Every year Jonathan and I plan at least one trip to New York at the end of the summer that dovetails into a few days with his family in Washington DC. His mother lives in the Foggy Bottom just across from Georgetown and his cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandmother span the Potomac, Bethesda, and…well…you get the point. It’s a two-birds-with-one-stone sort of thing.
A redeye from San Francisco gets us into the Big Apple early Saturday morning with dry red eyes. Jetlagged we spend a few days stuffing our faces with all the delicious pizza in Manhattan we can find, because for some reason there really isn’t a comparable version in the Bay Area. But then the food fest comes to an end and we take the train to DC for a few days focused on family, friends, and the political euphoria that is our Nation’s Capital.
But last year things were a little different. NY was same’ol same’ol…great food (have you been to Eataly?) and an over the top wedding in Chelsea Pier with friends of Jonathan’s from Wash U, but instead of going in late August or early September like usual, we went in July, which if you haven’t experienced firsthand, is the most miserable time of year to be in the Northeast. The humidity and heat combined make purgatory look like a cool evening in an igloo. But we didn’t have a choice about the time of year this time around. Not only was there a 400 person wedding that we couldn’t just reschedule (as much as I thought about asking), but we were invited to the White House July 4th BBQ, which as you can imagine….happens on July 4th!
Suddenly a little swamp-crotch and a few days spent in armpit-atmosphere seemed like a small price to pay for a chance to hob knob with some of DC’s elite Sperry Top-Sider adorned preppies in crab embroidered Brooks Brothers shorty-short-shorts on the White House’s south lawn for what turned out to be the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen in my life…thanks tax payers!
Unfortunately we didn’t get to rub elbows with the Obamas. But on the upside, while we were in Cherry Blossom town we had the most amazing modern gourmet Indian dinner at Rasika in the West End, followed by a delicious locally sourced brunch the next morning at Founding Farmers. Two meals at the best restaurants in Washington DC that singlehandedly reinvigorated my interest in DC’s fast growing foodie scene. And suddenly, what had always just been a trip to visit family and friends and go to some free museums, was now a scavenger hunt for some of the best food in the country!
Rasika Flavors of India in the West End
Palak Chaat: Crispy baby spinach, yogurt, tamarind and dates. This is the restaurant’s most talked about dish, because it’s truly unique and not something you see often if at all. Really a fantastic play of textures and flavors in this dish but be carefull, because it is deceiving….the crispy fried spinach is so delicate that when it hits your tongue it melts….so you might want to get two of these for the table, because before you know it….you’ll be licking the plate.
Tawa Baingan: Eggplant, spiced potato, olive oil and peanut sauce. This dish was almost too pretty to eat, but alas, someone’s got to de the dirty work.
Tandoori Chicken Tikka: Chilies, garlic and a garam masala rub. The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked with a smoky note I wanted to last longer with every chew.
Vegetable Biryani: Aromatic seasonal vegetables, basmati rice and raita. They bake this dish in a shell of bread and slice off the top at the table. The steam billows out revealing the rice and vegetables dancing harmoniously together.
Khatta Meetha Black Cod: Fresh dill, honey, cheddar, star anise and tamarind
And for dessert we had a smoked goat cheese and mango cheesecake…..yeah….I know, right?
Everything at Founding Farmers is locally sourced and delicious. This is the kind of place where you can find thick cut strips of bacon with a maple glaze and giant light and fluffy pancakes and french toast. The red velvet pancakes looked amazing, but alas we went with eggs and the fried chicken and waffles. On the weekend I recommend going early, because 20 mins after we were seated the place was packed and there was a line at the door. Next time I hope to have a chance to try their sister restaurant Farmers Fishers Bakers. Here’s what we ate.
Southern Pan-Fried Chicken and Waffles with scrambled eggs.
Drag Through the Garden: Pan Scrambled Egg Whites, Roasted Seasonal Vegetables, Spinach, White Cheddar Cheese.