Monday, July 25, 2011

Awesome Trader Joe's Products

So to start out, I'm not affiliated with Trader Joe's in any way....but with that said, wow I just found some awesome products in the store recently! I almost freaked out when I saw the smoked sea salt. I actually first heard of smoked sea salt a few month ago when I was in Seattle. They smoke the salt like you would meat, which gives it a nice...ahem, well, smokey flavor.  It's not like using liquid smoke (because that is actually a chemical), so if you're like me and don't have a backyard to grill on, you can shake on a little of this smoked salt on your food to get a nice flame-broiled flavor any time of year!

The second awesome product is Trader Joe's Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar.  I love making my own vinaigrettes for my salads. I mean, why buy a bottled salad dressing when it takes 45 seconds to mix up yourself? Anyway, this vinegar has a nice citrus flavor with the zing of a vinegar. I think I'll be able to come up with a few awesome new recipes with this tart and and vinegar!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I think I may have just found my new favorite restaurant in Graffiato! This is Mike Isabella's (from Top Chef) new restaurant in DC, and I have been chomping at the bit to try it since it opened last month!  I just wish I had brought a better camera...oh well, you will have to join me in experiencing this awesome restaurant from my blackberry.

When you first walk in, the doorway is a bit crowded; however, my dining companion and I were quickly escorted upstairs to the main dining area. The tables are close together, but don't feel so close that you are invading anyone's private conversations. I love that you can see the kitchen from your table. You would think that it would make the dining area noisy, but really you could not even hear the kitchen!

After you order, you are brought these awesome spiced pistachios. I don't know what the mix is, but it's spicy, sweet, and salty all at the same time! I couldn't stop munching on these babies...that is, until my first course came.

Graffiato's menu is Italian small plates, so they suggest you order 2-3 plates per person.  The pizzas are bigger, so they amount to more like 2 plates total.

For our first course, we started with the best caesar salad I have ever had. What is so awesome about a caesar salad? Well, they used a lemon dressing instead of a heavy creamy dressing. Also, there were these amazing cream cheese croutons on top, which just made the dish. They were chunks of cream cheese that were lightly breaded, then fried just enough to be crispy on the outside, and cool and creamy in the middle.

The next course was the sweet corn agnolotti. These pillows of creamy corn goodness were sprinkled with chanterelle mushrooms and pine nuts, and finished with a light cream sauce.  After I tried my first bite, I wished that I had an entire bowl full of this awesome pasta....until the next course.

Our next course was the countryman pizza, which is toped with fontina cheese, a duck egg, and....wait for truffles! I don't know if you know this by now, but I ADORE truffles in any form. My only complaint is that this pizza is not the prettiest to look at.  A sprinkling of parsley would have helped the visual presentation. However, what's not to love about a pizza with black truffles?!

Next was my favorite course...and not something I have ever ordered before so I was doubly pleased. I saw bone marrow on the menu and knew I needed to try it! The presentation was beautiful with a long bone slit in half and stuffed with the marrow, pistachios, cured lemon, bread crumbs, and bacon.  I was afraid that the texture would be squishy, but the marrow was creamy and rich while the nuts added texture and the lemon a great brightness in flavor.

Finally, we of course had to have dessert!  They have so many great options, but my dining companion and I were craving chocolate, so we had the chocolate tart with sea salt gelato. Now, the tart on its own was nothing really to be excited about. However, when you eat it with the sea salt gelato...oh my goodness the dish just goes to another level! Of course, I have a think for salty and sweet things, but who would have thought that sea salt gelato would be amazing?

Now, being a new restaurant, I went in weary that the service would be terrible. However, Mike's got this place running perfectly! My water glass was always full, cleaned plates were quickly cleared away, and the food came out perfectly timed. Actually, at one point Mike actually came out and I almost had a heart attack. Sadly, I'm not a sneaky picture taker, so I didn't get a shot. However, this star-struck blogger did enjoy seeing one of her favorite Top Chef stars!

All in all I spent around $40 (including tax & tip), but I didn't leave feeling like I wasted any money. With the excellent quality of not only the food, but also the service, I feel satisfied with the amount that I spent. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm going to be saving some money for the next few meals eating at home, but as an impact on my overall budget, I'd have to say Graffiato was well worth it and I cannot wait to go back!

Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 Restaurant Week: Fall Edition

It's that time again! My favorite time of year when I spend WAY too much money because it is just too good a deal to pass up.  (Speaking of, I should start saving now....) It's time for Restaurant Week: Fall Edition.

If you have not heard of Restaurant Week, you get to have a prix-fixe meal (usually 3-4 courses) from some of the best places in DC for only $20 for lunch and $35 for dinner!  Want some tips on how to get the most out of restaurant week? Check out my post from last spring.

Now to choose where to go....and who to go with...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Like food trucks? Free Music? Free entry? Well then you are going to LOVE Truckeroo. 

What is Truckeroo?  Truckeroo is a monthly festival held June through October at the corner of Half St. and M St., SE (basically across from Navy Yard Metro stop). This month, Truckeroo will be on Friday, June 15th from 11:00 am - 11:00 pm. Some of my favs will be there! Sweet Bites, CapMac, DC Empanada, and more!

For additional information, check out their website at

Monday, July 11, 2011

Curbside Cupcakes Truck

You know me. (Or at least I feel like you know me by now....) Practically every week I crave a cupcake. So last week when I discovered that the SweetBites truck was on vacation, I almost had a meltdown. How was I going to satisfy my longing for scrumptious cake? However, when I logged onto Fiesta Food Truck, what did I find??? A different cupcake truck parked at McPherson Square, Curbside Cupcakes.

I quickly grabbed my wallet and made a beeline for the truck.  The first thing I noticed about this truck was their efficiency.  I always like seeing a two-window system where you pay at one window, them move to the next for your product. However, there was no smiling, no talking with you, just business (which is not what I get with other trucks). This could be because I arrived at the end of their time at McPherson, but still, no warm an fuzzies from this truck.

I love that they have a frequent purchase card (more trucks should do this!!); however, I don't know when I will ever use it.  This is because of the sheer disappointment I felt eating my red velvet cupcake...

Why was I disappointed? Well, as you see my picture, the cupcake was lopsided and not the prettiest cupcake around. You could see bits of flour in the cake that had not been mixed properly, and the consistency was sticky. I don't mean sticky like the delicious stickiness in a dulce de leche cake. It was like the cake was sticking to my teeth as I ate, even though it wasn't humid outside (which can sometimes affect a cake's feel).

Secondly, the cream cheese frosting was way too sweet.  Although the cupcake is smaller than other establishment's, it was so sweet that my stomach had that heavy feeling you have after eating something way too sweet. Like a sugared up brick just sitting there. Oui, not fun.

Sadly, I wish that I could recommend this truck, but I can't. My intern even tried a cupcake for herself after I told her of my disappointment, and she too had similar feelings about their chocolate cupcake. So with a heavy heart, I dissuade all of you from using this truck....and urge you to go to Sweet Bites instead.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kick up your ramen

I have been laying in bed all this fine Fourth of July weekend with the flu....its lovely really. It is not like I had any plans...Ok, I'm finished with the sarcasm.  But of course this illness falls on me before I head to my weekly trip to the grocery store. Lets just say that my fridge is looking pretty.....bare.

So I peer into my kitchen for some sustenance and what do I have? A plethora of pasta in different sizes, a can of coffee, some milk, frozen pizza, popcorn, some chicken ramen, and a few other miscellaneous items. Yep, I'm in desperate need of a re-stock.  Still, when you're sick, you don't really want anything too flavorful, so I of course grabbed the ramen.

Even though I'm sick, I still have taste buds! And although ramen is known for it's abundance of *ahem* sodium, what it really lacks is texture.  So while the noodles were boiling, I stirred in some shredded carrots (which I always keep in the fridge), a handful of frozen peas, and a couple shakes of cracked black pepper.  Let me tell you this soup hit the spot.  I felt like I was eating more than just noodles and gained at least a little more nutrients from the added veggies.  Although I don't buy ramen very often, I am glad that I had some in my cabenent for such a time as this!

So what do you do to spice up your ramen?

Friday, July 1, 2011

LivingSocial's Best of Washington Party - July 13th

Food, fun, an evening out? Yes please! Somehow I need to pull together the money to go to this year's LivingSocial Best of Washington Party because it looks AWESOME.  Some of the participating restaurants include:

.....just to name a few

Early admission "gold" tickets will cost you $125, while standard entry (1 hour after the early birds) "silver" tickets are $95.  Whew, that's a loan payment! Anyone want to join/pay for me to go? No?.....

At least check out this video from last year's shindig: