One year ago…

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I celebrated the one year anniversary of our first date. We decided to go back to the place where we went: Dogwood Tavern in Falls Church, Va.

The Dogwood Tavern offers a menu of regional dishes with a hint of personality. Both my boyfriend and I love their brunch menu offered during the weekends, and their dinner menu is no different, since the restaurant uses quality ingredients. It is no wonder why there is usually a waiting list every time we go.

Since we went for dinner, the first thing we noticed that it was a raw bar night. They had specials on snow crab legs, oysters, and mussels. My boyfriend loves snow crab legs, while I kinda look at them suspiciously as I am from Maryland…and love my steamed crabs with Old Bay. He also ordered the Shrimp and Grits, which looked scrumptious. The shrimp were huge and the grits were cooked perfectly. My boyfriend was raving about them. As for the snow crab legs, they looked like some of them were filled and some not so much.

I ordered the Fish and Chips. Fish and Chips scream the best of British eats. There was no doubt that this special of the evening was a good choice. When the waitress bought the dish out, it was loaded with tons of chips (waffle fries) and the fish was huge. The fish was coated in a cornmeal breading that seemed to dominate the flavor of the cod used. I thought it was flavorful, especially when dipped in the tartar sauce. I used malt vinegar to add some flavor, but I should have asked for the Old Bay to add an extra special kick.

Overall, we were stuffed by the time dinner was over. It was great enjoying good food with a special someone. I look forward to many more visits in the future to Dogwood.

Winery Review: North Mountain Vineyard

Two Saturdays ago, my boyfriend and I were discussing on what we should do for the day.  Eventually, it led to us looking at the Virginia Wine map and deciding whether to go down to Charlottesville for the day or head westward towards Front Royal.  Since we were looking for a different change of pace, we decided to make the drive west towards I-81 for leisurely drive.  Before we left Fairfax, we decided on North Mountain Vineyard.

Upon arriving at North Mountain, we noticed there were a lot of cars in the lot which was interesting considering that the weather was gloomy. When we entered the tasting room, there was not a lot of room at the counter considering a large group was finishing their tasting. We found a spot and began tasting the wines. Initially, I was not impressed by the winery until we tasted the Oktoberfest and Mountain Sunset Apple Blush wines.

Oktoberfest is the wine that will complement any German dish, including my personal favorite, spaetzle. The wine had great fruity aromas with a sweet, crisp taste.

Mountain Sunset Apple Blush was a blend of apple wine and riesling. This wine was also sweet and crisp tasting, and it would complement any pork dish.

In the end, we bought both wines. North Mountain is nice, as you have great scenic views around and it is an oasis off I-81. Will I go back? Probably not at this point. If I do, it will be to purchase the Oktoberfest wine.

Sunday Dish: Panzanella

It has been hot here in the D.C. area recently.  With the stifling temperatures and high humidity, the last place I want to be is in a overheated kitchen.  However, I have been wanting to try two new recipes (one from “The Joy of Cooking” and the other from 17 and Baking), so off to the kitchen I went…thank goodness for air conditioning.

While I baked a batch of Blueberry Coconut Cream Scones that 17 and Baking featured in an earlier post, my main focus was on making Panzanella.  Panzanella is a bread salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and other fresh vegetables.  It is a refreshing main course that does not have meat as the star taste.  If you want to serve this with a steak, knock yourself out.  However, this salad is good enough on its own.  With crunchy bread as the star, a wonderfully seasoned vinaigrette, and fresh vegetables, I paired this with Williamsburg Winery’s Susan Constant Red, which is a light red with smooth flavors of plum and black currant.

Panzanella (Adapted from “The Joy of Cooking”)

Ingredients:

1 loaf Ciabatta bread (Italian bread works well too), chopped into 1-inch cubes

Vinaigrette:

1/3 c. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1/3 c. Red Wine Vinegar

1 Shallot, minced

3 tbsp. Lemon Juice

3 tbsp. minced parsley

1 tsp. minced garlic

First, bake the bread cubes in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.  While the bread is baking, whisk together in a small bowl all of the vinaigrette ingredients together.

Take the bread cubes out of the oven to cool.  While the bread cubes are cooling, begin chopping the following vegetables:

2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)

3 Roma Tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 medium onion (red or yellow, which is what I used), cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/3 c. pitted kalamata olives, halved

1/3 c. torn basil leaves

In a large salad bowl, place the bread cubes in the bowl, then place all of the chopped vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, olives, and basil leaves) in the bowl, and toss with vinaigrette dressing.  Add parmesan shavings to the bowl before serving.

Wine recommendations for this dish:

I would recommend a light red wine with this dish.  Of course, you could always pair a Chardonnay or a Pinot Grigio with this dish as well.  The other red wine I would suggest is Chrysalis Vineyards (Va.) Sarah’s Patio Red or Rubiana.