Out and About: Agrodolce Ristorante

One goal for 2011 is to spend more time with my girlfriends, and it just so happens the same goal is high on the list for my good friend Jessica. To ring in the new year properly, we spent 1.1.11 chatting over dinner in Germantown, MD. Germantown, you ask? While not exactly a bustling hot spot for dining and nightlife, it happens to be the mid-way point between our two towns. And, nestled amongst a sea of strip malls and chain restaurants lies a little gem of a restaurant: Agrodolce Ristorante.
21030 Frederick Road, Germantown, MD
I first heard of Agrodolce years ago because a former co-worker knew a chef there. And while I didn’t remember specifics of actual dishes she loved, I did remember that she always talked about how amazing the food was. So when Jessica proposed Agrodolce as our meeting point, I knew immediately that was our winner! 
We had reservations, but at 5:30pm on New Years Day, Agrodolce was not very busy. I’m sure part of that is because everyone was still at home nursing hangovers relaxing, and also because it was pretty early for the average diner unless you’re over 65 or have kids under five. But, with a movie planned for 7:15pm, the early reservation and an unbusy kitchen were right up our alley. 
We were quickly seated at a beautiful tiled table, surrounded by modern Mediterranean decor. Instead of the standby olive oil dip and bread, Agrodolce gives a plate of chopped marinated olives and a homemade focaccia round to nosh on while you pour over the menu. I’m not an olive lover, although I’ve grown to appreciate them more as I’ve gotten older. These olives, however, were mild and salty…and completely addictive. I couldn’t get enough, and I think Jessica was a little upset happy to share when she realized she couldn’t eat the whole plateful herself,  because I actually liked them too.
Chopped Olives
A combination of “catching up” chatter mixed with a modest, yet drool-worthy, menu gave us some trouble deciding what to order. Our poor understanding waiter came back a couple times before we actually settled on our meals, but not first without ordering Antipasti: Fagioli Fritti (or tempura battered green beans for those of you who aren’t fluent in Italian). Delicious, crispy, tender, greasy – I’d order them again. For those of you that have tried Isabella’s’ Asparagus Fries, these are a close rival.
Fagioli Fritti with mustard-seed horseradish aioli

Onward to dinner, we both picked dishes with pasta:

Jessica’s: Farfalle with Shrimp and Bay Scallops
Creamy pesto sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts
(I forgot to take a picture before she devoured all the seafood – I guess that’s a testament to how good it was!)
Mine: Chicken Florentine
Chicken breast, creamy wine sauce, fresh spinach, smoked mozzarella, fettuccine

The Florentine was a smoky, creamy plate of goodness, with the chicken pounded down just enough to make it extremely tender. And the pasta beneath? I would bet money that it’s homemade – you can tell the difference between a homemade pasta and a boxed variety – smooth, silky, melt-in-your mouth. I plan to devour the leftovers today for lunch. Yum!
The other bonus to eating at Agrodolce? It’s about five minutes from the movie theater in Germantown, so if you’re looking for a night out with the girls, or a date night with hubs, this is your place!

Best Tasting Fancy Cake – Ever.

Yesterday I went to a girlfriend’s baby shower. It’s her unexpected third baby, so the shower didn’t have all the frills and fuss you give a first baby. It was practical – diapers and wipes mostly, with the occasional cute little outfit thrown in for fun.
One thing our friend and host, Amy, didn’t skimp on, however, was the cake. And what a cake it was!

Normally when you have a cake that looks as good as this one, you assume it can’t possible taste as good as it looks. Well, touche!

Velvety chocolate cake, with a peanut butter mousse filling between each layer – it was exquisite! 

The little marzipan and fondant figures were absolutely adorable too, and apparently tasted good (normally, while edible, these types of things don’t taste that great).
I made sure to find out who the cake creator was before I left, and I’ve been told she has a Facebook page – but I have not been able to find it. So, Jessica McKenzie in Hagerstown, Maryland, if you’re reading, you do fabulous work! Hard to believe this is just a part-time gig for you!

The ‘Other’ Thanksgiving

Every year at work my small office has its own Thanksgiving, potluck-style. We try to bring dishes that aren’t traditional to a normal Thanksgiving dinner. Wouldn’t want to get our fill before Thursday even has a chance to happen. That would be, well, unfortunate.

The only staple to our lunch is a smoked turkey that my boss orders from Texas each year, then we all fill in the odds and ends in sides and spend about two hours chatting and eating. It’s really a good time and I’m thankful to have co-workers that truly are good company.

I think the highlight of this year’s lunch was a homemade cherry pie that could very nearly knock your socks off – crust flaky and light, almost gooey under the pie filling. Real cherries instead of that odd canned cherry goo you find in most pies. The right amount of sweet, the perfect amount of tart. Delicious!

Musings: CUPCAKE!

Our neighbor sent me a text message early last night:

Made cupcakes…have one for you to try.

Um. YES PLEASE?! And, the best part of it is that we live in a townhouse, so getting said cupcake was as easy as stepping onto my back porch and reaching my arm over to grab it!

My camera decided to be all fussy when I tried to take a photo of the cupcake, frosting lovingly piped with flecks of orange zest throughout, so I ended up with a blah shot…dark…uncrisp…blah.

I still wanted to show the cupcake in all its glory, however, so I decided to doctor the photo a bit with how I feel when someone unexpectedly fills my bucket, or in this case, hands me an unexpected cupcake. 

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