I was a little bummed out that I had to work the weekend before Halloween (that's two years in a row now!). The trustees of my institution met in Washington, DC. A highlight of the meetings themselves was Friday evening at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History - drinks in the Hope Diamond room and dinner in the Hall of Mammals. Pretty classy, and I'm slapping myself now for not taking pictures.
Another great part of the weekend was getting the chance to hang out with one of my high school friends. Saturday night we watched the Sox from a bar packed with Boston fans - we couldn't help but laugh as the group behind us talked about going to Sturbridge Village with their elementary school classes... yep, done that.
On Sunday we wandered around the city, shopping and dining as the spirit took us. By the time we were headed back towards my hotel from Dupont Circle, we were both a little peckish. She spotted Vapiano, a place she's been dying to try for a while, and me, well, I'm always up for Italian food, so we headed on in.
This place reminded me a lot of Marche, which used to have a huge outpost in the Prudential Building in Boston, only this was much smaller and hipper. When you enter, they give you a card which you have to swipe at each station as you order your food. At the end, they just run the card through the register, and each order is added up. Much easier and neater than those Marche paper slips and stamps. Everything is red or black or a neutral color, and there are no regular tables, just deep leather chairs with short tables or bar stools along long high tops.
For our first course, we ordered the rucula pizza, a made-when-ordered cheese pizza topped with tons of fresh arugula and loaded with shaved parmesan. Have I mentioned before that arugula is possible the best green in the world? I could eat this pizza every day and be quite happy. The crust was very thin, although a little unstable, especially with the load of salad on top. Definitely a pizza to eat with knife and fork.
Course two was from the other half of the menu, pasta. Right away, both of us were drawn to one unusual combo - lime and mint. The sauce is simple and delicious, and I'm sure I'll be copying it at home. A little olive oil, a little butter, some lime juice, some fresh mint, and garlic, topped with grated parmesan and lots of fresh black pepper. Mmmm. I think I'll add some lime zest when I try it out, it could have used just a touch more lime zing.
And of course you need a little sweet to end the meal. There are a few desserts on the menu, but we opted for the candy dish on the way out. Now, most restaurants offer mints or small chocolates. Not here. Gummi bears, baby!
So the next time I'm in the area (who knows what that'll be) and need a quick and cheap bite, I know I'll be headed for Vapiano.
Unfortunately, this international chain's only US locations are in DC. Testing the waters, I'm sure. I'd love to see this come to Boston where it would fit in well, despite the plethora of Italian food.