Runaway Spoon

Former Mayor Tony Williams is the New Head of the Influential Federal City Council, Meets with Vincent Gray

April 19, 2012

Former Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has accepted the job as the new chief executive officer and executive director of the Federal City Council, an organization of civic leaders that works with public officials to solve key challenges facing the city of Washington, D.C.

He will assume the post on July 1. Williams met Thursday afternoon with Mayor Vincent Gray to discuss city issues.

The council announced the appointment Thursday on its webpage.

Williams succeeds John W. Hill Jr., who announced in October that he would not be renewing his contract.

Williams, 60, served as the fifth mayor of the District of Columbia for two terms, from 1999 to 2007. 

Before then, he was chief financial officer for the District, managing to balance the budget and achieve a surplus within two years of his appointment, according to internet records.

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il Canale Fields an Old Guys Soccer Team -- The Gringos

April 16, 2012

Tossing pizza dough or soccer balls are part of the Italian heritage.

So, without a second thought, il Canale ristorante & pizzeria Napoletana in Georgetown jumped at the chance to sponsor a Washington-area international soccer team this season. The new team, called The Gringos, kicked off its spring-summer season with 11 other league teams in the Greater DC Metropolitan area.  

il Canale’s logo, a wave depicting the C&O Canal, is on the blue shirts of players, along with an “Italia” banner. The Gringos team is made up of guys who are at least 50 years old and north of that.  il Canale is located mere steps from the canal on 31st Street NW. 

“It is a natural for us to support an international soccer team,” said il Canale owner Joe Farruggio. “After all, we are Italian -- and soccer is woven into our very souls.”

More often than not, il Canale’s TV over the bar is tuned into live football games being played in Italy, Spain, England, South of the Border, or wherever.

The website is  It’s all in Spanish. But English-only fans can still get the drift of where/when the games are played.

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International Chefs Take You Elsewhere Without A Plane Ticket

April 11, 2012

Consider it musical chairs, culinary style. 

Every few months, Chef Richard Sandoval and his business partner, the famous operatic Maestro Placido Domingo, shake up the menu at Zengo with new fusion dishes that meld the flavors of Latin and Asian foods and spirits.
This time around it’s a combination of Hanoi and Havana that tickles the palates.

On Tuesday at a tasting, Sandoval and his chefs introduced their new small plates for the season, which included mysterious but delightful offerings such as cangrejo enchilado, morcillas, cha ca thang long, lemongrass arroz con pollo, lechon asado vermicelli and Hanoi pandan waffles.

Zengo in D.C. (Photo by: Noah Fecks) Zengo in D.C.

Not a loser in the Hanoi-Havana bunch, even if the diners’ pronunciations strayed a bit off the mark.  Or -  what may have tripped up the tongue were the deliciously sweet specialty cocktails: lemongrass-lychee mojito, cereza daiquiri and boba cafecito.

The menu is available through June 30. Zengo – which means “give and take” in Japanese -- is at 781 Seventh Street NW, next to the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro entrance. Tel: 202.393.2929. 

It’s worth a trip from Georgetown -- and definitely cheaper than buying round-trip airline tickets to Cuba or Vietnam.  A word to the sound sensitive: don’t be put off by the first floor lounge where the decibels attack.   Beat it upstairs to the main dining room where the acoustics are mellow and you can talk across the table without having to shout.
If you happen to be traveling to Miami, stop by their new restaurant there. Carlos Rodriguez, general manager of Zengo, says it will be opening in a few weeks. Sandoval’s stable of restaurants encircle the globe including in places such as Qatar, Dubai, Mexico, New York, Las Vegas, Denver and Scottsdale.

And thinking of food, travel and clever promotion:  At the Cherry Blossom Festival, a colleague registered to win a Lincoln and was given a card with numbers.  She would win two gift certificates to a Jose Andres restaurant of her choice if she punched those numbers into a combination car lock, and the door opened. 

“Not me, I’m not lucky,” she lamented. “The only time I won anything was as a teenager in Austria when I won just a few Schillings in some little ol’ drawing."

Lightening stuck again.

The car door popped open.

“It isn’t the megabucks lottery,” she later laughed. “But, oh, how sweet it is.”
Andres owns Zaytinya, Jaleo, Minibar, Café Atlantico and others.

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