We went to two Italian restaurants while we were in Bend for Thanksgiving. One of them was, unfortunately, pretty disappointing. But the other, Ariana, was fantastic!
The restaurant is inside what looks like an old house, so the dining room is small but cozy. The service was great, and the waiter liked Jasper's request for Champagne with St Germain so much that he said he was going to add it to the cocktail menu.
We were so excited about our appetizers that I didn't get a chance to take pictures! We ordered beef carpaccio with truffle oil and burrata with tomatoes; both were fantastic.
As a food blogger I must, of course, write about my Thanksgiving meal. Last year Jasper and I hosted both or our parents and siblings at our house in NoVa. This year, we were able to travel out to Bend, OR to spend the holiday with his family.
Both Jasper and I would like to get in better shape, so we are thinking more about healthy options for dinner. I've decided that we should try to fit a fish dish in each week, which will most likely be salmon (it's a super food, and heck - it's delicious!).
I started this new routine off with an easy and solid recipe for Panko Crusted Salmon. Dijon mustard, lemon, and parsley are simple ingredients that give a ton of flavor. And the panko crumbs make for a perfect crunchy topping.
We have a tradition in our house of making a huge batch of meat sauce in the fall and freezing it for use all year. The recipe is a combination of the recipes we grew up with, both of which have a tomato base. My mother's recipe involves a combination of beef, pork, and lamb; along with garlic, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, red wine and Italian spice blend. My mother-in-law's recipe is similar but uses only beef, no bell pepper or olives, no wine, and dried basil instead of Italian blend. I have merged these two recipes to form my own - I use a combination of beef, pork, and veal (which can be found in stores already mixed as "meatloaf mix"); yes on bell pepper and wine; no on mushrooms and black olives (Jasper doesn't like them); and I use both dried basil and Italian seasoning blend.
My sauce is American style, tried and true, and best served on spaghetti with Parmesan. But this month when the hankering for pasta came on, I decided to try some new things and see what would happen.
I saw this recipe on the Food Network while getting my nails done and immediately wanted to make it. We didn't have any plans for Halloween night, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. It turned out to be a pretty fortunate decision, because Jasper came up with the idea to invite some friends over to play a horror board game at the last minute (read 5PM Halloween night). I had already started making the chili and I knew it would be great for a crowd. Funny thing was, we hadn't seen each other in so long that we wound up talking all night and never getting to the board game!
My friend Keerin, who is a vegan, recently sent me a list from the Washington Post of the best restaurants for vegans and vegetarians in the area. She challenged me to try them out with her, and we hope to get through the whole list at some point.
Surprisingly, my favorite pizza place was on the list - Pizzeria Paradiso! They celebrated their 20th anniversary last week and were offering special deals, including all-you-can-eat pizza and beer for $20! We hopped at the chance and met up at the Dupont Circle location. We found out that while the AYCE pizza part was true, they were only including two $6 draft beers in the deal - which is only half of their draft list, and half of those they were out of. So we only had 3 or four beers to choose from, but they were also having a happy hour with 1/2 price drafts so we were fine.
Last weekend I attended the Metro Cooking & Entertaining Show at the convention center, and I took the opportunity to try a few restaurants in the area. One of those was Kushi Izakaya and Sushi, a restaurant I have been dying to try ever since I read that the sushi was on par with Taro. Kushi is also an Izakaya, which is kind of like the Japanese version of a pub or tavern, and features a robata (wood) grill and a charcoal grill. We definitely wanted to try some of the grilled items, but decided to focus overall on the sushi so we sat at the sushi counter (versus the robata counter or a table).
This past weekend the Metro Cooking & Entertaining show was here in DC, and I was definitely not going to miss it! There were presentations and book signings by Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentiis, Guy Fieri, and Jacques Pepin. There were also events and demos by TV stars like Mike Isabella and Mary Beth Albright; local chefs (and James Beard winners) like Michel Richard (Citronelle), Scott Drewno (The Source by Wolfgang Puck), Peter Smith (PS 7's), Bertrand Chemel (2941), Vikram Sunderam (Rasika), and Jeffrey Buben (Bistro Bis); and hundreds of vendor booths.
I tasted tons of olive oils, vinegars, dips, baked goods, pastas, and cheeses. But the real draw for me was the celebrity presentations.
Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
Last fall, my friend Melissa brought my attention to a butternut squash galette recipe on Smitten Kitchen. I didn't get around to making it and sorely regretted it all year. So this year I determined to make it as soon as it started to get chilly out. Boy, am I glad I did! A sweet and creamy filling wrapped up in a flaky, buttery crust - there is nothing better.