Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us!

Last Saturday, BJ and I celebrated our birthday by spending the whole day together being DC tourists.  Yes, we have the same birthday.

The first stop was Art and Soul for lunch, which is owned by the fabulous Art Smith.  We are big fans of Art, especially after watching him on Top Chef Masters.  Art tweeted that he was going to be in town that day, so we quickly made a reservation.  We arrived at noon, hungry for chicken and waffles!  As it turned out, Art wasn't there yet, so I didn't get to be a fangirl, but we know he was there in spirit.  We shared the pimento cheese and crackers to start, which was a little spicy and a lot delicious. 

We also shared the homemade biscuits and seasonal preserves, which tasted to be blackberry and lemon.  Very flavorful, though I would have appreciated some butter on the side as well.  Each table was also given cinnamon raisin biscuits with icing and they were excellent.  Not too sweet and the right balance of icing and raisins.  I ordered the chicken and waffles and it came dressed with a chicken maple gravy and a lot of roasted peppers of all colors.  The waffle was just a vehicle for the amazing chicken.  I have never tasted breading that good or that crispy.  It was perfect and just what I wanted.  I'm not necessarily a sauce girl, so I would have preferred the gravy on the side, but it had nice flavor and was a good compliment.  BJ had shrimp and grits, which he ate so fast I didn't have a chance to even see what it looked like.  I guess it was good!

Our next stop was the E Street Cinema to see The Master.  I hadn't been to E Street in a long long time and forgot how great it was.  They show indie/artsy films and sell alcohol!  That's a good evening right there.  The movie was good, but definitely something you'd study in film class.  Joaquin Phoenix needs to win some kind of award for his performance.

We moved on to Taste of DC, which I am sad to admit I don't have much to say about.  It was super crowded and the lines were incredibly long, even at 4:30 pm.  I suppose if I was inclined to stay all day and walk around with a beer, it would have been more fun, but I wasn't and it wasn't.

Since we didn't get much to eat there, we decided to hit up 2 Amy's for dinner.  I LOVE this place.  They have the best margarita pizza ever and the atmosphere is always fun.  Even though we didn't not have our little one with us, I am happy to say they are extremely kid friendly.  Our pizzas and suppli telefono were perfect as always.

Last stop was Washington DC Ghost Tours.  We are big fans of these kinds of things, having been on similar tours in Ireland and Scotland (and BJ claims he saw a ghost, but I'm still skeptical).  We ended up joining our tour at the last minute, which was very easy, and off we went.  I was so disappointed.  The tour guide makes or breaks the experience and our guide was pitiful.  Pitiful!  Every other word out of her mouth was "ummm" and she just did a poor job of actually telling each study.  We overheard another tour going on at the same time and seriously considered joining up with them, as they guy seemed to be an excellent storyteller.  Alas, we stayed with our guide and ended up leaving about 30 minutes early because we just could not take it anymore.  We still had fun though!

Despite the hiccup there at the end, we had a really great day and were reminded of all the awesome things we have to do in our own backyard!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Girls' Night Out in DC

Earlier this summer, three friends and I had a fabulous girls' night out in the city.  We got all dressed up, had drinks and a lovely dinner, and then splurged on a special dessert.  It was really nice to get together, as it was the first time we'd all been in the same place in probably ten or so years.  I would recommend both of our locations, so here are our thoughts:

Drinks and dinner were at PS 7, which is right by the Verizon Center.  This had been on my to-try list for a while and it could not have been any better.  We started with drinks at the bar, where our waiter was incredibly attentive and nice.  He brought us a little bowl of spicy popcorn on top of the martini, champagne and St. Germain, Smashberry cocktail, and pineapple sangria.  All were delicious and well constructed. 

We split 3 appetizers - the housemade hot dogs, tuna sliders and nutty goat flatbread.  I think we all agreed the flatbread was the best, but everything was great.  For our main courses, a friend and I both ordered the smoked gnocchi, which was one of the best dishes I have ever had.  It was totally vegetarian but the smoke made it seem meaty and hearty. 

Someone else got the pan roasted chicken, which looked so good I may order it next time. 

While we were enjoying our feast, we admired the table behind us, eating PS 7's fried chicken picnic, which comes with a number of sides, a dessert, and adult beverage.  I definitely will be back to try that!

The food was wonderful, service was excellent, and the company made it even better.  All smiles, we moved on to dessert at Coco Sala.  I'd been right when it opened several years ago, when it was almost strictly a dessert place, but now the menu includes savory entrees and appetizers as well.  Obviously, we were just there for the chocolate though.  We selected from the yummy drink menu, including a frozen hot chocolate and something that tasted just like a chocolate covered strawberry. 

My friends all ordered the Chocolate Onyx, which was described as"dark chocolate mousse / vanilla crème brulee / salted caramel / crispy chocolate pearls / brownie /dark chocolate sorbet / cinnamon toffee bon bon."
It looked very rich and decadent and no one was able to finish it!  I was the rebel and ordered the Sticky Situation, which was "warm sticky toffee pudding cake / chocolate shavings / brown butter toffee sauce / ginger caramel ice cream" and as much as I adore chocolate, I was really glad I got this.  It was so warm and sweet and salty and just awesome.  Our server, once again, was excellent, and the atmosphere was lots of fun.  It was almost like a dance club - they even have their own DJ! 

All in all, it was a really great night and everyone had a fun time.  We will definitely be doing this again and if we went to the same places, no one would be upset.  Both are worth checking out!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Another Trip to NYC

Long time, no post!  We've been on summer break and now that things are back to normal, we'll try to resume our regularly scheduled blogging. 

Something I've been meaning to post about for a very long time is a trip BJ and I took to New York way back in March.  He thought my trip in January sounded fun, so we booked a quick overnight trip so we could go see Once: The Musical, which happens to be based on one of BJ's favorite movies of all time.  Here's the quick version of our trip:

Megabus - wonderful, as always.  The pick-up place in the city had moved from the last trip and made life much easier. 

Shake Shack - this was on our must-list to try, even though we now have on in DC.  Go figure.  We loved it.  The burger was decadent and juicy and the crinkle cut fries were excellent.  We liked it better than Five Guys, Bobby's Burger Palace and some other trendy burger joints that are escaping me at the moment.

Laduree Macarons - We walked around the city and found ourselves nearby this little shop.  Having heard great things about these little cookie things, I waited patiently in the 20 minute line to try them.  It was hot.  And pretentious.  And insanely expensive.  And totally not worth it.  Not only were the macarons tiny and sickeningly sweet, the flavors tasted completely artificial to me.  I was seriously shocked.  With all the hype out there, you'd think they were made of gold.  I may get maimed for saying it, but they were just gross.  Avoid avoid avoid.

Colicchio & Sons Tap Room - this was our obligatory celebrity restaurant outing of the trip.  We love Tom Colicchio from Top Chef and his menu looked great, so off we went.  I had a squash soup with Brussels sprouts on top that was so creamy and silky, just delicious. 

If I remember correctly, BJ had bone marrow of some sort, that he also enjoyed.  We both ordered the ricotta cavatelli with a short rib ragout for our entrees, and as BJ said "it was good enough to weep over."  Also of note was the service.  Our waiter was fantastic, very attentive and gave great recommendation, and the manager even came over and chatted for a bit.  Everyone was so nice - highly recommended.

We ended the evening, after the show, with a slice of cheesecake from Juniors, which was fabulous as always.  I always have a good time in NYC and this was no exception.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Pretzel Bakery

I spent a recent Saturday morning with my friend and her son, as well as The Luce.  We strolled around Eastern Market for a while, which is always fun, and then took a longer walk down to the newly opened Pretzel Bakery.  I'd seen a couple articles about it joining the neighborhood the previous week and knew I had to try it.  It's roughly 9 blocks or so from Eastern Market, so its that's your starting place, be prepared.  It was a very nice walk though and we easily found the shop, which is really just a cute walk-up window across from an elementary school. 

We waited in line for a bit, as we arrived just as the window opened at 11 am.  The prices were reasonable, though they only take cash.  Maybe that will change in the future.  We ordered and then waited a bit longer for the pretzels to come out of the oven.  It was totally worth the wait!  These were the best pretzels I have ever had!  Warm, well salted, great flavor - I could have eaten the whole bag of 3.  I think this will be a stop for me every time I'm in that part of town.  Highly recommended!!

Pepe the Food Truck

Wow, it's been a long time.  That's certainly not for lack of trying new things, just slacking on the reviews.

Today I had the pleasure of introducing a friend to DC food trucks for the first time.  We checked Food Truck Fiesta and noticed Pepe, the new truck created by our beloved José Andrés, was near where we were planning to be, so we decided to give it a whirl. 

What a great decision!  Pepe serves Spanish sandwiches, soups and various other yummy bites.  I tried the Serrano Ham and Manchego cheese with olive oil.  The bread was very crispy and well-seasoned, the ham tender and salty, and the Manchego was perfection - but I'm biased, it is my favorite cheese.  A very simple sandwich, but a delicious lunch.  The others in my group tried the pork burger, the chicken club, and the daily special croquetas and everyone was happy, including our native of Spain.  We also tried the non-alcoholic sangria, which was also very good.  I would 100% go back, and want to try everything.  Thanks for an awesome lunch, Pepe!

Friday, March 02, 2012

I Love New York.

Months ago, a girlfriend, M, and I decided we were going to plan a weekend girls only trip to New York.  It had been 2 years since my last trip and I was itching to go back.  My last trip, which was our “babymoon” before The Luce was born was an amazing trip, filled with delicious food and great sightseeing.  I hoped this trip would be the same, and it definitely was.

We knew 2 things:  we wanted to see a show and we wanted to eat a at celebrity chef’s restaurant.  I was given free reign to plan the trip, which is a dangerous thing, and was able to come up with what we both thought was a great plan.  

Megabus:  this company gets a bad rap for service, but truthfully, when you are paying $20 or less each way, you probably shouldn’t complain too much.  The trip up was great – uneventful, good time, comfortable other than the guy snoring next to us like a dump truck.  The drop off spot was only a couple blocks from our hotel, so it was convenient for us, but the subway is close by to take you elsewhere.  The ride home was a kerfuffle, as the pick-up spot is just a random block with regular street traffic, and the Megabus employees told everyone for each destination to stand in one line, regardless of reservation time.  It would have been easy to miss your bus if you were not pushy, as we were.  But, the ride itself was totally fine.  Ironically, Megabus has now changed the pick-up spot and I hope it will decrease the chaos.

Staybridge Suites Times Square:  GREAT location.  We were at 40th & 8th, which was right by a subway stop and just down from Times Square, which was just where we wanted to be.  The room was inexpensive and we had a full kitchen, which we did not need, but would have been great if traveling with The Luce.  We got a full, hot breakfast included as well.  Happy campers!  I would not hesitate to book here again.

Pizza Suprema:  I heard on the radio about a blog called Slice Harvester, where this guy ate at every pizza place in NYC and rated them.  This was his number one place, and is just around the corner from where Megabus drops off, so we went.  Large slices, clean restaurant, fairly quick service.  The crust was a tad crisper than I like and the sauce was too sweet for me, but it was a decent slice.  M liked it more than I did, but neither of us thought it was worthy of anyone’s #1 spot.

Baked by Melissa:  We saw this cupcake place while walking around.  The tiny cupcakes displayed in the window sucked us in and we ordered 3.  At $1 each for barely one bite, they needed to be phenomenal cupcakes.  They were not.  The cake was dry and overcooked.  The icing was either cloyingly sweet or just gross.  M thought the mint cupcake tasted like toothpaste, which is always my fear with mint desserts.  All in all, this was a very poor value and just a gimmick.  Skip this place.

Donut Plant:  I’d seen this place on a couple different Food Network shows and was anxious to try it.  I ordered a PB&J yeast donut, recommended by the Neelys.  M had a blackout cake donut, which was chocolate cake with chocolate glaze and chocolate filling.  I totally got the wrong flavor.  Mine was kind of dried out and way too big, but the one bite I had of M’s chocolate one was delicious.  I would go back here but would get a different flavor.  

The Highline:  this is an elevated park that runs downtown into the West Village.  Very cool and worth checking out, especially the neon yellow elevators every couple of blocks.

Chelsea Market:  This was on my must-see list for this trip and it did not disappoint.  There are so many different little specialty shops and restaurants, so much to see and taste.  We enjoyed looking in the windows and sampling the olive oil and vinegars and salts.  I will be taking BJ back here next time we go.  We could be there for hours.

Barbuto:  this was our celebrity chef experience.  Jonathan Waxman was a favorite of mine on Top Chef Masters and is known for his roast chicken, which I have read is one of the hardest dishes to perfect.  Yelp told me to get the chicken and the gnocci, which we did.  We also had the cheese plate and the crispy potatoes.  Everything was amazingly delicious.  Plus, the service was great and we ate right next to the open kitchen, which was awesome, we could see everything being prepared.  Mr. Waxman was also very present in the restaurant, checking on things in the kitchen and milling about the tables.  Highly recommended!

On A Clear Day You Can See Forever:  We had booked tickets for this Broadway show ahead of time, knowing that it might be a little odd.  But, since Harry Connick, Jr. was in it, how bad could it be?  Wellllll, it was pretty bad.  M, a theatre buff, thought it was solid from a performance point of view, but the script was horrible and I agreed.  Harry was good, but didn’t have much material to work with.  There was one performer, the female leader played by Jessie Mueller, who was just fantastic.  Ms. Mueller is definitely one to watch.

Wicked:  The next day we spent a considerable amount of time trying to get rush tickets, which are purchased at theatre box offices a couple hours before the show at a huge discount.  We tried a few before giving up, but lucked into some cancellation tickets to Wicked and jumped on them.  The show, as always, was fabulous, and made even more interesting by our theatre-newbie seatmates who gasped and oohed and aahed through the whole thing.  

John's Pizzeria:  Just prior to the show, we had just enough time to run to John’s and gobbled up a cheese pie.  This is real pizza, in my opinion.  Delicious ingredients, perfect crust, just all around yummy.  

Junior’s:  After the show, we were feeling like maybe dinner wasn’t a good idea, since we’d eaten a late lunch, so we did what all good girls do and went straight for dessert.  We headed to Junior's for their famous cheesecake.  I opted for plain swirled with raspberry and M got a combination chocolate fudge cake/plain cheesecake.  Mine was great, but hers was out of this world!  We sent a picture to BJ during the meal and he was quite jealous.  

Veselka:  The next morning we walked around the NYU area and had a bite at Veselka, which is a Ukranian diner of sorts.  A dear friend took me here a couple years ago and I’d been dying to go back.  I indulged in some cheese and potato pierogi and M had blintzes.  The perfect way to top off our great weekend!

New York is one of my favorite cities and I always see or taste something new with each trip.  As BJ and I are going back this weekend, I’ll have a whole new adventure to share very soon!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yo Adrienne! - A trip to Philly

A co-worker and I had the opportunity to take a business trip to Philadelphia recently and we of course made a point to eat well while we were there.  A search of Yelp reviews led me to Barbuzzo, a restaurant serving small Mediterranean-inspired plates, so we went there for a late dinner when we got into town.  The food was amazing!  We sampled the sheep's milk ricotta on country bread, the pan-seared Brussels sprouts with pancetta and bread crumbs, and the heirloom squash and Gorgonzola angolotti.  Everything was fresh and delicious and I can't wait to go back.  Unfortunately I don't have pictures because the lighting was low, but that was part of the great ambiance. 

We also had gelato, not once but twice, from Capogiro, which has several locations in the city.  The servers allow you to try anything you want, very generously, and every flavor is fantastic so it could be hard to make up your mind.  My favorites were Burnt Sugar and Cioccolato Scuro, a very rich and dark chocolate.  Next time I'm in town, a trip to Capogiro will be a must!

Confections opens in Woodbridge, Va.!

Remember the great review we gave Confections last summer?  Well, they've upped their game by opening a brick and mortar store in Woodbridge!  They opened their doors on January 7 and we were there bright and early to see what it looked like.  The store is open and sunny and has a lot of seating for customers, which is really nice and not typical of the majority of the shops in this area.  There was a short line and the staff were all very friendly and took our order quickly.  The coolest part was that other staff were actually making the cupcakes in the front of the shop - I have never seen this before.  Someone was grinding up carrots in a food processor and we could see the tins being filled and put into the professional ovens, which are just behind the counter.  Very cool!

We took 5 cupcakes home with us:  chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, and 2 peanut butter chocolate.   Clearly they were too good for us to take a picture before tasting!

All were delicious and fresh!  I was happy to see the chocolate icing was more chocolatey than when I tasted it last year - great improvement! - and the peanut butter cupcake rivals our local favorite from Hello Cupcake.  I think this shop is going to do really well and I'm glad to see a great cupcakery in this area.  Congratulations Confections!