Friday, October 29, 2010
As much as you'll see posts about Georgetown Cupcake over and over again on here, there are a few other places that I also enjoy- one of them being Baked & Wired in Georgetown. It's tucked away on a side street, away from the madness that can be M Street with all the shops and restaurants. I love the atmosphere, baked goods, and the iced mocha especially, haha.
I picked these up during the Taste of Georgetown a few weekends ago - such a fun day of sampling treats and enjoying the weather! The cupcakes are Strawberry (vanilla cake with fresh strawberries folded in the batter finished with a swirl of pink buttercream) and Pumpkin Spice (pumpkin cake topped with a pumpkin spiced cream cheese frosting), and the bar in the front is the Bee Sting (shortbread cookie topped with sliced almonds and honey). I've had and loved the Strawberry cupcake before, but never had their Pumpkin Spice cupcake- it was great! Everything you could want from a pumpkin item - moist and delicious, without that overwhelming "spice" flavor you sometimes come across with pumpkin baked goods. Delicious! I also really enjoyed the Bee Sting, more than I thought I would initially. I loved the crunch of the sliced almonds with the rich, buttery shortbread underneath, plus the honey for sweetness and to hold it all together. I would love to make this at home! This was fantastic as a snack with a cup of hot tea :o) I'm glad I got to try two new items from this cute bakery/coffeeshop, and encourage you to check it out if you're in the area!
1051 Thomas Jefferson Street NW (between 30th and 31st)
Washington, DC 20007
Thursday, October 28, 2010
After making the (modified) Martha Stewart butterscotch-cashew blondies, I wanted to make something from her Cupcakes book next. As it turns out, these Blondie cupcakes are essentially the same as the aforementioned blondies, just in cupcake form, haha. But, in case anyone's looking for a non-chocolate, cupcake version of a blondie bar, well, here ya go! :o)
These turned out tasty and were v. easy to transport to work, due to the lack of frosting. But, if you are looking for a frosting-ed cupcake, I'd recommend a nice brown butter glaze!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Generally speaking, not a fan of coconut. Hate the texture, don't like the taste, etc. etc. This fact might be the most obvious in my Georgetown Cupcake reviews, as the coconut cupcakes were some of the more difficult ones for me to review, haha. However, you'd have to be living under a rock to not notice the influx of coconut water these days. Celebs are photographed carrying various brands of coconut water, there are ads in magazines, and people have touted it as a great post-workout hydrator and hangover cure, haha.
Even with all the coverage, I continued to ignore the coconut water craze due to my aversion to the main ingredient. However, my love of free things trumped my hatred of coconut during the Passport to Style event in Wisconsin Place, where Vita Coco had a stand. I was given an ice-cold...carton? juice-pack? whatever you want to call it, of their coconut water with peach & mango. Well color me impressed, it was REALLY good! I think it helped that it had peach and mango in it, since I like those flavors, haha. But still, it was super refreshing and tasty, and I could see why fans of coconut water are so jazzed up about it. I've seen Vita Coco sold at Whole Foods and CVS, but I'm sure they are also sold at other stores/supermarkets as well. Give it a try if you're curious about coconut water!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I wanted to get this post in before the end of October, being that it's pumpkin-licious. I stopped in the Co Co. Sala Boutique yesterday (which I attended the preview party for) so that I could pick up a Somethin' Pumpkin Bar, which I had heard about on Twitter and on Facebook. The Somethin' Pumpkin Bar is a pumpkin spice chocolate praline bar; measuring only a few inches long (a little shorter than my cell phone, haha). Initially, I did think it was a little on the smaller side, especially at $6.
However, as soon as I had my first bite, I could see why it didn't need to be any bigger than it was. The hard chocolate shell breaks through to a rich chocolate inside, and a layer of pumpkin mixed with pralines. I'm not sure about the exact ingredients but that's what I could figure out haha. The pumpkin and chocolate combo was delicious, and the chopped pralines added a nice texture. Like I said, the bar is pretty small, but the rich chocolate inside makes this size perfect without being too overwhelming or overkill. This would be a great party favor for a Halloween party, or a tasty gift for a pumpkin lover!
Monday, October 25, 2010
Holy cow... RUN don't walk to your nearest Bath and Body Works store, and get yourself some of their Fall soaps!!!
The fall soaps that I'm currently obsessed with are, from left to right: Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin, Creamy Pumpkin, and Caramel Apple. If you're a fan of fall scents like pumpkin and apple, these are awesome! I'm not sure exactly when they'll be selling these until - the store employee I asked said they should be available until the holiday items roll out - so get some NOW! I bought a ton during their 6/$20 promotion so I can use them well into the winter, haha.
Friday, October 22, 2010
A friendly reminder that Sephora's Friends & Family sale begins online today! Use the code " FF2010 " from now until November 3rd for 20% off your purchase! It's a great time to stock up on your regular beauty items and/or shop for holiday gifts!
** Side note: I tried using the code on 10/21 and it worked already. The free shipping still applies if you go under $50 with the 20% off taken out, so make sure you are at $50+ before entering in the code so you still get free shipping!
** Side note: I tried using the code on 10/21 and it worked already. The free shipping still applies if you go under $50 with the 20% off taken out, so make sure you are at $50+ before entering in the code so you still get free shipping!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I'm a huge fan of ice cream, and love the Haagen-Dazs brand (favorite: Green Tea, duh), so clearly I had to pick up this one: Midnight Cookies & Cream - chocolate and cookies, yum!
I will start by saying that there was pretty much no chance of me not liking this ice cream. I love chocolate, cookies, and cookies & cream ice cream. This is a perfectly good pint of ice cream for anyone else that's a fan of those flavors. However, I can't say that I was really satisfied or excited once I tried this one. With the name being "Midnight Cookies & Cream", I guess I expected a really rich, fuller chocolate flavor throughout, with the extra depth that comes from dark chocolate (vs. milk chocolate, for example). The cookie pieces also were not the same type of chunky + blended mix that I am used from regular cookies & cream ice creams. Don't get me wrong- if I was offered this flavor I would still gladly eat it, haha - I just wouldn't put it in the same category as say, the Ben & Jerry's Milk and Cookies ice cream :o)
Side note: This label on the side seems a little unnecessary... it's ice cream, not some vintage wine, haha. It's also disappointing, since I didn't really notice much of the "thick fudge" mentioned here, boo.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
N and I recently had a chance to try out Casa Nonna, located in Dupont Circle (where some locals might recall as previously being a giant California Pizza Kitchen). I love Italian food, and the BLT restaurant group, so I was looking forward to trying out this new spot.
We started off with a carafe of house red and some yummy gratis garlic bread to share. We perused the menu but were pretty much decided on trying out some of the homemade pasta.
Ravioli Di Ricotta
Here we have the Ravioli Di Ricotta: pillows of ricotta, tomato basil sauce, and Parmesan. Don't let the photo fool you on the size of the ravioli - that was a (large) serving fork, not a regular fork, haha. The pasta had a nice texture and I enjoyed the freshness of the tomato basil sauce.
Stracci Di Manzo
For our second plate to share, we got the Stracci Di Manzo: "rags" tossed with braised beef short rib and tomato. This was rich and such a classic "cold-weather" meal. The braised short rib was tender and mingled with the pasta "rags", soaking in all that flavor. If there were no dietary consequences I could easily eat a bowl of this any time it got a little chilly in DC, haha.
Overall I think we were happy with our first time at Casa Nonna - service was good- not overbearing, portions were great for sharing, and the restaurant itself felt cozy (for being so large) and comfortable. I'd definitely like to try out some of their pizzas next time - it's hard to ignore the giant wood oven right by the bar and the entrance!
1250 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
202.629.2505 / on Open Table
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
As you might have noticed, I'm a huge, huge, huge fan of anything Pumpkin. I love how the start of fall begins the onslaught of anything and everything containing this yummy ingredient!
I came across this box of Bigelow Pumpkin Spice Tea during a routine visit to Harris Teeter, and I was super excited to see it (especially at the 2/$5.00 pricing, haha). I tried it out at work the next morning, and was v. happy with the overall flavor of this tea. The smell isn't overly "spice"-filled but more of a warm pumpkin pie-type of smell. The taste is more like a base of black tea with a pumpkin layer that isn't overwhelming. I say this as a positive thing, because I was initially afraid it would smell/taste too much like a strongly spiced Chai tea, which I personally don't like drinking. This tea smells like fall and is a delicious seasonal tea to try!
Monday, October 18, 2010
A while back I won a free Fritto item via Taylor Gourmet's Facebook page, woohoo! Since I had tried the Arancini before, I decided to give the Fried Ravioli a try this time around.
Side note: Fried ravioli will forever remind me of Bucknell's food services, as fried raviolis were always a popular item at the Terrace room and/or the Caf, haha. Mmmmmm....College. Haha.
These fried ravioli were even better than I had expected! They remained crisp on the outside even after a car ride home while being tightly wrapped with aluminum foil. The cheese on the inside was unexpectedly soft, less of a string cheese feeling and more of a yummy soft ricotta-type cheese mixture. Mmmmmmmmmm! I would definitely get these again (and pay for them, haha) as a tasty alternative to a hoagie from Taylor.
Friday, October 15, 2010
So, in case you were wondering, I did not forego sweets during my weekend visit to Atlanta - you think I'm crazy?!?!?! Instead, I had so many food photos from my trip that I figured I'd split it into Savory (last Friday's post) and Sweets (this post). Hope you don't get any cavities from reading this!
After hitting up the Varsity, I got to have one of the awesome Snickers cupcakes that A made- so rich and delicious, hitting all the salty and sweet flavors perfectly!
Friday morning, D was nice enough to go pick up some dougnuts from Sublime Doughnuts, which I was super excited to sample. On the top left we've got (what I think was the) Butter Toffee with Caramel Chocolate Icing; the center one's the A-town Cream; and on the top right we've got the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. What a way to start the day! I liked them all, but I really liked the toffee chips on the first doughnut, went great with the squishy dough underneath.
Then, it was on to Cami Cakes, a cupcakery in town. Super cute store and logo!
At Cami Cakes, A and I picked up the Strawberries-n-Cream cupcake, as well as the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream cupcake. I definitely liked the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream one better- great balance of flavors, and the cream cheese-based frosting was delicious. The Strawberries-n-Cream cupcake was a little disappointing because it was plain yellow cake, which wasn't particularly special/exciting.
You knew we weren't just going to stop at *one* cupcake place- clearly we were going to go for another one, haha. At Lenox Cupcakes we got the Dark Chocolate Bliss and White Chocolate cupcakes. Looooooved the white chocolate curls on the White Chocolate cupcake- super cute to look at, and fun to eat!
We decided to try to do something besides eat, and walk around Piedmont Park. There was an arts festival going on in the park at the time, so it was fun to browse and walk around all the stuff going on there. However, for being an arts festival, there sure was a TON of food all over the place, haha. Lots of vendors and food stands, as well as companies handing out samples. Hey, no complaints here- check out our bounty of free samples that we took back with us, haha. And yes, those are moustaches on the top right- the Dali exhibit promoters were handing those out, ha. A special shout-out to Chobani Yogurt, they had a truck there and was handing out free full-size tubs of their delicious yogurt for people to try!
After our walk around Piedmont Park, we walked down to check out Bakeshop. We read about this place as part of Bakerella's post about sweets in Atlanta, and it was within walking distance from where we were, which was a bonus. The place is sooooooooooo nice- modern but comfortable at the same time, with open spaces and high ceilings, plenty of space to showcase their numeous baked goods. Plus, hello, they have 2 LARGE TUBS OF NUTELLA AT EACH COMMUNAL TABLE. Just there. Next to clean spoons, for you to spoon onto croissants, or a muffin, or even mix into an iced skim latte like I did, haha. Such a cute place!
I can't wait to go back to Atlanta sometime and try out even more places, woo!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Here's another Georgetown Cupcake flavor from the TLC prize dozen, one of the last ones remaining I believe. It's the Vanilla & Chocolate cupcake: "Classic madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcake with a whipped Callebaut chocolate frosting topped with a fondant flower". As you can see the fondant flower on this one suffered a little due to defrosting as well, haha.
You can't really go wrong with a classic combo of vanilla and chocolate. Georgetown Cupcake's vanilla cake is really delicious- not overly vanilla-perfumy (yes I realize that's not a real word, but still, haha). The chocolate frosting is thick, more like a piped ganache vs. their cream-cheese frostings. If anyone's into classic flavor combinations, you'd be hard-pressed to find one more classic than this one :o)
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
As much as I loooooooove heels, especially platforms, I do keep a supply of cute flats around for those days when I'm walking around a lot or wearing pants that hit right at my heel. I wasn't specifically looking for flats the other day when I was at Target, but I saw these and thought they'd be a fun option for the fall/winter coming up.
These flats are super comfy, with the added bonus of elastic fabric lining the inside opening - no first-time blisters or cuts with these babies! And for only $19.99, they're a fun option with dark jeans, work pants, or even with a skirt/tights combo.
Here's a closeup shot of the jewel detail on the toe. A little extra sparkle never hurt anyone!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
On September 27th, M invited me to go along with her to a preview party for the CoCo Sala restaurant's Chocolate Boutique. Don't have to ask me twice- it's a chocolate party after all!
The boutique is located in a small section of the restaurant, accessible directly from the street/outside. There are lots of flavored truffles displayed on the counter:
As well as chocolate goodies stacked up on the shelves against the wall:
And a few more displayed throughout. They definitely make good use of the somewhat small space- there's lots to look at, and you're literally surrounded by chocolate once you step into the boutique.
Hello, chocolate-covered bacon! This would be a great gift *HINT*
The preview party was packed and everyone was enjoying the food, drinks, and atmosphere in general. There was a buffet set up with lots of yummy things for guests to nibble on, including various cheeses, crackers, and fruit, as well as a variety of desserts. My favorite savory item was the mini biscuits (below right), which were packed with flavor and super tasty. I tried all of the dessert options including the chocolate mousse shots (below left) and the chocolate hazelnut "cigars" (below center), and a chilled sorbet soup, among other fun items. Sorry for the harsh lighting, but the dim house lighting in CoCo Sala isn't really photo-friendly, haha.
And in our cute little gift bags: chocolate shoes (for the ladies) and chocolate cigars (for the gents). Overall it was a great time celebrating CoCo Sala's new chocolate boutique with lots of fellow chocoholics! Thank you CoCo Sala for putting together such a fun event!
Monday, October 11, 2010
I first came across this cute lil' soft-serve maker on the Unplggd blog, which I e-mailed to anyone and everyone saying "Omgggggggggg this is so cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute". Fast forward to my birthday, where my friends S and D got me one (in PINK!) for my birthday! Thanks guys! I was super excited to crack the box open and get started on some soft-serve.
The Unplggd post covers most of the step-by-step instructions as well as details on this product, but here's how my first experience turned out. I froze one of the bowls (it comes with two, which is a nice touch) overnight, and did the easiest recipe option, aka plain yogurt, haha.
...and we've got tart frozen yogurt! As you can see in the photo, the sides of the bowl freeze up really quickly, much faster than the part that's churning in the middle. One issue I did have is that the lid didn't fit perfectly onto the bowl, which made the churning process a little more difficult. I'm hoping that the next time I try it out (with a liquid inside, not yogurt) it'll fit on a little tighter. It's a cute little applicance that is great for apartment living!
Friday, October 8, 2010
A few weekends ago, I headed down to the A (that'd be Atlanta for you non-rap-listening folk) to visit A and her fiance D! It was my first time visiting Atlanta so we had a lot planned out- and by that I clearly mean FOOD. Here's a brief photo recap of some of the stuff we ate, starting with the savory foods!
Thursday night we hit up the Varsity directly after A and D picked me up from the airport, woo. I've seen this place on tv a bunch of times before, it's clearly a city institution! Being that it was around 10pm on a Thursday night, it wasn't crowded at all, which was good because I was worried it was going to be the total clusterf*ck that they always show on tv about it, haha.
I got a burger and side of fries - I wanted to go with a somewhat basic order for my first time there.
A & D split two chili cheese dogs and onion rings. I tried one of the onion rings, which had a nice full coating of batter and pretty good, considering I don't really like onion rings, haha.
On Friday for lunch A took me to Antico Pizza Napoletana, one of her favorite local spots. Right before I visited, Antico had won an international pizza award, which was pretty cool. As you can see, they definitely don't skimp on fresh ingredients here! The pizza was delicious- nice chewy dough (but not tough), piles of fresh ingredients, and a fun, low-key atmosphere- we literally ate in the kitchen, haha. I'm so glad I got to try this pizza, it was fantastic!
For dinner Friday night we hit up Flip Burger Boutique, which totally brought out the Top Chef fan-dork in me. Richard Blais, one of my favorite Top Chef competitors, owns Flip Burger Boutique, so clearly I was jazzzzzzzzed about going, haha. The place itself is v. sleek and modern, with a lot of "flipped" design influences in the dining room.
There were so many fantastic-sounding menu items, but I went with the Burger of the Day, which was the Pork Steam Bun: Char siu glazed pork belly, tamarind mayo, cabbage, bean sprout, pickled carrots and ginger on an Asian steam bun.
This was SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO x 1023984729387473243823434 GOOD. All of the components worked really well together, and the pork belly burger was super duper delicious. I am drooling right now writing about it, no joke. Since it was my first time there, I also got the Krispy Kreme shake, which I was told includes TWO Krispy Kreme doughnuts blended into the shake. So so bad, so so good, haha! I've heard rumors that Chef Blais is looking at DC as a possible market for another Flip, and if that's true- between Flip and Shake Shack, you know I'd be ALL OVER THAT.
On Saturday night, A and I tried out JCT Kitchen, based on its general good reviews plus a spot on the Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" for their Angry Mussels appetizer.
We started with a watermelon + vodka-based cocktail, super summery and refreshing.
And here we have the Angry Mussels - Mussels with peppered bacon, serrano chile, and onion, with some crusty grilled bread on the side. They weren't "burn your tongue off" spicy but had a nice noticable kick to it. We ate these pretty quickly, mainly because the sauce was so so so good, we mopped up pretty much all of it.
We also split an order of the Pork Belly Sliders appetizer - pork belly, house pickles, and vanilla bean apple butter. The pork belly melted in your mouth and the pickles were a great accompanyment to cut through the richness.
For our entree, we split an order of the JCT fried chicken - let's just say the "limited...come early!" note on the menu was enough for us to order it, since we were practically the first ones in the dining room, haha. It's a little blurry, but as you can see the yummy fried chicken, garlicky green beans on one plate...
...and this SERIOUS mac n' cheese in another bowl. All three items were delicious and we had absolutely no complaints. The chicken was juicy, crisp on the outside, and really tasty. The beans had a nice snap to them still with a powerful garlicky flavor. And the mac n' cheese was smooth, creamy, and perfectly cooked pasta to boot. All in all a fantastic dinner!
Finally, for Sunday brunch before I left Atlanta, we went to Highland Bakery. A really likes the Peanut Butter French Toast, but neither of us were that hungry to even try to tackle that monster of a meal, haha. Instead, I opted for a sweet potato biscuit to start, which had a nice sweet (honey?) top and fluffy inside.
A got the Hummus sandwich- hummus spread on grilled sourdough, served with sharp cheddar cheese, tomatoes, spring mix, sprouts, red onion and balsamic vinaigrette, with a side of breakfast potatoes. This sandwich had a nice balance of ingredients, and the bread held up well to the hummus (which normally can make sandwich bread wet and soggy).
I got the Cilantro Corn pancakes- served over black beans and topped with 2 fried eggs, sour cream,salsa, shredded cheese, and cilantro. Ok so maybe this wasn't exactly "light eating" compared to the Peanut Butter French Toast, but I liked the idea of a savory pancake so I wanted to give it a try. This was great, but I would've asked for it without the black beans- it was too much for me to eat to begin with, but the black beans also made the pancakes much more soggy which wasn't great after awhile.
So, as you can see, I definitely wasn't joking about our eating agenda during my visit. It was great seeing A and D, a new-to-me city, and all these fantastic restaurants! Thanks again A and D for having me stay with you!!
Thursday, October 7, 2010
As we progress further into fall, that naturally means more and more PUMPKIN!! I've already listed some on the blog before, but here's a few more pumpkin-related items I've come across recently:
- Dolcezza: Pumpkin gelato, tastes like pumpkin pie, mmm.
- Red Mango: Pumpkin frozen yogurt is delicious, especially with graham cracker crumbs!
- Cheesecake Factory: Pumpkin and Pumpkin pecan cheesecakes are back for a limited time.
- Pizzeria Paradiso: Autumn Fest selections include pumpkin beer and pumpkin pizza (which I blogged about last year).
- Georgetown Cupcake: As usual, their yummy Pumpkin Spice cupcake is available every day in October.
- Starbucks: Most people that love pumpkin already know this, but Pumpkin Spice lattes and Frappuccinos are here, as well as Pumpkin cream cheese cupcakes.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Ah, the powerful effect of social media/blogging. A while back Alejandra posted on her blog about these yummy-looking albondigas, or Spanish meatballs. I printed out the recipe but didn't immediately get around to making them since I was going out to eat a few nights that week. Then, Olga over at Mango & Tomato posted on her blog about the aforementioned recipe. That finally convinced me to just get the ingredients and make the friggin recipe already, haha.
I'm really glad I tried this recipe out - smoky, flavorful, moist meatballs and sauce, unlike any flavor profiles I've ever worked with at home! The addition of the chocolate added depth and was a nice extra little touch. I had these on rice mostly, but also on their own with a veggie side for lunches at work. Thank you Alejandra for introducing me to a great meatball recipe, and Olga for inadvertently giving me that extra push to try it out!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I don't normally post too much personal stuff on this blog, but just wanted to take a moment to remember my family dog, a Maltese named Miki, who passed away yesterday morning at 8:30am. She led a long and happy life for 16 years, 3 months. She was a huge part of my life growing up, since she was a part of our family from the time I was in middle school. As anyone that's ever had and/or lost a pet will know, it's a difficult time, even if we know that it's inevitable. Pet owners and lovers, please take the time today to give your pet an extra hug for me in honor of Miki!
Monday, October 4, 2010
Normally I tend to stick with chocolate-based desserts/sweets, but decided on something different because I had bought some butterscotch chips recently. Once again, Martha Stewart's "Cookies" cookbook came to the rescue :o)
Mise en place
The original recipe called for cashews and toffee; instead I used what I had, which was chopped walnuts and extra butterscotch chips in place of the toffee.
The great thing about bar cookies is how easy it comes together - no need to spoon out individual cookies, just throw it all into a pan and bake! As it was baking, my apartment smelled more and more like butter and butterscotch, sooooooooo yummy.
These turned out really tasty- everyone at work seemed to like them too, so I'm going to assume others liked it as well, haha. It's v. easy to adapt this recipe with ingredients that you already have, like I did. I would recommend keeping an eye on this a few minutes before the "end" time, as it's v. easy for blondies to go from moist to overbaked (at least in my experience). Overall, a great staple recipe for a rich little bite that isn't chocolate!
Friday, October 1, 2010
Another day, another review of a Georgetown Cupcake flavor, haha :o) One of the final cupcakes from my TLC prize is this little chocolate number, the Chocolate Cubed cupcake. This cupcake is a "Valrhona chocolate cupcake with a rich Callebaut chocolate ganache icing topped with French chocolate sprinkles".
Something about those square French chocolate sprinkles are so so good, way better than regular sprinkles, haha. They add a little something extra to this rich cupcake, and a little bit of texture with the soft ganache and cake. This cupcake BEGS for a giant glass of milk, no joke. A great option for chocaholics!