The ‘Duponada’ Top Finalist Results Are In!

Photo courtesy of Panas.

Panas Gourmet Empanadas which opened recently at 2029 P Street NW in Dupont Cirlce held a contest to create a locally sourced empanada, made from Farm Market ingredients that would be named after Dupont Circle. What better way to become part of the community than name a menu item after it? Brilliant! Two weeks ago, entrants submitted a recipe or a list of no more than four favored ingredients that can be found at the FRESHFARM Market.

Judges: Jenna Huntsberger, Olga Berman, Sylvie Hong Nguyen, Lisa Shapiro, and Robin Diener.

To create the new empanada, Panas owner Federico Garcia Lopez has enlisted the help of the locals by holding a taste test and having a people’s choice vote. On Sunday October 3rd at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market a panel of judges, including Yours Truly and Robin Diener, President of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association selected three finalists. According to the judges the top 3 are:

First Place: Black Beans, Platains with mango juice

Second Place: Yuca, Loroco, and Mushrooms with Kalamata Tapenade

Third Place: Mushroom, Onions with Pesto Sauce

People’s Choice: ??? You decide!

Right now those three empanadas will be on sale at Panas Gourmet Empanadas until October 8th and customers may vote for their favorite. The winning recipe, to be named the Duponada, will be introduced to all on Sunday, October 10, and proceeds from the sale will go to the Dupont Circle Citizens Association. The Panas menu includes $2 empanadas ranging from meat, pork, chicken and ham and other Latin inspired side dishes.

Join me for the “Duponada” taste test tomorrow at Dupont Farmers Market.

Photo courtesy of Panas.

Panas Gourmet Empanadas which opened recently at 2029 P Street NW in Dupont Cirlce is holding a contest to create a locally sourced empanada. What better way to become part of the community than name a menu item after it?  Brilliant! Two weeks ago, entrants submitted a recipe or a list of no more than four favored ingredients that can be found at the FRESHFARM Market.

It’s not easy to create a new empanada. So Panas owner Federico Garcia Lopez has enlisted the help of the locals by holding a taste test and having a people’s choice vote.

Photo by onthebound.net

Tomorrow, Sunday October 3, a panel of judges, including FRESHFARM Market executive Juliet Glass, along with food writers including Yours Truly, Olga Berman of Mango and Tomato, Katie Test of We Love DC, and Robin Diener, President of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association will select the top three finalists of the entrants at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market.

Those finalist recipes will be on sale at Panas Gourmet Empanadas for one week where customers may vote for their favorite.  The winning recipe, to be named the Duponada, will be introduced to all on Sunday, October 10, and proceeds from the sale will go to the Dupont Circle Citizens Association. The Panas menu includes $2 empanadas ranging from meat, pork, chicken and ham and other Latin inspired side dishes.

Come on out and cheer me and the other judges on tomorrow! The judging will commence at 11 a.m. at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market. See you there! Thanks to Jill Collins, PR for including me.

Casa Nonna opens in Dupont Circle Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of Urban Daddy

DC is really starting to feel the love. Is DC becoming the New New York? It’s starting to look that way. The BLT Restaurant Group based in the ‘Big Apple’ is expanding their brand and opening a family-style Italian restaurant, Casa Nonna in Dupont Circle (1250 Connecticut Ave. NW). Casa Nonna, the name for the 190-seat establishment (“House of the Grandmother” in English) will join BLT Steak downtown and the forthcoming BLT Burger (at 1317 Connecticut Ave. NW), which is also opening this spring. According to the twitter feed, the restaurant will be officially open for business this coming Wednesday, September 15 and are accepting telephone reservations at (202) 629-2505.

Photo courtesy of Amy Brandwein

The concept is modeled after the old-school, family-style Italian-American joints like Carmine’s in New York and now in DC and will offer pizza and pasta served in portions for one, two or four or “family-style”. The Menu of Executive Chef Amy Brandwein, a Roberto Donna protege most recently of Fyve Restaurant in Pentagon City will incorporate local and seasonal ingredients. Dishes will be served both a la carte and family style and will include house-made pasta and Neopolitan-style pizza fired in their mosaic-tiled pizza oven. Main courses include linguine and clams, shrimp scampi, chicken saltimbocca, and ricotta ravioli and orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe which average in price from $18 to $20 for entrees. In addition to the main dining room, the restaurant will contain a 12-seat marble pizza bar with a rock-star view of the 850-degree wood-burning oven while your pie bakes.

I’ve never had a meal that I didn’t like at BLT Steak so I’m fairly confident that Casa Nonna will be a huge success. Think they’ll have the popovers?

Casa Nonna
1250 Connecticut Ave NW (at N St)
Washington, DC 20036
202-629-2505
Twitter: @CasaNonna
Website: http://www.casanonna.com

Free Cupcakes today from Hello Cupcake!

Hello Cupcake is turning 2 today… and they want to celebrate another year of sweet success. The Dupont Circle cupcakery is giving out free cupcakes all day — or at least until they run out. Doors opened at 10 am, so hurry!

1361 Connecticut Avenue, NW!

For more information, visit Hello Cupcake online and at their Facebook page.

More New York restaurants coming to DC.

Photo courtesy of Ronald C Saari.

Today in the Washington Post Business section, Danielle Douglas reported that P.J. Clarke’s, a New York icon is looking to take over the space formerly occupied by Todd English’s Olives at 16th and K St. NW. Washingtonian Mad Men fans are going to be the first ones to celebrate. P.J. Clarke’s has been open in New York over a hundred years old, frequented by Frank Sinatra but is best known for it’s tasty burger.

In addition, Bobby Flay, a popular Food Network star plans to open his first DC outpost of his Burger Palace based in New York and New Jersey. Are we recognizing a theme here? More burgers?! With the recent opening of Spike Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery, I don’t think DC is hurting for burger joints. Just sayin’.

We’ve already heard the news about Shake Shack owner Danny Meyer coming to Dupont Circle. That news rocked the foodie waves for a couple of days. The DC outpost will occupy the former Fuddruckers location at 1216 18th ST. NW, a crowded area that already houses Public Bar, Fly Lounge and Nando’s. Evidently, there is no firm opening date yet, but the Union Square Hospitality Group, the Shake Shack’s parent company, is aiming for sometime in the first half of 2011.

With the recent opening of Carmine’s and Kellari Taverna last year looks like DC is going to become the New New York. What say you, DC?

Family Friendly Brunch in Dupont Circle: Firefly.

Firefly exterior. Dupont Circle street view.

Firefly exterior. Photo by Lisa Shapiro

Recently I was invited by lovely ladies, Charissa Benjamin and Skylar Thompson, the public relations team for Kimpton hotels and restaurants, to join them and several other bloggers for brunch at Firefly. Ever since I saw Executive Chef Danny Bortnick and his adorable son, Noah for a Restaurant Week demo last year at the Eastern Market, I’ve been eager to try Firefly. I don’t normally go to brunch but not because of lack of interest, so I was excited to attend. Firefly is adjacent to the Madera hotel which is housed in a historic 1960’s building in Dupont Circle. Sadly, Firefly is located a few blocks South of the circle on New Hampshire Avenue so it may not be easily discovered without being made aware otherwise.  The location; however, could be easily be considered an oasis of calm in the hustle-bustle of the Dupont area. Firefly is also an excellent choice for families. In fact, I saw children of all ages in the dining room when I was there on Saturday afternoon. Being that the Chef is a parent himself, the little things like changing tables, accessible motion-censored water faucets in the restrooms, and a easy yet versatile kid’s menu make Firefly even more kid-friendly.

Pop Pop's French Toast. Photo by Lisa Shapiro

Dining with foodies, especially bloggers usually means that sharing is a given and provides a greater opportunity to try more things on the menu, especially things that I wouldn’t normally order myself.  My first instinct was to order the Pop Pop’s French Toast, made with orange and vanilla dipped challah bread, apple-raisin compote, and maple syrup. It even just sounds sumptuous (see photo on left).

Instead of ordering the french toast, I decided to be more adventurous and order the “Snake Eyes”  described on the menu as 2 soft-cooked eggs in a bread basket with country sausage, potatoes, and red eye gravy. The snakes eyes reminded

Snake Eyes. Photo by Lisa Shapiro

me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, Moonstruck. In the movie the Italian mother cuts a hole in bread and cooks the egg in the center— it’s a Sicilian tradition. The eggs in a bread basket was well presented (see photo on right) but was bland and perhaps needed more gravy. I thought the sausage was tender and juicy. Although I liked the dish, I wish I would have gone with my instinct (my Italian mother would have agreed).  I tried the french toast and it had a lot more flavor. It was sweet but not too sweet. Next time, I will order the french toast.

Green Eggs & Ham. Photo by Lisa Shapiro

Several of the others at the table ordered the Green Eggs and Smithfield Ham, an extremely vivid green spinach quiche with Gruyere and ham. It is obviously baked as a “pie” and is served to guests by the slice. I only had one bite but the crust was wonderfully light and flaky and the cheese and spinach combination of flavors worked well together.

The most notable brunch item on the menu was the novel Elvis Sandwich, named after the “King” — a peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich with maple-honey on pan-fried challah bread. Although I don’t mind sweet or rich, this sandwich was a little bit too much of both. If I had ordered it I don’t think I would have been able to get through one half of it.

Firefly also offers a gluten free menu, specials such as Bloody Marys for $3 on Saturdays and mimosas for just $1 on Sundays.

Firefly is offering Restaurant Week Brunch for $20.10 with choice of one cocktail or mocktail, such as their mimosa or bloddy mary. Almost all of their standard brunch items are offered on the RW menu and even includes one side item such as the applewood bacon, country sausage, home fries, or fruit salad.

DC Restaurant Week begins in one week. Find participating restaurant menus here.

DC Restaurant WeekDC Restaurant Week is just one week away! The 16th Annual DC Restaurant week will celebrated by over 200 D.C. area restaurants from August 16 – 22, 2010. In addition, some DC area restaurants everywhere from Cleveland Park to Clifton, VA are extending their restaurant week promotions from one week to an entire month.  See here for a list of Summer 2010 Restaurant Week extensions. The prices are the same as Winter’s Restaurant Week: Lunch: $20.10 for a three-course fixed-price meal. Dinner: $35.10 for a three-course fixed-price meal; Beverages, gratuity and tax are not included. If you’re looking for a participating restaurant’s special DC Restaurant Week menu, click here for my roundup.

DC Restaurant Week occurs twice a year usually during the slow restaurant season in the winter (usually January) and the late summer (usually August) but now other cities around the DC area are jumping in on the action with their own restaurant weeks, such as Alexandria, VA August 20-29 and Bethesda and Chevy Chase , MD. Check out their special promotions.