Greek and Green

Photo credit: Kim Maxwell Vu

The new Dupont Circle  restaurant Agora (1527 17th Street, NW), which opened in May 2010, is working on being green from the ground up.

Most of the restaurant’s materials are recycled or reclaimed and the cement flooring and exposed brick walls are natural conductors of heat and cold.

Agora’s Mediterranean organic and biodynamic wines are kept in a naturally controlled temperature wine room with recycled wood racks and are even served in glassware made from recycled cork and glass.

Other eco-friendly elements:

– An in-house water filtration provides still or sparkling water.
– All bottles, paper, and plastic are recycled.
– Recycled paper is used for the printed menus
– The kitchen’s cooking oil is donated to be repurposed as biodiesel fuel
– Environmentally friendly hand dyers in the bathroom
– Natural light is used as much and for as long as possible

Agora, which means “gathering place” in Greek brings authentic Turkish cuisine to the heart of Dupont with a variety of Mediterranean mezes. The bar also offers six different types of anise-flavored raki, as well as cocktails that highlight Turkish ingredients, such as one that uses Turkish figs.

DC Restaurants Celebrate Earth Day

Tallula courtesy of Powers & Crewe

Dine deliciously and celebrate Earth Day with special events, menus, and offers from local area restaurants:

Sustainable Dinner at Tallula
Tallula will celebrate Earth Day with a special four-course dinner showcasing locally grown produce, humanely raised meats, and sustainable seafood.

Bev Eggleston, founder of EcoFriendly Foods and leading proponent of ethical farming, as well as Drew Koslow, biologist, clean water advocate, and brother of Executive Chef Barry Koslow, will also attend the dinner. The dinner will start at 7PM on Thursday, April 22nd in the restaurant’s intimate wine shop.

Priced at $85 per person including wine pairings (excluding tax and gratuity) the Earth Day dinner will feature dishes such as Bison Carpaccio, sourced from New Frontier Bison in Madison, VA, and a Pork Trio from EcoFriendly Farms. The dinner will also include dishes using local, sustainable seafood, such as Virginia Clams and Striped Bass and local Virginia wines.

Eco-Friendly Cocktails at JW Marriott
As an extension of Earth Day’s celebration, the JW Marriott Washington is creating a special menu of refreshing eco-cocktails and organic summer white wines by the glass to help raise awareness for preserving the rainforests.

The special beverage menu will be available at Bar 1331 beginning on Monday, April 19 and served throughout the summer.  Cocktails, including “Strawberry Fields” (muddled fresh strawberries, basil leaves, simple syrup), are $12.00 and organic wines by the glass start at $9.00.  Thirty percent of the proceeds from the new beverages will be donated toward the protection and preservation of 1.4 million acres of endangered rainforest in the Amazon, called the Juma Sustainable Development Reserve.

Sweetlife Festival
Sweetgreen‘s free outdoor music festival, Saturday, April 24 from 3–9 PM (behind its Dupont Circle location), will raise money for Farm To School, an organization committed to connecting schools with local farms. Live performances will feature Hot Chip performing a DJ set, U.S. Royalty, The Love Language, Phil Ade, Will Eastman, DJ Grant Shapiro and more. Limited complementary tickets are available via the Sweetgreen beginning on April 9, with donations requested.

Mixt Greens Offers Tote with Green Goodies
The first 150 customers who visit one of Mixt Greens three DC locations on Thursday, April 22nd, will receive a complimentary tote bag filled with goodies including recipes from Chef/Co-Founder Andrew Swallow’s upcoming cookbook, Mixt Salads, and packets of herb seeds to plant at home.

Green Hours
The official Earth Day 2010 Sustainable Feast DC initiative encourages restaurants across the DC area to highlight the responsible decisions they make when buying and serving local or organic, sustainable foods. Participating restaurants include Bread & Brew, Pitango Gelato, Busboys & Poets, and more.

Earth Day Menu at Restaurant Nora
Restaurant Nora will be featuring an Earth Day tasting menu that includes seasonal spring vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, and spinach as well as seasonal cocktails. On April 20th and 21st, the restaurant will be donate $1 from each seasonal cocktail to Earth Day Network.

Local Restaurants for Local Kids

Guest post by Andrea Northup

Support locally-owned restaurants, the sustainable local food economy, and DC-area kids by participating in the DC Farm to School Network’s Local Restaurants for Local Kids Fundraiser on Friday January 22.

Select area restaurants will be donating a portion of their proceeds to the DC Farm to School Network, which works to bring healthy, local produce into DC public school cafeterias.  By simply enjoying a delicious snack, cocktail, or dinner at one of the great participating restaurants, you will help to improve access to healthy, tasty, and local foods in area schools.

DC Farm to School Network volunteers will be available at the restaurants to answer questions or chat with you about our work. For volunteer opportunities, contact Lauren@dcgreens.org.

Participating restaurants include:

Busboys & Poets, 5th and K Street NW (Mt. Vernon Sq. Metro); 14th and V Street NW (U St. Metro); 4251 S. Campbell Ave,  Arlington, VA.

Coppi’s Organic (from 6pm-11pm), 1414 U Street NW (U St. Metro)

Eatonville, 2121 14th Street NW (U St. Metro)

Bar Pilar, 1833 14th Street NW (U St. Metro)

Farmers & Fishers (All day!), 3000 K Street NW (Georgetown Waterfront—Foggy Bottom Metro)

Clyde’s, 3236 M Street NW (Foggy Bottom Metro); 707 7th Street NW (Gallery Place Metro); 5441 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD (Friendship Heights Metro)

PS-7 (Lounge from 4pm-2am), 777 I Street NW (Gallery Place Metro)

Bread and Brew (5-8pm in bar), 1247 20th Street NW (Dupont Circle Metro)

Cafe Saint-Ex, 1847 14th Street NW (U St. Metro)

ris (Proceeds from seasonal cocktail and appetizers after 4:30pm), 2275 L Street NW (Foggy Bottom Metro)

7 Local Organic Cocktails

organic martini

The always inventive mixologists at several chic DC-area hotel bars are shaking things up with cocktails that feature organic spirits, homemade fruit purees, and locally grown veggies and herbs. Here are our top picks:

1. Juniper at The Fairmont Hotel serves five “Going Green” organic cocktails featuring herbs from the hotel’s courtyard garden and regionally grown fruits. “Feeling Blue,” for example, is made with Blue Coat Organic Gin, courtyard grown cilantro, Virginia blueberries, housemade simple syrup, and club soda. There are also several cocktails made with honey harvested from the Italian honey bees that make the hotel’s rooftop their home such as the Bee-tini made with Belvedere Pomrancza vodka and honey mixed with fresh grapefruit juice, mint, and grenadine.

2. The mixologists at Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons make many of their own bitters, tinctures, and syrups and grow their own herbs. The cleverly named “Not Tonight” features additive-free Hangar One mandarin blossom vodka, velvet falernum (a sugar cane-based liqueur), orgeat, fresh lime, whiskey barrel-aged bitters, and a chipotle tincture

3. Stop by Zentan at the Donovan House for an organic version of a Margarita.”The Scarborough Affair” is made with organic sage-infused Herradura Reposado tequila, house-made thyme agave nectar, house-made sweet and sour mix, fresh lime juice, St. Germain elderflower liquor, and garnished with a fresh spring of rosemary.

4. Start brunch off right with an organic Bloody Mary from Entyse at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner. This tasty version is made with Square One Organic Vodka, organic Bloody Mary mix (made from organic, locally grown tomatoes), Tabasco, Worcestershire, a pinch of organic black pepper, and garnished with organic celery, lime, and green bean. All of the cocktails at Entsye are made with ingredients from local and organic farms.

5. The Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt offers martinis that can be made with Square One Organic Vodka and your choice of a pearl onion, olive, caper berry or lemon twist garnish.

6. Keep the wolves at bay with the “Little Red Riding Hood” cocktail at the Quill bar in the historic Jefferson hotel. This glorious concoction features house-made hibiscus-pomegranate-infused vodka, Cointreau, Galliano, cranberry juice, and molecular yogurt-vanilla foam.

7. With arguably one of the best views in town, POV at the recently opened W Hotel has an artfully crafted cocktail menu courtesy of Sasha Petraske of NYC’s Milk & Honey.  The all-natural libations change with the seasons and are made with fresh fruit and vegetables.

Energy Saving Challenge and a Delicious Reward

If the frigid weather has you dreading your next heating bill, take heart. Washington, DC-based energy start-up Earth Aid has teamed up with Farmers & Fishers to launch an energy-savings challenge that could lead to lower bills and give you the chance to win a free mixology class for eight at Farmers & Fishers.

To participate, visit Earth Aid and create a free account that will link your gas, electric, and water utility accounts to Earth Aid’s platform.  Then use the “Invite Your Friends” feature to invite friends, family, and colleagues to sign up and join your team.

Earth Aid will then retrieve the household usage and savings information for each individual as well as each team, and will provide easy online energy monitoring along with tips and ‘how-to’s’ to reduce usage and increase savings. This type of effort results in greater energy savings and lets individuals see how their savings – when combined with the savings of others – can really add up.

Earth Aid will compare the utility (electric, gas, and/or water) usage of the group from now through Earth Day (April 22) to the past usage of the group during that window of time to determine which area team achieves the largest total reduction and wins the mixology prize.

The winning team will enjoy a private class of mixology basics and recipes with F&F’s Chief Mixologist Jon Arroyo, along with menu samples and of course, cocktails.

Sustainable Happy Hours

We love the idea of  supporting local restaurants that offer tasty sustainable cuisine and cheap happy hour deals. Here are our top picks:

CommonWealth Gastropub
It’s bloody cold out. Shake off the icicles and get yourself over to the happy hour (4-7) at CommonWealth which includes a selection of local beer, 1/2 price selections of wine, and 1/2 off grassfed burgers (Wednesdays) that are out of this world. For a complete rundown of what’s available, check out the review written by our friends over at Sustainable in the City.

Dino
A menu planned around weekly finds at the Dupont Farmer’s Market and meats and seafood from all natural and sustainable sources. Those are just a few reasons to love Dino in Cleveland Park. Want more? How about an amazing happy hour from 5:30-7 (Sunday-Fridays) featuring free antipasti and 25% off drinks. Oh, and bartender Scott is a master mixologist and will help you find the perfect glass to accompany your meal.

Poste Brasserie
We’ve written about Poste’s sustainable practices before. This time, we’re all about the deal. Next time you find yourself killing time before an event at the Verizon Center, stop by from 4 to 7 (Monday-Friday) and enjoy $5 glasses of red and white wine, $5 beer, and truffled frites for just $5.

Radius Pizza
This Mount Pleasant eatery was recently bought by former Poste Brasserie employees Todd and Nicole Wiss. Although they still serve pizza, the menu now focuses on local and organic ingredients and more upscale fare. Happy hour is 5-7 and on Wednesdays you get a free bottle of vino with the purchase of a large pizza and appetizer or two entrees and an appetizer.

Redwood
Tucked away in Bethesda Row, Redwood serves a seasonal menu that showcases the best mid-Atlantic ingredients. Meats, cheeses, produce, and seafood are naturally-raised, organic, or sustainable whenever possible and are sourced from local growers. A thoughtful wine list features some organic wines and small production vintners who practice sustainable viticulture. Belly up to the 75-seat white-marble bar and treat yourself to $4-$5 food and drink specials Monday – Friday from 4 to 7:00pm.

What did we miss? Feel free to post your favorite sustainable happy hour spots in the comments section.

Organic Salads and an Edible Wall

Here’s an easy new year’s resolution: Swap out your fast food lunch for something healthy and fresh, like an organic salad or sandwich from Mixt Greens. The company, founded in San Francisco in 2005, will be opening four new DC locations; the first will open on January 26th at 1200 19th Street, NW.

Mixt Greens join hometown faves Sweetgreen in offering tossed-to-order salads and sandwiches made with local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. “Our salads taste different because of the ingredients we source and the way we prepare everything from scratch,” says Andrew Swallow, Mixt Greens’ Chief Culinary Officer.

One seasonal salad that’s only available during the winter months is the aptly named “The Porky,” made with mixed greens, spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, roasted butternut squash, Applewood smoked bacon, sliced seasonal apple, and house-made Champagne vinaigrette topped with a port wine reduction drizzle and chopped pistachios.

You’ll also eat in earth-friendly surroundings thanks to Charlottesville-based William McDonough + Partners, which designed the modern, urban restaurants incorporating eco-conscious materials.  Each location also features an edible living wall of seasonally rotating herbs and vegetables. The wall highlights indoor urban agriculture, a low-energy, high-yield farming technique, showcasing that sustainable, fertilizer/pesticide-free, healthy food can be grown indoors in urban environments.

What else besides the food and building design makes Mixt Greens green? All of packaging used by the restaurants is 100% compostable and biodegradable, they purchase renewable energy credits through Renewable Choice, and they use only non-toxic and biodegradable cleaners from Method.

In addition to the restaurant at 1200 19th Street, three venues will open between February and April: 2010 at 1311 F Street, NW, 1700 K Street, NW and 927 15th Street, NW. Each location will be open Monday through Friday from 10:30 AM to 3 PM, and prices will range from $7.95 to $11.95 for salads and $8.95 for sandwiches, which are served with a side salad of greens.