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!  :)

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.  :)

our july girl’s night at screwtop.

As I’ve mentioned before, Screwtop is one of my absolute favorite places.  I go there monthly with three dear girlfriends, and then whenever I can outside of that!  I love being a wine club member, and trying out the new wines they give me every month.  The four of us like to go on Wednesdays, because there is usually a $10 off a bottle deal for a certain type of wine.

This particular Wednesday, the deal was for rosé wines… not usually my favorite type of wine, as the girls know, but Screwtop has changed my previous opinions in other instances before!  This time was no different, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying my glass.  We picked this Jeio Bisol Rosé Prosecco from Veneto, Italy.  The Veneto and Prosecco aspects, as well as the fact that the waitress said it was one of the dryer rosés on the menu, was all what swayed me.  Yum!

Jeio Bisol Rosé Prosecco from Veneto, Italy

For those of you who don’t know, Prosecco is to Italy as Champagne is to France.  Prosecco tends to be cheaper and dryer… both pluses, in my opinion.  :)  Rosé wines are pink, because there is very brief contact with the grape skins during the winemaking process.  By the way, isn’t it crazy how flutes can hold so much liquid?  The whole bottle was drained into four glasses!  An optical illusion.

We ordered a ton of food, as always.  Here is our first platter (five cheeses and one meat):

Spanish Cabra Paprika, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, CA Humboldt Fog, Italian Robiola, NY Kunik, VA Napoli

Most of us agreed it was the best cheese plate we’d ever ordered!  You can see one of the girls’ beautiful documentation and rating system two pictures down.  The Cabra cheese was the same that I used in my Spanish mashed potatoes last month.  I think I liked the cheese better when mixed in the potatoes… but it still served to be different from the other cheeses, and variety is always fun.  Hooray for the Humboldt Fog, which may have converted one in our group to now love goat cheese!  So overall, the plate was a success.

We ordered another few cheeses later on, as well as the grilled cheese sliders (it’s almost impossible for us to go to Screwtop and not order those).  Here is a photo of another little dish we tried:

Avocado Gazpacho

How cool is that?  I’ve already been searching for recipes to recreate it, especially since it was a special on the menu.  Maybe I’ll try out this one sometime soon.

So, as promised, here is the lovely documentation of everything we ordered (I had a glass of Piccolo Cru instead of her glass of Sauv Blanc, however).  The handwriting is so pretty that I just had to include her journal page of the night!

Our Screwtop Order!

Thank you, Screwtop!  Always guaranteed fun and a delight to our palettes!

steak & potatoes {spanish style}

I studied abroad in Spain four years ago, and fell in love with the country!  Early on in our relationship, Chris and I went on a date to Jaleo, “the renowned tapas restaurant of José Andrés.”  Oh my goodness.  One sip of the sangria, and I was transported back to Spain!  The tapas were amazing, and I have since fallen in love with the food at every restaurant of his.  Chris and I actually had our rehearsal dinner at the Jaleo in Crystal City, and it was SO delicious and fun!

Anyway, I could go on and on about Chef José Andrés, and I’m sure I will write more entries on his food.  We had some friends over for dinner on Saturday night, and I decided to make it Spanish-themed and use recipes by José!  His Made in Spain cookbook was the inspiration.  I made red wine sangria, beef tenderloin with picón cheese, sauteed green asparagus (white asparagus probably would have been more authentic!), and mashed potatoes with manchego and olive oil (that recipe can be found here).

Steak w/Blue Cheese Sauce & Asparagus

Here you can see most of the entire meal… I’m not sure why I put the mashed potatoes in a bowl when everything else was already on the plate!

Steak w/Blue Cheese Sauce, Asparagus, Mashed Potatoes w/Cabra Cheese, & Sangria!

There were a few adjustments.  I used ribeye steaks (cheaper) and Moody Blue Smoked Blue Cheese (from Screwtop!) for the sauce.  I also used Cabra cheese for the mashed potatoes (also from Screwtop) instead of Manchego.

Sangria!

What a fun night of Spanish-style food with our friends!  By the way, check out this new temporary restaurant of his that is opening up soon.  It’s going along with the National Archives’ exhibit, What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?  I can’t wait!

my favorite local wine bar.

Oh, how I love Screwtop.  I will need to force myself not to blog about this place constantly!  I go there monthly with a group of three girlfriends and outside of that, I try to go whenever else I can!  When I’m with these girls, we always order two bottles, eat lots of delicious appetizers, and just have the best time discussing life, love, and God.  It might be the best informal bible study ever.

Last night, the Wino Wednesday deal was $10 off Austrian wines, so we started with a Hillinger Pinot Noir.  YUM.  You can also find Hillinger wines at The Wine Cabinet in Reston.  We ordered a cheese platter with a swiss cheese, a peppery pecorino, and an “oh-so-lucious” creamy cheese, which came with honey!  I should have written down the exact names of these cheeses… I realize this list is somewhat vague!  (By the way, Gwyneth wrote a very informative newsletter on cheese this week.)

Hillinger Pinot Noir & Cheese Platter, taken with my iPhone

After that, we split the grilled cheese sliders, which are two heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches made with a blend of cheeses and served with some marinara sauce on the side for dipping.  GENIUS.  We also split a Burrata Caprese sandwich.  The highlight of this sandwich was the special Italian Burrata Fresh Mozzarella cheese!

What I REALLY wanted to share with you all was the second wine we ordered.  Next time it needs to be the first wine, and the focus of the meal!  We told the waiter we wanted a red wine that was full-bodied and interesting, and he said, “I have something I know you’ll love.”  After he walked away, we turned to each other and realized he was probably going to bring us something incredibly expensive that we would love!  Uh-oh.  Sure enough, the bottle was $50, so before we tasted, we told each other to STAY STRONG and just enjoy the taste!  It was actually the smell that made us cave (and then of course the taste was incredible too!).  Such a powerful smell of dark berries and spice.  Here it is, the Small Gully Mr. Black’s Concotion, a 2006 GSM (49% Grenache, 34% Shiraz, and 17% Mourvedre) from the Barossa Valley in Austrailia.  I will not forget you!

Small Gully Mr. Black's Concoction, a 2006 GSM from the Barossa Valley in Australia (photo credit: G. Heidel)