Valentine's Day is taken very seriously here at Via Umbria, not only because of what it represents, but also because of the ...
A question in the restaurant industry that has been up for debate for years: which is the correct way to serve and clear each guest’s place settings? Is it better to serve and clear the guest’s dishes from the left or from the right?
Some go by “service on the left, clearing on the right”, which originated from when butlers would present food to their guests on the left side. The guest would then either take food from what the butler had showcased or the butler would serve them but both would be served on the right side. This is also thought to be less intrusive to guests as more people are right handed than left handed; therefore, you won’t be reaching over your guest to deliver their meal.
Others seem to believe that “service and clearing from the right” is the correct way to serve. This is because wine is always served on the right as the wine glasses are set on the right side above the plate. The only food that should be presented on the left is bread because each guest’s bread plate is on the left.
I personally have seen servers do a little bit of both but I think it all comes down to whatever the guest is comfortable with. Every server’s goal is to make the diner happy and to make the overall experience pleasant.
And although there are many ways to serve, we here at Via Umbria think that it is most important to enjoy your meal, your company, and your dining experience. If you haven’t already been to an event or dinner at Via Umbria, I highly recommend that you do so you can see what we’re all about! We have so many different options to offer; whether it be a delectable meal at one of our Chef’s Table dinners, eating a quick lunch or dinner in our Cafe, or attending one of our many cooking or cocktail classes. Come hungry and we’ll do the rest from there!
A question in the restaurant industry that has been up for debate for years: which is the correct way to serve and ...
Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. Not because I love chocolate (although, if we’re being real, that doesn’t hurt) but because of the idea of doing something special for the special people in your life. Growing up, Valentine’s Day was always a bigger occasion in our house than in many. My parents would get up early to cook an enormous breakfast: eggs, bacon, waffles, strawberries, english muffins, regular muffins, donuts, and did I mention bacon? We would wake up just a little earlier than we did on a regular school day and all sit down together to enjoy our meal- at the end of which my father would reach behind his back and ‘spontaneously’ present us each with gifts. Always a card, a thoughtfully picked out card with a personalized message of love, appreciation, and advice (don’t stub your toe!), always a small box of chocolates, and always a little something extra he had picked out just for us.
People often complain that Valentine’s Day is a “commercial holiday” or a “Hallmark holiday” which I’m not here to deny. The idea that children are required to bring tiny scraps of paper with more candy than any of their peers should eat attached to it to school on February 14th every year is a little silly. The fact that it’s impossible to get a decent reservation at any restaurant during the entire week of Valentines day- whether it’s because they’re overbooked with couples or because they’re forcing an overpriced ‘Valentine’s’ themed menu on you is frustrating. And for sure the idea that Valentine’s Day is the one day you need to profess your love to someone is simply Hollywood nonsense.
But if you take it a step back, strip it down to its basic parts, why should we not revel in the chance to tell the special people in our lives that they matter? The key is to find the right way to do it. The tradition of a greeting card and a box of heart shaped chocolates is tired but that doesn’t mean the holiday has to be. For my family, Valentine’s Day was never about hearts, cards, and horseshoes but about taking the time to celebrate each other with one another on what would otherwise be a regular day of the week. For yours it might be about finally treating yourselves to those gorgeous place settings you’ve been eyeing for months and creating an exceptional dinner to plate on them. Or taking time out of your busy schedules to roll up your sleeves and take a cooking class together. Or even just sharing a relaxing evening at home with the perfect bottle of wine. Whatever you choose to do, take advantage of the opportunity to treat the important people in your life to something special.
If you’re looking for ideas for what to do, for something off the beaten path stop in and ask us- we’re happy to help you brainstorm ways to make this holiday as fun and memorable for you as it has always been for us.
Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. Not because I love chocolate (although, if we’re being real, that doesn’t ...
The holidays are here! Are you ready? Stressed about entertaining so many friends and relatives at your home? Well stop! There are so many easy ways to keep people happy, and to be able to spend time with them rather than finding yourself working double-time in the kitchen while everyones off caroling (though, personally, I’d rather be in the kitchen than subjecting others to my singing). Cheese is such a good way to spread some holiday happiness, get people an easy appetizer, and to keep yourself happy while you’re watching your rib roast cook away in the oven. I’ll be honest: there isn’t any cheese that doesn’t go with the holidays, but there are a few recommendations that I have that are exceptional this time of here.
Cheese is such a good way to spread some holiday happiness
The first, and most traditional, is stilton. Here at Via Umbria, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a whole wheel of it from Neal’s Yard Dairy in London. We carry cheeses from our favorite affineurs across the pond year but the stilton that we buy for Christmas is my favorite part of this relationship. Stilton has been a part of English Christmas tradition for a long time. As such it pairs with so many of the foods that we eat, from spiced nuts to the big beef itself. Neal’s Yard’s stilton is made by one of the smallest producers: Colston Bassett, a co-op in Nottinghamshire where they take care to do everything by hand (something you won’t find at the factory that makes the stilton you’re buying at the supermarket).
I also really like the L’Amuse signature gouda for this time of year. It’s a cheese we are fortunate to have on hand year round, but when the days get shorter and colder, the cheese really stands out. This good gouda is not something soft and flabby, that requires smoke to mask it’s flavor. This gouda, traditionally made in the Netherlands, is colored with anatto and aged for over two years. If you ever hear someone talk about crystallization in cheese, this is the prime example, as it’s age makes almost crunchy. It’s flavor is an intense caramel that warms the soul – and pairs with some of your seasonal beers – the stouts and porters that good brewers release for the colder days.
My final cheese recommendation for the holidays is also the easiest to recommend, since it is only released this time of year: the Rush Creek Reserve. This is one of those now-trendy cheeses with washed rinds that are wrapped in spruce bark. But they’re trendy for a reason (they’re delicious) and they are perfect for entertaining. To eat them you slice off the top and open up to reveal a cheese so soft it’s ready for dipping. Of all these cheeses though, Rush Creek is the best. It’s producer: Uplands Cheese Company of Dodgeville, Wisconsin makes only two cheeses with their small herd. This cheese is made with milk that is produced in the autumn, when the cow’s diet has switched from the fresh summer grass to hay. It’s made with raw milk, making the beefy, brothy flavor so much more intense. It’s so good and honestly, hard to find and sells quickly (I’m not kidding people go crazy for this). If you’re entertaining for the holidays this is the cheese to get.
The holidays are here! Are you ready? Stressed about entertaining so many friends and relatives at your home? Well stop! There are ...
At Via Umbria there are no secrets when it comes to sharing our love of cocktails. Our Mixologist Matt Demma is the “professional”, but our cafe staff has lots of experience and can seriously whip up a mean drink. While I like to think of myself as a pseudo-professional, I’m more of a self-proclaimed alcohol aficionado.
In our nation’s capital, the first week of June is dedicated to the Negroni. Another great reason to live in DC. To celebrate Negroni Week we are throwing a storewide event where Campari meets Party: Camparti.
Gruppo Campari is a company based in Milan that makes awesome spirits. Most notably
Campari and Aperol. Campari is a beautiful red, bitter liqueur and probably the world’s best known apéritivo (side note: an apéritivo is a liqueur meant to be drunk before the meal to aid in digestion). Since 1860, for over 150 years the Campari recipe has been untouched, unchanged. Aperol is Campari’s younger, flirtier sister. With a rich orange color, less bitter it is changing the Apéritivo scene across Italy and here in the States.
What is a Negroni?
A little background for those who do not know: the Negroni is a classic Italian Cocktail made with gin, sweet vermouth and Campari or Aperol garnished with an orange peel. As an avid gin drinker and Italophile, the Negroni is everything I ask for in a drink: strong and bitter.
Dating as far back as the beginning of the 20th century, the Negroni has been a staple cocktail across Italy. Many variations of this drink have been crafted, however the truest Negroni you’ll ever get is made with gin, sweet vermouth, and most importantly Campari (without Campari the Negroni would never have been conceived).
What is this deliciousness called a Spritz?
Around the same time the Negroni surfaced in Italy, another lesser-known (equally-as-good-if-not-better) apéritivo was concocted: Aperol. In 1919, the Italians swooned over this orange liqueur and by the 1950s Aperol had made its mark with the “3,2,1 Spritz” recipe. As any bottle of Aperol could tell you. Magic, this drink is pure magic I tell you: very refreshing, good for any occasion…Brunch, Lunch, Happy Hour, Dinner, beyond. Love for Aperol and the Spritz spread like wildfire across Italy. Yet for 150 years Campari has owned the apéritivo market, so much so that Gruppo Campari acquired the rights and recipe to Aperol in 2003. Now, this unstoppable duo inspires a variety cocktails essential to the core of Italian lifestyle.
Negroni Week – Who Knew?
As the unofficial ambassadors of Umbria to Georgetown, Negroni Week is the perfect opportunity for us to share our love of cocktails combined with our appreciation and understanding of the Italian lifestyle. Although we do celebrate these apéritivos on a regular basis with our Spritz O’Clock menu in the cafe, Camparti is our way of celebrating all of our favorite Negroni and Spritz secrets. When I realized our latest catch phrase became “It’s Always Spritz O’Clock!” I just knew we were the right venue to host Camparti. From the Negroni to Aperol Cotton Candy, this Campari Party will have it all! We’ll have different stations featuring variations on the Negroni and a full Negroni/Spritz bar with drinks made to order.
How Can I Join in on the Fun
Camparti is on Thursday June 8 at 7pm, for tickets and more information please visit: //viaumbria.com/june-8-camparti.html
At Via Umbria there are no secrets when it comes to sharing our love of cocktails. Our Mixologist Matt Demma is the ...
Rolling out the red carpet, last Thursday we joined forces with three other local businesses, here in Georgetown, to create an experience like no other. With gorgeous gowns from Signature Dresses and Lili the First, breathtaking hair and makeup done by Illusions Salon of Georgetown, this fashion show was not really about the looks. Rather, to us Strong Women in Fashion was more than just a fashion show, it was a way for us and our collaborators to reach out and give back to the community. All proceeds from the event, including ticket sales, were donated to Suited for Change. For those who do not know, Suited for Change is the leading nonprofit organization that provides professional attire, mentoring, and job-readiness skills to women seeking financial independence in the DC area. Overall we want our message to be clear: Female Empowerment. Uniquely yet unsurprisingly, the four businesses that collaborated to create this event are owned by women. As the idea for this event sprouted, the owners began to ask themselves, what does it mean to be a strong woman? Every person you ask will give you a different answer, but we agreed across the board that a strong woman is someone who believes in herself and believes that nothing can hold her back. In fashion, the runway is the epitome of strength, all eyes are on the model, what she is wearing, and how she wears it. And in life, clothing has the innate ability to empower women; when she looks fierce she feels fierce, and when she feels fierce she is fierce. For this fashion show we did not go out and hire runway models, instead we found women that everyone can relate to: DC Fashion and Lifestyle bloggers. These bloggers are the women we take the final word from regarding what to do, what to wear, and where to eat. Truthfully, any woman could have strutted her stuff down our red carpet runway, and that was the point. Strong Women in Fashion was never about us, it was and still is about the people we can inspire.
Photo Credits: Jeremy Goins & Snapshots by Sierra
Rolling out the red carpet, last Thursday we joined forces with three other local businesses, here in Georgetown, to create an experience ...
Looking over the week’s itinerary I realize there is a glaring gap – no time to spend in Deruta. How can this be? It takes a little creative juggling and we add in a morning at Geribi Studio without taking away from anything else.
Bill has recently taken up yoga. He really enjoys the peace and calm and the opportunity to escape and unwind. He asks me to join him and I remind him that peace and calm aren’t really my thing. Escaping and unwinding is difficult for me. I’ve done yoga in the past but found myself constantly checking my watch, using the meditative time to freak out about things undone and worst of all falling asleep on the mat. When it comes to escaping and unwinding – yoga for Bill and Gerardo’s studio for me.
This is where I can relax. My hand is not steady, my eye is not creative – but I am not here for perfection I’m here to work with my hands. To spend a couple of hours unwinding, escaping, living in the moment and watching a blank plate turn into my own creation.
Guests often panic when they sit down to paint. The Ribigini family is so talented it is hard to imagine recreating anything close to what they do. But of course this is a talent that comes from hours and hours, years and years of practice.
I’ve made the mistake before of looking at designs and thinking that they would be easy – but all the detail, the small thin lines – not as easy as they look. Today I sit down confidently. I have finally figured out the perfect balance of powdered color to water. And that is a pretty major key to painting in Deruta.
I look at the graphite dotting the page and look at the hundreds of plates surrounding me and decide where I want to make my adjustments. Of course I want to paint the peacock feather – but now I get to decide where I make straight lines and where I add scallops – where I add the pomegranate seeds or the round circles. Sticking with the familiar but wanting to try something a little bit new.
When we first met Gerardo and Asunta 20 years ago we immediately fell in love with their designs. The blues and yellows in their geometric designs and the beautiful green peacock feathers. Over the years the designs have expanded – adding a beautiful lemon design with a dark blue background evolving into an array of fruits with backgrounds of black and red and eventually lavender, burgundy and light blue. When their daughter Claudia starting working in the studio she introduced a more modern twist – bold oranges and blues and soft pastels of pink and green and lavendar. When I first saw the new colors – I was of a mind that these were not for me. But my children fell in love with them immediately. So a new color palate for a new generation. Over the years the colors have grown on me. And today I choose a pink for the first time. Who says an old dog can’t learn a new trick?
And we spend the morning painting, laughing, scraping away mistakes easily with a small knife. And we talk about what we are doing and how and where we are going to show case our pieces. Most importantly we discuss what we will do if they aren’t perfect (a likely event). And we leave Gerardo’s studio with our new life motto, “Hang it high or cover it with cheese.”
Looking over the week’s itinerary I realize there is a glaring gap – no time to spend in Deruta. How can this ...
As a millennial born and raised in the wonderful state of New Jersey, I did not know all that much about the Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC. Other than the fact there’s an annual festival to celebrate the beautiful trees that line the waterfront, there is a limited amount of common knowledge available about the Cherry Blossoms. From my perspective, to most of the nation, they just exist. However, when I moved to DC about six months ago, I told myself I would learn the quirky secrets behind this city. In this case, my research led me to the Cherry Blossoms; as per the scientific method I cataloged my thoughts and observations as I learned the history behind this breathtaking foliage.
Initial thoughts on the Cherry Blossoms:
“George Washington and the Cherry Tree” At the age of six, young George Washington received a hatchet as a gift. A little overzealous (as any six year old wielding a hatchet should be) George supposedly chopped down his father’s beloved Cherry Tree. When his father saw what he had done George admitted “I cannot tell a lie…I cut it with my hatchet.” Celebrating his honesty in lieu of punishing his wrongdoing, George’s father praised his son’s honesty was worth a thousand cherry trees. Clearly, it makes sense that a city named after our first president would host a festival dedicated to a tree he is legend for cutting down.
Why do we celebrate the Cherry Blossoms here in Washington DC?
Beyond the George Washington tale, I have in fact been to the festival before and my impression it that this is a great family friendly fun experience and an amazing way to open up the city for a season of outdoor fun!
In 1912 the mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki, gifted the city 3,000 cherry trees to honor the close relationship the United States and Japan share. Even though the first 2,000 trees that arrived in 1910 were diseased, the two nations could not be deterred from outwardly expressing their appreciation for one another. These trees were such an important gift that First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda (the wife of the Japanese ambassador) planted the first two trees in West Potomac Park on the north bank of the tidal basin. Impressively, in 1981 the United States sent clippings from the trees to Japanese horticulturists who were desperate to replace some of the cherry blossoms, which were destroyed in a flood. Since the original festival celebrating the successful 1912 planting, these blossoms have been annually celebrated since 1934 (excluding a hiatus during WWII until 1947). Helium balloons, floats, parades over the course of four weekends is how DC currently celebrates the Cherry Blossom festival. Welcoming some 1.5 million people to the city from all over the country.
Afterthoughts and Commentary:
The National Cherry Blossom Festival draws attention to our national pride and to the positive relationships we as a nation formed across the world. These trees were a gift from Japan to us; still over a century later we give them the same respect as when they first arrived. To my disappointment, the festival has no foundation in the George Washington story. Turns out the Cherry Tree and the Cherry Blossoms were two separate plants. Regardless, this festival is a wonderful way to celebrate the beauty our change of season brings us. Get out, hit the streets, bring your mom, your kids, your grandma, the Cherry Blossom Festival is fun for the whole family!
P.S: We are celebrating this beautiful festival here at Via Umbria with a Cherry Jubilee Cocktail Class on Wednesday (3/23) and a series of themed Italian Dinner Parties (3/23-24-25). For more information and tickets please visit: //viaumbria.com/events/
As a millennial born and raised in the wonderful state of New Jersey, I did not know all that much about the ...
- Why is it important?
Saint Patrick’s Day, called as “Lá Fhéile Pádraig” in Irish, commemorates Saint Patrick as the leading saint who brought Christianity to Ireland during the fifth century and celebrates the Irish heritage and culture in general.
- How is it related to Italy?
Historians believe that St. Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton in Scotland, which was technically a territory of Britain at the time. According to historical documents, his parents – Calpurnius and Conchessa – were Italians living on a British estate. So here you go, a good enough reason for Italians to celebrate the day!
- How do I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like an Irish?
- Go Green: Pull out all the green stuff you have in your wardrobe and literally cover yourself with fifty shades of green from head to toe. Combining green with fashionable red and white stripes, buttons and pins are great, but make sure to keep the fun festive spirit! (Hint: Try painting shamrocks on the cheeks or go with a full-faced Irish flag of green, white and orange to really show your inner Irish soul.)
- Learn Some Irish Words: You might want to impress your friends with these really cool words and phrases:
- Happy Saint Patrick’s Day: Lá fhéile Pádraig sona duit (Law aye-la Par-ick sun-a dit)
- St. Paddy: This is a shortened way of saying “St. Patrick” (like calling someone named Michael, “Mike”)
- “What’s the craic?”: This phrase can be translated as “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?” and is often used in casual settings.
- Grand: This multi-purpose word in Hiberno-English can be interpreted as “fine” or “great” depending on the context. It is a perfect answer to reply when someone asks “How are you?”
- Feed Yourself with Traditional Irish Food: We are simply going to skip the “Traditional Irish Drinks” part, because we all know that beer and spirits are the greatest consumable goods to come out of Ireland. Yet, Ireland actually has an incredible selection of cuisine as well, which will make you fall in love with the Irish even more. We suggest you go with pink bacon accompanied by traditional Irish soda bread to “keep it real”. Corned beef and cabbage are more of an Irish-American tradition, but are still some of the yummiest options of the Irish diet.
- Enjoy the Day: There is no doubt that you’ll earn major points from the Irish once you go through our checklist and follow our suggestions. The last step is, of course, to have lots of fun! Check out our events at viaumbria.com/events and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the way real Irish do!
For our St. Patrick’s Day themed events, please visit our website: //viaumbria.com/events/
P.S: We will be having an all-day happy hour on St. Patrick’s Day: half price beer, wine and cocktails in addition to a special Irish inspired beer! See you then!
Why is it important? Saint Patrick’s Day, called as “Lá Fhéile Pádraig” in Irish, commemorates Saint Patrick as the leading saint who ...
The earliest of these masquerade festivals is known to be Carneval di Venezia, which dates back to 13th century. It is believed that the tradition of wearing the mask started as a tool to conceal their identity when Venetians would hold celebrations before Lent started. These celebrations were the only times when the upper and lower classes would socialize together. Hidden behind their masks, both aristocrats and peasants would engage in illegal activities such as gambling or underground affairs (as well as partying and dancing!). After all, the city was relatively small and not everyone wanted to share their personal life with others… The Venetian masks therefore at first symbolized freedom and class equality, allowing all citizens to indulge in behaviors that were otherwise seen as inappropriate.
As Venetians started wearing the masks in their daily lives besides the celebrations, illicit activities started to become very popular and sexual promiscuity became publicly acceptable. Eventually, the Republic limited the wearing of masks to only certain months of the year, which included the Carnevale period. The tradition quickly spread out across the world and today masks have become iconic symbols of festivals. Whether you’re celebrating Mardi Gras, Carneval di Venezia or Brazilian Carnival, you will be surrounded by glamorous masks full of long feathers, elegant hats and lavish patterns.
Now that you learned all about the history of carnival masks, grab one for yourself and celebrate this exciting festival with us at Via Umbria!
For more information on our carnival events, please visit viaumbria.com/events
We often associate carnivals with masks. In fact it is impossible to separate those fancy masks from the Carnevale or Mardi Gras ...
Around the world, thousands flood the streets of major cities to celebrate Carnival. Here in the United States this festival is celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana. Similar to Carnevale di Venezia, Carnival in the Big Easy is host to parades all month long leading up to Mardi Gras and the closer it gets the crazier it gets. Some dress in full costume where some barely dress at all. Bourbon Street is lined in swaths of glimmering green, gold, and purple. With faces covered in extravagant masks, beads constantly flying through the air and feather boas flowing across the crowd Carnival is a unique cultural experience not to be missed. Central to any cultural experience is the food. If you don’t eat what the locals eat, have you actually been there? Famous for it’s Cajun and Creole Cuisine, New Orleans is the perfect place for a crazy party like Carnival. This festival gives the local eateries a crowd to showcase their traditional dishes. From Crawfish to Beignets, New Orleans Carnival food is quick and easy. Stop into any restaurant in the French Quarter and you’ll easily find great places to eat. Some standard fare include crawfish and other shellfish which are commonly boiled and served with corn and potatoes. Another easy meal is the Po’boy: a submarine sandwich on french bread filled with fried seafood such as shrimp or catfish topped with lettuce, tomato and a remoulade. To pair with these foods, you’ve got to have Hurricanes the classic New Orleans cocktail made with Rum, fruit juice and grenadine. If a sweet drink isn’t your preference you can always find a Sazerac (cognac based cocktail) in NOLA. It just wouldn’t be Carnival without a Hurricane or a Sazerac. And for dessert: Beignets. New Orleans is famous for this French version of the Italian zeppole, a beignet is a sweet fried dough ball topped with powdered sugar. Another important dessert in NOLA during this festival is the King Cake. Made specifically for the Mardi Gras celebration, the King Cake is a pastry filled with raisins, cinnamon, and pecans. In true New Orleans style, an additional ingredient fills this holiday treat: a trinket, originally a porcelain baby that represented Jesus, that promises luck to the finder. The person who does find the trinket is in charge of next year’s king cake and hosting the Mardi Gras party. Celebrate, reinvent old traditions, forge new ones, it’s Carnival!
For Information about our Carnevale Events visit: viaumbria.com/events
Around the world, thousands flood the streets of major cities to celebrate Carnival. Here in the United States this festival is ...