Wholly Smoked

Secondhand smoke isn’t so bad when it’s delivered by your waiter. Experimental chefs and mixologists all over the District are infusing meals and cocktails with pleasing vapors that transport patrons beyond the dining room. “Smoke makes you feel like you’re outside,” says Bibiana’s executive chef, Nicholas Stefanelli. “It always reminds me of cooking on the grill.” Whether reminiscent of the great outdoors or not, these smoky creations are a breath of fresh air.

Eola

2020 P St. NW; 202-466-4441. (Dupont Circle)

Once a month, this palace of pork hosts a bacon-centric brunch to showcase six to 10 homemade bacons, ($6 each, $14 for a flight of three, above), each made from a different pig. Chef Daniel Singhofen first rubs the hog bellies with a mixture of brown sugar, kosher salt, water and curing mix, and cold-smokes them with a combination of applewood and cherrywood for 12 hours. After taking them out and chilling them, he seals them in bags of lard before sous vide cooking them for another half day. “That’s how we achieve that melt-in-your-mouth texture,” Singhofen says. Finally, the bacon is sliced and fried to order.

Read about my other four smoky spots on the Express website now.

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Whole Hog: Eola’s Brainy and Cheeky Cuisine Celebrates All Things Offal

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The table at Dupont Circle’s Eola is covered in small appetizers that seem innocuous—tortellini, chicken fried steak, tempura fries. But take a second glance. All three dishes are made from parts of a pig’s head: The pasta is filled with brain. The golden, deep fried tempura batter hides slivers of ear. And the “steak” is a gloriously fatty jowl. The spread marks an opening salvo in an exuberant exploration of all things offal. And, in classic 21st-century culinary-culture fashion, the preparation of entrails and internal organs also represents something of a political gesture. Eola chef and co-owner Daniel Singhofen says he didn’t create his menu to shock his guests. Rather, he’s demonstrating his respect for ingredients.

“If we’re responsible for taking life, then we need to be responsible with what we do with that animal,” Singhofen says. “We try to use as much as we can, as often as we can, and not waste anything.” Not that the Culinary Institute of America–trained chef will cop to sacrificing taste on the altar of non-waste. “It’s a challenge to turn this stuff into a wonderful dish and then convince people to order it,” says Singhofen. “But when it’s good, it’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted.” Continue reading the full Young & Hungry feature over at the Washington City Paper website now.

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Warning! Glucose Overload: District Eateries Take on the Donut

20110106-donuts-250Whether you’re having them for breakfast or a late-night dessert, there’s something so satisfying about doughnuts that they are sometimes hard to eat because you’re grinning so widely. Now, thanks to area restaurants, smile from sunrise till sundown with fresh spins on these beloved circular treats.

One of the tastiest twists on the standard doughnut are the beignets at the Korean-Cajun fusion joint Mokomandy out in Sterling, Va. Executive chef Daniel Stevens makes the classic unique: “It’s a much cakier, yeastier flavor than you’d get from your typical Cafe du Monde-style beignet.”

Each piping-hot order comes with an ever-changing array of dipping sauces that have included pumpkin butter, dulce de leche, blackberry coulis and quince-hibiscus sauce. Stevens says the Louisiana favorite is the eatery’s best-selling dessert by far. “I see a lot of people make their ‘wow’ face after the first bite,” he says.

Find out the other best places around the District to go nuts for donuts.

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