Favorite food: Being a total food lover, I think this question is most easily answered by exclusion – the only foods I really don’t like (try as I might) are radishes and large amounts of raw onion. If I listed my favorite foods, you’d be reading this all day.
Favorite local restaurants: Living in Midtown, I have lots of great options just blocks away. That said, there are a few places I find myself going back to over and over. Two of my favorites are Taqueria Jalisco on 12th and D Streets and Zen Sushi on 15th and I. For formal dining, Mulvaney’s B&L is among my favorites along with the obvious choice, The Kitchen.
Favorite dining experience of all time: Dining in Salzburg, Austria at the oldest restaurant in Europe, St. Peter Stiftskeller. St. Peters is over 1,200 years old with absolutely breathtaking architecture. The food, the atmosphere, and the history of the restaurant make this the most memorable dining experience I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to go back someday!
Earliest food-related memory from childhood: A favorite family recipe of mine is our manicotti, which as a child, I decided to re-name “Amanda-cotti” (perhaps the reason it was my favorite!). Every time my mom made the dish I would help her stuff the shells and grate the cheese, so I became an “Amanda-cotti” pro. One night when I was 6 years old, my mom told me I was allowed to be in charge of the whole dish and make the “Amanda-cotti” on my own (with supervision of course), and I remember having the time of my life squishing the stuffing into the shells and sprinkling on the cheese all by myself. This, of course, was the most tasty “Amanda-cotti” ever, and I’ve been in the kitchen ever since! Stay tuned because I just may share this famous recipe in an upcoming SacFoodies post.
Most impressive dish you’ve whipped up using only ingredients on hand: This is the definition of my cooking style, so I make things up from ingredients I have on hand all the time! I love to use leftovers in new and creative ways, and I believe in keeping a well-stocked pantry to easily whip up meals any time. I would say my favorite whipped up dishes were for my Next Food Network Star audition video a few years ago. I created an Italian-style chickpea salad with parsley, lemon and red onion and then turned it into Falafel-style veggie burgers served in pitas with homemade tzatziki sauce. I ended up getting a callback from the network, so I guess it was one of the best recipes I’ve ever created on the fly!