La Colina, Borgarnes, Iceland

On night 2 in Borgarnes we opted for La Colina Pizzeria. It was highly recommended (as another one of the few restaurants in the city). It’s a pizzeria and they pretty much stick to that.

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They had a large selection of pizzas and we opted for the De Campo – Sósa, ostur, parmaskinsa, klettasalat, parmesan ostur, oregano or Pizza sauce, cheese, prosciutto, rucola (arugula), parmagiano reggiano, oregano – 2,700 kr. – translation $30 for a thin crust, not huge pizza.

Two of us were splitting this, a lot of it because of the price. I requested half of it without the cheese, which took the waitress a couple seconds to understand but it was delivered. The pizza had a super thin, crisp crust, which was great. They were definitely very light on the pizza sauce (because of lack of veggies in Iceland). Good prosciutto and could have had more arugula, but by now had figured out the lack of veggies, as previously mentioned. But, was very pleased with everything. Pizza in Iceland, bring it on!

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That was before the rest of the fun for the evening – an 8:30pm-ish tee time in Iceland in broad daylight. Also, had I mentioned it was windy in Iceland? Notice the flag in the 3rd picture down — horizontal.

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Cugino’s

While in Steamboat Springs, was looking for some lunch and came across a sort-of-hidden Italian place, Cugino’s.

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Italian food sounded good and their lunch options sounded even better! For under $10 you could get a small pizza and beer (not sure if they have seasonal menus and I was not there during ski season). That was almost too good to be true. And the beer was good stuff, not just some boring macrobrew.

The service was a bit slow but the waiter was very apologetic. And we were sitting outside enjoying the weather so that helped.

When the food came out, well worth the wait! I went for pizza with no cheese (lactard) and some other great toppings, the other pizza at the table did have the nice melted stuff.  Perfect crust, perfect size, absolutely delicious.

Will definitely check this place out again next time I’m in the area.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Over a month ago I was strolling through Trader Joe’s and saw this frozen riced cauliflower and just had to grab it, why not?  Then last week I was going to a friend’s place for a potluck dinner and (1) wanted to try something new and (2) she is gluten intolerant. I remembered I had the riced cauliflower so had to see what I could use it for. Started looking stuff up and came across some recipes for Cauliflower Crust Pizza. That sounded great! Especially since my cauliflower was already riced.  The recipe I ended up using was from the Lucky Penny Blog.  It’s both gluten and dairy free.

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Ingredients

1 medium sized head of cauliflower – should yield close to 3 cups once processed (this is where I used the riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (crush it even more between your fingers)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (crust it even more between you fingers)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
optional a few shakes of crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons almond meal (my friend has a Vitamix — this took 2 seconds to make)
1 tablespoon (or more if desired) nutritional yeast (you could also omit this entirely if you like) — didn’t use it
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg

Directions

-Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil or brush the parchment with olive oil.

*I skipped these next 2 steps with the riced cauliflower.

[Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Don’t get one the size of your head unless you are planning on making 2 pizzas. Cut off the florets, you don’t need much stem. Just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. See above photo. You should end up with about 3 cups cauliflower “snow”. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring the water out of it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess.]

-Dump cauliflower into a bowl. Now add all your spices, your almond meal, your nutritional yeast (if using), and your olive oil. Mix the mixture to incorporate all the ingredients. Now add your egg and mix away again. Hands tend to work best.

-Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don’t make it too thick or thin either.

-Using a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until it starts to turn golden brown and the edges crisp up. Remove from oven.  *It took a bit more time to cook that it called for.  This is likely because I forgot to heat the baking sheet before I put the pizza in the oven.  So I cooked it a bit longer, probably about 10 more minutes.

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-Add your toppings and slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 minutes until the toppings are warm. If using cheese for a topping, you can pop the pizza under the broiler to get the cheese melted fast without burning the crust.

I put manchego, olives and tomatoes on the pizza, then topped it with arugula when it came out of the oven.  It was a bit moist, but nice and crisp on the edges.  Very tasty and I’ll have to try it again.

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Smiths Craft Beer House, Queenstown, NZ

Another spot visited in Queenstown was the Smith Craft Beer House.

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You can pretty much deduce what they have based on the name.  And you can order a sampler of whatever you like.  Based on their large selection, the bartender chose several for the table based on our taste.  The six that came to the table were:

From left to right:

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Garage Prospect, Teas & Tea, Spicy Brown Ale, 6.2% — very dark

Horse Box, Vigilante, IPA, 5.8% — tasted a bit like tea

Horse Box, Storm Hopper, APA, 5.7% — crisp and not too hoppy

Beer Barrons, Lady Danger, Red Ale, 6.5% — red definitely describes it

Wigram Tornado, IPA, 6.6% —  bit of fruit, not much else, slightly bitter

Tuatora/Coucher, Summer Gold Golden Ale, 4.5% — light, totally an ale

For lunch we ordered a pizza, half with cheese half without.  The crust on this thing was amazing.  So light and fluffy!  One of the best pizzas I’ve had.  Great stuff.

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Stella Barra, North Bethesda

North Bethesda/Rockville (whatever the Postal Service decides to truly name it) is growing.  In Pike & Rose there are several new restaurants and I checked out Stella Barra last week.  It’s a pizzeria with several other options on the menu.

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My friend and I decided to split a pizza, but after being told it takes at least 20 minutes for pizza to be ready, we opted for an appetizer, as well.

For the first course, we decided on the Cauliflower Hummus.

IMG_3448It was delicious, and loved that it came with both pita and veggies.  But, I will say, $14…for hummus…really?  I would rather make it at home or go to the store and buy something similar. They know people will try a place and order whatever in this area and just want to be out (and I am guilty of it this time).  Will be interesting to see how long it lasts.

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For the pizza, we opted for their special of the night, with beets and goat cheese as the prime toppings, with the Grana nixed. Interesting how they can make a whole pizza for $3 more than hummus.  I sweet talked the waiter to into giving us arugula since I can’t do the ‘regular’ cheese.  We got it.

IMG_3446It was delicious!  Perfectly cooked and amazing flavors all around.  All the food was paired with beer and red wine, too.

IMG_3451Totally worth checking this place out, despite the price, because all the restaurants in the area are about the same.

What (wine) do you have on tap?

There is a great pizza place in DC that has expanded and now has several locations — Matchbox.  I’ve been to the one in Merrifield/Mosaic District recently.

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Before enjoying their delicious pizza, I had to try their wine on tap.  It’s not available at a lot of restaurant so I couldn’t turn it down.  I scanned the menu and it was a tough decision.  Hot as heck outside, freezing cold AC inside.

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I opted for the Gotham Project Zin.  Nice nose all around.  Fruity, very fun for a wine on tap.

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My friend arrived later and we were ordering some nice pizza and we opted for a white to accompany a prosciutto and fig pizza.  We opted for a white on tap.  We went with the Tangent Sauvignon Blanc.  Very fruity and fresh, perfect for the meal.

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Such a fun new way to enjoy wine.  Can’t say that it was than much different than a normal glass, but simple changes and simple pleasures!

Travel = Great Food!

When I was in Oregon it meant I had to eat out.  Darn!  My friends and I explored several places, I only remembered to get pictures at a few.

Day 1:  Dinner at McMenamins – Zeus Cafe.  Quite the variety.  One person has chickpea fries, one went with mussels for appetizers.  For dinner, I had a great thin crust pizza with grilled chicken, arugula, tomatoes and something else…I can’t remember what because it was so good!

Day 2:  Lunch at Yara Lebanese Cuisine.  Any place that makes Baba Ghanouj without dairy to put a ‘lactard’ on cloud nine is unreal (at least in my book).  So, we had a mixed plate/yara platter appetizer then I had a house salad, and friends had kababs.

Dinner at Pok Pok.  Yes, I had to use the bathroom and what did I find when I was in there?  Oh, that they were elected for The James Beard Foundation Awards.  This has happened for many, many years.

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Anyway, other cool stuff on this place.  You go put you name in line/on the list.  They give you your buzzer and mention there is a bar across the street where you can wait.  They are connected to these guys so you can tell the other bar what your buzzer number is and they’ll take care of it.  They let you know when your table is ready.  Nicely connected!

When we got our table, jumping ahead a bit, great food!  I tried the Yam Tuna — thai style tuna salad with ginger, garlic, thai chilies, green onions, lemongrass, tomatoes and Oregon (oh, yes, local!) Albacore in spicy lime and fish sauce dressing.  Some of it had some kick!  I can see why this place is well known and recognized.

Day 3:  Lunch in wine country!!!!!!!!!!  Received several recommendations to try Red Hills Market.  People told me it was sort of like a Dean & Deluca on a nice local level.   You walk up to the counter, order and then they bring it to your table.  I enjoyed a nice salami and arugula sandwich and a delicious bean soup.  It was a sort of cloudy day so fit the weather perfectly.

Dinner was based on a recommendation from one of the wineries.  You can never go wrong with Mexican!  So, my friend and I checked out Verde Cocina.  Fresh, delicious, perfect!

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For me, the three staples at a mexican restaurant are a margarita, salsa and guacamole.  Check!

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Here, they serve you nice warm corn tortillas instead of chips with your goods.  Deadly…

For dinner, they had ceviche…SOLD!  I love the stuff.

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Day 4:  Dinner at Petisco.  Little, local restaurant in the neighborhood where I was staying.   I was so thrilled because I was able to have French Onion soup for the first time in ages because they use olive oil (vs butter) in the base and the cheese on top…manchego.  What more could one ask?  Great way to end my trip in Oregon!

 

Testing…4,5,6…Tested

The pesto-like dip was tested the other night with no complaints!

Then, the next day came about for taking a friend around DC.  Between museums, one must eat!  So, after going to pizzeria #1 and having a long wait, we opted for pizzeria #2…longer wait.  What now?  We stumbled upon another restaurant/pizzeria in the Gallery Place/Chinatown area that was amazing…District of Pi.  The restaurant is based in St. Louis and this location has been in DC for about 1.5 years.

Table-wise, no wait at 12:15pm on a Thursday (though we opted for the bar).  Great beer-on-tap selection and many pizza options, both thin crust and deep dish.  We opted for one of the thin crust specials of white bean, chicken, chorizo and arugula, requesting half with/half without cheese because of my lactose intolerance.

Now, the order was place AFTER great conversation about, and tasting of, the beer on tap.    They have amazing brews available and the bartender gave me samples of nearly half a dozen before I opted for a wonderful Bell’s Amber.

When the pizza arrived, it was amazing — thin, hot, perfectly ‘halved’ cheese-wise and delicious.  And, nice beer pairing, too.

If you’re in the DC area, I would highly recommend checking this place out.  It’s just about a block from the normal ‘turf’ of Gallery Place/Chinatown and amazing.

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