Co Co. Sala opens chocolate retail boutique.

Co Co. Sala Chocolate Boutique.

Whomever said that money can’t buy happiness — lied. The Rammy award winning Co Co. Sala, renowned as the chic fine dining place to gorge oneself on artisan coffee, gourmet chocolate, decadent desserts, and exceptional cocktails has opened a Chocolate Boutique! Yes, you read that right. A Chocolate Boutique: designed for a quick chocolate get-a-way. With a prime location in the heart of Penn Quarter, stop by on your way home from work or indulge yourself in a delicious mid-day snack. In addition, chocolate tastings & classes will also be offered to customers for both private and public events.

Chocolate Ribbon for ceremony. Photo by Revamp.com

Co- owners Bharet Malhotra and Nisha Sidhu opened the exceptional chocolate boutique yesterday, Monday, September 27th to showcase Co Co. Sala’s artisanal, handcrafted retail chocolates created by Executive & Pastry Chef Santosh Tiptur and co-owner Nisha Sidhu. On the counter for all to enjoy are pieces of their chocolate ribbon that was created for their ribbon cutting ceremony. The chocolate is delicious and took me back to the days of eating the ears off the chocolate Easter bunny.

Signature Co Co. Sala bars and bacon treats.

The new retail boutique, a 200-square-foot space was designed by award-winning architect and designer Alex Hurtado of Collective Architecture and feature luxurious finishes, including imported stone, glass and a golden wall, the boutique reflects the opulent warmth of the main lounge. It has several glass display cases to showcase the small jewel-like artisanal chocolates as well as the signature chocolate bars crafted from luxurious Valrhona chocolate. Behind the cases are voluptuous hand-sculpted chocolate and sugar showpieces created by Executive & Pastry Chef Santosh Tiptur and co-owner Nisha Sidhu.  The boutique will also offer an array of packaged chocolate indulgences such as the popular chocolate-enrobed bacon, various chocolate barks, cognac truffles, hot co co. pops (like a melt used in milk) and seasonal chocolate items to reflect the various holidays.

Co Co Pop melt for hot chocolate

The unique collection of artisanal chocolates includes intriguing flavors such as Banana Ginger, Rosemary Caramel, Chipotle, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Mango Lassi, ranging in variety from white to dark chocolate.  All chocolates are made using the finest ingredients without any preservatives or additives.

Seasonal items will include the Somethin’ Pumpkin Bar, Om chocolate bars dusted with edible gold to celebrate the Hindu holiday Diwali, and Champagne-Infused Chocolate Ganache perfect for celebrating that special occasion. The boutique has its own separate entrance and hours of operation so don’t miss the chance to get in on the goodies!

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Dining in DC’s Foodie Itinerary: Sept 24-27

Looking for some foodie fun this weekend? The Dining in DC Foodie Itinerary includes food-related events for this weekend. Below is a compilation of various, food-related events, such as tastings, fall festivals, and workshops or classes throughout the DC Washington Metropolitan area.

This weekend is starting early on Friday with the first annual Mid-Atlantic Red Fruit Festival. Be sure to look for me! I’ll be there cheering for my fellow bloggers, Olga and Mary who are finalists in the recipe competition. On Saturday, there are a couple great outdoor festivals (rain or shine) and some good wholesome family fun to be had by all. To top it all off, we have a sweet way to start off your week with a chocolate boutique opening at Co Co. Sala on Monday.

Friday (Sept. 24)

First Annual Mid-Atlantic Red Fruit Festival

Looking to paint the town red, literally and start a juicy tradition, the International Wine & Food Festival will host the annual event showcasing a “red” fruit and 2010 kicks off with the TOMATO.  La Crème de la Crème (best of the best) original tomato recipes have been chosen by judges and paired with a top area chef, such as Todd Gray and R.J. Cooper, who will cook their winning recipe at the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Red Fruit Festival. Festival attendees will get to enjoy each of the tomato-inspired dishes paired with wine on The Woodrow Wilson Plaza (1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW). Join me and the other foodies at the festival. I will be CO-EMCEE with Ellen Kassoff Gray! Tickets are $35. (6-8 p.m.)

Saturday (Sept. 25)

Clarendon Day

With perfect DC weather, this may be your last chance to venture out for a traditional street festival featuring great eats, local artisans and rockin’ tunes with live music such as local favorites, Honor by August. Participating restaurants include: Artisan Confections, Clarendon Grill, Hard Times, La Tasca, Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall, Northside Social, Mexicali Blues, Rocklands BBQ, Screwtop Wine Bar, Tallula Whitlow’s on Wilson and Restaurant 3. With a focus on fitness and health, the Clarendon Alliance and Virginia Hospital Center Foundation host the 13th Annual Clarendon Day, an event celebrating Arlington’s original downtown! Around the Clarendon Metro Station from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. Enjoy an entire day full of food, music, art, fitness classes, kids’ activities, health screenings and more.

Kids’ Cupcake Class with Wildfire Chef Steven Lukis

Fun for the whole family! Learn how to Bake, Frost, and decorate a cupcake from a Pro! Join Executive Chef, Steven Lukis of Wildfire restaurant in Tysons Corner (and his son Spencer) for some delicious hands-on instruction and fun all for a great cause. A portion of proceeds will be donated to local charity, Food for Others in Northern Virginia. $20 parents. Up to 2 kids Free with parent. (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) For reservations call (703) 442-9110.

Taste of Friendship Heights

More family fun in the heart of Chevy Chase (yes, that place Mama goes to shop!) Enjoy samples from local restaurants, such as Lia’s, Indique Heights, Maggiano’s, P.F. Chang’s, and the Capital Grille. Listen to live music, kids will enjoy a moon bounce, face painting, balloon sculptures, and AU Basketball Games. You know the drill. Purchase food and drink tickets ($5 for 4). A portion of the proceeds goes to Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place. (Friendship Heights Village Center, 4433 South Park Ave. (12-5 p.m.)

Moroccan Week at Sofitel Lafayette Square DC

(September 25 – October 3)

Take a trip to the desert oasis of Marrakesh, the teeming metropolis of Casablanca, or the elegant royal cities of Rabat and Fez but leave your passport at home. Beginning this weekend, DC’s Sofitel hotel, located in Lafayette Square will kick off a ten day celebration of the flavors of Morocco. Ici Urban Bistro’s Executive Chef, Olivier Perrier will collaborate with Chef de Cuisine of Sofitel Rabat Jardin des Roses, Brahim Imourig to create a journey through the tastes and spices of Morocco, inviting guests to take a gastrocation to Morocco for authentic tajines, briouats, traditional salads, including Taktouka and Maasala, Couscous with lamb and tfaya. Sofitel invites you to enjoy the gastronomic experience, sure to awaken the senses just enough to tempt you to visit one of Sofitel’s three Moroccan properties, Marrakesh, Rabat, and Fes.

Monday, September 27

Co Co. Chocolate Boutique Opening Fete

The Rammy award winning Co Co. Sala, renowned as the chic fine dining place to gorge oneself on artisan coffee, gourmet chocolate, decadent desserts, and exceptional cocktails is opening a Chocolate Boutique! Yes, you read that right. A Chocolate Boutique: designed for a quick chocolate get-a-way! (take-away purchase) Co- owners Bharet Malhotra and Nisha Sidhu will open the exceptional chocolate boutique on Monday, September 27th to showcase Co Co. Sala’s artisanal, handcrafted retail chocolates created by Executive & Pastry Chef Santosh Tiptur and co-owner Nisha Sidhu and the new 200-square-foot retail boutique. Don’t miss the chance to get in on the goodies!

Rammy’s Winners — drumroll please …

Chef Tony Chittum accepts the Rising Culinary Star Rammy Award

Chef Tony Chittum accepts the Rising Culinary Star Rammy Award

Last Night, Sunday, June 7, 2009 the 27th Annual Rammy’s Awards Gala was hosted by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.  From the looks of the crowd of over 1,400 restaurant industry guests at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park, I’d say that DC is in fact doing fine, just fine. Some attribute the success to the local economy to the fact that we are the nation’s capital – where government work is a sure thing. This showing of DC restaurant industry staff was a pretty good indication that the DC Restaurant scene is very much alive and well. The National Restaurant Association has reported that the DC restaurant industry is growing. Other cities are stumped and are looking to discover what DC is doing so well – this night is a tribute to what DC does so well.

The Rammy’s Awards are an effort to honor restaurateurs, chefs, and food service industry employees for their hard work and dedication to the industry that we love. This year’s “theme” was “Celebrate! Restaurants”  in recognition of how many people dine out in order to celebrate so many of life’s celebrations, including birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, promotions, and even the occasional celebration of friendship on any given weeknight.

Mistress of Ceremonies, Sue Palka, Meteorologist, Fox 5, said, “Restaurants are the real heart of the neighborhood and the community.” This was also a theme for other presenters such as Dr. J.C. Hayward, Anchor, WUSA 9 and Vice President of Media Outreach who spoke about the importance of the community and how the “future of the restaurant industry is in the hands of the next generation – with clear guidance and dedication of today’s culinary professionals.” Dr. Hayward presented the awards to young local aspiring culinary professionals for the RAMW Education Foundation Scholarships.

The Winner of the 2009 RAMMYs are:

  • Chef of the Year: Robert Wiedmaier – Marcel’s/Brasserie Beck/Brabo Tasting Room & the Butcher’s Block, Washington DC –
    • Chef Wiedmaier invited all of his staff on stage to help him accept the award. It was quite touching. Fun-loving Liz Glover and Stephanie Green, (“Glover and Green“) from the Washington Times presented the award. The ballroom roared with laughter as Liz Glover sang and then questioned the audience, “Oh wait, this isn’t’ American Idol?”
  • Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: Restaurant Eve, Alexandria VA –
    • Chef Cathal Armstrong accepts the award with spunky wife Meshelle by his side, who kisses the Rammy trophy in her hands. Cathal says, “I was born in Ireland, but made in the USA”. The crowd goes wild. The other partners and staff join him on stage, including mixologist Todd Thrasher.
  • Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year Rasika, Washington DC
  • Rising Culinary Star Anthony Chittum – Vermilion, Alexandria VA
    • Tony Chittum was also nominated last year for Rising Culinary Star. Second times the charm for this well-deserving Chef. (see photo)
  • Best New Restaurant Cork, Washington DC
    • Khalid Pitts, accepted the award on stage along with his wife and co-owner, Diane Gross who refused to limit their acceptance speech and long thank-you list, despite the 30 second time limit. Even after the music started playing, similiarly to other awards shows, Pitt shouts “Oh, no … don’t turn on that music. This is my time!” He earned a laugh after saying, “This is my Cuba Gooding Jr. moment.” You could barely hear them – or anyone anyways – the ballroom was very noisey with chatter. 
  • Power Spot of the Year Central Michel Richard, Washington DC
    • The Honorable James P. Morgan, United States House of Representatives presented the award to Brian Zipin, General Manager and Wine Director at Central. He was also nominated for Restaurant Manager of the Year. Executive Chef, Cedric Maupillier who joined Zipin on stage was nominated for Rising Culinary Star.
  • Neighborhood Gathering Place The Liberty Tavern, Arlington VA
  • Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene Co Co. Sala, Washington DC
  • Pastry Chef of the Year Kate Jansen – Willow, Arlington VA
    • Presenters included our hometown Top Chef season-five finalist, Carla Hall and fellow contestant, Ariane Duarte. This year’s nomination was her third and in her acceptance speech she remarks, “Maybe 3 times a charm.” She also said, “This means more to me than you could ever possibly imagine,” and thanks Tracy O’Grady for her inspiration.
  • Associate Member of the Year Belair Produce Inc./Watermark Foods
  • Wine and Beverage Program CityZen, Washington DC
    • Wine Director Andrew Myers, who has been working in local restaurants for the last 23 years, accepted the award with his wife standing beside him as she drys her eyes. He’s a very memorable guy, as Myers was featured in the Washington Post Magazine last year that uncovered a very unique side of Myers including his love for “ink” and heavy metal. 
  • Restaurant Employee of the Year Juan Francisco Lopez – Marcel’s/Brasserie Beck, Washington DC
  • Restaurant Manager of the Year Ryland Johnson – Zola, Washington DC
  • Your Favorite Restaurant (voted by online/newspaper ballot) Teatro Goldoni, Washington, DC
  • Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award Dimitri Mallios
  • WHERE MAGAZINE Visitors’ Choice Award The Prime Rib
  • 2009 RAMMY Honorary Award Billy Martin’s Tavern
  • 2009 RAMMY Honorary Award Frans Hagen

 Kudos to Jill Collins and Dusty Lockhart for an amazing evening. ~ A special Thank you.