Monday, August 31, 2009
The dining room was comfortably crowded, and we got a booth with high-back cushion seats which helped to mute out some of the other conversations around us. Everyone loved the butter that came with the bread, probably moreso than the bread itself, haha.
I got the tuna appetizer to start, seen in the photo above. Great flavors, didn't really taste much of the mango though, now that I think about it. The taro strands added a nice crunchy texture to the otherwise "soft" components.
For my entree I got the corn "fed" beef, medium rare. The beef was very tender, cooked a little too long to about a medium but that's ok. The spoonbread and corn kernels were really delicious- I love fresh corn in the summer!
For dessert I got the Pink Lemonade. It was light, smooth, and true to the fruit flavors. The lemon especially was tart and the whole dessert wasn't overly sweet, in a good way.
Not a great photo, but here is T's Mud Pie, looked more like a chocolate bomb but it was tasty, with a strong espresso taste.
Overall, a great night of eats at Zola. I think we all agreed that the appetizers and desserts were their strong suits- more adventurous choices with the components, and a lot stronger flavors overall with all of our choices, compared to the entrees. It also makes sense that it's a very lounge-y type place to begin with- maybe more people order the small plates in general, so they are more stronger with those? Either way, a strong showing by Zola, showing us how good trying out a new place during Restaurant Week can be.
800 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
Reservations: 202.654.0999 or through OpenTable.
- I Paid: $2.50 (2/$5.00 sale at Giant)
- Description: Kid-Tested, Mother-Approved!
I bought the Honey Kix cereal on a whim, since I have liked regular Kix cereal since I was young, and I like most honey-named cereal (Honey Bunches of Oats, Honey Nut Cheerios). I figured I couldn't really go wrong with this Honey Kix.
I'll keep this pretty short since there isn't much to say about this cereal. It tastes JUST LIKE REGULAR KIX CEREAL. The only discernable difference is the color- they look toasted, like a "caramelized Kix", if you will. If I ate this blindfolded I would think it was regular Kix cereal. Maybe this so-called Honey Kix is just the burnt rejects from the regular Kix assembly line?
Final Verdict? If you like regular Kix, you will like this, since THEY ARE THE SAME THING. If you like regular Kix and your supermarket is out/the Honey Kix is on sale, you might as well pick this up since it's basically the same.
Friday, August 28, 2009
- Real Housewives of Atlanta: EW website's recap of last night's episode.
- Project Runway: EW website's recap of last night's episode.
- Healthy-ish Muffins: Review of a Vitamuffin mix. Love the frozen pre-made ones, personally.
- Top Chef Vegas: Grub Street's recap of this week's episode.
- Top Chef Vegas: Recap from The Kitchn.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
For my entree: A Monstrosity of fried-ness. I love oysters, but I definitely didn't think this one through well enough. Eating 2 or 3 fried oysters is one thing, but having a GIANT plate of them is another. Also, it's not like taking them home would be that great since they are fried. Tasted great, but I wouldn't get this again unless I was with 4 other people that all loved fried oysters and wanted to split this, haha. The coleslaw (which you can't even see under the oysters at the top of the photo haha), was really good, vinegar-based, not mayo-based.
T got another daily special, the fish tacos, which came in what I believe is the Wal-mart silver letter holder/organizer... why do I say this? Because I had the EXACT same one in college, haha. It was a cute presentation though, and really good for holding the tacos intact. The fish tacos came with fresh salsa, avocado, and crema.
Finished off the meal with complimentary chocolate pieces, it was overall a tasty meal that made me feel less angry about traveling to Dupont to be denied a free cupcake.
I arrived a little before 6pm to Dupont Circle, hustling over to the store... and then..
All things considered, I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised that they ran out (I don't even know when they did exactly, since the store was closed up and dark by the time I got there, not even in the midst of closing up or anything). Also, I wasn't the only one thinking they'd still have cupcakes left- no less than 10 other people showed up, saw the sign, sighed, complained, and walked on.
Hopefully your 2nd anniversary falls on a not-work-day, Hello Cupcake.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
They both seem like really cute ways to give a dessert to someone, especially since they ship easily and aren't messy. I received a Bangerang Bakeshop Cupcake in a Jar last year for my birthday from I, it was a really cute surprise, and looked v. similar to the Cakespy blog's cupcakes. The Bakerella mix would also be a cute housewarming present, or favors for a luncheon/baby shower/party/etc.
Monday, August 24, 2009
- Progressions Salon: 10% off visit.
- DSW: $5 off purchase of $19.95+.
- AC Moore: 25 bonus points on a $5+ purchase.
- Noodles & Company: Free entree.
- Qdoba: Buy one entree, get one free.
- Austin Grill: Free entree.
- Cold Stone Creamery: Free Like It Create Your Own Creation.
- Rita's: Buy one item, get one free.
- The Blue House: 25% off one item + birthday gift (last year it was a mug with their logo on it, pretty cute).
- Victoria's Secret: $10 coupon.
- Sephora: Free birthday gift.
- Filene's Basement: 15% off purchase.
- Baskin-Robbins: One free scoop.
- California Tortilla: One free burrito.
- Borders: 15% off one item.
- ING Direct: 15% off at the ING online shop.
In addition to birthday coupons, many of these stores will offer coupons and discounts sporadically throughout the year, so it's a good deal in general, assuming you go to/like the places.
Tip: If you don't want your everyday/regular e-mail being bombarded with newsletters and announcements, just sign up for a separate free e-mail account like I do. Then every time you sign up for something new, just use that one e-mail address. It makes these e-mails much easier to manage, and it doesn't get in the way of my real e-mailing.
Friday, August 21, 2009
- Anna Sui for Target: Pop up shop is coming September 10 to NYC!
- PB Brownie Mix: Mixed Review, courtesy of Serious Eats.
- Free Chocolate: Mars' chocolate relief act is still going on.
- Top Chef Vegas: Dishes from episode 1.
- Real Housewives of ATL: Recap of last night's episode.
- Avocado Ice Cream: Rick Bayless' recipe.
The best part about Ray's the Steaks, in my opinion is all the random stuff that we all would not expect from a steakhouse. Comfortable, casual atmosphere. Complimentary spiced cashews and yummy bread. Prices that make any newcomer do a double take (example: $24 special that includes a soup/salad, choice of sirloin/hanger steak/sea scallops entree, and dessert). Etc, etc.
I ordered the Brazilian- which comes with a spicy, garlic-y, herb-y, OMG-y chimichurri sauce on the side. Garlic mashed potatoes, plain mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach are included with every entree, served family-style to the table. A-MA-ZING.
Everyone but me ordered the special so that included dessert, but our server was nice enough to comp me a birthday dessert, so I ordered the dark chocolate mousse. It was rich, smooth, and super delicious. Others got the white chocolate mousse, milk chocolate mousse, strawberries and cream (all served in a wine glass like above), and key lime pie.
What's better than eating at Ray's? Take a look at the photo above. THEY GIVE YOU FRESH SIDES OF MASHED POTATOES AND CREAMED SPINACH WITH YOUR LEFTOVER ENTREE. That alone, literally might be worth saving that 2-bite piece of steak you're debating on finishing off, haha. They also gave me more of the chimichurri sauce which was a nice surprise.
If I could, I would totally make a standing reservation there to eat at least once a week, and I honestly would not be surprised if anyone out there actually DOES do that.
Special thanks to my fabulous friends for treating me to a birthday dinner at Ray's!
Everyone knows how much I love Georgetown Cupcake, and my birthday really confirmed how much I've been grinding my love of the cupcakes into my friends' brains this whole time. I got home from work to find the above BOX OF OMG AMAZING waiting for me at the front desk of my apartment building. Thank you M for such a fantastic surprise!!
Oh, but it didn't stop there. P had also gone out to get 8 of my favorite flavor, the Red Velvet cupcake!!! Thanks P!!!
If you haven't been to Georgetown Cupcake yet (which frankly would be really bizarre if you're reading this/know me and I haven't made you go yet..) GO NOW!!
To make things even more amazing/horrifying for my diet, Georgetown Cupcake is currently in the process of opening another store in..... DOWNTOWN BETHESDA. Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
- 500 Days of Summer: Just saw this, LOVED it!
- Rachel Zoe Accessories: Debuting at the QVC fashion show.
- Hello Cupcake: FREE cupcake on the 25th to celebrate their 1st anniversary!
- Top Chef: EW's Where are they now? slideshow.
- Flip Burger Boutique: Speaking of Top Chef, Richard Blais is set to expand his burger place into DC sometime soon.
I loooooooove me some Ina Garten. Her shows are probably in my Top 3 Food Network programs, because who wouldn't want to hang out in the Hamptons, using only "good" ingredients, having parties all the time? I have her Barefoot Contessa and French cookbook, but recently I randomly found Ina's Back to Basics cookbook at TJ Maxx, score! It's not as "basic" as everyone might assume, but it's an "Ina-level basic", haha. I want to try to make as many of the recipes in here that I can- not trying to go all "Julie & Julia" on this, but at least to make use of the purchase.
I started out with the most logical choice, the Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup, mainly because I had pretty much all of the ingredients on hand already. I halved the recipe for the most part so I wouldn't end up with gallons and gallons of soup. Also, a few tweaks here and there, like using my handheld immersion blender at the end, instead of a food mill, cus, let's get real Ina.
This was a fantastic soup with great flavor and depth. I thought the carrots were random but it worked well without overpowering the tomato flavor. Anyone that's a fan of tomato basil soup or tomato bisque will LOVE this soup. It takes a little bit of time and effort, but most of it is simmering time so it's not like you're doing stuff nonstop. Highly recommended, especially for this time of year!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The remaining courses in the Tasting Menu were: the Kindai Kanpachi Sashimi with a yogurt sauce; Hanger Steak with roasted potatoes, a Cheese plate, and the "kit kat" dessert, with gianduja, hazelnut, 'crunch', and milk chocolate. The other entree dish was the Veal Chop, with a basil ravioli filled with mascarpone and ricotta salata, and sun-dried tomato.
Overall an enjoyable dinner with lots of flavor and thoughtful presentation. The pacing was a little slow at times, but the dining room was packed so it wasn't too surprising. I will say though that Michel Richard's kit kat is MUCH better than the elements' version, haha.
Monday, August 17, 2009
- Kelly Clarkson, Self cover: The editor just keeps digging a bigger hole for herself..
- Lady Gaga: Bizarre photo shoot, not surprising.
- I'm a Fan: Honey Bunches of Oats cereal.
- LOVE: Taste testing Yakult, one of my favorite "Crazy Japanese" things.
- Real Housewives of Atlanta: TVGasm recap of last week's episode.
- Funfetti!: Homemade Funfetti cupcakes, woo!
Friday, August 14, 2009
- Coco Perez: Perez Hilton's fashion-related blog.
- Cupcake Tasting: Trying out some of NYC's finest.
- Steak Salad Recipe: Looooove steak salads.
- Top Chef Masters: TVGasm recap from last week's episode.
There's some fine print, and taxes still apply, but if there was a way to make this worthwhile, it definitely seems like a pretty good deal.
If only I lived in a world where I could buy this and fly every couple of days to visit friends all over the country- how awesome would that be??
Thursday, August 13, 2009
- Where The Wild Things Are: Enter to win a trip to NYC to see this, courtesy of Ben & Jerry's!
- Restaurant Week: What's on the menus of DC Restaurant Week Participants.
- Top Chef Las Vegas: Sponsors, guest judges, other info.
- TV Shows for Foodies: via. Entertainment Weekly.
- Ray's Hell Burger: on Serious Eats/A Hamburger Today.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
- I Paid: $4.00 with coupon, at Harris Teeter
- Description: Mango Sorbet; Fat Free
Once again, an example of how packaging (especially with a coupon) can persuade me into trying something at the supermarket. I mean, look at it- Bright colors! Random snowflake! What's not to love?
Ciao Bella began in NYC and is now available at a good number of chain supermarkets, although not all (last I checked, the Giant by me did not carry these). I picked up the Mango Sorbet and Chocolate Hazelnut, due to the coupon I had.
The Mango sorbet is full-flavored and almost creamy, in a good way- which isn't normally associated with sorbets. What I mean is, you get a ton more of the fruit flavor, as opposed to a watered-down flavor like you might get with other sorbets. If you like Mango water ices from Rita's, for example, Ciao Bella's is like the souped-up, 'roided out version of that.
Final verdict? A delicious and satisfying sorbet for mango lovers. I'm excited to try the Chocolate Hazelnut one soon, to see how they do with non-fruit ingredients.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
- Orzo with Tomatoes, Capers, and Lemon: A classic and delicious combo.
- Milk Chocolate: Serious Eats' taste test of a variety of milk chocolate bars.
- Ice Cream Sandwiches: NYMag's list of ice cream sandwiches in the city.
- Little Debbie Death Match: A completely unnecessary but funny experiment by Cakespy.
- Top Chef Masters: TVGasm recap of last week's episode.
If you have ever read or seen anything from Hungry-Girl, chances are you have heard about these. She uses these as a substitute for real pasta in many of her dishes.
Well, I tried these before and I thought they were HORRIBLE as a pasta substitute. I've had shirataki noodles in Japanese dishes before, like sukiyaki, where it's not meant to be a pasta substitute, and takes in the flavors of the meat and broth before.
Try them if you're still hoping that these 40 calorie noodles are the miracle substitute for REAL pasta, but don't say I (and Serious Eats) didn't warn you!
I try to get to the Dupont Farmers Market whenever I can, which has been difficult this summer since I've been out of town over the weekends a lot. But we were able to go this past Sunday, and in addition to the regular items, I decided I'd get one "new" item, the white bell peppers you see above.
There isn't too much info on them online aside from buying seeds it seems like, but I will say that these tasted sort of bitter raw, but otherwise worked the same way a green bell pepper would. I used them in a pasta sauce and they lost the bitterness once cooked. It might be nice to put into a salad with a lot of green (lettuce, cucumber, spinach) in it, so it would stand out moreso than a green pepper would. Anyone else ever see/try these before?
Anyhoo, I just wanted to show you all an example of what you can do to jarred pasta sauce in order to jazz it up a bit. I started with a jar of Harris Teeter Organic Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce (~$3), and added the following (which is more than what is pictured below, it just all didn't fit, haha):
- Ground Beef (Emerald Family Farms; Dupont Farmers Market)
- 4 Small Organic Carrots (Dupont Farmers Market)
- 2 Cloves Garlic (Dupont Farmers Market)
- 2 White Bell Peppers (Dupont Farmers Market)
- 1 Small Onion
- 2 Heirloom Tomatoes
Side note: I'm a huge fan of this meat stand at the Dupont Farmers Market. I've gotten ground pork and ground beef from them before- it's a little pricier but not rediculous, and tastes great. They also sell whole rabbits, sausages, poultry, etc. so it's safe to say they carry a wide variety of meat items. I'm not sure if the stand is called "EcoFriendly Foods" or "Emerald Family Farms", but they are on the side close to PNC bank, next to the cheese stand with the older ladies, haha.
This faux-recipe is also called such because it's really simple. Mince the garlic, chop the onions, saute with olive oil. I then chopped and added the carrots and peppers to that. Add the meat and brown thoroughly, breaking it up into smaller pieces. Add the jarred sauce, chopped tomatoes, season to taste, and simmer.
Sauce is never really v. photogenic, but at least you get an idea of how it all comes together in the end. You could use ground pork or turkey, chicken breast, anything you want really. Same goes for the veggies- cubed eggplant, green beans, spinach, etc., as well as the sauce that you are starting with. The point is, it's an easy way to make plain jarred pasta sauce tastier, in most cases healthier, and much more filling.
Monday, August 10, 2009
- Yum, Peaches: A few peach recipes from Serious Eats.
- Real Housewives: Recap of last week's ATL episode.
- Crazy Shoes: REAL people test-driving the season's new shoes.
- Oh, MK: Michael Kors, on Project Runway.
- Garrett Neff: I think he went to Bucknell? Hottttt.
- Buttery Overload: Poundcake + Peanut butter frosting.
- I Paid: $5.99 at Harris Teeter
- Description: Chocolate Cremes
I've heard about Berger cookies for a while, but never had a chance to try them. I even looked for them at the Italian Store when I was there for dinner this past weekend, but they were out. As random luck would have it, I passed by a shelf full of them in Harris Teeter the next day, next to the Kosher foods.... (Note to Harris Teeter: WHY?!).
If anyone is familiar with the frosted sugar cookies (Eat n Park Smilies being a popular example), these are very similar, except with a thick fudgey topping instead of the sugar frosting. They aren't pretty big, not much bigger than a Chips Ahoy cookie, but in a good way, because the fudge is so thick it would probably be overkill if it was a giant cookie. A squishy cookie + fudge topping = no textural difference, if you are the type that cares whether or not there is a crunchy/soft ratio in your cookies.
Final verdict? So happy I finally got to try these! They are really tasty and definitely pretty rich, not really a cookie for snacking on, more like you eat one or two and your mouth starts to feel embalmed in sugar. But don't get me wrong, these taste awesome, especially if you are a chocolate fudge fan. Yay for Maryland having a distinct and yummy local cookie!
Friday, August 7, 2009
I've only been able to try Milk Bar (LOVE) but I fully intend on checking out Ssam Bar or Noodle Bar somepoint soon, and now I can add a Midtown location to the list :o)
- Drumsticks: How to make Drumsticks from scratch.
- Megan Wants A Millionaire: Why did I watch this? Not really sure.
- Shortbread Cookie Sandwiches: From Pionner Woman, yummm.
- Julia-isms: In honor of Julie & Julia, out today!
- Bisquick: Review of the Shake n' Pour.
- Christian Siriano for VS: The makeup pouch is cute.
- JT Fragrance: If it can make a guy sing/dance/look like him, SOLD.
- "Having a kit at work to deal with unforeseen clothing disasters is an excellent idea. It should contain a stain stick, a lint brush, a safety pin, a travel sewing kit, and an extra button or two".
- When traveling by air, wear peds or trouser socks with ballet flats. The shoes are simple to remove going through security, and the thin socks will protect your feet from the airport carpet, which always seems ever so slightly damp".
- "If you are an adult and your weekend plans do not include ascending Machu Picchu, backpacks are strictly verboten".
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
- Xie Xie: A look at the sandwich options at this new Asian-concept shop.
- Iced Coffee: Cold-brewing coffee for best results.
- Hi-Chews: One of my favorite Japanese candies, might even be better than the real fruit.
- Worst Commercials of July: I agree, these are pretty horrible and annoying.
- Rodarte: Another Target/Designer collaboration coming this winter.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
- I Paid: 2.99 at Balducci's
- Description: Icelandic style skyr strained non-fat yogurt; Grade A; 0% milkfat
As pretty much anyone reading this knows, I am a sucker for packaging. If it looks cute/fun/even remotely interesting, I will probably buy it just for the sake of it. Case in point, the siggi's yogurt pictured above. I saw it perched on the Balducci's shelf, with a thick paper wrapping and ignorance of capitalization, and thought "So cute! Let me try one"... sighhhhhh. The packaging does have some purpose in addition to looking all cute and fancy artisanal-ish... the paper wrapping comes off, so that the paper and the plastic is recycled separately. Also, there's more product information on the inside of the paper sleeve.
Now, onto the taste. Not surprisingly for a skyr-type yogurt, it's really thick. Like buttercream frosting thick. Like I could hold the cup upside down over my head and nothing would happen thick. The Orange & Ginger flavors were both well represented in the yogurt, with the orange flavor being incorporated into the yogurt, and the tiny pieces of candied ginger mixed throughout. It's definitely not for people that only enjoy the more "dessert-y" flavors of yogurt, like the Yoplait line as an example. It's sweetness is all-natural, so it's not very prominent in this yogurt.
Final verdict? I'd definitely like to try out some other flavors of this yogurt. I wouldn't get it all the time, not just because of the price, but because the thickness can be a little off-putting after a while. If you are a fan of Fage or other greek-style yogurts, you will probably like the siggi's yogurt as well.
Monday, August 3, 2009
On to the food... some highlights:
Pork & Egg Bun... Deeeeeeelicious.
Saturday- First stop, Momofuku Milk Bar for some tasty treats. The place is small but jam-packed with so many amazing things. M and I both got the Pork & Egg bun- if we had known how big they were, we definitely could've split one. It was so amazing- pork belly slices, an over easy egg, cucumbers, hoisin sauce. A squirt of Sriracha (available at each table) was great, but isn't necessary to make this taste Awesome.
We also got samples of both the Strawberry Shortcake and Cereal Milk soft serves. Yes you read that correctly, Cereal Milk. And wouldn't you know it, it REALLY tasted like the milk in a bowl after you've eaten all the cereal. So Cool!! I couldn't leave without buying one of their sweets- picked up a Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow cookie- bonus, the one he gave me was broken off on one part so he gave me two, woo. I tried this cookie later on Sunday before I left, and it was just so rich and crispy/smooth/buttery/I'm running out of adjectives, haha. So good!
Vanilla Custard, Shake Shack
After walking around for a while, we hit up Madison Square Park for the famed Shake Shack. I first got a custard, thinking I was still too full from the Pork & Egg bun to get a burger. But since M wanted a shake anyway, we got into the "not custards" line and waited it out, for about 30-45 minutes total.
I am so glad we did, and I told myself to just get the burger, since we were all the way here and already waiting in line anyway. Oh. My. GOD. The Shackburger (meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce, Shack sauce) was UNBELIEVEABLY good. Like Wow-So-Glad-I-Got-This-I-Can't-Finish-It-But-I-Want-To-But-I-Might-Explode-But-It's-So-Amazing-I-Wonder-If-I-Can-Take-It-Back-To-MD-And-Save-It-So-I-Can-Extend-This-Enjoyment-For-Another-Day... kind of "good". Seriously, I don't even care if you went to a churrascaria moments beforehand, if you are anywhere near MSP (or not, even), just suck it up and wait in line for this baby. SO AMAZING. In other news, M got an order of fries which I sampled as well- crispy and salty with creamy potato-y insides, a delicious order in itself.
Hello long-lost loveeeeeeeeeee.
Finished off the weekend with some breakfast at Pinkberry before catching the train back to DC. They have a few new toppings, including the Valencia Orange slices pictured above. Even though I've been lucky to have other tart frozen yogurt places pop up nearby, they are just still not the same as Pinkberry. So glad I got some before heading home!
M & E, it was great seeing you both!