after repeated invites from our friends Sally & Greg - we finally got it together and booked a long weekend ! of course ( as with most of our friends ) we began with the list of restaurants - followed by some museum browsing and must-see tourist attractions that DC is known for …..( yeah - like the white house ! )
zaytinya is a jose andres place - innovative lebanese/turkish/greek. We opted for the reasonably priced Tasting Menu with paired wine and cocktails. octopus with skordalia - cod with fresh chickpeas and ‘black’ hummos - smoked kasseri cheese mezze with honey and pinenuts….roasted red pepper & feta mezze with pita….big restaurant with lots of hussle - fantastic service.
our friends live within walking distance to 14th street which has become a culinary corridor with hip bars and retail stores. in one night we romped from Etto ( small pizza & wine joint with great antipasto & salumi ) - to Estadio ( contemporary spanish - pintxos and rose wine here) - to le diplomate ( too crowded to stay but one to check out ) to Ghibellina ( brick walled italian gastro pub - nice after dinner amaro flight) to a little hole in the wall jazz joint.
above steak tartare with parmesan frico was a course at Central - modern american french from michel richard. top notch.
and the beautiful black bass was from Fiola Mare overlooking washington harbor in georgetown. enjoy a nice walk along the waterfront afterwards.
another very cool spot was this little place Mockingbird Hill - dedicated to sherry and ham ( iberico anyone?) they also offer a small snack menu. if you care to spend the time - get an in depth tutorial about sherry - they love talking about them !
our inbetween time was spent walking the city ( or using the brilliant ‘uber’ car service) to check out the National Gallery and its adjoining sculpture garden - the Corcoran Gallery and Dumbarton Oaks Gardens (rated #6 in national geographics top 10 ). Days could be spent exploring these museums ( and the buildings themselves) and taking in the beauty and times of these gardens.
and of course one must explore the Mall - the Lincoln Memorial - the Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence and others. most memorable in story and design experience ( well done maya lin ) was the simple Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
this was a great intro to our nations capital …much more to do and eat next time around….
thankyou ! for all the hospitality sally & greg ! you live in a great city !
i get over zealous when planting fall gardens as those crops are my favorites. broccoli - cauliflower - leeks - kale and always too much swiss chard. i now have an abundance and looking for new ways to use it.
raw kale makes a great salad - so why not swiss chard ?
rummaging thru a post-thanksgiving refrigerator i paired it with leftover grapes - breakfast radish - and pickled mustard seeds.
this salad is earthy - sweet & tart - crunchy and healthy to boot !
here is the recipe for pickled mustard seeds
1 c mustard seeds
1 1/2 c water
3/4 c sherry vinegar
3/4 c white vinegar
1/2 c sugar
bring to a boil then set to simmer for 45 minutes or until all excess liquid is cooked off.
keeps in fridge for a few weeks.
enjoy ! on cheese & pate boards - as a condiment on pork dishes - tossed with brussel sprouts & bacon -on deviled eggs - grilled cheese sandwiches with jalapeno…….and more
This cold snap in austin had me craving comfort food…and my comfort go to is usually Italian food and usually includes pasta. so a natural direction seemed to be lasagna. with an abundance of butternut squash from BCF and swiss chard from my garden - we concocted our version of winter lasagna.
Emmett put the pasta roller to work and made a bechamel with lots of parmesan and a touch of nutmeg.
i roasted sliced butternut & sage and sauteed swiss chard with garlic.
layered free form and baked til crispy on top - this certainly fit the bill for a cold days comfort….along with a bottle of nebbiolo it hit the spot !
we got it in our heads that we should visit the Veneto region of Italy….so we rallied up our travelling friends and set our plans for April.
here are my favorites for anyone travelling here:
1. Sirmione Lake Garda
sirmione is a penninsula at the southernmost tip of the lake. it was protected by the scaliger castle in 12th century which you pass thru into a lovely town of windy lanes and small squares. the lake views are vast and stunning. the lake fish - trout-pike & eel - most delicious and clean. and the clams ! i ate pasta e vongole most everywhere it was offered.
2. Villa La Contenta
our home for two weeks . this villa is secluded on an estate in Padua. its a beautifully restored 14th C home complete with indoor /outdoor kitchens & dining spaces - living room with fireplace - well stocked & applianced kitchen - 6 bedrooms with private bath and a pool (plus daily cleaning & room service) !
our usual MO is to sightsee and explore during the day - pit stop the wine shops & daily markets - and enjoy cooking & imbibing at home in the evenings
( including games of bocce ball ) !
everywhere. we travelled with a cooler so we were prepared at all times for purchasing from the markets in any town we happen to be in.
a most beautiful town nestled in the dolomites up in the region of trentino-alto adige - with as many apple trees flowering in the valley as vines just beginning to bust on the hillsides. we came to tour the winery Kallerei Terlan - the source of some favorite wines on our ASTI list. we were graciously toured by our host Klaus and treated to lunch - which included the famed white asparagus. this is the real deal white asparagus from only this area in italy ! sweet-bitter-tender. not to be confused with the likes of spanish or peruvian. it is a short 6-week season. this is a typical dish served with a cooked egg & oil emusified sauce & prosciutto cotto. yum !
we have been drinking this bubbly for years. what a treat to tour and taste the sparkling wines of franciacorta ( italian champagne ) ! this is a fairly new ( <50 yrs.) winery. the contemporary facility included quite a few art installations for added attraction.
rated #3 on Pelligrino’s list of Top 50 Restaurants in the world ! 7 of us delighted in a lunch of 10 courses each paired with special beverages.Chef Massimo Buttura visited us a few times to chat about the food and life in his town of modena ( town of the famed balsamico ). this lunch was most impressive - i may do a separate post ! dishes clockwise: ” think green / foie gras icecream bar with traditional balsamic vinegar of modena / five ages of parmigiano reggiano in different textures and temperatures / an eel swimming up the po river “
people seem to love it or leave it - we loved it ! there is no place like it. our group of 6 took a 30 minute train here and stayed an overnight. we ate amazing seafood - toured the guggenhiem museum - walked the streets at night - delighted in the singing gondoliers - toured the canals in a water taxi - shopped - and ate more amazing food !
loved this little hillside town with medieval walls & castle ( so much we visited here twice). Enoteca il Drago. beautiful food & wines from this area - ( even our red wine diehards turned on to this impeccable white wine - hail garganega) ! by chance we met and were graciaously offered a tasting by the daughter of the winery Coffele - what a treat.
10. Osteria Torcol
sirmione lake garda. we loved it so much we spent another night here on our way to milan to depart. our final lunch at this osteria was most memorable and we were completely taken care of by our waiter - who turned us on to ( too many ) incredible local wines. housemade bigoli pasta with lake fish & mint - bresaola & puntarelle salad - grilled fiorentina t-bone….. cheese plate and desserts…attention to details in varied salts & olive oils & breads. highly recommended !
grazie mille ! to all the wonderful sights & people - food & wine of the Veneto region !
jim lahey - the creator of the no-knead bread - has now created the no-knead pizza dough ! and it is just as impressive as his bread.
it’s the real deal for the home cook and it takes only 5 minutes to stir it up in a bowl. the most difficult part is to remember 18 hours ahead of when you want to enjoy your pizza !
the 18 hours allows for the developed flavor - texture & chew …it’s very neapolitan ! we made guanciale & onion pizza topped with egg & dusted with parmesan and a grilled eggplant- smoked tomato - spinach & goat cheese pizza. of course most anything would taste great on this dough…..even just a little rosemary & sea salt with EVOO.
the book - titled MY PIZZA -offers lots a great recipes for both red sauce and white sauce pizzas - plus a few salads & soups - along with great photos and jim’s detailed technique. it’s a great book to own ( buy it ) !
one of our favorite meals to prepare for a crowd at our place is paella. hanging out by the hot grill - sipping cold cava- and laboring over the stages of making a perfect one.
there are always a few cooks in our group of friends which means there’s always discussion ( heated debate) over the details of making the perfect paella.
is there a good socarrat …. too much or not enough ? does it have to be a “classic ” paella or can it be “creative” with the ingredients …………and so it goes……paella makes for a fun & causal time around the fire pit.
lay out a spread of tapas - a variety of spanish wines & a never-ending game of dominoes on the patio…….and you have yourself a party !
check out addie broyles latest article on E’s paella - plus info on the paella-event of-the-year ” Paella Lovers United” …..happening next month.
tired of the summer’s produce - the dwindling of peppers & zucchini - summer squash & eggplant - i was happy to be buying the first of local kale. i recreated a favorite salad made at ASTI by our chef kenzie allen ( soon to be found on our menu and in the bloggers pages of texas monthly too ).
i love this tender kale from johnsons backyard gardens ( wheatsville coop and farmers market ). lightly oil salt & pepper the full leaves and throw on the grill for a few minutes while they soften and char around the edges. chop into bite size pieces
kabocha squash ( or butternut ) cubed and roasted
creamy goat cheese
drizzled with balsamic vinegar this salad tastes of fall.
(kenzie’s version includes a few strips of smoked bacon or pancetta) yum !