‘Tis the Season to be Crafty

Martha Stewart makes picture perfect holidays look easy, but building gingerbread houses and decorating cookies can be the toughest tasks of the Yuletide season. To aid aspiring Marthas, a number of area restaurants are offering Christmas-y culinary classes. These are our top picks for learning how to make the season’s best bites look fabulous and taste divine.

The Fairmont Washington, D.C.

Saturday, December 10 at 10:30 a.m.

$60 per child

This class is the perfect solution if you want to build a gingerbread house with your kids, but don’t want your kitchen to look like a flour and sugar bomb went off. You and the little ones can sip on some holiday refreshments, while getting your hands dirty affixing gumdrops to the roof and Skittles to the walls. You’ll leave with a personalized gingerbread house and no mess to clean up. A truly sweet deal. Make a reservation by calling 202-457-5019 or by emailing diana.bulger@fairmont.com.

Find out the four other Christmas-y classes you can take by clicking over to CityEats’ The Plate blog now.

Photo courtesy of The Fairmont Washington, D.C.



Garden Varieties: On-Site Gardens Offer Fresh Produce For Local Restaurants


Summer is the most popular vacation season of the year, so it makes sense that area chefs would want to get away, too. But several of them aren’t headed far from their kitchens. They’re just out back in on-site gardens, an increasingly popular feature of restaurants that allows them to showcase homegrown — and extra-nutritious — produce. “We pluck tomatoes off the vine and put them right in salads,” says Harth’s executive chef, Tom Elder. “It doesn’t get any fresher than that.”

Executive chef Robert Weland kept things simple when he planted his first garden on Poste’s patio in the spring of 2005, cultivating only a few herbs. Now the space is bursting with fig and almond trees, and beds of lettuce. There are also 16 kinds of heirloom tomatoes, including rare varieties such as the pale yellow Ananas and sweet, earthy Chocolate Stripes, which are used in the chef’s tasting menu, 20 Bites. “There’s something really special about eating a tomato in the middle of the garden where it was grown,” says Weland, who offered up one of his recipes.

» 555 8th St. NW; 202-783-6060, Postebrasserie.com

20110801-gardenvarietes-250.jpgThe Fairmont
This West End spot makes sure visitors sip or nibble on something homegrown. Blossoms from the cherry trees sass up the vinaigrette dressing; peppermint adds mojo to mojitos; and the white-, green- and purple-flecked tri-color sage brings a sweetly savory note to the signature duck breast entree’s blackberry sauce.

» 2401 M St. NW; 202-429-2400, Fairmont.com/washington

Finish reading this article and get Weland’s gazpacho recipe on the Express website now.


Hive Talking: The Buzz on Beekeeping

Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim on Flickr

Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim on Flickr

D.C.’s high pollen counts may make allergy sufferers sneeze and groan. But they’re a boon for bees, which use the golden powder to produce honey. And if you have enough outdoor space to grow flowers, you might be able to keep your own hive.

Eating honey gathered from the backyard sounds sweet. But caring for a swarm of stingers seems dangerous. “It’s easier than it seems,” says Toni Burnham, a veteran apiarist with two hives on Capitol Hil. To get buzzing, she recommends taking a class. “Beekeeping isn’t something you can learn from a book,” she says. “You’re developing a relationship with a very different creature.” Find local intro courses via the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association of Maryland and the Beekeepers Association of Northern Virginia.

Finish reading this article on the Express website.


Yuletide Froth for All: Eggnog Without the Carton

20101216-eggnog-250This holiday season, eggnog is getting trendy and tasty updates from mixologists all over the city.

At the newly merged Ardeo+Bardeo, sommelier and manager Tim Galvin is shaking together Stoli Vanilla, eggnog and pumpkin puree to create Pumpkin Eggnog. Served on the rocks with cinnamon sprinkled on top, “it has those warm autumn colors and flavors,” Galvin explains. “Those always heat people up when it’s cold outside.”

Eggnog’s European roots don’t mean bartenders from elsewhere around the globe can’t put their own stamps on it. Jason Storch at Indian restaurant Rasika has injected his version with the style of the subcontinent by using a date-infused cognac and date puree. Served in a snifter, the nog is finished off with just a smidge of black sea salt speckling the top. Read on over at the Express website.


Two More Thanksgiving Catering Options


This à la carte Thanksgiving feast has lots of options.  For your main course you can get a 10-15 pound turkey ($54) or a spiral ham ($70). There are sides aplenty, including stuffing ($12), roasted chestnut soup ($24) and braised greens ($12). Finish off the festivities with your choice of pumpkin pie ($21) or pecan pie ($25). Meals are either delivered or picked up on Wednesday, Nov, 24 and can feed six or more.

7003 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda; 301-654-9860, Persimmonrestaurant.com.

The Fairmont

The hotel’s classic holiday spread includes herb roasted free-range turkey, bread stuffing, maple roasted sweet potatoes and much more. Dessert is either apple, pumpkin or pecan pie. The package feeds 10 and costs $260. Orders can be picked up on Thanksgiving day between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. If diners have any questions, chef Jason Dalling includes his phone number to help avert any T’day tragedies.

2401 M St. NW; 202-457-5020, Fairmont.com/washington.