating Well and Living Your Best Life.
There is no better way to spend a warm summer evening than on the patio at Los Tios, 2615 Mt. Vernon Ave. I had the good fortune to do that a few weeks ago. The margarita was exactly what to drink while enjoying the gentle breeze as the sun set. I had the beef fajitas. They came with tortillas, great Mexican style beans, rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream. Let’s not forget that Herman serves some of the thinnest and crispiest tortilla chips with homemade salsa that is one of the best around. Happy Hour runs from 3 to 5, Monday through Friday at your table or from 4 to 7 at the bar. Choose from horchata, tamarindo, maranon, pina colada, or a strawberry daiquiri. Margaritas are a specialty, and you can choose from a gold margarita, the El Patron, frozen margarita, or home-made sangria. There is also a good selection of Mexican beer available.
Have you been to Blackwall Hitch yet? They took over the pavilion behind the Torpedo Factory on the waterfront, 5 Cameron Street. The entire building has been updated and provides beautiful views of the waterfront and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The first location is located in Eastport, MD near Annapolis. The name refers to a particular knot used by sailors to tie up their ships to the hooks attached to the docks in London’s Blackwall Port. I attended a media dinner the other evening and was able to sample several of the dishes offered on the menu. Before dinner, we were offered Watermelon Saketinis made with watermelon puree, Odzeki sake, and fresh mint, and fresh lime juice. They were a great way to cool off from the heat outside. We started our meal with the Antipasto Chopped Salad featuring romaine lettuce, salami, pepperoni, green beans, roasted red peppers, buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, with a Parmesan-oregano vinaigrette. The colors and flavors were bright and refreshing. The next dish was Crispy Soft Shell Crab. These seasonal crabs were lightly breaded and fried. They were perched atop of a parsley tabbouleh with lemon butter sauce and turmeric oil.
Michael Wagner, the Executive Chef, may have come from Florida but he knows his way around Maryland crab. His Diver Scallops resting on a mushroom risotto made me forget that I don’t like scallops. They were seared perfectly and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. The next course was the table favorite – Braised Beef Short Ribs. This dish was the perfect pairing of aromatic vegetables, red skin mashed potatoes, and crispy onion straws. This dish was a 10 pointer. As if we hadn’t been feted (or fed) enough, our meal closed with an Apple Dumpling made with granny smith apples with an oat crumble topping, baked inside flaky puff pastry, and served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. I like apple dumplings and I loved Chef Wagner’s version. Everyone at the restaurant is there to make you happy. The servers and kitchen were happy to adjust dishes to meet diner requests. One of my tablemates was allergic to mushrooms and received a lovely mixture of orzo and summer squash to replace the risotto. Another diner did not eat beef and was served the apricot and orange glazed chicken. I will definitely order it the next time I am at the restaurant.
Until next month, eat well!