italian boy

italian boy

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

spicy nuts

  • May not sound like an idea Friday night but this is a quick and easy way to dazzle some guests who are waiting for their dinner over the holidays. Also nice to have laying around over a few cocktails.  Get a bag of your favorite mixed nuts and dump them in a warm-to-hot skillet.  Toast them just a bit then move'm to a bowl on the side.  Then in the same skillet over medium-to-low heat combine about 2 tablespoons of butter (or olive oil), 1/4 cup of water, a couple tablespoons of brown sugar, then about 1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, same amount of cumin, same amount of chopped rosemary, same amount of salt.  Stir and let it start to get a little syrupy- add a touch of water if it's too thick. When you're ready, slowly add the mixture over your nuts, toss them gently, and serve.  Try a couple spicy combinations too!  Pull out the rosemary and add cinnamon instead! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

5 tips to watching your waistline over Thanksgiving.

1. Be smart, avoid the bad snacks and reach for good ones between meals.  Nuts, fruit, veggies. Those cookies look great but so does your waistline. Save the sweets for one indulgent dessert.
2. Watch your liquid calories, from your sodas to the super sweet cocktails and vino. Be careful what of what you’re drinking cause that'll add up faster than you think.
3. Watch out for the super creamy potatoes, extra fatty gravy, and diabetically sweet sauces.  There's usually a healthier option or just use less.
4. Try and get your heartbeat up for a couple minutes at least once or twice a day. If you can’t hit a workout maybe go on a brisk walk after dinner or have an extended roll in the hay. You’d be surprised what a difference that makes.
5. Remember, there are plenty of healthy options on that Thanksgiving buffet. Fill up on turkey, salad, and vegetables and leave the rest for modest tastes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Are hot peppers actually healthy for you?

I get this question all the time. YES. If you eat with me chances are you're eating something spicy- and that's a good thing! according to

Chili, jalapeno, habenero and cayenne peppers all contain a chemical component called capsaicin. This is the compound that causes the burning sensation when coming in contact with mucous membranes. It has also been attributed to:

  • killing cancer cells 
  • reducing inflammation 
  • producing fat oxidation which can aid in weight loss 
  • helping with gastric relief 
  • preventing sinus infections 
  • psoriasis relief

REVIEW: Freshii @ 15&K not good news

I hope there are no fans out there.  This is the message I wrote to

Hi there, 

I was walking down 15th street to get something to eat and noticed your $5 deal sign in the window.  I'd never visited your establishment and thought today might be a nice day to experiment.  Pictured on your $5 menu was a photo of a steak wrap you advertise as your Aztec Burrito.  I ordered it and the very kind woman asked what kind of protein I wanted- I said chicken and she quickly went to work.  When I was rung up I was surprised to see there was a charge for the protein.  $5 would have covered a rice burrito.  Either way, that's fine, $6.49 wouldn't break my bank and I didn't want to make a hassle for your friendly staff.  It was just written no where on the menu in your window or at the register that that was your business model. No worries, I just suggest you make that clearer to not mislead other customers since you strive to "energize people on the go."  Unfortunately though, when I sat down at my desk and bit into my Aztec Burrito I found it filled almost entirely with rice.  Which I guess is fine, a rice burrito- but again, nothing like what I was expecting to see or what was pictured. Now question, do you reuse your rice from the night before or was the brown rice just entirely undercooked and intentionally crunchy?  Frankly, I'd feel better knowing I got last night's rice rather than believing that's the standard on how you prepare your food.  And last, the manifesto on your website claims you use "high-quality, fresh ingredients" and you promote a "health-casual" atmosphere but do you mean that to include mechanically separated and reconstructed chicken? There are air bubbles in the the meat. It's still in my trash can if you need the evidence. I'm just curious to know- I'm not sure, just your reaction and if there's any reason I should return or continue expect a highly superior product from Chipotle or the dozens of other restaurants within a few blocks from your door. 

Thank you. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak in Philly

Again, if you've read this blog for any length of time, two things I love talking about are cheesesteak subs and  crabcakes... and fish tacos for that matter. But anyway, I was just in Philly a little while ago and went by the market at Reading Terminal Market.  I honestly forgot the name of the place but I went to THE cheesesteak place and ordered the Philadelphia cheesesteak.  Mushrooms, onions and whiz.  OK. I gotcha.  I was delicious, don't get me wrong, but I've come to love so many other tasteful interpretations of the sandwich that I probably will not order this style again.  Who knows, life's a crazy journey. Either way, don't be afraid to order one and Reading Terminal might be my favorite place in Philly for lunch. 

The best treat ever

Late night waffles.  Save this for a cold and rainy Saturday night where you just want to have some fun in the kitchen and vege-out.  I'm not going to bother with a waffle recipe because that's not my department. I just fry the bacon.  Dig out or toss together your favorite mix, throw it in the waffle iron, pour a nice bottle of wine, get your bacon and maple syrup out and HEAVEN.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

gochujang and sriracha

it has become increasingly difficult for me to live without these two condiments.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

READER CONTRIBUTION: Stuffed Garden-grown Zucchini

Stuffed Garden-grown Zucchini (bread crumbs, cilantro, parmesan, and feta) with homemade tomato sauce with cous cous. 

I LOVE IT!!!! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

aim for vegetarian hot dogs

German bratwursts, Italian sausages and anything of the like excluded, I think we can all agree that the only reason anyone eats a hot dog is because it's a vessel for whatever the heck condiment you have withing arms reach.  Should that be the case then substitute any array of vegetarian dogs instead of eating something that's frankly so terrible.  I probably average 0.5 traditional hot dogs a year (what the heck, my parents moved to this country so I could be American) but if I'm grilling on my own the soy ones taste just the same and no one knows the difference. That said, if you're looking for ideas, check out this post from a couple years ago and set up an advanced toppings station at your next hot dog party.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

summer shrimp and beans

Another great high protein low carb dish.  Brown some garlic (some hot pepper too if you like) then drop in your shelled and deveined shrimp. Cover and lower the heat.  When they're just about done, uncover and throw in a few ripe quartered tomatoes.  In the mean time drain and rinse a can of white cannellini beans, toss with some olive oil and sea salt.  When the shrimp are fully cooked, remove them from the pan, plate them with your beans, let the sauce reduce a bit more, drizzle the remainder of the sauce and serve.  Packs a ton more flavor than you think and such a healthy way to end your day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

REPOST: Five Fish that are Sustainable and (Almost) Guilt-free

Fish market outside Banjul in The Gambia. Fish is a crucial food for billions of people, but many fish stocks are threatened due to overfishing. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Interesting piece on new options for sustainable seafood:
According to a 2010 Food and Agriculture Organization report, 33 percent of the world’s fisheries are over-exploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion, and another 52 percent are fully exploited. As more fish stocks fail under the pressure, many fisherpeople, fishery managers, and policymakers are focusing on making fishing more sustainable, using methods that have proven effective at restoring both quantity and quality in depleted fisheries. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Ahhh MAZING.  Slightly sweet, fresh, great body, and perfect when you'd like a kick up from a beer but aren't ready for a heavier wine.  I clearly recommend drinking it poolside in the company of plastic flamingos.  I found this at Whole Foods but I'm sure you can get it around.

Monday, July 9, 2012

REVIEW: Church Lady Punch @ Hanks

As if Hanks wasn't amazing enough. Church Lady Punch is a lovely bowl of vodka, sparkling wine, fresh fruit juices & sherbert.  Perfect for a summer brunch.  Honestly though, ALL their cocktails are well above par. Hanks Oyster Bar 1624 Q Street NW, Washington DC 20009

low carb, high protein, nutrient rich stir-fry

Lately, when I leave the gym after work and don't have immediate happy hour or dinner plans, I try not to pig out on something that will ruin whatever I accomplished in my workout.  So, depending on what my fitness goals are I often times aim for low carb, high protein, nutrient rich meals.  If I'm in a rush an easy go-to meal you can put together in 15-20 minutes goes just like this:  In a large pan coated with olive oil  sautee garlic, onion and chili pepper then quickly brown a pack of ground pork or turkey.  Instead of plain salt I like to use a combination of fish sauce, soy sauce and lime juice- but if you're concerned with gluten or are watching your sodium intake just sprinkle table salt sparingly and squeeze a lime or two.  Once that's almost fully cooked drop in a bag of frozen vegetables.  Pictured here was a bag of broccoli and some corn. Cover and let simmer till the vegetables are fully cooked. Last, push everything to the side of the pan and drop in an egg or two, let it almost fully cook and break it up to mix with the rest.  That's it. Plate and serve.  If you have some fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts add that otherwise dig right in- leftovers pack perfectly for lunch the next day.

REPOST: Chocolate Tamales

I had a work conference in Denver a week ago and surprisingly the Marriott had some fantastic food.  I generally don't have much of a sweet tooth unless it comes to fresh fruit but OMG, they had chocolate coconut tamales. They were so good I couldn't stop eating them!!!!  I've since been on the search for a suitable recipe so I can recreate them at home.  I THINK this is the closest: CHECK IT OUT!!!

REVIEW: ShopHouse, Dupont Circle

Please tell me you've tried ShopHouse. I think it might be my #1 or 2 favorite local fast food in DC.  If you haven't heard of it, ShopHouse is Chipotle-style South-east Asian fast food.  So, you walk in and in a bowl you choose between, brown rice, jasmine rice, rice noodles, or lettuce.  Then you choose grilled chicken satay, grilled steak, pork & chicken meat balls or tofu.  Then choose between broccoli, eggplant, charred corn, or green beans.  Then for sauces you have Tamarind vinaigrette, green curry or red curry.  Last for garnish you have green papaya slaw, SE asian pickel relish, fresh herbs, and crushed peanuits, roasted rice and crispy garlic.  There are so many combos but it's all so amazing.  You can go totally low carb and healthy but their rice is so fantastic it's worth treating yourself.  My favorite is brown rice, chicken, broccoli, red curry, papaya, then herbs, peanuts, garlic and toasted rice. If you haven't been there check it out.  SMACK center of Dupont Circle: ShopHouse 1516 Connecticut Ave, NW.


I got this yummy contribution yesterday from  reader who wanted something other than the usual TexMex:

No, no I'm talking about food.

A cool vegan taco for a hot day:

Savory sweet potatoes instead of refried beans
Spicy crumbled tempeh (cooked with minced Jalapeno peppers) 
Sautéed yellow squash and kale & chard from the garden 
chopped cukes and tomatoes with a touch of cilantro 
plus a healthy lime squeeze

Came out really good..

Thursday, July 5, 2012

14 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Just saw this article in Eating Well and I found it very useful.  Generally, if I'm on a budget and I have to choose what to buy that is or isn't organic, things like oranges, eggplant or things that get PEELED I will buy NON-organic.  This is a good guide though if you need convincing in one direction or another.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

JJs vs Steak 'n Egg

If you at all follow this blog you may or may not have pieced together my not-so-private romantic obsession  with cheese-steak / steak-and-cheese sandwiches.  Hands down the best place to get one in DC is JJs on 14th and U.  Some can argue they taste better at 3am but I've had them at virtually every time of the day and stage of sobriety.  I mentioned JJs here in 2010 but it never gets old. I will be a loyal and dedicated customer for as long as we live in the same city together. ON THE OTHER HAND... if you happen to be uptown in the region of Tenley Town or desperately need some deliciousness in your mouth at 8am PLEASE stop by Steak 'n Egg (pictured below), 4700 Wisconsin Ave NW(between N Chesapeake St & N Davenport St).  They only have one variety of the famed sandwich but its a close second to JJs.   Steak 'n Egg has been there about 1000 years and looks it, it's pleasantly greasy, outdoor patio, the eversoamazing staff look like they've all been ridden hard and hung up wet, and they're 24 hours.  I strongly recommend this place and just about anything on the menu.  Please tip your waitress well.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

best summer beverage.. maybe ever

One bag of mixed frozen berries + a couple bottles of chilled prosecco = enough said.

(add some mint leaves if you wanna get fancy)

brussels sprouts and pancetta

Chop some pancetta (use bacon if you have to), and sautee with chili peppers and onion till they just start to cook then drain the fat, and a handful of halved brussels sprouts and cook till the bacon starts to get crispy.  Add a 1-2 cups of white wine to deglaze let that simmer and reduce then remove from heat, cover and store till your ready.  Prepare this well in advance and serve as a side at room temperature so you don't have to worry about steaming up your kitchen in mid-summer heat.  Goes GREAT with steamed corn and your favorite meat on the grill.

Monday, May 21, 2012

REPOST: deviled eggs with shrimp

I just saw this fun recipe on a Whole Foods email.  GREAT idea for Memorial Day!  Check out the entire recipe here

Monday, May 14, 2012


THIS IS EXACTLY THE READER CONTRIBUTION I LIKE TO SEE.  The kind where the food gets devoured before the reader remembers to snap the pic!  From D. Barnes, this burger is ground beef with egg whites, parmesan, pepper, garlic and old bay all on the grill.  Sounds like a perfect combo of spices... aaaaand I think I'd like this with some bacon and an Old Bay bloody Mary for as a brunch burger.  YUM!  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

food and sex - music video

OMG this is ridiculous... hahahaha I can't help but laugh... It's totally PG (like all these videos) but can be interpreted as "not safe for work."  Haha enjoy!

Review: The Pinch, Washington DC

You will never guess what in the world you're going to get here.  EVERYTHING is so above what you'd expect it'll knock your slippers off.  This is totally what happens when a bunch of foodie nerds decide to open up a casual, possibly hipster, possibly dive gastropub in upper Columbia Heights. Last night we split the Pretzel Crusted Fried Pickles with horseradish mustard.... which you HAVE to get when you try this place.  Then we also split the Jerk Turkey Burger which is like nothing you've ever tasted and the Pulled Duck Sandwich with hoisin bbq.  Oh and they all came with about a thousand parmesan fries.  They have plenty of healthy things on the menu but take advantage and make this the place for your cheat night.  Lots more is coming to this space including outdoor cafe seating, (bottomless?) brunch, and a lower level lounge with communal tables, couches, a stage for performances and big screen for movie nights.  CHECK THIS PLACE OUT!  The Pinch 548 14th St NW (4/5 blocks north of Target)   ....I might have to stop by again tonight on my way home.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

easiest "stuffed" zucchini ever

This is so easy, you can prep it way in advance and it basically cooks itself.  Get your zucchini, wash and cut them in half.  Place them on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet or baking pan, season with some olive oil, salt and pepper then spoon on your favorite Italian-style dip or tapanade.  A few spoons of pesto, an olive tapanade from Harris Teeter or even an artichoke bruschetta topping. Make your own or buy it already made.  Toss it in the oven at 275-300 for 15-20 minutes or until the zucchini are tender with your fork.  Serve warm or room temperature.  An awesome vegan, gluten & dairy free and light carb dish! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

skinny guacamole

Well, we all love our Skinny Margaritas and whole grain tortillas but look at this great tip I got from June Eating Well magazine.  Replace half your avocado with cooked zucchini to cut about 100 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving.  I tried and and it tastes great. Its the same color, consistency and even has more nutritional diversity than regular guac.  If you're not making your own I also don't see why you can't mix in half part zucchini into your favorite store-bought brand.  Eat up and stay skinny!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2 pot 1 platter meal. roasted lamb and risotto

So I told you a while ago how to make real risotto here and how to cheat and make a super easy risotto here, but now we'll quickly and easily round off our meal with a ruota di carne.  So easy it cooks itself.  Get a leg of lamb (you can use it whole or  butterflied and in smaller pieces is even easier) mix it with a pile of your favorite root vegetables like carrots, onions, and potatoes; season and marinate them however you'd like (I love to throw in fresh rosemary, sage, garlic and cured olives) then toss everything in an oiled pan or casserole, cover and cook at 400 degrees, for about 15-20 minutes per pound.  Calculate more or less how long everything will be the oven and plan dinner accordingly.  When the meat is done, take everything out, serve it over your favorite risotto and WHAM, that's a hearty dinner.

Monday, April 30, 2012

garlic shrimp with toasted almonds almonds over quinoa.

This is a stretched variation of a Bahraini dish I learned in college.  Cook some plain quinoa and set aside (2 parts water 1 part quinoa bring to a boil and let simmer for 15-20 minutes) in a serving platter.  Then in a large pan gently brown some garlic in olive oil then toss in some chili pepper and defrosted, peeled and deveined shrimp (figure at least a couple per person depending how large they are).  Let them cook 5-10 minutes on medium-to-high until they're pink and starting to go golden brown.  Remove and layer the shrimp over the rice then quickly, on low-to-medium heat toss in a handful of sliced almonds, let them brown (it only takes seconds, if you walk away they'll burn), if you like quickly deglaze with a few teaspoons of vermouth  then pour the almonds and seasoned oil over the shrimp and quinoa, crack some black pepper, garnish with chopped parsley and be ready to wow your guests.

fastest risotto on earth - and it's totally cheating

Every once in a blue moon I end up just having way too many peppers, or pumpkins or something I have to use up.  The easiest thing to do is cook whatever the heck down, maybe throw it in the food processor and make a soup. Freeze it in portion-sized containers and there's dinner when you're in a rush.  Well, having a semi-constant supply of soup in the freezer can make a guy a little creative... just use that instead of water when boiling rice.  If you don't have any frozen (and you probably don't because you're not a crazy person or your mom in the 70's) choose your favorite boxed quart of soup from Trader Joes or Whole Foods, bring 2.5 parts of the soup and 1 part rice it to a near boil then cover and shift off the heat or let simmer for 20 minutes.  If it's too "dry," raise the heat again and add a little more soup, a little too "wet" raise the heat to medium and stir till it's the right consistency (don't let it stick to the bottom!).  Use anything from butternut squash to creamy tomato, this is TOTALLY CHEATING but I love it.  This can be as vegetarian as you want - you decide how much cheese or pepper you want to add at the end.

sausage and raw olives

This is an extremely old and traditional meal from southern Italy but quite uncommon in the States.  As you may or may not be aware, lots of traditional southern Italian food is really quite bitter (think espresso, broccoli rabe, et cetera).  Well, so are uncured olives.   Raw uncured olives (pits and all) have a very specific [and bitter] taste.  Throw them in a pan with some sweet Italian sausage, brown it all, then deglaze with a little white wine or vermouth and POW.  Like nothing you've ever tried.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

REPOST: Bacon Pancakes

This looks effing delicious.  Read more here:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

REPOST: omg how gross. i def can't handle the coke.

The rice cooker. Not only does this convenient little machine prepare a pot of rice with just the push of a button, but it can also be used to steam vegetables, bake cakes, and much more! (click here to read more)

Friday, February 17, 2012

tuna citrus salad

Possibly the most refreshing salad you'll ever have.  Prepare some lettuce in your bowl with chopped cucumber, half a peeled and sliced orange and half a peeled and sliced grapefruit.  Add a few bean sprouts or wheat grass and then lay a sliced seared tuna steak. For the dressing mix one part lemon juice one part orange juice, some olive oil, a sprinkle of garlic powder and salt and cracked pepper to taste.

For the tuna, season with salt and pepper and sear for 45seconds to a minute on each side in a hot pan drizzled with canola oil. Set aside so it cools a bit to room temperature, slice and serve.

A perfect summer lunch but look to this now- a February meal packed with lean protein with lots of fresh ingredients that will keeping you balanced and healthy.  Beach season is around the corner!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

REVIEW: Wings To Go, Washington DC, Rehoboth Beach and probably some place near you

The hottest wings you'll probably ever have in your life.  Well, one variety, that is... and pretty darn tasty too.  They have an aisle's worth of sauces from mild-medium-hot-extra hot-suicide-homicide, along with Cajun, Garlic, Teriyaki  and a bunch others. If wings aren't your thing they have salads wraps and sandwiches too.  It's a fun place, everyone who works at the Rehoboth and DC locations is awesome and at least once in your life you have to try the homicide sauce.  Wings To Go. Check out the website for locations

watermelon kebabs

What a fun, easy and brainless idea!  I saw this at the White House on the 4th of July but this is the perfect dessert or snack any time of year.   There's bound to be lots of scraps that don't make it on the skewer but just toss them in the blender and add a little vodka and serve over ice for a watermelon cooler cocktail! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

REVIEW: Tortilla Coast. Logan Circle, DC

Well, I think it says something if we ate at Tortilla Coast on Monday than went to Lauriol Plaza immediately after for swirls.  There wasn't anything wrong with the place, per se, I just think I'm going to wait a little before I'm a regular.  It's sunny, clean, has attentive friendly service.  My tamale was OK, chicken was kinda dry, and the mexican chopped salad was very good.  Drinks here are a little bit of an issue tho- they don't do pitchers and I'm not really in the mood to drop 7 seven bones on a mimosa.  Price wise, they're acting like it's El Centro and that works for dinner but not really a casual lunch.  I'll try it again on a warm spring evening on the patio where I can savor a cool tequila and muddled fruit cocktail.  Tortilla Coast 15th and P, Logan Circle.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

best lettuce wraps EVER

I wrote about these a while ago but remade them for a roof-top picnic.  It's a better photo and basically the same recipe.  Ginger, onion, chili pepper (or habanero, depends how hot you're thinking), salt, black pepper in a little oil.  Saute everything then add some ground pork (feel free to use turkey or frozen broccoli if you want a vegetarian version).  Stir fry it all together with a little soy sauce and fresh lime juice.  Once all the juices evaporate push the mixture to the side and crack two or 3 eggs into the pan, let that cook then stir everything together.  Mix in two cans of drained and rinsed white navy beans, a generous helping of chopped roasted peanuts, cilantro and some more lime juice.  Add more soy sauce to taste and serve with washed lettuce leaves, plum sauce and more cilantro and peanuts for garnish.  Have yet to meet someone who doesn't love this.

About Me

My photo
Hi there, my name is Giacomo and I enjoy things delicious. Long story short, my parents moved from Italy to NJ where I grew up (and loved it) but found myself in Washington, DC fourteen years ago and haven’t yet found an excuse to leave. Food has always been a huge part of my day and life… from happy times, sad times, holidays, drunken escapades and all the rest in between, I’ve usually spent a good portion of that time putting something in my mouth. I guess I started this blog a little while ago to keep track of what I was cooking and places I’d eat-- simply because my friends were always asking “how do you make this” or “where do you get that” but surprisingly over time I guess real people started reading too. SO, take a look around and let me know what you think. You’ll see that the backbone of lots of my food is Italian but I manage to cover most bases. Thanks for stopping by. BUON APPETITO!

Search This Blog