Archive | March, 2012

Ai Weiwei comes to DC

30 Mar

This spring through next year, the Sculpture Garden-Smithsonian will exhibit a sculpture by Ai Weiwei. Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re going who is this guy? I would first direct you to my Copenhagen at Christmas posting, where I talk about seeing an exhibit for Ai Weiwei at the Louisiana MOMA in Denmark. Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist, who I mostly now know for his sculptures. Ai is currently being held prisoner by the Chinese government for speaking out. His work is definitely out there and outrageous at times, but well worth the visit.

Tribulation: Bibiana Osteria in DC

29 Mar

My roommate Jenna–from Rome this summer–and I love to try the Italian restaurants in DC and compare them to our experience in Italy.  On Thursday night we went to Bibiana Osteria in DC.  We first sat at the bar and drank Italian beer.  Then we moved to a table to have dinner.  The service was very friendly, but the food lacked in flavor, was overcooked, and at the same time was overpriced. Don’t be fouled by the presentation of these meals, which appear better than they actually are.  Jenna and I like to call ourselves arancini experts because we lived across the street from the most popular arancini place in Rome, Mondo Arancina.  The ones at Bibiana are so dry, favorless, and lack the appropriate amount of cheese to make them gooey and delicious.  When we asked for balsamic vinegar to go with our meal, the server poured it on out plates for us because it was the only one in the restaurant.  That’s right, one balsamic vinegar for the whole restaurant.  In my opinion, I would buy cheaper Balsamic vinegar if it would mean they could be less stingy.  The Washingtonian named this restaurant one of the top 100 in DC last year, but I would much prefer to go to Cassa Nonna.

Sweet Potato Cream Pasta with Crispy Kale

27 Mar

Accomplishment:  Tonight for dinner I made a great pasta dish with my left over sweet potatoes.  The kale is delicious!  If only I could make my dish look more like the picture.  I used homemade egg tagliatelle from Eastern Market near my place on Capitol Hill.  I stopped by there on my way home from a run around the National Mall today.  I would suggest using a thinner pasta than tagliatelle.

Sweet Potato Cream Pasta with Crispy Kale 
serves 4-6
1 large sweet potato, cooked and mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup freshly grated romano cheese + 2 tablespoons
1/2 pound whole wheat pasta (preferably noodles)
1 head of kale, leaves torn from stems
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, add kale, sesame oil, 2 tablespoons romano cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat with your hands and massage kale for 1-2 minutes, until flavors are distributed. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, tossing 1-2 times while cooking, until crispy. Remove and set aside.

 

Bring pasta water to a boil and prepare pasta according to directions.
While kale is cooking, heat olive oil and butter oven medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add in shallots and garlic with a pinch of salt, cooking for 4-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Increase heat to medium and add in flour, whisking constantly to create somewhat of a roux. Once the roux has turned golden, add in mashed sweet potato and milk, whisking to combine. It will take a few minutes of whisking to bring the mixture together, and it’s okay if a few small bits of potato remain. Let the mixture come to a simmer in order for it to thicken a bit, but be careful because it thickens quickly. If it becomes too thick, simply add a little milk to thin it out. Reduce heat to low and stir in romano, remaining salt and pepper.
Once pasta is finished cooking, add noodles directly into the sweet potato sauce. Let sit for a few minutes, then transfer everything to a large bowl. Top with crispy kale and toss to distribute.

 

A Different Jersey

24 Mar

Exploring the small towns of Jersey. The Jersey I’m seeing right now is very different from what one expects after watching an episode of the Jersey Shore. The towns are very old, quaint, and filled with the most friendly people. Currently, I am sitting at a bar with my brother at the Frenchtown Inn built in 1860’s. We would eat here, but we ate at a fabulous Peruvian meal at El Tule in Lambertville, NJ.

Rock and Roll USA Half Marathon

19 Mar

Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon

Tribulation:  I ran the Rock n’ Roll USA half marathon on St. Patrick’s Day this year.  I have actually ran this race three years in a row now, but this was my worst time ever for a half.  What is weird is that I trained for this half marathon in Colorado while studying for the bar exam.  Not only should the altitude have made this run easy, the fact that I actually trained for a half should have made a difference.  I should have ran my best time yet.  When I could feel I was going to bomb this half, I decided to take it easy and enjoy the run.  There was a band almost every two miles.  So many people came out to watch and join in the festivities.  It was a great time.  I will definitely be running this again next year.  It is my goal to beat not only this horrible time, but my personal best for a half.