Nibbles and Sips Around Town: ‘Destination Pig’ by Jordan Wright

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I’m hooked on Green Pig Bistro and already dreaming about a return engagement. Who could resist dishes so scrumptiously succulently delicious they should be illegal? At the hot new porcine-centric resto in Clarendon last week, I did not get arrested for engaging in food porn. But I could’ve and so could you. Who cares? Bring on the cuffs!

Crispy Pig Ear Tacos at Green Pig Bistro. Photo by Jordan Wright.

For a resto whose raison d’etre is pork (their naturally raised Virginia beef is outstanding too) all meats are broken down from the whole animal. Chef and Owner Scott Harlan, whose signature riff is preparing the lesser known cuts, has assembled a fine supporting kitchen cast including Co-Chef Will Sullivan and Sous Pastry Chef Rory Kraus. But according to an ad last week on Craigslist (and a follow up call yesterday), they need additional help in pastry and service.

After a chance meeting in New York City with design diva Nicole Facciuto, Harlan chose the design team of Facciuto Mele to execute his vision for a low-key rustic, sleek-chic bistro.  The stunning Facciuto is known to many as one of four designers on Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible, the Robert Irvine program that takes failing restaurants and turns them into success stories. Along with her partner Erich Mele they transmogrified the ordinary space, outfitting it with a boho eclecticism and a nifty stainless steel open kitchen. The upscale design vibe uses old cookbook pages as wallpaper and bathroom doors that are cleverly labeled Julia (as in Childs) and James (as in Beard).

But let’s dish on the food. Harlan goes for deep soulful bright yet complex flavors. Start off with crispy pig ear tacos, pimento cheese balls, or fries served poutine style with duck gravy and cheese.  Juicy smoky tasting cheeseburgers are enhanced with 1/3 ground bacon to 2/3 beef and three types of cheese. More daring diners will try corned ox heart reubens or lamb sweetbreads with cauliflower and grapes. Whole pork shanks cooked sous vide then crusted and served with polenta and greens are best suited for two, Parker House rolls on the side.  Save room for some screaming crazy house-made doughnuts with chocolate sauce and peanut butter ice cream.

Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays. We like that. And in addition to eggs-and-bacon fare there are a few non-standards like sourdough blueberry pancakes with maple ice cream and a dish intriguingly entitled Aunt Florence’s egg pie. Ah, sweet mystery of life.

Beef shank for two with polenta and greens from Green Pig Bistro. Photo by Jordan Wright.

There’s no website yet so here are the deets: Green Pig Bistro 1025 North Fillmore Street, in Arlington, VA 22201. No lunch service as of now, but for more info and to check hours call 703 888-1920.

Alexandria Goes to the Dogs and You Should Too

Inspector Foo Foo dreaming of doggy "Yappy" Hour at Artfully Chocolate. Photo by Jordan Wright.

Starting this week Artfully Gifts and Chocolates Old Town Alexandria location kicks off their Friday evening summertime doggy “Yappy” Hour.  In addition to their delicious designer chocolates, specially baked dog treats and burgers and beer and wine for their owners will be available for purchase. I hope to be there with Inspector Foo Foo, my Shih Tzu, who will have his report on your desk in the morning.

Jose in the kitchen. Photo by Charles Ommanney/Getty Images.

My all-time favorite interviewee and grand master of Iberican pork, José Andrés, had devised a special menu to go along with the Joan Miró exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. Beginning May 6th and continuing through August 12th Garden Café Catalonia will feature dishes as well as wine and beers from the region.

The über-chef Andrés, owner of Oyamel, Zaytinya, minibar and Jaleo restaurants here in Washington, was just named to the 2012 TIME 100, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

À la carte selections inspired by the exhibition include empedrat de mongetes amb bacallà (white bean salad with vegetables and Catalan salt cod), canelons de Sant Esteve (pork and chicken “canelons” with béchamel sauce), and escalivada catalana (salad of roasted red pepper, eggplant, and onion). A lovely dessert is peres al vi amb gelat de vainilla (pears poached in red wine with vanilla ice cream).

The buffet at $20.25 incorporates a variety of traditional Catalan fare, including rustic bread, empedrat de mongetes (white bean salad with vegetables, black olives, and tomato), sopa freda de cireres de Santa Coloma de Cervelló (cold cherry and tomato soup), samfaina (Catalan vegetable stew), xatonada (salad of frisée, preserved tuna, and romesco sauce), formatges amb anous i codony (Catalan cheese with Marcona almonds and quince marmalade), escalivada catalana (salad of roasted red pepper, eggplant, and onion), pollastre a la catalana (Catalan chicken stew with dried fruits and nuts), fricandó de galtes de vedella amb bolets (Catalan stew of beef cheeks and mushrooms), and for dessert crema catalana (caramelized Catalan custard).

To recreate the experience at home, recipe cards for some of the dishes are offered to guests.

 The Lonely and Glamorous Life of a Celebrity Chef’s Girlfriend

 Alyssa Shelasky’s book  Apron Anxiety – My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen (Three Rivers Press) arrived this week buried under a slew of recent esoteric cookbooks and social networking how-to’s, – more on those soon.  Alyssa as some of you may remember had a long tempestuous affair with the sizzling hot Top Chef Spike Mendelsohn.  In her tell-all-without-using-names book (she calls him “Chef”) she spares us none of the juicy details, which she had been sharing on her blog even before becoming editor of New York Magazine’s Grub Street. She refers to herself as a “writer with a heavy heart, and wild child with a stethoscope on her crotch.” The book is actually a culinary coming-of-age cookbook in the Gael Greene sex-and-food gallivant style, focusing in on Shelasky’s novice attempts at cooking.

After ditching a terrific job with People Magazine to move in with Spike on C Street, she had a rough time of it in this oft button-down town and spent lonely days hanging out at Belga Café. That was around the same time I met her at the Capitol Skyline Hotel where Spike was flipping burgers poolside for super art mogul Mera Rubell. But I digress.

Shelasky eventually did embrace the kitchen with as much passion as the bedroom after a timid start with Martha Stewart’s Macaroni and Cheese and Sarabeth’s Cream of Tomato Soup (both recipes are in the book).  The book is sassy, delicious and adorable and witty like Alyssa.  I loved it!

How Olive Ya Sapore

The newest addition to the Capitol Hill area is Renee and John Farr’s Sapore Oils and Vinegars a neat shop that sources artisanal products from around the world, tucking in pastas, sauces and books among the stainless steel pouring vats in their lively tasting room.

This week The Farrs graciously hosted an invitation-only preview of the Fancy Food Show’s NASFT Sofi Award finalists where the winning products were showcased and eagerly tasted.  Carrie Morey of the Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, was on hand with samples of her meltingly tender sinfully buttery biscuits.

Earth & Vine sofi award winning Spicy Apple Garlic Jam. Photo by Jordan Wright.

Take home swag bags of some of the winning products were given out, but the Tate’s Bake Shop’s Chocolate Chip Cookies and Polka Dot Bake Shop’s Sweet Potato Crackers with Cracked Black Pepper were inhaled long before I crossed the 14th Street Bridge for home.

The NASFT Fancy Food Show will be at the Walter Washington Convention Center in Washington from June 17th-19th. Here is info on the Sofi Awards finalists.

 Swilling and Chilling at National Harbor’s Wine and Food Festival

 This weekend the 5th Annual National Harbor Wine & Food Festival returns to the waterfront at National Harbor on Saturday, May 5th and Sunday, May 6th from noon to 6:00pm.  More than just a tasting, the festival brings together area chefs, artisanal foods and crafts, culinary pioneers and three stages of live music as well as wine and spirits from around the world.

This year’s festival features over 150 International wines, spirits and beers.  Beyond the drink tastings highlights there will be a Cinco De Mayo Pavilion with Hornitos tequila, a craft beer tasting biergarten, and a whiskey and bourbon tasting paired with hand-rolled cigars.

Jordan with Barbara Fairchild at the National Harbor Wine & Food Festival.

Food samplings include guacamole and chips by Rosa Mexicano, Whoopsie’s Gourmet whoopie pies, Nature’s Table Café, gourmet baked goods by Icing Smiles, Mojo Magic and Cuban Salsa by Havana Road Café.  Rotating gourmet dinners from food trucks, Chesapeake crab dip by KS Catering, fresh pastas and Italian specialties, kabobs, charcuterie, and even a whole hog from Kloby’s Smokehouse.

Saturday on stage celebs include Sticky Fingers’ Doron Petersen of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, Food Network star Sara Moulton, The Wine Coach Laurie Forster, The Beef Association’s Dave Zino. Sunday features Marta Ines Quintana of Havana Road Cuban Café, Natalie Dupree making her famous Southern biscuits, Jim Baker of the Washington Wine Academy and Cooking with Salt and Pepper. All of these local, regional and nationally recognized chefs will do book signings, meet and greets and cooking demos.

Purchase tickets and view the schedule here, or call (800) 830-3976.

 

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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.