Wednesday, March 4, 2009

There were many highlights at last month’s Washington DC Wine and Food Festival (like pretty much all of the wine and all of the food) but I wanted to mention a real stand-out:

The igourmet table was featured in the grand cru wine lounge, so if you had general admission tickets you may have missed it. The good news is that you’re just a few clicks away from their web site. It's is a great source of gourmet gifts, specialty foods and my favorite, cheeses.

My favorite item on the site? Boschetto al Tartufo Bianchetto- a mild cheese, featuring a blend of sheep’s milk, cow’s milk and shavings of white truffle. In my humble opinion, this is the way truffles were meant to be showcased- delicately. I’ve got a hunk of this beautiful cheese in my fridge and I’m waiting for the chance to share it with friends. I think it will make a great addition to my standard cheese plate.

My next purchase from Fennel pollen. I’m dying to make Earthbound Farm’s Red Wine Risotto with Fennel and Sausage.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

In Defense of Restaurant Week

A few years ago I was at a work event with an actuary who will remain nameless. Although I was engaged (and wearing a big shiny rock thank you very much) it was clear that this man was trying to hit on me – by impressing me with his culinary knowledge and ability to wine and dine ladies at super expensive restaurants (little did he know that I had managed to land a fiancé who was much less pretentious yet still willing to wine and dine me at equally expensive restaurants, and sometimes cheaper ones that were just as good).

Point of the story: we struck up a conversation about Restaurant Week. I exclaimed that I always enjoyed Restaurant Week, thought it was a positive thing for the restaurants that participated and that I always went and usually had a pretty great experience.

He told me that restaurant week was for people who couldn’t afford to dine at nice places the other 50 weeks out of the year, and that one should not expect to be served the best during those promotions, because the chefs had zero motivation to make nice meals- they were just shuffling people in and out to make as many 30 dollar meals as they could.

I could not disagree more. With the exception of ONE restaurant experience (which will remain nameless, but I find it no great irony that this restaurant is now out of business) Restaurant Week has given me a GREAT excuse to dine with friends, coworkers and my now-husband at places I may normally not visit. In some cases, I’ve been blown away- my experience a few years ago at newcomer PS7 was a wonderful introduction to their cuisine that keeps me recommending them to others. I second that notion with my experience at IndeBleu (the mushroom crepes stood out and I wish they were still on the menu). For these two restaurants, RW was a chance to show me, a new patron, that their newbie status in town did not reflect their dedication to good food, great ambiance and friendly service.

There are old favorites like DC Coast, who manages to serve up great food no matter the event, and my most recent RW dinner last week at Tuscana West. The mushroom ravioli was the next best thing to my grandmother’s home made pasta, and the dessert course reminded me of my favorite lavender cookie recipe prepared by a new friend – an authentic experience of food from the heart in an ambiance fit for DC’s power brokers and lowly Directors of Marketing (ahem).

So Restaurant Week has come and gone this winter, but if I’ve persuaded you to give it a chance, you’re in luck- many participants are extending their RW menus into March. Check out this post at DC Foodies to see some of the places that are participating.

And if you’re looking for a recommendation, here are a few places where I’ve had great experiences during Restaurant Week:

Georgia Browns
Toscana West
DC Coast
Sam & Harry’s

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Soup's On!

Who doesn’t crave a great bowl of soup in the winter? My recent post at DC Foodies shares one of my favorite soups- a simple, easy to make variation of a classic Italian soup. It’ll taste like it’s been cooking all day!

And here is another one of my all-time favorites. I started making this recipe when my husband decided to remove dairy from his diet- a move that I found challenging, but also a lot of fun in the kitchen! This soup is so rich, so velvety that you will SWEAR there’s cream in it.

I originally found the recipe at The Kitchn, but made a few of my own changes. I hope you enjoy this healthy, robust soup!

Zucchini Puree
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized sweet onion, chopped
9 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 medium zucchini, sliced
4 cups of chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon
powdered ginger
salt and pepper

Melt the olive oil in a heavy 4-quart pot over medium heat. As it heats, add the garlic and onions and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Keep the heat low enough that the garlic doesn't brown; you want it to sweat.

When the onions are soft and translucent, add the zucchini and cook until it's very soft and mushy. Try not to let the zucchini brown. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer at a low heat for about 45 minutes.

Let it cool slightly, then blend it with an immersion blender until smooth, or transfer to a standing blender to puree. If you’re using a blender, transfer the soup to it in small batches. Return it all to its original pot and stir it together.

Season with ginger, salt and pepper to taste. This soup is GREAT on the second day, if there’s any left…

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Teatro Goldoni

My sweetie pie planned a Friday night date to Teatro Goldoni – where has this place been all my life? (Well, that’s a silly question, because it’s been on K Street for years. I just didn’t have enough sense to hustle my buns up there.)

There is a reason Teatro Goldoni was rated DC's best Italian restaurant by Esquire Magazine and ranked as DC’s highest rated Italian restaurant in the Washingtonian. It’s really that good.

If you’ve read about Goldoni lately, you’ve probably read about their carpaccio of branzino presented in a wooden cigar box. Tom Sietsema reviewed it, and it’s reportedly one of their most popular dishes. We decided to skip it, and opted instead for the Cornetti di pesce marinato assortiti- or seafood cones, which included tuna (with green olives capers spring onions), salmon (with crispy fennel, spring onions sour cream caviar dill), scallops (with red and yellow peppers, chives and roasted garlic slices), and morelles (with porcini mushrooms, blood oranges and spring onions). All of this presented in sweet, flaky miniature ice cream cones, and I knew we were off to a great start. Each cone had a unique taste; a balance of salty and sweet. We also tried the roasted sweet onion salad, which did not disappoint, but was totally overshadowed by the seafood cones.

For main courses we choose the lobster risotto and salt cured Moularde duck breast. The duck was served with spinach-whipped potatoes and a perfect black olive sauce. And let’s not forget the artichoke hearts, which I think were roasted – and I know were delicious.

So I think I’ve conveyed here that the meal was pretty perfect – the atmosphere included. The glow of the light and the use of warm colors throughout gave a nice ambiance of romance and “I’m here for a special occasion”, but I was comfortable enough being there in a work-dress. We had great service. There was a great jazz band playing, and as we finished dinner and dessert (crème brulee and house-made ice cream) I really, really wanted to stick around. We didn’t – we had plans to meet up with out-of-towners, but doesn’t that just sound like the perfect excuse to go back?

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm stopping the popping.

Did you know that Pringles are only 42% potato? Read more about your ex-favorite potato "crisps", which are mostly made from dough...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Restaurant Week- it's back!

I made my res. for Tuscana West. Anyone been?

You can make your reservations here. I wonder what effect the economy will have on the week? Will more people show, because they want the chance at a reasonably priced meal, or will less people go, because they're trying to eat out less?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

really easy...really good

Wanna know a simple, delicious recipe for tomoato sauce? Read about my answer to that question at dc foodies. Marcella Hazan, you're my hero.