This past weekend, I ventured down to D.C. to see my dear friend Vanessa. This will primarily be the story of our foodie adventures–I’ll save the sightseeing for my photo blog. 😉
I rolled into town late on Friday night, after having gotten to experience in the Beltway in all of its 6-lanes-of-gridlock glory, and we got to work on dinner. So, here’s the coolest thing. For one, we were cooking together. And as I mentioned in my post about my D.C. trip last year, Vanessa does not like other people in her kitchen; she’s kind of protective, if I can use that word, of her space and her cooking. I can totally understand that. But that just means that it makes it all the more special to be able to cook together and to have that level of trust and friendship. Well, and I suppose it doesn’t hurt that she knows I’m an incurable foodie… This time around, however, she even went so far as to get a super-special, super-secret recipe from her mom for us to cook! Apparently her mom is possessive of her recipes, feeling like after she’s made modifications and changes, they’re her intellectual property, which was an interesting way of looking at it that I hadn’t considered. This means, though, that she doesn’t like to give away recipes to just any old person for any old reason–even Vanessa has been declined on occasion! But for my visit, she was willing to share a recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu with a Mushroom Wine sauce–and I was honored! (I’m keeping this recipe in the family cookbook out of respect, though she did give me permission to share it… I’ll just tell you about it and post some pictures.)
So, because of some recipe magic, some prep work by Vanessa, and some team work on the sauce and veggies, dinner on Friday was fantastic. The chicken was wonderful, with a crisp coating of breadcrumbs around the outside. The trick? Putting the chicken rolls on a cooling rack sprayed with oil so that the bottoms don’t get soggy. The chicken was expertly rolled with some thin prosciutto and shredded Swiss and Gruyere cheese, and topped with a lemony, mushroomy wine sauce which was just delicious. And for dessert, we had cannoli I brought from Pittsburgh and homemade chocolate-covered strawberries! (She knows the way to my heart…)
On Saturday, we headed to the Udvar Hazy Space Center, a part of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. It was great, and especially neat because it was one of the few things around the city that Vanessa hadn’t done yet, either. But she knew I’d be willing to be an astronomy nerd with her, so we checked it out. On the way back, it was nearly 3 and we were hungry, so lunch was in order. She directed us to Pupatella Pizzeria in Arlington for some amazing Neapolitan-style pizza. They apparently make the dough from a very traditional recipe and bake it in a wood-fired over for one minute. The dough on the bottom was soft and light, not heavy or gummy like some pizzas can be, and the toppings–artichokes, mushrooms, prosciutto, and mozzarella–were fresh. Just a really fabulous pizza.
(Incidentally, we apparently have a thing for searching out good pizza when I come to visit. Last time, we happened upon We, the Pizza which, I found out later, is owned by Spike Mendelsohn, who you might have seen on Top Chef and Next Iron Chef. Awesome pizza. Also awesome soda–they mix their own. How cool is that?)
Back to this trip, though. Saturday night, we had plans to meet up in Dupont Circle with some college friends and spouses. We went to Bistro Bistro, a cozy French restaurant. Well, I suppose it would have been cozy, if it hadn’t been for the conference of high school students that had converged upon DC that weekend. Even with that, though, we had a wonderful dinner. I got one of the specials, a spinach lasagna for dinner–I know, it’s not French but it sounded so good!–and creme brulee for dessert. The food was good and the company superb.
And then came Sunday, making blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and hanging out until it was time to travel back home. I was sad to leave, but it was a wonderful little weekend excursion. I realized driving home that it was Presidents’ Day weekend that I was out visiting last year as well–maybe I’ll make this a yearly tradition!