My sister is visiting from Cleveland to attend a shower for my son’s future wife. (Did I really just type that sentence? It is starting to get real.) She is accompanying me on a shopping trip to Georgetown, on a day when our list is filled with far too many to do’s. I have one more item to add to the list. “Can we please stop by Red Apron Butcher for breakfast? It just opened and I really want to try the tigelles,” I say. She has no idea what Red Apron Butcher is, much less a tigelle. But she knows better than to argue with me when it comes to food.
She catches on fairly quickly that Penn Quarter is not on our way to Georgetown. I have to get her some coffee and quickly, or she will make me go to Dunkin’ Donuts instead of Red Apron Butcher. And then I’ll be the cranky one. I’m pretty sure that my crankiness when I want food is uglier than her crankiness when she needs coffee.
It takes us close to an hour but ultimately we arrive, find a parking space, and miraculously find only a few people ahead of us in line. I assure my sister that the coffee from Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Annapolis will far surpass the Dunkin Donuts brew. One sip and she is sold. I love this coffee, having had it recently at Takoma Park’s Republic.
It’s time to decide on our tigelles. A tigelle is a sandwich that originates from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. A specially-made electric iron imprints a lovely floral pattern on top and presses the ingredients until they are soft and gooey on the inside, while maintaining a crispy exterior. The tigelle is made with lard, and apparently took two years for Executive Chef and partner Nathan Anda to get it right.
Is a breakfast sandwich two years in the making worth the detour? Why yes, I believe it is. The “buenos dias” tigelle includes egg, pickled onion, chorizo, cheddar, and sour cream. The melding of these ingredients makes for a delectable sandwich. The sour cream in particular impresses me. It adds a uniquely light creaminess.
I try to steer my sister towards “The Aristocrat” with ricotta, honey, smoked pine nuts, and gala apple. She opts to go more classic with “The Patriot” featuring sausage, American cheese, egg, and maple butter. It’s very good, but I must return for “The Aristocrat.”
Red Apron is part of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (Buzz Bakery, Birch and Barley, Tallula, Iron Gate, etc, etc), which means that our sweet tooth can be satisfied with a jelly doughnut by pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac. Doughnuts and tigelle are an unbeatable combo, and fuel us for the grueling shopping trip that lies ahead.
Our weekend includes dinner with the engaged couple at The Red Hen, where we feast on fantastic food. The saffron fettuccine with rabbit sugo, cinnamon, grilled kale and mustard breadcrumbs is out of this world. The maple gelato is equally mind-boggling in its appeal. I can’t miss the opportunity to tie the pieces together, as Red Apron Butcher and The Red Hen are truly part of a red letter day and weekend for our family.
Red Apron Butcher, 709 D Street NW, Washington, DC (Locations also in Union Market and Merrifield, Va)
Read more about the tigelle in Jessica Sidman’s article in Washington City Paper
My review of The Red Hen (July 2013)