Winter is the season not of earth’s bounty, but of hibernation and frozen ground. Tilting on an axis, we shy away from the sun and temperatures drop. For a little drama, let’s hear it from the Greeks.
Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, produced a daughter. Her name was Persephone. She was a stunning beauty beloved by all, including Hades of the underworld, who opened the earth’s crust to steal her away.Naturally, her parents were devastated, and being gods, their devastation wreaked havoc on the earth. Demeter was consumed by anger and loneliness and, shirking her responsibility to the earth’s crops, she rendered the soil infertile. Zeus realized the seriousness of the situation (apparently the fear of starvation was more powerful than the abduction of a daughter), and sent trusty messenger Hermes to retrieve Persephone from Hades. Hades reluctantly relinquished the young woman, but not without a fragrant pomegranate in hand. Back on earth, she ate the pomegranate seeds, which bound her to Hades and the underworld—at least for one-third of the year, during which time her mother refused to let anything grow. Winter.
A few thousand years after the fall of the Greek Empire, we’ve found our way around infertile winter and tormented Demeter’s wrath. We feast perpetually. For your next winter feast, try one these top five new DC restaurants.
Located in a still quite quiet section of the Yards on the Southwest Waterfront, Osteria Morini serves up the “soulful cuisine and convivial spirit of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy… the home of Ferrari and Luciano Pavarotti.” Emilia-Romagna is also the birthplace of some of the best Italian specialties: prosciutto, mortadella, parmigiano and balsamic vinegar—and Chef Michael White’s seems know how to use them to great effect. Plates include traditional ragus, mortadella filled tortellini in parmigiano broth, crispy pig head terrine, veal rib chop and Adriatic-style seafood soup. Warm your belly with all of Morini’s deliciousness and look out at the Anacostia River.
Just down the street from Saint Ex, Compass Rose is all about street food. After eating and drinking their way through over 30 countries in three years—jealous!—the restaurant’s owners (a married couple) returned to the States with a knack for simple and delicious international foods. The result is a menu of Peruvian fritas, Morrocan mussles, Sicilian salad and (the best one) Georgian Khachapuri: a cheese-filled bread topped with an organic egg and melted local butter.
After cooking for Georgetown’s Japan Inn and working his way up in the ranks at four-star CityZen, Chef Makoto Hamamura teamed up with restaurateur Paul Ruppert (Room 11, Petworth Citizen) to create Crane & Turtle—a Japanese- and French-inspired restaurant of unconventional pairings and spectacular flavors. Crane & Turtle opened this past summer in Petworth and, like Room 11, has a wonderful ambiance for food explorations and conversation. Dishes include butter-poached sun shrimp, sweet-and-sour lamb and sea trout carpaccio.
“Contemporary Argentine steakhouse” is how the owners of Rural Society describe their new Logan Circle restaurant. Both the menu and the wine list hail almost exclusively from South America and, like the food, the interior is at once rustic and warm. World traveler, restaurateur, farmer and Chef Louis Goral is the 2009 recipient of James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” award. He’s also Rural Society’s food mastermind and has created a menu that includes copious chorizos, grilled lamb sliders with lamb bacon, saffron taglierini with cockles and rock shrimp, and grilled wild mushrooms with truffle.
If you know Red Apron Butcher and all of their beautiful deli sandwiches, then you’ve had a taste of what’s on the menu at The Partisan. There you can eat meat to your heart’s content. The Partisan is located in the back, cavernous room of Red Apron on D Street, in Penn Quarter. As a companion to the many blood sausages, salamis and cheeses, consider baby beet salad, Brussels sprout slaw and roast mushroom and kale salad. Then return to the dark side: ground pork and pork skin patties, salt cod fries, guanciale lardon, roasted pig head and lamb ribs. Hot damn!