April 29, 2016
Special to DC Metro Theater Arts
Spliff, doobie, joint. You can’t smoke em here, but it’s assumed you’ll come high as a kite to this first time munchies extravaganza where pot aficionados in the DMV will be schooled in the fine art of cooking with weed. Organizers, Al Goldberg, owner of Mess Hall, and Nevin Martell, author of Freakshow Without a Tent, hope their trippy food fest will lure the stoner elite.
Snacks rule when you’re feeling a buzz and who better to amp up the gourmet goods than Tarver King, molecular gastronomist and Executive Chef of the much-lauded The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville, Virginia. King will prepare “cannabutter” during one of the three marijuana cooking classes in the demonstration kitchen. Other demos will teach fans how to make THC tincture for the ultimate munchies.
When I caught up with King by phone earlier this week, he was excited to be participating. “It’s great to get in on the ground floor with an event like this,” he told me, “We’re all over it! Back in high school we used to eat it on the 4/20, rather than smoking it,” he recalled using the universal euphemism for the annual consumption of cannabis. King admits to scarfing down tacos from Taco Bell after the toke fest. To get the high the teens were seeking, “we threw a bunch of weed in.” But he’s evolved since then. “The nerd in me wondered if it would work better in fats.” To that end he’s played around with a potent version of “cannabutter” which he’ll demo in one of the classes. He claims this technique “draws out the THC and makes it ten times stronger”. In actuality he admits he doesn’t smoke it often. “I can get paranoid,” he says, relating an incident when the act of eating popcorn sounded so loud he thought he was disturbing his wife’s TV watching.
It was perfect timing for Mathew Ramsay of PornBurger whose eponymously named cookbook just launched. Ramsay, whose burgers Martell calls, “gloriously gluteus burgers that you want to have sex with”, will be on hand to sign his new book PornBurger: Hot Buns and Juicy Beefcakes (Ecco 2016). He’ll also demonstrate how to make a weed-laced burger.
Buenos Aires Art in Washington DC by designer Jon Wye
After the three-class session, guests can chill out in the beer hall/food court where vintage cartoons mix with the sounds of stoner soul and where Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, Fry Brothers, Sloppy Mothers Barbecue and Westray’s Finest Ice Cream are available for purchase. Be sure to indulge in deluxe flavors from this locally-made ice cream. Owner Westray Paul promises to bring a few exotic specialties from his “Adventurous” line of cold treats, including Coffee & Doughnuts, Burnt Sugar, and Honey Buttermilk Strawberry. The hall also features marijuana-related paraphernalia, graphics-adorned gear from designer Jon Wye, and hip logo tees from Kelly Towles.
The Deets – Tickets are $42.00 for General Admission and include an Astro Doughnut sandwich (a savory rosemary doughnut sandwich with pimento chicken salad and Gordy’s pickled jalapenos) and a beer. The $75.00 VIP pass gives you front row seating plus an exclusive Kelly Towles t-shirt and a swag bag from DC area restaurants. Entry times are at 11 A.M., 12:30 P.M., 2 P.M, 3:30PM and 5PM. For tickets and more info visit https://t.co/zJu179jVG3
703 Edgewood St., Northeast
Washington, DC 20017
April 27, 2016
To pen a collection of recipes using ingredients gleaned from the great outdoors, you ought to have some street cred – or shall I say hunter/gatherer credibility. Author Susan L. Ebert is not only skilled at all the activities listed in the cookbook’s title, she prepares and shares these foods within her circle of likeminded friends.
She’s part Euell Gibbons, wildcrafter, Michael Pollan, food philosopher, Alice Waters, natural foods proponent and Barton Seaver, chef and guardian of sustainable seafood. For Ebert, who’s all of these icons rolled into one, food – including the gathering, preparing and preserving of it – translates into being outdoors. The Texas transplant learned her skills from her Kentucky grandparents, Mamaw Grace and Papaw Dorsey, who valued the art of canning and drying their foods. As a young woman Ebert turned her attention to organic gardening, working under J. J. Rodale at Organic Gardening magazine where she learned about the dangers of pesticides and embraced the importance of caring for the earth.
With a poet’s passion and an environmentalist’s commitment, she learned to fish, hunt and glean wild edibles while publisher and editor of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. It was then she realized, as a single mother, she could feed her two young children from nature’s all-organic supermarket.
In The Field to Table Cookbook – Gardening, Foraging, Fishing & Hunting (Welcome Books – a division of Rizzoli International Publications – 2016) recipes are organized by hunting, fishing and gardening seasons. Here are 150 of Ebert’s favorite, non-GMO, wild foods recipes presented with love, humor, and a respectful compassion for God’s creatures.
Dishes as diverse as Doves in Blackberry Molé, American Beauty Backstrap (Dry-Aged Venison Backstrap with American Beautyberry Cumberland Sauce), Rancho El Rey con Guajalote (King Ranch Casserole with Wild Turkey) and Peaches ‘n’ Cream Pie, tempt the cook with stunning food and landscape photographs by Robert Peacock. In every recipe Ebert shows an intimate awareness of nature’s cupboard, from pickling redbud flowers in Spring to gathering wild muscadine grapes in early Fall. Even the bourbon she chooses for her Bluegrass Country Mint Julep must be just so and from one of two distilleries that use non-GMO corn. Only Wild Turkey or Four Roses will do.
For those who may not be handy with a gun, Ebert lists mail order sources for farm-raised and ethically harvested wild game, along with specialty gristmills for stone ground grains and flours.
Here’s Susan’s recipe and notes for Roasted Rabbit with Chipotle Sauce
Roasted Rabbit with Chipotle Sauce
Americans are eating more rabbit than at any time since World War II. Seems trendy chefs have discovered what many hunters already know: Rabbit’s delicious white meat is high in protein, low in fat, and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, rabbit meat has a higher protein-to-fat ratio than beef, pork, lamb, chicken, or turkey, and even a farm-raised rabbit is an environmentally responsible protein choice—the amount of food and water needed by a cow to produce 1 pound of meat will yield 6 pounds of rabbit meat.
Texas has no closed season on rabbits and hares—the most renowned of which are jackrabbits (actually hares), weighing between 4 and 8 pounds, and ranging throughout the western U.S. and all of Texas, except East Texas. Swamp rabbits (cane-cutters) weigh 3 to 6 pounds, with a range confined to East Texas’s marshes and riverine areas. The 2- to 3-pound cottontail rabbits range throughout the eastern half of the U.S., making them as plentiful as they are tasty. Go with a tightly choked light-gauge shotgun—20 ga., 28 ga., or even a .410—stoked with No. 6 to No. 7 ½ shot for best results afield, or buy organic domestic rabbit from a growing number of sources. [Fossil Farms, Boonton, New Jersey 973 917.3155 or visit www.FossilFarms.com]
Roasted Rabbit with Chipotle Sauce
- 1 field-dressed cottontail or farmed rabbit
For the brine:
- ½ cup sea salt
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
- 4 allspice berries, crushed
- ½ cup organic dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Cherry wood chips
- Blueberry–Chipotle Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)
- Pour the cooled brine into a nonreactive container large enough to hold the rabbit, and add 4 to 6 cups ice water.
- Submerge the rabbit in the brine, weighing it down with a heavy plate if necessary.
- Brine the rabbit until about 1 hour prior to cooking, then remove and pat dry with paper towels.
- Place the rabbit on a wire rack over a baking sheet to dry and come to room temperature.
- Before grilling, brush the rabbit with some of the melted butter inside and out, and season with salt and pepper, both inside and out.
- Build a fire on one side of your grill (or if using gas, light only one burner) and bring the grill temperature to at least 400° F.
- Using long tongs over the hot fire, sear both sides of the rabbit to a golden brown. Move the rabbit to the cooler side of the grill, and roast over low indirect heat, with the grill
- covered, for 2 to 4 hours, basting occasionally with melted butter, until a meat thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 170° F. (Add cherry wood chips that have been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes to flavor the smoke.)
- Baste with barbecue sauce, then loosely tent under foil for 10 minutes prior to carving.
- Serve with more barbecue sauce on the side.
Blueberry–Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
This recipe came from a plethora of blueberries (30 pounds!) after a berry-picking excursion to a nearby organic blueberry farm. While it’s exquisite with roasted rabbit, the sauce also pairs nicely with game birds, poultry, or pork. Or, as my daughter Cristina suggested, why pair it with anything? Simply drink it with a straw, or perhaps brush your teeth with it!
Yields 2 quarts
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 shallots, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 8 cups tomato puree (10 to 12 medium tomatoes,
- peeled, cored, and pureed)
- 4 dried chiles de árbol (rat tail chiles), stemmed and
- 1 (7 ½-ounce) can chipotles in adobo sauce
- 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground mace
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar (I use
- 1 cup dark agave nectar
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Melt the butter in a 4- to 5-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute more.
- Add the tomato puree, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Place the chiles de árbol in a blender with ½ cup boiling water, cover, and let them steep for 10 minutes to soften, then puree on high speed.
- Add the pureed chiles, the chipotles in adobo, blueberries, salt, dry mustard, cayenne, celery seeds, cinnamon, mace, and nutmeg to the stockpot, and increase the heat to medium to achieve a lively simmer.
- Once the pot is bubbling, add the vinegar, agave nectar, and lemon juice and reduce the heat to low.
- Let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by about half.
- Remove from the heat and let the pot sit for 15 minutes, then ladle the sauce into a blender (fill the blender no more than half-full to avoid splatters) and batch-process until smooth. Freezes well.
April 26, 2016
Special to The Alexandria Times
Roz White ~ Teresa Castracane ~ Photo credit Chris Banks
Sandra L. Holloway’s searing production of Black Pearl Sings opens to the haunting music of a Black chain gang singing in cadence as they swing their pickaxes to the dirge-like rhythm. This indelible, spine-tingling chant leads us to Alberta ‘Pearl’ Johnson who has spent ten miserable years in a swamp-surrounded prison in southeast Texas for the murder of her abusive husband. The story is inspired by folklorist John Lomax’s real life discovery of the legendary folk singer and guitarist, Huddie ‘Lead Belly’ Ledbetter.
In this telling, Johnson is discovered by Susannah Mullally, an ambitious, and not incidentally, White ethnomusicologist employed by the Library of Congress to uncover America’s earliest indigenous music, and, by deduction, its African roots. “You are a doorway to our past,” Susannah pleads. Playwright Frank Higgins, whose previous work has starred such notable actresses as Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow, gives pathos and humor to this sensitive portrait of a woman hardened by a segregationist South and the destructive men in her life.
Roz White and Teresa Castracane ~ Photo credit Chris Banks
At first Susannah’s attempts to coax the old plantation songs out of Johnson are met with a steely rebuke. But eventually, after a considerable period of enmity and suspicion and her description of the suppression of her country’s Gaelic language, the two women form a partnership with Susannah gaining Pearl’s freedom, hard-fought trust and a wealth of songs.
Twenty memorable American folk songs and spirituals weave in and out of this musical, performed entirely in a capella by Roz White’s sinuous contralto and Teresa Castracane’s lilting Irish mezzosoprano and led by legendary Musical Director William Hubbard. Their shared struggles, Pearl’s to earn enough money to track down her long, lost daughter, and Susannah’s seeking success as a woman in a man’s world, eventually bring the women together culminating in a heart-wrenching duet with “Six Feet of Earth” at the end of the second act. Other numbers familiar to many of us are “Down on Me”, later made famous by Janis Joplin (also called “Pearl”), “This Little Light of Mine”, the Gospel favorite “Do Lord, Remember Me”, the sultry “Don’t You Feel My Leg”, and the universal peace anthem, “Kum Ba Yah”.
Roz White and Teresa Castracane ~ Photo credit Chris Banks
There are many funny bits but one that gets knowing laughter is when Pearl makes reference to her birth home on the Gullah island of Hilton Head, which back then was a desolate island off the coast of South Carolina populated by the descendants of African slaves. After hearing a developer recount his vision of a golf course and condos on the tiny island, she decides to use it to motivate her to follow Susannah’s vision for her success. It’s knowing how that turned out, that resonates with us.
At MetroStage through May 29th – 1201 North Royal Street, Alexandria, 22314. For tickets and information visit www.metrostage.org.
April 25, 2016
Special to The Alexandria Times
Richard Fiske (Atticus) and Larry Boggs (Tom Robinson) – Photos by Matt Liptak
It’s been fifty-six years since Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird was published and less than one year since its re-conceived version Go Set a Watchman hit the bestseller lists to a flood of controversy. Much has changed since 1960. Or has it? A quick glance at today’s headlines reveal that bigotry, the murder of unarmed Black men, and racial intolerance continue unchecked both on the streets and in certain presidential campaigns. Given the current political climate and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, it is particularly timely that we find opportunities to re-examine the role of racism in America. And how better to revisit these issues than with this cautionary tale? To that end LTA’s Producers, Rachel Alberts, Bobbie Herbst and Robert Kraus, have chosen well to select Frank Pasqualino to direct this well-crafted and impressively cast production.
As you may recall, the story, narrated on stage by Jean Louise “Scout” Finch as Scout thirty years later (Melissa Dunlap), is set in a small town in the Deep South, where Jim Crow laws were still firmly set in stone. Black families lived on one side of town and whites, another.
Courtroom scene with cast. Photos by Matt Liptak
Atticus Finch (Richard Fiske), a liberal lawyer in a town of bigots, nosy parkers and those best described as adherents to the Klan, is a wise and calming presence in an otherwise lightning hot moment in time. His young daughter, Scout (Olivia McMahon), is an outspoken child with a wealth of curiosity about everything, especially the peculiar nature of prejudice and intolerance. Her slightly older brother Jem (Jack Kearney) does his best to keep her innocent queries in check as does their trusted housekeeper, Calpurnia (Brenda Parker), who cares for them with a no-nonsense attitude and a guiding hand.
When their young friend, Dill (Nathaniel Burkhead), comes from Mississippi to live with them their world grows a little larger and their adventures a little bolder. As they roam the town together the children become targets of racist slurs about their father, who is defending a field hand against the rape of a white woman. Atticus urges them to turn the other cheek. “If you want to understand someone, you gotta walk around in their skin,” he cautions them.
Brenda Parker, Olivia McHahon and Richard Fiske. Photo by Matt Liptak
The first act explores their small family, the mysterious “Boo” Radley (Derek Bradley), an elusive neighbor who’s been holed up in his house for thirty years, and their relationships to the townspeople of Maycomb, setting the stage for the trial, and attempted railroading, of Tom Robinson (Larry Boggs) that unfolds in Act Two. The townsfolk present a polyglot of opinions on race – those that are educated and liberal, those of the hardworking Black families, and, in sharp contrast, their antagonists who are White, poor, uneducated and bigoted. Bob Ewell (Paul Donahoe), Tom’s accuser, and his daughter Mayella, the presumed victim (Skye Lindberg), fall into the category of the latter.
The trial and its aftermath are the most gripping aspects of this story. It is here in a small, segregated courtroom that the viciousness and brutality of racism is revealed in the cold, harsh light of day.
An excellent cast delivers humor and pathos with brilliance and dignity. Especially outstanding are Olivia McMahon, Brenda Parker, Richard Fiske, Paul Donahoe, Tony Gilbert as Judge Taylor, and Skye Lindberg.
Through May 14th at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street. For tickets and information call the box office at 703 683-0496 or visit www.thelittletheatre.com