You Need to Try Georgian Food
Welcome to This Needs Hot Sauce (And Other Food Thoughts), a newsletter sharing something to cook, somewhere to eat out, and something to read. I'm a native New Yorker who spends far too much time thinking and reading about food. I love helping people find great things to eat and solving problems, so let me know how I can help. Let's dive in.
This week I'm here with some Thanksgiving ideas, thoughts on DC and some hot sauce recommendations. I named this newsletter This Needs Hot Sauce because I add hot sauce to so many things I cook and eat. If you want to get ~deep~ a little spice can really make things pop. I certainly started writing this to add a fun creative outlet to my routine and talk about my favorite topic with all of you (sidenote: thanks for reading and responding, I love it so much).
Without further ado,
Something to make:
It's Friendsgiving/Office Potluck/Actual Thanksgiving season. I'm making a triple batch of cranberry sauce today and wanted to share our family recipe (via my dad via the ocean spray cranberry bag)
"Whole berry" Sauce
12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries (rinsed and picked over to remove the mushy ones)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Combine, cover, bring to a boil, and then simmer for ten minutes.
What I do is sub in some fresh OJ (1/4 cup) for an equal amount of water (fresh meaning buy an orange or two and squeeze instead of buying a whole carton) and use somewhat less sugar (still ¾ c or so). I also put in a cinnamon stick. I simmer it for a while because I like a thicker sauce. Importantly (!), the berries pop when boiled and if you aren’t covered then , you’ll make a mess of your stove. You’ll also make a mess when the whole thing boils over while covered (a Thanksgiving tradition). Once they’ve popped and your simmering, removed the lid so that the sauce reduced/thickens. I also mash the berries with the back of a wooden spoon to make it a bit smoother. Remove the cinnamon stick (obvio).
I'm also contributing a non-boring *trademark pending* salad to a Friendsgiving and still playing with ideas. Expect lots more thanksgiving thoughts in the coming weeks and let me know if you have any favorite recipes.
Other cooking notes:
Per my grandma, persimmons (the firmer Fuyu kind) are great on a cheese plate and I've been eating them plain. Also considering making this salad for a Friendsgiving.
I'm pleased to report pickled swiss chard stems are delicious! My next challengemay be pickled vegetables in the style of Bahn mi toppings.
It's soup season and I tried this chili recipe tonight. I added some canned chipotle peppers and am excited to eat it for lunch this week. Don't skip the toppings (avocado and scallions are crucial).
Something to order:
I spent the long weekend in Washington DC and had a great time! It was my first time there in over five years and the perfect mix of family time (I went to celebrate a bar mitzvah and had a really good time at the kids' table, sneaking high school age cousins wine), catching up with old friends, and eating some good food.
Road trip suggestions:
If you're driving to DC, stop for lunch in Havre de Grace, Maryland at Tidewater Grille for some fresh seafood right on the bay. Your table needs old bay fries and the garlic herb clams are perfect. The crab cake sandwich is a bestseller for a reason, pretty much all crab, no filler.
Georgia (the country) on my mind:
I only had one dinner in DC and spent a lot of time researching where to go (duh, have we met). My roommate and I wound up going to Supra, DC's first Georgian restaurant in Shaw that opened less than a week ago. I had Georgian food for the first time in Portland in 2015 from a now-closed food cart and loved it.
Georgia is in between Turkey and Russia and the food is fantastic; think mushroom soup dumplings, endless combinations of eggplants, walnuts and pomegranate, khachapuri, one of the greatest breads around, and some fantastic wines that are finally getting exported more to the US. We loved Supra and if you're in DC or will be there soon, you should definitely make a reservation. There's something magic in discovering a new type of food. Our waiter was Georgian and walked us through the whole menu. He also shared the Georgian way to say cheers which roughly translates to "We are all winners."
Lots of the tables are communal and we wound up sitting next to someone who had lived in Georgia for a year (so DC). He gave us tips on wine and how to eat the khachapuri (break off the tip of the bread and use it to mix the egg with the cheese to cook it), and off-menu condiments to request (a Georgian form of hot sauce, duh). I love Georgian food and trying new cuisines and am planning to try Oda House in New York or maybe just go back to Supra whenever I can. Narcbar at the East Village Standard also has a great version.
What to order:
Eggplant Nigvzit (Eggplant rolls with a walnut filling and pomegranate seeds)
Pkhali (sort of vegetable pates made with spinach, beets, and green beans)
Ajaruli (bread shaped like a boat filled with fresh cheese and an egg, you need this and it is very filling)
Mushroom Khinkali (these are mushroom soup dumplings that came with a little pepper mill. Our Georgian friend told us that it's a point of pride in Georgia to eat the dumpling without any spillage). Don't miss these!
Dilao is an amber wine that's super refreshing and deep; it went really well with everything
Kondoli Sami was a red we also tried and liked. Georgian wine, you did us well.
Other DC Suggestions:
All Souls is a great bar to gather a group of friends (Shoutout to Sandra for the suggestion and Zeke for saving us a table).
Nearby on U Street, the Backroom at Capo is a speakeasy in the back of a deli that makes for a very fun night.
La Piquette is a fabulous French bistro with the kindest owner, Francis. I went with my friend who is a regular and got to try their delicious croissants and cannelé with a much-needed coffee. I would love to return for a proper dinner or a sunset glass of wine as it's one of those rooms that looks beautiful in the middle of the afternoon or late at night.
Peet's Coffee is everywhere in DC and I was reminded of how good the West Coast chain is.
My cousins hosted a great post Bar Mitzvah brunch featuring Bethesda Bagels, which were really so good, no snobby New York qualifiers needed.
Some New York Suggestions: Places That Make Great Hot Sauce
-Win Son (the chili sauce has peanuts in it and is on every table, big fan)
-Daily Provisions (the wake-up sauce is a sriracha cousin that's perfect on all their sandwiches)
-Los Tacos Mcondo (the spicy sauce that comes with the cemitas is incredible and you can ask for it with any dish.)
-Sweetgreen hot sauce (add it to the salad you're ordering on the app)
-Dizengoff (they have two kinds of hot sauce, green Schug and red)
Please send any and all additions to this list! I am always on the lookout.
Something to read:
-Driving through Maryland made me think about Old Bay, which this week I found out was invented by a Jew!
-I finished the Best Food Writing of 2017 compilation this weekend and really enjoyed it. It's a thoughtful anthology of food writing from all over, major food websites, small local papers, and regional magazines. I love discovering new authors and seeing stories I've read grouped with other related work.
-This is very much not a political newsletter but I did have the chance to attend Scott Stringer's election night party last week and found it actually inspiring. He was introduced by Yuh-Line Niou, a young Chinese American politician and spent his entire acceptance speech shouting out women in his campaign staff, thanking his wife, and talking about his ideas to make this city less of a rich person's playground. Just to make this mildly food related, there was free popcorn at this bar. But seriously, hope is cool. Obama taught us that.
-Love this approach to champagne education. Who wants to come with me to toast the end of the year?
Have a great week and enjoy that special glow that New York buildings have when it gets dark early. Hug your friends, drink some warm seasonal beverages (shoutout to the coffee cart on 28th and 6th Avenue for keeping me warm and caffeinated), and let me know what you're eating at Thanksgiving, and any questions you have.
Happy eating and thanks for reading,