Spring Wine Dinner Inspired by Italy

I just recently returned from eight incredible days in Sicily and Rome. For those of you who know me well, you know that I have a deep and unwavering respect for simple food. Italy felt like simple, beautiful food Mecca. Don’t confuse simple with “simple.” It is so difficult to hide poor sourcing and poor technique when the food has less than five ingredients on a plate. I have deep admiration for this kind of cooking.




Sicily has been overthrown by every major empire since two A.D. Which lends itself to an interesting melting pot of people and cuisine. Similar to other places that have experienced imperialism, most of the delicious food is that of poor people who were forced to find unique and interesting ways to make modest ingredients delicious. Because of its Moorish influence and proximity to Africa, street food is king in Sicily. Pure heaven. Couple that with volcanic soil and climate that lends to beautifully mineral and complex wines of varietals I’ve never even heard of.





We have been planning for some time to do a spring wine dinner and I thought there was no better way to express my appreciation for the time that I spent in Italy then to try and pay homage to some of the dishes that I had there. Scheduled for Wednesday, March 18th at 7pm, I will try and re-create some of the magic that I had. While I’ll never fully be able to replicate the experience that I had there, I’m excited to try some new and interesting recipes. We are doing tastings now so that we can pair wines for each course. Keep an eye on our website for updates.


Proposed working menu:

Rosemary Ham and Sheep’s Milk Cheese
Grilled Sardines, Garlic Olives
Chickpea Fritters, Sesame
Pumpkin and Onion Agrodolce
Cacio e Pepe
Marscapone with Raspberries


Expect wine served in water glasses, not a lot of garnishes, and lots of laughter as we sup.


  • The latest from Nicole
Head Janitor, Chef, and Proprietor | Stomping Ground
Nicole’s cooking style is rooted in, but not limited to, her love of southern biscuits and her diverse culinary upbringing. A military brat, she spent her childhood in the Chicago suburbs enjoying her great-grandmother Mae’s Lithuanian cooking. As a tween, she moved to Paulding County, Ga. where she begrudgingly fell in love with the charmingly perplex small towns of the Deep South. She fondly remembers grubbing on Martin’s biscuits, late-night Waffle House debauchery and cooking with her family. After graduating from the University of Georgia, Nicole started a marketing career at an art nonprofit in Atlanta. At 25 years old, she became the youngest executive at the local Atlanta NPR affiliate. Chasing her dreams, she moved to Alexandria, Va. where she took a short post in the Whole Foods marketing department. Realizing that cooking had been her true love all along, she began night courses at L’Academie de Cuisine. She completed her apprenticeship at Blue Duck Tavern where she was promoted to a line cook after graduation. From there, Nicole worked as a private chef for busy Washington D.C. executives and their families. As grown-ups tend to do, Nicole realized something about her childhood — the best parts were enjoying small town communities, cooking with her great-grandmother and sharing meals with family and friends. She opened Stomping Ground to build a safe and welcoming community around yummy, handmade food from local sources. As her first foray running her own kitchen, she has shamelessly hired better, smarter cooks to fill her kitchen and your bellies. Her great-grandmother’s recipes often appear on the Stomping Ground menu without advertisement and, no, she won’t tell you the secret ingredients. Nicole lives in Del Ray and won’t shut up about how much she loves living there.

If you wander down Del Ray’s, “The Avenue,” you won’t miss the farm-red building with a rustic fence bordering the patio. Stomping Ground opened two years ago and quickly became popular for its made-from-scratch biscuits and its neighborhood vibe. On weekends, excited guests line up before Stomping Ground opens hoping to be the first to get a just-out-of-the-oven biscuit or a fresh salad. Stomping Ground is mostly known for its fast casual breakfast and lunch but on Thursdays and Fridays they provide a full dinner service after 5:00pm. All meals are built from local, seasonal food that is organic whenever possible.


2309 Mt Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301


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