The Best Thing I Ate Last Week: Phoenix Edition

Listen. If you’re going to judge me for naming the best thing I ate last week a dish from a chain restaurant, you can, kindly, close your browser window and walk away from my blog.

Because you simply have not had the chorizo-stuffed pork tenderloin at ZTejas Southwestern Grill in Arizona. Yet. You’ll have it if you’re here. I promise you, you’ll regret it if you don’t.

Where do I start? It’s hard to find well-seasoned chorizo in DC, so I really appreciate a spicy but not flaming hot sausage. The meat lets you know there’s some heat there, but it’s not going to have you reaching for a glass of milk.

In fact, where’s Mrs. Wheelbarrow and her Charcutapalooza crew? I’d like to see her take on fresh, home-made chorizo.

As if the chorizo wasn’t enough, it’s then wrapped in a juicy pork tenderloin. Oh and there’s poblano peppers all wrapped up in there too!  They could stop right there and not bother with the sauces, the mashed potatoes and the vegetables. There’s really no need for all that extra stuff on the plate. Because when those little meaty medallions land in front of me it’s like I have tunnel vision…and I don’t come back up until they’re all gone.

Best Thing I Ate Last Week: Tucson Edition

I’m home for the holidays right now and that means lots of puppy kisses, friend time and sleeping. In the vein of friend time, I headed down to Tucson, AZ, my birth city and where I lived until I was about 13, with my bff since childhood. Our mission was Christmas lights, but we had to eat along the way. We asked our hotel for some recommendations and they came up with Maynards Market & Kitchen.

The restaurant was cozy, dimly lit and had a really lovely warm feeling. The emphasis on locally sourced, or at least well sourced, ingredients was an immediate draw for me…but the menu was both meat and fish heavy. I love a good bacon cheeseburger, we all know this, but that night I was craving something lighter.

Enter: fennel butternut squash “scrapple” with figs, chanterelles and a cauliflower veloute.

Sounds like a lot of random on a plate, right? I wish I had a photo, because it came together so well visually and taste wise. The “scrapple” was a rectangle of thinly sliced fennel and squash layered about a hundred times over. I have mad respect for the sous chef that labored over that mandolin and subsequently placed those layers in a baking dish.

Of all the other items on the plate, the cauliflower veloute was the star. It was creamy…uh…velvety…and delicious! I didn’t expect to walk away from dinner feeling full, but I did. I also wasn’t hungry an hour later – a sign of a good vegetarian dish according to this meat-eater!

So, like I told my friend, sometimes it’s good to veer off the beaten, beefy path at restaurants like these. Every once and awhile you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

What’s the best thing y’all ate last week?

Best Thing I Ate Last Week: Doughnut Edition

I had a bit of a hectic week last week. I traveled to and from Arizona in three days time and barely got to partake in my favorite foods while I was out there! I was seriously hoping today’s post would be a ginormous Los Betos burrito or something like that. Oh well. When I return for the holidays (this week – I know. The back and forth is ridiculous.) I’ll get one.

And so, the best thing I ate last week were the mini-doughnuts from the Chinatown Holiday Market. The men that run that little dough spitting, oil vat frying, drip drying machine are GENIUSES. I love them. I love them every year when they show up. The fat kid inside me squeals with joy when I see those white tents all set up and ready to serve me DOUGHNUTS!!!

I know the doughnut guy is also regularly at Eastern Market but let’s get real: a) I don’t need to eat these things more than two times a year, and b) it’s much more special when you only get them every once a year.

And because I can’t just stop there, my number two favorite thing I ate last week was! *drumroll*

Rabbit pie from Brasserie Beck! The crew at Beck has revamped the menu a bit with new items that are great for warming your belly on a cold, winter night. The dish was akin to pot pie, with a buttery flaky crust like none other I’ve seen. Hearty and rich, it was the perfect dish to nosh on while we had a few bourbon cocktails at the bar.

So there you go folks! What’s the best thing y’all ate last week? Any dishes I should be out there trying?!

Best Thing I Ate Last Week – 1905 Edition

So, as you can assume, I’ve been eating out a lot lately. I mean, like, four days a week a lot. I know, I know, it’s not healthy. For me or for my wallet. But I swear it’s pretty awesome.

I’ve been eating some insanely good food. It’s impossible to name my all-time favorites so I’ve decided to check in with you weekly and report back on the best thing I ate the week before.

Last week’s winner clocked in at the 11th hour. Literally, I ate it around 11pm on Saturday night at 1905 Restaurant on 9th and U Street here in DC. The braised Colorado lamb sandwich on Asiago bread with gruyère which is served with red wine demi-glace is blo-ho-ho-w your mind amazing. Tender, juicy, pull-apart hunks of meat doused in that demi-glace had my eyes rolling in pure bliss.

I don’t have a pic of that sandwich. It lasted about ten seconds.

I do however have a pic of my second most favorite thing I ate this week: the escargot at 1905. I don’t eat a lot of snail, so I wouldn’t call myself an expert. But this escargot was better than the escargot I had at Bistro Du Coin. Yeah. I said it. 1905 does snail better than the iconic French restaurant in town. They’re jam packed with garlic and butter and…parmesan! You just reach right in there with the little fork and yank ’em out. It’s perfect. More perfect than you would think.

So there you have it. Get your butt to 1905 for some snails and lamb and brag about it all to your friends. Cause you will totally have bragging rights. Totally.

 

Where The Heck Have I Been?!

I swear, I haven’t disappeared. No. On the contrary. I’ve been around. Oh, like. Alllll around. I’ve been blogging and writing and eating my face off.

I’ve been writing mostly for Food Network. That’s right. You heard me. Food Network. Pretty cool, huh!?

See, Food Network launched City Eats here in DC. It’s a table booking site, and competitor to Open Table. You can see sexy pictures of all the food you’ll eat, videos of the restaurants and even interviews with the chefs. Then you read a little profile written by someone like moi or Kelly DiNardo or Cynthia Hacinli. A few of the restaurant profiles I’ve written include:

And when I wasn’t writing restaurant profiles for City Eats, I was writing blog posts! I have a weekly column where I round up the food news and events from around town. I also wrote this piece about Allison Sosna who is, probably one of my most favorite people in town. And this little diddy about the James Beard Awards’ Outstanding Bar Program. There will be more profiles and blog posts coming up too!

And when I wasn’t writing for City Eats, I was writing for Borderstan! I’ve moved up in the world over there a little bit. Now Food Editor of sorts, I’m on the hunt for great writers who love to eat…and write about it! It’s fun to be a part of something like that, and as always, a part of the neighborhood.

And when I wasn’t writing for those sites I was farmers marketing and cooking and eating out and baking and traveling. I was hanging out with friends and indulging in life a little bit. It’s been a lot, I’ll admit. My schedule is pretty insane. But how in the world can I complain? Life has been great. Good food, good people and great memories. As I’ve come to say so often lately, if food is love, I’ve been loved a lot over the last few months.

Sorry I’ve been MIA, but you can forgive me right? Are you guys ready to get back into with it me? Because I am so ready to start sharing some of the amazing stuff I’ve been eating! Cheers!

Out and About: The Ravenous Pig

I ate at The Ravenous Pig three months ago. One might think the meal would be a distant memory by now. Oh, but no.

Probably because I ate there THREE TIMES when I was in Orlando, FL for just a week for work. It was a $40 minimum round-trip because I was staying by the convention center. Each night, I procured a Russian driver, Eli, who drove me and my dining companions to and from The Pig in an Escalade. Sounds extravagant…but there were no cabs. Literally.

Jeff Houck, food writer at the Tampa Tribune is good friends with Tammy of Florida Girl in DC and recommended (in retrospect, I think he insisted) we try The Pig, and so a gastronomic journey began.

Two words for you: duck nuggets.

Duck Nugget. And some green stuff.

Confit duck. Squared. And fried (I think?). Oh yeah and they came with a salad.

Buttery and not too salty, but sometimes too crispy house-made pretzels. Lick your fingers rudely in the restaurant delicious.

Buttery, salty and carby!

And there was a lamb burger…

Baaaah! Lamb burger.

And tempura fried green bean fries…

Who needs potato fries when you have these?!

Of course there was booze…a classic Sidecar (Larry, the bartender, is lovely…):

Everything a cocktail should be.

So the next time your family drags you to Orlando for Disney, take the path less traveled and make reservations or plop down at the bar at The Ravenous Pig and make your tummy happy. You can find them on Facebook and online.

Enjoy! :)

That’s What You Get For Eating In Vegas

Is it possible to get tired of eating? I say, “YES!!!” Because when your whole day is seemingly punctuated. By discussions. Of which restaurant. You MUST!! Try. Because you only. Have. Threetwoone day left in Vegas!!! Well, food, talking about food and eating food can become tiresome.

Highlights: juicy lamb chops, light and airy spinach soufflé, truffled mac n cheese and scalloped potatoes with goat cheese.

Eating out has an allure. It’s an event, something that feels special. Fine dining ups the ante on that allure. So when every meal you eat for three straight days is not only out, but fine. It starts to lose some of the allure. It becomes…common?

Highlights: San Daniele Prosciutto with Burrata Mozzarella, Steamed Manila Clams and Potato Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza.

Let me rewind for a second. I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been traveling a lot (explained here). Three weeks and three cities (and something like nine air planes) later, it’s safe to say I’ve been doing a lot of eating out. My time in Orlando was split between the hotel bar and The Ravenous Pig (post to come). In Phoenix there were plenty of dinners at home, but also plenty of “snacks” and “late dinners” to be had out and about. And, well, Vegas. It goes without saying that I had an ambitious list of places I wanted to check out.

Highlights: Taylor Bay Scallops on the Half Shell, Littleneck Clams on the Half Shell, Ahi Tuna Two Ways, RM Style “Cioppino” and Rhode Island Style Calamari.

The good news is, I don’t think I’ve had a bad meal anywhere I’ve eaten in the last three weeks (even at the hotel bar in Orlando *gasp*). The even better news is, I packed workout clothes everywhere I went and ran three miles a day. The bad news? There isn’t any. I’m a lucky chick. I’m a lucky chick with a really full belly.

So, if you’re a foodie heading to Las Vegas, let me save you some trouble. Just stay at Mandalay Bay. In addition to the establishments I’ve listed above, there’s Border Grill, China Grill, Red Square, Aureole, Fleur de Lys and Burger Bar. You could never leave the building for a single meal and never be happier. In fact, that’s just what I did while I was there.

**Thank you to @DCEventJunkie for the photos here! If you’d like to see photos of my meals, check out my Twitter feed. Much to the dismay of the Chefs and my fellow dinners I photographed and tweeted every dish on the damn table.

TONIGHT: Happy Hour to Support FreshFarm Markets

You guys know I  love me some Dupont Farmers Market! Monday might *seem* early in the week to get out for happy hour…but hey…you had a case of the Mondays anyway ;)

Out and About: St. Louis, MO Part II

As you guys know, The BF currently resides in St. Louis, MO. A few trips ago (much earlier in the year) I recommended a few places that we visited and this would be round two!

So…here goes:

Gooey Butter Cake at Coffee Cartel – I already told you about Coffee Cartel but what I didn’t tell you about is their to-die-for gooey butter cake. Gooey butter cake is St. Louis’ “thing.” It’s their official, heart-stopping cake. Apparently, it’s not even considered a dessert cake…you’re supposed to eat this for breakfast! Well. If that’s not starting the day right, I don’t know what is cause this stuff rocks.

St. Nicholas Greek Festival – This was our second year attending the festival…the first time we stumbled on it when we were out for a walk. This time it was a fluke that I was in town on the right weekend. It’s like the Gods wanted me to eat souvlaki and spanakopita until I couldn’t look at another slice of pita for another year.

The festival is HUGE…two tents…atleast 10 separate food stops serving everything from gyros to Greek desserts to Greek wines and beers. This stuff is legit. There’s no faking it here. Real Greeks, making real Greek food serving it to people making awkward My Big Fat Greek Wedding jokes. Hundreds of people filter through the lines for a chance to stuff themselves silly and plop down for live music and dancing shows. It’s worth planning your trip to St. Louis around this!

Beer Cheese Bacon Soup at Hammerstones – The BF was pretty adamant that I try this soup. It was a perfect Fall weather the weekend I was in St. Louis so a thick, creamy, warm soup was just what I was craving. He  warned me: eating this soup would be a messy endeavor. Strings of melted, gooey cheese would form with every scoop of my spoon. In the end, it wasn’t quite that bad but the soup exceeded the hype and won a spot in my heart for “zomg best soup ever!!”

House-made Mini Corn Dogs at Tin Can Tavern – Yeah you heard me right. House-made. Mini. Corn dogs. And they taste as good as they sound. I really don’t think I have to explain much further. And Tin Can has an INSANE beer selection – which pairs nicely with the mini corn dogs :)

That’s all I have for now folks, but I’ll be sure to keep sharing all the great food St. Louis has to offer. I have a few places on  my wish list. The BF has been warned.

Cork and Fork – Wines and A Beer To Try

I recently visited Cork and Fork for a preview of the store set to open this Saturday down on 14th Street. You can check out my blog post at Borderstan for more info on the store and the owners.

Over here I thought I’d share with you the wines and beer I tasted because they were PHENOMENAL! Take whatever you think of reds, whites and ciders and just chuck ’em out the window (right in the humid, gross mess that is DC right now).

Ruche was a really delicious, light tasting red. It wasn’t heavy in your mouth or leave your tongue feeling velvety at all. It’s a red I could actually drink throughout a hot summer and not feel that blagh, gross feeling you sometimes get when drinking reds in the sun.

Les Rials was a super sweet smelling wine that turned out to be a not-so-sweet white with tropical notes (or so Dominique told me, to which I said, “mmhhhmm, oh yes! I can taste that!”). The name has a really cool meaning and story to go along with it. Ask Dominique, he’ll tell you and you’ll fall for the swoon-worthy French accent and his super approachable way of talking about wine.

Finally, I had a beer, that is, if you mean alcoholic apple juice :) This was tasty, but quite sweet and a far cry from your Hornsby or Woodchuck. But still, cider-lovers, you’ll delight in this refreshing and crisp libation.

Visit Cork and Fork this Saturday to give them a strong start and a hearty “Welcome!” to the neighborhood. I think you’ll fall  for them as much as I did.

Enjoy!