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Archive for December, 2009

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. I love taking the trip to the Christmas tree farm to cut the tree and then decorating the tree and my house. What I love even more is our traditional Romanian Christmas Eve dinner. Well, traditional for my family. My mom grew up in the northeastern part of Romania, so the cuisine is heavily influenced by Ukraine. The dishes are truly a treat, since we only make them on Christmas Eve. As with every other Romanian dish, it usually takes all day to make. My mom spends countless hours in the kitchen, sometimes over 2 days, cooking and baking. I usually help her, which makes it even more fun.

My favorite dish is Colţunasi, which are raviolis/pierogis filled with apples and poppy seeds. YUM!! I look forward to eating them every year.

Making the Colţunasi is a team effort. My mom makes the dough and then my dad rolls it. Next, my mom cuts the rolled dough into squares and places the filling on each square. Finally, Joel, my mom, and I pinch them. Thanks to Monica and David, we can now roll the dough using an electric pasta roller, which somewhat speeds the process.

As we were getting ready to make the dough, my mom and I decided that we should use 12 cups of flour, since my brother was coming home and all of us love the dish. I don’t know what we were thinking!

After about 3 hours, we were finally done. We ended up making 268 Colţunasi! I was so glad that we had the pasta roller. Otherwise, it would have taken us twice as long to make them.

The dinner includes a few other dishes:

– Grău (wheat mixed with sugar, poppy seeds, and walnuts)
– Smoked fishes
– Bob (fava beans sautéed with oil and onions)
– Ciuperci (mixed mushrooms in a garlic and onion broth)
– Compot (mixed dried fruits, such as prunes and raisins, in a sweet broth)

I posted pictures of the dinner on my Picasa site, if you are curious to see the other dishes.

La Mulţi Ani!!

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I was able to find some very reasonably priced plane tickets to DC, so we thought that it was the perfect opportunity to visit Monica and David. In addition to spending time with Monica and David, the trip also included lots of good food, lots of walking (although, not as much as usual), and of course shopping.

The first time we visited Monica and David, they took us to Le Pain Quotidien, which is now my favorite place in Alexandria! It’s a must each time we visit. I just love it there! The food is so delicious! Our initial visit included a trip for breakfast and dinner. Their menu includes hard boiled eggs, Paris ham (my absolute favorite! It reminds me of France), as well as delicious omelets, oatmeal, and sandwiches. Every dish includes freshly baked bread, including brioche, as well as this out of this world hazelnut spread. YUM!! The most surprising part about it is that the restaurant is a chain. I could not believe it! They have locations all over the world. I do know that one exists in Manhattan, since I happened to walk right by it while endlessly looking for a store. (I am helpless in NYC!) If you are ever in NYC or DC, be sure to eat there. You will not be disappointed!

Since we missed David’s birthday a few weeks prior to our visit, I decided to make the infamous Coffee Chiffon Cake, which I wrote about in a previous post, for David. We also decided to stay in and make dinner. Monica took me to this wonderful cheese shop. We found some delicious goat cheeses, some freshly made roasted red pepper parpadelle, as well as a freshly baked baguette. Our dinner was amazing! Monica sauteed some Chanterelle mushrooms with shallots and wine, which we added to the fresh pasta. We also added some spinach and some of the goat cheese that we bought. YUM! The birthday cake was a perfect ending to our delicious dinner.

While watching an Anthony Bourdain No Reservations episode, which happened to be about DC, Joel found out about the International Spy Museum. We decided to check it out. The museum was interesting. I really liked all the items that were on display. Some of my favorites were the lipstick and cigarette guns, the camera thingy that can make a tiny photo (can’t remember the name), as well as the different spy related clothing articles, such as a shoe that allows you to hide something in its heel. We ended up spending 2 hours in the museum and we were both ready to leave. The exhibits went on forever! We met Monica and David at Teaism for some tea afterward, where we decided to go to 2 Amys Neapolitan Pizzeria for dinner. YUM!! The place was great!! Their pizzas are just delicious!! I ordered the Marinara with goat cheese and prosciutto. It was amazing!! I can’t remember what Joel and David ordered, but both their pizzas were equally delicious!! I also ordered a delicious stout, which happened to be from Japan. Who would have thought! The brewery is called Kiuchi and the beer is called Nest Beer. YUM! The label includes this cute little owl. :) I am hoping that I can find it locally. Our evening ended with a trip to the mall. I love seeing the monuments at night (especially the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument reflected in the pool). Joel has never seen them at night, so it was great to show them to him.

Our last day was dedicated to shopping in Georgetown. I wish we had more time since there are so many little streets that are filled with shops. Heaven!! :) I wanted to keep going, but we were getting tired. When I visited Monica back in March, she took me to Leopold’s Kafe for dessert and coffee. Since my experience was so memorable, I thought that Joel had to experience it as well. So we decided to take a break and have some dessert and coffee/tea. Luckily for me they still offered the Karamell-Gray, which is a Belgian dark chocolate cake layered with Earl Gray Tea caramel chocolate ganache. Oh my!! It was just heaven!! I can still taste it. :) Monica ordered the Marille, which is a tart with apricots and pistachios. Joel ordered a dacquoise type dessert layered with crème. All were very delicious! The café is also a must if you are in the area.

It was great spending time with Monica and David. I miss having them around. Visiting them always includes lots of good food, a ton of walking, and some shopping. My kind of a trip! :) We look forward to our next visit.

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