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Washington, DC: Heartbreaking Football Team, Heartwarming Chili

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This Sunday, to my great sorrow, once again the Washington Redskins will not be playing in the Super Bowl. Unable to get past this unfortunate turn of events, I've been distracting myself with thoughts on a menu. Michael Ruhlman has a really fun story in this month's issue about F&W 1998 Best New Chef Michael Symon's Cleveland Super Bowl party. We had a lovely time testing Symon's Mojito Jell-O Shots, and I ate far too much of his pork cheek chili: Rich with black-eyed peas, it's particularly good with a dollop of sour cream.

But with all due respect to the Next Iron Chef, I'd really like to drown my sorrows in a bowl of chili from the Washington, D.C. restaurant Ben's Chili Bowl. Or better yet, a chili dog and chili fries. I can't wait till August, when the Redskins can break my heart once again, and, arguably more important, Ben's celebrates its 50th anniversary. As I first heard from devoted DC diner Don Rockwell, in addition to holding a Bill-Cosby-hosted gala at next door's Lincoln Theatre, the landmark restaurant—still owned by Ben Ali and his wife, Virginia—is planning to expand. Ali's sons Kamal, 45, and Nizam, 37, have bought the neighboring building, and hope to open Ben's first-ever bar. They are giving serious thought to a Ben's microbrew, and are also talking about serving frozen drinks (may I suggest, beer slushies?). Next year, when the Skins finally do break their 17-year drought and get into the Super Bowl, that's where I'd like to be.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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