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NIBBLES & SIPS/The Next Food Stars

In a sign that things are not slowing down in the Food Network’s reality show world, Grub Street reports a casting call for the 2010 season of The Next Food Network Star.

The announcement states, “We are looking for any chef, line cook, home cook, caterer or culinary enthusiast who is interested in becoming the host of his-or-her own cooking show on Food Network!” Auditions are tomorrow at the CBS building at 530 West 57th Street between 10am and 4pm. Just bring two recent photos, a copy of your resume and an application. Go to for further instructions.
Morou Ouattara, newly sprung from Farrah Olivia, has made a savvy decision for the Executive Chef position at his new outpost, Kora. His choice? Brother Amadou Ouattara, who spent years at I Ricchi and knows his way around la cucina Italiana will be at the helm of this latest endeavor in Crystal City.

Housed in Roberto Donna’s former Bebo Trattoria location (my tour revealed a fabulously designed kitchen with all the bells and whistles left in place), they plan to use the wood-fired hearth to crisp up pizzas, roast vegetables, bake breads and cruise the Amalfi Coast. Okay, I’m just daydreaming on that last one.

An extensive catering menu is planned for those who prefer their antipasti, seared halibut, saffron-hued risottos and pappardelle with porcini served to their guests at home or office. The choices seem endless and ambitious. To satisfy my palate I’m looking forward to the linguine alla vongole. But can they get it right? I’ll keep you posted. Kora plans to serve their first guest sometime in August. Looks promising. Viva Italia!

Let the Thai battles begin! A permit has gone up for a new restaurant at 100 King Street in Old Town to be named Red Curry. That’s around 100 feet from Mai Tai and a few blocks from Thai Old Town, Red Mei, Asian Bistro, Siam 815 and Chintana Thai. That’s some pretty stiff competition for this newcomer? Could this be the same restaurant on Lexington Avenue in New York City that had 23 violation points against them back in January of last year? Say it isn’t so!

 Andres at Bethesda Home dressing Pork sampler.  Photo by Roy Wright

Andres at Bethesda Home dressing Pork sampler. Photo by Roy Wright

Jose Andres, chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup and Jaleo, Oyamel, Jose Andres’ minibar and Zaytinya and DC’s premier butcher and caterer, Wagshal’s Market, have teamed up to promote one of Spain’s premier products, Iberico de Bellota. You know the highly prized cured ham that Andres spent years getting the license to bring into the States. This pig is of such high pedigree and heavenly flavor I’ll call it the “Chateaubriand of Pork”. These legendary pata negra pigs are lured to forage for acorns and wild herbs as they roam the mountains meadows of La Alberca, in Western Spain. The resulting meat becomes permeated with the nutty, herbose flavor. (n.b. I’m planning my next life as a Spanish pig.)

At a recent party at his Maryland home, the gracious Andres served us endless platters of this luscious pork, only available in the US at Wagshal’s.

Wagshal's chefs on the right / Jordan Wright on Left. Photo by Roy Wright

Wagshal's chefs on the right / Jordan Wright on Left. Photo by Roy Wright

Proud Wagshal’s owner/purveyor, Bill Fuchs was on hand to triumph Andres’s, hot-from-the-grill, melt-in-your-mouth slices of this unique meat. You will think you never ate pork before after trying this glorious specialty. For optimal flavor for at-home chefs, prepare to serve it medium rare with a nice rosy pink center. Not a cook, out of time, too hot to grill? Just bring your friends to Jaleo, the sole US restaurant where you can enjoy this sumptuous pork in dishes like Lomo Iberico de Bellota asado con manzanas (Apples. We sampled this divine dish too.), and a paella called Arroz con costillas de cerdo Iberico de Bellota, that uses the ribs of the pork.

For recipes and more information go to

Spy Diner on location

Spy Diner on location

Stir Food Group (Zola, Potenza) has launched Spy Diner, a food cart on the corner of 9th and F Streets
Spy Diner Cart 9th & F Street Washington, DC

Spy Diner Cart 9th & F Street Washington, DC

in Penn Quarter. Working with DC Central Kitchen they have come up with a cool idea to help graduates with their culinary job training. DCCK’s program prepares the unemployed, underemployed, previously incarcerated and homeless adults for careers in the food service industry. What a brilliant concept! Let’s pepper the whole city with these carts that offer breakfast treats that include and fresh bagels, muffins and homemade coffee cake, egg sandwiches and Taylor pork roll (Jerseyites, your comfort food awaits!) served with ham or bacon. Lunch and dinner (for cheap pre-theatre fare or staying late-at-the-office workers, pay keen attention here) is a bit more sophisticated and features yummy sliders made with lamb meatballs with goat cheese aioli or roast beef melts with caramelized onions and Emmenthaler sauce on a horseradish bun. For the traditionalists there is real BBQ pork and coleslaw on a salt and pepper bun.

Feeling out of the loop? No bailout expected? No worries. If you’re dying to try the restaurant all your friends have been bragging on ad infinitum, or that perfect dish you had when you were feeling flush and bought lunch for the whole office, but now your wallet has been squished flatter than a Belgian crepe due to the downturn, then you’re in for a treat.

The long-awaited Washington DC Summer Restaurant Week has returned. From August 24th through August 30th some of the city’s top dining spots are offering true bargains. Aren’t you glad you passed on that 7-day Alaskan holiday?

With three-course fixed price lunches at $20.09 and three-course fixed price dinners at $35.09 at nearly 200 restaurants, you can dine in splendor at some of the area’s finest destinations. Go to for a comprehensive list of all the participating restaurants. Here are just a few of the too-numerous-to-mention hot spots: Potenza, Coco Sala, 2941, Acadiana, The Prime Rib, Occidental Grill, The Jockey Club, Poste Brasserie in the Hotel Monaco, Indique and Georgia Brown’s. After this culinary junket you and your peeps can pen your own restaurant guide.

Pass the biscuits. Bookbinder’s Restaurant investors, who squandered the chance to get to know their neighbors in Old Town Alexandria, have changed gears and come up with a different restaurant concept. The new eatery will be located in the former beloved and sorely missed Olsen’s bookstore at 100 South Union Street. For this go-round they’ll be serving Southern fare and getting in the groove with rooftop jazz. No date on the opening yet.
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