Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Food Spotlight: Washington D.C.

I work for the School of Journalism at the University of Minnesota, and every year I travel to a college fair for high school students interested in journalism. Last year's conference was in St. Louis - yawn - but this year's was in Washington D.C.! I had a wonderful time in our Nation's capitol as I visited the monuments, explored the museums, strolled through the beautiful old neighborhoods and, not surprisingly, sampled the food! I stayed at the Hotel Monticello, an adorable boutique hotel in Georgetown. Georgetown is a well known and loved neighborhood, one that I believe is a juxtaposition- both historic and haute, artsy and aristocratic, and laid back but hectic. I loved the energy, and the restaurants alone were worth a weekend in D.C. Here are some of my favorite meals!

Happy hour tapas and sangria at Bodega, an adorable Spanish restaurant in Georgetown. The front tapa is endive leaves with blue cheese foam and walnuts. It was interesting but not something I'd eat again. The other tapa was Spanish goat cheese on toasted bread drizzled with honey. It was ammmazing, and would be so very easy to make at home!

While I fall into the "simpler is better" category with most food preparations, I do not with sushi. I love rolls that are filled with different and interesting ingredients and drizzled with sweet and spicy sauces. My sushi at Bangkok Thai was incredible. The front row is tempura tuna with avocado and topped with salmon. The back roll is filled with everything I love- crab, shrimp, avocado, cream cheese and mango, and drizzled with sweet soy glaze and spicy mayo. Oh the joy!

There aren't many words I can say to describe this pizza except "Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!" This is from Pizzeria Paradiso, a Naples-style pizzeria in Georgetown. I am obsessed with Naples pizza, and this one was up there on the best ever list. The perfectly charred crust is topped with zucchini, red peppers, onions, capers and fresh mozzarella. Magnifico!

(Wine note: I recommend Montepulciano d'Abruzzo with pizza. The light body and smooth finish equal a phenomenal pairing!)

My dining partner at Pizzeria Paradiso ordered this plate, and though the photo is fuzzy I have to tell you about it- Crispy garlic bread spread thick with creamy goat cheese and topped with sliced prosciutto, sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. Make this at home- you will LOVE it!

A plethora of Indian dishes at Aditi- a surprisingly affordable Indian restaurant in Georgetown. I'm new to Indian food, but everything I've had so far has been delicious. The best way to experience new cuisines is to go with a group and order a variety of items to share! We went for chicken tikka masala, daal, curry and lamb. Of course we'd already devoured the naan before I took the photo!

I enjoyed a tantalizingly unique martini with my Indian dinner. It was a citrus vodka base with ginger and green curry. Sounds weird, yes, but it was sweet, spicy and refreshing. A beautiful pairing!

More sushi! The roll on the right features fresh salmon and avocado (simple and delicious) and the roll on the left has tempura shrimp and cucumber topped with tuna and chili sauce- spicy!

I loved my hotel's continental breakfast- no store-bought muffins and boring toast here! It featured fresh pastries, muffins and bread from a French bakery across the street. I was partial to the blueberry scones and cinnamon glazed croissants. What a fabulous way to start the day!

And finally, I've saved the best for last. My traveling partner and I received a recommendation to have lunch at the cafeteria at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. You're probably thinking, "Why would you eat at a cafeteria?" and I wondered the same thing. But check this out- the cafeteria contains regional Native American specialties from across North and South America. We spent lots of time visiting each region, including South America, Northern Woodlands, Northwest Coast, Meso America and Great Plains. The food was traditionally prepared and was incredibly different and unique. I only wish I could have tried everything! I recommend this cafeteria to anyone near D.C., it was a highlight of the trip!

The South America counter at the American Indian cafeteria. Oh the choices!

Homemade tortillas in a variety of flavors.

Selections at the Northern Woodlands buffet.

Final decision- Chicken Mole Tacos from Meso America, Sunchoke Soup from the Great Plains, Butternut Squash from the Northwest Coast and Quinoa from South America. What a deliciously unique meal!

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