Dinner at Sfoglina

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You know how you find a great new restaurant and you want to tell everybody?

That’s how I feel about my latest discovery! It’s called Sfoglina. I can’t rave about this place enough to neighbors, coworkers, anybody who will listen to me.

Each dish was soooo good, and I can’t wait to go back. Though there were only two of us, we went all out and ordered whatever sounded good to us. Here you’ll see all the highlights of the meal.

Some Prosecco to start the evening
Some Prosecco to start the evening

The Decor: Sfoglina is really cozy. There are booths and tables inside with burgundy and beige feminine touches. Inside there is also a lively bar with stools which were completely taken by the time we left. We opted to sit outside on the lovely patio because the weather was still nice this evening. IMG_1598

The best spicy calamariIMG_1599

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The Food: The menu at Sflogina is really simple, but that’s how it should be, right? Each section of the menu only has about 4 choices, so they can focus on the quality of the ingredients.

This restaurant is all about their homemade pastas, and the two we ordered were absolutely heavenly. Next time we visit, we’re going to order their pasta special which includes a sampling of three different ones. One fun highlight is that they always seem to have panna cotta on the menu for dessert, but it changes flavor frequently. Tonight, it was one of all my favorite Italian flavors, tiramisu.

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Fall pasta with fresh mushrooms
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Because one pasta just isn’t enough, there had to be pasta amatriciana too
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Short rib over parmesan polenta

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The Service: Our server was really lovely and attentive. On top of that, the manager visited our table several times to make sure all was well. We told them it was our anniversary, and at the end of the meal, they brought us a lemon dessert (not pictured) and two flutes of the most delicious dessert wine. panna-cotta

Reservations?  Sfoglina was recently awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand, which means it’s really delicious food at an affordable price. Because of this, the restaurant is likely to be packed! Yes, they take reservations and you should make them unless you plan on being there when they open at 5 pm for dinner. We got there around 5:30 pm, but by the time we left at 7:30, the entire restaurant was full.

 

Quick Nashville Trip

Although I grew up in the South a few hours away from Nashville, I never really spent any time there.

But recently, we took a quick trip to Nashville, and I was surprised by how much the city offers. Here’s a quick round up of what we did, where we stayed, and what we ate.

The first day we arrived close to dinner time and headed straight to Rolf and Daughters for dinner. This restaurant serves small plates, and it’s a must if you like innovative cuisine.

It was too dark to take flattering pictures of the food inside, but we had a series of really delicious plates like sourdough bread with seaweed butter (obsessed!), homemade fusilli pasta with mushrooms, Njuda baked sweet potato, and the signature dish, chicken with preserved lemon and garlic.

Patio at Rolf and Daughters

The drinks were really good too and I had something so unique made with Pimm’s, fresh herbs, and falernum, an old timey simple syrup made of ginger, cloves, almond, and lime.

When we travel, we like to stay in Airbnb. This time, our rental was in a neighborhood near Vanderbilt University. This historic red brick cottage had so much Nashville charm- old creaky floors, a slanted bathroom ceiling (where we bumped our heads a few times), country music posters and art, and country decor.

I loved the bedspread and the chicken motif decorations!

The next morning, we headed to Biscuit Love early so we’d be there when they opened. This place tends to get long lines and it makes sense why. The food was so good.

I feel like biscuits are making a revival in the States right now. I know biscuits can be different things in different countries, but here biscuits refer to traditional southern rolls made with tons of butter and flour. As you can see, they can be eaten savory or sweet. 

We ordered the fried chicken biscuit smothered in spicy white gravy. The star of the meal though were the mini biscuit donuts served up with blueberry compote and whipped mascarpone cream. Needless to say, it’s worth heading back to Nashville just for this plate again!

The Parthenon at Centennial Park, downtown Nashville

After breakfast, we walked downtown and spent some time in Centennial Park. This park has green public spaces where people can perform or exercise (African dancing and drumming) and a replica of the Parthenon.

From there, we headed to lunch.

You can’t come to Nashville and not eat Nashville hot chicken. There are a couple of good places that serve it, but we went for Hattie B’s. We stood in the long line for about an hour, but it was worth it!

Crunchy. Spicy. Savory. Totally satisfying Nashville Hot Chicken.

After our lunch, we went to Music Row for some country music at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. This place is really amazing. There are three levels and each one had live music all day long. We ended up staying for about 3 hours and then walking around the streets to hear other musicians playing too.

Even if you don’t know much country music, this part of Nashville is really great to visit.

After listening to music, it was getting later in the day but rather than dinner that night, we decided to have some drinks and appetizers instead.

We headed to Patterson House for a few hours.

This speakeasy was so charming. I’d call the atmosphere swanky old-fashioned library (sounds strange, but it works). We tucked ourselves in to a dim cozy corner and enjoyed our lovely drinks!

The bar tenders are really enthusiastic about their job and so skilled here that they can even concoct something just for you. You just tell them your preferences and they come back a few minutes later with a delicious custom made creation.

My cocktail was great. Herbal. Fresh. Gingery. Exactly how I like it.

What I’ve been doing lately

October already… I can’t believe it. Things have been a little quiet here on the blog.

I had a whole line up of posts about Puerto Rico, but as the island continues to recover, it just doesn’t seem right to be like “Look at all my vacation pictures in Puerto Rico, ya’ll!”

Of course, I will post more from PR when things settle down there, but in the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

A few weeks ago, I went to Uncensored DC, a fundraiser held at an old underground metro station. The event was all about books with themes of censorship, and the night was meant to honor our freedom to read.

When my husband suggested we go, I imagined people awkwardly standing around wearing brown grandpa sweaters (I know, active imagination here).

But as you can see, this event was actually really hip… no grandpa sweaters in sight! It helped that there were 5 stations of different cocktails, provocative art on the walls, and a fun band playing.

Another fun highlight in the past few weeks was Pizzalapooza at the MGM National Harbor. Thirteen chefs from all over the country (and even one from Italy) showcased their pizza creations, like this one with thinly sliced beef and a dollop of ricotta cheese.  

There was also a dessert table where you could sample mini-desserts like creme brûlée, tiramisu, biscotti, fresh berries with cream, and pistachio cannoli. This was sugar heaven. (Why? Why do I love sweets so much?)

Finally, this month had lots and lots of walks around the lake with the dog. The leaves started to turn colors in the last few days, and it’s getting to be Autumn around here. 

Two other fun things happened this month including a special Farm Dinner I attended and a 3 day trip to Nashville. I’m going to write about those in my next posts soon.

What have you been up to lately?

Favorite Meals in New Zealand

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Afghan cookie and cornflake ice cream from Giapo in Auckland

I know, I know. I’ve been retracing each step of my New Zealand trip in excruciating detail.

There’s still a few more sightseeing posts to share, but today, I’m taking a break from that and instead talking about the yummy food in New Zealand.

You know me, I usually like to do a complete travel food diary (breakfast-lunch-and-dinner-each-day), but there were just too many tasty things. So, today I’ll just showcase the ones that stand out.

I already did a whole post on our wine tasting day at Waiheke Island, including the wine country lunch at the Shed. Now that we’re heading into fall, I’m craving their sweet potato deconstructed “cheesecake.”

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A fun quick breakfast from the Auckland area was this egg salad and bacon bagel from Best Ugly Bagels. The name is strange, right? But ugly is fine by me when the bagels are so tasty. 

Perhaps the most indulgent things we ate in Auckland were the creative ice creams from Giapo (the Afghan cookie version is pictured above). This one below is hazelnut and toasted merengue.  The selection changes every few months and I’d love to see what new versions are concocted each season. IMG_0064

Moving on to Queenstown, we loved the burgers there including the famous Fergburger and Devil Burger, both of which I recommend.

However, everybody goes to those places, so I want to highlight two other great meals we had. The first was this giant steak and fries platter with herbed garlic butter from Atlas Beer Cafe. Yes, that slab of butter melts all over the meat and fries… and it’s a bargain for less than $20 New Zealand dollars. (NZ beef ain’t cheap, ya’ll).

The other was this halloumi cheese avocado toast and ice milk from Vudu Cafe and Larder. The ice milk has all the components of a milk shake,  but it’s not blended.

Everything is plopped put in a glass and then time works it wonder, gradually melting the ice cream into the milk and chocolate syrup.

I already talked about our wonderful road trip day through Otago region and our stop at the Cardrona Hotel. This garlic knot was recommended by some people we met and it came out of the oven piping hot and salty and buttery.

In Christchurch, I already gushed about how we stuffed ourselves at the Farmer’s Market. However, other favorites were Pedro’s House of Lamb. (Try it if you’re in the area- one serving feeds a small family!)  and we stopped at Dmitri’s Greek Food for falafel. Guys, this falafel rivaled the best we had in Greece last summer…

Nelson, New Zealand was home to some of our best dishes on our trip. First up was this giant turkish food platter at Paasha. We thought there’d be no way we could finish this much food. Um… it was inhaled in about 10 minutes.  

I also discovered hazelnut merengue cake with kailua frosting from the Grape Escape.  Turns out these merengue style desserts are popular in Australia and New Zealand, so there’s lots of great recipes for them online. I’ve since researched how to make this exact version at home. 

Finally, in Rotorua, we visited the Wednesday night Night Market and enjoyed a whole range of things including this pita with venison, couscous, greens, and spicy sauce.

Our last special meal of the trip was our breakfast at the Hamurana Lodge. Fresh squeezed orange juice. Warm croissants. Charcuterie. Cheeses. Fresh berries with cream.

Incidentally, we were the only people at the inn on this day and we got such fun service and attention. There’s a lot more to say about this place, so stay tuned for my upcoming Rotorua post. 

Dinner at Pineapple and Pearls

Don’t let the name of this restaurant fool you. It’s no frothy lightweight experience.

In fact, this year Washingtonian magazine ranked Pineapple and Pearls the number one restaurant in DC.

And let me tell you. Getting a reservation here is no easy feat. You have to be on the website the second, er no, millisecond the reservations open and hit “reserve” before you can blink. Do not hesitate.

This is how you beat out 2,000 other eager diners (so we were told by our server)  for a dinner spot. But even then, your meal might start at an awkward time like 9 pm on a Wednesday night and go until almost midnight like it did in our case.

Even though I’m more of a person at heart who’d rather be in her pajamas in bed by 10 pm, we were so excited about going here.

The restaurant is a classy tiny space for only about 30 diners at a time. Because we were a party of two, we sat at the chef’s counter, where we got to see all the action as it happened in front of us.

The chef right in front of us was assembling a dish with what resembled mashed potatoes all night. Only later did we find out what it really was!

Like our meal at Minibar, it is truly fun to watch the chefs in their habitat, and the whole scene unfolds like a perfectly choreographed event.

The meal starts with something called “Afternoon Tea” which offers up a trio of beautiful little bites including a foie gras canele paired with a teacup of gin with Cloosterbitters, rum, and quince.

Next, we had a series of more little dishes including the most intense beef tartare & caviar, charred octopus, split pea consommé, and a french omelet.

All delicious, but I have to say I was partial to the octopus. Didn’t know it could taste that good.

The next course was black sea bass (another fish I didn’t know could be so delectable)

This was followed by probably my favorite of the entire night, a sweet bread taco served along side a mescal Paloma cocktail.

At about this point, we could’ve stopped and been perfectly happy with the meal.

But there was one more savory to come!

This trio of sides (persian rice, white beans, and dolmas) for the lamb dish.

The savory part of the meal completed, the next course was a resheshing pineapple granita with beet soda.

This was followed by our last fancy drinks of the night, amari and coffee and dessert.

I think you need a closer look at the dessert. It was Okinawan purple potato ice cream (ice cream close to our hearts) with chocolate cake and chestnuts.

 

Finally, the meal rounded out with the most exotic fruit plate with starfish, banana chocolate lollipops, and candied gooseberries.

All in all, the food was delightful and the service was top notch.

But in the end, perhaps one of the most luxurious parts of the experience is there is no bill at the end.

No check. No waiting. No figuring out the tip. You pay upfront for all of it when you get the coveted reservation (food, drinks, and gratuity).

So, you just decide when you’re ready to leave, get up, and go.

Daily Looks

Hi ya’ll… how are YOU all doing this week?

Here’s my latest round of looks and a recap of what I’ve been up to here in DC lately.

Sunday 

Sunday is brunch day and Net-a-porter inspired me to wear this off-shoulder black top (perhaps more suited for Saturday night) with a crisp white button up. Also, I’m so excited that long statement earrings are IN. Happy to bring mine out of the jewelry box.

Once again, brunch is at my absolute favorite spot, Le Diplomate. I know I sound like a broken record, but what can I say? The pancakes are really good! off-shoulder-top-white-blouse

Monday

Monday morning and it’s off to work. Today features a tie-neck blouse with a chunky sweater and ankle black pants from Theory. These suede pink pumps add a nice contrast of color, don’t you think?

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Tuesday

This day was rainy but on the warmer side. This green skirt is actually a silk sundress with a black turtleneck on top. (You may have noticed I try to get as much mileage as I can from the same pieces.)

My mom bought me this floral umbrella for my birthday, and today it came out with me. I did not coordinate the umbrella with my outfit. It just sort of happened like that.

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Wednesday

These pants were purchased from a Michael Kors online sale last year, but I almost didn’t keep them. They were an impulse buy and deep down, I really prefer solid pieces to prints. Somehow I took the plunge, and thankfully they are actually versatile and comfy.

These shoes are from an Italian brand called Fornarina. I bought them ages ago, but have loved them so much through the years that I’ve taken them to a cobbler several times.

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Thursday evening

Some Thursdays, my husband and go somewhere casual for dinner. This night we went to Five Guys for burgers and fries. It was a nice evening, so we took the dog and ate outside.

These stretchy pants are from Athleta and can I say, they are so worth the price. I think I paid about $60 for mine, but the quality is really good and they are so comfortable.

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Casual Friday

Working from home on Fridays, this is what I wore for errands around town. It turned COLD again, so the puffer coat (which I thought had retired for the season) was pulled out of the storage.

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