Pizza is my new taco. While living in Austin, TX, I ate tacos at least once a week, sometimes two or three times. Tacos are divine, but only when you’re living close to the Rio Grande. Up in Richmond, tacos are more like anglicized pitas. Ew.
Thankfully, there’s pizza to temper the sting of taco withdrawal. I can enjoy authentic, warm and cheesy pizza pie from pretty much any shop in the city. When my hubby and I order out, we prefer Mary Angela’s on Cary Street or Frank’s Ristorante (their white pizza with ricotta, mozzarella, garlic, and clams is ahhhh-mazing). For dinner-and-a-movie nights, we usually grab a pre-made pizza dough from our local grocer and commence the topping-mania. Here’s our latest creation…
Pizza Pie with Ricotta, Artichokes, Sun-dried Tomatoes & Spinach
1 store-bought pizza dough (fresh or frozen)
1 c. whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 c. artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, julienned
1 c. fresh baby spinach
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 /2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat ceramic pizza stone in 450 degree oven (if you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use a cookie sheet while you shop online for a pizza stone). Heat olive oil and garlic in a small sauce pan over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes (do not let garlic burn). Remove from heat. On a floured surface, roll out pizza dough until it’s about 10-12 inches wide. Place dough on parchment paper. Brush dough generously with garlic olive oil. Dollop with ricotta cheese. Top with artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, anchovies, and shallots. Season with black pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Top with 1/4 c. of the Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with a few more tablespoons of olive oil. Lift dough with the parchment paper and place paper on the pizza stone. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Serve with the rest of the fresh Parmesan cheese. Amen!
Too bad our dog (ehem, Orson!) ate the last two slices ;-(
WANTED: Pizza thief!
A few weekends ago, Christian and I were invited by our new friend and coworker, Asha, to “crawl” around the various neighborhoods of Richmond, VA, and get to know our new hometown. All three of us being Spanish teachers, we figured a Spanish-style tapeo would be the perfect way to see the city and sample the fine food and spirits of its eclectic neighborhoods.
First stop: the Water Grill in Carytown. Like true Spaniards, we each ordered an appetizer to share. Not able to overcome the Southern gourmand in me, I ordered the fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese sauce (nom nom nom). Asha and Christian agreed upon the mussels in coconut curry broth and the lobster dumplings. Double delish!
Lobster dumplings at the Water Grill in Richmond, VA
Fried green tomatoes and Coconut curry mussels
Second stop: Sticky Rice in the Fan. When Asha discovered that Christian and I love sushi, she knew just where to take us. Apparently, she uncovered my secret love for dive bars and nostalgia for all-things-Austin. The sushi at Sticky Rice was not our favorite, but it got the job done. (We prefer Osaka on Cary St. Rd.). However, the atmosphere and the service trumped all previous restaurants Christian and I had visited. Football fans gathered around bright screens, the bar was dimly lit and musky, they had a good craft beer selection, and the place was filled with tattooed hipsters. As soon as we entered, we did a double take. Were we in Austin? Did we enter into a different time-space continuum? (To our dismay, this was not an episode of Quantum Leap).
The tapeo continues at Sticky Rice
Third (and final) stop: Kuba Kuba (also in the Fan). Stuffed with sushi and appetizers from Water Grill, we mustered up the strength to order some vino and a slice of (very rich) chocolate pie. Christian oggled plates of cuban pork and plantains that waiters were hurriedly carrying by. I loved the atmosphere. It was sort of like a 50s soda fountain meets hipster hangout, with deliriously decadent smells wafting from the kitchen window. Kuba Kuba will be a definite repeat in our future.
Kuba Kuba's atmosphere was one of a kind.
We didn’t make it to Shockoe Bottom that night. Our tapeo didn’t leave room for pizza at Bottoms Up. But there’s always next weekend…
Avenue B Grocery in Hyde Park (Austin, TX) has quite possibly the best turkey sandwich that has ever crossed Sarah’s lips. Last week she had a lunch date with Michelle Gonzalez – a colleague from Quality Seafood Market – and both ladies were strapped for cash and short on time. Luckily, this historic grocery/sandwich shop was in the neighborhood, and it happens to be the only place in Austin (that we know of) where you can get a huge sandwich, a Sarsaparilla soda, and some chips for just 10 bucks. But this isn’t just any sandwich…
The menu is based on a build-your-own, classic approach. Sarah ordered turkey on wheat with the usual suspects (lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo) and added avocado, provolone, and stone ground mustard. The bread, an essential component of a superb sandwich, was perfect: not too hearty, soft, but not so weak that the tomato made it soggy. What really knocked it out of the ballpark was the turkey. It had a texture like a home-cooked bird, sliced so thin that it fell apart when crumbled with your fingers. The taste was out of this world (i.e., OMG turkey goodness). If you’re in the neighborhood, this place is a must-stop for a quick, delicious, and fairly-priced sandwich. Sorry we don’t have any pictures of the interior of the store to share. Although it’s well worth a peak inside (you can buy everything from an antique butter dish to a sirloin steak) we didn’t want to pay the “$500 surcharge for photography.” Sandwich with a side of sarcasm? Yes please.