It was Friday night at Via Umbria—the cafe was full of patrons enjoying dinner, guests in the wine room were engaged in our Weekly Somm tasting and a Birthday celebration was due to start upstairs shortly. Bill and I looked around and realized that we had a great staff on hand and that if we left now we could sit outside on this perfect September night and enjoy dinner and a relaxing evening at home- so run away we did. A few minutes later as we inched along Wisconsin Avenue, we realized that we had no groceries at home. Not just ‘nothing we wanted to eat’, but after weeks of late nights and travel – not a single thing that qualified as edible. As we got closer to the Safeway and started discussing strategies for running in quickly and what we could make – a last minute U-turn was made and we and headed straight back to Via Umbria to pick up our staples.
While there are definitely some benefits to the enormity of a store like Safeway, the idea of being able to avoid the chaos and dash into Via Umbria to grab a few excellent products from farms we know and love seemed like the obvious choice.
We often describe Via Umbria as an “Italian Village under one roof” but in many ways it would be simpler and just as accurate to describe our store as a one-stop market in Georgetown for high-quality pantry staples and top-notch food.
With the idea of ‘who knows what tomorrow brings,’ here is my express list of groceries and pantry staples we grabbed and how I plan to use them:
- Oven Roasted Chicken
- Jarred Tomatoes
- Franciacorta – delicious sparkling wine
For the record—lentils and farro are my go to last-minute dinner staples. Why?
- They don’t need to be soaked
- They can cook unattended
- They cook in under 30 minutes
- They are super versatile
- They are delicious and nutritious
Now, faced with a bevy of incredible ingredients, dinner was simple. We cut the chicken in half and put it in the oven to warm up, set a pot of lentils, carrots, and onions to simmer on the stove, and made a bright and fresh salad of lettuce with olive oil, lemon juice and a hint of shaved parmigiano.
In less than the time it would take to have a delicious, greasy pizza delivered we were sitting outside on a perfect fall night enjoying a glass of wine and a favorite cheese from the Pennsylvania-based Farm at Doe Run while our dinner was happily cooking.
That’s just half of my express shopping list. What else is on my menu for this week?
- Pasta with tomato sauce, parmigiano and a green salad
- Farro soup with onions, carrots and chicken
- Baked Meatballs with lentils and roasted carrots
And for the night I really don’t want to cook at all? I’m opening a bottle of Franciacorta, cracking open a tin of caviar and enjoying some locally cured Smoked Salmon from DC Smokehouse. If I had really been thinking ahead I would have grabbed some yogurt, a dozen eggs and a pack of bacon—then I wouldn’t have to wake up on Saturday morning wondering what’s for breakfast!