How to buy a little slice of a bakery, and get more than crumbs if it’s a hit

Tom Wellings brushes rectangles of pizza dough with olive oil. On the other side of the counter, his wife, Camila Arango, pipes cream between layers of pastry for the classic French dessert Paris-Brest. The air is rich with butter, yeast and just-baked croissants. Trays of pistachio and gianduja macarons and glistening kouign-amann the color of maple syrup fill racks, ready to be shuttled downstairs.

At a pop-up space called Prequel, the pastry chefs are doing a test run of Bluebird Bakery, a boulangerie-patisserie they hope to open late this summer or in early fall. Almost everything is in order. They’ve put down a letter of intent for a first-floor space in the Holm apartment building in Logan Circle, on the corner of 11th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW, which is still under construction. During more than a decade, they’ve honed their techniques while working for high-profile establishments in the city — she for Alain Ducasse’s now-shuttered Adour and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, he for Restaurant EveFabio Trabocchi’s various enterprises and Equinox. The recipes have been developed.

Finish reading this story on the Washington Post website now.


Is Marijuana the Source of a New Runner’s High?

After Jeff Sperber crosses the finish line of a 50-mile ultramarathon, he has a specific post-race routine. Like many runners, first he stretches. Then he eats some protein. About an hour later, though, he deviates from the ordinary program by inhaling a few puffs of marijuana from a handheld vaporizer.

“When you’ve been running for that long, you’ve got swelling muscles and aching joints, and you’re tired,” says the 42-year-old Los Angeles resident, a runner since college who has been doing long races since 2007. “You can take an Advil, which will help the swelling and inflammation, but it’s also very taxing on your liver.”

Sperber is part of a growing number of runners who are coming out of the proverbial closet as marijuana smokers or ingesters of THC (marijuana’s active component) through other means, usually edibles, tinctures or topical ointments. Groups such as Run on Grass, in Denver, Colorado, and Team Hope through Cannabis, in Texas, hope to change attitudes about the typical pot smoker and otherwise inspire conversation about marijuana.

Sperber has had two hip surgeries and a hernia surgery, and he’s currently dealing with stage four arthritis in a toe. Though he has a prescription for pain medication to address his post-run issues, he prefers to not use it whenever possible. “I can’t do that stuff and function as a normal human being,” says Sperber, who also has a legal prescription for medical marijuana.  “As a weed smoker, I can function.”

Finish reading this article on the Runner’s World website now.


Where to Find DC’s Most Delicious Mushroom-Centric Dishes

Spring’s bounty brings with it the morel mushroom, which DC chefs are showcasing in scrumptious ways.

Pocketful of Gold
You’ve never had pasta like this. Matt Adler, executive chef at Osteria Morini (301 Water St. SE, Ste. 109, 202-484-0660), pockets a single raw yolk inside one giant raviolo ($25). “If you’ve cooked it perfectly, the egg runs out when you cut into it,” he says. The yellow tide mixes with slightly caramelized morels, crispy sweetbreads, and rich veal sauce. “The mushrooms add a deep, earthy richness,” says Adler. “They taste like spring.”

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Fastnacht Day: In Pennsylvania Dutch country, there’s only one way to celebrate Fat Tuesday

It took me years to work up the courage to tackle one of my grandmother’s most memorable and well-loved creations: fastnachts. Every year, the night before Shrove Tuesday—also known as Fat Tuesday—she would stay up late prepping big batches of the potato-based doughnuts. The next morning, she would rise before dawn to fry the puffy orbs to a deep mahogany, then shower them in confectioners’ sugar while they were still hot.

I made a point of getting up early those days, too, so I could gorge myself on the yeasty treats. By the time my parents joined us, splashes of sugar spotted my pajamas and my fingers were sticky.

Finish reading the story on the Saveur website now.


Are You Gonna Eat That? Thip Khao’s Tree Ant Egg Laab Salad

The Dish: Tree Ant Egg Laab Salad

Price: $15

Where to Get It: Thip Khao; 3462 14th St. NW; (202) 387-5426;

What It Is: “I call it Laos caviar,” says chef Seng Luangrath. The white pill-shaped pods don’t come from the sea though. Known as kai mod daeng in Laotian, they’re actually tree ant eggs. A commonly eaten protein in the Southeast Asian country and neighboring Thailand, the ova are hand-harvested from nests often built on the leaves of mango trees. One method of obtaining them is to shake the nests over a bucket of water. The eggs sink to the bottom, while the insects either drown or crawl out. It’s tough work, because the fierce bugs will bite. Though Luangrath remembers painfully procuring the eggs as a child, she now imports frozen eggs when they’re available from January through March. You may not find them on the menu every day.

Finish reading this story on the Washington City Paper website now.


Could Matchbox become the next Cheesecake Factory?

There’s no sign outside Matchbox restaurant’s test kitchen. It’s tucked away in a stretch of personality-free warehouses in Silver Spring. The compact room features everything you’d find in the full-scale kitchens of the popular D.C.-based chain best known for its pizzas and mini burgers. There’s a brick pizza oven, glass door refrigerator, deep-fryer, flattop stove, grill, range, a pair of counters and a sink. A window on the far end looks into the Matchbox man cave — well, conference room — outfitted with a small artificial-turf putting green and an impressive flat-screen TV mounted on a wall of reclaimed barn wood.

Stephen Lyons, vice president of culinary operations for Matchbox Food Group, is moving around the tight kitchen space with a quick, studied efficiency. He’s preparing a selection of new dishes for a tasting, but he has more than Washington on his mind. Matchbox Food Group is about to launch a national expansion.

Finish reading the story on The Washington Post website now.


An hour after my son was born, I was right where my wife needed me. In line at Shake Shack

My son was just an hour old and I had just become a proud first-time father. Guess what I was doing. Cradling him, while singing him his first lullaby? Nope. Showing him off to gathered relatives? Try again. Triumphantly posting a picture to Facebook? Sorry, wrong.

Actually, I was in line at Shake Shack. I was waiting to get the Shack Burger and cheese-sauce-covered fries my wife, Indira, had been craving for nearly 10 months. As a patient of Wisdom Midwifery at George Washington University Hospital, she had been on a strict diet. No undercooked meats, no processed foods and no sugar. (Being an empathetic fellow, I made sure to eat at least twice as much of those banned substances while she was pregnant.)

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Where are all the interracial children’s books?

Browsing the shelves of the children’s section at bookstores can be a depressing experience for the parent of an interracial youngster. I’m a mutt mixture Caucasian with roots going back to Western Europe and beyond, while my wife is from Ghana. We are constantly on the lookout for stories featuring characters with whom our interracial son can visually identify. It would just be nice for him to pick up a book and think to himself, “Hey, that little guy looks like me.” Sadly, he doesn’t get to do that very often.

Though there is a growing number of racially diverse characters popping up on picture book pages – and the passionate social media campaign #WeNeedDiverseBooks hopes to inspire even more of them – there is a depressing dearth of interracial ones. This is somewhat surprising given how many families are interracial these days. According to the United States Census Bureau, “interracial or interethnic opposite-sex married couple households grew by 28 percent over the decade from 7 percent in 2000 to 10 percent in 2010.” Additionally, there were 275,500 interracial marriages in 2010 out of a total of 2,096,000. Heck, there’s even a TV show about an interracial family and it’s on a major network – ABC’s “The Fosters.”

Finish reading this story on the Washington Post‘s website now.

Image courtesy of “The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage.”