Our First Adventure Walk - Lemon Almond Biscotti
Our First Adventure Walk
My all-time favorite activity is adventuring. Adventuring with Will. Once it’s relatively nice out, we’re eager to go on walks. Embarrassingly long walks. I like it for a number of reasons. Naturally, it's an excuse to be outside. But it’s also when we have our best talks. We chat about our future home, where we see ourselves in ten years, what we truly want. It clears our heads and mitigates our restless nature. When I sit in an office all day, feeling tethered to my desk, I crave walking, moving, exploring. I often think I don’t have the personality conducive for a desk job.
But, a desk job is my current reality. So, I must accept it, and consequently learn how to adapt. I find that when we endlessly walk on the weekends, I feel less inclined to walk when at work. When we go on these long walks, we pick a destination. An amazing sandwich shop, an authentic deli, a highly reviewed mom and pop shop. We say we’re on a search to find the best sandwiches in the DC area. We’ve enjoyed some pretty fantastic sandwiches.
Waking up on the weekend with no agenda, is one of my favorite feelings. On a nondescript Sunday in Spring 2014, we decided to go on a short walk. Nothing crazy, just a doable two miler. Okay, we should probably just walk to Bethesda, we concluded. We would walk to Maryland. Our typical routine entails Will picking the route and I choose the destination. He’s phenomenal with directions. It’s uncanny, really.
It’s basically a ten mile walk and takes roughly four hours. We started through Georgetown.
We explore different neighborhoods in DC we typically would not see. We go adventuring. Exploring. I absolutely love it. It was an ideal day: slightly overcast, an occasional breeze, nearly 80 degrees.
I live for these walks because I liken it to traveling. No rules or preconceived notions. Just exploring. Trying new things.
When we get to uncharted streets, it feels we could be anywhere in the States, anywhere in the world. If you squint, those yellow flowers look like Scotland, that pub looks like London, that apartment looks like Paris.
Once we got to Cornucopia, we were pretty hungry. We walk in, and there are pastry’s everywhere. There are cannoli’s and tiramisu in the fridge, but the floor is swarmed with bakery cookies, every type of croissant, and the best part: rows upon rows of all kinds of homemade biscotti. Nuts, chocolate, all types. I suppose my love for biscotti stems from dipping. Dipping challah in matzo ball soup, crusty bread in a good broth, and biscotti in tea or coffee. These indeed are a few of my favorite things.
We finally get up to order our sandwiches, when the owner with a thick Italian accent tells us they are out of bread. We laughed, with the understanding he was joking. But no, he showed us the two ends of the French baguette. He offered to make us sandwiches on smaller olive oil round rolls, but we declined, wanting something more substantial. Defeated, we turned to leave, explaining that we came from Arlington, just for his sandwiches. He said he’d make us sandwiches on the house, out of the ends. Will wasn’t sold, and said he needed, and I quote, sustenance. But, the owner said it was on the house, he couldn’t have us leave without trying his creation. He quickly turned out two warm sandwiches with high quality olive oil and balsamic on either side. Inside was filled with the perfect proportion of organic arugula, imported mortadella, salami, cured hams, soppressata, and Italian provolone. I deemed it the best sandwich I’ve ever had. We proceeded to ask for the same exact thing he just created, on the olive oil roll he previously described. It was awesome. For dessert, Will chose some pastries: a sfogliatella, some Florentines. I headed straight for the mounds of biscotti with chocolate or almonds or pine nuts. We had some there, but I also took a fair amount of biscotti to-go, to dip it in tea that evening.
Biscotti literally means twice baked cookie in Italian. And you do indeed bake it twice. Once in a log form, and then carefully slice it, turn the cookies on their side, and they finish baking that way. The lemon almond biscotti I made were crunchy. Which, to be honest, is how I prefer them, with the intention to dunk them in tea or coffee. I liked trying them from Cornucopia to try the homemade Italian version. They were more buttery, softer. Regardless, both versions were delicious.
Above all else, I like our walks because they are adventures. I have an adventure partner. A true partner in crime. It felt as if we were transported to Europe for the day. Because, why not? Better yet, we walked to Europe. I think my favorite feeling of all time is waking up with Will and deeming it an adventure day. Let’s just go out, and see what we can find, he says. And I happily oblige. We trekked pretty far, but going to Europe for an hour was completely worth it. When I got home that night, as I dunked my chocolate biscotti in tea, I created a Yelp account. Just to review the owner. I said it’s all about the experience, and he treated us like old friends. He’s passionate about his craft, and it’s so evident in his food. I only hope one day someone will say something comparable about me.
Lemon Almond Biscotti
Serves: 30 biscotti
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour, plus more for the work surface
1 cup, plus 2 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
1 (heaping) cup whole raw almonds
3 large eggs, divided
1 tsp. vanilla
2 (scant) tsp. meyer lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Zest ½ meyer lemon, set aside
Spread 1 tbsp. olive over large baking sheet, evenly
Combine the flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer
Add almonds and beat on low speed to blend well
Separate one of the eggs, reserving the yolk
Add 2 whole eggs and the yolk of 1 egg to the flour mixture
Add the vanilla and lemon zest
Increase the speed to medium and beat just until a sticky dough forms
Lightly flour a work surface
Turn the dough out onto it, forming it into a disk
Divide the disk into four equal sections.
By hand, gently roll one section of the dough into an oval shape
Place it on the baking sheet, then shape it into a log
Repeat with the remaining three sections of dough
The shaped logs should be spaced at least 2 inches apart
Press them gently to make sure their tops are all even
Lightly beat the remaining egg white
Brush it on the tops of the logs
Sprinkle them evenly with the remaining 2 tbsp. sugar
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the logs are lightly browned and just set, there will be cracks on the surface
Use a thin spatula to gently release the bottom of each log from the baking sheet and transfer the baking sheet to a wire cooling rack
Let the logs rest for 5 minutes, then place them directly on the rack to cool for 20 minutes
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees
Working with one cooled log at a time, use a serrated knife to carefully cut it on the diagonal into about 8 even slices
Spread remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil on baking sheet
Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet with a cut side facing up
Repeat with the remaining logs
Bake for 10 minutes then turn each slice over
Bake for additional 10-15 minutes or until the slices are totally crisp
Transfer the slices to the rack to cool completely before serving
*Recipe adapted from Domenica Marchetti, Ciao Biscotti: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Celebrating Italy's Favorite Cookie (2015)