Monday, March 23, 2009

Baked & Wired

Baked and Wired

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is sample a city's cupcakes. Say what you will about the whole cupcake craze, but I believe cupcakes are trendy for a reason: their petite size offers controlled indulgence--and for many, who, like me, grew up on them--a trip down nostalgia lane.

Prior to the trip I'd researched two cupcake spots in Georgetown: Baked & Wired and Georgetown Cupcake. The latter had a seemingly unending line during their hours of operation, which might suggest that it is the queen of cupcakes. And perhaps it is, but with the constant rain we were dealing with, it just seemed like too much work. Instead we made our way to Baked & Wired, tucked away on a quiet block of Thomas Jefferson Street, just a few steps--but yet a world away--from the crowds on M Street.

Peanut Butter
Chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting - $3.50

Easy on the eye, but rich, even by my standards. I wanted so much to like this one, as the kid in me still loves peanut butter, but alas I had to resign myself to the fact that I liked J's selection much better...

Lemon Cupcake with Raspberry Filling and Lemon Icing - $3.50

Wow. J actually gave this one "best cupcake ever" status. And while it lacked the trimmings that tend to make me weak in the knees, such as sprinkles or coconut flakes, it really was amazing: moist lemon cake with raspberry filling and the most luscious lemon icing. We loved it so much that we went back the day we were leaving town in order to have one for breakfast.

Baked & Wired is separated into two distinct sides: one focuses on coffee and the other side is devoted to sweets: an array of beautiful cupcakes, massive peanut butter brownies, pistachio-cherry biscotti and the like. Visiting both sides is intended to get you legally "baked and wired." The particular barista we had on the coffee side was not nearly as warm as my latte, so I was initially a little confused that I could order and receive my coffee from her, but settle my bill on the cupcake side. In fact, she seemed rather put out to make my drink, much less explain how I should pay for it. Buzz kill. Having put myself through college by working as a barista, I feel justified in saying that her delivery was lacking. But with cupcakes like the lemon number, even a tart barista couldn't sour the experience.

- K

Baked & Wired

1052 Thomas Jefferson Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20007

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blue Duck Tavern


Blue Duck Tavern was not on our agenda when we arrived in DC, but it ended up being conveniently located across the street from our hotel. J initially happened upon it for a little Saturday afternoon bubbly, and it quickly became our go-to spot for drinks, cheese, and, on our final night in the nation's capital, dinner.

I loved the dichotomy of Blue Duck Tavern's modern, clean-lined interior and (albeit strategically placed) farmhouse rocking chairs. Right down to the combination of contemporary art and framed quilts on the walls, it is very MOMA meets Amish Country, and a perfectly symbolic representation of the menu: pure, traditional flavors delivered with a focus on sustainability.

Chestnut Soup with Burnt Marshmallow (Path Valley, PA) - $12

Any soup that allows me to indulge my sweet tooth is a soup I have to try. Pureed Path Valley chestnuts with three burnt marshmallows floating on top: so simple yet so creative. I literally scraped every last bit from the bowl.

Baby Greens with Round Pond Vinaigrette (Path Valley, PA) - $7

J kept his eye on the food pyramid with this one. It was just the prep he needed for what was to follow...

Traditional Cassoulet (Jurgielewicz Farm, PA) - $26


After a cold day of walking in the rain, J found this to be just what the doctor ordered. He loved the smokey flavor of the sausage. While he appreciated that the beans were not out of a can, they were a little more firm than he would have preferred. That didn't keep him from getting it wrapped up in a doggy bag and enjoying the leftovers for breakfast.

Roasted Organic Chicken with Buttermilk and Herbs (Four Story Hill, PA) - $23

I rarely eat chicken, but with the buttermilk and rosemary this just sounded too good to pass up. It was well worth the selection: incredibly juicy and fresh, and paired nicely with...

Heirloom Grits with Blue Cheese (Anson Mills, SC) - $8

I could eat grits every day: primarily because it is just one more excuse to eat cheese, but also because they remind me so much of visiting the south. The consistency of these was perfectly creamy and smooth, and the blue cheese was a tangy addition.

Cheese Plate: Grayson, Bayley Hazen Blue and Constant Bliss - $5 per oz.

Blue Duck Tavern is housed in the Grand Hyatt, and offers an easy bar for the consumption of adult beverages, day or night. Two tables are actually enclosed in little glass rooms, creating a human fish bowl that makes for great people watching. Between the bar and the restaurant are two open pantry areas where employees prepare everything from espresso drinks to dessert, creating the illusion of dining at a friend's house.

- K

Blue Duck Tavern
24 & M Streets, NW
Washington, DC 20037

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009



When I first saw Hook listed on Food & Wine's web site, the name admittedly conjured up images of wait staff donning pirate shirts and clapboard walls adorned with life preservers. However as I read further, I realized Hook's ode to the sea runs much deeper.

Washington, DC's Hook first opened its doors in April 2007, and features sustainable seafood and local organic produce. Located on bustling M Street in Georgetown, the restaurant's historic brick exterior hides a sleek white dining room, complete with alluring semi-sheer curtains and a sprinkling of DC's preppy elite. Despite the fact that it was a busy Friday night, our server spent a considerable amount of time explaining the restaurant's philosophy of developing relationships with fishermen who follow environmentally sustainable practices. He proceeded to walk us through every entree on the menu, detailing the geographic origins of the fish.

Crudo: Shellfish Combination for 2 - $42

Lobster, prawns, Taylor Bay Scallops, Calamari, Oysters and Mussels. Fish my favorite way: raw and pure, and a jet-lag free visit to Japan, Canada, New York and Maine.

Grilled Calamari (Rhode Island) - Potato Salad, Basil Walnut Pesto - $12

Tender and smoky, this dish was a standout for J. The calamari was grilled to perfection, and the combination of pesto and squid was reminiscent of fare we once enjoyed in Cinque Terre.

Arctic Char (Iceland) - Sweet Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Celeriac Puree - $27

Thanksgiving dinner meets Omega-3s. I loved the combination of flavors and textures, especially the crispy fish skin dressed with the delicate puree.

MoonFish (Hawaii) - Fennel, De Puy Lentils, Tomato Coulis - $27

J found this fish to be similar in mouth feel and firmness to tuna, but with a silkiness that shimmied on the tongue.

With more wine bottles falling in the triple-digit range than the "under $40" zone, Hook's wine list did have us walking the plank. That said, given that it is Georgetown--where tiny brick row homes can run a cool $1 million--I suppose the $630 Blanc de Blanc is on the menu for a reason.

- K


3421 M Street NW
Washington, DC

Labels: , , ,