Presidential Dilemma: Eat In or Dine Out?
Colleen Evans • March 24, 2016
candidates make a big effort to eat at down-to-earth establishments, knowing that voters are not just interested in whether a presidential candidate shares the same values, is honest and trustworthy, is a strong leader and cares about people like them. They’re also curious about his or her dining habits.
Politicians know that food and restaurant choices are a great way to connect to American voters. This is known as culinary politicking. But does all that change once they secure the “Commander in Chief” title?
We asked Nycci Nellis — founder and editor of the TheListAreYouOnIt.com (the D.C. area’s top food and wine events website) — for her take on what restaurants the candidates will frequent if they make it to the White House.
“Trump and his wife Melania will no doubt favor his soon-to-open hotel restaurant BLT Prime and Cortile Bar,” said Nellis. “Republican presidents in the past have not been known as adventurous diners, frequenting the more long-established restaurants. Cruz and his wife Heidi have been seen frequently at Fiola, and I picture Kasich as a more ‘dine in’ kind of guy, with occasional outings to family-style pasta restaurants like Carmine’s. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders would favor smaller, independent mom-and-pop shops like Bad Saint, Alex McCoy’s pop-up Alfie’s or Tail Up Goat. The Hill-and-Bill Show will look for the hottest new dining spots with a healthier menu, restaurants that have a vegan option like Convivial, Kinship, Fiola Mare.”
Most of the candidates have already “taste tested” the Washington, D.C., food scene. The Four Seasons-owned restaurants have always been popular spots for boldface politicians and A-listers. According to Four Seasons p.r. director Liliana Baldassari, Trump, Clinton, Sanders and Kasich would have no problem finding their favorites on the hotel’s restaurant menu. “Trump wouldn’t be able to resist our huevos rancheros, while Hillary is healthy all the way and would most likely choose the Green Machine frittata with multigrain toast and a side of berries,” said Baldassari. “Bernie Sanders would have the Light and Easy granola parfait with berries and a toasted bagel and John Kasich would favor a big breakfast, Buckeye-style: eggs, bacon, hash browns and sausage. And we’d keep the cappuccinos coming. You need lots of caffeine when you’re on the campaign trail!”
According to Tim Seymour, general manager of the Palm Tysons Corner, his restaurant group doesn’t lean red or blue. Candidates may be battling it out during debates, but one thing they can agree on is that the Palm is an economically prudent choice. “The Palm has an SOP policy that all current and former presidents never receive a check at any of our restaurants for their meal,” said Seymour. “The POTUS and party will always dine as our guest.”
Another option for an incoming president is to follow the choices of his or her predecessors. One Washington restaurant that has historic ties to those who have ruled the White House and the Capitol over the years is Georgetown landmark Martin’s Tavern, D.C.’s oldest family-owned restaurant. According to fourth-generation owner Billy Martin, “Presidential patrons began with Harry S. Truman and his love of Martin’s roast chicken. Ike enjoyed roast beef sandwiches and beef stew. LBJ and Speaker Sam Rayburn were big on steaks and scotch. JFK always ordered the New England clam chowder — except for breakfast. And Richard Nixon favored our meatloaf.”
The fact is, as much as the new presidential family may want to experience Washington’s exploding food scene, it is often so disruptive to other diners that the best place to eat, at least initially, may be home (that is, the White House). Sam Kass, the former Obama personal chef, was known for his delicious but healthful and beautifully presented food. Nancy Reagan preferred one of the White House chefs, Frank Ruta, now executive chef at the Grill Room in Georgetown, to cook in the family quarters. LBJ brought Johnson family cook Zephyr Wright to the White House to make all the Texas food that he and his kinfolk loved. When you have a personal chef who has been recognized and heralded by the likes of Food & Wine and the James Beard Foundation, staying in is a very attractive option.
Chicken Soup: Good for Your Cold and Your Soul
Colleen Evans • February 18, 2016
Let’s face it. A pot of delicious-smelling chicken soup simmering on the stove brings back childhood memories of days spent home in bed. Cooking, blending and infusing for hours, a whole chicken, vegetables and herbs transform water into a flavorful and soul-satisfying soup, the basis of a tasty, warming meal.
The Georgetowner recently went in search of chicken soup recipes — some with pasta and others with matzo balls, rice, tapioca, even Indian spices. Chock-full of vitamin-C-packed veggies to boost immune systems and ward off illness, these are the kind of recipes that will be your go-to flu- and cold-fighting meals this winter.
Fairmont executive chef Mark Timms believes that “it’s all about the [chicken stock] base” in his succulent soup. “A rich homemade stock makes all the difference in the end result,” says Timms. “Once you have a savory base, you’ve got a winning, satisfying soup.”
Newseum executive chef Tom Blundell’s “Getting All Better” soup has lentils and a little horseradish. And he doesn’t spare the carbs, putting in both rice and rich egg noodles. A menu staple at Firefly in Kimpton’s Hotel Madera is chicken matzoh ball soup, with light, airy matzoh balls in a rich broth.
Billy Martin, owner of Georgetown’s beloved Martin’s Tavern, serves Grandma Martin’s chicken soup, the recipe dating back to the 1930s. Billy noted that Grandpa Martin added his own secret ingredient to the soup to relieve some of his cold symptoms: a tablespoon of Irish whiskey (really, just a tablespoon?).
The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon’s executive chef Sriram Hariharan bases his Indian chicken soup on his mother’s recipe, handed down from generation to generation. It highlights some unique Indian spices with known health benefits, such as turmeric, cumin, cloves, coriander and cinnamon.
St. Regis executive chef Andrew Roche, meanwhile, likes his soup classic. It’s a favorite with the hotel’s younger set and has a big fan base in guests feeling under the weather. (In fact, it’s so loved by guests that some ask for a container to go when they check out.)
Maman Samake, mom of executive chef Yves Samake at the Ritz-Carlton, always used tapioca in her soup, a tradition Samake has continued by featuring the soup on the hotel’s catering and banquet menu. “Tapioca has a rich composition of good carbs, vitamins and minerals that makes it a rich and healthy option,” says Samake. According to the hotel’s catering guru Annie Boutin-King, Samake’s soup is so popular it is often requested during the winter months as the soup course for high-level social and corporate events menus.
But are these chefs (and grandma) right to include a steaming hot bowl of chicken soup for what ails you? Is it really the best remedy for a cold?
“Research has shown that chicken soup may have anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce or help you cope better with cold symptoms,” said Suzanne Doud Galli, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.S. “Chicken soup helps people dealing with cold and flu symptoms stay hydrated, the soup’s salt and steam help soothe passageways in the nose and throat — all playing a big role in the cold sufferer’s recovery. Homemade broth is less salty then the commercial brands, so it makes a much better choice. It’s packed with protein-rich chicken and healthy, fresh, vitamin-rich ingredients and antioxidants like carrots, onions, celery, which also help build the immune system.”
So there you have it — soups that kick like winter’s aphrodisiac.
You don’t need to have a cold to enjoy these soups; they’re nutritious and wonderful comfort food for getting through the cold dreary days of February. But if you are one of the unlucky ones who comes down with the flu or a cold, prepare one of these satisfying recipes — or better yet find a sympathetic friend to make a batch — and see if you don’t feel half human and healthy again.
And to add some points to your good-karma score, make a big pot of your favorite recipe “to go and share” if you have a friend or neighbor who’s sick. That’s definitely something good for the cold and your soul. [gallery ids="102235,129414" nav="thumbs"]