Tag Archives: Greek cuisine

Wednesday Dinner: Yasmin Fahr’s Chicken Souvlaki

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The name Yasmin Fahr has appeared here quite frequently in the past six months. We’ve never met, though she wields tremendous influence over what I make for dinner. Regular readers of Al Dente know of my affinity for Serious Eats, which is where I first came across her work as a recipe developer and food writer. Her work appears on a number of different online food publications, including Food & Wine and The Daily Meal.

What draws me to her recipes are the simplicity and use of fresh produce. I know, a lot of people have easy recipes that utilize fruits and veggies, but there is something more to her work. Rather than load down recipes with tons of aromatics and herbs, her Mediterranean-influenced dishes allow ingredients like tomatoes, leafy greens and citrus fruits to stand out in a dish. Tonight’s chicken soulvaki utilized lemon as the dominant ingredient. This dish typically features meat marinated in a lot of herbs and vinegar. Hers uses mint, oregano and lemon. That’s all.

Simple, right? Effective too. Continue reading Wednesday Dinner: Yasmin Fahr’s Chicken Souvlaki

Meaty Monday: Ground Lamb with Asparagus and Peas


Tactical errors occur frequently in the kitchen here at Al Dente HQ. I have this tendency to plan a week’s worth of meals without necessarily reading the instructions.

For instance, I observe Meatless Monday and had planned to make a roasted tomato and crispy chickpea sauce. When I got home from work and read the recipe, I noticed that step one of the recipe is to roast the tomatoes for three hours. So. Yeah. That wasn’t going to work.

Meatless Monday takes a seat for Meaty Monday and what was supposed to be for dinner later in the week.

Continue reading Meaty Monday: Ground Lamb with Asparagus and Peas

Saturday dinner: Garides me anitho

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So smitten were we here at Al Dente with the garides me anitho at Zaytinya that we decided to give it a go. But how were we supposed to replicate a restaurant recipe. It turns out that the answer was as simple as Google.

In two cases, the recipe had been deconstructed by Washington, D.C. area publications. Metro Weekly posted a video on March 21, 2013 featuring executive chef Michael Costa’s step-by-step preparation of the shrimp-and-dill dish. Three years ago, Washingtonian magazine featured a piece on the Penn Quarter restaurant’s chef de cuisine, who presented the recipe. In both, garides me anitho is described as one of the restaurants most ordered plates. Continue reading Saturday dinner: Garides me anitho

Zaytinya, Washington, D.C.



I wish I knew more about Greek cuisine. Syracuse has a strong, but small, Greek community but no really strong entry into the restaurant morass. Everything in town gets the label of Middle Eastern, which means carbon copy menus of pita, hummus, gyros and falafel. While I would eat at King David’s five nights a week if I could, there’s not an opportunity for classic or modern Greek food outside of a family kitchen.

Zaytinya, two blocks from our hotel in Chinatown/Penn Quarter, offers that hybrid of modern and classic Greek and Turkish cuisine. Owned by Beard award winner Jose Andres and helmed by executive chef Michael Costa, Zaytinya (the Turkish word meaning “olive oil”) is a mezze restaurant, specializing in small plates with large flavors akin to a Greek tapas restaurant. It has been on Washingtonian magazine’s Best 100 Restaurants list for four consecutive years and was ranked ninth in 2013.

The colossus of conferences in town, combined with daily traffic, have made reservations a challenge this week. I made ours about 10 days ago when I discovered Zaytinya on Eater.com’s list of essential D.C. restaurants with this description:

This Jose Andres restaurant may be even more popular than his flagship Jaleo. It’s hard to go wrong with the ever-changing menu of Mediterranean dishes. The buzzy restaurant has delicious brussels sprouts, flatbread and octopus small plates, and a number of fun festivals throughout the year.

In addition to its “it” status, Zaytinya caters to a wide audience. One of my dinner companions and co-workers, Jessie, is a vegetarian. As I was scoping places to eat, I kept this in mind. While I would relish a trip to The Palm or Sam & Harry’s, I know that I have a litmus test to apply when choosing eateries. My flow chart of decision making goes something like this:

  • Would I like it? After all, it’s all about me.
  • Is everyone else going to like it?
  • Does the menu accommodate everyone’s needs?

If I can get a yes for all three, it’s a winner.

Continue reading Zaytinya, Washington, D.C.

The birthday party

So, Saturday marked The Baby’s first birthday. The present haul was nothing short of ridiculous, prompting the following discussion between The Mother-In-Law and I:

MIL: This is insane. We have to talk about controlling this for Christmas.
ME: That’s fine, but for the record, you bought half of those presents. And do we need to talk about Easter?
MIL: Yeah. You’re right.

The spread was equally as impressive, though I ran into a bit of disappointment. I picked up chicken breasts at Wegmans (I had planned to do pork, but was a little gun shy after the disappointment of the mojo pork from a few weeks ago) and forgot how much they pump up their chicken. Poultry suppliers load chicken breasts full of saline solution. This helps the meat freeze for transport and makes them look bigger and thicker. After 15 minutes on a medium gas grill, the chicken reduced in size by almost half. We went from chicken to sparrow. No one complained…except for me. Continue reading The birthday party