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February 10, 2009

DC Gets Cool

The scallop and caviar duo
at Inox restaurant.

by Mollie Chen

The inauguration may be over but Washington, D.C., is still on a high--and change is not limited to politics. Last week, I had dinner with many of the city's tourism officials, all of whom were giddy about their new White House residents as well as their own plans for the next few years. "I can't tell you how excited we are to be cool," one of the heads of Cultural Tourism DC said.

Not surprisingly, I was most interested in hearing about all the latest food news. For the past few years D.C. has quietly but steadily been turning into a major food city, bringing in superstar chefs like Alain Ducasse and Laurent Tourondel, as well as cultivating smaller independent restaurants. Read after the jump for what's on the city's horizon.

* I know what my dad (an Indian food fanatic) is getting for Father's Day. D.C.-based food writer Monica Bhide, whose latest cookbook Modern Spice will be published this April, started out as an engineer. (The self-described geek has two masters degrees.) She is on a single-minded mission to get people to rethink Indian food and appreciate spices, plying them with addictive dishes like peanut tikkis with tamarind date chutney and ginger shrimp. "I want you to fall in love with spices," she says, "and think beyond tandoori chicken."

* The handcrafted cocktail trend is going strong (here in New York I can't keep track of all the "secret" bars out there) and now D.C. has its speakeasy-style boite: The Gibson, in the fledgling U-Street neighborhood. Make a reservation and chat up the bartender.

* The current buzz is around Inox, which just opened in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. The progeny of chefs Jon Mathieson and Jonathan Krinn, the massive (14,000 square feet) restaurant serves remastered New American dishes like escargot tortellini with brown butter and venison with braised beets, onions, and chestnuts. (After I mispronounced the name multiple times, someone helpfully told me that inox is the French word for stainless steel.)

* Just for fun, Nage is throwing political farce brunches every weekend "for the foreseeable future." On a recent Sunday, a Sarah Palin impersonator made a surprise appearance at the Joe Biden event, where there were Biden look-alikes as well as hearty Delaware fare like scrapple and chicken and waffles.

* And, in further proof that change is sweet, Arlington-based Artisan Confections has a limited-edition box with special Hope (Kenyan coffee-hazelnut) and Change (pineapple-passionfruit) chocolates.

Further reading:
* A Foodie in the White House: Edible D.C.
* Catch of the Day: International noshables


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