Tag Archives: Maryland

First-Class Wine Flights at the Tasting Room

One of the (many) perks of being a food blogger is that I am able to discover some of the city’s best kept dining secrets, ranging from an underground tasting menu to a greasy spoon diner going organic. And yesterday, I was treated to a blogger cocktail party at a newly opened wine bar in Friendship Heights, called The Tasting Room. Tucked into a discreet corner of The Shops at Wisconsin Place, The Tasting Room is a hidden gem boasting top-notch wine and high-tech service that will appeal to both serious wine aficionados and newcomers looking to for a fun way to taste several varieties of wine.

The Tasting Room is an extension of Boxwood Winery in Middleburg, VA. Owned by former president and owner of the NFL Washington Redskins, John Kent Cooke spared no expense on developing both the winery and the tasting room. (Fun fact: Jack Kent Cooke, John’s father, also used to own the LA Lakers and LA Kings!) Cooke installed state-of-the-art equipment at the winery, bought certified grapevines from France, and hired prominent winemaker Stephane Derenoncourt as a consultant. He hopes to put Virginia wine on the map with his Bordeaux-style blends.

Like the winery, The Tasting Room seems to be an expensive, technologically-impressive venture. It has a sleek, almost futuristic aesthetic, with dark walls, minimalist lighting, and a silver circular machine near the center of the room (pictured above). That machine, stocked with several bottles of wine, is an Enomatic, the latest wine dispenser system cropping up at bars across DC. But in contrast to other bars, The Tasting Room allows patrons to dispense the wine themselves, allowing for a more personalized process. Customers upload money to a card, and insert the card into the machine. Each wine can be poured by the taste ($2-4), half a glass ($5-9), or a full glass ($5-25). The simple press of a button results in a perfect pour.  

Whites and reds from all over the world are available for tasting. “We want customers to be able to compare Boxwood Wines with others and show that ours are just as good–or even better,” explained Sean Martin, who manages the site. Boxwood produces three wines: a dry rosé, Boxwood (a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot blend), and Topiary (a Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend). To me, the appeal of the system is that you can try as many (or as little) wines as you’d like–without maxing out your credit card. I tried about 10 wines, and the total was only $18.

I don’t claim to be a wine expert by any means (though I did take Cornell’s infamous wine tasting course!), but I enjoyed several of the wines I tasted. In particular, the 2007 Brandborg Gewürztraminer and 2006 Brooks Riesling were my favorite whites. The Gewürz was spicy and aromatic, and the Riesling was floral and sweet. For the reds, I was a fan of 2008 Neudorf Pinot Noir, 2007 Finca Sandoval Syrah/Mourvedre/Bobal, and the Boxwood 2007  Topiary. The Pinot had nice tannins and cherry flavor; the syrah blend was smooth and light for a syrah; and the Topiary was fruity and round with soft tannins.

The Tasting Room’s food menu is a bit short, when compared to its long wine list. It consists of cheese plates, hummus, charcuterie, and a couple desserts. For the blogger cocktail party, though, The Tasting Room provided the cheese (photo above) while M Cafe, located just across the street, provided the rest of the refreshments.

Grilled Mediterranean lamb sausages with spicy black ketchup were absolutely delicious and packed a lot flavor into one small bite. Ahi tuna tartar with hass avocado, toasted sesame seeds and meyer lemon on toasted brioche tasted light and fresh, and paired well with a few of the white wines. Also on the menu were jumbo lump crab meat, english cucumbers, and manila mango in a parmesan crisp roll–a colorful dish, but not my favorite. I found the crab meat paired with the parmesan crisp overwhelmingly salty, which buried the flavor and freshness of the cucumber and mango.

My favorite dish of the night was the mini sliders with braised duck confit, mission figs, and aged balsamic syrup. The duck was braised to perfection: tender and not at all fatty or greasy like other versions I’ve had. And I will admit, I am a sucker for anything with figs–and these figs were fresh and ripe as can be. The dish paired nicely with the Boxwood Topiary as well.

The event was a success, and I am grateful to The Tasting Room for the invite. And while I wish some the dishes I tasted that night were on the regular menu (or more dishes in general, perhaps), I do think the serve-yourself idea is a fun and new concept that I haven’t seen in other wine bars. Next time you’re shopping in Friendship Heights and find yourself in dire need of a drink, head over to The Tasting Room and sample some of their fabulous wines!

The Tasting Room at Wisconsin Place

5330-A Western Ave.

Chevy Chase, MD 20850

(301) 664-9494

Other locations in Reston Town Center and Downtown Middleburg

The Tasting Room Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

M Cafe

The Collection at Chevy Chase

5471 Wisconsin Ave.

Chevy Chase, MD 20815

(301) 986-4818

M Cafe on Urbanspoon

Share/Bookmark

Photos courtesy of Catherine Coughlin and The Tasting Room

Advertisements

Shameless Plug #2

The second installment in this glorious series is an article I wrote for Zester Daily, a recently launched food news site that provides fresh and lively stories from around the globe. I signed on to be a regular contributor and published my first story, “Changing Baltimore’s Diet,” on veteran food educator Dr. Antonia Demas and her battle to reform students’ eating habits in Baltimore public schools. Here’s a quick excerpt:

Nearly 40 years ago, before “organic” and “farm-to-table” became buzzwords in the food community, Antonia Demas realized the importance of promoting nutritional education in schools. Her philosophy was simple: If students are taught about healthy food in a positive and engaging way, they will be more willing to eat those healthy foods, both in the classroom and at home.

That philosophy eventually developed into a comprehensive curriculum called “Food Is Elementary” — widely regarded by nutrition educators as one of the most effective approaches to encouraging students to eat healthier. T. Colin Campbell, a professor of nutrition and biochemistry at Cornell University, endorsed the program, saying Demas’ “curriculum ought to be in every school in the country.” To date, “Food Is Elementary” has been taught in more than 2,000 schools across the country.

Click here to read the full article. And please Tweet, Digg, Facebook “Like” or link! Thanks, readers!

Photo: Catherine Dixon, a food educator at the Stadium School in Baltimore, teaches Antonia Demas’ program “Food Is Elementary”

Share

Weekend Round-Up

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Not many foodie events this weekend, so this week’s weekend round-up will be short:

Saturday

Beltway BBQ Showdown: I’ve already lamented about the lack of good BBQ in DC, which is precisely why I’m excited for this event. From noon-5 p.m. at Watkins Regional Park in Maryland, the best grillers on the East Coast will compete for a spot at the American Royal Barbecue Contest. Watch them in action, and maybe if you’re lucky, you might snag a sample of ribs, pork, and beef. See the Going Out Gurus for more info.

EatBar’s Beach Blanket Bash: Arlington residents don’t even have to leave the city to go to the beach this weekend. From 1-4 p.m., EatBar hosts its Beach Blanket Bash–complete with surf music (I’m thinking some Beach Boys?), beach balls, and a wine tasting featuring 25 wines. And of course, the menu will be beach-themed as well, with plenty of seafood. Go to The Washingtonian for more info or call the restaurant at 703-778-9951 for reservations. $25/person

Dance Africa DC: Free outdoor African dance performances and an African street market featuring food, crafts, art, clothing, and a children’s tent will be held on Saturday and Sunday at the Dance Place Studio. Sounds like a fun way to learn more about African culture! Click here for more info and thanks to Price of Petworth for pointing this out.

Sunday

Complimentary Brunch and Silent Auction Fundraiser: Who ever said there’s no such thing as a free meal? This Sunday from 11:00a.m.-2:00p.m., Stroga in Adams Morgan hosts a complimentary brunch and silent auction to raise money for volunteers heading to Haiti. Participation in the silent auction is encouraged, but not mandatory. Stroga has one of the largest and most beautiful spaces around, so it’d definitely be worth stopping by to see the sights, grab a muffin, and maybe help a good cause. See Free in DC for more details.

Share

Weekend Round-up

Photo credit: Stephanie D./Wikimedia Commons

This week’s round-up will be short and sweet. Here we go:

Saturday 5/15

Saint Sophia Cathedral’s Spring Greek Festival: If you’re a fan of gyros, tzatziki, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, then you will love the Saint Sophia Greek Festival. Held Friday (today), Saturday, and Sunday from  noon to 9 p.m., visitors can gorge themselves on delicious Greek fare–including lamb roasted on an open spit–and enjoy live music, dancing, and a moon bounce. Check out the Going Out Gurus for details.

DC Yoga Week: Bring your yoga gear and mat to the National Mall on Saturday, where DC Yoga Week will be hosting free yoga sessions, speakers, and activities. Where’s the foodie angle, you may be asking yourself? Healthy snacks and drinks will be provided for attendees. No that’s something I can namaste for. Click here for details.

Sunday 5/16

Taste of Arlington: For those who don’t venture outside the District, this may be a culinary event worth hopping on the metro for. From noon to 5 p.m. in Ballston, Taste of Arlington will feature samples from some of the area’s fabulous restaurants, including Jaleo, Northside Social, and the Liberty Tavern to name a few. Tickets are needed to taste food and beverages, and can be purchased in advance from their website.

Taste of Wheaton: Maryland residents won’t have to travel far to get in on some of the food festival action this weekend. Taste of Wheaton will take place on Sunday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wheaton is known for harboring some of the D.C. area’s cheapest (and tastiest) ethnic eats, and Taste of Wheaton will not disappoint on that front. Hollywood East Cafe (awesome dim sum), Global Cafe African Grill, and Marchone’s Italian Deli are just some of the featured restaurants. Samples will range from $1-$5 each. Guests will also be able to enjoy live music while nibbling on their samples. Click here for details.

And with that, I’m signing off and embarking on the weekend. Have fun, everyone!