Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes

I didn’t go to a restaurant this week, but I did manage to incorporate two of my favorite things: pumpkin and cupcakes.


 After having some pumpkin beers leftover in the fridge, I found a recipe which incorporates beer with cupcakes. The recipe was fairly simple. I purchased a box of yellow cake mix, added 2 eggs, a cup of canned pumpkin, some cinnamon and beer.

This pumpkin beer is Trader Joe’s very own — a six pack for $6. The pumpkin flavor in this beer isn’t too overpowering. The recipe only calls for 3/4 of a cup of beer, so you can sip the rest while you bake.

While the cupcakes were baking at 350, I mixed together two cups of flour (you can probably get away with a cup instead), a half stick of butter, a teaspoon of vanilla, chopped walnuts, and 1/4 a cup sugar.

I placed those in the over as well, mixing the streusel every 5 min for about 20 minutes.

I burned a few pieces, so you may be better off cooking the streusel for 15 minutes. While everything continued to bake, I made a simple cream cheese frosting. It included an 8 oz. package of cream cheese, a half stick of butter (softened), some vanilla and a ridiculous amount of powdered sugar. Pretty much an entire bag. Licking the spoon and drinking my beer had me feeling pretty sick by the end.

I stuck the finished frosting in the freezer for a bit too keep it thick. It makes it easier to frost. Once the cupcakes were done baking for about 20 minutes, and the streusel was out, I began to make the finished product.

Once they are all frosted, stick them in the fridge overnight to let the frosting harden a little. The cake was delicious and I think the ale made it moist and airy. The streusel added a nice crunch, but it’s not entirely necessary.

And there you have it! Cupcakes, beer and pumpkin. Don’t you love when it’s fall?

Get the entire recipe here.

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District of Pi Pizzeria

District of Pi Pizzeria started off as a food truck in the D.C. area before gaining enough momentum for them to open their own storefront. If you’re working around D.C., you can follow their Pi truck here. Pi started in St. Louis, MO before heading to the nation’s capital.

The restaurant has soft lighting with exposed brick, wooden tables and metal looking chairs. The bar has an impressive amount of beers on draft.Need a recommendation? The Schlafly pumpkin ale will make you think you’re drinking pumpkin pie. It makes sense that Pi had Schlafly on tap since the brewery is located in St. Louis. I had four types of pumpkin beer last weekend (no judgement, please), and this was the best one yet.

Another standout beer was the seasonal JollyPumpkin on tap. Don’t be fooled by the company name, this beer had more of a cider/wine taste, but paired nicely with the heavy deep dish pizza.

A nice touch to the Pi bar itself was the lining of the mathematical pi. My knowledge of pi stops at 3.14, but if you want to learn a few more numbers over a beer, Pi is calling your name.

Now on to the deep dish pizza.

The pizzas are big enough to split among two. For around $18, you can get a small pizza (seen below), or the large runs around $24. I ordered the Western Addition, mozzarella, spinach blended with ricotta and feta, mushrooms, onions and garlic. They don’t skimp on the ingredients at Pi, and the crust is crispy on the outside and soft within. If you’re not sold on the various pi selections, you can make your own deep dish pizza starting at $12.

I guess I should mention that they have thin crust pizza at Pi, but if it’s your first visit, you should be ordering the deep dish. Can’t make it for dinner or lunch? They have brunch from 11 am -2 pm every Sunday, featuring a deep dish breakfast pizza.

Update: Pi also has flatbreads that look delicious.

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Graffiato

There has been a good amount of buzz surrounding this new Italian restaurant near the Verizon Center. Grafiatto, the two-floor restaurant was opened in June by Season 6 Top Chef contestant, Mike Isabella. Fun fact: Isabella was also runner-up for Top Chef All-Stars.

Isabella is from New Jersey, but he is certainly not a newcomer to the D.C. area. Isabella served as the executive chef of Jose Andres’ Zaytinya prior to Grafiatto’s opening. His new restaurant  has an industrial vibe that’s dimly lit, with dark wood and rock music playing in the background. The drinks at the 15-stoo bar are creative and the glasses some are served in are fitting to the trendy restaurant.

On the second floor, diners can view the open kitchen and see chefs plating the Italian infused tapas. Grafiatto serves pizza from their wood-fire oven, but I’d recommend the other pasta and vegetable dishes.

To the left is the pumpkin risotto with smoked provolone and a balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. To the right is a special, lobster spaghetti with Isabella’s homemade tomato sauce. Below is the Chestnut Agnolotti. Much like ravioli, the pasta was stuffed with what resembled a pureed butternut squash, brussel leaves and brown butter. The agnolotti had a soft homemade texture with a sweet aftertaste.

We also ordered the Broccolini topped with spicy pepper relish and feta, as well as the brussel sprouts cooked in maple, pancetta and egg. I know most people cringe at the thought of brussel sprouts, but one bite of these and you’d have a hard time saying anything other than “Oh my gosh, these are amazing.” If you’re looking for a meat selection, the Pork Ribs with
sicilian oregano and coriander yogurt had a great flavor.

If you’re looking for a Fall dish right around now, the standouts for me were the risotto and agnolotti. In fact, in a recent review by the Washingtonian, Todd Kliman says:

“Isabella’s take on agnolotti might be the area’s finest pasta dish.”

Being that Grafiatto had a wood-fired oven, we also ordered the Vermont pizza with melted leeks, farmhouse cheddar, bacon, baby potatoes. I would have liked for the bottom crust to be a little crispier, but the ingredients stole my complaints away.

Grafiatto is a foodie’s dream. The dishes are small enough to try an array of menu items and they taste like Italian mom was in the kitchen making them. While some other reviewers say consistency is Grafiatto’s biggest setback, I believe they’re about  to take a giant leap forward.

Want to go there? Make sure to get reservations.

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Curbside Cupcakes

Since I work outside the city, I am forced live vicariously through twitpics of food trucks during lunch hours. Not this time! On a Saturday morning I went to Eastern Market in Capitol Hill (which I recommend as well), and low and behold the food truck of my dreams was parked in front of me. A truck full of cupcakes.

The selections at Curbside Cupcakes change daily and the truck is quite popular on a Saturday morning. Like every cupcake bakery, wheels or no wheels, there were the classic flavors. Vanilla, chocolate and red velvet. I went for the cookies & cream but it was sold out by 11am on Saturday.

Instead, I ordered the german chocolate cupcake for $3. If cupcakes aren’t your thing (don’t ever talk to me), you can also get a milkshake from the truck. The german chocolate frosting tasted how German chocolate frosting should taste. Bits of coconut with a creamy consistency. The chocolate cake was dense.

Want to try them yourself? Follow them on Twitter to find their next stop in the D.C. area. If you really really like them, you should know they also cater and deliver.

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Seattle

What would a trip across the country be without eating delicious food? NOTHING! Well, that’s not entirely true. I had a great time with my friend visiting all the touristy sites (shout out to the Space Needle!) and exploring the Emerald City. But, if you think for a second that I didn’t eat fresh fish and go somewhere featured on The Food Network, think again!

Everyday consisted of trying different local beers. The ones above were from Fremont Brewery. Given the time of year, I stuck to the IPAs while my friend stuck to the stouts. Either way, the beer is Seattle is top notch.

I went to a baseball game Friday night and of course got beer there. If you want a good beer at Safeco Field, get ready to hand over some money. My friend’s Alaskan Amber was $9.50.

Another must if you go to a baseball game out there are the garlic fries.

Minced garlic is mixed all over the thicker cut fries. They don’t go light on the garlic here at all. I woke up at 4am suffocating to my own breath.

Ivar’s Seafood is located down on the water of Seattle, but they also have a small location within the stadium. For $12 I ordered the salmon sandwich served with coleslaw and this sweet bread roll. Not sweet as in cool, but sweet as in the taste. I thought that was a pretty good size of salmon for $12. Oh, and if you’re interested Red Sox won!

A few nights before the big game, I dined at the actual sit down Ivars. I knew fish ‘n’ chips was a must. There really is nothing better than halibut fried. The breading was crispy and thin enough to not mask the fresh fish.

Of course when I was in Seattle I went to a cupcake shop. Trophy’s cupcakes has several locations in the area and was even said to be “utterly delicious” by Martha Stewart.

 
The place kind of looks like something Martha herself would decorate. And that’s a good thing. (ha!)

They don’t go to crazy with the amount of flavors at Trophy so I ordered a basic chocolate and vanilla. Of course the cupcake was good, but I’m still comparing them to Georgetown. I wish I didn’t believe in all the Georgetown Cupcakes hype, but I think they’re great and I now compare every cupcake to them.

My best food stop was Top Pot Doughnuts which was named one of the top ten doughnut spots in America. I don’t if I was amped up on all the coffee I was having during my stay, but I thought these doughnuts were fantastic.

There is a large selection at Top Pot but I couldn’t take my eyes off of the sprinkled doughnut. I’m five years old.

The doughnut had an old fashion dense cake and was covered in strawberry frosting. My friends Boston Kreme was huge and the ganache frosting was amazing. As I reflected on my doughnut I thought about how much I wanted another one. My wish became my command!

I’ll spare you all my other photos of salmon chowder, deep dish pizza, coffee, coffee and coffee. Seattle is such a gorgeous city with fresh seafood and coffee shops all over. It’s definitely worth the trip (in the summer!) and if you do go, do me a favor and go to Beecher’s to get the mac ‘n’ cheese, please.

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Proof

 

Well, this post took awhile to put up, but it’s too good of a restaurant to completely bypass.  Proof is located near Chinatown in D.C. and has had countless reviews raving about the food, service, ambiance and wine. It was America’s good friend Benjamin Franklin that said, “wine is proof that God loves us.” And so Proof got its name.

The chic restaurant has a dark ambiance floors and the bar is decorated top to bottom with wine. To start, I ordered three types of cheese — all of which I would recommend if I could remember which three they were. I recall the roquefort pairing well with both the figs and the honey.

I like to think I’m an adventurous eater, but Proof’s Crispy Pig Head was not the direction I wanted to go for my entree. If you do order the pig’s head please let me know and I’ll try to hide my feelings of disgust! Instead, I kept it somewhat simple and went with the organic chicken stuffed with goat cheese and wild mushroom served on top of polenta and rap. If you have never heard of rapini (which I had not) it is otherwise known as broccoli rabe. Of course the chicken was juicy and the goat cheese gave it that punch of flavor that chicken can often lack.

And of course I couldn’t leave Proof without ordering a dessert. The brioche bread pudding was soft with a not-too-sweet taste. Even better when you get a birthday candle sticking through it too.

Of course I’m going to recommend Proof, everything is perfect about it. My blog serves as the PROOF (ha!) as to how delicious it is, but you should find out for yourself.

 

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Shilla Bakery & Cafe

 

When the Washingtonian shared their favorite doughnuts recently, I was shocked when I saw one of the picks was only a few miles away from Springfield, VA. Shilla Bakery & Cafe is known for their Korean Bing Soo (I’ll explain what that is because I had no idea) and baked goods.

Located in Annandale, VA, Shilla had a lot of customers around lunch time. They all seemed to be either sipping on the Illy brand coffee or eating Bing Soo. It’s a massive bowl of the Koreans’ take on shaved ice topped with fruit.

While the Bing Soo intrigued me, I was there for the red bean doughnuts. The entrance of Shilla is lined with shelves of breads, doughnuts and a bunch of things I’ve never heard of.


I spent a good five minutes awkwardly walking around trying to figure out what anything meant. Finally, I saw the words doughnut and placed the two in my basket.

Each baked good is indivuadally wrapped with the exception of the cheese danishes that were fresh out of the oven.

I figured two doughnuts was probaby enough carbs for one reviews. Next time danishes and Bing Soo are mine!

Since I had no idea what I was really purchasing when it came two these doughnuts, I guess it makes sense that I actually bought the same doughnut twice. Well, one was sugar coated while one was not.

I recommend the sugar coated one with red bean paste filling. Yeah, red bean. Never even known that was filling, but it actually has a subtle sweet taste and pairs well with the sugary dough. Red bean has been a popular Korean flavoring that comes from boiling down azuki beans and adding honey or sugar to the paste.

When getting a doughnut from Shilla, you can tell the dough is fresh and dense. And hey, if you end up liking red bean paste (which I did) you can also get your fix from the red bean bread, red bean cookies, and yes, red bean bing soo. Patbingsoo to be exact.

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