FOOD: Rachael Ray's $40 D.C. Day
I'M NOT SURE WHAT COMMANDED ME to watch the Food Network last night. But at 10 p.m., I watched as food personality Rachael Ray traveled through Washington, D.C., eating on just $40 a day on her show aptly titled "$40 a Day." It was truly mind blowing.
She traveled all over town, meeting new friends on Potomac River tour boats, in Dupont Circle and at Adams Morgan's Madam's Organ who pointed her in the right direction to the best and cheapest food in town. Let me summarize Rachael's extensive culinary tour ...
1.) Her concierge at the Sofitel told her that she needed to check out that cool hip neighborhood Dupont Circle I've heard so much about. And then she came across Teasim and had a chai tea and a ginger scone. Breakfast. Done. And of course, everything was fantastic ... and cheap.
2.) After walking around in the circle itself, random pedestrians told her she needed to go over to Georgetown for lunch to that vaunted and classic neighborhood institution Clyde's ... which now has an empire of locations in the District and in suburban Maryland and Virginia. For $10.50, she got grilled sirloin steak with summer vegetable ragout and steak fries. Rachael was ever so excited about going to a real power lunch spot (all the way in Zone 2). She was visibly giddy when she saw men in suits and ties eating their power lunch. She commented after the meal that she wouldn't "veto" Clyde's by any means because the place is "bipartisan" plain and simple. And since Clyde's is in a "student neighborhood," it's always gentle on the wallet. Lunch. Done.
3.) After going on a Potomac River cruise, a local friend she made while on the trip suggested that for dinner, she go to Jaleo. But Rachael was concerned about cost. After calling ahead, Rachael found out that Jaleo offers a culinary concept from Spain called "tapas." Sounds exotic, eh? Especially in Penn Quarter, "which means New Arts District," Rachael informs viewers. And at Jaleo, you can get plates of tapas for $5 or less. Cheap, exotic, and with Flamenco dancers, you can't go wrong. Rachael watched Chef Rodolfo make calamares a la Romana with aioli. Then she also dined on an endive salad with oranges, almonds and goat cheese. Dinner. Done. (I know that when I'm lonely, tapas for one in a lively Penn Quarter restaurant always cheers me up.)
4.) Now I thought that for dessert, Rachael would head over to Love Cafe for a Warren Brown cupcake. But my assumption that there would be cross-Food Network personality pollination was wrong. Instead Rachael headed up to Adams Morgan, that multi-ethnic neighborhood with so many bars and restaurants. At "the club," which turned out to be Madam's Organ, Rachael heard that she really needed to head down to 15th Street NW to the Hotel Washington and have dessert on the Sky Terrace. Rachael was running low on cash, but fortunately, the good folks at the Hotel Washington decided to make a banana flambe for one. Perfect. Cheap dessert, flaming bananas and prime views of the Washington Monument in view of the camera. Rachael said that if she were a local, she would never get tired of the view. She was inspired by our city and our food.
Please note that Rachael was not observed drinking anything, except the chai tea at Teaism. Maybe I'll try to reproduce Rachael's culinary budget feat someday ... but only if it is on a Sunday when Clyde's does half-price wine.