Food for Thought

EDITOR’S NOTE: We received a review copy of The New Jewish Table and were impressed with the way Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray had successfully updated so many of the traditional dishes we recognized in ways that incorporated lighter, fresher flavors.  When they followed it up with an invitation to observe the Passover Seder with them, we wanted to make sure that we were able to truly compare charoset to charoset, so we asked our friends and frequent Capital Spice contributors to attend and let us know how the Grays’ Passover compared with the ones they’ve observed with their families over the years.

Monday night, the Bacon Terrorist and Itty Bitty Betty attended a special Passover Seder hosted by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray at their Equinox restaurant to celebrate the launch of their cookbook, The New Jewish Table. The night highlighted three items from the book’s suggested Passover menu encapsulating the Grays’ seasonality-first philosophy as they bring treasured Jewish classics into the twenty-first century.

Why was this night’s dinner different from all other Seders?  Find out after the jump. (more…)






When you think about DC’s food scene, what comes to mind?  High-end restaurants like Komi and minibar? Burgers and cupcakes as far as the eye can see?  Food trucks?

Whatever your answer, there’s a pretty good bet it wasn’t “hot dog vendors.”  Though you can still find them on many street corners downtown, the once ubiquitous metal carts/stands are having a hard time competing in an age of creative, mobile cuisine.  For their owners, the situation is growing increasingly dire.

This is the world that Laura Waters Hinson and Kasey Kirby found in 2009 when they began filming for “Dog Days,” a documentary focused on one man’s attempt to bring flavor and variety to the stagnant cart scene.  Over the past four years, they have followed Coite Manuel of Food Chain DC as he tried to offer creative food products like jerk chicken to stationary cart vendors for sale alongside their traditional hot dogs and half smokes.  Now, four years later, the story is just about ready to be told.

There’s only one problem: the duo is looking at significant costs for post-production and they have already financed the project out of their own pockets up to this point.  So they’ve turned to Kickstarter to raise the $30-$70,000 necessary to complete the documentary and begin the process of getting it into theaters and film festivals.  And that means you can help.

Find out how to get involved (and what’s in it for you) after the jump.



The first time we sat down with our friends the Bacon Terrorist and Boozy Betty to rate pumpkin beers, they were still something of a novelty to us.  We gathered 13, largely the most widely available brands, and we had no trouble crowning Southern Tier’s Pumking the winner.  What a difference three years make…

Since then, it’s become much easier to locate all kinds of small-batch labels around the area.  And it seems like almost every brewer out there has jumped on the pumpkin bandwagon.  Out in Seattle last weekend, Elysian Brewing Company hosted their “Great Pumpkin Beer Festival,” where they sampled 60 pumpkin beers – including 13 different offerings of their own!

We knew it was time to sit down and revisit our ratings.  Would Pumking reign uncontested?  Or would one of the new crop rise to claim the throne?

To find out, we gathered as many different pumpkin beers as we could over the span of a month.  Many of our finds came from Total Wine & More in Alexandria (where almost every beer they sell is available in singles as well as six-packs) and Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, though a few others were collected here and there along the way.  We also found a second pair of willing tasters, our friends KentuckyFrench and the Yankee Sipper.

A rundown of all the competitors with tasting notes after the jump. (more…)


We have to hand it to the guys at Pork Barrel – they really embraced the spirit of Meat Week last night.  From the warm welcome they showed Meat Weekers to their generous special, they wanted to make it clear that they speak Meat Week.  Co-owner Heath Hall even bought one of our Meat Week t-shirts!

If you didn’t make it out to join us last night, you can still stop in any night this week and enjoy that same $20.12 Meat Week platter they served us last night.  It includes 1/4 pound of pulled pork, 1/4 pound of chopped brisket, one brisket sausage link, 3 pork spare ribs and 1/4 smoked chicken plus any two sides.  It’s easily enough for two people (or one hungry Meat Weeker).

The other thing you missed last night was a great Meat Quiz created by Hall and administered to unsuspecting Meat Weekers throughout the evening.  It includes some fun questions and some real head-scratchers.  To our knowledge, this is the first time Meat Week has included a trivia component, and it makes us wonder…how could we have overlooked this?!?

The quiz can be found in its entirety in the following three images.  We took the liberty of blacking out the answers, but the rest of the document (including the sauce stains) are original.

Enjoy, and we hope to see you at the rest of our Meat Week events between now and Sunday!


If you thought the winter months meant the DC food truck scene would be heading into hibernation, you were sorely mistaken.  It’s not just the unexpected warm weather that’s keeping Washington’s rolling restaurateurs in the news.  We wanted to let you know about two items of note this week – one of them especially interesting if you’re a government employee and you’re hungry tomorrow.

First, we’ve seen several members of the DC Food Truck Association posting about a toy drive that the association is undertaking to benefit My Sister’s Place.  Participating trucks are accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys every day from now until December 15th.  The toys will be given to children staying at the shelter during the holidays.

My Sister’s Place has been serving victims of domestic violence in the Washington area with emergency shelter for more than 30 years.  They have since expanded their services to include transitional housing assistance, counseling, and a program for immigrants victims of domestic violence, as well.  They have helped more than 1,100 families in need.

Want to know if your lunch destination will be accepting toys on behalf of My Sister’s Place?  Your safest bet is to tweet them and ask – they’ll likely welcome the chance to remind their followers that they’re helping. But chances are they will be participating…the DC Food Truck Association lists more than 20 members on their website, and a quick search for the #DCFTA hashtag on Twitter turned up tweets from TastyKabob, AZNEats, Rolling Ficelle, PORC, the Cheesecake Truck, DC Empanadas and Cajunators asking customers to bring toys.

Second, we’ve got some good news for you if you work in the public sector.  GovLoop, the social network that connects more than 50,000 federal, state and local government employees and provides insight into issues like federal benefits open season, is celebrating their 50,000th member (in just three years).  That means free food for you, if you’re a government employee.

GovLoop has partnered with CapMac and BBQ Bus to provide free lunches for the first 500 public sector employees who show proof of employment tomorrow (Thursday, December 8th).  Your freebies await as follows:

-200 free lunches from CapMac at Federal Triangle, with your choice of classic macaroni and cheese with a drink or goat cheese macaroni and cheese with a drink

-300 free lunches from BBQ Bus at L’Enfant Plaza, featuring your choice of a pulled pork sandwich with chips and a drink or three bean vegetarian chili with a drink

Both trucks will open for service at 11:30 and will be serving until all of the giveaways have been claimed or until 1:30, whichever comes first.  To claim your free lunch, bring a government ID, business card or some other proof of employment.  And don’t forget – this isn’t just limited to federal employees, so state and local workers can take advantage of these deals, too.

Watch Twitter for each truck’s exact location, and definitely plan to be early.  The only thing longer than a food truck line is a food truck line waiting for free food!





Just a quick note while we’re confirming and contacting the winners of our BONMi Giveaway…

In case you haven’t heard, today is the fifth and final Truckeroo food truck gathering in the Bullpen down near Nationals Park.  They’re calling it Truckerboo in honor of Halloween, and you’re invited to Trick or Eat from now until midnight.  There will be live music, more than twenty-five food trucks, costume contests with cash prizes and unseasonably cold weather.

Participating trucks this time around include:

AZN Eats
Surfside Truck
Big Cheese
Curbside Cupcakes
Dangerous Pies DC
DC Empanadas
DC Slices
Eat Wonky
El Floridano
Fojol Bros
Halal Gyro
Hula Girl
Orange Cow
Pleasant Pops
Red Hook Lobster
Sang on Wheels
Tasty Kabob
Yellow Vendor
Basil Thyme

Check out the website for a great aggregated page with all the participants’ Twitter feeds and additional information about the event.

Ever wonder how Truckeroo came about?  It’s a joint venture of Georgetown Events and the DC Food Truck Association.  We’ll be bringing you more information about both organizations – and what the future holds for Truckeroo – in a regular feature that we’ll be rolling out soon.  Keep an eye out for “Food Truck Fridays” here at Capital Spice!



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