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!

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!

dinner by peter!

We went over to our good friend Peter’s the other night for a lovely dinner!  This entry is somewhat of a guest blog entry… I’m writing it, but the dinner was all Peter’s work!  The meal centered around a Capture Sauvignon Blanc Les Pionniers 2009 that he had discovered recently.  Amazing.  It was crisp and citrus-y at the beginning, then got increasingly more herbaceous as it breathed and warmed to room temperature.

We brought along some good ole Humboldt Fog cheese (Whole Foods and Screwtop are both carrying it right now!), and it was a GREAT match.  Peter added champagne grapes for a perfect side spread.

Capture Sauvignon Blanc Les Pionniers 2009, Humboldt Fog, & Champagne Grapes

Peter cares a lot about where his food comes from, which is just awesome.  He gave us all the background details, so I will include them all!

The main dish was Chicken Pesto Pasta.  The pesto was made from scratch the day before with homegrown basil, store-bought pine nuts, shredded romano cheese, parsley, and garlic. Here it is being prepped…

Peter's Homemade Pesto (photo credit: Peter)

The chicken (from Magruder’s) was marinated overnight in lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, lemon pepper, and garlic seasoning.  Yum!  Then it was sautéed with a store-bought onion, pepper, and yellow squash from Biggs Riggs Farm in Romney, West Virginia.

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Dessert was amazing, in a jaw-dropping way!!  Peter sliced up some peaches from Toigo Orchards in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and paired it with Trickling Springs Ice Cream from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  He topped it all with Trader Joe’s Vanilla Almond Granola!

By the way: I have not been to Pennsylvania many times, but I happened to have traveled to both Chambersburg and Shippensburg before!

Vanilla Ice Cream with Peaches and Granola

Thank you, Peter!  The meal was deliciously fresh, and the Sauvignon Blanc was so memorably intriguing!  What a perfect summer meal.  :)

america eats tavern!

Last Saturday, Chris, two friends, and I had the opportunity to check out America Eats Tavern, a new pop-up restaurant by Chef José Andrés.  I could not contain my excitement!  We showed up for brunch right when the restaurant opened up, and easily got a table.  The place was definitely pretty packed when we left, so I’m glad we got there early!

Ceiling of America Eats Tavern

America Eats is replacing the space where Café Atlántico used to be.  The famous and apparently amazing Minibar, which is usually upstairs, is currently undergoing renovation.  America Eats closes in January, and Café Atlántico actually will move to a different location… so I wonder what will happen with the space next year!  There is definitely a lot happening.

Anyway, America Eats Tavern is exploring a new and innovative approach to classic American dishes from different time periods throughout history… many of which have been lost over time.  The restaurant goes along with the National Archives exhibit, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?”  We didn’t go to the exhibit this time around, but we’re planning to go soon with a bigger group and return to the restaurant around that as well. Since there were four of us, and we are all adventurous in trying new foods, I have many photos to share!  Here is the delicious Blackberry Butter that came with the bread basket we ordered.

Blackberry Butter

We tried two cocktails among the four of us.  I don’t remember the name of the one on the left, but as you can see, it was a sparkling and lighter drink.  The cocktail on the right is the Ramos Gin Fizz, made with gin, egg whites, citrus, cream, and orange flower water!  You could taste every single one of those ingredients in perfect harmony.  The fizz on the top was very solid, and barely moved as the drink quickly disappeared.  The Ramos Gin Fizz was developed by Henry C. Ramos in New Orleans in 1888.  Amazing!

Two Brunch Cocktails (Ramos Gin Fizz, on right)

Here are all of our entrées…

Maine Lobster Roll, John D. Rockefeller, Mount Desert Island, Maine, 1910

Shrimp 'n' Anson Mills Grits with a Fried Egg, Jamestown, 1607

Waffles with Blackberry Butter & Vermont Maple Syrup, James Hemings, Monticello, 1796

Hangtown Fry, Hangtown, California, 1849

I tried a little bit of Chris’ lobster roll, and it was pretty good.  He said it wasn’t his favorite roll he’s ever had, but he liked how the mayo and lobster were separated in the sandwich.  The other boys enjoyed their dishes a lot, though comments of the portions being a little small were made.  I absolutely LOVED The Hangfry!  It was packed with flavor, and I felt the joy that the gold miners must have felt when they struck it rich in California and then bought this particular dish to celebrate.  It was the perfect amount of oyster taste, and everything I could want in a glamorous brunch entrée.

We then ordered two desserts and two teas.  I tried a little of everything, and the desserts were incredible!  The Key Lime Pie was apparently made from fresh key limes… something most restaurants don’t use, for some reason.  The Vermont Sugar On Snow really showed off the amazing Vermont syrup, and the flowers added a unique twist to the dessert. Chris and I enjoyed our teas, though they tasted pretty standard to us.

Dandelion Tea

Balsamic Hyperion Tea (the tea people drank after the Boston Tea Party)

Key Lime Pie

Vermont Sugar On Snow

What a fun and different brunch experience!  Reading the menu in and of itself was a learning experience… there are little blurbs about the history behind each item.  Now I want to spend some time reading the menu online before I go back!  I am so excited to return to America Eats, and hope to get there for a few more meals before January.  The restaurant definitely made us proud to be Americans!  :)