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2012 Snail of Approval Awards

Now that the tallies have been counted and the winners selected, we are proud to announce the recipients of the 2012 Snail of Approval Awards!

The Snail of Approval program is our way of recognizing the local eateries and artisans that provide us with quality, authentic, and sustainable food and drink.

We just finalized our plans for the 2012 Snail of Approval Awards Party on October 28, 2012 at Policy, a 2011 Snail of Approval winner. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.

So, without further ado, here are the winners for 2012. Check back soon for an online directory of these great local food and drink purveyors:

District of Columbia:

BlackSalt Restaurant
Busboys and Poets
Cafe Green
DC Brau
Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato
Maple Restaurant
P&C Market
Policy Restaurant and Lounge
Restaurant Nora
Seasonal Pantry
Smucker Farms of Lancaster County
Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar
Stachowski Market and Deli
The Atlas Room
The Pig
The Queen Vic
Three Little Pigs Charcuterie & Salumi
White House Meats


8407 kitchen bar
Distillery Lane Ciderworks
Crossroads Farmers Market
ECO City Farm
FireFly Farms Creamery & Market
Fisher Farm
Longview Farm
Moorenko’s Ice Cream
P. A. Bowen Farmstead
Radix Farm
Rocklands Farm
Sandy Spring CSA
Washington’s Green Grocer


Barrel Oak Winery
Bon Vivant Company
Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm
Cultured Frozen Yogurt
Deauville Fallow Deer Farm
EcoFriendly Foods
Evening Star Cafe
Hunter’s Head Tavern
Jackson 20 Tavern
Kegotank Farm
Maple Ave Restaurant
Market Table Bistro
Mom’s Apple Pie
Northern Valley Pastoral Guild
Olin-Fox Farms CSA
Open Kitchen
Red Apron Butchery
Restaurant Eve
The Majestic
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
Tuscarora Mill
The Wine Kitchen

West Virginia:

Lot 12 Public House
Panorama at the Peak



L to R Board Members Sarah McKinley, Kathryn Warnes, and Richard Naples man the Shrub table

Have you heard of a shrub?

As co-sponsors of Eat Local First Week, Slow Food DC was lucky enough to have a booth at the Farm to Street festival on the only cold rainy Saturday this July. And beyond just giving out information about our upcoming events, we felt like this was a great opportunity to showcase an Ark of Taste product that both preserves and highlights the peak ripeness of summer fruit–the Shrub.

A drink with colonial roots, a shrub is basically a vinegary fruit syrup. The high sugar content and acidity of the vinegar preserved the harvest in a time well before refrigeration. Mixed with cold water, it becomes a tart yet sweet summer thirst quencher. Today, it can be mixed with soda water, or made into a cocktail with the spirit of your choice, such as Gin or Whiskey. It could even make a decent champagne cocktail or wine spritzer.

There are various methods to creating a shrub. The following is the way I created the five shrubs showcased at our booth. But please, be creative! With so many wonderful varieties of vinegar out there, and an infinite combination of spices and herbs you can include, you can truly make this your own creation. The most basic ratio is one part fruit to one part vinegar to one part sugar, but even this is a suggestion. Adjust as needed given the natural sweetness of the fruit, acidity of the vinegar, and how you plan on using the shrub.

makes 20-30 servings

1.  Combine one cup of fruit and one cup of vinegar to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until the fruit has softened. Mash with a potato masher or muddler to extract more juice and flavor.
2.  Pour the mashed fruit and vinegar mixture into a sterilized jar. Cover and let sit at least 24 hours, and up to three days.
3.  Strain the fruit and vinegar mixture into a saucepan. It is perfectly acceptable to place the fruit inside cheesecloth and squeeze out the juice.
4.  Add a cup of sugar to the juice and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Let the mixture reduce until slightly thickened, about five minutes.
5.  Pour the shrub into a sterilized jar or bottle. Refridgerate for best preservation of quality. The flavors should mellow over time.

Once the shrub has cooled, add a small amount to a glass with ice and fill with cold water or seltzer water. Enjoy!

Here are the shrubs made for the Farm to Street party:

  • Sour Cherry with Sherry and Balsamic Vinegar
  • Strawberry with Sherry and Balsamic Vinegar (The strawberries were local. I used a jar of homemade jam and left out the sugar part of the recipe. This is a great way to use your extra jam!)
  • Plum with White Wine Vinegar and Juniper Berries
  • Peach with Cider Vinegar, Cinnamon and Allspice
  • Apple with Cider Vinegar and Cinnamon

Sarah McKinley, Richard Naples, and Kathryn Warnes at the Slow Food DC table

We brought out the Snail of Approval winners list from 2011, and had a few of our new Slow Food DC products for sale

Richard Naples is not above getting excited about beverages and the color orange.


Join Slow Food DC for Eat Local First DC, a Weeklong Celebration of Local Food – July 14-21

Slow Food DC is proud to be a part of Eat Local First DC, a weeklong celebration of local food, including our local farms, restaurants, chefs and independent retailers. There will be wide variety of events – like a garden tour, film screening, and food industry panel – in addition to happy hours and parties. Things kick off Saturday, 7/14, with a party at Acre 121 featuring local music from Listen Local First and local BBQ and beer.

The focus of this year’s Eat Local First DC will be on local farms and restaurants and the organizations and people that are making locally-grown food more accessible in DC. Throughout the week, you’ll be able to dine at restaurants participating in Farm-to-Table Restaurant Week. On Thursday, 7/19, Slow Food DC is hosting a happy hour for our Snail of Approval awards, which recognize local eateries and artisans for their commitment to quality, sustainable food and the preservation of food traditions and craftsmanship. The event is at Ripple, a 2011 honoree.

Slow Food DC is helping to organize a garden tour on Tuesday, 7/17 that will highlight the work of DC residents who have created sustainable and edible gardens in the historic heart of the city. Then on Saturday, 7/21, we’ll be out celebrating local food at the Farm-to-Street Party – look for our table. You’ll be able to enjoy delicious dishes made with local ingredients, drink local craft beer and wine, shop local retailers and take craft food classes. Listen Local First is providing music from local artists.

There will be a special focus this year on the emerging culinary entrepreneurs who are growing the local restaurant economy in DC. The Femivore Award winner will be decided at an event on Monday, 7/16. The award recognizes women in the local food movement and will provide $1,000 for the winner’s local food project. Additionally, there will be two all-star panels (details here and here) on the local food economy.

You can read about all the upcoming events on the Eat Local First DC website. We hope you’ll come!


Don’t just scream for icecream: make it!

I first heard the word Presidium during my time at Slow Food International’s Terra Madre conference in 2010. I recall sampling Presidio goat cheese and brought my dad back some Presidio olives from the Salone del Gusto (which translates roughly to “The Tasting Hall”). Mmm mmm mmm.

Now, I concede that I am tragically unhip — always have been — and so suspect that I am probably the last person on the planet to have heard of the prestigious award. But in case you are new to it as well, the Presidia, according to Slow Food International, are “projects that involve food communities in safeguarding native breeds, plant varieties and food products (bread, cheese, cured meats, wines, etc.). Their objective is to save traditional, artisanal, quality foods, strengthening the organization of producers, raising the profile of geographic areas, preserving traditional techniques and knowledge and promoting environmentally and socially sustainable production models.” That’s pretty impressive. It’s kind of like the food version of a UNESCO historic site.

Well. Wouldn’t you know it, when I was in Florence last month for a friend’s wedding, I caught wind that there was a Presidia-certified gelateria called “Perche no?” somewhere in the city. Perche no, indeed. While my friends shuffled off to the Ufizzi — eh, I’d been there in college — I prowled the winding backstreets in search of creamy, Snail-worthy, dairy goodness. And I found it:

Yes, I cropped myself out of that picture. I mean, seriously, language barrier or not, what kind of friendly stranger taking the photo doesn’t tell me I have chocolate gelato all over my face? Anyhow, the important part is the delicious gelato. I daresay I had at least two cones of it each of the 10 days I lingered in Italy. Mmmm….

Suddenly find yourself hungry for delicious frozen dairy? Learn to make your own. SFDC is teaming up with Moorenko’s in nearby Silver Spring to offer an artisanal icecream making class later this month. Space is limited, and tickets are required. It’s not Presidio certified, but you know, it’s pretty darn good. Perche no?


Ice Cream Tasting and Tour at Moorenko’s in Silver Spring, MD

Beat the heat with this hands-on ice cream event. The group will participate in crafting a unique flavor, which you’ll get to nominate with the purchase of your ticket. The most creative one will be selected and made during the event. You’ll learn about the artisanal ice cream process and how to discern the quality of ice cream. Best of all, you will get to take a pint home and our group’s flavor will be featured at the Silver Spring shop.

Moorenko’s Ice Cream was founded in 2002, inspired by ice cream that owner Susan Soorenko and her sons tasted on vacation. Determined to create ice cream that would stand apart from the rest, Soorenko attended Ice Cream University and has studied ice cream making in Italy and France. Moorenko’s ice creams and sorbets are ultra-premium, all natural, and built from the bottom up. The woman-owned company creates unique flavors for sophisticated palates as well as the all-time favorites.

Date: Sunday, July 15
Time: 2 – 4 PM
Location: 8810 Brookville Road, Silver Spring, 20910 MD

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here. Space is limited, and you must buy a ticket in advance.

Email for more information.


Snail of Approval Nominations closed

The nomination period for the 2012 Snail of Approval awards has ended. We’d like to thank everyone who nominated an eatery or producer.

Up next, Slow Food DC will be going over the nominees and finalizing the winners. Planning is also under way for a celebration where we recognize the winners of the 2012 Snail of Approval. If you’d like to help out either through volunteering or sponsorship, please let us know.


The Whole Wheat Hope Burger

I used to be very diligent about writing my thoughts down, taking the time to sit and reflect more about my work, about life. This year, stopping has been neglected more and more (as apparent in my timeline of posts with Slow Food) in my life and my work. Now it’s time to catch you and me both up to speed.

The last time I left you it was winter and it was the beginning of a new year, a new glass that was half full. But what that glass was full of was yet to be defined. Three months into the new year I can tell you now what that glass is full of…it’s full of hope. Not to be too cheeky….. but it is.

“There is less processed foods in the kids meals”
“More kids are eating their fruits and vegetables”
“Kids are eating more salad because they see other kids eating salad”
“My kids want to only eat the fruit and veggies at school”
“I see them eating broccoli and dipping it in the ranch you make from scratch”
“They eat the peppers as if they are candy– even the sweet tooth in the class is gobbling them down”

These are just some of the quotes from this year at the new school I have been working in since August. It’s amazing to see so much change since the summer. And indeed the 6-month mark is a big one to analyze a change in behavior.

Kids still feel strongly about not being fond of beans unless in the form of BBQ. They still love their pizza, their hot dogs, and burgers. But now they eat them on a whole-wheat bun, they eat them with real beef from real local cows that eat real grass. They eat real food and that’s what we talk to them about each day. That real food tastes good and it’s made with love; not from a processing plant. Anand makes it or Iris makes it or Tiffany makes it. It’s made by people who use their hands and who put flavor into that burger you’re eating.

That is the best part of what we do at DC Central Kitchen and with schools and with the community. We educate and we give out tools to be healthier. Cooks, chefs, nutritionists, teachers, advocates, instructors, buyers, growers, and transporters, are all invested in giving back to the community and you can too! It’s about baby steps and it starts with a whole-wheat bun stuffed with a patty of HOPE. ☺


“I like cous cous, I like cilantro!” — Inspired food education in Southeast DC

Last weekend marked the annual Slow Food DC community potluck. In addition to the usual array of friendly people and delicious food which I’ve come to expect at these sorts of things, I had the pleasure of meeting a number of folks I somehow hadn’t crossed paths with before… one of whom warmly welcomed me to her preschool class to speak a bit about Slow Food and sit in on a food education session. Yes, food education classes for 3 and 4-year olds! I was intrigued, having never worked with such a young age group before myself. (You see, most food education programs, such as they are, begin with 3rd graders.) So this past Wednesday, I headed out to Patterson Elementary. What I discovered was simply fantastic.

After I introduced the idea of “slow food” — taking the time to share ideas over homemade meals — and encouraged the youngsters to share their favorite foods to make and eat with friends and family, Vera (or as she is known to students, Auntie Oye) asked the student chefs who’d helped to prepare the day’s snack of fruit salad and guacamole to name some of the ingredients. “Cilantro!” I heard. “Apples!” “Raisins!” “Yoghurt!” A 3-year-old that can identify cilantro? These kids were good. After snack, it was time for the day’s special guest, Chef Herb, who along with his technical work as a Nutrition Educator at UDC also happens to be a food sculptor.

I was as intrigued as the kids as he proceeded to show us a wide variety of animals made out of fresh fruits and vegetables: a pear parakeet on a grape and cantaloupe swing, a mango and orange squirrel, a kiwi fruit and kale bat. To my amazement, students collaboratively were able to name nearly every fruit and vegetable on the table. (None of that “can’t identify tomatoes not in ketchup form” for these smart young students!) Class ended with Chef Herb carving a watermelon rose right before our eyes. As he worked, students clapped, danced, and sang along to a song whose refrain was, I was tickled to learn, “I like cous cous, I like cous cous!” Some of the kids were really belting it out, too. As we chatted afterwards on our way back to Northwest DC, Vera insisted that the success of the program at the school was due in large part to the ongoing enthusiasm of Ms. Murphy and Ms. Pringle who work with the kids at the school, reinforcing the ideas and positive health habits daily.

I left with a big smile on my face, hopeful that folks like Vera — Culinary Storyteller and Nutrition Educator with UDC herself — can reach more groups like this. I should mention that she’s always on the lookout for guest chefs and speakers to help get her proteges excited about fresh foods and healthy living….


2012 Winter Welcome Potluck

Date: Saturday, January 28, 2012
Time: 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Location: Church of the Pilgrims, 2201 P St NW Washington, DC 20037 (entrance around the corner from main doors, on the left)
Cost: Free! (suggested donation $5)
What to Bring: Your favorite dish, along with the recipe for inclusion in Slow Food DC’s first cookbook!

I am really excited to see familiar and new faces at our first potluck of 2012 on Saturday January 28th. It will be held in the basement of the Church of the Pilgrims, from 1:30 to 3pm. The potluck is free and everyone is welcome. We will be taking donations to help cover the cost of the space. Five dollars should be enough, although we always welcome more! Continue reading


How the Grinch didn’t steal school food

I don’t make new years resolutions; I make them everyday. We as a society should be aware of our actions everyday and the effects they have on others… something Congress has lost sight in; something we need to urge them to reconnect with.

This year, people all over the country mobilized to turn out better food for the kids in this country. Chefs worked to demonstrate, teach, and feed thousands of kids not only in DC but also all over the country. Farmers showed students and parents how they grow the food that they eat, truck drivers dropped of local healthy fresh fruits and vegetables to put in their mouths, and logistic coordinators helped facilitate all of the above. Lots of people have made their resolutions to not only themselves but to the kids of this country to get better food to them. To get wholesome food that isn’t processed into the mouths of kids and teach them skills that no longer exist in mainstream America is a task that should be on many resolution lists this year and for many years to come.

Congress may still continue to follow big business lobbyists and monopolies to cut corners (pizza will never be a vegetable) and the health of our next generation but it does not mean we have to give up. It fuels my fire to believe that such rhetoric can occur and that such ignorance exists.

We got this folks; and we’re still doing a great job together.

Here’s to more kids getting real food in 2012. Please join me in fighting childhood obesity and hunger in America. Let me know if you want to help in the fight @chefallisosna on twitter.

Happy and healthy holidays!