1220 19th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036 | (202) 835-0459

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Homemade Holiday Gifts You Can Create Now

Some of the nicest gifts you can give are handmade ones – even better if it is something to eat and better still if it is something that relays the tastes of summer. Memories of living and learning to cook in Italy revolve around learning to can, preserve, and infuse. Late Spring and Summer were full of lessons on how to preserve the flavors of the season to be enjoyed throughout the year or gifted at holiday time. There were artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes under oil, pickled vegetables, tomato sauce, nocino and limoncello, peach and wild blackberry jams and certainly some of my favorites were preserving fresh and dried fruit under alcohol. You could use straight alcohol or grappa, vodka or brandy (Cognac, if you really wanted to splurge).

Ciliege al Brandy or Brandied Cherries were very popular at Trattoria i Ricchi and very easy to make. Because of the alcohol content, you didn’t have to sterilize the jars – merely wash well and rinse with very hot water and let dry. Wipe the sour cherries with a damp cloth (do not submerge in water), and cut the stems to about 1/4 of an inch. Layer in the jars, sprinkle with sugar, insert a cinnamon stick and a few cloves (adding a vanilla bean is optional), and then cover with the brandy until they are totally submerged. Close the jars, shake to dissolve the sugar and – now comes the hard part – store in a dark room or pantry for about two months WITHOUT opening, shaking on occasion to infuse the flavors. These are exquisite eaten alone or served over gelato. You can use the boozy liquid to flavor sponge cake and pastries as well. Add a hand-written label to your jar and you have an exquisite handmade gift for the holidays. Measurements are not exact – most of our cooking was done by eye or as they would say in Italian: q.b. – “quanto basta.”

500 grs sour cherries (=/- 1 dry pint)
150 grs sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 gloves
1 vanilla bean (option)
brandy (or Cognac) as much as is need to cover.

Join Our Sizzling Summer Nights

The threatening stormy weather may have forced us indoors, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm on the night of our Cena Bianca last week. There was a good mix of veterans and first timers, and I was tickled to see how everyone warmed up to the strangers sitting next to them. As I visited each table I was greeted with an enthusiastic “Chris, come and meet our new friends.” We welcomed Summer in and are ready to continue this feeling of festive camaraderie with more events this week and during the month of July. There will be something for everyone – from a Tuscan olive oil and Chianti dinner to an informal cocktail and wine tasting on our Piazza to a cigar smoker and even dinner with our four-legged friends.

We have an unexpected surprise for you this Thursday, June 28 – when we will be hosting Francesco Marcocci, olive oil guru from Dievole estates in Tuscany. I have designed a dinner featuring their extraordinary olive oils and Chianti. Get tickets now for our Dievole Tuscan Olive Oil & Chianti Dinner at 7 pm, and enjoy extra virgin olive oil in every course from grilled swordfish steak, fresh herb Dievole olive oil salsa, potatoes mascé alongside Dievole, Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 to an olive oil, coconut, mint, Nutella cake!

To start July well, cool off with a tasting of the distinctive wines of the Pacific Northwest during our Sizzling Summer Cocktails, Cool Northwestern Wines Tasting, Tuesday, July 10 from 6-7:30 pm.  We will serve three cocktails and three wines including Partner Cherry Vermouth Negroni, Whip Saw Rye Pompelmo and Firesteed Willamette Valley Pinot Noir all paired with creative Italian savories.  Buy tickets

Relax on our Piazza while sipping pleasing summer cocktails and smoking a cigar during our Spirits Tasting & Cigar Smoker, Wednesday, July 18 from 5-10 pm. Join us for the first in a series of Summer events like this.

For all the pet lovers out there, we are welcoming you to bring your pet along for an outdoor dining experience, Thursday, July 26 from 5:30-10 pm during our Pets on the Piazza (date change due to weather).

Come join us for one of our Summer events, enjoy some good food and make some new friends.

Get Tickets Now for Exclusive Annual Cena Bianca (White Dinner)!

Picture the scene: Everything decked in white from linens to plates under the stars and twinkling lights on a warm Summer evening. Everyone attending is dressed in white also, and there may even be a white dog along for the fun! We are anticipating a great time together at our Annual Cena Bianca or White Dinner coming soon, Thursday, June 21 at 6:30 pm.

A typical White Dinner would actually be more secretive than ours.  In France, those who receive an invite array themselves in white, bring picnic baskets, chairs and champagne or wine along as they board buses to take them to the unknown location.  When they arrive, they set up the dinner and share their food and drink with those around them. They clean everything up and head home after the festivities. This unique event began in 1988 when a Frenchman returned from a trip abroad and invited a few friends to the park for dinner.  To find each other, they all had to dress in white.  Each year more people were invited, and now over 10,000 people attend.  The White Dinner or Party now happens around the world in places like Singapore and Melbourne.  Read more

Consider yourself invited to this special event that will usher in the Summer Solstice in a classy, beautiful setting (as you can see in the picture from last year).  Get your tickets now!

Outdoor Tasting & Dining, Daddy-Daughter Dates and Jewelry Shopping in June

June’s arrival means Summer is here, and we have planned numerous events to finally enjoy the warm, dry breeze on our Piazza outside. This month was most likely named after Juno, the queen of the gods and wife of Jupiter. Romans believed it to be the best month for marriage, since Juno was also considered the Goddess of Marriage. Please follow how we’re celebrating Summer with exciting events all month long.

Rosé may be pink, but that doesn’t mean it’s a woman’s drink. Everyone drinks this dry, bright wine in Italy. Sip it and learn how to serve it this Wednesday, June 6 at 6 pm at our Summer Guide to Rosé – Real Men Drink Pink on the Piazza. Taste 6 rosés from 4 countries while relishing bruschetta with herbed ricotta and roasted tomatoes; piadina filled with prosciutto, stracchino and arugula; and enjoy our strawberry crostata as a delightful ending. Get your tickets now

As a baby boomer grandmother to three little angels, I have a unique perspective as I observe the intimate relationship their father has with them, even at this very young age. Every night, when they hear the front door open, there are cute squeals of delight . . . Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddyyyyyyyyy! He is definitely the most important man in their lives! As they grow, his encouraging words and inspiring actions will continue to guide their values and give them a sense of worth that will form their self image for life. How special would it be to create a time and place when fathers could treat their daughters to a very memorable night out. Just in time for Father’s Day, mark your calendars for Daddy-Daughter Date Night, Friday, June 15 from 5:30-10 pm. We will provide a special children’s menu with items to share, or you can order off our regular menu. This time could also be for teenage and adult daughters to treat their Dads to a memorable dinner together. Call (202) 835-0459 now to plan this special date with your daughter.

Our annual Cena Bianca takes place on the longest Summer night of the year, all dressed in white under the stars and twinkling lights. Make it your new tradition – join us Thursday, June 21 at 6:30 pm. This magnificent feast features lemon white pizza, anise-cured salmon, grilled Tuscan shrimp and pork ribs rosticciana. Savor seasonal flavors with our portobello corn salad and gelato with strawberries. Buy your tickets now before we sell out!

Swiss jewelry designer, Ronit Ziswiler, knows what is hot in global fashion. She is an Israeli woman, married to a Swiss diplomat (just back from Spain), who has spent her life traveling the world. When they were stationed here in Washington, the fashion shows she hosted were unparalleled. Now you can own one of her unique (and affordable) horn necklaces or bracelets when you stop by Friday, June 22 from 11 am-8 pm to see her Latest Horn Collection. Much of her jewelry is made from buffalo horn, and the colors can range from black to brown to white and even some colored. Complimentary prosecco will be on hand for you to drink while you shop. Check out her horn collection If you plan to attend, RSVP here.

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