A Meaningful Dinner With Army Friends in DC

Half the fun of discovering a new restaurant is sharing it with people you know will enjoy it. As Rachael Ray’s resident restaurant guru, here’s an inside look at what I report back to Rach about some of my favorite restaurant finds and food experiences!

From: Kappy

To: RR

Sent: Friday, May 10, 2013 10:42am

Subject: A Meaningful Dinner in DC

Hey Rach –

As you know, I went from your high school alma mater’s fundraiser in Lake George to DC to visit my good friend, Jason. He’s the one I told you about – we went to culinary school together in New York and then on to hospitality school in Miami. And then? He joined the Army. He’s been around the world, most recently returning from Afghanistan a little over a year ago. He’s headed back in a few weeks, so I went to visit him before he takes off. I know he appreciates some good eats, so we hit the town to some places most of his Army buddies don’t appreciate quite as much as he does, though he did bring one fellow soldier who was ready for a real meal.

Now, I like to think I’m a pretty mindful eater, paying attention to flavors, textures, atmosphere and, equally as important, the people I am dining with. Food means a lot to me, and meals make memories from an early age throughout a lifetime. These were some of those meals. Eating quality food with two guys who have traveled to Afghanistan and fought the fight for our country and sitting with them discussing things like their MRE meals they eat while overseas… It felt a little surreal. And I felt grateful.

We had a fantastic meal at one of Richard Sandoval’s restaurants, El Centro D.F. We started off with some margaritas and then did the whole chips and guac thing on our way to diving into some real Mexican comfort food. We started off with the Grilled Skirt Steak Huarache.

A corn masa flatbread with caramelized onions, cilantro, black beans, Mexican cheeses, crema and salsa roja, in my opinion, it was the winner! However, the Duck Alambre Tacos with rajas, cotija cheese and roasted corn, along with the Shrimp and Crab Enchiladas that we shared, were worthy contenders. For dessert? Another margarita!

The next morning, we headed to Founding Farmers for brunch. This is a pretty hardcore local and sustainable spot, with an attractive menu that made it hard to decide what to get. So what did we do? We got a lot. We started with the Devil-ish Eggs sampler, going for the combo so that we could try the lobster, crab and smoked salmon flavors alongwith the classic version. We added the Classic Eggs Benedict because we both love it, and the Pastrami Hash (pictured up top), which came with shredded leek hash browns and Creole mustard hollandaise. We also ordered the Bacon Lollis with a cinnamon-brown sugar glaze because…well, you know why – you would, too!

Next time you’re in DC, be sure to pay this place a visit.

I was happy to spend time with Jason and his friend over some good food and good conversation. I’ll be raising a glass to him often over the next few months. If you’re so inclined, I hope that you will, too.

And that’s what’s on my plate!

~ Kappy

El Centro D.F.

1819 14th St NW

Washington, DC 20009

202- 328-3131

Founding Farmers Restaurant

1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, DC 20006

202- 822-8783

Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan loves food. A professionally trained chef, by day he runs Yum-o!, Rachael Ray’s charity focused on kids and cooking, and keeps special projects running smoothly for her. By night he hops course to course, place to place, all across the country. He’s Rach’s own personal dining guide! You can also follow Kappy on Twitter to see what’s On Kappy’s Plate in real-time!

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