If you’ve ever read my blog, then you know how much I enjoy cooking and going out to eat. Lately I feel like that’s all I ever do, and I’m in the market for an exercise bike to compensate for it! But I really shouldn’t complain – I do live to eat.
Sunday evening Kirios and I combined culinary forces to cook chicken fajitas. We sautéed Portobello mushrooms, orange and yellow peppers, and locally grown yellow squash along with the chicken. We also caramelized a red onion. Kirios doesn’t generally like onions, but I complied with his request to cook it separately, and keep it cooking extra long. The result was sweet and delicious, and he enjoyed it too! Kirios was in charge of seasoning the meal, so I’m not 100% sure what he threw in. There was definitely lime juice and oregano, pepper, and ginger, but you’ll have to ask him to find out what else was in there. I also mashed an avocado for guacamole which he seasoned as well. I served corn tortillas from Trader Joe’s – this was the weak link in the meal. The corn tortillas lacked flavor and structural integrity. Screw authenticity, I’m buying flour tortillas next time. I only had one tortilla, and I almost didn’t finish it.
We enjoyed our fajitas with a glass of red wine and a tomato “salad” on the side. We chopped up a large tomato from Kirios’ yard; courtesy of Kirios Sr. It was a big juicy tomato that was red, orange, yellow, and green all at the same time. It was also the first homegrown one I’ve had this season. We drizzled blueberry balsamic vinaigrette (a new treat Kirios surprised me with last week!) over it as well as some blood orange infused olive oil we purchased at the local Greek Festival in May. It was such a simple yet divinely refreshing summer snack, thinking about it makes me want to sit outside with a lemonade and a good book and have some more.
We continued our good eats trend last night with dinner at Yamas Mediterranean Grill, a small Greek place right behind my building that I walk by every day. Normally we wouldn’t have gone on a Monday night, but we did have an expiring Living Social deal, and Kirios needs no excuse when it comes to Greek food. We both ordered Greek beers and split baba ganoush and zucchini fritters with whole wheat pita to whet our appetites.
Our appetizers were accompanied by Horiatiki (Village) Salads with tomatoes, cucumber onions, Kalamata olives, pepperchinis, feta, and oregano. The salads were small, but tasty. For our entrees, Kirios had the gyro platter with beef and lamb served over Rice & Orzo Pilaf served with tzatziki and tomato sauce. I had yemista, stuffed vegetables (a pepper and a tomato). It was served with tomato sauce and orzo pilaf filling. It tasted remarkably similar to the yemista Kirios’ mother makes, but unlike Yamas’, his mother doesn’t add sugar to her tomato sauce. (Kirios and I have made our own rendition of stuffed peppers, but they weren’t quite as traditional as the ones I had Sunday night or the ones him mother makes.)
I was too full to splurge for dessert, Kirios was a bit disappointed. We were glad to have tried Yamas and enjoyed the food, but we decided that the prices were just too expensive to go back and pay full price. I suspect I may find Kirios at the bar for the $6 Beer and Burger deal though. I’ve been told they have a tasty lamb burger with tzatziki and feta cheese which sounds right up his ally!
Finally, when my stomach thought it could squeeze itself no further, my boss treated me and two of my coworkers out to lunch at Graffiato. I am a huge Top Chef fan, and have been excited to try Graffiato ever since it opened, shortly after its Chef/Owner Mike Isabella came in second place on the show’s all stars season. Before opening his own restaurants (Graffiato was followed by Bandolero, a Mexican restaurant in Georgetown, which I also haven’t been to and doesn’t serve lunch), Isabella was the executive chef at Zaytinya – Kirios’ favorite restaurant which I frequently blog about. Anywho, Isabella describes the cuisine at Graffiato as “Jersey Italian,” noting “it’s not the food my grandmother put on the table.” The place had an interesting concept and a succinct but varied menu which promised interesting flavor combinations. But before I tell you about the food we ate, let me just say that the décor was not working for me. There were nice touches – a wall of wine bottles, tin cans with herbs growing next to our table by the window. But overall, it was a large industrial space with bizarre murals featuring strange cartoons and black dripping clouds…
Our waiter greeted us and explained that the menu consisted of small plates. Two or three per person would suffice, and the pizzas counted as two. If you ask me, the pizzas seemed much bigger than two of the small plates… But that’s beside the point. The waiter also said all of their beverages are alcoholic, aside from their homemade sodas. Since it was a work lunch, we abstained from the good stuff. When I realized there wouldn’t be anything to fuel my caffeine addiction, I along with another coworker, ordered a watermelon & lemongrass soda, thinking it sounded like something I’d enjoy with a splash of vodka or rum in it. Our other coworkers ordered the strawberry & cardamom soda and the lemon & basil one. I was disappointed. The watermelon soda wasn’t fizzy and was very watered down. Worst of all, I didn’t taste the lemongrass. The coworkers who ordered the other sodas enjoyed them more, but they admitted they didn’t really taste any cardamom or basil. It didn’t look promising for their bar. Note: If you are looking for homemade sodas in Washington DC, I highly recommend those at Founding Farmers. I recently enjoyed a refreshing grapefruit soda there. I also recommend the drinks at Poste if you enjoy unexpected spice combinations in your cocktails.
To eat, we shared an order of broccolini with spicy pepper relish, walnut, and feta; crispy potatoes with lemon, parsley, and parmesan; and an order of olives marinated in citrus, chili, and herbs. The broccolini still had a nice crunch to it, and the potatoes were absolutely delicious – the best thing we tried. The portions were pretty small, especially when shared between four people. There were, however, ample olives, and the chili added a nice flavor to them. After our vegetable plates, we ordered three pizzas; Goodfellas with meatballs, tomato, provolone, and chili; the Greco-Roman with eggplant roasted peppers, kalamata, arugula, feta, and capers; and The White House with mozzarella, taleggio, ricotta, prosciutto, and black pepper honey. I only had the Greco-Roman since the others weren’t kosher. It was tasty, but not without its flaws. There were very few vegetables and they were buried under massive amounts of arugula and feta drizzled with oil. A good amount of the arugula and feta fell of when separating the pizza slices, and when placed on our extremely small plates, tinier than the individual slices of pizza. (Read: I made a mess.) The crust had a good wood-oven crunch, but it wasn’t quite hot enough when it served. Overall, it had a good flavor, but didn’t make my short list for gourmet pizza options in the area. My three coworkers all enjoyed the Goodfellas pizza, but didn’t care for The White House – none of them were fans of the ricotta cheese, and they felt it was too far away from a traditional pizza taste. I’m curious what Kirios would have thought – he’s more adventurous when it comes to different flavors on his pizza!
Despite the mediocre meal, we did end on a high note, splitting a refreshing champagne-mango sorbet and a warm chocolate cake with gooey fudge and salted caramel gelato. The gelato also had something with a crunch at the bottom – not sure what it was, but I liked it! I won’t be rushing back to Graffiato. The prices were steep, but we didn’t sample any of the pastas or proteins, so I wouldn’t write the place off yet either. It was definitely a nice treat to go out and take a break from the office for a little bit. Big thanks to my awesome boss!