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feasting famously

Elise Stefanik is many things. The youngest woman ever elected to Congress, extremely humble with a great sense of humor, an outdoor enthusiast, someone passionate about her family and her district, and a total foodie. No, seriously. She not only loves to cook and entertain, but she also knows some …

#NATIONAL Today’s most beautiful story: a kid dressed up in a Teletubby costume, broke into his friend’s house, dumped their leftover Chinese into his man purse, and left; It’s the Giants, again; #nope fake clowns terrorizing France; Starbucks will deliver so you don’t have to walk fifty feet ; J.K. …

The brains behind dishes on rental tips for DC and reveals her go-to spots Jamie Grigg first got her feet wet in this swamp of DC we all know and love in the summer of 2011, she says, after she “made the mistake of committing to my job in public affairs only two weeks after graduation day.” But what she says she didn’t know at the time was that her move to DC, “played a big part in sparking [her] interest in real estate.” That’s likely how you know her today. Jamie is the housing guru behind the popular website, and her real estate chops were cut on experience. “Because my time between school and my job was limited,” she says, “I experienced the apartment scramble that most people dread. As I studied for finals, my mom lined up appointments at several buildings. Her search method? Craigslist. In one day, we saw countless places and signed a lease. It was a whirlwind and I had no idea if I was making the right decision. The second time around, I vowed it would be different. As my lease came to an end, my obsession with Craigslist began. Through my continued obsession with Craigslist and a belief in a better way, Exposed Brick DC was born.” We have searched Craigslist and wished there was a new, more appropriate filter one could apply. For example, it would be so much easier if someone could pick out all the nice places and just put them in one place. If you have never been to Jamie’s site, that’s much of what she loves to do. And apparently it’s working. With over 1 million pageviews in six months, I think she may be on to something. What’s the funniest thing she notices about Craigslist apartment ads I ask? “People using ALL CAPS. It never works,” she replies. I THINK SHE IS RIGHT! Since DC is a town with many renters, I couldn’t let her get away without trying to get some tips. “Get educated and act quickly,” she says. “These two things might not sound like they go together but they do. Sixty days before your lease is up, start doing your homework. Start looking at apartments that fit your criteria and see how much they are going for. This way you won’t end up overpaying. By looking early, you are arm yourself with facts so making a decision is easy. This is where the acting quickly part comes in. When you are ready to commit, go for it. The best deals go fast. If you know it is a good deal, sign the lease.” But let’s talk about food now, shall we? What about living above a restaurant? Are there pros and cons? “Well,” Jamie thinks, “Depends on the restaurant. Le Diplomate is a win. Jumbo Slice is a fail.” I guess she has a point, although if you go out a lot, pretty sure the latter could have some perks too! Hailing from Charlottesville, VA, there are some specific things no perfect apartment can make her forget. “The cobb salad from Keswick Hall, burgers from Riverside, hanger steak from C&O, the chicken, cheddar, and fig panini from Feast, Bodo’s bagel, and Princess cake from Albermarle Bakery.” I ask where in DC she goes where she wants something from home or a good home cooked style meal. “Does this exist?” she quips. Don’t fear for Jamie just yet. She will soon (we hope) be cooking all of her own meals. “I just recently started cooking, she says. “I am a notoriously bad cook. In fact, I found an apartment in an awesome location for minimal rent. The catch was it didn’t have kitchen. I seriously considered it. In hindsight, I am glad I have a place with a nice kitchen. Maybe it inspired me to learn? My skills are limited but I am learning.” Learning is key and everyone can cook something, right? “I recently confused a zucchini and a cucumber. It didn’t turn out well,” she says. Until she can get that whole vegetable thing sorted out, “I have always been a big fan of Ghilbellena,” she adds. “They have the best cheese plate in the city. It’s crazy how hard it is to find a good cheese plate. I am lucky that my office is downtown. I go to a lot of the well-known places like, Zaytina and Graffiato often. Proof is one of my favorites. They have an awesome lunch special. $14 will get you an entree and a glass of wine at the bar.” In a town known for high rent and equally high prices, these deals are one’s no one should overlook. Being a fan of more intimate places, she says, “For dinner, I would much rather go to a quiet hole-in-the-wall than then somewhere new and trendy. My boyfriend and I go to Fainting Goat a lot. They have great cocktails and really laid-back atmosphere.” This U Street haunt does have a great vibe, and I’d also remark, a very good cheese plate. Loving a nice cheese plate doesn’t translate to food snob. “I would [rather] have a fast food burger over a gourmet budget any day. It is hard to beat a Shake Shack Burger,” she says. And after that burger and an equally long day you can find her at Matchbox having one of their cucumber gin and tonics.   Cheers to many more burgers, cocktails, and affordable housing! Moving quickly Jamie conquers the Feasting Famously Fast Five where I say five words and she quickly says the first thing that comes to mind. Craigslist: When I first started EBDC, I got an email from a reader titled “I think you are crazy.” When a complete stranger thinks your Craigslist obsession is nuts, that is saying something. Ramen: When my boyfriend described someone as having “ramen noodle hair.” He meant wet curls. Eggs: During finals week, the dining hall would serve late night breakfast. I was eating a huge plate of scrambled eggs, turned to my friends, and said, “Eggs is brain food.” Clearly I needed to stop writing my final paper. Butter: Got nothing. Worst place in DC: Mad Hatter. I feel like every young twenty-something finds themselves there at one point. You see things that you think are ok at the time. You think, “Oh this just normal city living behavior.” It’s not.   So the next time you’re seeking to uplift your roots and head somewhere else, check out Jamie’s site and let her do the filtering for you. Connect with on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you watch the news, or have even been in a lobby on K Street waiting for someone long enough, chances are you’ve seen Erin McPike on CNN. Or perhaps you thought it was Jennifer Aniston. Regardless if you’ve seen her or not on television, I can assure she’s as funny and charming as she is intelligent and fierce on the tube. But don’t fret; she undercooks shrimp and chows down on Chef Geoff burgers just like the rest of us. [end clip, cue music]…our own Brian Johnson has the story. Growing up in the Midwest, Ohio to be exact, and attending college at DC’s American University, Erin’s transplanted D.C. roots are like many of ours. While they started somewhere distant, they have taken hold in and truly embraced D.C. I asked Erin where, in her college days, she liked to and hang out, or grab a bite to eat. “Chef Geoff’s,” she immediately said with a smile, “because that’s where I worked for three years and met my good friend Nora O’Donnell.” I thought supermugs of beer and $5 cheeseburgers drew her to their Monday night happy hours, but actually, she said her favorite thing to order there is, “The cashew curry humus. But I am not sure if it’s on the menu anymore. Hopefully it comes and goes.” You heard it here Geoff, bring back the curry humus – the people have spoken.
Don’t fret; she undercooks shrimp and chows down on Chef Geoff burgers just like the rest of us.
We D.C. transplants all find ourselves longing for food that reminds us of home, and our backgrounds. Where does Erin turn when she is craving something from home? She thought for a minute and said, laughing, “Um, I think I would embarrass my parents if I answered that totally truthfully. But I loved going to Don Pablos, there was one around the corner from my house in Ohio. But, I do not try to capture Ohio here in DC, I can say. Well, other than I do love Skyline Chili.” Uh-oh, here comes the crazy chili rant, I think to myself.  She continues, “And I wish everyone would stop knocking it and just try it. And I love also the BBQ sauce from Montgomery Inn, which is world famous and all these Southern boys need to get off their high horses and try some Cincinnati BBQ sauce.” Double-punch! When I remind her that I am Southern, and ask if I should get off my vinegar-based high horse and try it, she responds, “Precisely.” I said I’d take her word for it. To date I have yet to obtain some, however, if said sauce was procured, yours truly would happily make Cincinnati BBQ sauce ribs (Carolina sauce on the side, of course). In an attempt to redeem herself, she continues, “And I’ll tell you one other thing, so Cincinnati is a pretty lard-tastic town. We’re famous for Montgomery Inn, Skyline, and then ice cream. Oprah talks about Graeter’s, but no, Aglamesis Brother’s is the best ice cream in the mid west.” She schools Oprah and coins my new favorite word, “lard-tastic,” all in one sentence.  Redemption granted.
I remind her that I am Southern and ask if I should get off my vinegar-based high horse. She responds, “Precisely.”
Erin is currently attempting to broaden her culinary repertoire. However she admits her strengths on camera well outweigh her expertise in the kitchen. Does she cook? “I try a little bit. I am just beginning to learn. I used to bake when I was in high school, you know, for comfort I guess, but I can barely cook. I try to use the slow cooker. I am really trying to learn, but I am not great.” She handles her kitchen escapes with great humor and patience. She said recently she cooked an amazing meal, and everything was perfect…except the shrimp. “I did a really good job making everything else, it was my first attempt and making dinner, and my boyfriend could not even eat the shrimp. So my mom sent me a baking sheet and a grate and said ‘better luck next time’.” Before you go sending her online gift certificates for The Palm, never fear, she isn’t going hungry. Her boyfriend grills, and is pretty good at it too. “He grills a lot,” she said. “He has a Big Green Egg [hey, so does Amos!] and a Webber and he just made a pork shoulder and he just made a brisket last week. He is really pretty damn good at it I guess!” I decline to mention the benefits of a proper vinegar sauce on pork in the smoker and we move on – because brisket is amazing and I want an invite. Aside from a variety of what sounds like amazing smoked meat options, her culinary preferences are really a bit of a mixed bag – much like DC. So when asked what her favorite type of food to eat is, she replies, “That’s a hard question for me to answer because I basically like everything at diff times. I love Italian food like lasagna, but I also like sausage, egg and cheese biscuits in the morning. And I really like Thai food. ThaiX-ing is one of my favorite places. I also really like Rice as well, over on 14th Street, plus it’s one of the original 14th Street restaurants. So, yeah, I think that’s where I would go first: Italian or Thai.” I think Italian-Thai fusion is the one genre that is not on 14th Street.
Cincinnati is a pretty lard-tastic town. We’re famous for Montgomery Inn, Skyline, and then ice cream. Oprah talks about Graeter’s, but no, Aglamesis Brother’s is the best ice cream in the mid west.
Erin loves the DC food scene and even has a great idea for an Americana-fusion inspired place. On her thoughts on the DC food scene, she said, “I think it’s exploded in the last 5 years. I do think they need to revitalize Dupont Circle and Georgetown because there is so much new on 14th Street now and so much on H Street now, and on 8th Street Southeast in Eastern Market now that I think anyone who is crabbing about that [DC not being as good a food city a New York] now is well in the past.” I agree about Dupont and Georgetown falling a bit behind some of the recent trends. She continued with a vision, “One thing that I would like to see is – and I think this is right place for me to say this publically – you have people in DC from all over America, and maybe this goes on 14th Street, but there should be some sort of restaurant that brings together all the local American cuisine. Like the famous green chilies from New Mexico and buffalo wings from Buffalo, New York. And, this may be my way of getting Cincinnati chili somewhere, but you have staffers on the Hill from every state in the country. So I think we should have something that brings together all parts of America; and DC is the only place you could have it.” Erin could really have something here. Think about it, a different region of the country each week. You could literally go to the same place, once a week, for a month, and have something totally different. You’d never get tired of the menu, and with seasonal ingredients changing; the menu could stay remarkably interesting. “An American bistro is one thing, but they don’t drill down and get local stuff that I would like to see,” she added.
“If I’m going all out,” she said, “I want a cocktail that’s made with whipped eggwhites.”
Until her Americana mecca is conceived, she does have some favorites. “I live near Le Diplomate (however she recently sold her condo to our pal and former Feasting Famously interviewee, Jenna Golden), so I don’t need to give them anymore attention than they have already gotten in the past year. However I do know the best times to walk over and sit at the bar, so that’s good. I really like Hank’s Oyster Bar, the original one. I have not yet tried Rose’s Luxury, sadly. But I really am pretty partial to Chef Geoff’s, but I don’t get to eat there that much anymore. Talk about something that reminds you of home, I think Chef Geoff’s is just a great place like that. The food is good, Geoff is there a lot, it’s a friendly atmosphere, and so if I could only answer one thing it’d be that one.” If you think about it, Chef Geoff’s likely comes closest to the all-American transient place she spoke of creating earlier. They have a bit of everything, representing various cuisines or regions. Maybe Geoff Tracy should look into this regional mega restaurant concept. When hungry, she’s grabbing her dream burger with jalepenos, gouda, bacon, and chipotle mayo (no veggies on this burger for her)! After a bad day, she’s heading for a craft cocktail bar like The Gibson and whipping it up. “If I’m going all out,” she said, “I want a cocktail that’s made with whipped eggwhites.” Good day or bad, everyone likes to play with their food. We’re laughing and I ask if Erin was to get into a food fight with anyone, who would it be. “It would be Matt Dornic from CNN,” she said, laughing, “because it would be the most raucous food fight I could possibly imagine. And I’d want to throw spaghetti covered in tomato cream sauce,” she said – still laughing. She added, “You know, because it sticks!” We ended our interview with what came easily to a seasoned anchorwoman like Erin – the Feasting Famously Fast Five rapid-fire questions. I tossed out five words and she responded with the first thing that came to her mind: Chef Geoffs – Favorite Restaurant Champagne – favorite drink Ohio State – gross K Street – good times MSNBC – uuummmmmmm……just leave it at that If you don’t catch her on CNN, you just may see her waiting in the ever-growing line at Rose’s Luxury soon. As for presents and flowers from fans…I think a few cans of Skyline Chili may be better received. Stay hungry Erin, and keep up the great work!

The DC-duo running the hottest viral news site NowThis News talks Obama’s food drawer, dream dinning with Joe Biden, and Grumpy Cat’s diet Everyone with a webcam and cat-chat thinks they are the internet’s newest hot sh!t. Generally this happens with much little street cred, or a CV to back them up. Occasionally, a random interview can turn viral (see Antoine Dodson), or some marketing geniuses put together a satirical commercial that goes viral on sheer brilliance (see Somersby Cider spoof on Apple). However for some people, it’s their job to make things go viral – and not just cat-bearding and babies dancing – I’m talking interviews with Grover Norquist talking about Grumpy Cat, and Congressman Trey Radel (R-Fla.) droppin’ dope knowledge about rap. Now making those viral takes skill and talent. Lucky for the interwebs, Ashley Codianni and Julie Eckert are doing just that, and killing it, over at NowThis News.

Feasting Famously with Eric Wohlschlegel DC real estate mogul and founder of talks real estate, food, and trends Ah, home ownership in The District, the dream of everyone who seeks to establish their home base in Francis Underwood’s playground. From the 22 year old skinny jean wearing 10th Street hipster, to the 28 year old Congressional Legislative Director, we all want to solidify our DC cred by paying way too much money for way too little square footage.

Feasting Famously with Beth Kanter Author of Washington DC Chef’s Table Cookbook dishes about the book and more Beth Kanter is a DC-based author who knows her way around the restaurant scene – from K Street to Bethesda, cookbooks to Michelin guide books; Beth knows the area’s culinary scene very well. Which is why I was surprised at how quickly she responded when I asked about doing this interview.

The Italian-born Chef at Al Tiramisu chats about his passion for fresh ingredients & love of cooking You’ve walked past it a million times, or at least something like it. A busy row of restaurants, a grocery store, a sandwich shop, a liquor store, an awning with a jester on it, a pizza place; a seemingly endless row of options and choices. Yet this particular awning with a jester on it nestled on P Street NW right off Dupont Circle, is home to an eccentric bald Italian with a red scarf around his neck and bow tie pasta fabric shaped buttons on his Chef’s coat, who is doing incredibly simple yet amazing things with impeccably fresh product. His name is Luigi, and his restaurant is Al Tiramisu.

The man behind the modern, country fare inspired Cedar talks about his passion for food Upon walking through the street level door to Cedar located off a busy downtown intersection, you are met with stairs that lead you to the basement-style restaurant. As you descend, the street noise dissipates with every step you take leading you closer to the modern bar and dining area house in a speakeasy-like setting. Calmness and serenity take over as you sit comfortably and quietly in the warm, inviting atmosphere. The drink is cold and strong, which is perfect as your day was long and tiring. The smell of house made wild boar sausage being seared in a skillet makes your mouth water. You’re hungry, and cozy, and Chef Aaron McCloud is doing tasty things with farm fresh food in the kitchen, and you want it all.

Feasting Famously with Necessary & Proper Fashion-Forward Founders Lauren & Van Dish about Cooking, Hosting, and Entertaining As I’m walking to PJ Clarke’s Sidecar to meet the founders of the popular DC-based fashion blog Necessary & Proper, Lauren and Van, I find myself oddly nervous. Am I dressed appropriately (that’s silly, of course), will they be nice, down-to-earth, absurdly well dressed, and easy to talk to? The answer to all of the above, as I soon found out, is a resounding “yes.” Launched in January 2012 as a site to showcase their personal fashion sense, trending styles, local brands and entertaining concepts, Necessary & Proper soon became a top blog for social-style in the District. Not taking themselves too seriously, Lauren & Van show the masses how to combine patterns, colors, and textured fabrics into cohesive outfits. Haven’t we all struggled with what is the proper attire when walking through the park in the snow? Or what to wear when playing in a pile of leaves? Is my Smith Point outfit acceptable to wear again to Martin’s Tavern brunch (the answer is no)? These are some of the fun and admitting outlandish, photo-shoots (sans the last one) that Lauren and Van use to showcase their fashionable combinations.

Feasting Famously with Emily Hines Private Affairs Director of DC’s New Members Only Hot-Spot, Sidecar As non-pretentious and seemingly unassuming as they come, Emily Hines looks like the out-of-your-league girl next door on first meeting. However, a few short sentences into a conversation and you not only realize how nice and charming she actually is; but that she is very knowledgeable about her craft and really doesn’t have time for your B.S.