Feeling the love.

I have learned that today, July 26th, is National  Aunt & Uncle’s Day!   Julie spoiled us with a fantastic home cooked dinner tonight.  It was special and delicious.   Yummmmm

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Girls’ trip 2014 – Destination Washington, D.C.

Last year five of my girlfriends and I went on a trip together to San Diego and had a really great time.  We said we’d try to make it an annual thing.  And we did!  This year’s destination:  Washington D.C.

The fall weather was beautiful.  We rented a townhouse on Capitol Hill just south of Lincoln Park – about a mile and a half walk to the Capitol buidling.  What an amazing place to live.

The Highlights:

We walked about a hundred miles (!), mastered the Metro, and took in some amazing sights.   We visited the Library of Congress & National Gallery of Art, and their outdoor Sculpture Garden.  We took a 3-hour Segway DC Monuments & Memorials tour with CitySegway (I highy recommend them, and our wonderful guide, Ray).  We caught a showing of the Broadway musical Evita at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  We drank a couple barrels of wine.  And danced the night away in the townhouse.  We we sure crammed alot of fun into a 4 day weekend.

The Eats:

– The night we arrived we ate at the highly touted Spanish tapas restaurant Jaleo (2 blocks from the Archives metro station).  This madrileña gives them a bleh and a thumbs down.  Service was ho hum, their traditional tapas like gambas al ajillo were not traditional at all… (made with red, spicy pepper sauce with no garlic!).  When we complained, the waiter said they’ve changed the way they prepare them now and we should have ordered them traditional if that’s the way we wanted them, even though that’s how they were described on the menu.  We shared a pan of lobster paella which tasted like new orleans dirty rice made with a burnt roux.   Sorry José Andrés, you let us down.

– for breakfast the next day, Friday, we ate at the Madison Cafe atop of the Library of Congress’ James Madison Memorial Building.  What a great, unassuming breakfast stop, with reasonable prices.  Spectacular view of the Potomac, but apparantly you’re not supposed to go out on the patio unless accompanied by the Capitol Police (oopsie).

– for lunch on Friday’s sightseeing marathon (seriously, Laura’s pedometer said we walked about 23 miles that day!), we happened upon a really wonderful farmer’s market/outdoor food court in the Federal Triangle – Capital Harvest on the Plaza.  In contrast to last night’s meal, the paella I got here on a paper plate was perfect and the real deal.  They are open Friday’s through the end October.

– for dinner on Friday night we ate at the fabulous italian restaurant Graffiato  (a short walk from the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop).  Now this was a great meal!  The service was fantastic.  We tried nearly everything (watercress salad, caesar, mussels a la vodka, potato gnocchi, homemade pasta, white house pizza, and even more that I don’t recall) and came away wanting more.  Delicious!

– Saturday morning we walked to the nearby Eastern Market – a historic indoor/outdoor food and arts market and a hub of the neighborhood on Capitol Hill.  We bought ingredients for our planned dinner-at-the-townhouse later that night.  The menu:  spinach soup, grilled salmon steaks, asparagus risotto, green beans with lemon vinagrette and goat cheese.  We outdid ourselves!

– for brunch on our last day, we headed to Le Greniere, a fantastic french bistro on H street, about a mile walk from Union Station.  Their weekend brunch menu has a great variety of delicious choices.  My croque-monsieur could have fed 2 or 3.  🙂  excellent service and brunch menu.  We were all thankful for the walk afterwards.

And then, *poof* it was over.   Til next year!

Some of the sights:

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Mmmmussels.

Super Bowl Eve dinner.

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1 lb mussels, 2 cloves sliced garlic, 1 diced shallot, 1/4 c chopped parsley, several stalks of thyme, pinch of salt, dozen or so pieces of saffron, tbsp butter, 2 cups white wine.

Toss all but mussels in skillet, bring to low boil for 5 mins. Add cleaned mussels. Cover and cook for 10 mins til mussels are open. Shake pan a few times. Add a couple pieces of toast and yum!

Hump day.

Colleen arrived today for a visit. Tonight we cooked a delicious dinner at the house. Julie joined us. On the menu: prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe appetizer, grilled chicken, risotto Milanese, sautéed brussels sprouts and homemade lime sorbet for dessert. Oh. My.

We add wet applewood chips to the charcoal briquettes while the chicken’s on the grill, which adds a mouthwatering smoky note. Colleen called it “bacon flavored chicken.”
High praise from a bacon-o-phile. 🙂

Prosciutto & Cantaloupe Appies

These aren’t pretty, but they’re delicious.

1 ripe cantaloupe
8 oz prosciutto di Parma, sliced thin
Melon baller tool
Toothpicks

Halve and remove seeds from cantaloupe. Scoop out melon balls. Wrap with prosciutto, Skewer with toothpick.

Tada!

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Saturday nom noms.

Dinner time rolled around tonight and risotto and grilled salmon were on the menu. The before shot of the risotto:

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And the before shot of the salmon fillet, rubbed with olive oil, sprinkled with kosher salt and ground pepper, sitting skin-down on a cedar plank that has been soaking in water for about 4 hours:

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We cook it on a weber charcoal grill over direct heat for about 30 mins (this fillet was 2 pounds). The plank burns on the bottom, but infuses the salmon with a delicious smoked flavor. Be careful taking the plank off, it will burn anything you set it on. I use a cookie sheet. It’s not pretty, but it does the trick.
And after:

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We watched the first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup final, but it was disappointing as both boats had problems and they postponed the second race. Later, the Seahawks preseason game 2 was on the NFL Network, and i got to watch them cream the broncos, so that made up for it.
Have I mentioned that I love weekends?!

Happy happy joy joy.

It’s pizza night!  These are the works of art from tonight’s installment.  Rachel and Julie were the pizza artistes.  Monte’s homemade crusts, of course.  The top left one is margherita with tomatoes, mozzarella, home grown basil and olive oil (instead of red sauce). Top right is tomato sauce, prosciutto, onion, basil, red pepper, olive and goat cheese.  Bottom left and right are varying amounts of prosciutto, mushroom, olive, onion, red pepper and mozz.
Yum – life is good !

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Jul 17, 2010

Ahhh, summer...

We’re spending a weekend on land for a change 🙂   I have some things from work that need to get done before Monday.  It’s also been a while since we worked in the yard.  I thought today was the day it might finally hit 100 here, but it didn’t.

Monte made dinner tonight.   This is a shot of the lovely caprese salad appy, with homegrown basil.   We’ve really been enjoying the bumper crop of basil — putting it in as many dishes as we can.  Main course was Rainbow Trout ala Monte…. delicious!

I wish I could have a summer full of days like today, not a few at a time squeezed in between 5 day work weeks.    But, I’ll take ’em!

Apr 29, 2010

Recycling bananas

I’ve been staring at a couple of brown bananas on the counter today.   Instead of tossing them into the compost bin, I decided to bake some banana bread.   Mmmm, smells great!

I used an easy recipe from our so-very-well-used-that-it’s-falling-out-of-its-binding Joy of Cooking.

Banana Bread

1 1/3 c flour
3/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
5 1/3 T unsalted butter
2/3 c sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c mashed very ripe bananas (~2)
1/2 c coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

Whisk together first 4 dry ingredients.  In separate large bowl beat butter and sugar on high speed until lightened in color and texture, 2-3 minutes.   Add dry ingredient mixture to butter/sugar and beat until blended.  Gradually beat in eggs.   Fold in bananas & nuts until just combined.  Spread evenly in greased 8 1/2″  x 4 1/2″ loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 mins, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.   Cool in pan 5-10 minutes then turn out onto rack.

Apr 28, 2010

Dinner and a movie

We went to a special event at the Alamo Drafthouse tonight — a wine / dinner pairing and the movie Bottle Shock.   The movie is based on the real story of the Chateau Montelena vineyard whose Chardonnay won 1st place in a Paris blind tasting in 1976, putting put Napa Valley wines on the map forever.

It was weird to eat food that you couldn’t really see in the dark.   But the food, wines and movie were all great.   Love the Alamo!