Friday, February 8, 2013

Bethesda, Maryland

Ah, an afternoon or evening in Downtown Bethesda makes for a wonderful walk about, you can eat, shop, catch a movie and wine taste all within a few city blocks around Bethesda Ave.
Start your tour with lunch or dinner at any one of my personal favorites, lets pop into Assaggi first!  Meaning "Tasting"in Italian, this lovely restaurant boasts authentic Italian cuisine!  Chef and Owner Domenico Cornacchia, should know, a restaurant apprentice since he was 12 years old is only the start of his journey with his love of food.  Born in Central Italy and having traveled through Europe and parts of the United States, this Chef certainly knows his stuff, try it for yourself if you don't believe me;)  Start with a mozzarella tasting of the finest cheeses from Italy, California and Virginia.  For your main course, try the Panino al Tacchino,  a sandwich to remember, roasted turkey, avocado and balsamic caramelized onions for lunch or the Orecchiette, orecchiette pasta with pumpkin, goat cheese and pine nuts for dinner are excellent choices!    Add a glass of wine and dessert to make your trip unforgettable!  Did I mention there is a Georgetown Cupcake right next door?!?!?  If you're too full, take home a pack of these OUTRAGEOUSLY GOOD Cupcakes: Favorites include PB Chip, Lava Fudge and Coconut!!!
Pasta with cured duck and asparagus
Other restaurants I frequent are Vino Volo, Mon Ami Gabi, Jaleo, and Haven based on what I'm in the mood for;)
Vino Volo, a wine bar along Woodmont Ave. reminds me of a rustic, country inn with modern twist!  From the rod iron in the chairs to the distressed wooden tables, you'll feel warm and cozy on the iciest of days!  What I love most about this place is the Wine Tasting Flights.  The menu offers up savory sandwiches, crisp salads, rustic pizzas and delightful desserts for lunch and the dinner options are even better, try the Pan-Seared Thyme Chicken!
Bright Flight
Mon Ami Gabi will transport you to the bustling streets of Paris!  You'll be seated at a table dressed in white linens, greeted with a carafe of l'eau and a warm baguette, carts of French wine will be flying by, waiters balancing trays of Beef Bourguignon and Duck a la Orange will pass your table, all while listening to the chatter of tables near by, wine corks being popped, and the tune of french music dancing on the air!
Jaleo, a side of Spain you've never seen before will send your taste buds into a Flamenco club where ladies in twirling red dresses will stir up quiet a show on your tongue!  Some of my ALL TIME FAVORITES on this incredible menu include: the fried dates wrapped in bacon, the apple, fennel and manchego cheese salad dressed in sherry and walnuts, and the grilled lamb t-bones!!!  Oh the YUM!!!!
Haven, new home to this New Haven, Connecticut born Chef knows all there is to know about a great pizza pie!!!  Using old Italian bread ovens, fueled with coal, this place turns out the yummiest pizzas I've had since I was sitting in Pisa, Italy one summer with my adoring husband!!!  Our personal favorite is the Margarita pizza, dressed with a tantalizing tomato sauce, huge lumps of fresh mozzarella and sweet basil.  Wash it down with a glass of Chianti and you'll be in Heaven....or Haven;)
After you've had your fill, venture out for some shopping or catch a movie!  Bethesda Row Cinema, featuring many independent films and Regal Cinemas are just a hop, skip and a jump away!
But if shopping is your forte, then feast your eyes, hearts and wallets on these beauties:

Mustard Seed, open since 1991 gives gals and guys modern trends as well as vintage threads in a one stop shop!  With their ever changing inventory you're sure to never spot the same thing twice, so if you love it and can't live without it, you might want to take it;)  I have bought everything from a gorgeous pair of Manolo Blahniks, to an 80's club mini dress from here.  Selling new and gently used apparel, shoes and accessories,  you can also sell your own clothing here with an appointment and gain back some green!  The lovely ladies in this shop will introduce you to the new fashion trends coming straight out of NYC and help you pick out the perfect vintage purse to go with a prim and proper 1950's party frock, enjoy!  I always do, thank you Gale:)

Bella Italia, owned and operated by those who cherish the beauty of the Italian landscape.  From enriching your meals at home with infused olive oils, tomato sauces, amazing pesto and cook books, to dressing your home and table with the finest Italian, hand painted ceramics this side of the globe and adorning your walls with Italian art and your body with handmade, Italian jewelry.  This place is wonderful at every turn!  You'll also find scrumptious chocolates, accessories like purses and scarves and even wooden puppets at this lovely shop!  Saluti!!!

Be sure to stop into Francesca's, for women's clothing, accessories and small household gifts; Lululemon, for amazing athletic wear; Ten Thousand Villages, for one of a kind items from all over the world and its all FAIR TRADE; Paper Source, for unique gifts, stationary and other odds and ends; S&K Consignments for an Antiquers Paradise, Blue Mercury, for fine make-up, perfumes, and spa services; Fancy Cakes by Leslie, to take home macaroons in all the colors of the rainbow; Dolcezza, for gelato and coffee paradise; and Town Jewelers, for beautiful, handmade jewelry, the owner of this shop is a true artisan and has even fixed many of my antique pieces!!!  Best on the weekends is a visit to The Farm Women's Co-Op Market, an outdoor bizarre of antiques, art and worldly treasures:)  Grab a coffee and Go!
Bethesda Lane
If you're in the mood for fine art, I recommend a pop into Marin-Price Galleries, this gallery features beautiful paintings and heavy bronze sculptures, a walk through Downtown Bethesda should definitely include at least a window shop of this place!
Can you spot Me???
Waverly Street Gallery, on the northern part of Downtown Bethesda includes Paintings, sculptures and photography that will make you melt!  One of the finest exhibitions I've seen here, was recently with The Love of Nature, beautiful Chinese watercolors by artist Irene Tsai!  Check back regularly for changing exhibitions!
Have a wonderful day, or night!

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