A Sweet Weekend in Hershey Park

I just returned from a sweet weekend in Hershey, Pennsylvania. While the restaurants might not be much to write home about, the desserts are! I enjoyed a York Peppermint Pattie milkshake at Chocolate World, a soft-serve ice cream with a chocolate hard shell, and traditional and cookie s'mores. The chocolate options are endless.

Smores at Hershey Park.jpg

I hope your weekend was filled with delicious treats.

Brunch at Lupo Verde

If there is one thing that most people know about me, it is that my love for Italian food runs deep. It started at a young age, but my time living abroad in Florence solidified my passion for all things Italy, and there is no type of cuisine I would rather enjoy. Just a few months ago Lupo Verde entered the restaurant scene on 14th Street, bringing authentic and rustic Italian food to my neighborhood. Brought to us by Med Lahlou, owner of other Washington restaurants including Ulah Bistro, Tunnicliffs Tavern, and Station 4, in partnership with Antonio Matarazzo, they spent over two years planning the opening of Lupo Verde, and were happy to open the doors in 2014 with Chef Domenico Apollaro at the helm of the kitchen.

Lupo Verde translates to "green wolf" in Italian, and pays homage to a soccer team back in Antonio's hometown of Avellino, Italy. I recently enjoyed dinner sitting at the bar downstairs, but on this occasion I joined the restaurant for brunch and sat in the beautiful upstairs space donned with brick walls, bottles of wine, and gorgeous fixtures. There is one round table which sits in the window bay on the top level that is picturesque, flanked by a wrought iron chandelier, and would make for the perfect special occasion spot with friends and family.

We started with the sweets bread basket which included a very memorable warm and gooey chocolate pastry similar in texture to a croissant. The cheese and charcuterie offerings are generous, and we couldn't resist building out our own plate of soft Taleggio, the semi-hard Caciocavallo, and a hard Parmigiano Reggiano. We paired these three cheeses with three meats to make the perfect Italian antipasti: Prosciutto di Parma, Bresaola, and Sopressata.

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This was one of the most spectacular cheese and charcuterie plates I have ever encountered. The selections were excellent, but they were also served on a Lazy Susan with clear labels, and the platter was decked with olives, cherries, strawberries, walnuts, pear jam, honey, and a perfect raisin bread topped with a bit of olive oil. I was wowed. The eggs in San Marzano tomato sauce was another home run. The eggs were cooked perfectly with just the right amount of runny yolk to mix with the bold tomato sauce. The bread served on the side was the perfect instrument for soaking up the sauce.

The only disappointment of the meal was the pasta carbonara. While the presentation was lovely, and the flavors and ingredients were all there, the consistency of the egg was a bit too chunky and scrambled for my liking. It was hard to twirl the pasta given the thickness, and I prefer a runny yolk with more of a sauce-like texture. I look forward to trying some of the other pasta dishes on my next visit to Lupo Verde such as the maltagliati alla norma with ricotta, eggplant, and cherry tomato. In addition to the items we ordered, the menu also offers pizzas and other brunch options including an Italian french toast, crepes, and a classic steak and eggs. Finally, Lupo Verde's beverage director Francesco Amodeo has created five specialty cocktails to be enjoyed with the brunch items in addition to offering their full wine and beer list.

This past weekend was a fun time to be at Lupo Verde as they were showing the World Cup games on their televisions at both the downstairs and upstairs bars. It's a small restaurant, but the design and architecture is stunning, and the food quality is impressive. I can guarantee you'll find me at restaurant snacking on meat and cheese again very soon. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday between 10AM - 3PM.

Lupo Verde
1401 T Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
@LupoVerdeDC

Lupo Verde on Urbanspoon

Ice Cream Sandwiches at Captain Cookie

Today my colleagues and I decided to take a stroll outside for frozen yogurt. On our way out of the office, we noticed a beautiful sight on the corner of 15th and M Streets NW. Behold, the Captain Cookie truck!

This brilliant truck allows you to build your own ice cream sandwich by picking a top cookie, an ice cream flavor for the center, and a bottom cookie. I went with chocolate chip on top, chocolate ice cream in the middle, and a snickerdoodle cookie on the bottom. Pure bliss!

You can also order cookies individually, by the dozen, and of course you can get it with a bottle of milk for a classic treat. There are two trucks that are regularly out on the road and you can track their location via their Twitter account @CaptainCookieDC. Thanks to Captain Cookie for saving our afternoon!

The 2014 RAMMY Award Winners

Last night, the restaurant community came out in style to celebrate the 32nd annual RAMMY Awards, which took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. After years of hosting the event at the Marriott Wardman Park, this new venue wowed attendees, and provided a beautiful backdrop for a lively evening. For those of you who are not familiar, The RAMMYs are essentially "restaurant prom" for DC, and they are hosted by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. It's a special event that honors the best of the best in restaurants including food, drinks, service and management. A huge thanks to all of the people who work so hard to provide gathering places and neighborhood spots for all of us city dwellers. Washington would not be the same without them.

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And the winners are...

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Michael Schlow Brings Tico to 14th Street

The wide open picture windows, the bustling crowd, and the lively vibe inside the new Tico Restaurant, which opened two weeks ago on 14th Street makes me feel like it's been there for years. It's hard to remember what was before this new expansive restaurant which sits next to the new Trader Joes, and The Wydown coffee bar which also opened its doors this week. Chef and Owner Michael Schlow shared that his intention was to feel as if the restaurant had always been there, while others businesses and shops had built around it. This has been accomplished.

The food at Tico cannot be pinned to one particular genre, but instead it is inspired by Schlow's travels across Latin America and Spain. The original Tico is based in Boston, along with his other restaurants Via Matta and Alta Strada, which are both Italian concepts. Schlow also has Cavatina in Los Angeles, and Pine Restaurant in New Hampshire. His decision to open in Washington was an easy one as he had family in the area, and his grandfather even owned a shoe store not far from where Tico is now located.

The interior is beautifully done with hand painted murals completed by none other than Michael Schlow's wife Adrienne, who is a mixed media artist based in Boston. The restaurant comes together with a menu filled with shareable plates, a sizable drink list, and of course glass porron wine pitchers for those tables that choose to get a little rowdy (ours did.)

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The first thing that jumped off the menu was the crispy Manchego cheese with spicy-pomegranate honey sauce. Tamed crisp pillows of cheese with a perfect sweet dipping sauce started the meal off right. The tuna ceviche included a light touch of serrano peppers creating a hint of heat, and the pea dish with bacon, paprika, lemon zest, and topped with a soft egg is not to be missed.

The sweet corn with smoked bacon, jalapenos, and Thai basil is worth two orders, and the char on the octopus with chickpeas was nicely done. I never say no to macaroni and cheese, and this version included serrano ham, Manchego, and crispy breadcrumbs. While not traditional, I favored the edamame tacos with tomatillo salsa and yogurt, but you also can't go wrong with the two textured beef.

Tico is off to an impressive start, and Michael Schlow was a generous and gracious host. With Chef Mike Isabella eating at the bar while we were dining, it's clear he has already won the hearts of many in the food community. Schlow shared how welcoming the Washington restaurant chefs have been, and how happy he is to have joined our market. Now the major outstanding question in my head that remains: when will he be opening an Italian concept in town? Only time will tell.

Tico Restaurant
1926 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
@Tico_DC

Tico on Urbanspoon