The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2017

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Page 32 of 148

32  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2017 WHERE WE'RE EATING W ashington, D.C.—the Nation's Capital, the American Rome, the Federal City—is famed for Big Buildings, Big Crowds and Big Government. But over the past several decades, it's also come to be known as one of the Best Eating Cities in America—a metropolis of Big Tastes. Thanks to the arrival of major culinary names like the late, great Michel Richard, and the current King of D.C. Chow, José Andréss, the District is no longer just an eating town for lobbyists with Big Wallets. It's a great place to chow down—for all the people, all the time. Consider the remarkable restaurants cleverly called Founding Farmers—a trio of true farm-to-table eateries, one of which is a scone's throw from the White House—which has 42,387 owners. The owners are the members of the North Dakota Farmers Union, who a decade ago came up with a brilliant plan to bring the gospel of their ingredients to Washingtonians. Their restaurants—spacious and airy—are packed from morning to night, with locals who hunger for their defining chicken pot pie, Yankee pot roast, grilled cheese and tomato soup combo, potato salad with pickled veggies and green beans with candied lemons. The several pan scrambles and poached egg hashes are probably best for those who ride plows, not limos—they'll fill you up for the day and beyond. And, as befits a city that's been called The Capital of the World, the cuisines of the world are everywhere. Ottoman Taverna serves the classic dishes of Turkey—the cooking of the Ottoman Empire—with a redolent charcoal pit, döner grill at the very front of the open kitchen and a mural of Hagia Sophia dominating one wall. Meze abounds, both hot and cold—the red pepper and walnut muhammara is exceptional, the imam bayildi (eggplant stuffed with peppers and onions) dazzling, the lamb dishes as plentiful as the rugs in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. Desserts are sweet, so sweet, and so irresistible. And wines cover the region—from Turkey, Greece and Lebanon to Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia. Mint tea is essential. Essential, as well, is a meal at either of the two branches of Rasika—Indians regularly named among the top restaurants in the Capital. For those who foolishly assume that Indian food is just curry and tandoori, a meal of the remarkable homemade chutneys (eggplant-ginger? really?) at Rasika should change that, along with some of the best tawa (griddle) dishes imaginable—Chesapeake Bay crab with curry leaf oil, scallops with tamarind and ginger. This is the Subcontinent adjacent to Foggy Bottom. Oh, and speaking of José Andrés, four of his restaurants—Zaytinya, Jaleo, Oyamel and China Chilcano—are all within a small area of Penn Quarter, walkable one from the other. And so, the always innovative Andrés has introduced a Tour de José for $195 (which includes, beverages, tax and gratuity), allowing you to go from restaurant to restaurant for a fixed menu of dishes to eat, a true Moveable Feast. Not in Paris, but in Washington, D.C. Chef Vikram Sunderam of Rasika. [above] Dishes from Rasika like the calamari balchão will change your perception of Indian food. At Ottoman Taverna, lamb dishes are as plentiful as the rugs in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. EAT LIKE A LOCAL IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL by Merrill Shindler PHOTO: GREG POWERS P HO TO : S H I MM O N TA M AR A P HO T OG RA P HY PHOTO COURTESY OF OTTOMAN TAVERNA Washington Eats Here

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