Hej, velkommen til København! My name is Kyle, writing to you from the heart of Scandinavia. Copenhagen is a wonderful place to study abroad for a semester (except for the freezing, freezing cold). I'll be honest -- a big reason why I chose it was the Danes' ability to speak English, but there's so much more that the city has to offer. From the huge biking culture to the extensive food variety and warm Danish atmosphere, Copenhagen is a great city and a ton of fun to be in.
But First...Let's Talk About the Food
If you are gluten-free, I have some bad news for you; one of the most famous dishes here is smørrebrød, which consists of a buttered rye bread, and topped with a variety of foods ranging from meats and fish to cheese and other spreads.
What I love so much about it is that the possibilities are endless with this type of dish; hard-boiled egg and shrimp, or cream cheese and herring, or even chicken salad and bacon. Literally any topping can work with smørrebrød!
And yes, Copenhagen has their own version of restaurant week as well. My roommate and I went to Restaurant Viva (a restaurant on a boat) in February, where we had some of the finest Scandinavian seafood. The highlight was the main course, cod sprinkled with spinach and varnished with a creamy lobster sauce - by far one of my favorite dishes here. The sour apple sorbet, with a crispy cookie bottom, was a great dessert to finish off too.
The Danes love their burgers too! One of my favorite places to eat is Banana Joe's, a small shack located in Copenhagen's hipster Nørrebro district. The special burger, which includes the meat, a fried egg, and a special sauce (which reminds me a lot of a yogurt curry mixture) is unusual, but definitely one of the best burgers I've ever had.
Of course, since eating out can get quite expensive in Cope, I've learned a great deal about how to cook for myself, though the trips to the supermarket never get any easier (æ, ø and å always get me confused when translating the different foods into English)
Life in Denmark
One big perk is that Copenhagen itself isn't a huge city, which makes everything super convenient to get to. That's why biking is such a fixture in Danish society - over half the total population are regular cyclists! You'll find many streets that only allow cyclists and pedestrians, a sharp contrast to the driver-friendly ways back in the States. The architecture is marvelous as well; from the color houses of the port at Nyhavn, to the historical Rosenborg Castle located at the center of this bustling city, I find myself constantly at awe with the amazing blend that makes up Copenhagen's unique atmosphere. How it is able to combine some of the oldest buildings with its modern architecture (and interesting graffiti) is a wonderful sight, and I always enjoy being a part of the windy, walkable streets that snake throughout the city.
The courses here at the DIS program have been awesome too. The hands-on learning experience is definitely a big focus in many of my classes; we've visited companies like Holm Communication, which helps companies like Playstation write press releases, and Arla Foods, the largest producer of dairy products in Scandinavia. Being able to tour and speak with key members of these Danish companies has really given me exposure to how Danes do business here in Denmark. Learning Danish has also been fun (and hard!), and I've really enjoyed how much focus is placed on learning about Danish culture. For example, we've learned about the concept of hygge, meaning "cozy" in English. Many Danes seek this type of feeling in a cozy, warm atmosphere, and you see this reflected in society. Comfy coffee shops and intimate bars are dispersed throughout the city, and Copenhagen includes many public spaces and seating arrangements for people to socialize during the warmer months. Though Danes are quite reserved, when getting to know them better I've found that they are some of the nicest people around! It's not a surprise to me that they are named one of the happiest countries in the world.
But probably my favorite place has been outside Copenhagen and is located on the western part of Denmark, the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum. Home to some of the coolest modern art, this museum greatly plays to the viewer's visual appeal; the rainbow panorama was like nothing I've seen before, and I would totally recommend visitors to check it out.
Traveling in Europe Is Lit Too
But of course, it's been such a great opportunity to be in Europe as well, where traveling is super easy. Gelato in Florence, Cubano burgers in Barcelona, caffè mocha in Dublin, and venison in Edinburgh are just a small sample of some of the great foods I've been able to try during my travels abroad. Being able to experience the different foods and cultures in both Denmark and Europe has been awesome, and would 10/10 do it again.
Last fall a group of GUESers ventured off campus to Flavio. The event was such a great experience, and we were eager to go back. The second time around did not disappoint. Flavio is a hip restaurant located on 31st in Georgetown right off of M St. It's just a short walk from campus!
We started off the meal with some amazing appetizers. We attacked the bread as soon as it was put on the table. It was phenomenal. The bruschetta (pictured above) was heavenly. In addition, we had a fabulous charcuterie platter with prosciutto, soppressata, and capicola, paired with warm flatbread. Flavio also gave us giant meatballs (pictured below) to share. The meatballs were covered in marinara sauce and ricotta cheese. In all, the appetizers were absolutely delicious.
Luckily we all left a little room for the main courses because they too were delicious. There was more than enough pizza and pasta to go around. The pizza was to die for. We had both a classic margarita and a fun veggie pizza (pictured below).
We also had an assortment of different types of pasta to sample. The gluten-free penne with Bolognese sauce was delectable. The fettuccine Alfredo was delightful. The classic spaghetti with tomato sauce (pictured below) was cooked to perfection. Luckily, we did not have to worry about choosing which to order because all of the food was served family style. We all got to sample a little bit of everything. We managed to finish everything that we were served.
Once again, we had another amazing event at Flavio. The food was dynamite. The atmosphere was hip and cozy. Everyone who was in attendance had a great time and is eager to go back. Thank you, Flavio, for the fantastic food and the discount!
Bonjour à tous! This is GUES Board Member Caroline Barnes writing from Lyon, France—THE "gastronomique" capital of France! Coincidence that I chose to study abroad here this fall semester? I think not! A few months ago, I knew very little about this hidden gem of a European city, but I am happy to say that after three months of living, studying, and let’s be real, eating, my way around the city, I’ve happily come to call it home.
Life in Lyon
What does a typical week look like for me here in Lyon? When I’m not spending long weekends taking advantage of cheap flights, trains and buses around Europe, I spend my time going to class across the river at Sciences Po Lyon, formally known as “Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lyon”. This is a “grand école” founded by Charles de Gaulle in the mid 20th century and is one of nine other Sciences Po schools in France. The lectures are taught entirely in French and are led by professors who specialize in particular areas of political science. I am taking six classes that meet once a week for two hours, usually between the windows of Tuesday-Thursday. My favorite class is about Social Democracy in 20th century Europe—what a cool perspective and rare opportunity to learn about socialism in a socialist country! In my free time, I enjoy running along the rivers, exploring the history of Lyon through its traboules (secret tunnels) and museums, and sampling fresh products at marchés (open air farmer’s markets). Not to mention I’ve taken advantage of being removed from the busy culture of GU by learning how to “flâner”—taking leisurely strolls without any given purpose. But enough about studies and me—onto the food!
Lyon: The Hidden Gem & "Carrefour" of Europe
Believe it or not, Lyon is the third largest city (but second largest metropolitan area) in France and is the capital of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. To put it into perspective, Lyon is located just southeast of Paris (it takes a little under 2 hours to get there by train) and is known as the “carrefour” or crossroad of Europe, as it is situated at the junction of two rivers, la Saône and le Rhône, thus uniting the northern Parisian basin and the southern rivers of the Mediterranean. Lyon’s role as connector of France and Europe as a whole is seen through the diversity of products that come from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and those surrounding, including wine from Beaujolais or Burgundy and Saint-Marcellin cheese from Isère, two staple foods of the French diet. When I describe Lyon’s prime location to friends, I usually simplify it by saying that you can go north for a wine tour, east to ski or hike the Alps, south to sunbathe by the Mediterranean, or west to explore castles and countryside.
The Foodie Capital of France
But why is Lyon famed for its gastronomy? Besides having one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per capita in France, we have the French chef Paul Bocuse and the “mères lyonnaises” (mothers of Lyon) to thank for its exceptional reputation. These self-taught mothers of Lyon, who started out of their own kitchens, went on to open the first bistros to gain wide reputation, known for simplicity and quality, which later earned the city the title of “world capital of gastronomy” by famed food critic Curnonsky. Bocuse on the other hand, dubbed “the Pope of French cuisine”, is an exceptional chef who introduced Lyon and the world to “nouvelle cuisine”, which is the act of cooking lighter, more delicate dishes with an increased focus on presentation. He now has a few of his own famous restaurants around Lyon, which tourists and locals flock to, especially in early December when we celebrate the “Fête des Lumières”. While Bocuse was very influenced by the “new” of cooking, the Lyonnais mothers were best at preserving the tradition of their cuisine, which is still being served at “bouchons”, or traditional Lyonnais restaurants, around France.
These hearty regional specialties, also known as “cuisine lyonnaise”, include dishes such as:
Cheese, Bread, Butter...and more Butter
To be quite honest, I am still learning to embrace this type of cuisine; especially given that at home I eat mainly vegetarian or white-meat based dishes. I have become a bit more adventurous however, trying the galettes (savory crepes) that my host mom makes for me that usually include lardon (ham), eggs and lots of cheese and butter. It took a bit of time to explain my diet to my host mom—not sure if she completely understands what a vegetarian is, but I do have to say her meals are fantastic as she stays true to their French roots. One aspect of life that I have come to embrace is the art of two hour-long déjeuner’s (lunch). From 12-2pm, the shops, schools and banks stop what they’re doing as all of France flock to their favorite café, bouchon or resto to enjoy a long, slow meal with friends and colleagues. While it’s been a bit hard to do this everyday for lunch—not too good for the wallet or the waistline—I do occasionally partake in enjoying a nice lunch “formule” (prix-fixe meal) with lots of bread, wine and butter. Dinner is also enjoyed a lot later here, closer to 8 or 9pm, as the French have a sacred “apéritif” ritual which includes indulging in lots of cheese, cigarettes and alcohol before they even sit down at the dinner table for their first course. Additionally, dessert in the form of cheese, fancy mini cakes or hot crepes is also enjoyed after every meal—the French have a sweet tooth and I can definitely get behind that.
As far as my favorite meal, I think my big “wow” moment came to me when I was visiting Grenoble, France for the day and tried a take on the famed “gratin dauphinois” with smooth tagliatelle-like noodles and basil pesto in addition to the warm, creamy cheese it was drown in. I think it’s safe to say my favorite dessert is the classic brioche aux pralines, which I happily enjoyed as a substitute for birthday cake as I celebrated my 20th back in September.
A few more of my favorite foodie spots around Lyon include:
Les Cafetiers—my favorite café with amazing, affordable, hearty salads and super friendly staff
Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse—indoor gourmet food hall with Lyonnais specialties
Marché Quai Saint-Antoine—outdoors market open almost everyday on la Saône; a perfect pre-picnic or Friendsgiving spot
Mumbai Café—amazing Indian fusion food—the chef was kind enough to make me a plate sampling a few menu highlights!
L’atelier des Chefs—a space offering hands-on French cooking classes, led by professionals
In December I will be dining at one of THE Paul Bocuse restaurants with a few foodie friends—follow my instagram @sweetcarb_oline (shameless plug) to stay in the loop! I cannot wait to see what the next month of holiday sweets has in store for me—hopefully I will be able to bring back a few non perishable Lyonnais specialties to enjoy back at school. Thanks for reading and please let me know if you ever have the pleasure of exploring France’s amazing food culture—I would be happy to chat!
After a fantastic event at Lebanese Taverna last Spring, the GU Eating Society had to revisit the unique and tasty restaurant again this Fall. Luckily for us, the food was no less exceptional than last time. Read more to discover the Middle Eastern flavors we enjoyed at our visit to the restaurant, located on Connecticut Ave in Adams Morgan.
If you love chocolate, then this shouldn’t be the first time that you’re hearing about the Italian city of Perugia. Located in Umbria (the region of Italy just south of Tuscany), Perugia is known as one of the most important cities in the world when it comes to chocolate-- you may be familiar with the Perugia based chocolate company, Perugina, which manufactures all different kinds chocolate, including its most famous product “Baci"— those tiny little chocolate “kisses” with hazelnuts inside.
Every year, Perugia is the host city of a chocolate festival called Eurochocolate, which showcases the best that Europe has to offer in the ~chocolate department, attracting one million tourists and Italian natives along the way (re: me, a student living abroad with too much time on her hands). Because Perugia is only a 2 hour train ride south of Florence, I decided to spend a Saturday at the opening weekend of Eurochocolate to everything that Perugia had to offer. This post is meant to be a reflection on the festival, but if anyone is studying abroad in or around Italy hopefully you can pick up a few tips for next year!
When you arrive at Eurochocolate, you’re prompted to buy a “Chococard” for €6 in order to get access to samples and activities. My advice: don’t buy it. There are only a handful of vendors that can give you free samples, and they’re generally big-name brands that are sponsoring the exhibition which you have probably heard of before (e.g. Ritter, Lindt, Ricola, and Fage). Additionally, any of the stands will let you try their chocolate before you make the decision to purchase and many offer smaller free samples!
With regard to layout, the festival basically forms a ladder shape through the center of Perugia, with two long parallel streets being connected by several smaller streets. It’s on these smaller streets that you’re likely to find the more craft-like or artisanal chocolate brands, whereas the broader pair of parallel streets house bigger-name brands and any of the street food (chocolate or not) that the festival has to offer.
From what I observed, chocolate at the festival can be divided into two main categories of traditional and non-traditional. There’s an entire street dedicated to smaller, artisanal chocolate brands that create real art in their chocolate bars as well as in their candy offered by the kilo— these represent the more “traditional” side of the festival. The chocolate bars were great gifts for family and friends because they travel well and are widely offered, so I was able to purchase from a few different brands for the sake of flavor ~variety. If you’re a fan of chocolate covered oranges you’ll be in luck because they’re everywhere, and are offered relatively cheaply by the kilo. That being said, the non-traditional side of Eurochocolate is where the real attraction is in my opinion. Anyone can find bougie chocolate in Whole Foods, but when are you going to see chocolate ravioli being made right in front of you? Or be able to buy ready-to-cook chocolate tagliatelle, penne, and ziti?
Beyond chocolate bars and candies, a huge section of Eurochocolate was devoted to baked goods that adhered to the chocolate theme. These were the types of treats you would find in Instagram-famous bake shops in the United States as well as in the Italian bakery of your hometown (re: there were plenty of cannoli options). Most of the chocolate inside baked goods was either white or milk chocolate, though some shops offered a dark variety. Some of my favorites included a sugar-doughnut stuffed with milk chocolate (that kind of tasted like Nutella so maybe it had hazelnut it?? Still wondering…), a Belgian waffle on a stick dipped in milk chocolate, and my breakfast Sunday morning: the most decadent chocolate croissant you will have in your entire life— seriously, it was 90% chocolate 10% croissant.
We quickly realized after washing chocolate down with chocolate (yes there were free samples of hot chocolate and it was the most delicious cup I’ve had in my entire life) that we would need something savory to cut the sweet. Luckily for us, one side of the festival is solely dedicated to this purpose, offering everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to prosciutto and cheese plates. For whatever reason, I settled upon a stand that sold fried food and ordered the “mix” which entailed my eating French fries, deep fried olives, and deep fried mozzarella balls. To be honest the first two were a wash and I barely ate any, but THE MOZZARELLA BALLS MY GOODNESS. You know when you buy really fresh mozzarella and it’s still moist and almost dripping? That’s the kind of mozzarella they used, which was then breaded and deep fried on the spot. Simply incredible and I apologize for the lack of a picture because I ate it too quickly.
Another great savory option at the festival was a stand which sold only truffle-flavored products. Truffle cheese, truffle pâté, truffle potato chips, truffle fries, you name it, they put truffle in or on it. I ended up taking home a bag of truffle potato chips but highly recommend picking up a wheel of the truffle cheese if you have a chance. Completely unrelated to Perugia, but if you love truffles and are ever in Florence you must go to ZaZa — they have an entire section of their menu dedicated to truffle specialties and the prices are great.
Upon arriving in Perugia, I quickly realized that Eurochocolate was similar to a large carnival or amusement park for the citizens of Perugia (but more likely for the millions of people that would visit the city in the fifteen days that the festival would run). This meant using chocolate in ways not only meant for consumption but rather for entertainment— like a FIAT covered in truffles (see here because the file size was too large for me to upload my own pic) or a live chocolate carving display.
The picture below is a man TAKING AN AXE TO A HUGE BLOCK OF PURE CHOCOLATE. I never got to see the completed product, but was informed that the chocolate block was being sculpted into the shape of a guitar to follow the theme of this year’s festival, which was music. As he chipped away at the sculpture, several helpers below the stage collected the scraps of chocolate, bagged them, and handed them to spectators.
All in all, 10/10 would recommend Eurochocolate to any of my fellow chocolate lovers! It offers a chance to see the beautiful city of Perugia during one of the most unique weeks of its year.
On Columbus Day, the GU Eating Society and the GU French Cultural Association teamed up to bring members free crepes in the Arrupe Kitchen. From making the batter to customizing it with sweet and savory fillings, members of both organizations had the opportunity to enjoy some authentic French cuisine on a busy Monday afternoon.
The prep started with preparing the crepe batter. What are crepes exactly? Crepes are extremely thin and stretchy pastry, typically stuffed with various fillings. In America, we compare crepes to pancakes, considering them as thinner pancakes due to their alike consistency and flavor. The key to making a thinner pancake is due to the thinner batter, which involves using less flour and more milk. The batter is then poured onto a nonstick pan or crepe pan – whatever ensures the resulting crepe is round, large, and thin. The batter is poured around until it reaches the desired thinness. Once one side is complete, the crepe is flipped and cooked on the other side, and then can be prepared with fillings. Check the bottom of this blog for our recipe!
We had a variety of fillings for our members to put inside their crepe. For savory fillings, we had cheddar cheese, goat cheese, spinach, mushrooms, ham, and tomatoes. We got all of these ingredients from our local Whole Foods DC, GUES' co-sponsor, and proudly supported the 365 Value brand. For sweet fillings, we had several jars of Nutella, Biscoff cookie butter, strawberries, banana, cinnamon, sugar, raspberry jam, and apricot jam. Members enjoyed multiple crepes, both sweet and savory!
We are extremely grateful for the GU French Cultural Association teaming up with us to bring all members a unique French experience. We all had a great time cooking and customizing our crepes, and especially eating them! We learned a lot about French culture and cuisine, and loved mingling with our fellow Hoyas while doing so.
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 pinch of salt
1 or 2 tablespoon of water
Put the flour in a boil. Make a well in the center and break the eggs there.
Add the oil, the salt and a little bit of milk. Mix energetically the dough with a wooden spoon to get rid of the air bubbles.
Progressively add the milk to make the dough homogenous and light.
Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of water.
Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest for at least an hour.
Pour a spoon of dough in the pan and let it cook for 3 min for each crepe!
Hi GUESers! It’s me, MC, writing from Copenhagen, Denmark. I cannot believe I’ve been living in Copenhagen for almost two months already. As I near the halfway point in my stay, it’s the perfect time to reflect and share with you all what the heck I have been up to (and obviously, what I’ve been eating).
First off, let me set the scene for you guys. Copenhagen is like no other place I’ve ever been to. Everybody bikes, nobody jaywalks, public transportation is pristine. Castles are in the smacked in the center of the city and 17th-century architecture is blended with modern buildings. Check this out to get a little bit more of an idea:
Copenhagen is aaaaall about the hygge, and I’ve been fully embracing it. There is no direct translation of ‘hygge’ into English, but basically it means enjoying the simple, good things in life with good people and creating a warm atmosphere. This means that all of the cafés and restaurants are super cozy. I traded in a crammed Lau 2 for a café called ‘The Living Room’ that has huge couches, wool blankets, and candles.
Now the not-as-fun part: school stuff. My program at DIS Copenhagen, is centered around a core course and four electives. My core course is European Business and am surprisingly loving my class. Our core course is structured around having one full week to travel around Denmark and one full week to travel around other countries in Europe. During my week in Denmark, my class visited successful Danish businesses. Some names you might recognize are LEGO (yes, we visited the LEGO Factory and it was my childhood dream come true), ECCO shoes, and Carlsberg Brewery (my professor is the Secretary General of the Danish Brewers Association). This weekend, my class departs for Berlin AND Prague to visit more companies and to do some touristy things along the way. The best part about my program is the emphasis on learning outside of the classroom and taking advantage of our surroundings in Europe to develop our understanding inside the classroom.
One of my electives is Danish Language and Culture (a requirement taken begrudgingly by all Georgetown students here). I’m not going to lie, the Danish language is tricky. I took French for eight years and it is not at all similar. The written language looks nothing like the spoken language. For example, the word for food is spelled “mad” but pronounced “malle.” Luckily for me, almost everyone in Denmark speaks English, so it’s easy enough to communicate.
Okay, enough about classes. Back to what you guys are reading this for… the food. Another thing you need to know about Copenhagen? It’s expensive. I’m here to confirm the rumors: coffee is 8 US dollars. I have to confess, I (like the rest of the Danes) have succumbed to drinking instant coffee every morning. Because the food is expensive, I needed to create a balance between enjoying the amazing food Copenhagen has to offer and not becoming bankrupt by the end of my first month. My solution: cooking.
Because I never had an apartment at Georgetown, this has been my first real experience cooking for myself. Braving my first Danish market was a frustrating experience. First of all, all of the food names are in Danish (chicken = kylling; cheese = ost; you get the picture). I couldn’t find foods that were staples in my kitchen cabinets back home (still have yet to find normal tortilla chips and salsa). But then I realized that this is probably my only opportunity to be living in another country. I need to embrace the food and the culture here, rather than hold onto the things I like from home. I swapped my white bread for rugbrød, the dense Danish rye bread (actually fantastic for avo toast!), rather than seeking out what I missed from home.
Though I cook for myself, I also can’t help but to eat out. The food in Copenhagen is absolutely incredible. While there are some staple traditional Danish foods you can find everywhere, Danes basically eat any kind of food you can think of: Thai food, pizza, pasta, ice cream, lots and lots of shawarma. One traditional Danish food is smørrebrød, a piece of buttered rye bread stacked (and I mean STACKED) with means, fish, or other spreads. Danes love their fish. Since I’m not a huge fish eater, I sadly cannot report on any of that. Danes also love their porridge. They make breakfast, lunch, and dinner porridges, and layer them with fruits, veggies, sauces, anything really.
My favorite part about the food in Denmark is the diversity. I never get sick of a certain kind of food because there are SO many things to try here. I’ve eaten at so many incredible places and tried so many incredible foods, so I’ll try to give you the highlights of my favorites:
Okay, wow, are you still with me? I just unloaded a lot on you. I guess to sum it up, I’ll leave you with this: Food in Copenhagen is expensive, but trust me, it will be worth every bite.
Co-Sponsored Event: Middle Eastern Baking Workshop with the Georgetown University Arab Society and Whole Foods!
This past Saturday, GUES had the incredibly opportunity of co-sponsoring Georgetown University Arab Society's event, a Middle Eastern Baking Workshop. GUAS members and attendees of the event were able to learn and create their own Middle Eastern goodies, thanks to the many wonderful 365 products that Whole Foods DC, GUES's long-standing sponsor, donated for the event. Event attendees used various 365 products, such as flour, cane sugar, powdered sugar, milk, Grade A brown eggs and butter, to craft up fantastic baked goods. Read on to learn more about what was made!
GUAS did a demo of three popular Middle Eastern baked goods. The first was ghraybeh, also known as Lebanese butter cookies, that were made from a soft, pasty dough of powdered sugar and butter, and as a signature, topped with a slivered almond. Once baked, the cookies were soft, crumbly, and both sweet and buttery, making the perfect companion to a cup of tea or coffee or as a delicious post-dinner dessert.
The second dish prepared was manakeesh, a traditional Middle Eastern flatbread topped with zait ou za'atar (Arabic for olive oil and za'atar!). Za'atar is a common spice blend used in the Middle East, typically of thyme, oregano, and sesame seeds. The dough was kneaded by hand, rolled, and flattened into small round discs, to then be topped with the olive oil and spice blend combo and baked. The result was a semi-fluffy, semi-crispy flatbread with a savory and unique flavor on top.
Lastly, a sweet Middle Eastern dessert, basbousa, was demoed. Basbousa is typically served in a cake or in bars, and is made with special coarse semolina flour and drenched in a rose-water or orange-blossom simple syrup. Extremely simple to make, as GUAS demonstrated, basbousa is a common Middle Eastern dessert and its extremely sweet taste goes perfectly with a strong cup of Turkish coffee.
GUAS did a fantastic job demonstrating these various Middle Eastern baked goods at this event – we thank them for extending their hospitality to GUES! We absolutely loved learning more about Middle Eastern culture and food. Special thanks to Whole Foods DC for supplying the many 365 products, which made each dish the more satisfying, as they were made with all-natural, high-quality ingredients.
This past weekend, GUES teamed up with the Georgetown Italian Club to bring students the opportunity to create and eat delicious handmade pastas, courtesy of assistance from the Chef of Al Volo DC. Originally from Florence, Daniele had years of experience working in high end restaurants with a famous NYC restaurant group – until he decided to craft and sell his own fresh-made pastas as a side job. When others soon became enamored with the quality pasta product Daniele was selling, he took the risk and decided to open up Cucina Al Volo with his nephew Matteo. Located in Union Market, Cucina Al Volo sells handmade pastas and fresh sauces to make at home, or pasta and sauce combinations to eat there. Once their stand at Union Market became an instant hit, the duo decided to expand and opened up Osteria Al Volo in Adams Morgan, which serves delicious antipasti, hearty pasta dishes, decadent desserts and of course, dozens of wine varities.
Daniele started off the pasta making class by introducing his back story and inspiration of opening up Al Volo in the nation's capitol, followed by an introduction of the special technique he uses to create all-natural, high quality pastas. Using a professional pasta maker with a bronze dial, he mixed semolina flour and whole eggs together to create a course dough, which the machine then churned out into long, slightly rough ribbons of fettuccine pasta. Attendees of the event got to help roll the ribbons of pasta into rounds – as shown below.
Next, Daniele showed attendees how to make gnocchi, a pasta made from potatoes and shaped into little pillows. First, he boiled starchy Idaho potatoes until soft, which attendees then grated finely. The potato mash was then mixed with more semolina flour, creating a dense and moist dough which attendees then rolled and cut into small ovals. Both the gnocchi and the fettuccine was placed in boiling water until soft (but not too soft, as true Italians love a good bite to their pasta) and mixed with fresh made sauces that Daniele brought with him. The fettuccine was paired with a tomato-based lamb ragu, which was hearty, savory and extremely flavorful. The lamb within the ragu was extremely tender and juicy. The gnocchi was paired with a homemade pesto sauce, which had fragrant notes of fresh basil, garlic, and pine nuts. And to top both dishes off were several hearty spoonfuls of fresh grated parmesan cheese.
Overall, the event was incredible – from the hands-on experience with making pasta to being able to taste them in delectable sauces. After this event, GUES members are sure to try out Cucina Al Volo and Osteria Al Volo – plus we're anticipating the opening up of a new Al Volo restaurant in Baltimore. Special thanks to the Italian Club for co-hosting this event with us and Daniele for all of his pasta-making wisdom and fantastic food.
It's warm and sunny Wednesday, Georgetown students taking in the mix of smells and flavors that make up the Farmers Market. Enter Maracas Ice Pops – a light-blue bicycle stand on the outer perimeter of Red Square selling chilled ice pops made of all-natural fruit. This past Wednesday, GUES members were lucky enough to get a real taste Maracas Ice Pops, and heard from Julia, the creator of the Mexican-styled handcrafted, gourmet ice pop brand. Not only did we enjoy chomping down on some refreshing, sweet ice pops, but we also have a newfound appreciation for Julia's story and what the Maracas brand means.
Julia transferred to Georgetown University from born-Puebla Meixco, and graduated from the School of Foreign Service ('87). Her education eventually led her to her current career choice as an International Trade Attorney. But despite enjoying her work as a lawyer, she desired to fuse her love for her Mexican heritage with her love for high-quality food – Maracas Pops was born. Practicing law during the day and selling ice pops on her time off (and on Wednesdays!), Julia is now proud of the product she creates and enjoys serving them to hundreds across the DC area.
So, what's in Maracas Pops?
One word: all-natural ingredients. Julia stands behind each ingredient that goes into her ice pops – from strawberries in the Strawberry-flavored pop to the lime juice in a new crowd favorite, the Cucumber-Chili-Lime pop. Julia is focused on the quality of every ice pop, which is what distinguishes Maracas from any other ice pop you might buy in a store. To top it off, she seeks out local ingredients whenever possible – the Coffee Pop has sourced dairy from local farmers and coffee from an awesome cold brew blend.
Each pop is a blend of unique flavors, most typically fruit-based, and is never taken from a recipe – Julia tests a unique combination of ingredients to craft a perfect, original pop. What's her personal favorite? "The hibiscus flavor," she said, "prepared from an infusion of the fresh hibiscus flower, and not from concentrated syrup like you will see in many hibiscus flavored beverages."
What's Next for Maracas?
Luckily for us, Julia is testing out tons of new ice pop flavors that will be unveiled in the coming months. These flavors include açaì, yogurt, and particularly, coconut, which she hopes will capture the flavor of her hometown in Mexico. She's also in the works of creating alcohol-infused pops, which will make any pregame exponentially better. Also luckily for us, she'll be at the Farmers Market all semester long.
Maracas Pops definitely stand out in their quality, freshness, and flavor. Make sure to pick one up at the Farmers Market next Wednesday!
Check out Maracas Pops on Facebook & Instagram for more.
Taste The Culture
Welcome to Fork Tales – The GU Eating Society's blog. Read all about our members' cultural food experiences, right here.