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June 27, 2010

Pacci's Neapolitan Pizzeria

I'm just going to start right off and straight up tell you I think Pacci's is the best thing that's happened to Silver Spring, certainly as far as pizza goes. Yes, a bold statement, but it's that good. I am a BIG pizza lover. I love all styles of pizza, don't get me wrong. I enjoy the healthy side that Z Pizza offers and the New York side that Flippin' Pizza offers... but my heart lies with true, Italian, Neapolitan pizza. It is just so fresh and alive with flavor. I would even go out on a limb to say it's right up there breathing down the neck of Two Amy's.

You walk in to this long, narrow space and are greeted immediately with the wood-fired pizza oven and a brick wall behind the bar adorned with wine bottles. There is a long, beautiful marble bar and narrow window seating. The table seating is towards the back and they offer substantial seating al-fresco. We chose to sit at the bar where we could watch the action.

I ordered the Nanninella pizza which was topped with oregano, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, arugula, basil, shavings of parmesan and extra virgin olive oil. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for a pizza with arugula. The crust was absolutely perfect- thin, but not cracker-thin, crunchy and blackened bottom but yet still a soft doughiness to the center. This pizza exuded freshness with the peppery bite of the arugula and the bright red tomatoes.

My husband ordered the calzone with fresh ricotta, spicy salami, mozzarella and sauce. The dough was not too thick, which is often the case with calzones. The thing that stood out the most was the ricotta. It was so fresh, light and creamy. I would not be ashamed to lick the plate in a crowded restaurant.

I've learned in my food writing courses that you can't fairly review a restaurant until you've been there at least three times. I have only gone once, but it was outstanding. That being said, I guess I will use this as my excuse to go back a few more times and write about it again.

8113 Georgia Ave
Silver Spring, MD

June 25, 2010

Eco-Friendly Boozing

First green restaurants and now green bars? Fabulous! Now you can party the night away and not feel terrible about killing the planet (but maybe just feel terrible in general the next morning.) The Huffington Post put together a slideshow of green bars popping up around the nation. They all are considered eco-friendly for different reasons and not necessarily 100 percent green, but they all are proving to take steps in the right direction for business known for large amounts of waste. Check out their list here. Some of their green attributes include local, sustainable food and drinks, earth-friendly products and design, led lighting and even turning cooking oils into biodiesel. Nice! Be sure to check out number 7 on the list, Arlington's own Domaso. They practice multiple means of being green including using soy ink for menus.

Here is a small sampling of many other local bars taking steps to save our planet while getting you a little tipsy:

Hotel Monaco- Poste Brasserie
700 F St., NW
Details: recycled products, green cleaning supplies, soy inks, organic food and beverage options

Dickson Wine Bar
903 U Street
Details: offers only organic food and wines

Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar
223 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Details: Sustainable foods, wines, practices, local ingredients, renewable energy sources

775 G Street, NW
Details: local, organic and sustainable ingredients

Founding Farmers
1924 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Details: LEED Gold Restaurant, offset carbon emissions, sustainable food
as well as sister restaurant Farmers & Fishers  at 3000 K Street, NW

June 24, 2010

What's Up DC? Weekend Food Events June 26-27

It's going to be a scorcher! It seems summer has arrived and the heat and humidity are here to stay. Hopefully metro has fixed the air conditioning at Dupont because there's a lot going on in DC this weekend.  Here are some highlights for good eating and drinking. Eat well and stay cool!

The Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle
June 26-27
$10 adult/ $5 kids 6-12
Pennsylvania ave, 9th-14th streets
Highlights: free Safeway Sampling Pavilion, Music, Pork Cooking Stage

Cocktails for Critters
June 26th
National Aquarium- 14th & Constitution
Highlights: Open Bar, Hors-d-oeuvres, DJ

Refresh Sundays Pool Party
Every Sunday
Capitol Skyline Hotel- 10 I St. SW
$10 before 2, $20 for guys after
Highlights: pool, drinks, yoga, games, food service, supersoakers, hookahs, DJs

Restaurant Week for Kids
June 20-27th
Seatings from 5-6:30
Highlights: Kids 11 and under pay their age with purchase of 1 adult entree

Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest
June 26-27th
11am-9pm Sat, 11am-7pm Sun
Morven Park, Leesberg, VA
$20 for 21+, $15 for designated drivers
Highlights: food, bands and over 50 of America's best breweries represented

June 17, 2010

Eat At Addie's

Photo from

Recently I was looking for a place to have a nice lunch in the Rockville area and remembered a little place I have probably passed a thousand times and always swore I should try- Addie's. Amidst the strip-malls and infamously bad pike traffic is a quaint little golden cottage that looks as though it should be on a lake. Walking up to the restaurant you are welcomed with a front outdoor dining area that is remarkably peaceful for being about 25 yards from one of the busiest roads in the area. Inside is small, but charming. You feel as though you are in someone's home. I was surprised to be led to yet another outdoor dining area on the back patio. It is a large, stone, fenced-in patio with a giant beautiful tree in the center. The branches are adorned with hanging candle lanterns. It is an incredibly beautiful and romantic setting.

The host was extremely accommodating. He accidentally gave my reserved table away so arranged for another table to be set up. It was extremely busy but I didn't have to wait long.

I saw many things I wanted from the menu but decided on the Cuban sandwich and my husband got the veal meatballs with goat cheese polenta. The Cuban was one of the better ones I've had in awhile. The pork was tender and the ham was salty. The mustard ale cheese oozed out the sides, which is a great quality in a Cuban. The only thing I found to be missing were the pickles. Standard Cubans call for pickles on top but this had red onions, which was also good.

The veal meatballs were incredibly tender and rich. The sauce was creamy and smooth and the goat cheese polenta was a perfect compliment.

My lunch at Addie's was a great dining experience, which can be expected as it's part of the Black Restaurant group (Black's, Blacksalt, Black Market). I can't wait to go back for dinner.

11120 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852

June 16, 2010

Orange-Soy Glazed Salmon

I stopped by the fish market yesterday and they had some really beautiful, fresh salmon. I haven't made it in awhile so I couldn't resist. Earlier in the week we accidentally bought two containers of orange juice so I came up with a marinade and glaze to make use of it. This experiment paid off- it was delicious! The salmon was tender, salty and sweet all at the same time. To top it off- it's really easy!

Ingredients (serves 2):
1 lb. fresh salmon, de-boned
1 cup pulp-free orange juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil

In a bowl, whisk together the orange juice, garlic, soy sauce and olive oil. Add the salmon and marinate about 10 minutes. (Don't leave any longer than that or the citrus will start to cook the fish.) Pour the marinade into a sauce pan and heat on high heat. Bring to a boil and whisk often to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Place the fish on a broiler pan. Broil about 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. It's best to keep an eye on it. It's done when it the layers flake apart with a fork and the inside is opaque. Remove from the broiler and set aside. Continue stirring the sauce until thickened, the consistency of honey. Plate the salmon and top with the glaze. Enjoy!

June 13, 2010

Birch & Barley

Ok, I have neglected you for a bit, I'm sorry. I've had a busy week but now I'm relaxing and ready to get caught up. First up- Birch & Barley.

Birch & Barley in Logan Circle is a great place for a serious beer lover. With 50 brews on draft and a total offering of 500, there is definitely a beer for everyone. As you walk towards the bar in the back your eyes are instantly drawn to the giant copper pipes, like an organ, that bring the draft beer down from above to the taps behind the bar. (Churchkey, the sister bar is upstairs and the location of the temperature controlled rooms housing the beer.)  The floors are a beautiful dual-toned hardwood (that I've now decided I must have for my house.) The space has a warm, earthy feel with a wood logs, oil candles and a gorgeous natural wood bar. The bar and restaurant are accented by the uber-popular acrylic chairs, giving the space a modern and minimalist look.

I ordered a summer ale from the back bar while waiting for a table and took note that they stock a variety of different glasses specific for the type of brew you choose - a sign of people serious about their beer! (I mean, come on, they have a Beer Director.)

Once seated, I tried another summer brew and studied the menu. There were several things on the menu I wanted, but one item won me over. It was a grilled pork tenderloin with ramps and spaetzle. To be honest, I didn't order this for the pork. It's so easy to make and is something I make about once a month because all you do is throw it in the oven and wait. I chose this dish for the ramps. Ramps are a wild leek that are only available for a window of a few weeks in spring. They are considered a delicacy in most places as they are hard to get. They have a strong, garlicky onion flavor that evokes earthiness. Second to the ramps, I do love spaetzle (tiny, soft pasta dish) and it's often overlooked for the more widespread side of mashed potatoes or mac and cheese. (Don't get me wrong, those are two of my favorite things, but sometimes you want a little variety.)

As soon as the waiter placed my dish on the table I dug right in to the ramps. They were tender with a strong bite. I devoured them. Even though I was originally indifferent to the pork, it caught me by surprise with it's smoky seasoned outer crust and soft tender center. It was cooked perfectly. The light sauce drizzled over the plate was a perfect compliment. I was also surprized with how delicate the spaetzle was. It is usually a dish that has a heavy, creamy feel but this was tender and fluffy with very little sauce. This dish sounds like a big, heavy comfort-food type of meal but it was actually quite light and refreshing- perfect for a hot spring evening.

I was quite happy with the entire experience at Birch & Barley. They have a beer to satisfy any palate and a dish to satisfy any tummy. Did I mention they serve brunch on Sundays until 8pm? Awesome.

Birch & Barley
1337 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC

Check out Metrocurean's post about Birch & Barley & Churchkey. She has some great pictures of the space!

June 3, 2010

Habanero Hands

Photo from

A good friend of mine, thebeerb1tch, had an unfortunate incident recently with a habanero pepper. It seems she was chopping one and found she couldn't get the hot burn off of her hands. Anyone who has had this happen knows just how annoying, and even painful, this can be. It lasts for days and if you wear contact lenses, forget about wearing anything but glasses for a week. (I once thought washing my hands was enough, took out my contacts and my eyes teared rivers and turned blood red. I could barely open them. NOT a pleasant experience.)

So what makes these peppers so difficult to handle? Capsaicin. This is the ingredient in peppers that make them hot, and habeneros have the highest levels of all peppers. Heat is measured in Scovilles. This scale ranges from sweet bell peppers at 0 and Japanese Chilis at 20,000 all the way up to habaneros that can reach 350,000 scovilles. Pretty hot stuff. This ingredient has been extracted for years for medical purposes as well. It's the key ingredient in topical ointments for sore muscles, like Ben Gay. How is it that something like this is safe to eat? You eat very small doses. The habanero is most commonly used in sauces, chilis, salsas and seasonings. It is not normally eaten raw, unless you are Adam Richman from Man vs. Food and have some sort of death wish.

Now, the important stuff- how to prevent the burning pain from handling these hotties. First thing's first- wear powder-free latex gloves. No joke. This is the safest and most sure-fire way to prevent any unnecessary injuries or discomfort. I recommend everyone have some on hand in their kitchen for moments like this. (I say this knowing perfectly well I don't have any in my kitchen right now, but do as I say, not as I do. I always intend to keep a stash but haven't gotten to it yet.) If you do find yourself without gloves and decide to start chopping anyway, here are some tips that may help alleviate the burn:

  • Vinegar- Pour vinegar over your hands to break up the pepper oil and then wash with soap and water. You will likely have to keep repeating this.
  • Milk- It works for calming the burn when you eat hot foods so why not for your hands. Soak your hands in a bowl of milk.
  • Citrus- Rub lemon or lime juice over your hands then wash with soap and water
These may help, but I would still wait a day or two before touching your eyes. Capsaicin has a way of sticking around for a few days. I hope this was helpful beerb1tch! Below are a couple of links to other discussion threads on the topic that might also be helpful. Careful cutting!