Friday, February 20, 2015

Graffiato & Co Co Sala

Presidents Day in Washington, D.C.  This should be the day to visit some historical landmarks which laid the foundation for the United States we see today.  But, instead, I had a girls day or I guess we should say ‘Galentine’s Day,’ has anyone else heard this phrase?  It’s from Amy Pohler’s character on Parks and Recreation, probably one of my favorite shows right now.  If you haven’t seen it, it is pretty funny! 

Anyway, I hadn't spent some time lately with two of my friends, B and M, so the three of us decided to have a day together full of fun stuff, and by ‘fun,’ I really mean eating.  We started off at Graffiato for a brunch/lunch.  Graffiato has been pretty high on my list of D.C. restaurants to try.  A friend of mine discouraged that thought, by telling me the food wasn’t very good and that she was unimpressed.  But, I thought I’d still try it out, and boy was she wrong!  We ordered a variety of dishes (and cocktails) and I feel comfortable saying that this was some solid, hands down good food.  We shared a pizza and each ordered our own smaller dish.  My favorite was B’s order, the delicious, creamy and robust gnocchi with a lamb ragu.  The flavors were smoky, but topped with some crispy rosemary and whipped ricotta this dish received some serious accolades from me, in between bites of B’s dish.  Friends share! 

Like a handful of other D.C. restaurants did on Monday, Graffiato offered a few of their menu options of their much larger brunch menu.  The Hibiscus and Basil Mimosas were unique needless to say, but maybe a bit too sweet for my taste.  

The three of us shared the White House Pizza.  The pizza is made with three types of cheeses - tallegio, mozzarella and ricotta.  Then it's topped with thin ribbons of prosciutto and drizzled with black pepper honey!  The dish had me at 'black pepper honey.'  I thought this was such an interesting and unique combination I had to try it, sort of a play on a honey-glazed ham! 

I'm usually not a fan of white pizzas, only because I love red sauce so much, but I actually really enjoyed this one.

I ordered the Baked Eggs off the brunch menu.  The dish came in a personal sized cast iron pan.  The pan was filled with chunks of lamb shoulder, merguez ragu, and topped with two sunny side up eggs and foccacia croutons. Absolutely delicious.  My only one complaint was, the lamb could have been seasoned better.  I know I know, it's covered in ragu, who can tell the difference.  I guess, me?  Overall the dish was a great combination of flavors, and I loved the idea of topping the dish with croutons.

The star of the show, the delicious Potato Gnocchi, served with a pork ragu and topped with whipped ricotta and crispy rosemary.  Great combination of flavors and if they made a huge pot of this, I'm pretty sure I could down the whole thing in one sitting.  M ordered the Apple Pie Stuffed French Toast, which was equally amazing (sorry, I was too busy eating it to take a picture).  I prefer homemade french toast, and am always disappointed by dry french toasts that most restaurants offer. This one on the other hand was incredibly moist and was topped with a streusel crumble.

By the way, I posted these pictures on Mint and Mimosas Instagram account, and Chef Mike Isabella of Graffiato actually 'liked' my picture.  Gotta say that was the highlight of the week!

After our brunch/lunch we went to see "Fifty Shades of Gray," which I would not recommend.  The movie was a bit of a disappointment needless to say, but, I won't get into it too much.  Afterwards, we came out of the movie theater to snowfall!  It was beautiful in the city!  We decided to grab hot chocolate at Co Co Sala before heading home.  

I mean how beautiful is this Dark Chocolate  Hot Chocolate topped with a skewered homemade marshmallow.  I love the presentation and that you get quite a large glass of hot chocolate. Absolutely the best way to end our Presidents Day holiday, and get ready for the major snow and cold temperatures that we've been facing in D.C.  Hope everyone stays warm this weekend! We're anticipating another 3'-5' inches tomorrow, and I have brunch plans! But, don't worry...I'll press on with the eating!

Monday, February 16, 2015

#314 Chicken & Kale Stir Fry for One, By: V

Most weeknights I want to head straight home after work and not have to pick-up or order-in take out.  I want to be able to whip up an easy hot meal and relax on the couch.  I mean, but really, don’t we all? 

Chicken Stir Fry can be a very easy and quick dish to prepare.  When I was in law school it was simple enough for me to whip up.  I would come back to my apartment after class and scrounge up any veggies from my freezer and refrigerator crisper, tossing them in a pan with a bit of olive oil and always adding in some sort of heat component – red chili flakes or Thai chili peppers. 

I’ve been on a big kale binge lately.  Throwing it into my morning green smoothies, salads, curries and stir-fry.  So, this week after work I came home and decided to make a quick kale and chicken stir fry.  The fridge was low on veggie, so kale became the major player of this stir-fry recipe. 

Prepping your ingredients before creating most dishes is such a helpful first step.  This is especially true for stir-fry recipes.  The cooking process is relatively quick and you don’t want your veggies over-cooked, so having everything by the side of the range, ready to pop into the wok or pan is really important, and a time saver.

You can even prep the night before if you have the time.  I washed my kale, cut the stems off and folded the leaves in half, before slicing them into ribbons.  I took the garlic clove and crushed it with the back of a knife, to easily remove the outer skin, before placing the clove in a garlic press and crushing the clove out into a delicious pile of fresh crushed and chopped garlic.  I took a piece of ginger root and peeled the outer skin with a vegetable peeler, or you can use a butter knife, then grated the ginger against a simple cheese grater.  The chicken was rinsed and cut into about 1 inch cubes.  

Chicken & Kale Stir Fry for One


3 chicken tenderloins
1 garlic clove
2 tbsps olive oil 
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 cups chopped kale
1 tbsp stir fry sauce
1 tsp soy sauce

  1. In a skillet (wok or pan) add olive oil and red chili flakes to low heat.  Place garlic clove into a garlic press or chop up the garlic clove.  
  2. Turn the heat up to medium and let the mixture splutter for 5 seconds.  Don't let the garlic brown. 
  3. Add the chicken pieces and turn the heat to high  Cook on high until the chicken is no longer pink. 
  4. Add the ginger and kale to the skillet. 
  5. Stir everything together so the kale is coated with the oil.  
  6. Then add the stir fry sauce (hoison sauce, oyster sauce, or any stir-fry sauce of your preference) and soy sauce.  Stir and cover with pot lid.  
  7. Cook covered for 3 minutes.  Take the lid off, stir, and serve.  

I like heating the oil on low or medium-low with the garlic and red chili flakes, to allow the flavors from both ingredients to permeate the oil slowly and without burning the garlic.

This dish can be served over quinoa, cauliflower rice, brown rice, jasmine rice (or any rice of your choosing), noodles or for a low-carb option, in lettuce wraps.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day! Hope everyone enjoys this day with their family, friends and all other loved ones!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico , By: V

This past weekend, I went on a short bachelorette trip for one of my closest friends from college.  It was definitely something I was looking forward to.  Getting away from the chilly winter temperatures in Washington, D.C. was just the icing on the cake.

Right as we arrived in Cabo San Lucas (or "Cabo"), we checked in, changed into our sundresses and headed to Asi y Asado to get some delicious tacos.  On our arrival we soon found out this small restaurant was on the infamous Guy Fieri program "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," and we soon understood why!  They have such a wide variety of tacos -- i.e. scallop tacos! And an awesome toppings bar, with everything from charred peppers, to coleslaw, to radishes and spicy salsas.  We ordered grilled vegetables for the table and they were deliciously charred and sweet.

A picture of Guy Fieri from the Food Network show, Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.

On our walk back to our hotel, we stopped and grabbed a pina smoothie from Smoothie Bar.  I enjoyed several of these pineapple + grated  coconut smoothies during the trip!

Friday night we went down to the Marina, and went to a fun restaurant where we were forced by the waiters to do karaoke. These are the sorts of things you get asked to do when you're in a bachelorette group, so we obliged and sang heartily to the Spice Girls - Tell Me What You Want (not our choice, but the waiters!).  We downed a bit of liquid courage (see tequila picture below) before belting our our group song.

On Saturday we spent much of our time at Playa El Madano in Cabo San Lucas.  That night we headed to The Office and enjoyed some delicious fish tacos on the sand.  It was absolutely gorgeous, and a lot of fun!

On Sunday we woke up early to have breakfast at the beautiful Villa del Palmar Beach Resort.  The dessert was delicious, with the most gorgeous fresh papaya and pineapple.  My favorite Mexican breakfast dish, chilaquiles, and a yummy omelette station.  After we filled up, we went on a morning whale watching tour.  We expected not to really see anything, but within five minutes of pulling away from the dock we were riding beside whales.  They were gorgeous and large and entertained us with their flips.  It was amazing to see.  Then we saw the infamous Arch of Cabon San Lucas.  It was beautiful and one of the most gorgeous land masses I've been close to.

I must say the fruit, vegetables and delicious fresh seafood is one of the things I miss from this trip. Mexico truly is a paradise.  It's beautiful!  I can't wait to head back some time soon, but for now back to work and the snowy days of the east coast.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

#313 Roast Chicken, By: V

This was a quiet week and happy to have it that way.  Friday I'll be off to Cabo San Lucas for the weekend on a bachelorette trip with a dear college friend of mine, and three others.  Looking forward to the good times and to getting away from this cold weather!  

Yesterday, we braved the fiercely cold winds and went to the Washington Auto Show, which has been going on in D.C. for the past two weeks.  It was my first time attending an auto show, and I have to say it was fun sitting in different cars and checking out some classic cars - which always look so cool!  Afterwards, S and I went to our favorite spot for pizza, Matchbox, and shared our go-to choice  -Fire & Smoke Pizza (and we top it with some chicken).  The base of the pizza is a chipotle pepper tomato sauce, and the pizza is topped with spanish onions, fire-roasted red peppers, garlic puree, smoked gouda and fresh basil.  It's spicy, but delicious! 

Then we went home and I made this quick Roast Chicken dish (quick in terms of prep time and easiness), to have fo lunch this week.  Today's a big day in U.S. culture haha - it's SUPER BOWL SUNDAY.  Usually I have plans for what I'm going to make to snack on, but not so much this week.  I'm rooting for the Seahawks, solely because their Quarterback and another player are Virginia natives - so, of course I have to support! 

With Cabo San Lucas next weekend, my next post may not be until the following Sunday (Valentine's Day weekend!).  But, I hope you all enjoy this recipe and have a wonderful week ahead! 

Roast Chicken

  • 2  3 lb. chickens
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsps softened butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Remove the chicken giblets.  Rinse the chicken inside and out.  Remove any excess fat and pat the outside dry.
  3. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken.
  4. Stuff the cavity of each chicken with 1 lemon and half of the sliced onion.  
  5. In a bowl add the softened butter and thyme.  Mix together.  With your hand spread this mixture under the skin on the outside of each chicken.  
  6. Place 3 garlic cloves under the skin of each chicken. 
  7. Surround the chickens with veggies of your choices - carrots, potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, eggplant, tomatoes (literally anything of your choice). 
  8. Bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh.  
  9. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for 20 minutes before serving.  This will make the meat juicy.
I made this easy dish yesterday and plan on eating it atop a salad or in sandwiches for my lunch this week.  

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