Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Search for the Perfect Burger, Part I

We started our search for the perfect burger in our neighborhood, Glover Park in Washington, D.C. Kitchen2404 is a southern-inspired bar-restaurant with reasonable prices and a friendly wait staff.

I ordered the Kitchen Burger (in-house blended and marinated beef, greens, tomato, wood herb mayo, delta devil sauce) and my husband ordered the Pit Burger (pulled pork, angus beef, fried egg, creamy slaw, smoked bacon, barbeque sauce, cheddar cheese, caramelized onion). In his defense, I sort of made him do it.

So, the question remains: should the Pit Burger be so complicated? It was almost impossible to eat such a mammoth burger with so many parts without a fork, but it was delicious. Does a burger need a fried egg? Probably not, but why not?

In general, I prefer my food more savory than sweet. The “delta devil sauce” on the Kitchen burger and the combination of pulled pork, barbeque sauce and caramelized onion on the Pit Burger were a little sweeter than I’d like or expected. That said, they were both cooked perfectly (medium rare, of course) and delicious. Probably other folks would have liked this sweet-savory combination more than I did.

We ordered the fries crispy and they were. Kitchen has a great happy hour and we’ve loved everything we’ve had there so far, from the shrimp & grits to the sweet potato and scallion hushpuppies.

We look  forward to trying the many other burger places that help to keep Washington, D.C., famous as a good eatin' town. Don't worry, we have a long list. What's your favorite?

See you in our corner of D.C. on Tuesdays when Kitchen has half-off burgers?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fresh Pasta in Washington, D.C.

The other night we ate Vace’s fresh pasta with a fresh clam, garlic and olive oil sauce. It was like Christmas Eve dinner in September. My husband and I each had two heaping portions of this light, fresh pasta. Yes, the clams were a treat, too, but they were overshadowed by the pasta.

Vace Italian deli is in Cleveland Park (Washington, D.C.) I can’t wait to try the frozen veal tortellini and the fresh Italian sausage, too (not together, of course.) The store is smaller than the Italian Store in Arlington, but they had a large variety of fresh pastas and other traditional items like sausage and prosciutto di Parma.

I'm still full. And happy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall for the Book Festival: Cookbook Author Event

The Fall for the Book Festival, held primarily on George Mason University’s campus, started Saturday. Tomorrow afternoon, I will be introducing cookbook authors Lisa Jervis and Tracye McQuirter.

In an Advanced Composition class that I'm teaching at George Mason University, we spent some time reading the cookbook authors’ blogs and discussing what constitutes a well-written and designed blog. (If you are interested in writing, you might enjoy my writing blog.) I can’t wait to hear the authors’ discussion on heathly, accessible food tomorrow.

Will I see you there?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Euronight 2010

The European embassies gathered together at the French Embassy on Friday night for Euronight. They each offered tables of traditional food, drink and tourist information. There was live music inside and out and even swag to take home (we have a new reusable shopping bag filled with everything from magnets to recipe booklets to new thumb drives to a water bottle.)

It was hard to resist seconds at the Italian table with the wine, beer and famous arancini (rice balls.) Belgium’s table, one of my favorites, boasted fresh waffles and chocolate pudding.

While we arrived when the doors opened and thought it was crowded then, after two hours it was mobbed with hungry guests grabbing food and cutting in line for the larger plates, like at the German table that offered two types of sandwiches and a taste of sausages.

I found out about the event through an Italian language Meetup group. You might be interested in looking on that site for local language or cooking related activities.

See you there next year?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Food Writing Find

I was moved while reading the recent New York Times Modern Love article In Bitter Moments, Reaching for the Sweet by Sara Hope Anderson. I think you will be, too.

Candies are offered to the author by would-be-lovers, divorce lawyers, piano teachers and others. Everywhere she turns, in moments of need and need-no-more, there’s candy. With stark prose, she narrates troubled moments in her life by describing the candy that is offered to her in a hand or bowl. The candies’ sweetness doesn’t just punctuate or sweeten a scene, instead they become the narrative thread between the scenes. As a writer, I really enjoyed both the structure and tone.

What food(s) do you find reappearing throughout your life? For me, I find it hard to imagine a celebration or mourning period devoid of pasta, long or short.

If you are interested in writing, I hope you’ll visit my blog on writing from a writing instructor’s perspective.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

{Guest Blog} Cheers to Italia!

Thank you to Alyssa Ross, Editor-in-Chief of An Easy Spread for today’s post.

I often enjoy a good dry, Italian red wine, such as the Di Majo Norante Sangiovese 2008. It's tart and full of fruity flavors, making it a great accompaniment with pasta, pizza, parmigana, or sausage. In fact, this reasonably priced wine (I bought a bottle for 9$ at Total Wine) scored a whopping 90pts in The Wine Advocate.

But when I'm craving a sweeter, more luxurious Italian drink, I treat myself to a glass of Limoncello or Prosecco. Limoncello is a sweet lemon liquor, which is mainly produced in various areas of Southern Italy. Traditionally, it is served as a chilled after dinner drink to aid digestion. Trust me, after a big bowl of pasta bolognese this is just the thing you need. Cold, sweet, and smooth. You can purchase a bottle from your local ABC store, or you can be adventurous like Chloe and make it yourself

Prosecco is another one of my favorites. It's a dry, sparkling Italian wine. My mouth always puckers with that first delicious sip. At 10-13$ a bottle, this is often used as a cheaper alternative to Champagne. It's also popularly known as one of the main ingredients in a Bellini Cocktail: Prosecco, peach puree, and a splash of Raspberry juice. I often make my Bellinis in the blender with frozen peaches to substitute for the peach puree. You can find different varieties of Prosecco at Total Wine or your local wine shop.

Be sure to check out An Easy Spread, especially if you are in the D.C. area and are looking for local recommendations. My favorite section, of course, is the Food Poetry.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

DC Local Finds: Resources

We all want good, local advice about where to eat. Here are a few I've been distracted by recently. I hope you’ll add to the list in the Comments Section below.

I love reading through the Washingtonian’s Food and Dining section as well as the Washington Post’s Food section.

I recently came across metrocurean, a site dedicated to good food and DC area eating. I can’t wait to try out the “Five Great Hidden Patios.” Don’t miss author Amanda McClements presenting, along with others, on Food Writing at the Smithsonian Resident Program.

An Easy Spread offers local happy hour finds, recipes, poems and more.

If you are interested in taking cooking classes, I’ve heard great things about the classes at Maryland’s La Academie de Cuisine.

There are also classes offered at a few of Sur La Table’s northern Virginia sites.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Eating is Messy: How to Remove Olive Oil Stains

I was recently carrying a two liter can of olive oil and it leaked onto my skirt. Not just a little, mind you. There were long, dark stains all over the right side of the skirt. I was embarrassed and annoyed, but then I remembered the Italian secret to removing olive oil stains: baby powder.

Stain removal technique:

Pour ample amounts of baby powder on the stain. Let it sit for hours (I usually leave it in the tub overnight.) After it has had a chance to absorb the stain, knock off the loose powder and brush the rest off with a hard brush. If the stain is deep, I usually repeat this at least twice.

Wash the clothing normally. I do recommend avoiding the dryer until you know it is clean so you don’t risk setting any stains.

This works best on cotton, but you can always try your luck with other fabrics.

And they said olive oil stains were forever. Ha.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Save Money Eating Out. And Be Cool About It.

In this economy, it is cool to save money. Why not use the web to help afford to eat out?

There are a number of sites that offer daily or regular discounts. As a (free) member of the site, you are eligible for the discount. It is usually works like this: Spend $20.00 for a $40.00 gift certificate if your table’s check is $50.00 or more. Make sense?

Here are some of my favorites:


(New York Times article on Groupon.)

Living Social


Also, Facebook groups (“Fan” businesses like Georgetown Cupcake for secret, daily deals) and checking in on foursquare through your phone offers you deals.