Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 20, 2014

Posts in "Food"

April 11, 2014

Tom Petri’s S.O.S (Save Our Sausages)

Wisconsin Republican Tom Petri took to the House floor Thursday to issue a dire warning to grill tenders the world over: Europe is coming for our pork products.

“Bratwursts are delicious,” he declared in a shout-out to Sheboygan’s claim to fame.

It seems the European Union wants to impose new restrictions on certain products, namely processed meats, cheeses and seasonal beers, as part of a swirling trade agreement — a power grab that’s left a bad taste in the Wisconsin delegation’s mouths.

“This is, frankly, getting ridiculous,” Petri argued, adding, “If anything, we should be trademarking the name ‘bratwurst,’ not them.”

Across the Capitol, Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin has rallied nearly half the Senate to the cause, raising a bipartisan chorus of voices in favor of protecting homegrown snacks from the proposed geographic restrictions. Full story

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of April 7 (Video)

While senators explain their beef with cable TV and representatives talk about Big Macs, Majority Leader Harry Reid just cannot get enough Koch.

April 8, 2014

Hill Staffers Swarm Taco Bell Tray, Terrify Server

Ustedes quieren Taco Bell!

Pity the poor Taco Bell employee who was tasked with delivering a tray of tacos to a gaggle of Hill staffers at a Tuesday reception in the Rayburn House Office Building.

“This reception shows no shame as staff fills up boxes and garbage bags of burritos,” our daring congressional staffer/tipster tell us. See for yourself:

April 4, 2014

Solons See No Slam Dunks in Alabama BBQ Bracket

Alabama’s tourism authorities have flipped March Madness into a food fight, pitting many of the Yellowhammer State’s revered barbecue purveyors against one another in an online popularity contest.

Based on the most recent balloting, one of the following contenders will walk away with the title once voting closes April 7: Jim ‘N Nick’s in Birmingham (chicken, pork), Smokin’ on the Boulevard in Florence (ribs) and Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q in Bessemer (sauce).

Trouble is, some of the folks here on Capitol Hill would beg to differ with the vox populi. Full story

FLOTUS Injects New Life Into Kitchen Garden Project

FLOTUS Injects New Life Into Kitchen Garden Project

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

No longer satisfied with fostering better eating habits amongst humans, First Lady Michelle Obama is now making a bid to nurture Mother Nature by weaving pollinator-friendly flowering plants into the agricultural mix that makes up the White House kitchen garden.

FLOTUS broke ground on the project in 2009 and has only seen interest in the ultimate testament to homegrown food multiply with each successive planting.

The carefully tended garden routinely doubles as an instructional tool for Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, a pet project designed to spur healthier eating and increased physical activity among America’s youth.

Sam Kass, executive director of “Let’s Move!” and senior advisor on nutrition policy, listed the pollinator plants, a bed of Lincoln oats and a recently transplanted pawpaw tree as the latest additions to the garden party. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:50 p.m.
FLOTUS, Food, Kiddies

Ex-Hill Aide Taps Different Constituencies for PR

Gary Meltz, a one-time aide to Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., who has since carved out a niche for himself in the crisis management game, is inviting friends and colleagues to come celebrate the birth of Meltz Communications.

The fledgling communications firm officially threw open its doors in late January. But Meltz suggested that the myriad demands of actually setting up shop have made it nearly impossible to stop and enjoy a single minute of the momentous life change.

Ex Hill Aide Taps Different Constituencies for PR

(Courtesy Meltz Communications)

He hopes to rectify all that by indulging friends with a few drinks, some gourmet treats and signature matchbooks (‘natch) at an invite-only reception scheduled to take place April 8 from 6-8 p.m. at the Science Club (1136 19th St. NW). Full story

April 1, 2014

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

The long-awaited return of baseball season (The Nationals’ home opener is Friday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves) means restaurants can once again slip their Nats-related promotions back into the rotation.

Tortilla Coast has wasted no time resurrecting its “Strasburger,” a double-decker meal deal erected in honor of D.C. hurler Stephen Strasburg.

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The price of the big-mouth burger remains pegged to Strasburg’s career highlights — first pick (1) in the first round (1) of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft + jersey number (37) = $11.37 — and includes a heaping mound of french fries.

According to Tortilla Coast General Manager Bill Anderson, the Strasburger continues to be made the same way it always has: Two, 6-ounce patties of roughly 80/20 ground beef are flame grilled, glazed in chipotle-honey sauce, covered in Jack cheese, topped with fried onion strings, smothered in shredded lettuce and sliced tomato and parked between buns slathered with chipotle-spiked Thousand Island dressing.

Yet, somehow, today it tastes even less like it was supposed to when it left burger buff Jody Fellows wanting two summers before.

Back in 2012, the Burger Days blog founder gave the Capitol Hill watering hole high marks for presentation, but was struck by the disconnect between what was listed on the menu and what registered on his taste buds. “For all the stuff that goes into the Strasburger, it loses a whole hell of a lot when the entire thing gets into your mouth,” he warned. “We expected to be hit with a lot more taste.”

We dare say the kitchen may have actually lost a few more steps since then.

Tortilla Coast’s Strasburger Could Use Some Rehab

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The patties placed before this hired mouth were adequately beefy and surprisingly juicy (with just a hint of smoke), but bore absolutely no sign of the promised honey sweetness or chili pepper-fueled heat. Ditto for the chipotle-Island dressing, which lacked the oomph of even fast food-grade special sauce. The melted cheese served as a decent binder and the tangle of breaded onions provided some crunch. But the mountain of damp lettuce caused the bottom half of our bun to collapse after just one bite.

We hoped the fries might save things, but, alas, the no-frills spuds were as dry and flavorless (the one time a bar decides to ease up on salt) as the burger was disjointed.

Still, people seem to love it.

Anderson said the restaurant sells up to a 20 of the specialty burgers a day during the season. And very few folks appear to be intimidated by its sheer bulk.

“The size and age of the guest has no bearing on their ability to finish the burger; we have been witness to ladies in their 70s and kids in grade school taking it down in one sitting,” Anderson shared.

As it’s done in the past, Anderson said the original Capitol Hill Tortilla Coast will crank out Strasburgers from open to close on days Strasburg takes the mound.

“TCCH will also do a bonus Strasburger day should Stephen Strasburg pitch during the All Star Game,” he said.

March 31, 2014

Prying Dining Tips From Jim Himes

While we here in the Mid-Atlantic were busy screaming on social media about the screwy weather (surprise snow/hail storm, anyone?), Rep. Jim Himes spent Sunday evening in a paradise of his own design: the kitchen.

 

 

The Connecticut Democrat spent the weekend doing something we only wish we could’ve done: harvesting clams and then baking them up.

“I go out and take oysters, clams and mussels every 2 weeks or so during late fall, winter and early spring. I particularly like to go out when there is a below average ebb tide because that exposes clamming grounds and oysters that are usually under water,” Himes told HOH via email.

Prying Dining Tips From Jim Himes

(Courtesy Jim Himes)

The seafood lover bills Long Island Sound and Greenwich Point Park, aka Tod’s Point, as his favorite digging grounds. And he credits local authorities with feeding his passion for fresh caught food.

“The former First Selectman of Greenwich, Dick Bergstresser and his wife Jean taught me most of what I know about shellfishing,” Himes shared. Full story

March 27, 2014

Public Can Propel Capitol Hill Restos to RAMMY Glory

A panel of secret judges may control the fates of the 60-plus contenders vying for the area’s top hospitality prizes, but everyday diners have one month to help crown their favorite brunch spot, fast-food haven and all-around hang out.

The RAMMY Awards traditionally honor the superstars of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s core membership, heralding those who go above and beyond in the pursuit of providing exceptional food, beverage and service. The 2014 winners are scheduled to be revealed June 22 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mount Vernon Place NW) during the group’s 32nd annual gala.

As in the past, RAMW is opening up a handful of categories for public debate.

This year, armchair critics have until April 27 to weigh in on:

Upscale Casual Brunch of the Year

  • Art and Soul
  • Blue Duck Tavern
  • Mintwood Place
  • The Source by Wolfgang Puck
  • Vermilion

 

Everyday Casual Brunch of the Year

  • DGS Delicatessen
  • Et Voila!
  • Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
  • Pizzeria Orso
  • Ted’s Bulletin (Barracks Row)

 

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year

  • Bar Pilar
  • Bistrot Du Coin
  • Cashion’s Eat Place
  • Hank’s Oyster Bar (Dupont)
  • Tune Inn

 

Favorite Fast Bites

 

RAMW is sweetening the pot for brunch lovers.

As part of the inaugural “Best Brunch Passport” contest, anyone who tweets a picture of a meal from any of the nominees between March 29-April 13 to @RAMMYAwards or tags it with #RAMMYSBrunch will be entered to win two tickets to the June 22 gala. Per the promoters, the winner will be announced on April 28.

Public votes can be cast via media partner the Washington City Paper or RAMW.

March 24, 2014

Vegetarian Lobby Plants Bug in Michelle Obama’s Ear

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association have recruited a number of professional athletes to discuss the benefits of adhering to a plant-based lifestyle at an April 1 luncheon.

But the diet-conscious crusaders really want first lady and “Let’s Move!” founder Michelle Obama to throw her weight behind their mission.

“As you know, obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke, account for 70 percent of all deaths in the United States. The good news is that if every American adds two servings of fruits and vegetables to his or her diet, his or her risk for all-cause mortality will automatically decrease by 10 percent. If we move toward an entirely plant-based diet, we can cut the risk of heart disease—the biggest killer in America—in half,” PCRM Founder and President Dr. Neal Barnard alerted FLOTUS in a March 24 letter inviting her to the “Teaming Up 4 Health” preview party scheduled to take place April 1 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in room 201 on the House side of the Capitol Visitor Center.

Barnard also invited Education Secretary Arne Duncan and acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak to the healthy eating event.

The luncheon, which will feature complimentary garden vegetable wraps supplied by Whole Foods, gourmet salads (carrot and beet, spring mix medley) and vegan baked goods from Banana Love Mufffins, is open to everyone, though organizers are hoping to cap attendance at 150.

Those interested in participating are encouraged to RSVP to: jberger@pcrm.org.

As part of the program, Barnard will lead a discussion with U.S. Olympic swimmer Kate Ziegler, triathlete and ultra-marathoner Brendan Brazier, taekwondo world champion Daba Modibo Keita and CBS radio host Chuck Carroll.

Vegetarian Lobby Plants Bug in Michelle Obamas Ear

(Courtesy Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

The group will also preview the “Teaming up 4 Health” campaign scheduled to go live April 8 — a multimedia effort set to include video testimonials, collectible trading cards and quickie recipes. Full story

DC-3 Shuttles Hot Dogs to the Hill

Gourmet wiener joint DC-3 is hoping to take a bigger bite of the congressional dining pie by rolling out delivery of its signature tube steaks to Capitol Hill.

The new service promises to connect hungry mouths in the halls of Congress with the nearly dozen well-dressed links heaped together on Barracks Row (423 Eighth St. SE) seven days a week. A minimum order of $15 is required — which works out to three stand-alone dogs, two combo meals (dog, chips, fountain drink) or four orders of deep-fried Oreos with a cotton candy chaser — and delivery is limited to a 1 mile radius of the restaurant.

DC 3 Shuttles Hot Dogs to the Hill

(Courtesy Matchbox Food Group)

Apart from the locally inspired half-smoke (which features the hybrid link, sweet relish, yellow mustard and raw onion), the restaurant tips its hat to regional delicacies including: the Philly Cheesesteak, fully sport peppered and dill pickled Chicago-style offerings, dueling chili-covered Coneys (NYC and Cincinnati) and the cole slaw slathered West Virginia dog.

Bon appetit!

By Warren Rojas Posted at 11:40 a.m.
Food, HillSide, Restos

March 20, 2014

Marcel’s Hosts Preview of Intercontinental Pop-Up

Restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier is heading across the pond at the end of the month to partake in a culinary exchange set to include a private reception for newly minted U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, Matthew Barzun, as well as a week-long “pop-up” dining experience orchestrated alongside award-winning British toque, Simon Hulstone.

Marcel’s Hosts Preview of Intercontinental Pop Up

(Courtesy Marcel’s)

DC denizens have the opportunity to sample the distinctive flavors Wiedmaier plans to share with curious Londoners at the “A Tale of Two Cities” preview dinner scheduled to take place March 21 at Marcel’s (2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW).

The seven-course meal ($165 per person) will showcase locally inspired dishes — including pan-seared scallops with black fermented garlic and squid ink, roasted pigeon with potato risotto and black truffle, and plum-tarragon tart with honey and cinnamon ice cream — paired with Virginia wines and spirits. Author and bon vivant Jason Tesauro has mixed together a slew of regional producers, promising pours from award-winning wineries such as Barboursville Vineyards, Thibaut-Janisson Winery (French President Francois Hollande was introduced to their bubbly at the latest state dinner) and Boxwood Estate Winery, as well as some fizzy refreshments from Foggy Ridge Cider and a little hard stuff from Catoctin Creek Distillery. Full story

March 14, 2014

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of March 10 (Video)

While members explain how to drive to Hawaii, put lipstick on a pig and which state has better ski resorts, Majority Leader Harry Reid still is not finished telling us about the Koch brothers.

Foster, Holt Fete Pi Day With Pastries

Resident Capitol Hill physicists Reps. Bill Foster, D-Ill., and Rush D. Holt, D-N.J., are doing their small part Friday (3/14) to commemorate the infinitesimal mathematical construct known as pi — by dishing out homemade baked goods.

Foster, Holt Fete Pi Day With Pastries

(CQ Roll Call archives)

Pi Day,” the annual celebration of the non-repeating, never-ending figure revered by “mathletes” the world over, has become a cultural happening involving food, fashion and pop culture references.

Holt and Foster are feeding into the phenomenon by offering guests the chance to fill their belles while expanding their minds.

“We’ll have a variety of homemade pies … [and] a competition to see who can recite the most digits of pi,” a Foster aide said of the scientific shindig scheduled to take place at noon in Longworth 1224.

All are welcome. (But you may wanna download a scientific calculator app on your phone on your way over.)

March 13, 2014

Cruz, Booker Already Fussing Over Future Dinner Dates

Well, that didn’t take long.

 

 

Mere hours after they were photographed grabbing a bite together at Bistro Bis, New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker and Texas Republican Ted Cruz have reached an impasse as to where to book their next table.

Cruz , it seems, would prefer to stay away from prying eyes

 

 

Booker is done with chewing up the scenery. He’d rather focus on what’s on his plate

 

 

A congressional aide told HOH the political odd couple touches base on the Senate floor from time to time; staff reportedly arranged the March 12 sit-down.

No word on when — or where — any future rendezvous might take place.

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