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August 31, 2010

Bay Area Bites

Recently I just started my new job in San Francisco. I went out for a week to get started and am now working remotely. I use this as yet another excuse for not having any blog entries lately. (Excuses, excuses.)

I would be remiss if I didn't make a post about the fabulous food I consumed while in the restaurant capital of the U.S. I didn't get out quite as much as I wanted to because I was still on east coast time and my dining schedule was all out of whack but don't worry, I still managed to pack in some great grub.

The day I arrived, my hotel room wouldn't be ready for a few hours. It was a beautiful day though so I was eager to get out and check out the area. I was staying near Union Square so had plenty to keep me busy. I sat down for lunch at Puccini & Pinetti, a family Italian restaurant bordering Union Square and Tenderloin. I ordered the "P.E.L.T." sandwich which includes pancetta, aioli, a fried egg and roasted tomatoes on sourdough. It was messy, salty, gooey and delicious. Unfortunately the waiter thought it would be a great idea to ask me how it was as I was shoving a bite in my mouth and had pancetta hanging from my lip. He awkwardly said "oh, should've waited. sorry" then proceeded to stand there and watch me fight with the pancetta for what seemed like 3 minutes. Awwwwkward!

Later that night, I met up with my friends Christy and Jesse (insert shout-out here: happy 1 year anniversary!) We went to the Thirsty Bear in SOMA. Here I managed to fill myself with a plethora of tapas and pack on quite a brew buzz the night before my first day at work. I think this is a perfect way to start my week in SF!

My second night I was truly exhausted. Jet-lag had set in and I was pretty sure I was going to pass out on my desk at 3pm. Needless to say, I did not go out that night but opted for a room-service Caesar salad. I should've gone out.

The next few nights I spent wandering around Union Square, shopping and checking out the dining scene. I noshed on sushi from some restaurant I don't remember and wandered through Chinatown in search of noodles.

My new coworkers took me out to lunch several times. I am particularly fond of Ironside on 2nd and Townsend. Great pizzas and sandwiches and an overall fun, laid back atmosphere. Another fantastic lunch was from the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen on 2nd and Brannan. A restaurant dedicated to gourmet grilled cheese?! I love this town! I ordered the Moscone, with mozzarella, Fontina, roasted tomatoes, basil-lavender pesto and tapenade along with a cup of smoky tomato soup. THIS is what I call comfort food! I also had a huge Thai feast of red curry at Ozone and had a great happy hour at MoMo's. Awesome first week!

The work week finished with my friend coming into the city for a girls' night. We got fresh and fruity drinks at Cantina on Sutter street. I'm not really sure what the theme was for this place but there were pirate skulls, dark candle lighting, fresh-squeezed fruity drinks, loungy couches in back and...wait for it...Madonna songs. Works for me. I loved that they had a giant bowl of fresh fruit (including Buddha's hand) that they used to make the cocktails with. After a few at Cantina, we were starving all of the sudden. We walked around for a bit and landed at Max's On the Square on Geary Street. Is there anything like a greasy, medium rare cheeseburger with onion strings after a couple of cocktails? We planned on checking out a bar around the corner afterwards that has a slide going from the second floor to the dance floor (trouble), but when we saw the line of 18 year-old girls with fake IDs in tube tops for skirts and 9 inch platforms trailing around the next block we decided we were too old for that sh*t, bought a bottle of Prosecco at a mini mart and went on our way.

The next day, my friends treated me to homemade BBQ ribs, slaw and they even made their own sausage. All of this was followed by homemade peppermint ice cream! I'm going to need to step up my game.

After a night at their house full of Corona's, Pimm's Cups and Wine, we took our weary selves to dim sum the next day where we physically hurt ourselves by eating too much. It was awesome.

My last dinner on the way to the airport was at this awesome place called Henry's Hi Life in San Jose. I love this place. You walk in, place your order immediately from a wooden sign listing out their various meats, then sit and have drinks at the bar while you wait for a table. When you are called for your table, your salads are there waiting for you. Genius! The steaks were the size of Alaska and accompanied with a baked potato with a chive butter ball that could rival a scoop of ice cream. This place is heaven to a meat and potatoes girl.

There you have it- my first week in the Bay area. I think I gained 5 lbs within a day and I don't regret a single bite.

August 11, 2010

Places for the Obama's to Get Deep Dish in DC

Ok, I know I just posted about pizza. So what. I like it, and from what I read on the interweb, the President does as well. Being from Chicago, I imagine he misses the good old deep-dish from time to time. DC doesn't have a ton of options, but I'm determined to dig up a few.

I admit, I haven't tried most of these places, but if you have, please let me know how they were in the comments! I haven't had deep-dish in ages but it appears I need to venture out from behind the computer and get some.

2010 P Street, NW- DuPont Circle, DC
2438 18th Street, NW- Adams Morgan, DC

Pizzeria Uno
Union Station
3211 M St, NW- Georgetown

4231 Wisconsin Ave, NW- Tenleytown, DC
226 Mass. Ave, NE- Capitol Hill, DC

We, The Pizza
(offers cast iron pies)
305 Pennsylvania Ave, SE- DC

Pizzeria Uno
4001 Town Ctr. Blvd- Bowie, MD
10300 Little Patuxent Pkwy- Columbia, MD
4470 Long Gate Pkwy- Ellicott City, MD

1909 Seminary Rd- Silver Spring, MD
190 Halpine Rd.- Rockville, MD
18208 Contour Rd.- Gaithersburg, MD
18070 Georgia Ave- Olney, MD

111 King Street- Alexandria, VA

Pizzeria Uno
3058 Gatehouse Plaza- Falls Church, VA
11948 Market Street- Reston, VA
5935 Kingstowne Towne Center- Kingstowne, VA
2680 Prince William Pkwy- Woodbridge, VA

*Disclaimer: Being the numbers-oriented blog-geek that I am, I check out how many people actually read my blog from time to time. I noticed that someone from the White House may have glanced at it, so I (shamelessly) made this post in the hopes that Mr. President (or White House intern) will return for my impeccable food advice and recipes. Now- what would be really cool, is for the President or First Lady to "like" me on Facebook. (wink wink)

August 10, 2010

Pesto Pizza with Ricotta, Salami and Artichoke Hearts

I clearly have some sort of pizza addiction. Last night I decided to switch it up and go with pesto instead of the traditional sauce. The crust decided to blow up on me, but I think that's because I was a little impatient and didn't work the dough properly. It didn't phase me- it was still a pretty great pizza.

I highly recommend (demand) that you make your own pesto. The flavor is so much more intense and fresh. You can also control the amount of oil, which is key. If you have too much oil in your pesto, it will gather in the center of the pie and make it soggy. Soggy = bad pizza. I also recommend (demand) that you buy quality ingredients. There is no point to going through the effort of pizza making if you're going to just throw any old flavorless garbage on top. That's what certain unnamed chain delivery services are for. For this, I used hand rolled ricotta that I found at Whole Foods. It had a relatively low moisture content (again, for the anti-soggy factor) and it was so light and fluffy, yet still rich and creamy. You could eat it with a spoon, and I did.

1 Pizza Dough- Recipe here or buy a good quality ball of dough from an Italian store or Balducci's
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesano Reggiano cheese
5-6 slices good quality salami (I don't recommend genoa, the flavor is quite strong)
1/4 cup good quality ricotta
1/4 cup freshly grated mozzarella
1/2 can drained artichoke hearts
All purpose flour

Special Equipment:
Pizza stone
Cuisinart mixer or blender
Pizza paddle

If making dough from scratch, prepare per instructions. Preheat the oven with the stone inside to 550 degrees (or as high as your oven will go). Allow it to heat at this temperature for at least 30 minutes to give the stone time to come to temperature.

Make the Pesto: In the mixer, combine the basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, kosher salt and cheese until mixed into a paste. If it is too dry, drizzle a little more olive oil, but remember- you don't want it too oily for the pizza. It should be a thick paste.

Sprinkle some flour on the pizza paddle. Stretch the dough out and form into pizza shape on the paddle, getting as thin as possible without tearing. (See video below for stretching method.) Spread the pesto evenly over the dough. Top with the shredded mozzarella then add the salami and artichoke hearts. Using a spoon, drop mounds of the fresh ricotta on top in different areas of the pizza. (Don't try to spread it, you will make a mess. It's more rustic this way anyways.) Carefully slide the pizza off the paddle onto the pizza stone in the oven and bake about 8 minutes or until the crust startst to brown and the cheeses bubble. Remove from the oven and allow to rest on the paddle for at least 5 minutes before serving. For a little finishing touch, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top and grate some fresh black pepper.

Stretching Pizza Dough:

August 9, 2010

Go To Hell

photo courtesy of my iPhone

I'm not being rude, I'm referring to Ray's Hell Burger. I have posted about Ray's before, back in the early days of le-blog, and have only recently had the chance to cross over to The VA and visit this burger heaven again.

Ray's has changed a bit since my last visit- slightly larger and with some outdoor seating- but the burgers are everything I remembered them to be.  Juicy, giant and full of flavor. I ordered the Au Poivre burger with grilled onions, cognac and sherry sauteed mushrooms and chimay a la biere cheese. Holy crap it was awesome. It was pure burger beauty, in medium rare form. To lessen the intimidation, I decided to cut the burger in half. Looking around, I noticed I was not the only one with this strategy of attack. The chimay cheese oozed down from the top and onto the plate. In the words of Will Ferrell, it was glorious! I also ordered the skin-on french fries, which were perfectly salty. Alas, the burger defeated me and I had to pack up half for another time.

If you can handle the crowds, standing in line and gladiator battles for the next open table, go to Ray's. It is everything a burger should be.

August 4, 2010

I Am The Worst Food Blogger Ever

Let me start off with saying I'm sorry. I have neglected the blog, but not on purpose. Thanks to a five minute thunderstorm I lost power for almost a week. The power returned just in time for me to go to the beach for a girls' beach weekend. So, this post won't be so much about any one food thing in particular, but rather a quick catch up of food-related randomness. So, here we go...

  • Girls' beach weekend in Bethany I would like to thank by dear friends, especially SPF and her in-laws, for a wonderful beach weekend in Bethany Beach. It was incredibly relaxing and full of naughty food and drinks. Here are some highlights:

    • Pig + Fish: had a yummy crabcake and steak, fantastically large goblets of Sangria and some wine to follow. Tip: skip the mashed potatoes. They were brown and dull. I know- I AM a mashed potato snob. The crabcakes and steak were perfect though!
    • The gluttony lunch from Surf's Up: this place is apparently just something you have to experience. You have to be willing to let yourself go (in every sense) and just dive in to the juicy and insanely large cheesesteaks. I used to be terrified of them after a bad hangover experience from a bachelorette party (Trish), but upon trying it out again this weekend, they were really good and full of cheesy, greasy, goodness. 
    • Mango Mikes: Two words- Orange Crush. I have to be honest, I don't really remember the food we ate. I know it was a ridiculously large assortment of appetizers. I wasn't there for the food. We were all there for the crush. This drink is refreshing, light and dangerous. You can't taste the alcohol, so they go down quite easily. 

  • What's going on right now in DC:
    • Groupon Deal: 50% off a cooking class with Top Chef's Carla Hall! This season 5 finalist from Top Chef is offering cooking classes at Alchemy Caterers. Sign up to meet a cheftestant and sharpen your culinary skills!
    • Living Social DC: Today's deal is $25 for $50 gift card to Strike in Bethesda.  I used to love going here when I lived there.  It's fun and I love their bar food- particularly the sliders. They remind me of White Castle.  I would definitely get the coupon, because it's easy to rack up a tab here.
    • Restaurant Week!: Restaurant week starts August 16th and ends the 22nd. Make reservations for $20.10 three-course fixed price lunches and $35.10 three-course fixed price dinners. Don't procrastinate on your reservations. Even though there are over 200 restaurants participating, they book up quickly. Oh the pressure- so many places I've been wanting to try out!!

  • And the biggest news is... I'm moving to San Francisco! Yup- you read that right. This foodie is moving to the foodie capital of the US. Don't worry- I will still be cooking and blogging- probably more than ever. It does mean, however, that this blog will be, well, irrelevant. SO- why don't you help me come up with a new blog name. Post suggestions in the comments. If I pick your idea, you Sorry, I'm moving across the country. I don't have the funds to be buying people dinners. I'm still in the DC area for awhile (until fall) but I will keep you all posted on a move date and blog-change date. Please stick with me, loves!