A Small Southern Town in Northwest Washington

hush puppy

D.C. has a long list of traditional southern-style restaurants, so you’d be forgiven for wondering why it needed another.  But you shouldn’t wonder after seeing Eatonville‘s unorthodox starter above — a single fried hushpuppy the size of a baseball filled with leek fondue and rock shrimp. It is seriously effing delicious.

Eatonville Restaurant

Set on the same 14th Street corner as sister restaurant Busboys and Poets, Eatonville is named in honor of Zora Neale Hurston, the Harlem renaissance author and playwright. Hurston grew up in Eatonville, Florida, one of the first southern towns created by African-Americans after slavery ended. The name really made an impression on me as I realized how thoughtful they’ve been in putting the place together. From picket fences and rocking chairs flanking the bar to drinks served in mason jars, this was more than another DC restaurant with southern fare… I felt like I’d hopped a train to a small town in the Deep South.

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Grillin’ in [a small apartment in] Narnia

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My girlfriend makes a pretty cool roommate. So after we moved in together last Spring, I came to realize that the most difficult adjustment I’d have to make to our new digs had nothing to do with co-habitation. Because we chose an apartment, I’d have to learn to live without a grill. Even typing that out makes me want to punch and curse. I HATE not having a grill. In my previous life with grills, I had exalted them to the highest status. They’re like slutty angels on Earth. Easy, social, fun, delicious, smoky, drippy, dynamic, versatile, outdoor goodness.

Since I began cooking, the grill has always been my favorite medium. When I was in High School, my friends ruthless gang and I would grill all of the time – every week, sometimes every day. We cooked hot dogs, burgers, steak, brats, kielbasa, italian sausage, pork roasts, chicken, ham, bread, tricked out civics, books, virgins, christians, everything. For a while I used to carry one of those cheap gas Coleman hibachis in my trunk, just in case. We grilled in the summer, the winter, at midnight (Midnight Steak Team Represent), in the snow, in the rain, at the beach, at the pool, at Burke Lake, damn; everywhere that Sam’s buddy, that furry goose looking thing, wouldn’t eat Green eggs, we grilled. That was about 10 years ago, and I never lost it. Since then, I’ve always lived with people that shared the love. In college we got stoned to the bejesus belt and grilled pizzas in donuts in the front yard. And they were f*n good. I love grills.

So yeah, enough fecking background. All of that rant for one simple reason – the other night, I decided to grill Christmas in July, or whatever. Click below to keep reading, sucka.

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An Ale of Quadricentinneal Proportions

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Williamsburg Alewerks – Williamsburg, VA
“400” [Imperial Brown] Ale
Approximately 6.5% ABV

Can you believe it’s been 400 years since Captain John Smith traded goods with the Nanticokes, and traded arrows and musket balls with the Algonquins on his trip up the Chesapeake Bay? …seems like yesterday that he and the others struck out from Jamestown to seek passage to the Pacific in their low-draft shallop. Anywho, Williamsburg Alewerks brewed up a limited edition brown ale to commemorate the founding of Jamestown and the subsequent plundering of America’s land and people. Hurrah!

But don’t take my word for it, the cutesy write-up on the classy painted label says it all:

“400” Ale commemorates the founding of the first Virginia Settlement and with it, the founding of the American brewing industry. Beer was an essential component of everyday life in Jamestown, only the security and shelter provided by the triangular shaped fort and cultivation of edible (no doubt including barley) crops outranked the production of beer in importance. Fresh water flowing in local streams and the recently excavated well provided a source of potable water, but beer and other “processed liquids, primarily beer” were preferred drinks.
This ale, like the ales of the time, is brown in color. This beer may be more robust than 18th century brews, a liberty we chose to take. How could we possibly do justice to so important an event of 400 years ago, with anything other than a truly robust, full flavored contemporary “Imperial Brown Ale.” Cheers.

Trebuch le jump for details and opinions on this anniversary ale.

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Bay of Pigs

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This past weekend, the lady and I headed out for a Saturday drive. We made a bee line for Point Lookout, MD, a sentinel’s post overlooking the conflux of the Potomac and Chesapeake. You can’t see across the Bay there, Cherry Island being the nearest land fifteen miles to the East with the actual Eastern Shore a full twenty-four miles away. The Potomac is nearly as broad, the southern end of the river’s mouth, South Point, a whopping eleven miles distant. We were lucky enough to catch a wild snow falling when we arrived, a truly beautiful sight. Anyway, enough about nature, this article’s supposed to be about our lunch.

We were hungry when we left home. We were excited to hit Point Lookout, but our sights (and stomachs) were set squarely on Bear Creek Open Pit BBQ. I read about this place on Jane and Michael Stern’s greasy spoon bible, www.roadfood.com. Stern’s description of the ten foot by ten foot indoor brick pit left no question of where to stop for lunch. It was in plain view when we walked in the door, ten or fifteen pounds of pork slow-cooking on the massive steel grates. My God, it was beautiful. Details on the food postule-jumpule.

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A Mug of Cold Chocolate

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Rogue Ales Brewery – Newport, OR
Chocolate Stout
ABV: 6%

Ah, Rogue. If you’re not familiar, Rogue is an ale brewery in the coastal town of Newport, Oregon. Opened in ’88, they were on the crest of the wave of craft breweries that has rolled in on the US in the last 20 years. Rogue is known for big, hoppy ales, a trademark of the PNW. I’ve heard a traditionalist or two whine about Rogue’s beers being too hoppy or not being balanced enough, but screw that, I see it as a strength when a brewery has a defined style across their line of beers – trademarks are good for business, people. Rogue’s line is relatively easy to find on the East Coast, so I’m posting this review to introduce you to Rogue, and in hopes that you’ll seek out this chocolate stout, or any of their beers that might interest you. Jump le jump for the skinny on Rogue’s Chocolate Stout.

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Pitt of my Stomach

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I’m a Carolina bar-b-que guy. …pig butts, unseasoned, pit cooked, finely chopped, and seasoned with a little vinegar and, maybe, a few spices. Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas all have something great going for ‘em. If you hit the right places, they make some excellent beef and pork, especially ribs, but it ain’t BBQ. For god sakes, half those places cook in indoor ovens. Folks, if it’s cooked in an oven, it ain’t BBQ.

But hell, everyone has their vices. And Lord knows I have mine. And while my favorite BBQ place is in the land of Dixie, does pitt [sic] cook their pork, and is a classic road-food stop, they do break an important law of NC BBQ …the tomato. Any respectable Carolina bar-b-que lover will tell you that tomatoes have no place in traditional BBQ sauce. But hey, we’re a progressive lot, and I think we all know that sometimes innovation simply trumps tradition. Continue after the jump to find out what the hell I’m rambling about.

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“Local beer pretty ok, I guess.” says local man.

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Old Domion Brewing Co. – Ashburn, VA
Winter Brew 2007 / Holiday IPA
6.6% ABV

DC’s first snow storm has come and gone. But the Canadians aren’t through yet. They’re shipping another icy cold front our way, scheduled to hit with the classic mid-atlantic wintry mix. So, I’m gonna hold off on the regular old IPA review I was gonna do to fill you in on another winter ale. Check out the first paragraph of my Harpoon Winter Warmer Brewview for my opine on winter beers.

I’ve chosen a local winter ale… Old Dominion’s Winter Brew 2007. For those not familiar, Old Dominion is a brewery located in Ashburn the f*cking suburbs of VA. Why would you move 25 miles away from the city to live in a condo!?!? “Because I am an idiot in search of a life where nothing ever happens and I’m frightened of young, black men, and I hate traffic even though I am the paramount cause of it.” Uhh, I digress. Anyway, my experience with the 2007 Winter Brew begins with a six-pack I picked up at Whole Foods in Tenleytown, poured into a heavy 14oz glass mug. I rarely, if ever, feel comfortable reviewing a beer on my first introduction, so this is the probably the 3rd or 4th one I’ve tried it (no, not in the same night). Drunk is awesome, but not for reviews.

The color: is a transparent cherry amber. Thin head forms and falls to a film in a couple minutes. Minimal lacing. BTW, lacing is the act of foam sticking to the sides of your beverage vehicle. It’s an indication of the carbonation and retention of the brew, which may or may not indicate quality. Soap film from hand-washing your dishes, or using a crappy dishwasher, will ruin head, retention, and lacing. Now, say in your head, “Who cares?” Ok, let’s proceed.

The smell: is heavy on the malt up front, followed by strong citrusy hops. Which is exactly what comes through on the first taste. I sensed some coffee and cherries in the background, but it’s probably attributable to roasted malt and the intense citrus hops. Complex flavors are great, but you know, they aren’t supposed to clash with one another. This is not the first time I’ve had it, and I have since warmed up to this beer, which I was initially disappointed with. Also, I was happy to find out that the flavors effectively mask 6.6% ABV, just enough of a kick to warm your trunk on a cold winter nacht.

Mouthfeel: is good, bit high on the carbonation. But the heavier viscosity works – and matches the depth – of this conundrum of a winter amber ipa.

All-in-all: this is a good beer, one that’s definitely grown on me, but I think it’s a bit confused about it’s style.

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