Wednesday, March 23, 2011

DC Food Truck Extravaganza

We recently had an opportunity to spend a day together sans baby, which all of you parents out there know is a rare and special thing.  We love The Luce but sometimes we need a break too!  So when BJ said "What do you want to do today?"  I replied "Go hunt down food trucks of course!"  For months, I've been wanting to check out the food truck scene in the city.  It has blown up over the last year and since we had fun chasing the Wafels & Dinges truck in NYC last year, I thought it would be fun to see what the local guys have to offer.  We checked out their various Twitter feeds and found a great, condensed list of locations that pointed us towards L'Enfant Plaza and Farragut Square. 

At Farragut, we found 3 trucks for our sampling pleasure.

1.  Eat Wonky - known for being one of two locations to get poutine in the city.  What is poutine, you ask? Here is a website that explains:

The fries are hand-cut every morning before they get on the truck and the gravy base is imported from Canada.  The cheese curds were delish and the whole thing was just very well done, in our humble opinions.  Eat Wonky also had the nicest service - friendly owner, lollipops for the kids, he got off the truck to hand us our food.  All in all, 10/10.


2.  Sol Mexican - mostly tacos and burritos.  We had 3 carnitas tacos with the works and felt they really were not worth the calories.  Chipotle is better.  Mine was way too salty and the taste was just "meh."  I didn't even finish my taco.  The servers were also confused and not very friendly.  2/10.

3.  Dangerously Delicious Pies - just like it says, they serve pies, both sweet and savory.  Some prior research told us the SMOG pie was a specialty - steak, mushrooms, onions and gruyere.  We gave it a try and it was wonderful.  Lots of filling, buttery crust, could have used a pinch more salt though.  The green hot sauce served on the side was also excellent.  I would definitely try this one again.  The owner was not talkative, but explained the sauces and was quick.  9/10.

We then moved locations to L'Enfant Plaza and found a couple more trucks to sample.

4.  Curbside Cupcakes - this one had the longest line.  The cupcakes are on the small side for the price.  We got a vanilla vanilla, duh, and a "black Irish Cream" which was dark chocolate with an Irish cream frosting.  I loved that one, it was very decadent, but BJ said the vanilla was like from a grocery store.  8/10 and 3/10 respectively.

5.  El Floridano - this truck serves regional sandwiches.  BJ bought a Cuban and it was decent.  The pork slices were flavorful and the sandwch was a nice size for the price.  It was good, but I personally wouldn't buy it again.  6/10.

6.  DC Empanadas - I really enjoyed this one.  I knew they had a long, rotating menu and I was pleased to see that the 3 flavors they were offering were ones I knew I'd enjoy.  We sampled one of each:  a ropa viejo, a buffalo chicken (named the Badass!) and a spinach & feta.  They were all really great, well seasoned, nice size.  The service was also excellent.  The owner came out and told a couple people behind us that they were about to sell-out, as a courtesy in case they wanted to go elsewhere.  She also offered free drinks since we waited so long, so we enjoyed our free ginger ale as well.  9/10.

In the end, we spent about 3 hours on our adventure and had a thoroughly excellent time.  I think that part of the fun of food trucks is the atmosphere and whimsy.  We are blessed to live near a city that has a thriving and eclectic food scene and the trucks are just a small part of that.  I am looking forward to doing this again, with all new trucks to sample from!  The day as a whole - 10/10.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Oakmont Bakery’s cupcakes

For all our friends and family back in Western PA, you asked for cupcake recommendations, so Here We Go!

I have a great little sister (relax Cookie and Don Corleone, you know we just humor her about being the favorite). She and her boyfriend, Chocolate Thunder, came down to hang with us for the weekend. Like a thoughtful sister would, she brought cupcakes from the Oakmont Bakery for us to sample.  So here’s our take…

Vanilla, Vanilla
As always, gotta start of with this one.  Yellow cake, vanilla icing…took one bite and it was a wrap. I pleaded with the cupcake Gods, “Why, why has thou forsaken me?” Save your money, go to the grocery store and by one there. 2 out of 10.

I refuse to go down the route of writing this review with a stereotypical Italian-American accent using the stereotypical catch phrases.  The yellow cake was fairly moist, but the flavor wasn’t all that memorable. The tiramisu cream was sweet and solid in taste. The chocolate “dip” they use is the best part. This is comparable to the not so cinematic masterpiece, The Godfather III…hoping for one thing, but missing the mark. 4 out of 10.

Elvis in Oakmont
The yellow cake reared its head once again with this Elvis Presley tribute cc. The peanut butter frosting was ok; the banana mousse reminded me of childhood…it tasted like instant banana pudding out of a box.  Though, white chocolate ganache was a nice touch.  Nothing to write home about. 4 out of 10.

The Red Carpet
This is their version of the Red Velvet cupcake. All I can say is, eh. 3 out of 10.

Really, is this the best they got???

Just when I was about to give up hope, the skies parted and the Heavens shined upon me.

Double Trouble
Not necessarily a fan of chocolate, on chocolate, on chocolate. BUT this was money. The cake was spot on, the icing was smooth and rich, and the ganache was bueno. If you like chocolate, this is the cupcake for you. 8 out of 10.

Happy Camper
I am noticing a trend… at the heart is a marshmallow filling, surrounded by a fudgy chocolate cake and topped with a chocolate ganache…O yeah, there was also a chocolate candy bar, graham crackers, and a marshmallow on top complete this masterpiece.  8.5 out of 10.  Oakmont does chocolate well, very well.

Overall, presentation of the cupcakes was solid, especially considering that they traveled from Western Pa. The chocolate ones were the hit and the others needed help…lots of help.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March Book Club Review

I recently joined a newly-formed book club started by a good friend I have known since elementary school.  I missed the first meeting but was able to attend this past weekend where we discussed Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Having a small child makes reading for pleasure difficult, especially when the book is quite dense, so I managed to only make it through the first chapter.  Sad.  I've always been a reader and not being able to make much time for it now is hard.  Knowing other members were probably in the same boat, my friend said she was going to read a synopsis and rent the movie, which I decided to do as well.  If I couldn't get through the text in time, at least I would be familiar with the story and could somewhat participate in the discussion.

The book & the movie::  The tiny amount that I read didn't really give me a good enough taste to have a real opinion of the book.  I found the first chapter to have a lot of detail that didn't seem necessary to the overall story, but the introduction of the "epic lovestory" was enough to make me interested in continuing to read.  When I ran out of time, I thought that I might enjoy picking the book back up at a later time and finishing.  After I watched the movie, I changed my mind.  I found the whole thing very self-indulgent.  The characters were not likable and the idea that these two people had been in love with each other for 50+ years seemed very silly.  It appeared that the reader/viewer was meant to sympathize with the two protagonists but no one in our group did.  They kept referring to Florentino as "the stalker guy," which I thought fit him perfectly.  The acting in the movie was pretty bad too, which I was surprised about since I normally like Javier Bardem.  He's even less attractive in this movie than in No Country for Old Men, which is hard considering the awful haircut.


Phew, much better!


Spark Notes:  I employed one of time-honored traditions of high-schoolers by reading the Cliffs Notes.  Except, instead of being little black and yellow booklets, you can read online via (though Cliffs Notes also have their own website now).  They were very informative and I probably got the more out of these than the book or movie!

It was nice to be part of the group and have an adult discussion, but we all agreed that in the future the hostess will choose something a little less arduous.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Just like the real thing!

In the spring, we are all bombarded with adorable Girl Scouts tempting us with their delicious cookies at our doors and outside super markets.  Our favorites are Samoas and Thin Mints.  This year, despite the best efforts of the little girls in my life, I resisted.  Even if I was throwing caution to the wind and letting cookies live in our pantry, GS cookies are super-expensive and come with so few in the box that it is hardly worth it.  Luckily, there is a new alternative!  Kellogg's has come out with a new flavor of the Fiber Plus Antioxidants bars - caramel coconut fudge.  They taste deceptively like a Samoa and have way better nutrition stats.  I went to share my find with my 2 co-workers who are trying to lose weight for their weddings and lo and behold, they both already had their own stash of these babies in their desks!  While nothing will ever truly replace a Samoa, this is a better-for-you, year-round option.  8/10.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sprinkles Cupcakes

When a new cupcake place opens in town, you can bet we're going to be one of the first in line.  Sprinkles opened in Georgetown recently and we decided to check it out today.  It is right on M Street, not too far from another famous DC cupcake joint.  The Luce joined us and we got in line, which was surprisingly short for a brand new store.  We ordered very quickly, paid and were on our way.

The Store:  Very small, has 2 tables in the windows.  The cupcakes for the day are all on display and well-labeled.  The line to order and the line to pay are separate and it was a little confusing, but it all worked out okay.  Lots of t-shirts and other memorabelia in a case by the cash register.  The menu is on the wall behind the counter.

Selection:  They had 15 or so flavors today and we were able to choose several we thought we'd like.  They are not super-creative but have all the ones you'd expect and a few that are unique.  Nothing was sold out at 1 pm.

Service:  Everyone was very friendly and the girl who took our order even gave the Luce a sticker to wear.

We ordered 6 flavors (and this is where BJ takes've been warned) -

Vanilla Vanilla: The standards are high, very high. This is the truest test for all bakeries and cupcakeries. It is the standard by which all cupcakes are measured. BJ's love for this cupcake is comparable to that of the father's love for the "leg lamp" in the movie A Christmas Story.  The icing was creamy and perfect. The cake was really good, not dry by any means, but not as moist as we like. But, overall a winner in our book (Best Buns Vanilla Vanilla, you retained your crown yet again). 8 out of 10.

Cinnamon Sugar:  A good moist spiced cake, but no icing! That's right, no icing! It was a solid treat, but how is a cupcake a cupcake without icing? Instead, it was topped with cinnamon sugar. Had there been some of their amazing vanilla icing on it, with the cinnamon sugar on top of would have been ridiculous. Unfortunately, it was closer to a coffee cake, not a cupcake. 5 out of 10.

Chocolate Marshmallow:  Very nice, moist dark chocolate cake, filled with cream, and chocolate ganache on top.  I think the filling was meant to be marshmallow flavored but it just tasted like the inside of a Twinkie. It was good, but in the end, the chocolate cupcake and I were a little bit let down. 6 out of 10.

Red Velvet:  Classic red velvet with cream cheese icing.  The icing was exceptional - not too overpoweringly cheesy like some can be. If you want a really good red velvet cupcake, this is the place to go. 7 out of 10.

Peanut Butter Chocolate: The first bite was good... the second bite was better...the third bite...well, it felt like Mike Tyson punched me in the mouth. It was a knockout. By the time I finished the cupcake I was nearly in a food coma, seeing stars of peanut butter and chocolate. I feel in love with this cupcake. It may have not have been love at first sight, but I was wooed by it's peanut buttery chocolaty goodness by the end. 8.5 out of 10.

Irish Chocolate: Wasn't exactly sure what to expect with this one. With a name like that I knew chocolate was involved, but what else? Cupcakeries tend to get a bit carried away at times...could this have been one of those moments? A combination of chocolate and dare I say, corned beef? Chocolate and Guinness? Chocolate and potatoes? Chocolate and Bailey's? Oh, the possibilities are endless!!! It turned out to be Bailey' is a dangerous combination of a Bailey's cream cheese frosting on a Belgian dark chocolate cupcake.  This was a masterpiece, the United Nations of Cupcakes, minus the politics.  9 out of 10.

So, all in all, we were pretty pleased with our trip.  Sprinkles is a really great shop, definitely one of the better ones in the DC area and tons better than their competitor with a reality show down the street who shall remain nameless.  Two thumbs up!

Why Vanilla X 2?

So, why Vanilla x 2?  We think the vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting is the true test of whether or not a bakery really knows what they're doing. It is simplest flavor and in its simplicity, the greatest.  BJ is notorious for ordering it, and our favorite cupcake of all time is a vanilla vanilla.

We have been known to get in the car and just drive somewhere for the day, stopping at the occasional restaurant, winery, or ice cream shop along the way.  We have also been known to sample cupcakes from more than one shop on the same Saturday.  We built a trip to NYC on restaurants we saw on the Food Network.  We try to see as many new movies as we can and since our daughter was born, we've become experts on baby products and gear.  Our friends know this about us and though they tease, they ask for recommendations too :)  This is where we'll post our reviews of pretty much everything we check out and have an opinion on.