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.  :)

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willow restaurant.

Chris and I recently went to Willow Restaurant right here in Arlington, thanks to a Groupon!  Seriously, half of the time we go out to eat,  we use a coupon from Savored (formerly “VillageVines”), Groupon, or LivingSocial.  We sat outside, because we’d sat inside last time we went… and the feel of the restaurant is completely different depending on where you sit.  Inside, it’s got a very posh vibe.  You walk up to the host desk, and you feel like you’re checking into a very expensive and ritzy hotel.  Or maybe a night club.  (Well, that might be a stretch.)  Outside, the feel is a lot more casual and informal (though definitely still classy!).  Unfortunately, although the temperature was somewhat cooler than usual that evening, it still felt extremely muggy outside!  Oh well.

Chris ordered the Seared Day Boat Scallops with Potato Ravioli (“Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms, Ragout of Corn, Peas, Fava Beans, Roasted Tomato, Bacon & Savory, Corn Sauce”), along with a glass of a Tocai Friulano (an Italian white variety!).

Seared Day Boat Scallops with Potato Ravioli

He loved it.  Scallops are his new favorite thing, and they were seared to perfection.  I was feeling like going veggie, so I ordered the Duo of Fennel & Spring Asparagus (“Fennel Raviolini, Potato Gnocchi, & Spring Vegetables with Gratin of Fennel & Savory, Black Truffle Butter”).  I also ordered a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  (Typical.)

Duo of Fennel & Spring Asparagus

My meal was delicious, but I was so hungry going into dinner that afterwards I wished I’d ordered fish instead.

Willow is great, but I don’t dream about the food when I’m not there.  Food critics must agree… it was on the Top 100 list last year, but didn’t make the cut for 2011.  Sorry, Willow.  It’s definitely a nice place to have right around the corner!  The overall result — and the cost — make it more of a draw with a coupon though.

mexican, mexican, mexican.

I have SO much Mexican food to share!  Next post, I promise to move on to something else.  :)

Last weekend (not this past weekend, but the one before), I made my favorite casserole for our friends who just had a baby.  Here is a link to the recipe for the Southwest Pasta Bake…. I just call it “Mexican Lasagna.”  Tired of making the same old boring casserole?  Here is something that will wow your audience.  I made extra to enjoy with my dear friend Arielle, who was in town from Seattle.  We had a yummy South African Sauvignon Blanc (wine maker: Zafrika) from Trader Joe’s, which complimented the meal nicely.

Mexican Lasagna

Next, quesadilla madness.  Are you surprised?  I obviously love quesadillas.  :)  We had friends over a week ago, and this was the spread… Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw… (I know they are called “tacos,” but I really made them more quesadilla-like!)

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta & Cabbage Slaw

That’s Mexican rice in the crockpot, that our friend Sarah brought along.  I promise I will post the amazing margarita and guacamole recipes at some point!  A staple for Chris and I’s food life.

Tonight, I made similar quesadillas (with tomatoes added and pepper jack cheese, instead of feta).  I also wanted to share this Corn & Avocado Salad, from this month’s Real Simple issue.  Light and easy!  I used green onions instead of scallions.

Corn & Avocado Salad

The next meal will be more Italian-based… my other favorite cuisine besides Mexican.  :)

asparagus tortellini + new zealand sauvignon blanc.

I always know I’ve fallen in love with a meal/food idea/type of wine/etc when I can’t stop thinking about it, and start feverishly finding out how to recreate it… or at least somehow have it again!  The asparagus sauce on my red snapper at Kinkead’s Thursday night was SO divine, it made me think back to the other delicious asparagus experiences of my life… asparagus soup at Teatro Golodoni during Restaurant Week two years ago… “asparagus three ways” at Citronelle the night Chris and I got engaged…

So yesterday I started searching the internet for an asparagus sauce recipe to use with pasta.  Amazingly, this was not easy to find, and I began to wonder if pasta with asparagus sauce was a strange idea?  I eventually found this yummy recipe from The Cooking Photographer.  I set to work and followed the ingredients and instructions pretty exactly.  I probably used more than a pinch of red pepper flakes (which gave it a really nice spicy element), and I also used cheese tortellini instead of ravioli.  The result was very nice!

Cheese Tortellini in Asparagus Cream Sauce with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Cheese Tortellini in Asparagus Cream Sauce

The wine was a 2010 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand (around $10 at Trader Joe’s).  It had all of the nice lime and citrus flavors that I remembered from the one I had at Kinkead’s.  I really like the asparagus and Sauvignon Blanc combo.  I’m not an expert though, so I searched the Internet for affirmation.  Apparently, asparagus is quite a challenge to pair with wine!  It felt good to see “crisp, and refreshing wines like Sauvignon Blanc” on the list though.  The cashier at TJ’s said her opinion was that New Zealand is the place for SB, and after two nights in a row of enjoying it… I may have to agree!

top 100 restaurants: kinkead’s

Chris and I are trying to go to all of the Washingtonian’s Top 100 Restaurants. It’s a slow goal, but we are making progress! Last night, we tried out Kinkead’s, a seafood restaurant near the Foggy Bottom metro. We used Village Vines (they emailed us a free $10 credit) to get 30% off our final bill… always a good option for the more pricey restaurants.

It was a funny environment. Loved the live piano-playing! Kinkead’s seems to be the place where the rich, elderly people of DC go. Chris and I enjoyed people-watching, and gathered a lot of info by eavesdropping on nearby conversations! There was a family a few tables away, representing a few generations, where one older man seemed to know the waiter very well. To the right of our table, an elderly couple barely spoke as they ate, but laughed loudly at a joke the waiter told about how people are always on their cellphones these days. To the left, a couple (probably in their 30s) dined with their parents; it was apparently the first time both sets of parents were meeting each other. We were hoping for a proposal! Maybe it happened after we left.

This is Kinkead's logo - on everything at the restaurant!

Anyway, Chris ordered the Alaskan Halibut with Crab Imperial, Scallion Spoon Bread, Sweet Potato Puree, and Mustard Cream Sauce. I can’t find the exact name of what I ordered, but it was Red Snapper with Asparagus, and some sort of asparagus cream sauce (which I MUST learn how to make!). The portions were perfect, and the meals were divine!

The Alaskan Halibut - Chris' meal.

The Red Snapper - my meal.

For wine, we each ordered a different glass. Chris got a yummy red blend, and I chose a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. I need to branch out more into white wines… I truly loved this one! Dryer, and oh so full of citrus flavors!

We really enjoyed our time at Kinkead’s, but I’m not sure if we’ll rush to go back (maybe if we’re living around here and rich when we’re in our 70’s!). The meals were delicious though, and we felt very refined as we ate.