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!

experimenting with duck.

There are two things that Chris LOVES to eat whenever he has the chance: scallops and duck! I decided to try cooking a duck meal for us this past Friday night, and though it was somewhat intimidating at first, it turned out really well!

I think I get a little nervous whenever I attempt new meats or new fish, because I never want to overcook or undercook. Either extreme can obviously ruin a whole meal. I do have a pretty good meat thermometer though, so there really should be no reason to worry. Someday I want to try to cook a whole entire animal! I plan to learn from my amazing Greek mother at some point.

Anyway, I decided to sear and bake duck breasts for us. I watched a few YouTube videos, and learned a lot of different things, like which side is the skin side, how to know when it’s done, etc. I would say that Gordon Ramsay was the most helpful… though if you also want to learn how to drain the fat by scoring in a criss-cross fashion, you’ll have to watch this video.

Basically, I scored the duck breasts, salted and peppered them, seared them for about 10 minutes on each side, baked them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (skin-side down), and finally added some pan-fried pancetta on top. I don’t think you even need pancetta for a nice result, but I wanted to make sure something was good in case the duck itself tasted awful. :)

Baked Duck w/Pancetta & Sweet Potato Fries

As you can see, I also made some sweet potato fries! I attempted to make similar fries a few months ago, and ended up burning them and setting off our fire alarm multiple times! I think the key is remember to turn them over halfway through cooking. This go around, I also cooked the fries at a lower heat for a longer amount of time… broiling just didn’t seem to work out well before. This was the recipe I used, only with sherry vinegar. Also, I just invested in some Spanish smoked paprika, so I was excited to throw that in there as well.

The meal turned out a lot smaller than it looks in the photo (the duck breasts seemed to shrink a lot in the cooking process), but it was still filling and very yummy. I was so glad Chris felt treated! I cook a lot of veggie meals, so he definitely deserved some manly meat. :) By the way, did you know that duck is apparently the new pork?