March-April 2014 | Features

Riggo on the Range

Former Washington Redskins Running Back John Riggins is Scoring Points with a New Passion

Among his many athletic accomplishments, former Washington Redskins running back and Hall of Famer John Riggins may be best remembered for his 43-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XVII. But nowadays, the Cabin John resident is scoring points with a different passion—cooking.

On his Comcast SportsNet TV show, Riggo on the Range, Riggins hunts and fishes (often with former players and coaches) around the country, then prepares the prey with chefs at restaurants or in his home kitchen. The show’s second season, premiering March 1, will feature an episode with local chef and restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier, whose restaurants include Mussel Bar and Wildwood Kitchen in Bethesda. Wiedmaier cooks wild salmon and trout that Riggins and retired college basketball coach Bobby Knight caught in Alaska.

“I love food. I love to eat,” says Riggins, 64, of his transition from the gridiron to the griddle.

When he’s not shooting geese on the Eastern Shore or wild pigs in Texas, Riggins lives in a modern retreat overlooking the Potomac River with his wife, Lisa Marie, and their two daughters, Hannah, 17, and Coco, 9. He prepares all the family meals, making the occasional smoothie for breakfast, slicing house-roasted roast beef or turkey breast for his daughters’ school lunches and whipping up homemade soups or pasta for dinner. For the most part, he improvises instead of cooking from recipes.

  • What’s in his kitchen: Lots of counter space, walnut cabinets, copper pots, a Miele coffeemaker, a Traulsen refrigerator and freezer, a six-burner Montague Grizzly range (a restaurant-grade appliance he calls the “Corvette” of ovens).
  • How he entertains: Guests gather on stools at a counter overlooking his galley-style kitchen, drink wine and chat while Riggins cooks. In nice weather, he likes to throw meat on the outdoor Weber grill—an antelope filet was a recent hit.
  • What’s in his freezer: Elk, venison and wild turkey
  • Where he eats out: Neighborhood places—the Irish Inn, Old Angler’s Inn, Fish Taco and Wild Tomato, all in Cabin John. Daughter Hannah works as a hostess at Wild Tomato.
  • Where he shops: For Riggo on the Range, Riggins “shops in the national forests for dinner.” At home, he stakes out Whole Foods Market on River Road and Giant at Westbard Shopping Center in Bethesda.

Get Your Bean Bun

Have a hankering for yam mousse cake, green tea bread or red bean buns? Check out J. Brown Bakery, an attractive new Asian-style bakery in Cabin John that opened in December and is owned by Jae Lee, who also runs the Captains Market convenience store in the same shopping strip. J. Brown, staffed by Korean baker Sam Lee and Walt Whitman High School graduate and culinary hopeful Justin Cable, sells an extensive selection of breads, buns, cakes and cookies, plus Western favorites such as baguettes, Danish, doughnuts and frozen yogurt. The milk bread, almond cake, butter cookies and rusks (made from leftover baguettes) are especially good. ( J. Brown Bakery, 7607 MacArthur Blvd., Cabin John, 301-229-0747)

New Shop on the Block

Hip, rustic and oozing with artisan sensibility, the Little Red Fox market and coffee shop covers all the bases: breakfast with locally roasted coffee and espresso, home-baked muffins, scones and interesting egg dishes; lunch with incredibly fresh-tasting sandwiches; and dinner with boxed meals made from scratch for commuters to pick up on their way home. Plus, it offers beer and wine by the glass for an informal drink in the neighborhood, and a small larder of groceries, including organic milk, locally made Moorenko’s Ice Cream and homemade preserves and condiments.

Located in the former Marvelous Market space on Connecticut Avenue in Northwest D.C., the place has limited seating, but was expecting a shipment of outdoor patio furniture at press time. The brainchild of native Washingtonians Matt Carr and Anne Alfano—who both had desk jobs before building impressive résumés in the culinary arts—the Little Red Fox seems more West Coast than Washington. What a welcome addition.(Little Red Fox5035 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 202-248-6346)

Photo by Jena Carr 

COMINGS

  • 82 Steak Out, a Parisian-style steak house with an American edge, opened in the former Tippy’s Taco House space in Rockville Town Square in February.
  • In February, City Burger, a no-frills, family-oriented eatery serving old-school patties and homemade ice cream, was set to open at 7015 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda.
  • April is expected to bring a new tenant to the former Addie’s space on Rockville Pike: Helen Wasserman, Washington’s longtime doyenne of catering, plans to open Crave by Helen, a restaurant and catering operation with Asian and Western influences.
  • Macon Bistro & Larder is slated to open this spring in the historic Chevy Chase Arcade at 5520 Connecticut Ave. The restaurant will combine classic bistro cuisine with dishes representing chef/owner Tony Brown’s Southern roots.
  • Denizens Brewing Co., a craft brewery, is gearing up to serve American-style ales and Belgian and European-style lagers this summer at 1115 East West Highway in Silver Spring. The food will focus on American tapas, and the 7,500-square-foot space will include a dining room, an outdoor beer garden and a downstairs bar overlooking the brewery.

Charmed, I’m Sure

Gaithersburg friends Debbi Ascher and Jen Burnstein, aka The Charmed Girls, claim to have come up with a “delicious way to live a charmed life.” It’s the CharmedBar, a fruit-and-nut snack bar that’s free of gluten, dairy, soy and refined sugars. It comes in two flavors—the dense, taffy-like Peanut Butter Cherry-licious, and Almond Butter Cran-dipity, a nutty, firmer mixture of almonds, walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, raisins and dried cranberries.

The women developed the bar after searching for a snack they could eat without discomfort. Ascher, 49, has a gluten allergy and ulcerative colitis, and eats a very restricted diet. Burnstein, 38, has lupus and finds that eating foods high in carbohydrates and sugar adds to the inflammation and irritation caused by the disease.
“To make a long story short, we couldn’t find a bar out there that we liked that we could eat,” Ascher says.

The bars, which sell for $2.49 to $2.99 each, are available at Chevy Chase Supermarket, Village Green Apothecary, Go Figure Barre Studio, Dawson’s Market, Roots Market, West Wing Café & Bakery, The Natural Market and Kentlands Stadium 10 Movie Theaters. They can also be ordered online at Charmedbar.com.

Courtesy photo of Charmed Bar creators Jen Burnstein (left) and Debbi Ascher