June flew by so incredibly fast and it’s already July 4th!! I feel like I’ve barely had enough time to enjoy summer, and it’s just passing me by. At least the rain is slowly, but surely decreasing. Hopefully, the trend continues into the holiday weekend. The perfect drink to celebrate the holiday, is this refreshing Sangria. I got the recipe from my cousin who makes some delicious libations. We have her make jugs of this at all of our family gatherings. I’m visiting her sister for July 4, so hopefully she makes this for me! Did you catch that, Sonia???

See Recipe!

So, I kinda lied when I said I haven’t had time to enjoy the summer. I just want more time to explore…a lot more time! We have been taking advantage of the nice days and trying out restaurants in the city, specifically Capitol Hill. You might have noticed that I haven’t blogged much about any new restaurants lately, nor have I updated any that I have posted on. That’s because I hate writing, and I’m just not that good at really expressing myself. The hardest part about keeping up with this blog is the blogging! It would be so much easier to just post a recipe and picture, but I suppose that's cheating. Anyways, I have to come out of hiding because I'm so excited about some restaurants on Capitol Hill that are sure bets. We’ve been frequenting this area a lot this summer, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite city spots. Most of their venues also have outdoor seating, which I think is lacking in most parts of the city. Also, the Eastern Market on the weekends is such a fun summer treat. Btw, I’ve noticed that the Hill doesn’t have heavy markups on their wine like most DC restaurants. Overall, they are much more affordable for food and alcohol, and provide a casual, unpretentious environment. I haven’t made my way to all the restaurants on the Hill, but here’s a few that I’ve enjoyed recently.

Sonoma - This is a very cute, little wine bar. It’s sister restaurant is Mendocino Grill in Georgetown. The menu is very small, but the offerings are very good, and simple. Portions are small, so don’t expect to get full. I think this is more of a lunch/afternoon spot for a light meal with a glass of wine. I had the pasta with confit of chicken, which was divine. The flavors and seasonings were perfect, and the chicken melted in my mouth. Neil had a pizza, which was very small, yet tasty. It’s no 2 Amys, but it hit the spot. Oh, and you get some very plump, delicious olives to start with. A large part of the menu consists of cheese and charcuterie which is the common theme amongst wine bars. We sat outside, so I only got a little glimpse of the inside. It’s narrow and very small, with simple décor. Sitting outside was fun to people watch :)

Cava- This restaurant is also in Rockville, but recently opened up on the Hill…..and what a fabulous addition!! The cuisine is Greek, and it’s mezze style… similar to Zaytinya in Penn Quarter. All night, our group was comparing them, and the general consensus was that Cava is the better of the two. The only thing that gave Zaytinya the edge was their fresh pita. Cava provides pita, but it definitely isn’t freshly made. However, they provide an excellent spicy dip and olives along with their pita. Pitas aside, the mezze menu is very vast for meat eaters and vegetarians…a lot larger than Zaytinya, and between the 7 of us, we thoroughly enjoyed everything we ordered. The lamb sliders are an absolute must!! You can’t really go wrong with this menu. The restaurant itself is also very trendy and dimly lit. It has outdoor seating with a rooftop lounge as well. As far as drinks go, it has excellent cocktails on the menu, and very inexpensive, decent wines. You definitely want to take a group to this restaurant, so you can try more items. Service was very attentive too, especially given how packed the restaurant was.

Café 8- This is the closest thing I’ve had to authentic Turkish food in DC, and I have been to Turkey. They even sell the spicy Turkish dip, Muhammara, which I haven’t seen on other Turkish menus in the area. It was excellent, as was the Adana kebab and Pides (turkish "calzone"). Even the chicken kebab was delicious....I'm use to dry chicen kebabs at most places. The dough they use for the Pide is very soft and tasty, and as far as I can tell, authentic. This restaurant is such a nice treat, and it really took me back to Turkey for an evening. The restaurant itself is casual, and nicely decorated. They also have two outdoor sections, one in the front, and a small garden in the back. The wine list isn’t so great, but I was fine with the offerings. I suppose it’s not for the wine connoisseurs of the world. Just stay away from the Turkish wines. The food more than made up for the lacking wine list, and it is very affordable too! This is another restaurant good for a group, so you can try everything.

Next up on Capitol Hill is Belga Cafe! Happy eating and July 4 :)


Ahi Tuna Salad

Ahi Tuna is one of my favorite fish. It's very meaty, and holds up beautifully on the grill. This is the perfect meal for a hot, summer day. It's refreshing, healthy, and delicious. And doesn't it just look like summer? I like to serve it with couscous, but the dish stands up well all on it's own, making a wonderful treat for those that are low-carbing it. I'm a sucker for carbs, and don't feel complete without my daily dose, hence the couscous :) This recipe is also extremely fast and easy, so I've been preparing this almost every other week. Be sure to buy high quality fish, because the freshness and quality of your tuna will make a huge difference with this dish.

See Recipe!


Szechwan Eggplant

I thought that I had Pittsburgh sports in hibernation until football season, but I was oh so wrong. I totally forgot about hockey, and had to spend this last Friday night watching the Stanley Cup finals. The Penguins made it all the way to game 7, ended up winning the cup, and made Neil a happy camper. We watched the game at the Poorhouse , which is the Pittsburgh bar of DC. I had no idea that one existed, but it was a mad house, and very entertaining. There were multiple lifesize, homemade replicas of the Stanley Cup. Pitt fans are on the verge of insanity, and they are proud of it. Anyways, I decided that I'm a fan of Sidney Crosby, and Neil was so ecstatic about my preference that he agreed to "let" me have him in my top 5. Crosby definitely keeps hockey interesting :) I got through football and hockey, and Pitt is majorly sucking at baseball, so I think I'm in the clear for a short while. None of this has anything to do with the eggplant recipe, but I just felt like venting.

If you like eggplant, you have to try this recipe. It's made with Asian eggplant which takes on incredible flavors when seared and caramelized. My mom is vegetarian, so every time we go out for Asian food, she orders the eggplant stir fry. All of us carnivores mooch off her plate. This recipe comes pretty close to what she orders, and it only takes about 10 minutes to make. It makes a delicious addition to an Asian themed meal. I don't know about you, but when I eat Asian food, I like to have variety. I made this with pad thai and red curry. Try it!

See Recipe!



I've had some really bad imitations of bellinis in restaurants here. Most just use peach juice with champagne, which tastes awful. But, I had my first real bellini in Venice, and it was a frothy delight! Ever since then, we've been making it at home during the summer months. It's a refreshing and relaxing treat. A traditional bellini consists of pureed peaches and prosecco (sparkling wine). Make a "Bellini Bar" with different fruit purees to mix with the prosecco! It's a great idea if you're hosting a brunch, shower, etc.

See Recipe!


Caramel Sauce

This past week/weekend we celebrated my birthday...I use my birthday as an excuse to get Neil to do the things that I like to do :) We started last Thursday in DC. I dragged Neil to the Penn Quarter Farmers Market. Then we, headed over to the happy hour at Vinoteca and after that made it to the happy hour at Oya. Both were a lot of fun, and great options for food and drink. Vinoteca has several glasses of wine priced at only $5. Oya does a great job on eclectic/modern sushi rolls, several of which are offered at happy hour prices. Btw, Oya's happy hour ends at 8 pm which is why we were able to make both. I don't know of many venues that have happy hour that late into the evening.

Friday night, I had a small birthday dinner with friends/family at Blue Duck Tavern and went out dancing at Tattoo Bar. It's literally my once a year outing. The last time I went out dancing in DC was my last birthday. I think Friday night was enough to last me another year :) Saturday turned out to be beautiful and sunny, so we went to some Virgina vineyards with a couple friends. We took some fun picnic food, and just took in the amazing weather. It's a beautiful drive as well this time of year. So, that's that...another year gone!

I didn't know what recipe to post today, since I'm a little drained. We got back from New Orleans recently, and I wanted to post the Muffelettas that Neil made for our winery outing, but I don't have those pictures uploaded yet :( I'll try to get it up soon.

I decided it would be a good time to post this caramel recipe. Ice cream season is here, and caramel is my favorite topping. Caramel is another one of those items that is actually really easy to make, but equally easy to royally screw up. Working with sugar can get tricky. With caramel, just when you think it's ruined, it's actually perfect. You'll understand what I mean when you try making it. This caramel is wonderful to have around to drizzle whenever you get that ice cream craving. For me, the ice cream craving is nightly these days. I try to stick with half a scoop on the weeknights though...I'm getting a tad better with self control. Sundays are double scoop day :) Sorry for the scattered post. It's hard getting back into the swing of things after such a crazy weekend! I'm gettin' old!