Founding Farmers Brunch. Take 3.

15 May

I’ve had some hits and some misses with Founding Farmers, but I so desperately want to love the restaurant as much as I love the concept that I’m planning to head out to their new Montgomery County location this weekend to check it out–and it doesn’t hurt that Foodie and the Beast will be recording live with some awesome special guests!

It should be a fun event, and I’ll be sure to report back on the entire brunch experience. Show highlights include:

- Founding Farmers Award-Winning Chief Mixologist Jon Arroyo mixes up three of his new ‘Eight Buck Savvy’ seasonal drinks and a fun Tiki cocktail for everyone to try.
 - Bibiana Chef Nick Stefanelli and Pam the Butcher talk Lamb Jam 2012
 - Food & Wine 2012 Best New Pastry Chef Chris Ford of the newly opened Pabu and Wit & Wisdom restaurants at the Four Seasons in Baltimore, Md, along with Pabu Executive Chef Jonah Kim
 - Fancy Food Show purveyors Ron Tanner and Peter Kaldes from Kaldes Bros. Trading, and Maggi Castelloe of Hunt Country Foods share their products and highlights of what to expect at the show in June
 - Founding Farmers Director of Honey Valerie Zweig chats about the Founding Farmers / GWU Apiary, which is in it’s second year, and the new Russian bees that make up the largest restaurant-owned urban apiary in the U.S.
 - Founding Farmers Executive Chef Joe Goetze shares new seasonal menu items, farm fresh cooking inspiration, and the new Herb Garden that grows right in front of the restaurant in MoCo.

 - and, each brunch guest receives a take-home bag of treats from Founding Farmers and show guests!

If anyone wants to join the fun, be sure to make an early reservation–since the show starts at 10:30. If you’re able to roll out of bed that early and get yourself to Maryland, maybe I’ll see you there :)

I have a three strikes and you’re out policy, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for FF and have high hopes for the MoCo location!

When good herbs go bad

14 May

My pet peeve is when I have to buy a full bunch of some herb or another so that I can use 2 Tablespoons in a recipe, and then the rest sits in my crisper drawer while I sit around and hope that I’ll have another recipe in the next few days to use the leftovers. But I rarely do. And then the herb starts to get brown and mushy–and some of it may find a new home in my vegetable stock bag in the freezer, but most winds up in the trash.

But I’ve turned over a new leaf. No more brown and mushy herbs for me!

It’s so easy to re-purpose bunches of herbs that I feel guilty for not having done so enough in the past. Make a pesto to use on sandwiches, make a dip for crackers or veggies, add some flavor to your hummus, or even just puree your herb down and stick it in ice cubes in the freezer to use later. There are so many options that it now seems silly to have let so many of my herb bunches go to waste as I waited for culinary inspiration.

My projects whist hungover on Sunday morning:

Cilantro Pesto (to be used at a later date on white fish with a mango salsa)

  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt/Pepper

Yogurt Dill Dip (for vegetable dipping)

  • Dill
  • Non-fat plain yogurt (or Greek yogurt)
  • Lemon
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt/Pepper

No more brown mushy herbs for me!

“Bucket list”

17 Apr

As we were enjoying a lovely spring evening with wine, gossip, and laughter, my friend got to talking about her summer “bucket list” of all of the things she wants to accomplish before starting business school in the fall. While some of the items resembled a to-do list more than a bucket list (evaluate life plans and go to friend’s wedding aren’t exactly bucket list material), it got me thinking of all the things I want to do this spring/summer to take full advantage of the nice weather and all that DC has to offer.

This is probably more of a to-do list than a bucket list per se, but hopefully it will be good motivation to keep me exploring and adventuring through the next few months.

  • Move. I love our apartment, but I’m dying for a patio/deck/outdoor space.
  • Roosevelt Island. I still haven’t been, which means that a nice stroll around the island is in order.
  • Billy Goat Trail.See above.
  • Camping. A night in the Shenandoahs is always a good idea. And now we have an even more spacious four person tent.
  • Screen on the Green and other outdoor concerts/screenings. DC has so many free outdoor activities during the spring and summer months, and it’s a shame not to go to as many as possible.
  • Capitol Bike Share. I’m deathly afraid of biking in the city, but I’d like to rent a bike and at least spend some time down on the mall.
  • Explore Rock Creek. We live blocks from the park, but have only explored a few paths. I’d love to spend more time trekking and exploring (during the day).
  • Picnic. Again, we live so close to Rock Creek, so but sometimes it seems like such a hassle to get all of our stuff together for a picnic. It’s really not that difficult.
  • Try new things. There is so much to see, do, and explore in DC. Do something new every week. This weekend, Dan and I are going to a shooting range and heading to the outlets. Plus, I’m going to (and co-hosting) my first ever bridal shower.

Spring has sprung

16 Apr

You can’t beat springtime in Durham in the garden with two of your best friends.

I love the real world–I really do–but spending an afternoon in the Sarah P. Duke Garden is a sure-fire way to trigger the college nostalgia.

Home is where the heart is

12 Apr

Home is where the heart is. And as much as I love DC and the home we’ve made for ourselves in Cleveland Park, a part of my heart is stuck in California–and each time I go back, I realize even more how much I miss it.

The nice thing about heading to the Bay Area with people who aren’t from the region is that it gives me the chance to act as a faux tourist. Between San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area, there is an overwhelming list of things to do and see–but I have my own favorites and must-dos for out-of-towners and locals alike.

West Coast Wanderings:

  • Walk/run across the Golden Gate Bridge. I didn’t do this until I was 18, despite living 15 minutes from the Bridge for my entire life, and I’m glad I finally got around to it. Despite the wind and fog, you can’t beat the views.
  • Take the ferry. My favorite is the ferry that goes between Larkspur and AT&T Park for every Giants game. What a great way to get to and from a baseball game–and no need for a designated driver! But you’re not losing out by taking the regular ferry either, which drops you off at the Ferry Building for plenty of shopping and dining.
  • Visit the Ferry Building. This is a great stop to browse, buy, and indulge in local delicacies. From fresh roasted coffee to organic chocolates to locally cured meats to the Slanted Door, you can’t go wrong. And if you happen to be there on a Saturday, you’ll get the extra pleasure of a fantastic farmers market.
  • Eat in Chinatown. Forget Rice-a-Roni, dim sum is the real San Francisco treat. Plenty of fried food–and it comes around to your table on carts. Can’t go wrong. Chinatown is also a great place to pick up gifts, fresh spices, a wide variety of teas, and all sorts of Asian food to add to your pantry.
  • Stroll through Muir Woods. Home to the tallest trees in the world, Muir Woods is a sight to be seen. Whether you’re up for a day of hiking or a casual stroll on the paved path, you can’t miss out on the giant redwoods.
  • Wander through downtown Sausalito. Whether you get there by car, ferry, or bike, downtown Sausalito is a quaint little strip with plenty of cute cafes and art galleries along the water. If you’re in town, Fish is a great restaurant for some local seafood.
  • Go wine tasting. Duh. You can’t go to the Bay Area without taking a trip to Napa/Sonoma/St. Helena to go wine tasting. I went to Schramsberg Vineyards for a fabulous sparking wine tour.
  • Shop on Union Street. You’ll find a lot of great boutiques on Union Street (in San Francisco)–and also some fun people watching.

There is so much more to do (Haight-Ashbury, burritos in the Mission, Coit Tower, the Marina, North Beach, Napa Valley dining…), but hopefully this list is a good starting point for anyone who is planning a Bay Area vacation.

Food Favorites

4 Apr

One of the problems with food in DC these days (and it’s a good problem to have) is that there are too many new and delicious places hopping up–that sometimes you can feel like you’re running on a hamster wheel as you try to keep up and try everything. I love hearing from my friends about the new places they’ve tried and their favorite DC spots for various types of meals and experiences.

After mentioning Sundevich to a friend during a conversation about DC sandwich shops, he jokingly said that I needed to put together a list of my DC must-eat spots so that he’d know where he should go. Well, I took him up on his suggestion and produced my List for Kevin. It’s certainly not exhaustive, but a few of my favorite spots and favorite dishes.

  • Sundevich – awesome sandwiches
  • Blue Duck Tavern – great brunch, but their bone marrow at dinner is a must
  • VOLT – amazing dining experience, including superb service; tuna tartare and sweetbreads are awesome
  • Art & Soul – great patio and tasty cocktails
  • Acqua al 2 – Italian; get the pasta sampler
  • Birch & Barley – best chicken and waffles in town on their brunch menu
  • Granville Moore’s – H street mussels
  • Ripple – hidden gem in Cleveland Park with all locally sourced food (and now ice cream sandwiches)
  • Ashby Inn – out in Paris, VA; but an amazing meal
  • Rasika – palak chaat (crispy spinach)
  • Vinoteca – possibly the best eggs benedict in the city (+ $11 all you can drink mimosas)
  • Estadio – brussel sprouts are killer
  • Taqueria DF – random spot on 14th in Columbia Heights with good tacos

 

I promise that I’ll be back on the blog more frequently! There’s no way I’ll be a daily poster (and no one really needs to hear from me that often), but I’m going to make a concerted effort to post more recipes, reviews, and randomness!

Low Maintenance

29 Feb

As I’ve discussed before, my beauty routine is pretty low maintenance. Since I cut nine inches off my hair a year and a half ago, I’ve probably used a blow dryer less than ten times and have busted out my straightening iron on a grand total of two occasions. Don’t ask me why I dealt with long hair as long as I did…

What makes my haircut even easier to manage is the fact that the chunky bedhead/beachy look is in right now, and I’m hoping that trend continues in perpetuity. My latest trick (thank you, Angie at BANG Verizon Center)?

Redken powder grip.

This stuff is actually amazing. You know that feeling when you’re trying to give body and texture to your hair and it’s just too squeaky clean after shampooing? This miracle powder gives you a bit of grit and texture without adding too much oil. And…even better, no hassles with TSA when you go on vacation!

I’m clearly not a beauty expert, and you probably shouldn’t take beauty advice from me, but I felt the need to share just how awesome this product was.

Do you have any other low maintenance beauty products/routines that are worth sharing?

Kitchen Sink Lasagna

17 Feb

I’ve been getting complaints (I’m looking at you, PYC ladies) that I’ve been MIA with this whole blogging thing recently. When life–and work in particular (again, I’m looking at you, PYC)–get crazy, blogging seems to be the first thing to go. This probably doesn’t make sense, since I actually find blogging really relaxing–but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Luckily, the boy and I are headed to Tucson tomorrow morning for four days of R&R. Well, four days for me–he’ll be spending two of those days in a conference room, while I’m spending my day exploring Tucson and trying to bring some color back to my godforsaken pale legs. Hopefully, this much-needed vacation will reinvigorate me and inspire me back to the world of blogging!

As excited as I always get before a vacation, I always struggle with what to do with our grocery list. You don’t want to stock up on perishables before leaving on a trip, but I’d also hate to subsist on processed food and eating out in the days leading up to the vacation. In this conundrum, kitchen sink lasagna was born.

Instead of a pasta-based lasagna, I used polenta rounds–which require no pre-cooking, only slicing. And for your sauce? Toss in all of the scraps you have in your fridge, mix it with some meat and tomato sauce–and voila! This dish is such a great way to use up any veggies you have in your fridge so that they don’t go bad while you’re gone. And though you won’t finish the lasagna before you take off, it freezes well and is the perfect dish to heat up when you get home and have zero motivation to cook.

Depending on how full your veggie crisper is, you may need to pick up an ingredient or two–but be sure to use it all in your sauce so that you don’t have leftovers. I bought some mushrooms to add to the sauce, since I love the texture and flavor that mushrooms bring to a dish. My sauce included: shallots, onion, garlic, carrots, zucchini, asparagus, mushrooms, red pepper, and fresh parsley. A little bit of this and a little bit of that to clear out your fridge before a vacation. Add some salt and pepper, brown some meat, add some tomato sauce–and voila!

To prepare and cook: pre-heat oven to 400; create layer of polenta at the bottom of your oiled dish; add a layer of meat/tomato sauce; add layer of ricotta mixed with egg and some parmesan; add layer of mozzarella; repeat. Bake for 30ish minutes.

Eat, enjoy, pack for your trip, and bon voyage!

KitchenAid FTW

24 Jan

I knew when I got my KitchenAid that it would be life-changing. But I didn’t realize quite how amazing it would be.

Using some of my winnings from my office’s fantasy football league (sorry men of NP, you lost to a girl) to buy the KitchenAid pasta attachment. I went back and forth about whether it was worth the $160 investment, but eventually my love for homemade pasta and my dislike of rolling out the dough with a rolling pin won out and I took the plunge.

Last night, I finally got around to using the new attachment–and it was everything I had hoped for and more. Kneading? Ha. Try 1-2 minutes of kneading by hand. Flour all over the kitchen? Not this time!

My grandmother and her sister-in-law used to make egg noodles, and it was tradition for the diner to say to the cook: “Your noodles are SO thin!” Just think how thin they could have got their noodles with a KitchenAid…

Perfectly thin sheets of pasta, perfectly shaped noodles–I’m 100% sold and have found my new favorite kitchen toy! My only concern is that I’m going to start making pasta every day because it’s just so easy now.

It also gave me an excuse to continue my love affair with homemade pesto. For those of you who haven’t made pesto, you are missing out. The homemade stuff is infinitely better than anything you can buy in a jar. Just whip out your food processor, toss in a few simple ingredients, and blend to combine. It’s a 2 minute process and it yields amazing results.

Ingredients:

  • Basil leaves (use a lot; once pureed, your volume will shrink a ton)
  • Garlic cloves (start with one and add as you go; you don’t want it to garlicky)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pine nuts
  • Olive oil

Once you get comfortable with this basic recipe, you can try adding and substituting ingredients to make your own specialized blends.

Neighborhood Brunching in Cleveland Park

22 Jan

Cleveland Park may not be Dupont or Logan Circle (though I hear it’s the next Eckington), but I absolutely love living up here. The trees, the Giant up the block and the easy street parking are all great. And, though you may not think of us a center of cultural activity–the Cleveland Park and Woodley areas actually have a great restaurant scene.

It may be surprising to those of you who stay further south on the red line, but we have a number of great brunch spots–including Dino, Medium Rare, Steak & Eggs, Open City and my recent favorite Ardeo/Bardeo.

Ardeo/Bardeo’s brunch not only has delicious food, but it also comes at a fabulous price. For $25, you get two courses plus unlimited mimosas. And let me say that the service is excellent – you will never have an empty champagne flute.

Some of the foods I’ve sampled and would recommend for your first course:

  • Crispy Brussels Sprouts, pistachios, apricots, lemon yogurt
  • Granola and greek yogurt, fresh apples and pears
  • Salmon rillettes with everything bagel
  • Butternut squash soup, licorice marshmallow

And for your second course:

  • Bacon and egg risotto with house bacon, parmesan cheese
  • Steak and eggs –barrel cut ribeye and roasted potatoes
  • Shrimp and grits with lobster emulsion, arugula
  • House Benedict–English muffin, Canadian bacon, hollandaise

Next time you’re looking for a weekend brunch and having a hard time making a reservation at some of the 14th Street hot-spots, move your search northwest and take a trip to the lovely Cleveland Park neighborhood. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

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