NIBBLES AND SIPS AROUND TOWN: Hop On In! by Jordan Wright

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Seems like the holidays stacked up on us this year. It’s times like these we wish we were still in school or had paid federal holidays. But noooo – we’re still hopping around finding the best places to hang out, clink your drink and tuck in.  So if you haven’t made Easter or Passover dinner plans yet, here are a few choices.

Go Greek

Asparagus Salata. Photo by Greg Powers.

Zaytinya is doing it up Mediterranean style with a Greek Easter festival that runs from April 8th through April 22nd. We dropped in last week for an advance sampling of some of the scrumptious dishes and they are totally wow! Head Chef Michael Costa is taking full advantage of the resto’s spit roaster to cook Sprarangia, a flame cooked lamb shoulder – all crispy and charred and tender at the same time. He serves it with Mayritsa a traditional Easter soup made from lamb’s liver (sign me up!), caramelized onions, rice, egg and lemon broth; a palate-cleansing salad of white asparagus tzatziki, pistachios and green asparagus; and Spanakorizo, rice pilaf with spinach puree and preserved cherry tomatoes and feta. Try the glossa – a rich dish of lamb’s tongue, potato skordalia, green olives, celery and candied pistachios.

 

Lamb Kleftico. Photo by Greg Powers.

These Greek Easter cookies are so craveable and packed to go for later or a hostess gift if you have that much self-control. For those of you who live and die for these heavenly sweets you can choose from – paximadakia, pastoules, spiced walnut cookies in honey syrup, and kourabiedes baked with a hint of Metaxa.

Why Cook Kosher When You Can Make Reservations? 

Seems like keeping kosher is getting harder and harder for working Washingtonians – so little time so little space and nowhere to store all those dishes. But Passover celebrants – do not despair. Let a trained French chef keep you and your family kosher in style. Just bring your own afikomen.

Chef Michel Laudier of Tragara Ristorante in Bethesda, once top toque at Georgetown’s tony Rive Gauche, is preparing a traditional Kosher-style (without chametzPassover menu featuring homemade gefilte fish with fresh horseradish and chicken soup with matzah balls to start. Entrees like grilled salmon or veal chops are tempting, but save room for a Passover roulade with strawberries and whipped cream doused with Sabra liqueur or haroset ice cream in a meringue shell with honey caramel sauce.

Jeepers Creepers Where’d You Get Those Peeps

It’s too late to get your dark chocolate-dipped Peeps at ACKC. Apparently we’re not the only ones that thought this was a super cool idea. As of this morning they were completely sold out.  Instead we dashed across the bridge to the Peeps store in National Harbor and got them in turquoise, pink, purple and yellow. Now our guests can dip their own at the table with my favorite Icelandic chocolate. Finger licking approved.

Ham vs. Lamb – An Easter Dinner Quandary

RIS Patio. Photo by Jordan Wright.

Ris Lacoste is cooking up her sophisticated Modern American Cuisine for Easter at her eponymously named restaurant RIS, well located near The Kennedy Center. Start with chilled pea soup with lemon, crab and mint, followed by a delicately prepared salmon sampler with smoked trout, smoked steelhead trout caviar, smoked New Brunswick salmon, salmon rillettes and salmon cucumber tartare. How luscious! It’s a ham-or-lamb choice of entrees – a duo of lamb both shank and rack with a Shiraz sauce or a puff pastry-crusted ham Wellington. I suggest a nice Willamette Valley pinot noir with either one. Cross the finish line with a meltingly tender coconut cake and take a nice long walk along the river.

Very Cherry Patio Finds 

Sofitel's Cherry Mojito. Photo courtesy of D. Murphy.

The stunning Sofitel’s Lafayette Square patio is open for the season and they’re serving these delish mojitos through the month of April. I can’t believe we got the secret recipe from Head Bartender extraordinaire Vincent Gernigon!

Sofitel’s Cherry Mojito

2 oz Bacardi Cherry Torch
¾ oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Cerises griottine (aka Griottines Morello Cherries from France, a type of sour cherry with a dark skin)
Splash of Soda Water
Fresh mint leaves
2 Teaspoons of Granulated White Sugar

Muddle fresh mint and cerise griotte in a shaker. Add granulated sugar. Add Bacardi Cherry Torch along with some ice. Shake well to bruise the leaves. Pour into a highball glass topped off with soda water. Garnish with cerise griotte and a spring of fresh mint. A votre santé Vincent!

 

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Jordan Wright
Jordan Wright is an accomplished writer on food, spirits, travel, and theatre. Her clients include the tony Georgetowner and hip sister publication the Downtowner, the Washington Examiner and San Francisco Examiner, as well as LocalKicks.com, DC Metro Magazine, Washington Life Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine, MDTheatreGuide.com, The Alexandria Times, Hartkeisonline.com, and now DCMetroTheaterArts. Her articles feature restaurant openings, food and wine events, food-oriented film reviews, farmer’s markets, food trends, restaurant reviews, food memories, new food products, hotels, spas, resorts and interviews with the country’s leading chefs – from Jose Andres and Top Chef’s Carla Hall, to CakeLove’s Warren Brown and Top Chef’s Spike Mendelsohn. She has also interviewed famed chef and TV star, Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, cookbook author Joan Nathan, and director Robert Kenner for an in-depth article about his film Food, Inc. Photographs by Wright accompany many of her articles and NBCNews.com has picked up and used several of her stories. Jordan Wright hails from three generations of show business. Her grandmother, Betty Morton, was a Ziegfield Follies girl; her step-grandmother Corinne Griffith, a noted author and silent screen star wrote Hail to the Redskins; her father, Georgie Price, an entertainer and founder of The Lamb’s Club in New York, as well as a CBS radio show host, songwriter and vaudevillian; her sister, Penny Larsen Vine, a theatre critic both on radio and in print for Variety, a former longtime member of the Outer Critics Circle, and a lead performer in countless national touring companies; one brother, Peter Price, appeared in leading roles in over 16 major motion pictures for MGM; while her other brother, Marshall Price performed at Carnegie Hall. Niece, Stephanie Vine, was the final Annie in the original production of Annie on Broadway, and niece, Liz Larsen, has received two Tony nominations and a Helen Hayes award for lead actress in Sunday in the Park with George. Wright sang with Columbia Records in New York and Barclay Records in France. In the sports world her grandfather was the original owner and founder of the Washington Redskins football team. Wright has traveled throughout four continents and currently resides in Old Town Alexandria.