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.
One of the many things that I love about my neighborhood favorite, Chef Geoff's Tysons, is that the menu changes seasonally. The Fall menu that is being featured right now is pretty fantastic. Some of the standouts are:
The duck confit appetizer - a nice big piece of duck on the bone, served over spatzle in a whole grain mustard cream sauce. The meat can be a bit difficult to cut off the bone, so just pick that sucker up and gnaw on it rib style. The spatzle is perfect - light with no hint of gumminess - and the mustard sauce is nicely balanced.
The apple and butternut squash bisque - this is your classic fall soup combo, with some unique garnishes in the form of ginger crème fraiche and crispy, fried, sweet, and a little spicy lotus chips.
The duck confit pizza - with roasted pears, blue cheese, and balsamic caramelized onions. It's a great balance of sweet and salty, and they are not fooling around with the confit - there is a TON piled on there. This is definitely a two-person pizza.
The pear and gorgonzola agnolotti - with Swiss chard, in an Amaretto butter sauce, topped with amaretti (Amaretto cookie) crumbles. I am crushing on this dish in a major way - I long for it. The agnolotti are fantastic, of course, but I want to talk about the chard - drenched in that sweet butter sauce with chunks of pear and the crunch of the amaretti cookies. Oh my goodness, I have honestly never had better tasting Swiss chard. I want to develop a recipe for this sauce just so that I can use it with chard.
There a few great looking dishes that I haven't had the chance to try yet: a burger topped with barbequed short ribs, Havarti, and green tomato; a butternut squash risotto with Taleggio; a rabbit bolognese with black pepper pappardelle, fennel, and grana padano. I will update this post after I have eaten more of the Fall dishes!
And let's not forget the drink menu - CG's is always coming up with great new cocktails. The Fall standout is the Saint Rosemary Sour, combining my favorite liquors - Pisco and St. Germain - with fresh lime juice, egg white, house made citrus syrup, and rosemary tincture, and topping it off with bitters and a rosemary sprig. Absolutely fantastic.
I was browsing through blogs and found a series of recipes on Alexandra's Kitchen involving homemade ricotta cheese that looked perfect for the end of summer. The recipes all looked really great but I questioned whether or not making ricotta versus buying it would make that much of a difference. I decided to go ahead and try it since it didn't look all that difficult.
For our 2nd week of the CSA (click here for week 1) we received the following:
1 head of butter lettuce
1 head of Romaine
a big bag of spinach (10-15 oz)
a bunch of asparagus
4 green/spring onions
a pint of hothouse strawberries
5 tomatoes on the vine
a bunch of large radishes
2 hothouse cucumbers
I had been wanting to explore Georgetown for quite some time when I saw I an article in the Washingtonian that inspired me to just go out and do it. The article was focused on Georgetown and highlighted several favorite spots - it even included a map! So on a GORGEOUS day, I hopped on the Metro to Rosslyn, map in hand, and walked across Key Bridge to begin my adventure.
My first stop was to Crepe Amour for breakfast.
It is a tiny, but cute, little place with a modern feel.
The chalkboard menu features a number of savory and sweet crepes - some simple, some unusual (mac-n-cheese, anyone?).
I opted for a simple butter, powdered sugar, and fresh lemon version that was the perfect combo of sweet and sour. I also had a lovely caramel latte.
DEAN & DELUCA
Next, I headed down the street to foodie-heaven grocery Dean & Deluca.
It is a good thing that I don't live a convenient distance from this place or I would spend all my money here. They have some amazing local and imported products from wine to pasta to cheese to whole lobes of foie gras. They have fantastic ready-made food, as well as a sandwich counter, espresso bar, gelateria, chocolate counter, and outdoor cafe (with outlets for your laptops).
I wandered around the back streets and canal area, finding some lovely architecture.
Eventually, I found myself down by the waterfront at a nice little park. I had a great view of Key Bridge on one side and the Kennedy Center on the other.
BAKED & WIRED
After spending some time by the water, I wound my way back up to the coffee and sweets shop cleverly titled Baked & Wired.
Here, baked goods are displayed under a whimsical sea of glass containers.
I decided on an ooey, gooey, caramel apple bar
I happened upon a little Mediterranean cafe and coffee shop that happened to have something I have been searching for - bubble tea with fruit gel as opposed to tapioca balls. I love bubble tea, but can't stand the chewiness of the tapioca. I prefer to get the coconut, pineapple, or lychee flavored gels instead. But I had yet to find a place out here that had them, until now. They also have paninis and crepes.
For lunch, I headed to the Georgetown location of one of my FAVORITE pizzerias - Pizzeria Paradiso. They serve Neapolitan style pizza and have an extensive beer list.
My all-time favorite pizza - Margherita with fresh Buffalo Mozzarella (substituted for an extra $2).
THE GREAT CUPCAKE WAR
Georgetown has many famous bakeries, and the treat du jour seems to be cupcakes. I decided to compare two cupcakeries head to head to see which was better.
The first contender - neighborhood favorite Georgetown Cupcake
The second contender - newcomer Sprinkles
From Georgetown Cupcake, I ordered the Lemon Blossom (lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting, it got a little smushed), the Coconut (coconut cake, vanilla cream cheese frosting, shredded coconut), the Chocolate^3 (Valrhona chocolate cake, chocolate ganache icing, chocolate sprinkles), and the Salted Caramel (caramel cake, salted caramel buttercream icing, caramel drizzle).
From Sprinkles, I ordered the Lemon Coconut (vanilla cake with lemon coconut cream cheese frosting) and the Dark Chocolate (dark chocolate cake with bittersweet chocolate frosting and sprinkles).
The Sprinkles coconut lemon had more coconut flavor than lemon, I couldn't taste any lemon actually. The frosting was creamier than the Georgetown cupcake, but Georgetown had a much stronger coconut flavor. The Georgetown lemon had a nice, mild, lemon flavor.
The Georgetown chocolate cake was dry and there was not enough ganache to make up for it. The Sprinkles chocolate was moister with a nice, rich chocolate flavor in both the cake and the frosting.
The Georgetown Salted Caramel was the best of the batch, but it wasn't "salted" enough to my taste.
Neither shop had perfect cupcakes, in my opinion, but they are both good and came out pretty equally.
And with that, my journey through Georgetown has ended. I hope to return again and check out some of the spots I didn't make it to. Next time, though, I will remember to wear sunscreen - I got pretty burned!
Neapolitan style pizza is my favorite kind of pizza, but it is sometimes difficult to find. Pizzeria Paradiso was my go-to place in DC, but it is a 40 minute trip for me, and I needed to find something closer. I read about the opening of a Neapolitan pizzeria in Falls Church but never managed to make it over there, until recently. Thank goodness I did! Because Pizzeria Orso is every bit as delicious as Paradiso and much, much closer.
I tried the Margherita DOC (more information on DOC), and it took me right back to Italy - thin, tender crust that was perfectly charred and puffy at the edges; fresh, flavorful tomato; creamy fresh mozzarella; fresh basil; and olive oil. I also tried a seasonal pizza, the Molla, with ricotta, garlic, ramps, and an egg. The ricotta was creamy and sweetened by the garlic, the ramps were mild and a little charred, and the egg had a perfectly runny and oozing yolk. It was a perfect spring pizza.
The menu also features antipasti. I tried the arancini - crispy spheres of risotto with a mild tomato flavor. They were fun to munch on, but nothing special - I preferred the calamari, which were very tender, coated in a light batter, and served with a basil aioli that I found slightly addictive. The desserts are classic Italian - gelato, tiramisu, cannoli. I tried a seasonal special - polenta cake flavored with rosemary, filled with mascarpone, and served with blackberries and an orange mascarpone creamy - sunny and delicious, like summer.