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Meet Andrew: Jewish (Call Your Mother) Deli Owner of the Week!

Allie: What inspired you to open Call Your Mother Jewish deli?

Andrew: I grew up in Mt Pleasant, and my dad is a lawyer but always said to me “I like my career, but I should have opened a deli.” As I was growing up and started working, I stole his tagline, but switched it up to wanting to open up a pizza restaurant. Timber Pizza had been open for a year, and opening up a deli became a way I could expand and do this thing my dad had talked about for years. Out of that was born Call Your Mother.

Allie: Where does the name come from?

Andrew: The place came before the name. I knew I wanted the deli to look very light and playful. My grandparents lived in Boca Raton while I was growing up, and I wanted it to look like Boca meets Brooklyn. We went through a lot of bad names, and we were thinking about something funny your Jewish grandmother would yell at you, and my friend’s sister yelled out “call your mother!” Everyone was laughing and I said, lock it in.

Allie: Do you call your mom enough?

Andrew: Every day. Or she calls me.

Allie: What’s your favorite thing on the menu?

Andrew: The Craig D., named after Craig David, a famous British singer who is like 5% Jewish, perfect. It’s a homemade peach jam, cream cheese with jalapenos, bacon, and we put chips on there. I usually recommend the Amar’e to someone who is coming in here for the first time. It’s on a za’atar bagel which is different, and made with candied salmon cream cheese, which is like your favorite salmon cream cheese on steroids.

Allie: How did you come up with the recipe for these bagels?

Andrew: Dani (the chef and partner) and I don’t really have lives or friends, so all we talk about are restaurant things and getting inspiration for food. Dani is the bomb dot com.

Allie: What’s a piece of wisdom you bring to your work at Call Your Mother?

Andrew: Dani and I often say to each other “bring fun back to food”. So much of fine dining is stuffy and serious. At the end of the day we are making warm carbs so people are happier and fuller – we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

call your mother

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Andrew: Latkes, I cannot be trusted in a room with latkes.

Allie: It’s not bagels?

Andrew: Eh. It’s latkes.

Allie: What do you like on your latkes?

Andrew: Applesauce, I hate sour cream with a passion. I also kind of like gefilte fish. Growing up for most Jewish holidays, we used to go to my next door neighbor’s house who was a big time hippie, medium sized Jew, and we would have enchiladas. So while enchiladas are not actually a Jewish food, they are also in my top three of favorite Jewish foods.

Allie: What about your favorite Jewish holiday?

Andrew: How could it not be Hanukkah? It’s 8 days of presents.

Allie: How do you relax at the end of a long work week?

Andrew: I go to Yoga Heights, big fan. I also like a nice jog through Rock Creek Park. And I play basketball to get my rage out.

andrew

Allie: What’s your perfect day in DC?

Andrew: Wake up, chill out, bike through Rock Creek Park and head to Little Red Fox. I’d get their breakfast sandwich The Sherwin, add avocado, and get a hot cup of coffee. Delicious. From there, I’d go to Rose Park in Georgetown, play some hoops. Then, take a stroll and meander to Baked and Wired, I’d get some tea and a duffin, which is a mix of a donut and muffin, and then go down to the waterfront and take it all in. I’m a big nature guy if you can’t tell. I’d teleport over to Indigo. Bomb Indian food. Delicious. After that, I’d go catch a movie at the Uptown Theater. Classic theater, big screen, iconic. When I get out, I can go to my favorite pizza place that isn’t Timber called Vace, get some slices. From there, I’d walk down Porter Street to where my parents live, pick up my parents, walk up to Mount Pleasant Street and end with ice cream at Mount Desert Island.

Allie: Final question. Complete this sentence: When Jews of DC gather…

Andrew: They eat bagels at Call Your Mother.

bagel

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet Rebecca: Jewish Swapples Maker of the Week

In preparation for the day you’ll be spending dreaming about food you are not consuming, we figured now is the perfect time to introduce you to DC’s resident Swapple maker. “What are Swapples? You may be asking. Swapples are like waffles, except healthy. They’re made entirely from Yucca root and use only whole fruits and vegetables. And, wait for it, delicious.

Founder, owner, and CEO Rebecca Peress is ready to share how she became a food innovator/business owner by age 23 and why she really might be a spy working for the CIA.

becca

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Rebecca: I came to DC in 2010 to start undergrad at GW and never left. I thought I wanted to work for the CIA/FBI, so I came here for that. After an interview with the Secret Service for a summer internship, I almost got it and then they were like “no, sorry”. I didn’t have anything to do that summer, so I interned with a food/beverage director at a golf course and fell in love with food/hospitality and totally changed courses.

Allie: Hold up. You wanted to be in the CIA?

Rebecca: I wanted to serve the country. I’m also a true crime junkie. My cousins still think I am a secret agent and that Swapples is just a cover.

Allie: How did you come up with the idea for Swapples?

Rebecca: One Saturday when I was bored, I was messing around in my kitchen and put Yucca Root in my waffle iron. I wanted to see what would happen. I’ve been interested in nutrition since I took my first health class. I was having really bad blood sugar issues my senior year of college, and my doctor had me take out all sugar for an entire year. That was really hard. But that year changed my palette and brought to light how much bad stuff I was actually eating.

I started eating more plant-based and had taken out grain, but I wanted something crispy and bread-y.

Allie: What was the first flavor of Swapples you ever made?

Rebecca: The Everything Spice was my first flavor because I grew up with bagels in New York and missed them.

Allie: Who was your first customer?

Rebecca: I tell my former boss that Swapples would not exist if not for him asking for a bite of it one day and then telling me he would pay me for them! Then other people started ordering them, and I realized there was a market for this. I was 23. I had no boyfriend, no dog, not a lot of savings, I already worked like crazy so I didn’t really see my friends much. I had nothing to lose.

Allie: What’s the hardest part of starting and owning your own company?

Rebecca: There is no rule book for it. You’re figuring it out as you go. I am not a risk taker; I don’t like the uncertainty of it.

Allie: What’s the most rewarding part?

Rebecca: Being able to share them with people. Getting emails from people about how Swapples changed their life, or helped their gut issues, or how they finally have a gluten-free waffle they can eat with their family. That is why I do it.

becca

Allie: What’s your dream for the future of Swapples?

Rebecca: For it to go national. Then, I’d want to sell it to a larger company so it can be spread wider. If I can put something out in this world that makes it easier to eat whole foods and fruits and vegetables, I want to do that.

Allie: Favorite Swapples flavor?

Rebecca: Garlic and greens.

Allie: Do you serve Swapples at Jewish holiday meals?

Rebecca Swapples can be used in place of matzo because they’re kosher for Passover! I’ve also served them at Shabbats in place of challah, and at Hanukkah parties as latkes.

Allie: What advice do you have for someone dreaming of starting their own business?

Rebecca: Take care of yourself. I get eight hours of sleep every night and work out every day. Working out is so important to me.

Allie: What do you like about working out?

Rebecca: I like high intensity training (HiIT) workouts and boot camps. I like to be dripping in a pool of my own sweat. I don’t drink, smoke, or eat a ton of sugar, so working out is my release. If I don’t workout for more than two days in a row I go crazy. I’ll work out anywhere. Once, I was on a 14 hour plane to China and was going crazy so I started doing lunges, squats and pushups in the middle of the aisle. People were staring at me but I didn’t care it felt so good.

Allie: What’s something people might be surprised to find out about you?

Rebecca: I started dating my boyfriend after we talked at a OneTable Shabbat dinner.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Rebecca: They eat.

becca

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Welcome to DC, Pearl’s Bagels!

Jews and bagels go together like peanut butter and jelly. Also, like PB&J, bagels and schmear are always quickly and completely devoured with only some crumbs, and sticky fingers, remaining.

While people have strong opinions about peanut butter (crunchy vs. creamy, natural vs. Skippy, and of course all the alternative nuts out there), ask a Jew about their ideal bagel and you will receive a passionate explanation of why their bagel is the one to rule them all. And we haven’t even entered the world of cream cheese vs. any other schmear…

Living in DC, our choices of bagels are quite limited. Taking the train to New York isn’t something one can do every weekend. Because of this, our freezers get stocked with bagels from those rare NYC trips and the few places that sell acceptable bagels get swarmed on weekends. Recognizing the bagel desert of DC, these two bagel lovers decided to quit their corporate jobs to start a bagel business.

Pearl’s Bagels, named after the owners’ beloved French Bulldog Pearl, is the newest bagel joint on the block and is already making the rounds in the food scene.

dc bagels at pearl's

Photo by Judith Rontal

How did Pearl’s Bagels get its start?

Husband-and-wife team Allee and Oliver Cox were raised to be bagel lovers. Oliver loved his hometown bagels so much that he thanked them for getting him through school in his high school graduation speech. In fact, Allee and Oliver’s shared affinity for bagels brought them together for the first time. While they were both working at a TV station in Nantucket, the two picked up some bagels together after an early shoot was cancelled. By the end of the day, they ended up sharing more than just a bagel.

Fast forward a few years and a move to DC, Allee and Oliver found themselves working corporate jobs during the week and baking bagels on the weekends to satisfy their cravings. After getting married, the two decided to quit their jobs and backpack through Asia. That big decision pushed them to take the leap to open up a bagel shop of their own once they returned back home. Enter Pearl’s Bagels.

dc bagels at pearl's

Photo by Judith Rontal

What makes these bagels special?

The bagels are a hybrid Montreal- and New York-style bagels with a chewy inside and a crispy exterior. They use only six ingredients (plus additional seasonings for the flavored varieties): flour, water, salt, yeast, honey, and malt powder. The bagels are delicious on their own, no schmear necessary. The Everything Bagel has the spices on both top and bottom, and can also be piled high with your favorite toppings.

After Allee and Oliver committed to this venture, they took an intensive class to learn about starting a bakery. They tested tons of recipes on themselves and community members. They want to bake the bagels they love, and be able to guarantee those bagels are the ones that DC will love too.

How does one get these bagels?

While the duo is still baking out of their rowhouse, they are in the process of finalizing details to open up a spot in the southern Shaw/Mount Vernon Triangle area by this time next year. In the meantime, they will begin taking catering orders at the end of October so you can host your own bagel-themed Shabbat or just stock up on these bagels for yourself.

With bagels being such a staple in our diets, Pearl’s Bagels is a welcome addition to the DC food scene. I for one am very excited to watch Allee and Oliver bake their way into the hearts and stomachs of DC.

dc bagels at pearl's

Photo by Vanessa Mack

 

About the Author: Judith Rontal hails from wintry Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she grew up in a family that always managed to eat dinner together, and regularly snuck bites from each other’s plates. She’s continued that connection between food, family and culture in her life in DC where she works in PR, focusing on media relations for several local restaurants. When not in the kitchen putting together a feast for her next dinner party or finding a new way to use food scraps (kimchi watermelon rind anyone?), you can find Judith sweating it out at yoga or running the District’s streets. Follow her food adventures on Instagram and Twitter.

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site

Meet Steph: Jewish Fitness Buff of the Week!

steph

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Steph: I’m from Montgomery County – born and raised. I went to New Orleans for college, then lived in San Francisco for a job, and then decided it was time to come back to my roots. I’ve been in DC for three years now.

Allie: I hear you just started a cool new job – tell me about it!

Steph: I’m the U.S. Marketing and Communications Manager for Leon, which is a mediterranean-inspired place that serves naturally fast food.

Allie: Hmm..why have I never heard of this place?

Steph: It’s not open yet! Leon is opening in early September.

Allie: Once it opens, how do I get there and what should I order?

Steph: It’s on 1724 L Street in Farragut North, and any of our sandwiches are delicious – they’re served on challah buns. We also have really good falafel and lamb kofta. (NOTE: Follow Leon on Facebook and Instagram for updates)

Allie: Can you offer a deal to GatherDC-ers?

Steph: On September 5th and 6th, you can come in for free food if you give us feedback on it. RSVP to usa@leon.co. Also, if you sign up for our Leon club you can get 40% off after 5:00pm once it opens.

Allie: At the end of a long work day, what’s your favorite way to relax?

Steph: Yoga. But definitely not hot yoga. I really like The Yoga Shala in Shaw.

Allie: Besides The Yoga Shala, what are your top 3 favorite workout classes or studios in DC?

Steph: Oh there’s too many to pick just three! I’d say Off Road for boxing, FlyBarre for barre, and Reformation Fitness for HIIT/TRX.

Allie: What’s your resolution for this coming year?

Steph: Keeping a good work-life balance. I want to find time to work out as much as I’d like while crushing my new job.

Allie: How do you motivate yourself to workout so often?

Steph: The prospect of one day obtaining a 6-pack keeps me going.

Allie: When and/or where are you the happiest?

Steph: When I’m snuggling my Australian lab Sophie, while outside of course.steph and dog

Allie: Who is your Jewish role model?

Steph: My grandpa. He’s a Holocaust Survivor. He lost half his family and came here when he was 16 knowing no English. He had to make a life for himself and his family. Today, he volunteers for The United States Holocaust Museum once a week.

Allie: If you could have 3 celebs in your entourage, who would you choose and why?

Steph: Anna Kendrick, everyone tells me I look like her and she is awesome. Gal Gadot, because woman power. Channing Tatum, because he’s always been my man crush.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Steph: My grandpa’s potato kugel and my mom’s noodle kugel – really all types of kugel.

Allie: What’s your favorite way to celebrate the Jewish New Year?

Steph: Being with my family. Eating lots of apples and honey.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Steph: They make and eat good food while kvelling or kvetching.

steph g

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Artichoke is the New Shrimp

The precedent

July 11, 1883, is one of most disastrous, non-violent days in recent Jewish memory: the date of the infamous Trefa Banquet.

During the graduation celebration for the first class to attend Hebrew Union College, dishes were served featuring shrimp, crab, and meat alongside ice cream! It is still unclear to this day if it was a caterer’s mistake, or done intentionally. Whatever happened, it was followed by the Head of the College, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, skipping apologies entirely, and eating the forbidden food under the eyes of hundreds of speechless guests. Since that momentous event, many who identity with Reform Judaism are inclined to eat shrimp and other non-kosher shellfish, differentiating them from Orthodox and Conservative communities.

In sum, this sole dinner helped launch the first true schism in modern Jewish history.

The current crisis

Why am I talking about this banquet more than a century later? Because another, although smaller, culinary and cultural schism may be on the horizon.

This time, the bone of contention is a dish very close to my heart (and mouth): the carciofo alla giudia, better known as the Roman artichoke (AKA: a deep fried artichoke). This succulent dish is the pride of the Rome’s Jewish community, and has been one of its most important symbols for centuries. This year, just a few days before the beginning of Passover, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel’s Chief Rabbinate declared the artichoke to be non-kosher after receiving a package of Roman artichokes full of worms. The Israeli rabbinate stated that the artichoke is not safe to eat since worms can be hidden on the inside of the vegetable, rendering it non-kosher.

The reactions

As you can imagine, the reaction of the Italian Jewish community was at first of incredulity, followed thereafter by a rebellion that has caused a break within the community itself.

The Jews of Rome stayed faithful to their beloved dish and, led by their Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, continued to offer fried artichoke in the ghetto’s restaurants. To emphasize the point,Rabbi Di Segni wished everybody a “Happy Passover” in a video during which he peeled artichokes in front of a synagogue. The Jewish community of Milan, however, has instead decided to follow the decision of the Israeli rabbinate, and removed the dish from its Jewish restaurants.

The solution(s)

As my grandma says, “for each problem there is a solution.” When applied to the Jewish world, this saying becomes, “for each problem, there are several different solutions.”

Milan’s answer: The Jews of Milan are reinventing the dish and making it 100% kosher by cutting it up and cleaning the vegetable before frying it. The artichoke is now re-composed directly on the plate.

Rome’s answer: The Jews of Rome followed their own Chief Rabbi and continue to eat the artichoke according to their tradition. After all, as Mr. Pavoncello (owner of Nonna Betta, one of the Roman ghetto’s Jewish restaurants) said, “There is no pope [in Judaism]”. He explained that each community can make its own decision about which fruits and vegetables are proper to eat.

Naples’ answer: Rabbi Umberto Piperno, chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Naples, is trying to create and patent an ultrasound, flying-bug repellent which could tell with a 100% certainty if there are worms/bugs inside the artichokes without needing to open them.

My personal answer: Since my personal kashrut rules are limited to not eating pork or bringing shellfish home (mostly to avoid the complaints of my husband, who keeps kosher), the artichoke issue is not a problem. However, this debate continues to feel very personal to me because it involves the Italian Jewish community of which I am a part. I try to eat at least one Jewish artichoke every time I go to Rome. Last time, during a nasty NYC-snowstorm-induced layover, I had the signature dish in Rome’s airport as part of my wedding anniversary celebration!

After reading all about the controversy around this dish, I started to crave some good, deep fried artichokes myself. So, I decided to try the two DC restaurants that I knew were serving the delicacy: Etto and Lupo Verde.

Lupo Verde, which is designed to serve typical Roman food, was the uncontested winner! Their fried artichokes were so delicious that they made me almost feel like I was home.

If this article triggered your own fried artichoke craving, here are some recipes you can try out at home. Bete’avon!

Fried Artichoke from The New York Times

Jewish Style Fried Artichokes from My Jewish Learning

[Video] Artichokes Jewish-style, Italian recipe

 

 

About the Author: Daniela is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! She is a “retired philosopher” who works as an executive assistant and loves to write about Italian and Jewish events happening in DC. She was born and raised in Sicily (Italy) in an interfaith family and moved to D.C. with her husband after studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where they met. They have a wonderful Siberian cat named Rambam! Daniela loves going to work while listening to Leonard Cohen’s songs and sometimes performs in a West African Dance group.

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Spotted in Jewish DC: Hill Country BBQ’s Passover Brisket

When you think Passover food, Texan BBQ is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But, local DC BBQ joint, Hill Country BBQ, has somehow magically combined these two forces to create a mouthwatering, traditional Texan BBQ brisket ready-to-order for Passover.

Get the lowdown on this seder-worthy dish from Hill Country BBQ’s Chef de Cuisine, Dan Farber, and Director of Operations, Chris Schaller.

Allie: I hear you have some delicious brisket on sale for Passover. What makes this brisket special?

Chris: Our founder, Marc Glosserman, grew up in the BBQ capital of Texas, where central Texas BBQ is a true celebration of the quality of meat. Our brisket reflects this, and is made with a heavy rub of cayenne, salt, and pepper, and then we soak it over Texas post oak wood from 13-15 hours. By the time it comes out, its very tender, melts in your mouth.

Allie: How can I get this brisket at my Passover seder?

Chris: You can order it online here, pick it up at Hill Country BBQ, or we can do drop-off catering whenever possible – depending on the amount.

Allie: What’s your favorite Passover food?

Dan: Hmmm that’s a hard one because isn’t all Passover food really amazing? 🙂 I would probably say a delicious brisket of course, and a good, flavorful matzo ball soup with the perfect consistency matzo balls (somewhere between floater and sinker). I don’t mind gefilte fish and I can tolerate matzo when it’s served with some butter or as matzo pizza. Of course, in the morning you can’t pass up matzo brei!

Allie: Do you have any other foods at Hill Country you suggest for Passover?

Chris: We serve a healthy amount of lamb, and some great sides like cucumber salad. These can all be ordered for delivery to a Passover seder.

Allie: Is there a discount GatherDC readers can get on the brisket?

Dan: We are happy to extend a 10% discount for GatherDC-ers, just mention this article when ordering.

 

Check out our 2018 Passover Guide for more DC restaurants with seder foods, Passover recipes, and much more.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: The brisket at Hill Country BBQ is not kosher.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet Ben, Ben, Ben, AND Ben! (yes, you read that right)

GatherDC’s winter 2018 Beyond the Tent retreat was an amazing experience for young adults to get outside of DC for a weekend, unpack 21st century Judaism, and explore their Jewish identity over deep, meaningful conversations. Among the 30 participants, zero were named Rachel…but FOUR were named Ben! This week, the Bens of Beyond the Tent share their unique perspectives on Jewish DC and life in general – proving, once and for all, that not all Bens are the same. Get to know them…

 

Ben D. – Former Jewish Guy of the Week!

Allie: Where does your unique name come from? Do any of you have a cool story behind why you were named Ben?

Ben D.: I was going to be named after my grandfather, Sidney, which is now my middle name. As a result, my hebrew name is Simcha.

Ben F.: It was passed down from my great-grandfather.

Ben R.: I don’t know. Does that make me a bad Jew? Fake Jew? Typical Jew?

Ben L.: No, but my family and I grew a bit tired of our names last year (we’ve been using them for decades…) and so we used nicknames for a few good months. I went by Josh.

Ben F.

 

Allie: What do you love most about living in DC?

Ben D.: DC brings the best and the brightest young people from around the country, who come here specifically to make a difference in the world. DC is a springboard for young leaders.

Ben F.: Great collection of educated citizens that aren’t afraid to challenge the establishment. Ask questions, drive for change, and push forward.

Ben R.: All within a few miles and by way of a mass-public transportation train, there’s movies, comedy, craft beer, rock climbing, pour-over coffee shops, and challenging hikes. What else is there in life?

Ben L.: The monuments at night.

 

Allie: If you could pick a new name for yourself right now, what would it be and why?

Ben D.: I usually go by my full name “Ben Droz”, (rhymes with “Ben Rose”).  I like it just the way it is.

Ben F.: Staying with Ben. Simple name but yet plenty of clever nicknames.

Ben R.: When I was 26 years old, my first book was published. I had unlimited options for the name that was published on the cover: I could have chosen Ben, Benjy, Ben-jammin, Ben-jammmmmmmmmin, Benjamin, or an alias. I chose Benjamin, the name by which my loving parents chose to call me. And, I’m sticking with it.

Ben L.: Josh. Worked before. Could work again.

Allie: I hear you all recently went on GatherDC’s Beyond the Tent retreat with Rabbi Aaron! First, how was it? Second, was it weird, awesome, or both meeting 3 other Bens?

Ben D.: Beyond the Tent was a great experience, to get out of the DC bubble and make time for deep reflection. It helped to highlight that any person can define Judaism for themselves. I am used to there being other Bens around throughout my life, which is one reason why I usually go by my full name. But this time, we made up more than 10% of the whole group, so yes, that was both weird and awesome.

Ben F.: Beyond the Tent was a mind-changing experience. Rabbi Aaron encouraged us to ask difficult questions and not to be afraid to stand behind our beliefs. In terms of meeting all the Bens, I think we embraced it – it was like our own little breakout group in itself.

Ben R.: Beyond the Tent impacted my life positively, partly because I was one of four individuals named Ben. Never again in my life, I’m certain of this, will I be in the same place with three other friends named Ben. That’s “Beyond the Awesome”.

Ben L.: It was a thought provoking weekend. I’m a regular attendee of the weekly secret underground gatherings of the Bens, so nothing too new.

 

Allie: Favorite thing to do on a free Sunday in the city?

Ben D.: There are always so many events in DC that I like to see what is going on and base my decision on that.  Last weekend I randomly went to the Zoo, which was fun.

Ben F.: Go for a run along the National Mall.

Ben R.: Watch professional football. Oh wait, I live and die by the Washington Redskins and football season is over? Dang it!

Ben L.: Park. I really enjoy not having to use the meter.

 

Allie: Favorite Jewish food? Ben R., we already know you hate hummus

Ben D.: Chicken Soup.

Ben F.: Might be a classic choice, but Apples and Honey.

Ben R.: [haha. Yep]. Not hummus.

Ben L.: My mom’s challah. All of her’s are good, but I’d say that 1 out of 4 is truly something divine, especially when my two year-old niece helps. Shout out to Maya, Talia, and Andrew, my favorite Jews in DC!

 

Allie: Any surprising facts about yourself?

Ben D.: I had a spiritual experience at Burning Man and now want to incorporate spirituality into my life in new ways.

Ben F.: I was born without two normal teeth and with all 4 wisdom teeth. Call me strange I guess!

Ben R.: Every morning, I touch my three tattoos and say aloud a blessing of gratitude about having my third chance in life and about accepting myself and others as we are. Thanks to Beyond the Tent, I realize now that, for me, this is a deeply Jewish and spiritual ritual.

Ben L.: I used to tear it up at table tennis tournaments as a kid.

 

Allie: Favorite Jewish holiday and how do you celebrate it?

Ben D.: Passover, because there is so much relating to the holiday (I follow sephardic food rules so that I can still enjoy rice and lentils). I like to celebrate by re-interpreting the Haggadah from a post-modern perspective.

Ben F.: Rosh Hashanah. And I try to spend time back home to reminisce on the year prior and look at new ways to seize the future.

Ben R.: Purim because my friend is baking me hamentashen. Ask me again in April, and I may say a different holiday if a friend bakes me something else.

Ben L.: Havdalah. I like to hear the candle’s flame slowly go out in the wine. Judaism places a lot of emphasis on transitions throughout one’s day, week, or year and when in crisis, and I think that’s smart.

 

Allie: Complete the sentence: When the Jews of DC Gather…

Ben D.: They will always find connection and meaning.

Ben F.: If meeting for the first time, you’ll probably get a first question like what you do for a living or where are you from.

Ben R.: They still congregate around the hummus.

Ben L.: You’ll never be the one with the best question or the best answer. That means it’ll be pretty exciting.

 

 

 

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet Jourdi: Jewish Food-Instagramer of the Week

Food lovers rejoice! The amazing human behind @District_Foodie is ready to set down her plate, set aside her iPhone, and chat with a big fan (me) about her successful Instagram account, favorite Jewish foods, and why Bruce Springsteen holds a special place in her heart. Dig into this exclusive interview with Jourdi Tobias, AKA: @District_Foodie! WARNING: Food cravings may ensue – so, we encourage you to #treatyoself to a Valentine’s Day goody while reading.

Allie: How did you wind up living in DC?

Jourdi: I went to University of Maryland – go Terps! And I got a job here after school, am from the area and have always loved it, so I wound up staying.

Allie: What do you love most about living in DC?

Jourdi: I love that it feels like a city, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. It’s been easy to find great friends and feel a part of the community, and I also really enjoy the food scene here.

Allie: So I hear you run a popular food Instagram account…..

Jourdi: Yes! One night, my friends and I were in New York and trying to figure out where to go out to eat. They were all looking at photos on Instagram to decide where to go. As someone who has always been passionate about trying new foods, and loves going out to eat, I realized that I wanted to be that person in DC who helped others figure out where and what to eat. So, I started a food Instagram account, District Foodie.

I was going out to eat and taking photos of the food anyway, so the account happened pretty naturally. The more I kept posting, the more popular the page started to be. Today, we have 15,000 followers! I think it’s been so successful because it’s food I actually try, and restaurants I go to and love, so everything is real!

Allie: Top 3 favorite DC restaurants?

Jourdi: Little Cocos – a really delicious Italian restaurant in Columbia Heights; Rasika – incredible Indian food; and Red Hen – also amazing Italian food.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Jourdi: Shawarma! I’d love a shawarma platter with everything – hummus, pickled onions, tzatzi, banana peppers, spicy peppers, and a pita on the side. I also am a big fan of potato latkes.

Allie: If you had a free day in DC to do ANYTHING you wanted, how would you spend it?

Jourdi: I’d start the day at a fun all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink brunch place, like AmBar in Eastern Market. Then, I’d walk around Eastern Market for a bit. After that, I’d head down to the National Mall and walk around the monuments. Even though I’ve lived in the DC area for most of my life, I still feel like a tourist every time I go see the monuments. I also would love to go to the Botanical Gardens because I love flowers. I’d unwind from the day with a nice dinner at a Michelin Star restaurant like Pineapple and Pearls, which I’ve never been to.

Allie: Any surprising facts about yourself you’d like to share?

Jourdi: My mom went into labor with me at a Bruce Springsteen concert.

Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Jourdi: There should be food and drinks!

 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

JUDITH VS. DONUTS: The DC Donut Taste-Test

8 Days of Hanukkah means the PERFECT excuse to take advantage of eight chances to indulge in some of the best, most delectable, most fried, most well frosted, most heavily sprinkled, most — ugh, we’re getting so hungry right now — donuts throughout DC. This week, we highly encourage you to go have fun tasting the best donuts across the city as you explore new neighborhoods, surprise your friends with exciting flavors (sweet and savory), and get in as much fried food as possible before the New Year!

We did some preliminary “research” to help steer you to the tastiest treats, and away from those not worth the calories — we took a few caloric hits for the team. Use our highly scientific Donut Deliciousness Meter (out of 4 ✡) to decipher which donuts are worth the splurge. You’re welcome!

Dunkin’ Donuts

While these donuts are great for a cheap office treat, looks are very much deceiving as we encountered tasty looking but…we hate to say it…stale donuts! We tried both a classic glazed (very dry) and an apple-filled (more like one bite of filling in the corner of a very dry donut), throwing out both donuts after one bite. 🙁 But, we did pick these donuts up in the afternoon, so perhaps they are best enjoyed with your morning Dunkin’ coffee run.

Donut Deliciousness Meter: ✡

B. Doughnut

Due to the overwhelming popularity of these particular fried and frosted circles, we were unable to quench our B.Doughnut taste buds. These donuts sold out by 11am! (DC donut lovers – we’re impressed.) Although I cannot speak from personal experience, we’ve heard these are definitely ones to have on your list…along with an alarm clock set for sunrise. Using a Hawaiian style Malasada recipe instead of the traditional fried fritter (making for an eggy, yeast dough), these doughnuts are filled with pastry crème or cream cheese. With a pop-up shop at Union Market, you can swing by on the weekend and grab a LOX bagel doughnut! Yes, that is a real thing.

Donut Deliciousness Meter: Too late to tell!

202 Donuts

You can find these handmade donuts at Bold Bite in Downtown DC. While deceptively small, these donuts pack a punch of flavor – and were one of our favorite bites of all! The donut itself has a strong yeast flavor and isn’t very sweet, which actually pairs miraculously well with the sugary toppings and fillings. Go for the Dulce de Leche for a creamy caramel treat or the Samoa if you’re missing your favorite Girl Scout cookie.

Donut Deliciousness Meter: ✡✡✡✡

District Doughnut

With drool-worthy flavors like Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee, Brown Butter, and Cannoli, this local donut shop (started in Union Kitchen) spreads happiness through its mouthwatering, handcrafted donuts in a wide variety of flavors. They have a special strawberry jam filled Sufganiyot for Hanukkah, and are one of the few places that serve cake donuts in addition to the classic yeasted variety.

Donut Deliciousness Meter: ✡✡✡

Image courtesy of Astro Doughnuts,  Scott Suchman

Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken

Founded by two Jews who met while playing hockey (they were the first native Washingtonians to play for the Capitals), this donut shop fries up sweet treats AND crispy chicken! Combining their two childhood comfort foods, Jeff Halpern and Elliot Spaisman brought the very first chicken and donut sandwich to DC. You can get classic donuts with or without the chicken, or a special box of sufganiyot donuts for Hanukkah (traditional jelly-filled, crème brulee topped with gelt, and Hanukkah cookie!). These flavors will be available from 12/12 – 12/20/17, so stop by this week to give ‘em a try!

Donut Deliciousness Meter: ✡✡✡✡

Honorable Mentions:

Shake Shack, Donuts Are Forever Concrete: Milkshake heaven made of Astro Doughnut’s coconut flavored doughnut, Vanilla custard, strawberry jam, and rainbow sprinkles.

Munch Ice Cream Donut Sandwich

Chocolate Frosted Entenmann’s Donut

 

 

About the Author: Judith  Rontal  is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you! Judith hails from wintry Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she grew up in a family that always managed to eat dinner together, even if that was at 10 pm. She’s continued that connection between food, family and culture in her blog, Aluminum Foiled Kitchen, and in her daily life in DC where she works in PR, focusing on media relations. When not in the kitchen working on a new recipe to serve at her next dinner party, you can find Judith sweating it out at yoga or running the Rock Creek Park trails. Follow her food adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Spotted in Jewish DC: Baked by Yael

Baked by Yael was founded in 2010 by recovering attorney Yael Krigman. After operating Baked by Yael as an online business for several years, Yael finally opened DC’s very first Cake-poppery® in 2015. Today, Baked by Yael has claimed the illustrious distinction of having cake pops that Washingtonian Magazine called “Best of Washington.” Side note – her bagels are truly a hidden gem of DC, and you must try them.

Now, bite into this exclusive interview with Yael as she digs into the trials and tribulations of running her very own cake pop shop in our nation’s capital.

Allie:  I heard you used to be a lawyer. So…how did you wind up opening Baked by Yael?

Yael: When I worked at a big law firm, I used to bake for fun and I’d bring in my baked goods to share with coworkers each week. People would crowd in my office to try the latest “Monday Treat.”  They would tell me I was a fine attorney… but that if it didn’t work out, I should start a bakery. I figured there was no reason to wait, so I started Baked by Yael. A part-time side gig eventually turned into a full-time passion.

Allie: When did you first start baking? Who taught you?

Yael: I remember making cookies with my family when I was little, but I started baking regularly when I was in law school. It’s amazing the skills you can develop when you’re trying to avoid studying for the bar exam!

My baking as an adult began with bagels. It was so hard to find a good bagel in DC. I finally gave up and decided to make my own. From there, I branched out to black & white cookies and rugelach, and then of course to cake pops!

Allie: How did you find the courage to take a risk and start your own business?

Yael: It wasn’t easy. I had a stable, well-paying job in the legal field. After a while, I started to realize that I had one job I worked because of the money and another job I worked because of the joy it gave me.

It was an email from the then-popular Daily Candy that really gave me the push I needed to leave my day job.  They sent an email to all of their subscribers with the subject “The best bagel we’ve ever eaten.” That really put Baked by Yael on the map. The rest, as they say, is history!

Allie: Any new treats coming out this season that you’re particularly excited about?

Yael: We had our honey cake pops for Rosh Hashanah, and we’ll be rolling out some more seasonal flavors in the coming weeks. We’re also thinking of doing a spin on “Christmas in July” with hamantaschen in November.  Stay tuned 🙂

Allie: What advice do you have for someone dreaming of opening up their own business?

Yael: Keep your eye on the prize and be prepared to develop thick skin! The journey of a small business owner is quite the emotional rollercoaster.  You need a solid plan, a great product, and a strong support network of family, friends, and customers.

Allie: What do you like to do for fun outside of work?

Yael: I try to find time throughout the year for short trips or visits to the symphony. The highlight of my week is mentoring a middle school student. This is my fifth year with her. It brings me such joy to watch her grow and to know that I’m playing a small role in the life of an extraordinary young girl.

Allie: How are are you involved in DC’s local Jewish community?

Yael: I’m a member of Adas Israel, which is only a few blocks from Baked by Yael, and I’ve helped support the Edlavitch DCJCC by catering several fundraising events. I’m proud to provide one of the only options for fresh kosher food in DC.

Allie: What is your favorite Jewish food?

Yael: Oh man, that’s like asking a mother to choose between her children. If I had to pick one, I would probably say the black & white cookie. I used to only like the chocolate side, then I switched to preferring vanilla, and now I love both sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baked by Yael is located at 3000 Connecticut Avenue (directly across from the National Zoo) or online at bestcakepopever.com. Baked by Yael offers curbside pickup at their bakery, as well as local delivery and nationwide shipping. You can also find Baked by Yael on weekends at the Cleveland Park and Palisades farmers’ markets in DC and the Old Town and Del Ray farmers’ markets in Alexandria. Baked by Yael’s products are nut-free and kosher, and have lots of gluten-free and vegan options as well. Kids and kids at heart can hold cake pop parties in Baked by Yael’s kitchen, offering all the fun of rolling, dipping, and decorating without the usual mess.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.