swappin'

While I've loved my knitting swaps, I have fared poorly in yarn swaps in the past (OK, it was just one swap, but I'm still traumatized by the memory!), but I'm taking the plunge again with not one but TWO yarn swaps this month! I just signed up for this International Sock Yarn swap, which, while it could be a little pricier than my usual swaps, sounds very exciting, plus the Knit It Forward group is doing a yarn and pattern swap this time around, with a travel/regional theme (and that means my buddy will get some goodies from Baltimore, hon, plus anything I might come across on our Costa Rica trip, lucky duck). So now I'm looking for some good yarns to send to my future buddies. Suggestions?
That's it for knitting news, but in keeping with my 101 in 1,001 list, I have visited 2 new restaurants recently, and I'm going to briefly review them for you, just in case you're ever in Maryland and looking for a place to eat.
First, Isabella's Taverna and Tapas Bar out in Frederick, MD. We went here a few weeks ago for my sister's birthday and she works out in Frederick, which is why we had to drive nearly an hour for her birthday dinner, even though she lives about 10 minutes from my house. But Frederick is a nice city with an old fashioned downtown area with great shops and restaurants (El Cacique is also good), so I recommend visiting. I loved Isabella's, a huge list of tapas, and plenty of vegetarian ones for me, plus paella and other "real" entrees if you're not the tapas type. I didn't eat anything healthy, of course. I tried the asparagus fries (breaded asparagus with a spicy, creamy dippy) and the Goat Cheese and Almond Fritters, which were fantastic, plus some potatoes that were pretty good, and the spanakopita, which, unfortunately, wasn't great, but probably because I really prefer it made with phyllo dough. No one had any complaints about their food, and the staff was good about coming around to take orders frequently. I give Isabella's an A. :)
Second, PAZO, in Fells Point, Baltimore, the one specific restaurant I listed. We decided to take advantage of Baltimore's restaurant week last week and luckily Pazo was one of the few restaurants offering their restaurant week menu on the weekends (note to restaurants: if you don't offer your menu on the weekends, it's not retaurant week, it's restaurant 5 days!). I felt a bit like the restaurant was trying too hard to be, well, whatever it was going for--sophisticated, hip, edgy, I don't really know. In addition, I have no idea where this new trend of not being able to actually read your menu and see your dinner companions' faces or your food started, but it has to end--it was so dark in there, I could've been dining with the Dalai Lama and I wouldn't have known. But I digress; on to the food: while their restaurant week menu had several vegetarian items, they were almost all bread. The tapas (again!) appetizers included sunflower tuiles (crackers), rustic bread with olive oil, and goat cheese mousse with crostini (toast), and the vegetarian main entree was saffron gnocchi (pasta). They were all very good, but looking at their full menu, they have several other non-bread vegetarian items they could've offered, so that's a little disappointing. Josh loved his food, though, his tapas included empanadas and some kind of shrimp. But I think we could've probably had a non-restaurant week dinner for the same price and gotten a better variety. In addition, since we were just a couple, rather than a group, our table was practically on top of another couple, so don't look to Pazo for a romantic dinner. Pazo gets a B+ (+ for the free valet parking, even though the driver nearly wrecked bringing the car back, but it wasn't his fault as some halfwit was trying to make a U-turn in the middle of the street; I think they give driver's licenses away for free with your crack in Baltimore . . . on the way home, we were nearly hit by a super genius backing down a street at 30mph directly into oncoming traffic without even a glance in his rearview mirror).