celebrating my heritage at screwtop!

I am a little bit behind with this blog!  I generally try to post in chronological order, but if I did that, I would have to catch up on five entries before arriving at last night.  Therefore, I am skipping ahead for a brief post on Greek month at Screwtop Wine Bar!  Let’s keep the Greek theme going!

First of all, the wine.  We picked the Tetramythos Milia from Peloponnese, which includes the grape varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and some Kalavryta (a black grape… how cool!).  This wine was incredible.  So smooth, delicious standing alone, but then also fabulous with all the foods we chose as well.  It had some lovely berry flavors come through on the finish, and was a little spicy too!  Chris and I bought another bottle of it to take home on the way out.  (It runs around $17 in the retail shop, so not too bad!)

Tetramythos Milia from Peloponnese

We also tried a special this month, the Greek nachos!  A lot of times I tend towards the more girly foods at Screwtop, so I’m glad we found a meaty snack that we were both excited about.  These “nachos” were actually mini pitas that you could load with spicy lamb chili, feta, and green onions.  Then, you could dip the whole lovely mess in Tzatziki sauce!  WOW, we might have to go back again soon before this goes away!

Greek Nachos

Chris was especially excited about the dessert we ordered… it was all of his favorite things combined!  The Prohibition Pecan Cake included chocolate cake (a “decadent” chocolate cake), Bourbon, bacon, and pecans.  Incredible!  It tasted like a glorified brownie sundae.

Prohibition Pecan Cake

Thanks, as always, Screwtop!  :)

cava mezze opens in clarendon.

Cava Mezze, a Greek restaurant with locations in Rockville and Capitol Hill… has now opened up in Clarendon!  I could not be more delighted.  As a half-Greek, I cannot get enough of the cuisine! First of all, I will say that my mother makes the best Greek food that I know.  However, my friend Amy (another serious foodie) and I SO enjoyed our experience at Cava Mezze!

Some starters were brought to us, and we devoured the olives immediately (as shown in the photo).  We also ordered some drinks.  Amy was excited to get a Strongbow, and I ordered a Blood Orange Mimosa.  I think that ever since I tried the Blood Orange Sorbet at Café Atlántico, I have been hooked on everything blood orange.

Starters & My Blood Orange Mimosa

Greek mezze is just like Spanish tapas… it is all small plates.  I love it.  We ordered the Crazy Feta, Sautéed Zucchini, Opa Opa Shrimp, and Lamb!

Crazy Feta (Dodonis Feta / Whipped Jalapeño)

Sautéed Zucchini

Opa Opa Shrimp (Sautéed Shrimp/Dill/Cream/Tomatoes/Ouzo for the OPA OPA)

Lamb

My maiden name is Lamb, and even though I’m Greek, it has only been recently that I’ve felt okay about eating lamb (sometimes eating it almost seems like cannibalism!).   I truly enjoy it though, and this dish was absolutely delicious.  In fact, all of the mezze we ordered proved to be really wonderful.  Each dish contained just a little spice, and we loved it all.

The wait staff was also lovely.  Our waiter complimented Amy and I, and told us that our eating pace was right on.  I guess some people speed through, while others pick at their food… who knows!  Anyway, Cava Mezze is the kind of place that distracts you from your conversation.  We couldn’t help but pause at different points and exclaim about what we were eating… the food was just that good.  We’ll definitely be returning so that we can try out more mezze!

a push-back-the-fall appetizer!

It’s Labor Day, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on summer!   I don’t know about you, but though I love the fall, I’m not ready to welcome it with open arms quite yet…

Back in July, my dear friend Arielle sent me an intriguing watermelon recipe.  I had been meaning to try it all summer, and in a scramble to relish the season today, I decided to finally throw it together.

Classy Watermelon

This is what Arielle says:

1. Chop up watermelon into bite size pieces and place in a festive bowl.
2. Sprinkle with a dash of pink sea salt.
3. Top with fresh basil and goat cheese crumbles.
4. Drizzle with a light dusting of balsamic and…

VOILA! A savory way to enjoy a sweet summer treat!

*This is especially lovely with a bandol (bone dry, from the south of France) style Rose wine. 

Happy summer!

hunt’s oyster bar in panama city.

As mentioned in my last post, I joined Chris on his business trip to Panama City last weekend!  The plan was to go from Thursday night to Saturday night, but because of Hurricane Irene, our flights home kept getting canceled… so we ended up being stuck until early Monday morning!  Not a bad situation.  :)  We were truly so thankful for the extended getaway, and really enjoyed ourselves!

We looked at restaurant reviews going into the trip, and one place stood out FAR above the rest: Hunt’s Oyster Bar & Seafood Restaurant.  Check out Yelp and TripAdvisor, and you’ll see… we almost felt like we’d regret it if we didn’t try it out!

I wish I had taken a picture of the place when we walked up to it, around 8pm on Friday night.  There were probably 20 people waiting outside for their names to be called.  Most of them had a beer in hand, and there was a loud college football team argument going on among strangers.  In fact, it was hard to tell who was in what friend group!  Everyone seemed to be having the time of their life, even as they were waiting to go in.  It was a ROWDY scene.

Chris and I got called in after about a half hour, and sat at the bar.  It was so much fun!  We only ate oysters… 3 dozen of them between us, to be exact!  (Actually, the exact number might have even been a few more, since they threw in some extra!)  The oysters were SO fresh and amazing.  We ordered raw oysters, steamed oysters, cajun-baked oysters, and three cheese jalapeño oysters.  We could not stop eating the oysters!

Here are some pictures of the progression:

Oysters #1

Oysters #2

Oysters #3

Oysters #4 (The Aftermath)

Not only were the oysters incredible, but the wait staff was great… very attentive and fast.  The spirit of the restaurant was so lively!  Everyone was having a fun night.  This place was simply a laid-back and no nonsense gem of a restaurant.  We’ll definitely be back next time we’re in Panama City!

date night at bwi – obrycki’s.

I was so excited when Chris was asked to go to a last-minute work meeting in Panama City last Friday! It worked out perfectly for me to join him, and so on our normal Thursday night “date night,” we found ourselves killing some time in Baltimore/Washington International Airport.

We were wandering around, trying to find some food, when we saw a sign for Obrycki’s Crab House, “one of the 10 Best Airport Restaurants in the U.S. by Frommer’s.”

Obrycki's - A Top Ten Airport Restaurant!

We are both suckers for these sorts of lists, so though we continued some more restaurant-shopping throughout the B terminal, we knew where we were going to end up eventually.

Obrycki's

The overall experience was great.  Chris had a beer and I ordered a lime margarita (not as good as the homemade ones I love, but very delightful!).  We started with some mozzarella sticks, then ordered crab dishes.  Here are my Crab Cake Sliders (with cocktail, tartar and remoulade sauces).  You might be able to see Chris’ Broiled Crab Cake, in the background.

Crab Cake Sliders w/ cocktail, tartar & remoulade sauces. (Broiled Crab Cake in background.)

You might not expect to have a fine dining experience at an airport, but let me tell you… Obrycki’s knows what to do!  Check out BWI or Cleveland Hopkins International Airport for a Top Ten airport meal!

papa, paparazzi.

Paparazzi in Georgetown holds a very special place in Chris and I’s hearts.  Before we met, Chris had been a few times with good friends, and I’d actually enjoyed my 16th birthday dinner there!  Most importantly, however, Paparazzi was part of Chris and I’s “epic first date.”  This date began at the museum and gardens of Dumbarton Oaks, then carried over to coffee at Dean & Deluca, and then after some serious strolling around Georgetown, we ended up at Paparazzi for dinner.  (Date length = 7 hours.)

So it’s only natural that Paparazzi would get a blog post at some point.  :)  The occasion this time was that Chris’ dad and uncle were in town.  As expected, we all definitely enjoyed the meal!

We started out with the Calamari Con Fritti appetizer, which is a favorite for Chris.  The jalapeños involved were a nice touch!  I was excited to learn that Uncle K shares my interest in Italian arrabiata sauce.  He actually ordered a pizza with arrabiata sauce!  We hadn’t heard of that combination before, but it proved to be very yummy.  I also went spicy, and here is my Penne All’ Arrabiata (“pasta quills with browned garlic, virgin olive oil and white wine in a spicy pomodoro sauce”).

Penne All’ Arrabiata

The wine turned out to be a great choice.  We went with a Poggio d’Elsa Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese.  I’ve had those grapes separately so many times, but this may have been a first for me to try them as a blend!  I am definitely a fan.  This is a huge and unfair generalization, but at least for me, basic cheaper Italian wines (like most basic cheaper Old World wines) often seem to be more medium-bodied, with flavors that are further brought out only when you’re eating the right food.  For instance, I find that cheaper Chianti wine is mediocre when alone, but it comes to life with Parmesan cheese.  Anyway, my point is that the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Sangiovese made for a surprisingly bold Italian wine on its own… for a very reasonable price!

Poggio d'Elsa Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese

No complaints here, Paparazzi.  You know we’ll be returning to you for more special moments when we are craving solid Italian cuisine.

smith & wollensky.

A few weeks ago, we were invited to Smith & Wollensky by some friends for DC Restaurant Week.  We knew dinner would be a fun adventure, because a) Our friends are fun – of course, b) You never know what to expect with Restaurant Week menus, and c) We probably wouldn’t have have thought to pick Smith & Wollensky, so it was good to try something outside our normal sphere of interest!  Honestly, all I knew of Smith & Wollensky going into the dinner was that it appeared in the 2006 movie Devil Wears Prada.

If you don’t know how DC Restaurant Week works, you get to have a three-course meal (one appetizer, entrée, and dessert) from a fixed menu – all for $35.11.  (Lunch is $20.11.)  For my first course, I chose the Creamy 5-Onion Soup.  I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had an onion soup I didn’t like, and this one was no different!

Creamy 5-Onion Soup

The FIVE onion concept blows my mind, and I want to look into that more.  For entrées, I have pictures to share of Chris’ Steak & Fries, and my Crispy Organic Chicken Breast.  (The third choice was Pan Seared Grouper.)

Steak & Fries

Crispy Organic Chicken Breast

The entrees were fine… not incredibly memorable, but definitely satisfying.  The dessert choices were: Old School Tapioca Pudding (I don’t think I’m a tapioca fan!) or Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake (intriguing).  Kimberly ordered a “slice” of chocolate cake in addition, and that was heavenly.

Chocolate Cake

The highlight of the night for me was the wine a few of us shared!  A 2007 Chalone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Monterey County.  It was so interesting and smooth, and we decided it tasted like black currant and raspberries.  It was delicious with all of our dishes, and really made the meal for me!

2007 Chalone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Monterey County

I’m not sure if I have much else to say about Smith & Wollensky.  It was a fun night out in the city with friends!  I probably wouldn’t put it on a must-go-back-as-soon-as-possible list.  Thanks for a lovely evening though, S & W!

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