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From the Kitchen of: David Varley

Today’s chef of the week mans the kitchen at Michael Mina’s BOURBON STEAK in the Four Seasons.  I recently had a steal of a lunch at the bar priced at $21 per person including a choice of burger, accompaniment, non-alcoholic drink and a house made BOURBON STEAK brownie.  What’s good you ask?  I’d go for the Dry-Aged Steak Burger, Trio of Duck Fat Fries (or the Beer Battered Red Onion Rings) and the West Indian Limeade.  Mmm Mmm Good!

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?
It’s cliched but a really good quality razor sharp Japanese knife is the must have of any serious chef.

What is the most overrated food/technique in restaurants today?
In my opinion truffle oil is the item most used in kitchens.

If you were to open a restaurant with a different type of cuisine than what you are cooking now, what would it be?
I think Washington DC needs a really great hot dog stand, an institution, like Grays Papaya or Rutt’s Hutt. That could be fun.

What is your favorite local product or purveyor to work with?
My favorite new vendor is Gryffon’s Aerie, they do amazing grass fed beef and Tamworth pork out in Crozet Virginia.

What is your biggest customer pet peeve?
I tend to be far more forgiving of our customers than they are of me, but one pet peeve is when guests come in with closed minds and a pre-determination to not enjoy themselves. It happens from time to time and is the most mentally taxing on a crew whose greatest joy is to give their all to the guest.

What do you drink/eat after work?
I work some long days and constantly find myself needing to loose a few lbs so I will typically forgo the typical late night extra greasy chow and maybe have a green tea if I am at home researching or reading. I’m more of a librarian than a rockstar.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?
I almost never cook at home, but when I do it’s simple things like cold soba or a really flavorful yet simple dashi. I don’t have as many sous chefs and dishwashers at home!

Keep reading for Chef Varley’s light-as-air crispy beer battered red onion rings…

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The District Domestic’s Guide to 48 Hours in Portland, OR

So it’s taken me a week to get it together, but here it finally is… my guide to 48 hours in Portland, which is just about exactly how long we had in Oregon last weekend!

Day 1: Start by checking into the Hotel deLuxe for old-time Hollywood glamour and posh accommodations.  The halls are filled with black and whites of famous movie scenes and the rooms feel perfectly luxurious, without being over the top.

Be sure to include a Saturday in your trip as the Portland Farmer’s Market is one of the best I’ve seen, but more about that later… Trust me, just go!

After purchasing all sorts of goodies for a day trip (we picked up cheese, bread, miniature cookies, pizza, apples and pears), jump in the car and head for the hills (ok, they’re definitely mountains), but anyway, drive east on 84 until you get to Route 30 (The Historic Highway, which is exit 17).  Now’s, the time to sit back and enjoy the ride.  There are plenty of waterfalls along the route to do mini-hikes of less than a mile to view.  We loved the Bridal Veil Falls and Multnomah Falls, both of which have options for longer hikes.

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