Tag Archives: Wine

Volt Review

16 Jan

Are you all enjoying this lovely three-day weekend?  I know I am!  It’s been so nice to have an extra day to relax after several days of events and errands.  It also gave me time to catch up on my blogging for Imperfectly Delicious and Pamela’s PunchAnd boys and girls, I have a rave review for you! 

First let me preface this review by saying I grew up in a family of foodies.  My parents always used fresh ingredients in the kitchen and on the grill.  Which makes me appreciate restaurants like Volt, who really focus on using seasonal produce and local farmers.  That might make me sound snobby (my nose is in the air as I type), but I think you’ll all agree that at least 90% of the time fresh food just tastes better.  All of this is to say that my family was pre-disposed to like Volt for this reason, oh and because of the unbelievably positive press surrounding the restaurant. 

My family arrived about 30 minutes early to the restaurant, shocking given DC traffic on a holiday weekend.  The friendly hostess team took our coats and seated us immediately in a simple and chic dining room.  The dining room had cream-colored artistic lights, bright white table cloths, and vivid orange menus.  The multiple servers brought us drink and wine menus and enthusiastically described the artisanal cocktails.    I was freezing, so ordered a Hot Buttered Rum and my parents both settled on the EnclaveBoth drinks packed a punch and warmed us up quickly!

We stalled and snacked on house-made bread sticks dusted with fennel pollen, as we waited for my sister to arrive.  The servers were pleasantly patient and didn’t rush us in the slightest.  Once she arrived one of our servers (we had many) described the menu ordering options in detail.  At Volt you can either order a seven course protein-based tasting menu, a seven course produce-based tasting menu, or a four course menu that combines the two.  Our table opted for the four course tasting menu.

My first dish was the Oyster, Smoked Potato, Truffle and Bacon chowder.  This deconstructed soup was creatively displayed, and once combined, all of the ingredients formed the best chowder you ever ate.  Light and creamy with pleasant bite from the potatoes.

My second course was a recommendation from a friend.  I ordered the tangy Goat Cheese Ravioli with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Parsley Root Ash, and Sage Foam The pasta was spectacular!  I would have probably left the restaurant happy just by ordering this one dish.  The goat cheese was tart and creamy, and the mushrooms and sage gave the dish a deliciously woodsy flavor.  If you go to Volt this dish is a must-order item.

At this point the restaurant sent over their Wine Director to assist us with the expansive list.  Jill enthusiastically guided us through the menu, and helped us to select the perfect bottle for our tastes.  I loved talking to her and listening to all of the stories behind the different wines. 

For my third course I went against the table and ordered the Pork Shoulder, Sunchoke, Onion, and Cabbage.  As you can see from the image above, this dish way exceeded my expectations in terms of types of pork on the plate.  I not only had a nice portion of the pork shoulder, but also some pork belly and a sparerib.  The onions were the perfect complement and added a bit of sweetness to the dish.  The rest of the table ordered the Lobster, which was also outstanding.  I sampled a bite because it looked so pretty!  The lobster was perfectly cooked with just a touch of sweetness

My fourth course was dessert (yay), and I selected the Chocolate Marshmallow with Caramel and Peanut Ice Cream.  Oh heavens, my mouth is watering just thinking of it now.  I loved the rustic look of the dish and the playful touch with the gourmet marshmallow fluff.  I wanted to lick the plate. 

I would have too if I wasn’t so busy staring at the gorgeous plates around me.  Check out my dad’s striking dessert of the Peppermint White Chocolate and Eggnog Gingerbread.  How clever to take traditional flavors from the Holidays and reinterpret the presentation to invoke thoughts of Spring.

Oh but we weren’t finished yet!  Our four-course meal also included Volt’s complimentary tray of sweet bites to round out the meal.  These included chocolate and coffee macarons, house-made gelee, a fennel marshmallow, and hazelnut espresso truffles.  Two trays were delivered for our table of four!

This meal was absolutely divine.  In fact, it doesn’t even seem fair to call it a meal, it was more of a dining experience.  This dinner ranked up with the top five meals of my life.  The food was superb, and Chef Bryan Voltaggio elevated classic flavors with his witty, artistic presentation.  I would also like to say the entire staff at Volt were knowledgeable and welcoming.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been rushed through a dinner, but they let us truly enjoy our meal at a relaxed pace.  Hands down the best service I’ve ever experienced at a restaurant.  Finally, I know that $80 can seem like a lot to spend on a four-course dinner.  Our dinner was actually more like a seven-course dinner, and included the four courses described above with the bread course (bacon brioche!), complimentary dessert bites, and house-made granola togo delivered with our check. 

My overall rating is an A+ for Volt. Truly inventive and delightful food and worth every bit of traffic.   Thanks to my fabulous family for the reservation, meal and company!

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My 10 Essential Ingredients

30 Oct

Whether you are an accomplished chef or a novice cook, everyone has a list of their must-have staples for the kitchen.   These are my 10 essential items that I cannot live without in my kitchen.

1. Fresh HerbsThese can add woodsy flavors in the background, or serve as a light, bright touch on the top of a dish.  I use a lot of rosemary, sage and thyme in the kitchen, so I generally purchase the poultry blend as it’s a cost-effective way to get all three.

2.  OnionsI love them sautéed in pasta sauce, caramelized on a pizza (or on anything), and fried on top of burgers.  I buy a these in bulk and store then in a dark, dry place.  Make sure you wash them carefully as they grow in the ground!

3.  Chicken, Veg or Beef StockThese stocks provide a depth of background flavor to any dish and all you need is a few cups.  Making your own stock is a long process, why not take a short cut?

4.  Red or White WineWine is perfect for de-glazing pans aka getting the browned yummy bits off the bottom of the pan.  It’s essential in risottos and excellent in sauces.  Plus a bonus sip or glass for the chef!

5.  ButterPaula Dean is no fool, and there’s a reason why she’s the butter queen.  Butter is an essential fat and I need it for both my savory and sweet creations.

6.  Garlic. Garlic is used in almost all cuisines from Italian to French and even Asian meals.  Plus who can resist that smell?  It brings everyone into the kitchen.

7.  Soy Sauce.  Soy sauce is great for marinades, stir fry, and I even use it in my satay sauce.

8.  Olive Oil.  Most if not all of my recipes start with a base of butter or olive oil.  It’s relatively healthy and can be used to cook meats, to finish salads, or in salad dressings.

9.  Lemons.  Again, I use these in a variety of savory and sweet dishes.  I love the citrus flavor with fish or chicken, and I frequently use the zest in my baked goods.

10.  Balsamic Vinegar or Balsamic Salad DressingPerfect with my favorite tomato and burrata salad or drizzled over roasted veggies.

What are your essential ingredients?

Keeping It Weird!

9 Oct

Hey y’all!  I just got back from an amazing weekend in Austin, Texas.  It was my first time, and now I see why everyone loves it.  Here are a few highlights of my trip, and I’ll have a follow-up post this week with restaurant reviews and pictures from a fun impromptu pasta-making party :).

Gorgeous Lake Austin

Boots from Justin’s in South Congress

Music and food, the heart of Austin’s culture

Drinks at Opa!

Brunch at Bacon

A special thanks to my friend Julie for being the best host and showing me an epic weekend.  Cheers!

Hearty Hurricane Risotto

1 Sep

This past Saturday I spent the entire day in the kitchen.  Pure hurricane heaven!  I was so excited to have power that I went a bit overboard.  I made homemade pesto, pasta sauce, Millionaires Shortbread and RisottoA word of caution, risotto is something that requires time,  time and a LOT of stirring.  Don’t worry, there’s a delicious payoff in the end.

Mushroom and Pea Risotto (adapted from Giada de Laurentiis, serves 3)

  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or you could use veggie)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 5 oz of shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 cup of arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup bold red wine
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat the chicken broth in a small pot over low heat and cover.  In a large pan, melt the butter and add chopped onions.  Cook until tender and translucent in color (approx 8 mins).  Add your chopped shitake mushrooms and garlic then saute until the mushrooms are tender (approx 10 mins).  Add the rice and wine to the pan, and stir until the wine is absorbed.  Yes, I recognize that risotto is typically made with dry white wine, but I had red, and was not willing to brave the storm under any circumstances.  Add a cup of the warm broth to the pan.  Stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed.  At this point your risotto should look like this.

Patience!  Your rice will still need a lot of stirring but you will get there.  Gradually add the second cup of chicken broth to the pan, stirring constantly until absorbed and add in your frozen peas.  Then, you guessed it, add the final cup of broth to the pan and…stir.  The whole stirring and adding broth process will take about 30 minutes.  You will know you are finally finished stirring when the risotto has a creamy consistency, and the last bit of liquid is absorbed.  See the picture below.

Now add salt and pepper to taste, and then stir in the parmesan cheese!!!  Final step-grab a spoon and dig in.  Well worth the wait right?

I Heart Screwtop

11 Feb

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, and it’s only fitting that my first restaurant review should be a place I love.  ♥

Screwtop is a charming neighborhood wine bar in Clarendon, VA.  I’ve been there several times and have yet to be disappointed.  The staff is knowledgable and friendly, and the food is creative and whimsical.  The wine…lets just say I’d be happy to celebrate or drown my sorrows anytime with their selection!  In fact, the place is just perfect for book club; provided that book club is really an excuse to drink and nosh, instead of actually discussing a book. 

Moving on!  My most recent trip to Screwtop was with my best friend RB.  She had recently returned from a trip to South America and was really pleased the featured flights that evening were from Argentina and Chile. 

I started my dinner with the Obscurely Delicioso flight of red wines.  How could I pass them up with a name like that?  Total consumer.  I really enjoyed the Familia Mayor Bonadara and Yale Cabernet Carmenere wines.  I wasn’t a fan of the Alma de Chile Carmenere, and thought it tasted too much like the Chili Dog wine from the VA Wine Festival.  RB ordered the Chilaxing in the Andes white wine flight.  All three of her wines were light and refreshing.  

The two of us also decided order the Baked Camembert cheese with fig compote, walnuts and crusty bread.  It warmed me up from horrible cold, and was incredibly comforting.  I felt transported to a ski lodge somewhere sitting by the fire.  Heaven knows I strongly prefer the great indoors to snow.

After the cheese we decided to order… more cheese.  RB ordered the Mac’s Mac & Cheese Trio.  This included three adorable portions of pasta.  The flavors were blue cheese, traditional and truffle.  She let me sample (another plus to being best friends) and I LOVED the truffle.  The blue cheese was surprisingly good and tangy.  The traditional was fine.  I liked it, but I’d rather save room for the other two flavors and eat the truffle oil popcorn.

I ordered Wendel’s Low Country Lasagna served with a side of their yummy tomato soup.  The soup was thick and had chunks of tomato that made it seem more like a bisque.  I’ve ordered it before and it’s a real winner.  The lasagna was made with beer-braised beef and a good amount of tomato sauce.  I thought it was a nice twist on a very traditional receipe.  

All and all, I thought this was a great meal.  I love this funky little place and would order most of the items we ate/drink again.  I also thought the truffle oil popcorn was a nice touch with the wine.  Overall Rating B+ 

After a filling and rich dinner our thoughts turned immediately to a nice brisk walk.  We were so full we were busting at the seams!  Somehow (these things just happen) we decided after a few minutes that we needed to finish the night on a sweet note.  We ended up outside of Crumbs and this happened.  

My excuse-I overdid it on the cheese and simply blacked out.  That happens to people right?!