The Sunday Roast

Welcome back to The Sunday Roast! Apologies if you’ve received this twice, but Mailchimp somehow sent the first email at 10am to only a chunk of subscribers and not everyone.

I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from subscribers for my first edition. I'm also thankful to everyone that offered feedback and I am still very open to any suggestions people have, including who or what you'd like to see featured in future newsletters. Just fill out my suggestion form!

This month: I messaged and emailed several lifestyle bloggers, chefs and DC foodies to find subjects for the next few months of this new year. Thankfully, I had several responses and will be booked for the next couple of months. My subscriber count has gone up to SEVENTY FIVE after lots of social media outreach (including supportive posts from my parents). I'm so excited to see where this newsletter continues to take me.

Some background: In a monthly newsletter, I combine a DC local's story behind their favorite recipe(s), or ones that whip up some nostalgia, with photos and prose of my attempt at replication. These recipes vary in difficulty, but they are always ones close to the heart. This newsletter is sent on the third Sunday of each month as the name suggests.

A fun note: Make sure to mark this email as NOT spam to avoid the newsletter regularly ending up in the abyss. Sometimes Mailchimp email campaigns go straight to spam.

Meet Laura.

Laura loves to travel. She also loves all the things that come with travel, including trying new food and drinks and visiting historical spots. But about a year ago, she noticed that most travel guides include 50-page sections on the best bars, dives and breweries. While that may be ideal for other 30-somethings with the travel bug, Laura is 12-years sober. So she decided to fill this niche market and launched Booze Free in DC, a website that features what she calls the four tenets of travel: eat, drink, play and renew — but the twist is that every activity featured is booze-free.

Laura's sober journey is a long story, one she warned me of once my first question sparked a 30-minute conversation about it, but suffice it to say that she made the decision to be free of alcohol forever because she has an addictive personality. About five years ago, she felt she was lacking a community in DC that was full of people in similar situations, so she launched her own blog interviewing creatives that were loud and proud about their sobriety while also making an impact on their community. Her blog was full of resources for people who not only needed help, but wanted to find films, books and podcasts that appealed to their sober lifestyle.

And while this passion project launched Laura onto the sober scene, she soon felt stuck. Enter in Chris Marshall of zero-proof Sans Bar in Austin, Texas. Laura loved the city after visiting several times. She contemplated a move there, but ultimately, decided to stay in DC (and we're thankful for that) in order to invest more energy in building a booze-free community here. She's still good friends with Chris and has organized and worked at several events with Sans Bar ever since they launched a national pop-up tour. One of her events was even at my alma mater, American University! Laura taught students how to make zero-proof cocktails as a way to socialize without the crutch of alcohol. 

Now, things have been looking up for Laura in DC as she continues to be featured by local news organizations, including Washingtonian and The Washington Post. The launch of her website this year was successful in welcoming people from all walks of life to the booze-free community, including pregnant people, designated drivers or those looking to cut some alcohol out of their diet. Her sights are still set on a booze-free travel guide to DC that will include interviews of locals who can act as tour guides, which she one day hopes to launch for other cities as well. She thinks this city, which ironically is frequently dubbed one that relies on alcohol for business and socialization, is becoming more open and inclusive to those who chose to live sober, and she's happy to be part of that movement. (And yes, she hates the word mocktail. She said it's like nails on a chalkboard.)
Want to explore the world of zero-proof cocktails more? Want to learn how to make them for your next dinner party? Want to meet Laura? You can achieve all three at Sans Bar's upcoming DRY Experience D.C. event!

For $40, you can get an all-access pass that includes unlimited snacks and, of course, zero-proof cocktails at Dupont Circle's Epic Yoga DC.
The story behind her recipes.
In honor of Dry January, Laura and I talked all things booze-free one unusually warm Saturday morning at the Spring Valley Compass Coffee. I had reached out to her on Twitter after reading her profile in Washingtonian, and she immediately agreed with the caveat that she wasn't much of a cook. After I explained that the newsletter features DMV locals with a story to tell, and includes recipes of all kinds, including drinks, Laura knew which recipes to choose. 

I suggested she choose a nostalgic food recipe to pair with a refreshing cocktail that she could suggest for anyone hosting friends or family. For the food, she chose a clam dip that sparked memories of her grandmother and mother. For the zero-proof drink, Laura picked a ginger mule made by Chris Marshall with a #MadeinDC twist.

The clam dip is typically made each Thanksgiving with her family, and while that tradition continues, Laura excitedly chirped that her mother makes it each time she visits and that she even will make it when the craving hits. She remembers the dip as an act of love since it was served on her favorite holiday and passed down by her grandmother, which is why she chose it. While some may think such a dip is served piping hot right out of the oven, Laura's recipe is best served chilled. In fact, she told me that the dip should be chilled overnight before serving. Allowing the dip to rest in the fridge lets the clam juice soak and allows the flavors to "mingle," according to Laura.
And the scent of clam filled my kitchen, forcing my little helper, pictured to the right, to beg relentlessly for a taste. Best served with a smorgasbord of dipping snacks, such as raw broccoli, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, carrots and crudites like pita chips, this dip is always a crowd-pleaser for Laura's family, and she'll even make enough to leave a batch at home for herself after she's shared with others. The rich cream cheese base of the dip pairs well with the fresh, crunchy veggies. 

The star of any dinner party or gathering with snacks is usually the food, but in this case, Laura's autumnal cocktail, a rosemary ginger mule, shines. She said she chose this fresh drink because it was crafted by her dear friend Chris Marshall, owner of the zero-proof Sans Bar, to serve to AU students at the bar's pop-up event. Laura has always loved ginger ale, so the added ginger beer to this drink, plus the fresh rosemary, made her a big fan. She did add her own twist to the recipe, however, by suggesting a dash of shrub from a local business in Arlington called Element Shrub.
She specifically recommended the cranberry hibiscus apple cider vinegar-based reduction to match the drink well with her Thanksgiving-esque dip recipe. The best part of this drink is the freshly-spanked rosemary (yes, you read that right.) Laura says spanking the herb is a technique in which one claps the herbs together to bring the aroma out more noticeably, and in turn, the rosemary flavor of the cocktail will be stronger. She loves this recipe because it's easy to make in any setting, and people can play around with the ingredients and amounts to tailor their drink to their tastes. 

She tied these two recipes together because they not only reminded her of Thanksgiving but also because they're easy to make for parties. Don't over-complicate the recipes, she said, and you'll have some delicious snacks and drinks that everyone will rave about.


The recipes.

Clam dip

This creamy, tangy dip is reminiscent of a tasty bowl of clam chowder with the added kick of hot sauce. It's absolutely a hit at Laura's family's gatherings, and it will be at your next party, too.

Top tips from me:
1) Chopped clams in juice are the way to go because then the chunks will be big enough and you can save the juice to fix the consistency of the dip. It should be neither too liquidy or too solid. 
2) If your local Giant does not sell chives like mine, scallions are a common substitute, especially if you just thinly chop them.
3) You need to chill this overnight or it will not be clammy enough — Laura's orders.
4) Serve with whatever dipping vehicle you prefer, but I chose pita chips, carrots and bell peppers. Laura recommended these plus raw broccoli and grape tomatoes. 
5) While you will chill the dip, it's important to leave your cream cheese out to soften so it's easier to mix all the ingredients together.
6) It's optional but definitely add the hot sauce. Laura said you can use sriracha, Cholula, Tabasco, habanero — you name it!

Chopping the chives then assembling the ingredients only takes about 5 - 10 minutes, but the dip needs to be chilled overnight or for 4 - 5 hours.

1 8 oz block of cream cheese — chopped chives, approx. 1/2 cup — Worcestershire sauce — kosher salt and black pepper to taste — paprika, for dip and garnish — 1 6.5 oz can of chopped clams, reserve the juice — optional: hot sauce — vegetables and pita chips for dipping

- Mix it all together and chill for 4-5 hours before serving with crudites. Voila!

Rosemary ginger mule

The fresh rosemary and the sweet ginger syrup are the stars of this refreshing drink. My roommate and I both gulped down the drink, which tasted just like a ginger mule sans vodka. I'll be making it again, especially in the summer and for any parties.

Top tips from me:
1) Laura recommends "spanking" the rosemary before adding it, and while that practice sounds like a practical joke, it actually does kick up the aroma, and subsequently, the flavor of the herb.
2) Make sure you mix everything well, otherwise the ginger syrup will stay separated at the bottom of your glass.
3) It may look classier in a copper mug, but alas, I do not own one.
4) You can add any shrub or concentrate to enhance the flavor of the drink, but Element Shrub's cranberry hibiscus, which Laura suggested, has enough of a bitter taste to cut through the sweet ginger syrup.
5) For the rosemary-infused ginger syrup, I could only find ginger syrup at my local Giant, and I ran out of time to let it sit with some rosemary. Feel free to use just the syrup and then add the rosemary after.
6) Laura also suggested Q Drinks brand ginger beer since she likes the spice, though I could only find Goslings. Use whatever brand you'd like!

This recipe takes a solid five minutes or so, depending on how meticulous you are with your drinks. 

A stalk of fresh rosemary, spanked — one lime, for the juice and slices for garnish — rosemary-infused ginger simple syrup — ginger beer — ice — 1 oz Element Shrub, ginger lime or cranberry hibiscus

- Pour a squeeze of rosemary ginger syrup and squeeze the juice from half a lime into a 10-12 oz glass. Stir.
- Add ice.
- Add in 4-5 oz of ginger beer. Stir.
- Top with 1 oz of Element Shrub.
- Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and wedge of lime. Enjoy!
Find the #MadeinDC shrub in Laura's recipe.
A little background...

Charlie and his wife, Angela, started their Arlington-based Element Shrub operation in 2013 after Angela, then-pregnant, began craving a drink that had the complexity of a cocktail without the alcohol. They had just started volunteering for a non-profit through harvesting crabapples when they came across the idea of a shrub. Their company has grown, and now they sell shrubs meant to liven up cocktails (zero-proof or not), baking, salads and more. 
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Emily Martin · 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW · Washington, DC 20500 · USA

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