Archive for the ‘cooking classes’ Category

It’s All Turkish to Me – My First Cooking Class at Culinaria, Vienna, Virginia

October 12th, 2013 • 2 Comments

I’ve been wanting to try Culinaria Cooking School in Vienna, Virginia for awhile and decided to try their Intro to Turkish Cuisine cooking class on Wednesday, October 9th, 2013.

2013-10-09 19.08.13

Culinaria was founded by long time local cooking instructors Stephen Sands and Pete Snaith who both learned their trade teaching at Bethesda, Marylands’ L’Academie de Cuisine (Pete also had some time at the Culinary Institute of Florence). Our instructor for this event was Stefanie Sacripante who graduated from NYC’s Institute of Culinary Education and worked at various stints including Le Cirque also in NYC – a complete Bio of Culinaria’s Staff is Here. She is of French and Italian descent with a classic mix of New York which definitely gave her street cred a la Anthony Bourdain (she’s way better behaved!).

The Location: Although slightly hidden from the main street, the school is located in the heart of Vienna, VA and has something a bit rare for cooking schools in our area: plenty of parking! Of course I was attending after most businesses were closed, but there is parking in the area as well. The space is actually 2 kitchens: a Demonstration Kitchen for up to 24 students and a Hands-On (Participation) Kitchen for up to 18 people. The space was very pleasant and well laid-out, so definite plus on being spacious and easy to maneuver, prep and cook in.

2013-10-09 21.26.38The Class: This was a Participation class based on traditional Turkish cuisine with 5 dishes:

  • Shepherd’s Salad
  • Classic Lamb Kofte
  • Plain & Perfect Pilav (Rice)
  • Turkish Braised Leeks in Olive Oil & Lemon Juice
  • Pears Poached in Clove Syrup

We first made the Salad together and then there was explanations of preparation and history of each dish afterwards with well written recipes and then each student prepared one of the dishes. I’ve been to many recreational cooking classes and what I liked most about this one was the instructors’s interesting personal history and story about her mother who was a child in war-torn France during WW II – and because she was of Italian descent, she was not treated very well by her French neighbors!

The Dishes:

2013-10-09 19.28.01Shepherd’s Salad

The first dish we made at the beginning was the Shepherd’s Salad – very much a traditional Mediterranean style salad with cucumbers, red onion, parsley and tomatoes. This is the first time I had heard of Maras or kirimizi flakes which are a type of dried hot pepper seasoning. The dressing was essentially just lemon and olive oil, so it’s a very refreshing dish – which is especially cooling in hotter climate weather.

2013-10-09 21.14.43Classic Lamb Kofte

Kofte is a take on the “meatball”, the ultimate comfort food for pretty much every European or Middle Eastern cuisine! The meat used is lamb which strongly suggests Turkey’s Middle-Eastern routes, but also it’s Greek influence. Day-old bread which is dried out is soaked in water, squeezed out and then crumbled into a mixture of ground lamb, grated onion, a little egg, minced parsley, cumin salt and Kirmizi spice. The latter 2 spices suggest Middle Eastern cooking, especially the cumin. The secret of this dish is to roll the ball of meat in your hands and slightly compress into an egg shape – then cook the whole mixture in ghee (clarified butter) or just melted unsalted butter – only about 3 minutes per side, these cook pretty fast! The moistened/squeezed bread added to the meat I’ve seen in many Italian recipes for meatballs, but Italians generally use a mix of meats other than lamb like beef/pork/veal, so there’s another regional difference. One of the best explanations I’ve ever heard for why different cultures use different animal meats is that the terrain and vegetation of a place determines the animal (and in the case of pork, often the religious views as well!) – hilly/rocky regions have a better time raising goats, lamb and sheep, more open areas with more open grass sources tend towards beef and veal. The sauce for this is normally some yogurt mixed with some spices – meaty/warm vs. cooling/creamy is such a great contrast, this was my favorite dish of the evening – and so simple!

 Plain & Perfect Pilav (Rice)

2013-10-09 21.23.19Don’t make fun of me – I have a really hard time making rice that doesn’t stick together! Yes, I soak the rice 3 or 4 times, but I guess I overcook it or maybe..I don’t fluff it at the right time! I’m not sure, but this recipe for rice came out perfect. Something unusual was that after rinsing, the rice was put into almost boiling water to pre-cook it and after that cooled down, it was drained and sauteed in butter for a few minutes. Also, the rice was cooked afterward for about 12 minutes at a low simmer with the top tightly on – I’m going to play with each part of this until I get my rice right..practice, practice, practice!

2013-10-09 21.24.09Turkish Braised Leeks in Olive Oil & Lemon Juice

Leeks can be a real pain to prepare – they get so much dirt and sand between their leaves and it’s hard to get out. Chef Stefanie showed us a few tricks: after cutting off the root end, she cut cross-wise into about 1-inch disks and then we “telescoped” them by pushing out the centers into cold water and thus rinsing the dirt in cold water. Also the rings keep the integrity of the dish under the slow braising so they aren’t stringy messes. Add some chopped carrots and a tablespoon of uncooked rice into a heavy pan, and simmer in olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add salt, a little sugar and a little over a cup of water and let simmer on medium for about 20 or 30 minutes until soft. Finish with some lemon juice and maybe a sprinkle of salt and a very simple dish is complete.

2013-10-09 20.43.20Pears Poached in Clove Syrup

This is a dish very similar to a Spanish dish where pears are poached in red wine and sugar – so I guess all through the Mediterranean something like this is prepared. It’s very simple: take pears that are rather firm (these were actually a bit ripe, but the dish worked anyway – it’s pretty forgiving), cut them in half and core and stem a bit and put them into a hot solution of a 2:1 ratio of water to sugar with some sliced lemon and a few cloves, and basically cook until the pears are soft, take out the pears and reduce until it becomes a syrup. I was thinking a little rosewater could have been used instead of the cloves, or maybe cinnamon. Chef Stephanie had some home-made pear sorbet she had made and paired the 2 together – a pear and pear comparison dessert – delicious! Ohh, and we took some of the Greek yogurt and put this on the reduced pairs instead of the Kofte – yogurt has that wonderful cooling/creamy influence and of course tastes great against sweet.

2013-10-09 21.27.21Conclusion

Culinaria is run by cooking class veterans and has a really choice cooking school set-up with room to grow. They also have an extensive offering of a broad range of cooking classes based on skill or special interest. In my opinion, they have a very good niche in the NoVA/DC area in that they are very close to Tysons Corner and tons of corporate event planners, but also they are centered in a relatively high-income demographic area (especially if Oakton nearby is considered). Once they get their wine programs going again – a short-term hiccup at best from what I understand – they will really have the interests of NoVA food enthusiasts and their dollars as well. I definitely intend on attending more of their classes and weekend events are probably where a DC guy like me is more likely to spend the most time – I hate driving to VA at rush hour during the week!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Some Upcoming Culinaria Cooking Classes on the TasteDC Calendar:

Sur La Table Hands-On Cooking Class in Pentagon City – Hold the Wine, But Lot’s of Fun Anyway!

August 21st, 2013 • No Comments

I hadn’t been to cooking class at Sur La Table in Pentagon City in a long time – maybe 6 years, so it was time to visit one of the original recreational cooking schools in the Washington, D.C. area. The class I took was hands-on – The Best of Szechuan Cooking – and was a great excuse to get my wok skills going again. Wine isn’t allowed to be consumed..so I was bit hyped on tea, but I guess change is always good!

I flipped for this Dish!

I flipped for this Dish!

I actually haven’t owned a wok in over 10 years – in college, I learned how to use a wok from a guy who demonstrated its use in a class on public speaking – he made it seem so accessible, that I used to make alot of my meals in college and grad school with a wok. What I really enjoy about this type of cooking is that once all the ingredients are prepped, the actual cooking isn’t fussy, you just basically add the ingredients at high heat, keep it moving and eat!
Joe Lipinski - Cooking Instructor Extraordinaire!

Joe Lipinski – Cooking Instructor Extraordinaire!

The class was taught by Joe Lipinski who’s title is “Resident Chef” but it really should be Head Culinary Entertainer and Coordinator – he had an excellent rapport with the group and it was obvious he enjoyed engaging the group. DC is a tough town for strangers to meet – intense is a word I often hear for the personality of Washingtonians – and he did a good job at letting people sort of entertain themselves while keeping the cooking in the direction it needed to go. Alot of corporate recruiters and managers could take a lesson from this guy!


2013-08-20 19.15.16Hot and Sour Soup:
This was a very simplified recipe for the dish which can include strange ingredients like wood mushrooms, black fungus and wild lilies – in this recipe, those were replaced from a very available ingredient: shiitake mushrooms. The key to this dish is to balance the hot (which came from hot chile oil) with the sour – rice vinegar worked for this dish. If you balance those two items, you can actually use any ingredients that add heat and acidity like hot peppers for heat and lemon, lime or various vinegars to balance the flavors. Since the pork is really just being simmered in the soup, another animal protein like chicken can work too..oh, and this is an excuse to add tofu to your diet which adds a fun texture to the soup!

2013-08-20 19.43.52Noodles with Ground Pork (Ants Climbing a Tree)
I love noodles, but when you go to an Asian market like H-Mart or Grand Mart, the choices can be overwhelming (and quite intimidating!) – so it’s always nice to get some hands on practice. In this case, the “tree” in the dish is mung bean noodles which were pre-boiled and cooled so they could be added to the dish with the “ants” ie. seared and browned ground pork, to create a wonderful meshing of flavors.

2013-08-20 20.51.39Bang Bang Chicken
Essentially, broth boiled chicken in a chunky peanut sauce – what makes this dish interesting and delicious is really the cold lettuce leaves and cucumber and carrots against the savory chicken. This is a dish that you could either forget about or relish for a fun outdoor BBQ/picnic type of event or an easy to throw together leftover dinner. What’s astonishing is that little changes in your dish like crispy lettuce (or could you make this into a sandwich with bread?), crunchy veggies – which could be replaced with a kimchi or some kind of relish, could actually make this a fun variable dish that could change with your moods!

2013-08-20 20.43.28Dry-Fried Green Beans with Chile Sauce
Essentially this is some type of green been (traditional Chinese long green beans or vericots vert work just fine as well..), seared and blistered at a high temperature with lot’s of flavorful ginger, garlic and chile paste to create a sticky, hot sauce that makes this either a hot side dish or a fun cold dish that could be added to cold lettuce or even possibly a little feta cheese for a fun refreshing summer afternoon. This is a go-to dish – especially because I’m not a fan of boiled green beans, and they seem to be so prevalent at the Farmer’s Market..

Enjoy this overview of my fun hands-on cooking class at Sur La Table – here are also some fun cooking classes you may want to take at Sur La Table Pentagon City:

Coastal Italian Cuisine, Saturday, August 24th, 10 am , Sur La Table Pentagon City

2-Day Baking Workshop, Thursday and Friday 11 am, August 29th and 30th, Sur La Table Pentagon City h

Paella Making Class and Dinner, Thursday, September 5th, La Tasca (Chinatown)

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Suthn Cookin’ at Union Kitchen in DC

March 4th, 2013 • No Comments

I wanted to learn how to make the juiciest fried chicken and fluffiest biscuits in DC..

Chicken in the Fryer..

Chicken in the Fryer..

Fried Chicken..Yummy!

Fried Chicken..Yummy!

I had the really great luck to attend a cooking class on Thursday, February 28th, 2013 at a totally new facility in DC – the Union Kitchen. So you may ask what exactly IS Union Kitchen? That actually might be hard to explain, but let me give it a try – it’s a place for Start-Up food businesses to go the next level in production and ultimately business success. But not always..it’s also a commercial kitchen for Food Trucks and other food producers who can schedule a time and then produce their product for commercial purposes..but it’s also one more thing – a potentially excellent venue for hands-on cooking classes and events. In a nutshell, it’s an exciting opportunity for food ventures in DC to go to the next level – I was PSYCHED to go to this event! (Note: Here’s a really good explanation by City Paper )

Union Kitchen - DC's Newest Food Business Incubator!

Union Kitchen – DC’s Newest Food Business Incubator!

The Chef: I stole this from the Chef’s bio on her website, but I also would like to add that the chef was excellent at organizing and teaching a cooking class – she had wonderful rapport with the 10 attendees and she was very organized and straight to the point of the class – let’s get cookin’! Jessica also mentioned to me that she’s working on a commercial recipe for her Southern pimento cheese ..but I didn’t get much detail, I’m sure there will be more to tell..From her page: Jessica O’Neal started JLOkitchens to share her love of Southern cuisine with the District. She teaches cooking classes at CulinAerie, is a personal chef for a very tall man and is currently developing a line of Southern food products at Union Kitchen. She will gladly trade you her tasty pimento cheese for honest feedback and/or champagne.

The Class: This class was held in a commercial kitchen, so we used the same industrial equipment that all of the commercial businesses use, but our recipe was for producing similar amounts to what we would make at home. We got right down to cracking eggs, adding them to the flour with hunks of butter and making biscuits. The basic format was that we were shown how to make each dish with basic recipes and then broken down into groups to cook for the group.

The Secret to Great Biscuits: 1) cut in half..

The Secret to Great Biscuits: 1) cut in half..

Step 2: Layer and Press!

Step 2: Layer and Press!

The Menu:

Sweet Potato Herb Biscuits with Honey Butter – I finally learned the secret of making great biscuits – hunks of butter and folding the flour and compressing to create layers for steam and flakiness..
Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken – I actually missed the recipe for this part and basically all I did was flip some fried chicken (my fault – I was off on a tour of the facility!)-a much longer than expected slow fry in the oil made this chicken both crispy and cooked through..but the meat was really juicy – I ate it down to the bone!



-Creamy Cheddar Grits with Smoky Greens – this is actually 2 dishes, but they were combined. The secret is in both the type of corn grits and in the way they are ground – stone ground is best. And cheese was added at the very end only as a topping, rather than in the cooking process. We used curly Kale, but any green works for this dish.
Cornbread Custard with Berry Coulis – this was a very simple dessert essentially using store bought corn bread, breaking it up and adding eggs and milk into a custard and heating at a relatively low temperature – simple, but classic comfort food!
-Bourbon Whipped Cream – real Bourbon..I should know, I was sipping some of that Jim Beam during the class..

Good Eats!

Good Eats!

Charlie Adler..cooking on the Job!

Charlie Adler..cooking on the Job!

Conclusion: This was a really fun event in a great location..I was warned about this neighborhood, but when I found the space (it was a little hidden – but it’s an old warehouse building, c’mon!) and parking in front, I began to think – people are just living in the past..this facility IS the future of DC and the entrepreneurs who run it are the next wave for DC. Jessica gave a great cooking class and the facility is perfect for a multitude of events – there’s even additional spaces for Pop-Up Dinners, wine tastings and more culinary endeavors. OK, so it’s a bit edgy, but you know the expression – you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

The class is just getting started..

The class is just getting started..

The Setup

The Setup

2013-02-28 20.24.42

Chinese New Year Dumpling Making Class at the Source

February 10th, 2013 • No Comments

I love dumplings..actually, I love any starch covered meat/seafood/vegetable whether it’s fried, boiled, steamed or sauteed! I attended a really unique and fun cooking class organized by AIWF’s DC Chapter with Executive Chef Scott Drewno at The Source in downtown DC on Saturday, February 9th, 2013. Here are the highlights and some photos – you WILL salivate when you see the dishes..and honestly, I just can’t forget the mouth-watering aromas of ginger, garlic and soy in so many wonderful combinations..in some ways you really need your sense of smell to appreciate this post!

The Event:

1)Layout – very unique and maybe a bit daunting at the beginning, but there were 3 separate seating areas with 3 individual cooking demonstration stations. It was sort of like theater in the round, with the main Chef Scott Drewno in the middle station (he’s on the far left in the photo above) with his “Madonna” headseat on and 2 separate chefs demonstrating on opposite/perpendicular sides of the stage – I guess you could call it a 3-Chef C-Stage Cooking Demonstration. Unusual, but it worked mainly because of the entertainment value and also because you could watch your own chef – a very creative use of a space that actually is difficult to layout for classroom style events!

2)The Menu – I usually have a pretty low expectation of a cooking class that is simple food like dumplings, but then again, I know chef Drewno notoriously is an impressive foodie and he couldn’t (wouldn’t) let us down. Here’s the menu and dish photos are below:

Yummy fall-off-the-bone Spare Ribs!

Sea Scallop Sui Mai

Chinese New Dumpling Class Menu

-Chinese Spare Ribs, Black Bean Glaze
-Sea Scallop Sui Mai, Curried Lobster Emulsion
-Pork Belly Pot Stickers, Black Vinegar, Chili Oil
-Szechuan Style Green Beans, Candied Walnuts
-Crystal Chive Dumpling, Kurobuta Pork, King Crab
-Chilled Cucumber Salad, Toasted Sesame, Togarashi
-Szechuan “Dan Dan” Dumpling, Organic Chicken, Peanut Sauce
-Millet Congee, Red Braised Pork Belly, Pickled Butternut Squash Relish

Dragon’s Fire Cocktail


3)The Process – we sat down at various dining room tables and actually got some hands-on hand-rolling of 2 kinds of pork dumplings, we each had 2 wrappers of each kind to roll. Now we got a complete explanation and demo of how to roll, and then we rolled up our sleeves, dipped our finger in the egg wash and wrapped up the mini-balls of meat into dumplings. Some people were good, some were ok, and some simply had falling apart dumplings, but hey, we weren’t going to eat these anyway – the meal was prepared for us. Primarily a demonstration cooking class, I found myself talking to my fellow Foodies more than actually listening to the class – I probably could have learned more, but honestly the vibe in the room and the amount of alcohol being served (sparkling wine and that tasty Dragon’s Fire Cocktail with Tequila!) kept the noise/buzz omni-present – if this had been my first cooking class, maybe a bad thing, but for experienced Foodies it was actually a really fun event.

4)The meal – served primarly family style (except for the Millet Congee and the dessert), it was fun to share with 3 other people at my table. My Foodie Buddie Bruce Miller (who has attended at least 200 TasteDC events or more in the past) was very experienced at these events. I actually prefer the family style method of serving – it helps create rapport and camaraderie. By sharing food, I learned more about my newfound fellow foodies than if everything had been individually plated. Some specific comments: the variety of dishes, proteins and vegetables was very thought out – from garlicky clams to

Millet Congee, Red Braised Pork Belly, Pickled Butternut Squash Relish

rich pork belly and braised pork belly, back to the Sea Scallops Sui Mai and then finally to the deliciously syrupy dessert (I forget the name!). Also the Chilled Cucumber Salad helped to cool my palate and acted sort of like an Amuse Bouche between dishes – actually the Cocktail did the same with it’s Tequila and grapefruit – a very smart way of using a drink to refresh the palate!

5)Service – I was really impressed by the Source’s staff and presentation and service – they cared..something that you don’t always get with service nowadays, but each server was focused and putting in effort. There were many parts too – the hot hand towels which came out twice, the initial layout of the wrappers on a small granite plate with a moist towel on top to protect the integrity of the dumpling wrappers, the pouring of sparkling wine, the making and serving of the cocktail, and the actual serving of the food which was primarily family style. There was one obliteration of glassware episode – and I mean ExPloDing glass – but luckily it was to the side, and the server quickly cleaned it up – no harm, no foul..in fact, maybe an extra plus for handling a delicate situation so well!

Superb Service at the Source!

6)Overall Impression – very professional presentation and staff, but not stiff – I felt like things were being taken care of without pretense. This event was very much theater in the round and in fact, there were two un-affiliated groups of people present – the AIWF DC Chapter and a list of Chef Scott Drewno’s contacts/Foodies. I thought the cooking layout of 3 chef demonstration stations although unusual, it created some theater and a chance for more discussion – and it was the best use of the available space which is awkwardly broken up by an atrium/stairwell. The space is actually quite visually pleasing with the extensive windows and the wine wall next to the stairwell. Chef Drewno is also a very good presenter and entertaining and answered questions clearly from the audience – Scott knows his Asian ingredients – oh, and this WaPo article will give you some background on that. Really curious about ethnic food? Then Check Out Tyler Cowen’s Ethnic Dining Guide


Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Tasting Events in DC – June 25th – July 1st, 2012

June 21st, 2012 • No Comments

Even with this heat wave, I’m seeing alot of food and drink events in the DC Region and some interesting cooking classes as well. I thought the Blog would be a fun place to post these events every once in awhile (until the TasteDC Food and Drink Event Calendar is completed in the Fall), enjoy!

Photo from 2012 Fancy Food Show

5-Course Belgian Beer Dinner
June 25th (Monday) 7 pm
Mad Fox Brewing Company, 444 West Broad Street, Suite I, Falls Church, VA 22046

Menu with Beers
Our culinary team, led by Executive Chef Andrew Dixon, has an exciting menu for our first Belgian themed beer dinner. We’ll have a 5-course meal paired with Mad Fox’s Belgian-style beers, including the soon to be released Abbaye des Chutes and the Witte Vos Witbier.

The cost is $75 excluding taxes and gratuity – seating is limited,
Reservations with a credit card are taken at 703-942-6840.


Gluten Free Wine Dinner
June 26th (Tuesday) 7 pm
Wildfire McLean, Tysons Galleria 3rd Floor, McLean, VA 22102

Join us for an evening of gluten free dining, featuring a four course custom menu, each paired with a hand-selected
wine to complement the dish. The event begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m., follwed by dinner at 7:00 p.m.
Guest speaker, Vanessa Weisbrod, Executive Editor of Delight Gluten Free Magazine, will be on hand to share her insight on living and dining gluten free.
Complete Menu

Tickets Are $65/per person exclusive of tax and gratuity
Make Reservations by Calling Elissa or Amanda at (703) 442-9110

6-Course Sushi-Ko Beer Dinner
June 26th (Tuesday) 7 pm
5455 Wisconsin Avenue Chevy Chase, MD 20815

Six-course menu created by owner and creative director of Sushi-ko, Daisuke Utagawa, together with beer expert Jocelyn Cambier.

The beer dinner is $85, all inclusive. Here’s the menu:

Edamame paired with Port City pale ale
Lobster and Asparagus Suimono (clear soup) with Brasseurs Illimites double porter
Flounder Carpaccio with White Soy and Truffle Sauce complemented by a surprise beer of Brasseurs du Monde
Honey and Soy Roasted Duck with A l’Abri de La Tempete Corps Mort
Spicy Broiled Mussels and Coronado Islander IPA
and a final course of Nigiri Sushi paired with Brasseurs Illimites Imperial Stout

Call (301) 961-1644 for tickets

Wine Tasting 101: Champagne Deutz & Maison Delas (Rhône) Class
June 26th (Tuesday) 7 pm
French American Cultural Foundation, La Maison Francaise, 4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007

Charlie Adler Shows How to Open Champagne

Our monthly Wine Tasting 101 soirées — with veteran wine journalist Claire Morin-Gibourg – explores the regions (Burgundy, Champagne, Rhône Valley, Languedoc and Bordeaux) and vineyards in France, as well as tasting techniques. List of wines for this session include: -Champagne Deutz Brut Classic, Champagne Deutz Brut Rosé nv, Champagne Deutz Blanc de Blancs, Cuvée William Deutz millésimé, Delas Frères blanc Saint Joseph ou Condrieu, Delas Frères rouge Hermitage; Also included: a fine assortment of cheeses.

Tickets Are $70/per person
Purchase Tickets Online


Chef’s Best
June 26th (Tuesday) 6:30 pm
The Washington Hilton Hotel
1919 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC
Enter through the “T Street” Entrance

VIP Reception for Sponsors & Special Guests, 5:30pm
Main Doors Open, 6:30pmMore than 1,300 guests will enjoy tastings from 60 of the region’s brightest culinary stars while raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support children and adults facing HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. In addition to a menu filled with one-of-a-kind delights, you’ll enjoy bidding on live and silent auctions featuring travel opportunities and other great adventures.

Tickets Are $250/per person (Table/Sponsorships Available)
More Info and Purchase Tickets Online

Sold Out-Whiskey Cocktail Making Class
June 27th (Wednesday) 6 pm
The Gibson, 2009 14th Street NW,Washington, DC , 20009

One ticket to The Gibson Whiskey Cocktail Making Class on Wednesday June 27, 2012 at 6 PM
Whiskey-blending tutorial with premium single malt whiskeys
Take-home custom blended whiskey

Tickets Are $60/per person

6-Course Spanish Wine Dinner
June 27th (Wednesday) 7 pm
Tuskies, 203 Harrison St., Leesburg, VA 20175

Guest speaker Alicia Geiser will showcase some of the delicious wines coming from Spain. Chef Patrick will be hard at work pairing these wines with his interpretation of Spanish cuisine. $95 inclusive

Tickets Are $95/per person inclusive
Purchase Tickets Online

Catoctin Creek – The Art of Summer Cocktails
June 27th (Wednesday) 6:30 – 8:3O PM
J&G Steakhouse Wine Bar, 515 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20010

Scott Harris, general manager of the award-winning Virginia distillery Catoctin Creek, will demonstrate how to make three whiskey-based drinks that are sure to be a hit at your next summer soirée. Guests will also enjoy paired bites and receive a gift bag of Catoctin goodies after the event and then show off your newly acquired mixology skills later this summer.


Tickets Are $41/per person
Purchase Tickets Online

Great Lakes Brewing Company Beer Dinner
June 28th (Thursday) 7 – 10 pm
Dino’s, 3435 Connecticut Avenue NW
Cleveland Park, Washington DC, 20008

The Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Mission Statement: “Great Lakes Brewing Company is a principle-centered, environmentally respectful and socially conscious company committed to crafting fresh, flavorful, high-quality beer and food for the enjoyment of our customers. We aspire to maintain our status as the premier craft brewery in the Great Lakes region and are dedicated to uncompromising service, continuous improvement and innovative consumer education.”
See Complete Menu http://www.dino-dc.com/2012/06/great-lakes-brewing-company-brew-dinner.html/#start

Tickets Are $55/per person exclusive of tax & gratuity
Call for Reservations 202-686-2966


Essential Knife Skills
June 30th (Saturday) 2:30 – 4:30 pm
Sur La Table (Pentagon City), 1101 South Joyce Street Suite B-20 , Arlington, Virginia 22202

One of our most popular classes, join us as our expert instructor helps students become confident at the cutting board with the chef’s most important tool. Students will hone basic knife skills and practice the fundamental cuts for vegetables—mince, dice, brunoise, batonnet and julienne—as well as learn some advanced techniques. We’ll also show you how to select a knife that best fits your needs, and share tips for keeping all your cutlery sharp and well maintained at home.

Tickets Are $59/per person
Purchase Tickets Online

BBQ and Smoking Cooking Class
June 30th (Saturday) 2 -5 pm
Culinaria, 110 Pleasant Street Northwest Vienna, VA 22180

TasteDC BBQ 101 Class Video

Summertime and barbecue – they just go together. Chef Mike will discuss brining, rubs and the various cuts and preparation of smoked meats including pork shoulder, ribs and salmon. Come learn how to make and, most importantly, taste some great BBQ and smoked items.

Tickets Are $85/per person
Purchase Tickets Online

Get Thee To a Valentine..

January 31st, 2012 • No Comments

(Note: Updated on February 9th (Thursday) 2012 – will be updated as events unfold or get Sold Out..)

I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, but like Halloween, it’s a celebration/festivity that has taken on a life of it’s own. And 2012 is no exception, there are just a plethora of Valentine’s tastings for both the chocolate and non-chocolate lover – I’m not even sure if the latter exists! Some quick thoughts on Valentine’s and tastings: if you’re a restaurant or event provider who wishes to really draw people in this time of year, any theme with chocolate, sparkling wine (especially Champagne) or some over-the-top rich dish like braised meats seems to bring people in in droves – oh, and also any food/concept connected with Amore, for example oysters and fondue (both chocolate and cheese work). It’s also OK to add terms like “seduction”, “decadent”, “aphrodisiac” and even “libido” to your menu descriptions which breaks away from the everyday norm of exclusion of these concepts – Valentine’s gives you as the marketer the right to explore the racier side of life..and people will accept and forgive you for about a week! Of course, certain cultures are also associated with lasciviousness so French and Italian restaurants and themes have a distinct advantage. If you have a strong combination of all of these themes and concepts, you can also expect a marriage proposal or two to occur – and hopefully, not with your staff!

Oh, and to make all this information just a touch more confusing..Valentine’s Day is officially Tuesday, February 14th, but many events list their date on Saturday or Sunday as “official” Valentine’s Day events – it’s a celebration of love and romance, does it really matter what the official date is? I think not..

I will list the major tastings by date (Note: if you’re just looking for a listing of restaurants that have multi-course dinners especially for Valentine’s, here’s a pretty good list by Washingtonian):

Thursday, February 9th,

Sommelier Showdown (as part of the DC International Food and Wine Festival), 7:00pm-9:00pm
Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest Washington, DC 20004

Tickets are $150/per person and can be Purchased Online

See top DC Sommeliers flex their knowledge at the Washington DC International Wine & Food Festival’s inaugural Sommelier Showdown. Our experts will engage in a friendly tête-à-tête and compete in a race of the taste, using deductive tasting to identify wines with hidden labels.

To complement the wines presented, the Showdown will feature five of DCs most noted chefs who will be tasked with bringing food and wine together, including Chefs Todd Gray (Equinox), Xavier Deshayes (Ronald Reagan Building), and Jaime Montes de Oca (Zentan).



SOLD OUT-Savory Syrah – A Global Tour
7 pm
Chain Bridge Cellars, 1351 Chain Bridge Rd. McLean, VA 22101

Wine experts all agree that Syrah is one of the “noble” varietals, capable of making some of the most complex, layered and age-worthy wines in the world. But the kinship between a $10 Aussie Shiraz and a $70 Hermitage is pretty hard to fathom! So take a worldwide tour of everything Syrah/Shiraz can be and see if you can find some common themes. We’ll taste bargains from Australia and the South of France;  classic American, South African and Rhone wines; and a couple of “big guns” from the Barosa and Cote Rotie.

This class includes seven wines, Syrah-friendly snacks, and take-home descriptions of each wine and region covered.

To reserve a space, email [email protected] or call 703.356.6500


TasteDC Chocolate Making 101 at Wanders Chocolaterie

How to Blind Taste Wine
February 9th (Thursday) Session 1: 6 – 7:30 pm; and Session 2: 8 – 9:30 pm
Adour in The St. Regis, 923 16th and K Streets, N.W., Washington, DC 20006

Wine Director Brent Kroll will conduct a sensory analysis on how to quantify wine flavors and origin.

Tickets are $60/per person.
Call (202) 509-8000 to Make Reservations


Cooking with Rum – Legg Mason Chef Challenge Monday, August 1st, 2011

July 26th, 2011 • No Comments

Hey – you get to watch Professional Tennis and you get to taste these two chefs competing while cooking with Rum! I’m not really doing anything other than enjoying the event, but remember – I Drink on the Job – Cheers!

Chef Challenge – Experience the Flavor of Puerto Rico hosted by Rums of Puerto Rico Reception: 6pm-8pm

Rums of Puerto Rico hosts Chef Challenge – Experience the Flavor of Puerto Rico, pitting Executive Chef Roger Villalobos of Mio Restaurant against Executive Chef Raynold Mendizabal of Lima Restaurant in a battle to determine who most masterfully creates flavorful and original Latin dishes infusing a variety of rums as theme ingredients.

The entertaining culinary showdown will take place on Monday, August 1st from 6 until 8 pm, in the tournament’s Hospitality Tent. Among the judges are International Tennis Hall of Famer Gigi Fernandez – the first-ever female Puerto Rican athlete to turn professional, Shannon Shaffer – Executive Chef of Design Cuisine, Mary Beth Albright – 2011 Food Network Star finalist and WTOP’s Man About Town Bob Madigan. Judges will sample both chef’s dishes and rate on taste, look/presentation and creativity to determine the Chef Challenge champion! NBC 4’s Eun Yang will be the emcee entertaining the audience throughout the competition.

The judges will prepare the First Course using DonQ rum, the Second Course using Bacardi rum and the Dessert Course using Barrilito rum.

Tickets for the Chef Challenge competition hosted by Rums of Puerto Rico includes food and drink during the reception, a ticket to all the Monday session main draw matches, and the chance to meet Hall of Famer Gigi Fernandez, all for just $70.

Availability is limited, so call the Tournament Hotline at 202-721-9500 or visit
http://www.leggmasontennisclassic.com to reserve your spot.

Temper, Temper – Shiny Chocolate Needs a Temper

February 26th, 2011 • No Comments

This a video from a TasteDC Exotic Chocolate Cooking Class with Rob Kingsbury discussing the tempering of chocolates. Tempering is a term both used in chocolate and in food preparation, but the word is used slightly differently for each purpose. In food prep, when you use the term “tempering”, it’s often associated with tempering eggs – if you add raw eggs to a hot liquid, they will scramble, which is usually not the goal, you want to incorporate eggs in an emulsion evenly throughout. Rob, who owns both ACKC on 14th St., in Washington, D.C. and Del Ray, VA, as well as Kingsbury Chocolates in Alexandria, VA, mentions how his mother made Chocolate Cream Pie by tempering eggs. When it comes to chocolate, tempering is about creating shiny hard chocolate which is snaps when you break it or bite into it. This is caused by the crystalline structure of the cocoa butter and solids together, for an intense explanation check out Cooking for Engineers on Chocolate Tempering. If you don’t temper chocolate, it just doesn’t have the appearance and crunch that most people like.

Here’s the information from the TasteDC class:

TasteDC’s Chocolate Temptation:
Class on Making Exotic and Unique Handmade Chocolates
with Rob Kingsbury, Kingsbury Chocolates
Sunday, March 26, 2006

Chocolate Menu:
-Chipotle Cinnamon Truffle
-Wasabi Orange Lavender Truffle
-Cosmopolitan Truffle
-Margarita Truffle
-Demonstration of a White Chocolate bar filled with Cranberry and Lime Relish.

Oh, and plenty of wine was served – Port and dessert wines go with chocolate, but medium bodied reds like Merlot do nicely.


Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Working with Fillo – Spanakopita and Tiropita

February 20th, 2011 • No Comments

TasteDC held a Great Greek Classics Cooking Class at Veranda on P Restaurant in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 6th, 2009 and this is a short video of using fillo in greek pie preparations. I grew up in Harrisburg, PA which has a large Greek community, so spinach and cheese pies (Spanakopita – Tiropita is basically the same filling without the spinach) where readily available. When I think about the buttery flakey fillo crunching in my mouth and the creamy, salty spinach and cheese oozing onto my tongue, frankly it brings back great memories! I was a bit critical of the food I grew up with in Harrisburg in my book I Drink on the Job but I was very fortunate to have had a great selection of restaurants run by Greeks to enjoy a mix of American and Greek cuisine. Lamb and Moussaka were often on the menu at these little neighborhood restaurants which opened up my awareness to real food.

This is the very basic recipe for Spanakopita we used in the cooking class – you can vary the cheeses if you like. The video is more for demonstrating using fillo which I think scares people a bit to cook with because it’s temperature sensitive and pretty easy to break while using. Give this recipe a try – enjoy!
Spanakopita Recipe
One box of fillo dough
one box of frozen spinach
8 oz ricotta cheese
one lb of feta cheese
One bunch of spring onions (Chopped)
Dill (a small bunch)
one or two eggs
salt (to taste)
white pepper (for seasoning)
Olive oil
Butter (melted)

Defrost and strain well the spinach. Place all the ingredients (except the fillo) together and mix. Cut the fillo in three or four long rectangles like lasagna pasta. Take one strip of fillo and place a small amount of the mix on one of the corners of the fillo. Fold the fillo to form a triangle and use a little of the melted butter to keep it together during cooking. Brush a baking tray with butter and place the finished pies on the tray. Place it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees UNTIL it’s only brown on the outside, then lower the temperature to 300-325 degrees and cook until the interior is crispy, don’t overcook.

P.S. You can decide the shape and the size of the pie.

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Chesapeake Soft Shell Crabs – the Hard Truth

February 17th, 2011 • No Comments

This video comes from an “I Love Crab” cooking class I organized at TasteDC in the Summer of 2007 with Chef Brian Boots of Elegance ala Carte.

In the Maryland/Chesapeake area, we love soft shell crabs, here known simply as “Softshells” – you can buy them frozen, but I think they come from Vietnam and its actually a different species of crab, but for a few months in the Summer every year you can get fresh ones. In order to clean a softshell, you want to cut the lungs out..and cut off the head with shears/scissors..yes, I’ve seen them served with the head on, but they taste better with it off! When it comes to wine, crab meat is very sweet and light, so a crisp white wine like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc works great, but a cool pilsener works too – generally throw out the rules with softshells, especially because they’re almost always fried in a rich fat and that adds weight and flavor.

Here’s some info on how to clean Softshells from Cooking Light – Cleaning Info.

Recipe from TasteDC’s I Love Crabmeat Cooking Class
with Chef Brian Boots, Elegance ala Carte
Saturday August 25th, 2007

Mango and Guava Glazed Soft Shell Crabs

3 T Olive Oil
1 T minced and peeled fresh ginger
2 T minced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 mangoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup Mirin
1 ¼ cups guava nectar
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 c vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb soft shell crabs
½ c Julienned basil
3 T Old Bay

Cooking Directions: In a skillet over medium high heat, heat olive oil. Add the shallots, ginger, and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the mango; continue to sauté until mango is tender. Add the Mirin and guava nectar. Reduce by half. Add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to form a glaze. Season soft shell crabs with Old Bay. Add to the glaze and cook until crabs are done, about 5 minutes. Add the green onions, basil and salt and pepper.