Friday, July 31, 2009

How does your Garden Grow?

Fans of all things local that we are, apartment dwelling has not allowed us to go one step further and plant our own produce. For those of you who do garden, or partake in the bounty of your friends with green thumbs, the Capital Area Food Bank has put together this great program:

Grow A Row is a way for gardeners to grow and donate produce to local community organizations that serve people in need. Fresh produce is an essential component of a healthy diet, but is not frequently donated to soup kitchens or food pantries due to its perishable nature. Grow A Row is an excellent opportunity to bridge community, build relationships, and provide people of low income with access to fresh, local produce.

All contributions are welcome - be it growing an extra row, digging up your entire yard, or organizing a collective donation from your community garden. The Capital Area Food Bank works with a network of over 700 charitable organizations in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area, including food pantries, soup kitchens, youth programs, and emergency shelters.

For more information or to participate, contact Anika Roth or Jody Tick at /(202) 526-5344 at the at the Harvest for Health Deparment.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pleasant Surprise

E. and I were making our way back to the Brookland Metro after a concert at the Franciscan Monastery when we both realized how very hungry we were. Unfamiliar with the area, we peeked into eatery windows, looking for a quick bite to tide us over until we got home.

E. pointed the sign out to me - Wine Tasting, 2.30 PM. Figuring we could get food regardless, we went in - the place was packed, the dining area with industrial-inspired furniture anchored by a bar. Our quick bite (a veggie burger with a touch of spice for me on a delicious vegan roll and a chicken-topped salad for E.) turned into a prolonged visit. The tasting featured white wines and sparkling wines, with unlimited tastings (and an option to have a full glass, once you've had enough). I was completely unprepared to do a proper write up on the wines, so E. and I just relaxed and enjoyed our detour, with D'Maz, the very enthusiastic and well-informed barman/Master of Ceremonies at the helm. Since Saturday afternoons are all about wine at Brookland Cafe, it was a fitting introduction.

The Brookland Cafe
3740 12th Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017
(202) 635 6307

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"I feel like a pig, but a happy pig"

In a city with so many dining choices, I am often weary of places with a long line and an overflowing (or simply non-existent) waiting area. Perplexed as I am by the hordes outside of Lauriol Plaza or Café Bonaparte on any given weekend (hardly worth the aggravation or the wait), I've come to accept the line outside of Georgetown Cupcake as part of its charm/business model.

With my penchant for reservations (and the honoring thereof)it is no wonder I hardly ever make it up to 2 Amys. But M. is back in town for a few weeks, and she had a hankering. More importantly, we had a car, and it was almost 9 PM. As is true of most things in life, the secret to 2 Amys is timing. The five us got there 30 minutes before the pizza oven was shut for the evening and were promptly seated in a smaller room, accessible through the back of the main dining room. Since the restaurant is great for families, this gave us some extra insulation from the hustle and bustle, if slightly slower service.

M. and I went for white wine, while the rest of the group had dark beer on tap and tea. My glass of Botromagno was chilled and fruity, extremely aromatic with hints of lemon and lime - a hint of the Amalfi coast in my glass, to further bolster 2 Amy's Neapolitan credentials (certificates on the wall and all).

M. announced her intentions of having half for dinner and half for lunch the next day. It is safe to say we all intended to follow suit, but the warm, thin crust, alone or dipped with the excellent olive oil provided, was too much to resist. B. and I had the Vongole, a white pizza with garlic, capers, parsley, hot pepper, cockels and grana, a hard, mature cheese. The cockels were left on the shell, infusing the entire pizza with a distinct saltiness. J., M. and O. went for the classic Margherita (tomato, mozzarella di bufala, basil), though M. had hers topped with house-made sausage and J. followed suit with prosciutto,fresh slices laid horizontally across the entire plate. These are dishes made with care, and ingredients are there to complement each other. I kept sprinkling my portions with their dry crushed pepper mix. The pizzas are slightly smaller than a dinner plate, and though 2 Amys has an extensive list of appetizers and some very good desserts, we were as full as one should be at 10.30 PM.

Just another reminder of how some things are worth the wait - and enhanced by luck.

2 Amys view menu
3715 Macomb St NW
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 885-5700
2 Amys on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Urbana, one of our regular spots for wine in Dupont, is turning 3 next week and will be celebrating accordingly. There will be a party on Monday, July 20th (with a DJ starting at 6.30 PM) and $3 wine specials, including prosecco. If partying on a Monday is not for you, there will be $3 happy hours from 4-7 and 10-11 Monday to Thursday featuring $3 Peroni, Estrella Galicia, Prosecco and house red and white wine along with $3 half-portion pizzas. Chef Alex Bollinger will offer $3 small plate items at the bar. On the dinner side, Chef will have a $30 3-course tasting menu available between 5 and 7, including a glass of prosecco and a cupcake.

Mervis Diamonds will be improving a good thing with yet another good thing (extra points for making it seasonal) with their diamonds and chocolate event at their K street location on July 22nd.

For those of you who love farmers' markets, Freshfarm markets is hosting a cooking demo at their H Street NE market on July 25th (9 to 12) and a Book Signing in Dupont Circle on July 26th (9 to 1) by Dr. Preston Maring, author of the “EatingWell in Season, the Farmers’ Market Cookbook.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ciao, Italia!

I was in Rome for a dear friend's wedding (that was a six course meal, not counting the cocktail hour appetizers or the dessert table). Once I recovered, I was able to find some lovely spots.

1. Aperitivo

Though this is a Milanese tradition, Rome has caught on. At Obika near the Spanish Steps, 10 Euro will buy you a cocktail (my favorite is Negroni, a mix of 1 part gin, 1 part sweet vermouth, and 1 part Campari) and unlimited visits to the buffet, which runs from 7 to 9.30. This is a happy hour done right. I was happy to find one in Milan (across from the Duomo on the top floor of La Rinascente) and overjoyed to find out that they have an outpost in New York. 6 types of Mozarella di Bufa, to start...

Obika Mozarella Bar
Piazza di Firenze - corner Via dei Prefetti
00186 - Roma

2. Paninis
At the fabled De Santis (autographed pictures of Sophia Loren, Pavarotti, and several football jerseys grace the walls), I had an amazing panini with prosciutto crudo (the kind you seldom find in the US, except for the citterio fresco at Trader Joe's). The space is tiny, the menu only in Italiano, but the staff is friendly, the ingredients very fresh, and the bar fully stocked. A great pre-Cenacolo meal.

De Santis
Corso Magenta, 9

3. Coffee every which way
Even a caffeine junkie like me can appreciate the fact that Naples is a city that takes its coffee seriously. Since it's a faux pas to have Capuccinos after 10.30 AM, I had a caffe con pana (so sweet, hot and thick that it is no wonder Starbucks has yet to overrun the country, as it has done Paris). Gambrinus is the stuff of legend - across from the Palazzo Reale, former watering hole of Oscar Wilde. Terrible service and steep prices, but what a view, and I am not talking about this lovely cup, either.

Caffee Gambrinus
Piazza Trieste e Trento, Via Chiaia 1-2, Chiaia, 80132