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.

i just can’t get enough goat cheese & pesto!

Some foods are just made for each other:  Peanut butter and jelly.  Chips and salsa.  Goat cheese and pesto!  This heavenly combo won me over in pizza form on Saturday night.  This morning, the memory was lingering so strongly that I decided my usual bagel with cream cheese just wouldn’t do.  (Sometimes when I find a food combo I love, I become a serial eater.)

First, the pizzas.  I had been intrigued by a recipe in Food & Wine Magazine’s Quick From Scratch Italian Cookbook (can also be found here).  We made some adaptations though.  Chris and I don’t like eggplant, so we used portabella mushrooms instead.  We also added some chopped onions and pizza sauce, because I don’t know about you, but when I’m really in the mood for pizza, a sauce-less one just will not make the cut.  Finally, whenever we’ve been making pizzas lately, we use garlic-and-herb pizza dough from Trader Joe’s.  It adds a lot of party to a pizza.

We are unfortunately between pizza stones right now, so we used a quiche dish (actually turns out beautiful results!) and a 9 x 9 pan.

Pizzas in the Oven

By the way, Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest newsletter was on homemade pizza.  I think the main things I took from it were: 1) Don’t use too much sauce, and 2) I really want a wood-burning oven someday.

Trader Joe’s was our source for wine again.  A Lazy Bones 2009 Cabernet Franc from Paso Robles (very cheap, as usual).  Chris has been loving Cabernet Francs lately.  Though this one was from CA, it is a very popular grape in VA wines.  He read to me from The Wine Bible that Cabernet Francs usually have pepper and violet aromas.  I’ve never noticed the violet aspect, but the pepper definitely always stands out to me.

Goat Cheese, Portabella, & Pesto Pizza with Cabernet Franc

Finally, my Memorial Day brunch meal.  It felt like such an elegant way to start a day-off.  Basically, I toasted a plain bagel very lightly.  Then I brushed it with olive oil, adding freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.  Then came globs of goat cheese, drizzles of pesto, and some chopped sweet red peppers.  I popped it all back in the toaster oven for a few more minutes, and the meal turned out AMAZING.

Goat Cheese, Pesto, & Red Pepper Bagel

Also, I highly recommend making your own pesto.  It is SO easy, and SO worth it!  I always use a recipe out of a vegetarian cookbook I have, but it is similar to this.  You can refrigerate the pesto for up to a week, and freeze it for even longer!