On Food and Fantasy Football

25 Aug

Good morning, folks! There wasn’t much time to write this weekend. I was busy getting ready for the start of classes, fantasy football drafts, and doing some good cooking so that I have meals handy for the week.

As promised, however, I have a fantasy football roster, and a dinner report from Dino to share with all of you fine people.

Team WiiFat (It’s a league with a bunch of video-gamers, so…yeah…)

Starters
QB: David Garrard, Jacksonville
WR: Terrell Owens, Dallas
WR: Joey Galloway, Tampa Bay
WR: Patrick Crayton, Dallas
RB: Willie Parker, Pittsburgh
RB: Fred Taylor, Jacksonville
TE: Alge Crumpler, Tennessee
K: Mason Crosby, Green Bay
D: Seattle
DL: Jason Babin, Seattle
DL: William Joseph, Oakland
DB: Dominique Barber, Houston

On the Bench
RB: Kenny Watson, Cincinnati
WR: Shaun McDonald, Detroit
QB: Vince Young, Tennessee
WR: Dennis Northcutt, Jacksonville

All in all, it was a pretty strong draft. My only complaint is that several of my players have the same bye week, so there’ll be a week where I lack some depth. Other than that, I’m fairly pleased with how it went, and it gave me an idea of some strategies to use for my draft tonight.

Yes, tonight. It was supposed to be on Saturday, but our final team didn’t join until less than a half hour before the draft and Yahoo took our draft time away. I was so angry. Luckily, it wasn’t postponed too much and it looks like everyone will still be able to play. Oh well, at least it gave me more time to evaluate talent. Plus, this pre-season weekend was kind of brutal on some teams and left a couple of normally decent players a bit broken. Luckily, no one I’ve drafted so far has a serious injury.

Onto other news… Friday night’s dinner was absolutely wonderful. Joe met up with me after work and we meandered over to Cleveland Park where we had a drink at Alero before our dinner reservation. When we got to Dino, it was fairly empty, but by the time our entrees came around the place was just packed. The restaurant is in a small space, so it was a little loud with so many other people in the room, but it wasn’t impossible to hold a conversation.

The food was excellent. I started with an Antipasto di Verdure (vegetarian antipasti) that included small tastes of roasted tomatoes, pickled eggplant wrapped in grilled eggplant, minted baby squash, a cold bean salad, and some fresh mozzarella and sharp pecorino. Most of it is in my refrigerator at home, because I really wanted to save room to try each course I ordered. Joe started with some fried calamari that was served with a roasted red pepper sauce. The sauce had a bit of a kick to it, which I liked, but the squid alone was just delectable. The batter was light, rich, and somewhat flaky (almost like pastry crust) and the squid pieces were perfectly textured. Calamari is one of those dishes that can come out very rubbery if prepared improperly, but I’m guessing that those pieces got an overnight soak in buttermilk to soften them.

Our mains came out shortly thereafter. Joe got a flat iron steak that was marinated in some well-aged balsamic vinegar. I was enjoying my own entrée so much that I didn’t have room to taste his, but he said it was excellent. The steak came with some roasted potatoes which were fairly non-descript, but still tasty. For myself, I got the Zuppa di Pesce, which was a tomato-seafood broth full of mussels, bay scallops, sea scallops, wild pink shrimp, calamari, fish, and clams. It was absolutely mouth-watering. All of the shellfish, with the exception of the shrimp were served in their shells, which gave the plate a wealth of color. Each type was flavorful and delicious, but my favorites were the enormous sea scallops. They had an extremely buttery texture which was well complemented by the tomato flavor from the broth. My soup was served with two large pieces of grilled bread that had been slathered in olive oil and garlic. Joe and I each had a bite and it was very good, but neither of us was in the mood to fill up on bread.

The dessert selection was full of great choices, but Dino also offered the option of selecting two cheeses from their menu as a final course. I went that route to avoid getting something too sweet (which would have left me soured on the experience). I chose Longo Robiola Pagliarino, a soft-ripened cheese aged in a pile of straw and flown in every two weeks from Torino, and a Guffanti Ragusano, a hard to find, well-aged raw-milk cheese from Ragusa, Sicily that had a sharp bite to it. My selections were very pleasing and complimented each other well. I wasn’t too crazy about the Robiola at first, but it was one of those flavors that grew on me with each taste. It was very nutty and almost brie-like in texture. The Ragusano reminded me of a rich, long-aged pecorino with a bit of a grassy flavor to it. The cheeses were served alongside three small toasts, candied pecans, and a balsamic condiment. For his dessert, Joe selected the house made vanilla gelato which was served “drowned” in espresso. His delighted expression said it all regarding the taste there.

All in all, we decided it was our best restaurant week experience to date. It was a great way to explore a part of D.C. that I hadn’t seen before and enjoy a meal that left us both satisfied, but not overstuffed. Although we participated in the restaurant week promotion (3 courses plus a complimentary glass of grapp/limoncello/moscato for $35.08), I still thought that the menu was reasonably priced for the quality of the food presented.

Aside from our fantasy football draft and delicious trip to Dino, the weekend was mostly spent relaxing. I spent a little bit of time looking over my course syllabi for the semester and preparing my computer for the onslaught of downloads involved in online study. I also came up with a new creation this weekend after having a craving for something that my dad always makes.

Often, when I’m home in Pittsburgh my dad makes an enormous pan of greens and beans, which is exactly as it sounds: A huge pan full of garlic, white beans, and leafy greens sautéed together until delicious. I decided that it would make a really good soup with a few additions, and I came up with this:

Greens, Beans, and Chicken Soup

1 16oz. can cannellini beans
1 16oz. can northern beans
3 cups of baby spinach, rinsed
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms
2-3 pieces pre-cooked bacon, diced
1 32 oz. box natural chicken broth, or 32 oz. homemade
2 cloves garlic
2 medium carrots
1 lb. chicken breasts, diced into one inch pieces and dredged lightly in flour
1/4 cup grated parmesan, asiago, and/or romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute (or a mixture of onion powder, a bay leaf, basil, parsley, and thyme)

In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, sauté the garlic, bacon, mushrooms, and carrots until the vegetables are slightly softened and then set them aside on a small plate.

Add a small amount of olive oil to the dutch oven and add the chicken. Once the chicken is golden on all sides, add the broth, sautéed vegetables, and both cans of beans to the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes and then add the spinach one cup at a time, allowing each addition to wilt slightly before adding the next. Simmer for 5-10 more minutes and then stir in the grated cheese.

The pot makes 9 1-cup servings at 142 calories, 3 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrates, and 18 grams of protein. It’s really warm and comforting—and I love any dish that requires only one pot to make. I froze mine in single serving containers and spent most of the weekend devouring it. Luckily, I saved some to take to work this week.

Well, after that bizarre whirlwind tour of my weekend, I’m off to face a new week. Fantasy draft #2 is tonight, and I’ll be sure to update my musings throughout the week. Have a great Monday, and keep smiling. Ciao!

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