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Selfie + 7: Q&A with Fouad Qreitem

Posted by / Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Fouad Qreitem

Photo courtesy of Fouad Qreitem.

At 41, Fouad Qreitem has spent three-quarters of his life working in the restaurant industry, starting with his family’s French continental-themed Black Orchid in Annandale. By 26 he rejected the ideals of fine dining and opened the mostly delivery-based Paisano’s Pizza, now with 27 stores.

In what would seem like a competing venture, Qreitem, along with partners Pierre Garcon (Washington Redskins wide receiver) and Norm Chirite (former Redskins counsel) give Northern Virginians another pizza option: Spinfire.

Customers pick ingredients assembly-line style and pizzas emerge from a 1,000-degree oven in 90 seconds. At press time, the first location is expected to open in September at One Loudoun in Ashburn, with a second in Rosslyn due in February 2015. By the end of next year, Qreitem expects to sell 30 Spinfire franchises, including ones in China and Dubai.

But Qreitem insists his second pizza concept won’t interfere with his first. “I would open one in the same shopping center.” —Stefanie Gans

 

First Restaurant Job
It was long hours. We were 11 years old and me and my cousins would work the coat room. But once you hang them all, the majority of [the customers] don’t leave until 11 p.m., midnight. I can remember—I shouldn’t be telling you this—I can remember taking naps on people’s coats.

Lessons from Fine Dining
Today anybody can go out and spend a couple hundred dollars on dinner and still be a nice person. A lot of [customers at Black Orchid] were nice people, but a lot of them were very demanding.

Back then, when they were spending—in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s—$300, $400, $500 on dinner, they were usually really well-off and some of them were extremely arrogant. I just didn’t like it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

I hated the fact that as good as you treated people, some of them still wouldn’t treat you well. I didn’t like the concept, as weird as that sounds. Money doesn’t make you the person you are.

Alcohol Abstinence
I honestly don’t drink today because of what I grew up with in that [fine dining] environment. I can share the story with you, but I can’t share the person.

We used to get a lot of executives that would come in for lunch. They would have lunch and martinis and sometimes they would carry on from lunch to happy hour to evening and by 10 o’clock that night they’d have an accident on themselves. You’d find them on the floor in the bathroom and it really turned me off on the whole alcohol thing.

I have literally been drunk maybe five times in my life. I don’t like to do anything that I lose control.

A Life of Cheese
Unfortunately, I eat pizza a lot lately because we’re testing. Every day I walk into the conference room and eat samples from 10 different pizzas.

When we’re not in the testing phase? I [eat pizza] probably once a month. Keep in mind, I got pretty sick of pizza.

I ran my first store for eight years and ate lunch and dinner there six days a week.

Favorite Pie at Paisano’s
The white pizza with garlic.

Next Generation
My daughters are not interested in the restaurant business. My oldest always jokes around and tells me, ‘I’m going to run the company.’ [But] I’d tell them to walk away. I took the beating for them. They need to go to school and work on their education and pursue their dream as anything they want.

Alternate Career
Oh gosh. That’d be a disaster. I’m about as dumb as it gets outside of the restaurant business.

My mother opened a time capsule from sixth grade and she opened it 15 years after sixth grade and it said in there that I want to be in the restaurant business.

(October 2014)


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Work that Gourd

Posted by / Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Learn how to turn gourds into eating receptacles at this year’s festival —Ariel Yong

12th annual Virginia Gourd Festival

Photo courtesy of The Virginia Lovers Gourd Society.

How about slurping your butternut squash soup from a gourd bowl this fall? The Virginia Lovers’ Gourd Society is hosting the 12th annual Virginia Gourd Festival at Richard’s Fruit Market in Middletown. “Gourds are very versatile and when dried are like working with wood,” says Carolyn Whiteman, a gourd sculptor and spokesperson for the event.

The festival will offer classes with gourd art teachers as well as opportunities to buy tools, raw gourds, gourd art and house wares, such as pitchers and bowls. / November 1-2, 9 a.m.; classes: $18-$35

(October 2014)


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Open Now: Mackie’s Bar and Grill in Old Town Alexandria

Posted by / Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Photo Courtesy of Igor Ziman

Photo Courtesy of Igor Ziman

By Susannah Black

Lawyer-turned-restaurateur Sang Lee named his new restaurant Mackie’s Bar and Grill after his wife’s maiden name: “It’s the Taj Mahal for my wife.” But that’s not the only romantic pathos Lee attaches to Mackie’s. “We worked for six weeks, night and day, 12 hours a day to make this happen.  You can see all of our work in the paint, the floors, the walls, the ceilings.”

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Hungry For Linkage: Halloweenies at Shake Shack + Mile High Caviar + Toki Underground Invades Taco Bamba

Posted by / Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground

Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground / Photo by Hannah Colclazier Photography

Tonight, Erik Bruner-Yang, chef and owner of Toki Underground, will stop by Victor Albisu’s Taco Bamba in Falls Church to serve Asian-inspired tacos and flautas: Amara’s Taco, a chorizo laab with crispy beef tendon ($4) and the Nak-Yang Flautas, creamy queso beef tendon with chorizo laab ($6), available until November 16.

Shake Shack‘s Halloweenies, are back: a Vienna dog wrapped in bacon and topped with pumpkin maple mustard ($4.50) plus there’s the Shack O’Lantern Shakea vanilla frozen custard handspun with pumpkin, marshmallow and autumn spices ($5.50).

Another concierge app has hit the shelves. Reserve is a new online reservation application where customers select where to dine so Reserve can hold the reservation, sending the customer updates along the way to the restaurant. Reserve benefits the servers too, because the app holds the customers tipping preferences on file for the restaurant to see. [Eater]

This food is actually an incentive to flyAir France out of Charles de Gaulle will now be serving caviar from French chef Joël Robuchon. Let’s hope this catches on. [Food&Wine]

There’s trivia tonight at Old Bust Head Brewery from 6-8 p.m. Covert Cafe will also be open with straight-to-table delivery.


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Trummer’s Coffee & Wine Bar to Open in Gainesville’s Virginia Gateway

Posted by / Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Photo courtesy of Intec

Rendering of Trummer’s Coffee & Wine Bar / Photo courtesy of Intec

By Stefanie Gans

“We always wanted to do this ever since we moved to Virginia,” says Stefan Trummer, of his newest venture: Trummer’s Coffee & Wine Bar.

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Curry Mantra 2 and Curry Mantra 3 Closing; Asad Sheikh Opening New Indian Restaurant in Arlington

Posted by / Monday, October 27th, 2014

Curry Mantra & Curry Mantra 2

Curry Mantra & Curry Mantra 2

By Stefanie Gans

“My goal is to go big now,” says Asad Sheikh. The owner of the Curry Mantra chain of Indian restaurants is closing Curry Mantra 2 in Falls Church and Curry Mantra 3 in Vienna to open a bigger, more upscale restaurant in Rosslyn.  

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Hungry for Linkage: Oh Hi Pumpkin Panang Pizza + Plaka Grill Moves + Tallula and EatBar Close

Posted by / Monday, October 27th, 2014

Photo courtesy of Astro Doughnuts

Photo courtesy of Astro Doughnuts

By Stefanie Gans

Pumpkin + Panang Chili Sauce + Pizza. Thank Ashburn‘s Apinya Thai Food Company. [WJLA]

Vienna‘s Plaka Grill to move to Falls Church by the end of the year. [FCT]

Hollywood loves food too: 11 foodie movies from the last three years. [Atlanta]

The 2015 trend-casting starts, with visions of “spicier and funkier” Asian food; “cannabis will move beyond pot brownies”; and hop-free beers. [Food Navigator]

Tallula and EatBar closed on Sunday. 

Be everyone’s best friend when you pick up (October 30-31) a dozen Halloween-themed min-doughnuts ($20) from Astro Doughnuts food truck stationed in Arlington, flavors include: crème brûlée, PB&J, Nutella glazed with jimmies and vanilla glazed with candy toppings of Kit Kat, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Snickers. 


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5 Scary Cocktails for Halloween-Inspired Boozing

Posted by / Friday, October 24th, 2014

By Susannah Black

Celebrate Halloween with morbid, creepy and scary cocktails.

  • Ashes to Ashes at Fuego Cocina y Tequileria. Available October 31-November 2, this cocktail contains Patron XO, Cocoa liquor, Mexican Arbol Syrup, a shot of espresso, served with a powdered sugar rim. / Fuego Cocina y Tequileria, 2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington. Photo Courtesy of Scott Suchman.

  • Ofrendas para Amigos (Gifts to Friends) at Fuego Cocina y Tequileria. Available October 31-November 2, Reposado Tequila, Ruby Port, Jamaica Tea and House-made Orange Bitters served with Dry Ice for a creepy cauldron effect make up this cocktail. / Fuego Cocina y Tequileria, 2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington. Photo Courtesy of Scott Suchman.

  • Black Martini at PX. Get this Ketel One Vodka with Dolin Blanc Squid Ink-infused Vermouth cocktail until Thanksgiving. / PX, 728 King Street, Alexandria. Photo Courtesy of Vina Sananikone/Eat Good Food Group.

  • Blood Martini at Circa at Clarendon. Available only on Halloween, this martini contains Veev Acai Spirit, acai juice, lime juice and is topped with sparkling brut in a martini glass with a red sugar rim. / Circa at Clarendon, 3010 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington. Photo Courtesy of Ashley Dibietto.

  • Creepy Lychee-Tini at Sea Pearl Restaurant. This Halloween-inspired martini has Black Vodka, Lychee Saki, Lychee Juice, Cointreau and is garnished with lychee eye ball. It will be served Halloween weekend. / Sea Pearl Restaurant, 8191 Strawberry Lane #2, Falls Church. Photo Courtesy of Sea Pearl Restaurant.

 


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Hungry For Linkage: Pinot Noir Wine Class + Pop-Up Beer Garden in Rosslyn + Increase in Liquor Prices

Posted by / Friday, October 24th, 2014

Courtesy of Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop

Courtesy of Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop

By Susannah Black

The Whole Ox Butchershop hosts a wine class this weekend focusing on Pinot Noir. [The Whole Ox]

Hosted by Continental Pool Lounge, an Oktoberfest-themed, pop-up beer garden comes to Rosslyn today from 4-8 p.m. [Arlnow]

Screwtop Wine Bar hosts a class on Chilean wine Saturday at 1 p.m. Participants can expect to taste six wines and to receive educational information regarding Chile’s history and culture relating to wine. {Screwtop]

“Virginia governor plans to increase liquor prices to help solve budget shortfall.” [WDBJ7]

Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro hosts a wine dinner, and attendants have the opportunity to win a tour of the Barboursville Vineyards, complete with a wine tasting and cheese plate. [Vinifera]


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Seeds of Belize

Posted by / Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Use all of the pumpkin by playing with pepitos.

Flavors of Belize

Photo by Sean Kuylen.

In this country, pumpkins usually fall into three categories: carved into jack-o’-lanterns, poured into pie shells and flavored into lattes. But in Central America, gourds, pumpkins and squash are cuisine staples.

In “Flavors of Belize,” native Sean Kuylen uses pumpkins to their fullest by playing with their seeds, pepitos.

Roasted and salted pumpkin seeds can be crushed into powder form and used to bread meats, as well as ground into sauces and pestos. “The smokiness and nuttiness of the pepito seeds add great texture, aroma and flavor to any dish,” says Kuylen. After charring and removing the skin of a red pepper, Kuylen likes blending the pepper with coconut oil, Gouda cheese and roasted pepito seeds.

Kuylen also suggests mixing pepitos into butter with honey. The resulting compound butter combines “sweetness from the honey [and] is divine on warm, fresh coconut Creole bread,” says Kuylen. Turning to dessert, Kuylen smokes pepitos with brown sugar to make a brittle-like candy. Think about breaking that over a serene pumpkin pie. —Nicole Bayne

(October 2014)


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