This Week On Metro Connection: Down The Hatch (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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This Week On Metro Connection: Down The Hatch

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

Welcome to "Metro Connection." I'm Rebecca Sheir and wow, what a week, huh? Last Friday's derecho certainly turned our region upside down. We had fallen trees, we had power outages and all sorts of traffic both inside and outside the Beltway. It's a whole lot of stress for a whole lot of people, people who are seeking peace, people who are seeking air conditioning and above all people who are seeking comfort. That's why this week we're bringing you a hearty helping of comfort and a delicious one at that. Chock full of flavors that will sooth anyone's soul.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

It's our annual Down The Hatch show where we present an hour of stories and interviews all about eating and drinking in the D.C. region. We'll go inside the world of ramen and hear why that Cup O'Noodles that sells for less than a buck is suddenly getting the gourmet treatment. We'll check out big changes at a suburban ice-cream stand that's become a cold and creamy community institution and we'll learn why it isn't always easy for local breweries to deliver ice cold beer to their customers.

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

First, though, when it comes to the dining world, restaurants come and restaurants go. But since Memorial Day, we've seen nearly 20 eateries shut their doors in the D.C. region, Capitol Q Barbeque, Buddha Bar, Casa Nonna, Restaurant 3, Meatballs, Ireland's Four Fields, I mean the list goes on and on and on. Some of them plan on relocating, others plan on re-opening with a new concept, but others are simply saying so long and thanks for all the fish, or the barbeque or the meatballs. Or...

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

So here we are on Wisconsin Avenue, in the case of one long-time institution in Northwest D.C.'s Tenleytown area, all the deep-dish pizza. And there's a sign in front of Armand's pizza that says Tenleytown closing June 30. Thank you, friends, for 37 years. Let's go inside. Armand's Chicago Pizzeria has several other locations in Maryland and Virginia and they'll remain open, but co-owner Ron Newmeyer. Hi, I'm Rebecca.

MR. RON NEWMEYER

How are you? Nice to meet you.

SHEIR

Nice to meet you, too. Says it's time for the flagship location to call it a day. Not only has the rent shot up since 1975...

NEWMEYER

The rent is almost $12,000 a month and looking like it's going to go up even well beyond that.

SHEIR

...but business has slowed down.

NEWMEYER

Tenleytown used to be kind of thriving bar scene actually. There was night clubs and live music and we stayed open until 2:00 a.m.. Friday and Saturday and midnight Sunday to Thursday. But it's a completely different scene now. So the writing was on the wall. We've been losing money so we just figured we would stop now.

SHEIR

Another restaurant that's decided to stop now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE #1

Hello.

SHEIR

Or stop a week ago to be more precise...

#1

I think we're ready to order, yeah.

SHEIR

...is Zola.

#1

Can I get the Zola? And then I think we're going to split the anchovies and the avocado mousse.

SHEIR

And I will have the Zola sangria. The day before the decade old Penn Quarter eatery shut its doors, I paid a visit with Jessica Sidman. She's been covering the rash of restaurant shutterings as food editor for the Washington City Paper.

MS. JESSICA SIDMAN

Restaurateurs tend to be very sensitive about closings. And there are very few people who are gonna be absolutely upfront with you. But I talked to one of the managers at Zola and they told me that the reason they were closing was because the owner, who actually owns the Spy Museum next door, didn't want to be in the food and wine business any more.

SHEIR

And that business is tough and here in D.C., Sidman says, it's getting even tougher.

SIDMAN

D.C. is an increasingly popular place to do business. And as a result, real estate is expensive and because the restaurant scene has exploded and you have so many new restaurants, it's not good enough to just be good anymore.

SHEIR

In short, she says, if you're a new restaurant owner in D.C….

SIDMAN

If you make it a year, that is an achievement.

SHEIR

And if you make it two years, says restaurateur Constantine Stavropoulous...

MR. CONSTANTINE STAVROPOULOUS

That's like a miracle. If you get to five, you're an institution. And we've been blessed and lucky that we've got going on almost 14 years now with Tryst.

SHEIR

Indeed, Stavropoulous is the driving force between Tryst in Adams Morgan and at the Phillips Collection. He also owns The Diner in Adams Morgan and Open City in Woodley Park. He's currently building a new restaurant here at 11th and Monroe Street in Columbia Heights. When might opening be?

STAVROPOULOUS

Hopefully, end of the summer. I've even invented a few months. I keep saying Jaugust and June-ly, but I'm hoping end of summer -- that's kind of what we're shooting for.

SHEIR

Possibly Auptember?

STAVROPOULOUS

I hope not, but possibly.

SHEIR

The as-yet-unnamed eatery will be part diner, part coffee house and part bar. And it'll be open 24 hours. That seems like a pretty bold choice.

STAVROPOULOUS

Well, we do already. The Diner.

SHEIR

Right, but Adams Morgan -- I feel like this neighborhood's more residential.

STAVROPOULOUS

You're right. This place I see more like a diner you'd find in a Brooklyn neighborhood. We're not expecting a big graveyard crowd like at The Diner.

SHEIR

Stavropoulous says he does bemoan the recent restaurant closings, but he celebrates the numerous openings especially here on 11th Street. Meridian Pint, Kangaroo Boxing Club, Maple, El Chucho's, they're just several of the many eateries that have recently hit the D.C. dining scene.

STAVROPOULOUS

So I don't think we're at a net loss of restaurants. I think we're probably at a net gain right now.

SHEIR

And Eater D.C. editor Amy McKeever agrees. Like Jessica Sidman at the City Paper, McKeever says D.C.s dining scene is exploding.

MS. AMY MCKEEVER

Yeah I think it's been exploding for awhile and maybe just continues to accelerate. I think there's a fancy science term for that, but don't know it.

SHEIR

Actually, I think accelerate will do the trick, though that doesn't mask the fact that we're still seeing so many restaurants close. In fact, in late June, McKeever wrote an Eater D.C. post titled "Thirty Days of Terror" in which she listed all the restaurants that had either announced or carried out closures since late May.

MCKEEVER

I would just find myself writing more about closings than usual and then finally that one week happened where like every day I was writing about at least one or two restaurants closing. And they were not just all small ones, but it was pretty big-name and beloved restaurants.

SHEIR

McKeever attributes the closings mainly to the economy and rising rents and sure, quality could play a role, too.

MCKEEVER

When these shutters do happen what I often see immediately after I post about it is people saying Oh, no surprise. The food there was terrible. Everything sucked.

SHEIR

And while they may be right, she says, you have to remember one thing. Lost restaurants mean lost jobs.

MCKEEVER

There were some former employees at Buddha Bar who were trying to reach out and help these people. Like a guy who works with a bunch of restaurants and he had worked at Buddha Bar and was trying to hook up all of his old friends with new jobs by doing like a Facebook campaign and emailing all the restaurateurs that he knew. And one can only hope that all the people who lost their jobs in the 30 days of terror were able to find new jobs.

SHEIR

Of course for some working at a restaurant is more than just a job. Ron Newmeyer says that Armand's Chicago Pizzeria, it's more like being part of a family. A family that first and foremost includes staff.

NEWMEYER

A lot of the long-time employees have been here 20, 25 years and there's been at least 10 marriages from employees, just that we know of.

SHEIR

But it's also a family that includes customers, many of whom flocked to Armand's in its final days to devour one last pizza.

NEWMEYER

We had a father and son drive five hours from Northern New Jersey. He had been telling his 17-year-old son since he was born about Armand's Pizza and his son had never tried it. And I said, How long are you going to be in town? And he said, We're driving back tomorrow afternoon. I said, What else are you going to do while you're in town? Figuring he'd say Air and Space Museum, the Smithsonian. Well, we're coming back for dinner tonight. I said, That's amazing. What are you doing tomorrow? We're coming back for lunch tomorrow. So it takes some of the sting out of having to leave after this long.

SHEIR

Because the way Ron Newmeyer sees it, at Armand's Deep Dish Pizza, the dishes aren't the only things that run deep. The memories run pretty deep, too. To get a peek at recent restaurant closings along with new and upcoming openings, visit our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

Among the new eateries cropping up around these parts are a bunch of places serving ramen. Traditionally, ramen has been the noodle soup of our college years, the cheap and easy stuff that nourished us through all-nighters and final exams. Emily Friedman brings us this story on how here in Washington, ramen is making the leap from the dorm to the trendiest of menus.

MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN

Instant ramen is easy to make, filling and undeniably cheap. It also bears little to no comparison to what's being served at the new ramen restaurants popping up in our region. An order comes through in the kitchen of Sakuramen which opened in Adams Morgan in late May. Chef Eu is torching strips of pork belly. She takes the charred pieces and lays them in a bowl over a tangle of noodles. The restaurant's owner, Jonathan Cho, watches as Eu drowns the noodles in broth and heaps toppings over the entire surface area of the bowl.

MR. JONATHAN CHO

Sliced green onion, a seasoned egg, which is a very traditional topping.

FRIEDMAN

Eu is making miso ramen, which is one of the three main types of ramen found in Japan. The others are tonkotsu, which is a thicker pork bone broth and a clear broth called shinton. And with so many choices, everyone has a preference.

CHO

Ramen, it's personal. People like to eat their ramen the way they like to eat it.

FRIEDMAN

Even in the sauna that is Washington D.C. in the summertime, the tables at Sakuramen are packed. There are people slurping alone, slurping with friends even slurping with a potential significant other. (makes noise)

CHO

I think 10 years ago to say I'm going to take a date out for a bowl of ramen would have been ridiculous and probably wouldn't be a second date.

FRIEDMAN

But now there are ramen shops popping up in all corners of the city. In addition to Sakuramen, there's Toki Underground on H Street, Ren's Ramen in Wheaton and later this fall Daikaya a ramen restaurant being opened in Penn Quarter by the owner of SushiKo, Daisuke Utagawa. While most of the restaurants have a more relaxed feel where you can sit down, eat, enjoy, Utagawa says his noodle bar will be straight out of Japan.

MR. DAISUKE UTAGAWA

In Japan, ramen restaurants are very sort of utilitarian place. You go, you eat and you get out.

FRIEDMAN

His ramen restaurant will be coupled with an upstairs bar where you can hang out, but when it comes to ramen, he says, newbies should be warned there is a learning curve.

UTAGAWA

When people are first introduced to ramen, they eat the soup first. And then there's these noodles and they kind of eat the noodles later. Well, by that time, the noodles are soggy and it's not great.

FRIEDMAN

It's a classic rookie mistake.

UTAGAWA

And as they get used to it or as they start really liking the noodles, you always see them eating the noodles first.

FRIEDMAN

As a young boy in Tokyo, Utagawa perfected his slurp. The biggest mistake people make is they don't look down into the bowl. Put your face over the bowl and face downwards.

FRIEDMAN

Also when you bring the noodles up to your mouth...

UTAGAWA

Don't wrap your lips around the noodles too tight because you will burn yourself. Just like wine. You know when you taste wine, you go (makes noise) you know, you let the air bubbles in? And that will agitate the wine and you get more of hidden flavors, the delicate flavors, the complexity. You'll get all that at the same time with the noodle. (makes noise)

FRIEDMAN

As we open our minds to new techniques in noodle slurping, Washingtonians will also have to open their pocketbooks. Bowls of ramen at these new establishments cost $10 to $15. Utagawa says it's worth it.

UTAGAWA

A can of ravioli can be, I don't know, a dollar a can. But just because you eat that, you're not going to go to an Italian restaurant and say, why would I pay that much for this beautiful pumpkin ravioli?

FRIEDMAN

Back in the Sakuramen kitchen, Jonathan Cho pulls fresh noodles out of an airtight container.

CHO

We use fresh custom made noodles that we get freshly delivered to us every two or three days.

FRIEDMAN

They've customized everything about this noodle from the dough's air content to its curliness to how chewy they are in your mouth. And when you take a hearty comfort food, add a gourmet's attention to the freshest and highest quality ingredients and a touch of hipster charm, you'll end up with something you'd never find in a Cup O'Noodles. I'm Emily Friedman.

SHEIR

I'm Rebecca Sheir and welcome back to "Metro Connection." We're only what, I don't know, a third of the way through the show and I am so hungry right now. That's because it's our annual Down The Hatch show where we dish all about stuff to eat, stuff to drink and in just a bit, we'll crack open some local beer, gobble up some ice cream and meet the makers of some spicy homemade sausage. So stick around. But first, we turn to some foods that are a little more, well, out there. Environment reporter Sabri Ben-Achour introduces us to a woman who's all about experimenting with some truly wild cuisine.

MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR

Susan Belsinger lives in Brookville, Md. Her house is in the middle of the woods.

MS. SUSAN BELSINGER

Herbs are what my life is all about, you know. And I use them to develop recipes and cook with, but I also use them in aromatherapy and medicinally.

BEN-ACHOUR

And all I see here is green. It's beautiful, it's green, but I don't see anything that I see in a grocery store here. So show me what's actually here.

BELSINGER

So here we have violets and the leaves and the flowers are edible. They sort of taste like a mild green lettuce. They're very high in Vitamin A and C. And everything that is a weed here that, you know, people would pull it out, I leave in if it's not invading a plant's space. They have a lot of trace minerals and vitamins that our regular plants that we grow every year don't have.

BEN-ACHOUR

We wander past wild ginger, mountain mint and edible day lilies.

BELSINGER

Try one. It's not dirty.

BEN-ACHOUR

Okay, so you're just giving me a petal. This beautiful salmon petal. I'm going to eat it. It's sweet.

BELSINGER

Isn't it sweet?

BEN-ACHOUR

Oh, it's like a fruit. Belsinger says that when you're identifying wild plants you're going to eat use at least two field guides, three is even better. Some things are poisonous and other things need special prep.

BELSINGER

You know about nettles, right?

BEN-ACHOUR

Yeah, I know that nettles can sting me and that they hurt.

BELSINGER

They hurt really bad. So you see I just put my gloves on.

BEN-ACHOUR

Yeah.

BELSINGER

All right. And so we're going to cut these and take some of these in because nettles are so high in vitamin and mineral content. They're really good for you. One of the best greens that you could ever eat, but they're stringy so you can't eat them raw. You have to wilt them down.

BEN-ACHOUR

She points out different things she uses for salads and for syrups, tinctures and tonics. Bee balm tastes great in tea and spicebush goes in stew, comfrey helps a sore ankle. These plants are all very common and just about everything is good for something.

BELSINGER

So this right here is a -- it looks like a clover, but it's a wood sorrel. That's really tart.

BEN-ACHOUR

Oh, yeah, that's, I mean, that's like lemon level of tartness.

BELSINGER

Mm-hmm. It's really nice to add these with other greens 'cause it gives a flavor.

BEN-ACHOUR

We wander back into the house where rows of mortars and pestles mingle with orchids on sunny shelves, dozens of well-used skillets hang from the ceiling and bundles of dried herbs hang from the rafters. Today, Belsinger is going to cook a frittata. In the kitchen, the wilderness is arrayed on the counters. Home grown chard, mustard, beet leaves and kale fan out like a peacock's tail. All the weeds she's collected on our walk are in the sink under well water.

BELSINGER

That's the wood sorrel. This is the lamb's quarters and this is the violet.

BEN-ACHOUR

There's also purslane and orange nasturtium flowers. Belsinger sautes the chopped greens with oil and home grown onions and then gets the eggs ready.

BELSINGER

If you're making a frittata, you have to figure two eggs per person. Salt, sea salt and grind some pepper in here.

BEN-ACHOUR

A touch of nutmeg is a secret ingredient. And after the greens wilt down, Belsinger pours in the eggs and some grated cheese.

BELSINGER

So this is really rustic. (unintelligible) That's perfectly fine.

BEN-ACHOUR

Why do you think that so many of these plants are not known more widely? Why don't people use them?

BELSINGER

Well, in Europe, the Mediterranean diet really uses wild greens. They're really good and it's sad that we don't eat more of them.

BEN-ACHOUR

A few minutes later, it's time to eat. Belsinger rubs spearmint leaves around the rim of glasses that she fills with ice tea. The tea itself is flavored with lemon and bergamot scented bee balm flowers from the garden. Oh, I just have never had a more perfect ice tea on such a hot day. And those bergamot flowers, it's like drinking perfume and taking a cool shower in summer.

BELSINGER

It's really refreshing.

BEN-ACHOUR

And then the main course. The golden brown and green frittata is brought to the table.

BELSINGER

Bon appetite.

BEN-ACHOUR

Oh, my gosh. This is so good. And I can taste -- well, I can just taste a lot of different things going on.

BELSINGER

You can get the bitter and the tart, you know. It's got deep, herby green flavor, I think. It's really yummy.

BEN-ACHOUR

Well, Susan Belsinger, thank you for this amazing meal made from amazing plants that I will no longer throw in the compost pile.

BELSINGER

Good.

BEN-ACHOUR

Thanks so much.

BELSINGER

Thanks. Thanks for coming out.

SHEIR

That was environment reporter Sabri Ben-Achour with herbalist Susan Belsinger. To see some of Susan's recipes as well as links to cookbooks and field guides, check out our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

When the weather gets as sticky and stifling as it has this week and your power's out for days at a time, what is one sure fire way to cool off in a jiffy? Well, how about a big bite of ice cream? On Route 40 in Ellicot City, Md, you can get that dose of sugary salvation at a place called Soft Stuff. The ice cream stand has been around since 1984, but as Tara Boyle tells us, the local institution will soon undergo some major changes.

MS. TARA BOYLE

Melanie Tresnak is only 18 years old, but she's already got some serious skills when it comes to soft ice cream.

MS. MELANIE TRESNAK

Well, after, like, many years, I can, like, master, like, three cones at once, like, holding them in your hand.

BOYLE

Three cones at once, simultaneously? How exactly does that work?

TRESNAK

Oh, like holding two cones in one hand while doing the other one and alternating hands.

BOYLE

Wow. That's amazing.

TRESNAK

Yeah.

BOYLE

It's a skill acquired, as she says, over many years of working at a soft-serve ice cream stand. Though, it's a skill that comes at a price.

MR. MICHAEL WEAL

It saves a little time, but I don't know how many accidents occur as a result of that, but some of them get real clever.

BOYLE

Michael Weal knows all the tricks of the soft-serve trade. His family opened Soft Stuff after his dad traveled to Rehoboth Beach, Del. back in the early '80s and had something of a revelation.

WEAL

He said I was talking to this old guy who had this little hole in the wall soft ice cream stand. Started talking to him -- he said we ought to do something like that in our town because there's nothing like that.

BOYLE

And to reinforce the Look at us, we're in Rehoboth feel...

WEAL

Make it look like places at the beach. That was the original idea.

BOYLE

So the Weals attached a carry-out ice cream stand to the Forest Motel, which the family had been running since the late '60s. They built a long wooden walkway to add to the boardwalk ambiance. But they decided to part company with their beach brethren in one significant way.

WEAL

The difference is we wanted it to be better quality ice cream than what the beach sells.

BOYLE

And the key to that?

WEAL

Milk fat or butterfat content. More milk fat equals creamier ice cream and it was an instant hit at Soft Stuff. Banana splits, chocolate-dipped cones, ice cream sandwiches known as Soft Stuffers. People swarmed to Soft Stuff to get their sweet tooth on. But what's interesting is that since the opening the routine has become about more than soft-serve.

WEAL

All of a sudden it was Wow, we can sit at the picnic tables, we can sit on the grass, we can bring the kids, we can bring the dog and I think it became the intangible you're talking about -- a place for groups of young people or families to come and sit on the back of their truck or SUV or sit in the grass or at a table and spend a half an hour or so.

BOYLE

And you can still kind of do that at Soft Stuff. But most of the grassy spots here no longer exist. The Forest Motel, it's in-ground pool, the diner next door -- they're now all gone.

WEAL

After being here since 1967 when we purchased the place, it's hard for me to even imagine that this would ever look like this.

BOYLE

Michael Weal is looking at a landscape of dirt and construction equipment where his family's motel once stood. He's got big plans for this site.

WEAL

We're bringing into over 19,000 cubic yards of dirt to bring this up to level.

BOYLE

This fall after Soft Stuff closes for the season, a team of developers will break ground on a mixed use development here. It will include apartments, a chain restaurant, a spa where you can get massages and pedicures and a new Soft Stuff. It'll be a sit-down ice cream parlor with amenities the old place didn't have. Like bathrooms.

WEAL

We want people to know that we're going to be the same place and it may be a little different atmosphere. It won't be necessarily sitting under the trees, but we're going to have enough open space I think people can sit there, or sit on the tables or walk around. So I think it's going to work. I don't think people will say I'm not going there anymore because I can't sit at a picnic table.

BOYLE

Speaking of those picnic tables. They were packed on a recent Saturday night as temperatures hovered in the mid-90s. Ron and Mary Tallent of Woodstock, Md. had scored one of the tables and were savoring kiddie-sized ice cream sundaes dripping with chocolate and butterscotch.

MR. RON TALLENT

Portions are always so large if you get a kiddie sundae, it's usually plenty.

BOYLE

Mary says their got jobs at Soft Stuff in the early '90s and the whole family has been coming here ever since.

MS. MARY TALLENT

It was just so delightful to come here on a Sunday afternoon especially and other families sitting here. The picnic tables, the trees, by the pool, and the coolness. It was just so non-modern and commercial.

BOYLE

Non-modern is increasingly hard to find in this once rural corner of the Maryland suburbs. But Michael Weal says even though the new Soft Stuff will look different, he's hoping it will become a community gathering place. And he's working hard to open in time for next year's ice cream season.

WEAL

Hopefully we get a good winter and when I say good, nice weather like we did last year and they can keep building all year and then we should be ready to go in the spring.

BOYLE

Ready to go with the same creamy swirls of soft-serve that transport customers to a place and time when life was a bit slower, simpler and above all else, sweeter. I'm Tara Boyle.

SHEIR

Aah, after all this chat about food -- I'm serious. my stomach really is starting to rumble a bit and I suspect I'm not alone. So let's pause on all this nattering about noshing for just a bit and turn to one of our favorite monthly segments, "D.C. Gigs." This time around, we visit the world of artifact theft. Special Agent Kelly Maltagliani has a very particular mission to seek down our nation's treasures. Her job with the National Archives is part "Antiques Road Show," part "CSI" and all very hard work. Producer Mark Adams caught up with her at the Civil War Collector's Show in Gettysburg, Pa.

MS. KELLY MALTAGLIANI

My name is Kelly Maltagliani. I'm a Special Agent in charge of the Archival Recovery Team at the National Archives under the office of Inspector General. I'm a criminal investigator and I do regular criminal investigations, but I also focus on historical documents and artifacts that are stolen from the National Archives. I've been doing this job at the National Archives for about nine years now. I remember the first day that I received a Lincoln pardon in the mail and held it in my hand realizing I held the same document that Abraham Lincoln held.

MS. KELLY MALTAGLIANI

Right then, I realized the value of what the documents the Archives have for people. It's a connection with history that you can't get from seeing the printed document, from reading something on the internet. It's actually touching and connecting with history so we're always looking for anything that would belong to the Archives. We're missing the Wright Brothers flying patent. We're missing maps of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some of the target maps. We're missing a page from Eli Whitney's patent of the cotton gin. Whatever somebody's interested in is what they might take from us.

MS. KELLY MALTAGLIANI

We're at the Gettysburg Civil War show. There's two of them during the year. Collectors and dealers come here and show their wares. They're selling to each other and to private individuals. Hi, Steve. How're you doing today? How's the show going for you?

STEVE

Oh, it's going great. It's nice to see you again.

MALTAGLIANI

You, too. We come here and look at the documents to see if there's anything that jumps out at us and we often discuss those things with the dealer and let them know what we're working for. We are not here covertly. We're here to talk to the dealers and get to know them and let them know what we're doing. So Dave, have a lot of people coming by today to our booth?

DAVE

Been a few people coming by -- very interested in what we do. They've been asking a lot of good questions. That family, the Romano family that deals with a lot of the historic photographs, they were telling me that they were able to find an original photograph and then they were able to find the corps badge from that individual's unit and they were able to match that up with the photograph.

MALTAGLIANI

So there's another one that has some photographs and she's not aware of what we do so I told her I'd bring by a brochure and some business cards. I've always wanted to be a criminal investigator and I love being a criminal investigator. At the end of the day, you feel really good about what you do and you feel like you make a difference.

SHEIR

That was Kelly Maltagliani speaking with producer Mark Adams. If you have a distinctively D.C. gig you think we should feature on the show, let us know. Our email address is metro@wamu.org. And FYI, this story came to us through WAMU's Public Insight Network. It's a way for people to share their experiences with us and a way for us to get input on stories we're working on. You can find more information about the Public Insight Network by visiting metroconnection.org/pin.

SHEIR

Welcome back to "Metro Connection," I'm Rebecca Sheir. And as we continue going down the hatch this week in exploring the world of Washington cuisine, let's not forget that said cuisine doesn’t just include food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1

Good afternoon, how's everyone?

SHEIR

Good, thank you.

#1

And what may I bring you this afternoon?

SHEIR

It also includes drink.

SHEIR

I'll let you order for us, Paul.

MR. PAUL DICKSON

Okay, we'll have two authentic Washington Gin Rickeys.

#1

Certainly.

SHEIR

Thank you.

SHEIR

And in this case, drink means D.C.'s signature cocktail, the Gin Rickey, which, as historian Paul Dickson points out, here at the Round Robin Bar downtown, was originally the Whiskey Rickey. That was back in the 19th century when the cocktail was invented by a lobbyist by the name of Colonel Joe Rickey.

DICKSON

There was a fruit vendor coming through the bar one night, and this lobbyist picked up a lime, cut it in half, squeezed it into a large whiskey glass, poured Apollinaris water, which is the equivalent now of club soda, and well that was the drink.

SHEIR

But whether you make your Rickey with whiskey or gin, Apollinaris water or club soda, one thing Paul Dickson suggests you do before you take your first sip...

DICKSON

My favorite all purpose toast...

SHEIR

...is toast.

DICKSON

...days of ease, nights of pleasure.

SHEIR

Let me get that clinking sound.

DICKSON

Okay.

SHEIR

And Paul Dickson knows a thing or two, or 1500, about toasts. That's because he's the author of "Toasts: Over 1,500 of the Best Toasts, Sentiments, Blessings, and Graces." So he has an ideal brain to pick when it comes to talking about toasts, particularly the history of toasts right here in Washington, D.C.

SHEIR

This is a city that has, you know, presidents, political leaders, a large diplomatic community, so I'd imagine toasts have played a big part here in the District.

DICKSON

They've always being totally co-mingled with politics, and one of the things about toasting would be whether you fast-forwarded to today, or you go back to the earliest days of the Republic, it was always a moment of sort of bipartisan celebration. You would say, you know, here's to the Union. They could be that simple. You know, Congress, courage, and cash. I mean that was the hard edge, you know. But it starts really with the beginning with George Washington. When George Washington leaves office, there's such a love of the man that they composed these 13 toasts in honor of Washington, in honor of the Declaration of Independence, in honor of the United States.

DICKSON

This was done all through the 19th century. In the mid-20th century, toasts sort of drifted away from the sort of short 15, 20, 25 word salutary. You know, this is to our future, this is to our children's future. Often very simple, but heartfelt. But what happened in the middle of the 20th century, there was this epidemic of really bad toasts and toasts that went on for a long time. And there are a couple of my favorites. 1979, the president of Mexico in was ticked off at the United States for something, and gave a toast in which he enumerated all the crimes in the United States over the last couple hundred years.

DICKSON

And President Carter was the recipient of this toast, and all he could think to do was to propose a toast in which he mentioned Montezuma's Revenge, and it created a diplomatic furor. There's another one, the other breakthrough, in 1984, the Premier of China is in Washington and gives a toast, a 700-word toast about the United States and China, and it signals the warming of relationships between the United States and China. I mean, that's the moment in which everybody says, ah. We may be able to work with these guys. And so there are a lot of these toasts that became moments of conciliation.

SHEIR

I would love to hear some examples. You have a copy of your book here, are there some examples you can give us?

DICKSON

Here's one that was very popular in Washington during Prohibition. Here's to Prohibition, the devil take it. They've stolen our wine, so now we make it. The most famous Washington toast, during the 20th century when the Washington Senators were the ball club, the big gag toast was, here's to Washington. First in war, first in peace, last in the American League. And this prevailed through two different teams, the Senators, and prevailed even when the Nationals first came here, when they first weren't doing well, or the second year especially. When they were the last in the National League, they would be first in war, first in peace, last in the American League, or National League.

SHEIR

So given that you've done so much research on toasts, and you've read so many through the years, what are your tips for giving the perfect toast?

DICKSON

I think you be short, you rehearse it. If you're stuck for good language, don't be afraid to steal from other people. Steal from Browning or Shakespeare or Dickens. You try to be whimsical, you try to be kind, you try to be celebratory. You're trying to make people in the room feel together and you're trying to elevate. You're trying to elevate the room. You're not trying to say something snide or snippy. And you want to leave there, literally the feeling you've left a verbal souvenir, a piece of yourself on the table that these people will take away and remember for a long time.

SHEIR

I'll drink to that.

SHEIR

Paul Dickson is the author of "Toasts: Over 1,500 of the Best Toasts, Sentiments, Blessings, and Graces." His most recent book, "Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick," came out in April. For more information on both those books, and the roughly seven gagillion others Paul has penned through the years, visit our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

All right. So now that we've drained the drags of Gin Rickeys, let's turn to another classic drink, beer. But not just any beer, we're going to talk craft beer, brewed by small and independent breweries. And we boast several here in the D.C. region, but have you ever thought about how craft breweries keep those suds fresh on the way to your local bar or liquor store? We'll find out in our weekly transportation segment, "From A to B."

SHEIR

Martin Di Caro recently embarked on a bit of a brewery crawl to learn how they're getting their product into thirsty customer's hands.

MR. MARTIN DI CARO

Inside D.C. Brau, the noise is a constant.

MR. JEFF HANCOCK

Maybe my ears have gotten used to it, but, yes, it's typically around anywhere from like 60 to 70 decibels.

CARO

Cofounder Jeff Hancock's workers tend to keg cleaners, compressors and massive silver conical shaped fomenters, all humming away accompanied by loud music on the radio at the city's first new micro brewery since 1956. D.C. Brau was founded by a couple of cool guys last year and their business is cool too in a manner of speaking. Here's Hancock's partner, Brandon Skall.

MR. BRANDON SKALL

It's really, really important to us, since our beer is unfiltered, that our beer stays cold and we go through extreme measures here at the brewery to keep those kegs cold while they're here. But once they're out the door, it's kind of out of our control.

CARO

That's when Skall, the manager, and Hancock, the head brewer, have to trust their distributor and all the places that sell their product. Craft beer is fresh, it's not pasteurized. If it gets warm, it gets stale.

SKALL

So you want to make sure that your distributor's got refrigerated trucks, your distributor has a working cold box, things that are going to keep your beer the way it needs to be as it goes through that transportation stage to end, finally arrive at the account.

CARO

Before they can brew one ounce of brew, D.C. Brau's ingredients have to be transported over long distances. Their barley is from the Midwest, their hops from the Pacific Northwest.

HANCOCK

The malt comes in much larger orders so that comes on flatbed trucks, it's about two days transport time. The hops take about five days because they're coming all the way from Washington State.

CARO

With just five full-time and six-part time employees, Hancock and Skall coordinate all the logistics and brew all the brew. It's a process that recalls a past era.

SKALL

That's how it used to be in this country, that there were so many regional, local microbreweries before Prohibition and beer didn't necessarily get transported even from state to state the way that beer is now shipped all over the country. It was consumed fresh. It was consumed local. And that's what I think we're kind of getting back to with all these smaller, local microbreweries opening up regionally across the United States. And it's a beautiful thing because people are getting to try and taste beer in a way that they've never tasted it before.

CARO

Another one of those new craft breweries can be found just 15 miles south of Washington.

MR. BILL BUTCHER

My name is Bill Butcher. I'm the founder of Port City Brewing Company.

CARO

Port City is in Alexandria, Va. The morning I show up to talk with Butcher, a flatbed truck is growling in his parking lot, preparing to bring an electricity generator. He lost power in last week's ferocious storms so he's trying to save what beer he has on the premises. His brewery only opened last year.

BUTCHER

Our beer has a limited shelf-life of 120 days and we do guarantee the quality for 120 days, but it tastes best within 90 days.

CARO

When it's business as usual at Port City, Butcher and his employees usually have no problem getting their beer to market fresh.

BUTCHER

It goes on trucks and our wholesaler, they use refrigerated trucks so they're able to keep the beer cold on their trucks. It's written into their contract actually that they must keep it cold while it's under their care.

CARO

And he's strategic about the amount of beer he'll sell to a liquor store in a single order.

BUTCHER

Since nobody has enough cold space the way we deal with it just keeping inventory short and making sure that nobody buys too much that they can't sell in a very short period of time.

CARO

Like his fellow brewers at D.C. Brau, Butcher has to coordinate the shipment of his ingredients over long distances.

BUTCHER

Our pilsner malt comes from Germany. The hops, they also come from England, they come from Germany, they come from the Pacific Northwest.

CARO

Butcher, whose name doesn't fit his profession, decided to become a brewer for the same reason someone may prefer to buy vegetables at a farmer's market.

BUTCHER

My wife and I have been committed to local food and drink for a long time. And it was about four years ago that when we realized that we're buying all of our groceries from local producers, our meat from local farmers and the beer that we were buying was coming from the West Coast of the U.S. And that really got us looking at other options that are more local, more close to home.

CARO

Since there weren't any microbreweries around, he opened his own and, yes, I'm very thirsty for a beer right now. I'm Martin Di Caro.

SHEIR

About four miles southwest of D.C. Brau is Eastern Market, the Capitol Hill landmark known for its bustling weekend crowds, its flea market and its fresh foods. Three of those fresh food businesses are owned by the same family, Canales Quality Meats, Eastern Market Grocery and Canales Delicatessen.

SHEIR

The owners are three brothers who decades ago came to the U.S. from El Salvador. Jonna McKone recently spoke with two of the brothers and one of their sons about immigrating to the States and starting businesses here in the nation's capital.

MR. JUAN CANALES

Okay. It's going to be a minute please. Thank you very much.

MR. JUAN CANALES

My name is Juan Jose Canales. I own Canales Deli at Eastern Market, been in business for 29 years. We are very lucky to be next to each other with my brothers, Jorge, who owns Eastern Market Groceries and next to him is Emilio. He owns Canales Quality.

MR. EMILIO CANALES

Emilio Canales is my name. I work here for, this April, 20 years with my family and my sons and my wife.

MR. CARLOS CANALES

My name is Carlos Canales. I work for Canales Quality Meats. My father is Emilio Canales. I've been here for 20 years. I started when I was 10 years old. I would sleep underneath a cabinet. I had my own pillow and blankets because we come in bright and early at 3:00 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning.

CANALES

The last piece of the turkey. (unintelligible).

CANALES

I came to this country in 1986.

CANALES

I came in in 1970. I actually was the first one who build a family, I was only 20 back then and I didn't have anybody but friends.

CANALES

I came with my family, my wife, my three boys, my three sons.

CANALES

Back in El Salvador in 1970 I was a student, I was going to university.

CANALES

In my country, we have a store, but we don't sell meat and I grow cow. My country was very dangerous, civil war, we don't choice to come here.

CANALES

There was a long strike back then for political reasons and then I decided to leave. So I came in and hoping to stay a year or two. By then things would be better back home. Things were deteriorating so I was creating roots over here. I met my wife, she's from Ecuador.

CANALES

I always want to get independent, a small business. Someone told me about Eastern Market and I was very lucky that day that I came over and this lady was trying to retire and needs a buyer. So I was able to come in.

CANALES

Fire happened on April 30, 2007 and right away we thought it was the end of Eastern Market, but with the support of the mayor and the community, we were able to survive. Within two years, we were back in the old building and I considered Eastern Market monument for community.

CANALES

And I think the market in general became more united after that fire. We became a bigger family, a more united family. I think we had a lot of discussions and arguments before the fire. Luckily, the community was behind us and backed us with every way that they could and we're still here.

SHEIR

That was Juan Jose Canales, Emilio Canales and Carlos Canales speaking with "Metro Connection's" Jonna McKone. To see photos of the Canales family and to learn more about Eastern Market's offerings, visit our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

And now our weekly trip around the region. On today's "Door to Door," we visit Deanwood, in Northeast D.C. and Takoma Park, in Northwest D.C.

MS. SESHAT WALKER

Hello, my name is Seshat Walker. I'm a 14 year D.C. resident and a five-year Deanwood resident. And I'm also the project director for Deanwood by Design, it's an arts and cultural temporium project. Deanwood is bounded by Eastern Avenue as well as Nannie Helen Burroughs.

MS. SESHAT WALKER

We have a lot of nice parks and places to walk. It's sort of like a small town in the city. A lot of houses are spread out and I like it because I grew up in small town on the eastern shore of Maryland. Deanwood is sort of reminiscent of that and I think that's very attractive to people starting families.

MS. SESHAT WALKER

The catch phrase or the motto that comes up always is a self-reliant people and that goes back into the 1950s when the community here felt they were overlooked and the rest of the city, they weren't providing the services that the people needed here. The community went ahead and built their own houses and businesses and just basically relied on themselves.

MS. SESHAT WALKER

Here, I really feel like at peace when I walk out the door all I see is trees. Places like Deanwood and Anacostia are becoming more attractive to the generation that might want to consider staying here and raising their families.

MS. VIRGINIA VUE

My name is Virginia Vue (sp?) and I have lived in Takoma Park on the same street since 1969. Takoma, D.C. would be the Northwest corner of the city from Van Buren, Georgia Avenue and Eastern Avenue. We're a couple blocks from the metro. I can walk to two different post offices. I can walk to the Safeway. I can walk to two different CVS, bank if I want to.

MS. VIRGINIA VUE

We wanted a neighborhood that had more people of color so we wanted a more integrated neighborhood, if you will. So it was a conscious decisions to move here to Takoma. We had heard about its reputation as an activist community and a community where people organized around issues that we were concerned about.

MS. VIRGINIA VUE

We moved here right after the riots. Over the course of a couple of years, we saw a shift in terms of more African Americans moving in, but that's changed very quickly. And I would say now it's almost about like it was when we moved here in terms of the racial makeup.

SHEIR

We heard from Seshat Walker in Deanwood and Virginia Vue in Takoma Park. If you think your neighborhood should be part of "Door to Door," send an email to metro@wamu.org or visit us on Facebook. That's facebook.com/metroconnection.org. And to see a map of all the doors we've knocked on so far, visits our website, metroconnection.org.

SHEIR

And that is "Metro Connection" for this week. We heard from WAMU's Sabri Ben-Achour, Emily Friedman, Martin Di Caro, Tara Boyle and Jonna McKone along with reporter, Marc Adams. Our acting news director is Meymo Lyons. Our managing producer is Tara Boyle. Lauren Landau is our editorial assistant. Our interns are Jessica Officer and Raphaella Bennin. Jonna McKone, Lauren Landau, Raphaella Bennin and Jessica Officer produce "Door to Door." Thanks, as always, to the WAMU engineering and digital media teams for their help with production and the "Metro Connection" website.

SHEIR

Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts" and "Door to Door" theme "No, Girl," are from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. You can see all the music we use on our website, metroconnection.org. Just click on a story and you'll find information about its accompanying song.

SHEIR

Also on metroconnection.org, you can find our Twitter and Facebook links, you can read free transcripts of stories and if you missed part of today's show, you can hear the whole thing by clicking the this week on "Metro Connection" link. To listen to our most recent episodes, click the podcast link or just find us on iTunes. We hope you can join us next week for health and wellness, a show featuring some of our favorite "Metro Connection" stories about medicine, nutrition and overall health. We'll meet a dancer who's battled some major physical issues. We'll visit a Georgetown pharmacy celebrating its 100th year of business and we'll hear from the author of a new book that uses action, adventure and fantasy to explore the rare condition known as MPS.

#1

That's not bad. If you can't talk, you can still laugh so we got that going. Right, buddy?

SHEIR

I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 news.
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