Happy Birthday, Nutella!

Nutella at its finest

Nutella at its finest

Today marks the 50th birthday of Nutella, the hazlenut chocolate spread that is currently sold in over 75 countries. And the genius behind it was Pietro Ferrero. In the 1940s, Ferrero, originally from Alba, Italy (Piedmont region), owned a small coffee and pastry shop which he later transformed into a confectionery factory. This area in Italy is known for hazelnuts and during World War II, cocoa was rationed, so Ferrero used hazelnuts as a substitute to create the famous spread that was not always named Nutella® nor in spread-like form.

Originally created in solid block form that was wrapped in foil, Ferrero named his sweet concoction pasta gianduja. The idea was that parents would buy it, pair it with bread, and make a sandwich out of it. As one can imagine, children preferred just eating the pasta gianduja by itself (as I probably would have done). So, Ferrero came up with a spreadable form called supercrema gianduja and then in the 1960s, the name was officially changed to Nutella which comes from the English word ‘nut’ and the Latin suffix for sweet ‘ella’.

Nutella Crêpe

Nutella Crêpe

In honor of the most famous spread in the world turning half a century, I decided to pay homage to it by consuming it three ways this past week. First, and probably my most favorite way of ingesting it, in its purest form, spoonfuls, yes, spoonfuls of Nutella. Second, making crêpes filled with Nutella. Third, baking a Nutella pizza (topped with marshmallows) with good friend and fellow blogger Laetitia from French Twist DC.

 

Nutella Pizza

Nutella Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

I think next on my list, in terms of Nutella creations, will be Nutella macarons, Mango and Nutella spring rolls and a Nutella Charlotte, all fun recipes from Nutella: The 30 best recipes by Larousse .

Happy Birthday! or as they would say in Italy Buon Compleanno! to the sinfully good spread that makes everyone happy!

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Salade Niçoise – A savory and sumptuous summer salad!

This past weekend, I decided to make a Salade Niçoise (a popular culinary specialty of Nice, France) with tuna steak. I’ve always equated this simple yet hearty and delicious salad with warmer temps and fond memories. As a young girl, my lovely French mother used to make it for Sunday family dinners and as I grew older, it became a meal shared among  friends during my summers in the South of France.

So, when it hit 80 + degrees yesterday, I headed to Whole Foods Market and picked up the below ingredients and started cooking.

Ingredients

Ingredients

(1 Serving)
1 hard boiled egg
1 sliced ripe red tomato
1 red potato
1 small onion
15 – 20 green beans
1 fresh slice of tuna steak
Vinaigrette

Optional
Anchovies

Directions

 

Salade Niçoise

  • Boil the green beans for 10-15 minutes in lightly salted water (10 minutes if you want them to be more al dente).
  • Boil the potato for 15 – 20 minutes or until you can poke it through easily with a fork.
  • Boil the egg for 10 minutes and then transfer the hard boiled egg in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Then slice finely.
  • Cut up the onion into small fine slices.
  • Cut up the tomato into thin slices and lightly salt to make the juices come out.
  • Rub the tuna steak with olive oil on both sides, then rub a little vinaigrette on each side and season with a little salt and pepper. In a hot pan cook for 1 minute on each side. A little less if you want it seared. Cut horizontally into 5 thin-medium slices.
Plated Salade Niçoise

Plated Salade Niçoise

Cecile’s Vinaigrette

In a bowl, whisk the below ingredients together.

2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon of Champagne Wine Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of Maille mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste and decorate

Plate It

Assemble the green beans and then top with the sliced potato, tomato, egg and onion. Sprinkle the black olives. Place the sliced tuna on top (and anchovies, if you’d like) and then pour the vinaigrette over all … et voilà

Salade Niçoise with a glass of Miraval Rosé

Salade Niçoise with a glass of Miraval Rosé

 

 

To complete this meal, I decided to pair it with a glass of the 2013 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé.  I have to be honest, I am always hesitant with celebrity wines, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. Made in partnership with the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel under the Jolie-Pitt & Perrin brand, this rosé has a lovely floral nose with a delicate structure that deepens on the palate. It complemented this dish wonderfully.

Hope you enjoy this recipe and if you try it, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Bon Appétit! 

First Impressions – I-Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Georgetown

Last week, I had the pleasure of discovering the newest restaurant in Georgetown,  I-Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar, previously home to 30-year old M Street establishment, Garretts. As the restaurant name suggests, the specialties are Thai cuisine from four regions (northern, northeastern, central and southern) and sushi. Each Thai dish served is unique in that at least 3 to 4 of the taste senses are represented – sour, sweet, salty and bitter.

Mango-Orange Cocktail

Mango-Orange Cocktail

Upon arrival, along with an intimate group of bloggers/foodies, we were whisked away to the restaurant’s design-forward glass encased rooftop where we were greeted with a variety of summery cocktails and mini-appetizers. I chose the Mango Topaz (rum, peach schnapps, mango juice, orange juice and a cherry for garnish) which was delicious and refreshing.

After some mingling, we were then escorted to one of the several modern Thai-themed dining areas and seated at a long table situated between a vivid yet warm red wall with tea light candles and the sushi bar … and then our culinary feast began

First Course: An assortment of colorful sushi – maki, sashimi and nigiri – was brought to the table. Beautiful in presentation and unbelievable in taste. The sashimi were sizable pieces and the white fish (my favorite) literally melted in my mouth because it was that fresh.  The nigiri ranged from salmon to unagi to squid. I adored the salmon and tuna but thought the squid was a little tough. Lastly, the maki rolls that stood out for me were the DC roll (mango topped with shrimp tempura) and the Sapporo roll (green soy paper with cucumber, avocado, and spicy crab). To. Die. For.

Assortment of Sushi

Assortment of Sushi

(L - R - Sashimi, Nigiri, Sapporo Roll, DC Roll)

(L – R – Sashimi, Nigiri, Sapporo Roll, DC Roll)

Second Course:  Two meat-based dishes worth salivating over – the Crying Tiger (grilled Thai-style marinated flank steak, served with steamed vegetables, spicy fish sauce and sticky rice) and the Lamb Lover (grilled marinated lamb rib with a spicy yellow curry paste served with mixed vegetables in a white wine and garlic sauce). The Crying Tiger was a hit in that the combination of the flank steak (which was tender and flavorful) with the vegetables and rice made it a forkful of perfection. The Lamb Lover will excite your palate because nothing says summertime like grilled lamb.  The spicy curry paste together with the lamb rib is a great example of a dish that mixes culture with cooking; and by the end, you’ll want to drag your spoon through the sultry sauce.

Crying Tiger

Crying Tiger

Lamb Lover

Lamb Lover

 

 

Third Course:  Two seafood-centric dishes that were aesthetically pleasing – Pineapple Fried Rice (stir-fried Jasmine rice with shrimp, egg, pineapple, tomatoes, onions, scallions, dry cranberry, cashews and dry shredded port in the Chef’s sauce) and Aromatic Pumpkin Curry (prawns, bell pepper, red curry sauce). The fusion of ingredients in each speak for themselves. Yes, it’s a bounty of food, but each bite is more delicious than the last.

Aromatic Pumpkin Curry

Aromatic Pumpkin Curry

Pineapple Fried Rice

Pineapple Fried Rice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dessert:
Finally, the sweetest part of the meal. We had the opportunity to taste the Green Tea Mochi and Mango Sticky Rice. Although I am more of a savory person, these desserts made me relish every bite. The mochi, pounded sticky rice that is a Japanese confection with an ice cream filling, was like a little masterpiece. My taste buds rejoiced. The combination of the warm sticky rice and velvety mango slices fed my inner child. Perfect finish to the meal.

Green Tea Mochi

Green Tea Mochi

Mango Sticky Rice

Mango Sticky Rice

 

For those who have not yet been, I highly encourage you to check out I-Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar. I can vouch that it will please even the most discriminating palate.

Just as a side note, in addition to a full menu they also have gluten free menu. And as a special treat to mothers for Mother’s Day, the restaurant has a special promotion running from May 9 – 11.

A big thank you to Damon Banks for the invitation and to I-Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar for having us. An absolutely delightful dining experience. I shall return!

 I-Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar | 3003 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
http://www.i-thairestaurant.com/dc/home.php