Fall in the District

October 22, 2009 at 11:56 AM (Uncategorized) (, , )

So it’s officially fall in Washington, DC, meaning the weather jumps from 34 degrees one day, to 70 the next… its ridiculous.  Regardless of the weather, fall brings out my favorite smells and dishes!  It’s almost time for Thanksgiving which means all the food magazines are coming out with their “what to do with Turkey leftovers” editions, how to make cranberry sauce like you grandmother, and mashed potato secrets.  It’s also the time that the candle companies put out their autumn wreath, pumpkin, apple cider and fall leaves scented candles!  Seriously, it doesn’t get any better than that… or does it?

Fall also brings eggplant and pomegranate season!!!  Anyone who knows me knows that if pomegranate or goat cheese is involved, chances are, I’m going to order it.  Eggplant, while available all year round just seems like such a cozy meal for me, so I tend to gravitate towards it in the fall and winter.  At home, my favorite pizza is eggplant and onion pizza from Franco Gianni’s, which I was so excited to have last week one of my 2 recent trips up North.  Having the eggplant fresh on my mind, I decided while at the store getting my food for the week ahead and figuring out what to have for dinner that night, to get a baby eggplant and fry it with some mozzarella.  This dish is so tasty and another dish that you can make look expensive that is in fact, very reasonable.

Of course, as my starter, I made a delicious Caprese Salad:


Just some tomatoes from the vine, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a ready made balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing.  I guess I could honestly say, if asked the question “what’s one dish you could eat for the rest of your life and never get tired of?” it would be this.  Easy, cheap, everyone should know how to make it… and it always just looks so pretty.

I was snacking on this while tending to my eggplant which I started by slicing into about quarter inch slices leaving the skin on.  The skin is full of antioxidants and turns that beautiful purple color when its all cooked.  Before I move ahead, here are the other ingredients I used:

– baby eggplant

– fresh mozzarella

– vodka sauce

– whole wheat penne pasta

– fresh basil

– one egg

– Italian bread crumbs

– about 1/2 cup of flour

– oil for cooking

Now, while this dish is easy you have to be VERY careful when heating the oil.  I would suggest using a pot or a very deep frying pan since you’ll need to cover the bottom of it with oil that will obviously get very hot and will start to sputter when you first put the eggplant down.

Alright, so back to actually cooking, after you’ve sliced the eggplant, coat each side with flour, then egg, then the breadcrumbs.  When you’ve done that, cover the bottom of the pot or pan with oil and turn to a medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, place the pieces of eggplant in gently and with some sort of utensil (not your own fingers!)  Turn eggplant once at first, allowing each side to get a nice crunchy brown color (I’d say about 3-4 minutes on each side), then turn the heat to low, you can keep flipping after the 3-4 minutes on each side to brown it to your tasting.  Place the leftover mozzarella you’ve sliced from your Caprese Salad and place a piece on each of the eggplants.  You can let the eggplant continue to cook and the cheese to melt as you make the pasta.

Since I’m assuming you all know how to make pasta, I’ll skip the obvious.  I do however suggest heating the sauce in a separate pot (or in a bowl in the microwave if you’re so inclined) before adding it to the dish.  It will cool the dish down immensely if you do not.  When your pasta and sauce are ready, lay the pasta down, then the eggplant then the sauce and top with some basil.


I was cooking for one, so I had plenty of eggplant leftover.  If you do have leftovers, here’s a great suggestion.  The next day, I got a nice fresh sub roll, toasted it, heated some more sauce, placed the sauce in the roll and placed my leftover eggplant and mozzarella in the sub.  It was my own eggplant parmesan sandwich and damn was it good.

Now that I’ve shared my recipe for this week I have to let you know I’ve completely caught up on Top Chef Vegas, FINALLY!  And thank God most of the people I can’t stand are gone… except… Robin.  She’s awful and she never shuts the hell up!  I have to say though, listening to Mike I. and Laurine talk about her just cracks me up.  I loved the episode where they had to deconstruct dishes, and of course, when Mr. Charlie Palmer was the guest judge.  I spend way too much time in his restaurant in DC as it is on the ground floor of my office building.  It was great to see him on the show especially since the Volt brothers both worked for him.  I also learned I need to get to the Pigs and Pinot party he hosts every year in Vegas… someone please start working on that? Thanks.

Alrighty, I’m going to start dreaming up the next recipe I could throw together for another post.  Since it is almost Thanksgiving as I said before, it’s almost time for my grandmother’s cranberry and apple casserole so keep your eyes out for it!  Until then sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!


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October 5, 2009 at 1:13 PM (Uncategorized) ()

Well it’s finally October.


Where the hell September and the rest of summer went, I have no idea.  But I’m okay with that!  This is my favorite time of year.  Time for Zeigler’s Apple Cider and Captain Morgan (great autumn/tailgating cocktail, hot OR cold!), autumn leaves candles, my grandmother’s “yucky” and pumpkin mac and cheese!

I know all those things sound so amazing, but unfortunately, today I don’t have a recipe ready for you.  However, I tried a new restaurant that deserves to be discussed; Potenza.  It’s on 15th and H St, NW right near Old Ebbitt Grill and the White House (some of you may have heard of that little landmark.)  A couple of friends and I needed to do some catching up, one of whom decided we should try this place.  Man, did she pick well!  It’s a very reasonably priced Italian restaurant that had great decor, wasn’t too loud, and impeccable service.  For those of you who have tried Zola on 8th and F in Chinatown, its owned by the same group.  If you do try this place out, see if you can sit in Daniel’s section, he was great.  He treated us VERY well.

The name Potenza is an area in Italy just Southeast of Naples and is actually where my family is from!!


The decor was a hybrid of an old, run down, hole-in-the-wall (the best kind of Italian restaurants) and a modern foodie hot spot.  It was never too loud, yet the every seat in the house was occupied.

To start, Daniel brought us some Fried Risotto Balls on the house.  Anything that involves fried and risotto, I want (yeah,  you thought I was going somewhere else with that, get your head out of the gutter).  We accompanied our food with a lovely Pinot Bianco (I can’t remember the name since I didn’t pick it, but its bottle number 150 on the wine list), a nice compromise for the variety of wine preferences sitting at our table.

I ordered the Isalate Caprese, of course, and it was delicious.  It came with yellow, red, and brandywine tomatoes, fresh mozzorella, fresh basil and a very tasty Balsamic reduction.  I highly recommend this to start.  For the main course I had the mushroom risotto with fresh Parmesan cheese…it was so good.  It was the melt in your mouth kind of silky risotto.  Others ordered the soup of the day, the tortelloni, and the manicotti.  Every one was very please with their choices.  Now, if you do try this place, there is something they do not tell on the menu, which is **you can order half portions of all the main courses except the manicotti**.  This was great news, since we all are big fat kids for life were really hungry and wanted to try an appetizer, we could actually do that now and not have to worry about how much food would be left over.  If you plan on getting an appetizer or dessert, I would recommend the half portion entrees.  They really were the perfect amount of food.

When it was time for dessert we ordered the tiramisu, assortment of sorbets, and cookies.  And just like our meals, everything was good, even the pizzelles on the sorbet were delicious.  Now as if Daniel hadn’t treated us well enough, he brought us complimentary dessert wine.  I’m not usually a fan of sweet wines, but this was a sparkling white (that I unfortunately did not get the name of) that was just sweet enough to compliment our dessert choices.

Even without the tremendous service, the food and drink are definitely worth a visit.  Potenza will be added to the list of favorite Italian restaurants in DC. Filomena and Pasta Mia still top the list by far, but Potenza is the top contender as a convenient, inexpensive alternative to those.  Write that down.  I hope you all enjoyed reading about Potenza, and that you check it out, and until next time, sicuro viaggi and bon appetit!

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