Monday, March 21, 2011

MangoLemonade...AMAZING

I have decided to start sharing things on my blog that I think are note-worthy. This weekend I stopped by Trader Joe's to see what they had. They were giving samples of this stuff out, and it had me at first drink. Absolutely delicious. I have recently taken up a love of mango infused/flavored things (well...I love mango margaritas and mojitos).

I think that they managed to create the perfect ratio of mango to lemonade. No overwhelming mango flavor, the lemonade was not to tart, and the perfect amount of sweetness. This is a perfect spring/summer drink. As one of the employees at Trader Joe's suggested, this juice would make great ice cubes to put in water or tea.
 
Well there you have it folks, next time you are around your local Trader Joe's, and want a very refreshing drink, stop by and pick up a bottle of Mango Lemonade-you won't be disappointed. It is a little pricey, but I think it is worth it.

Sangria, Guacamole and Hoboken NJ

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit one of my best friends, Dani, who lives about an hour outside the city in N.J. Friday night she decided to take me to Hoboken for dinner. This town is absolutely adorable and there are a plethora of fun restaurants, stores and bars.

Hoboken is also home to my favorite baker, Buddy, of Carlos Bake Shop. Sadly the bakery was closed but I peaked inside and it looked amazing, next time I come I will definitely be one of those crazy people waiting in line to get in.
After humoring me by showing be the Bake Shop, we go and put our name down at this restaurant called Charrito's.
 
After we put our name down, we went across the street and bought a bottle of wine because Charrito's makes Sangria for you if you bring your on wine...the menu is B.Y.O...they also allow you to bring in tequila so they can make you margaritas.

We come back to check on the table, and the server tells us another 15-20 minutes so we decide to go to the Whiskey Bar next door. They had a $7 cover so we walked out but the bouncers let us go in for free because we were only going in to get a drink before dinner. We ordered a whiskey sour and split it because you had to have a minimum of $35 to use a credit card and we only had $10 in cash, kind of inconvenient. As far as the drink goes it was very good $7 (as it should be-it's a whiskey bar). This is a type of place I would want to come back if I was planning on going out in Hoboken.
from http://www.payphone-project.com/gallery/New_Jersey/IMG_4756
From here on out my pictures are pretty dark because I didn't want to be the jerk who has their flash go off in a cozy, dimly lit restaurant. To start off our meal we ordered Guacamole $10, which was heavenly ( I have huge soft-spot for guac). We ordered it spicy and it had a little extra kick to it, but I didnt think it was spicy.
 
The Sangria $9 was delicious-we bought a $7 bottle of Malbec to use for the drink. I would have preferred more of a variety of fruit in it-they only put in apples, but it was still very good. We decided to split the appetizer Flautas de Harina $8 which were pretty tasty but the guacamole is still the star of this establishment. The pico de gallo served on the side was excellent.
Instead of splitting an entree, we decided to just get another order of guacamole, mmmmmmmmmm :). The fajitas looked and smelled amazing, but they were a little pricey and it we were eating a very late dinner.
As you can see, Charritos is very small. This picture is pretty much it, its just missing 1-2 tables. When we got there it was packed, but we were one of the last patrons in the place when we left.

Next time I am in Hoboken I want to come back here for some guacamole and sangria, and then try one of the many other restaurants on this street.

Grade: B+

Charritos on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Zoës Kitchen

G, C and I went to Zoës Kitchen a while ago, a fairly new restaurant in the Fairfax area featuring Mediterranean themed food.
They have a similar set up to Noodles and Co. (thanks G) where you order your food, are given a number, sit down at a table and then they bring the food to you when it is ready.
To start off our meal, I decided to get an order of Hummus and Pita for our table $4.95. This was good, nothing special, just typical hummus-I probably wouldn't order it again.
I got the Steak Roll-Ups for $8.39 (sliced tri-tip, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions) with a side of Greek Salad (now that I am looking at the menu I see that they charge you extra for this, but I don't remember if I got charged an extra $1.49). This was delicious! The steak and the onions were wonderful-I have a weakness for anything w/ caramelized onions. My only complaint for the roll ups was the mushrooms, but I should have gotten them taken out. The dipping sauce was not needed to enhance the flavors, the roll-ups were great on their own, and in my opinion the sauce was lacking-just a mustard-mayo mix.
C got the Greek Chicken Pita $7.39 (lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, feta). The picture does not do it justice, but it was also reallllly good. C enjoyed it. She got a side of pasta salad which was interesting, not good or bad- just decent in my opinion.
On with G's dish, the Spinach Roll-Ups with Grilled Chicken $7.45 (+$1.00 for chicken) which consisted of mozzarella, mushrooms, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, scallions and salsa for a dipping sauce. Just so we are clear...I warned him against this decision. This dish was a bit of a failure. I am all for spinach-love the stuff- but this dish just did not taste right. G was not happy with it. They give you salsa for dipping? it does not compliment any part of this entree. I think they are trying to be overly healthy with this dish and sacrifice the taste to do so. He got the coleslaw as his side, which was very dry and flavorless. Poor G did not enjoy his meal :(

Overall, the service was pretty quick. C and I thoroughly enjoyed our meals. I noticed a whole bunch of the complaints on yelp were that the dishes were too salty, but I didn't notice anything excessive. I would def come here again. It is a little pricey for quick dining, but I do think that their food is good. 

Grade: B


Zoës Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tony's Pizza in FFX

The other night I was craving some pizza, just worked a 12 hour day and wanted something good and quick to eat so I could go to bed. I decided to go to Tony's, a place I have been eating at for years.

Everytime I go, I always order the same thing, a slice of cheese and a slice with pineapple (sometimes I switch up slices), which are always amazing. I love the crust, sauce and cheese. Great N.Y. style pizza. Because I have a blog and I am trying to try new things, G and I decided to get something different.
I ordered a glass of wine to start off my meal. I believe I got some sort of cab sav, but I don't really remember. It was $6.50, and later when I looked at the menu, the price was listed at $6.They need to update their prices!
We ordered an appetizer of Mozzarella Sticks $5.50. When we first got them, they were barely warm (no gooey wonderful cheese). We ended up sending them back, and they reheated them-making the cheese gooey. I was a little pissed though because, as it was our app, we should have gotten in before the meal instead of it just sitting getting cold. They also should have made us a new batch instead of reheating them. The sticks were not to bad, but I will not be ordering them again.
For slices, we decided to get a slice of White $2.50 and a slice of the Margherita Special $3.50. The White consists of mozzarella, ricotta, parmigiano, romano and garlic. I didn't really like their white pizza, and in my opinion, I think it is really hard to get a good white pizza.The Margherita Special consisted of parmigiana, prosciutto, arugula and fresh mozzarella. This was excellent.
The final item we decided to split was a Sausage Parmigiana sub for $6.95. I chose this because I haven't seen a sausage parm sub anywhere. I thought that this was pretty tasty. The sauce, cheese and bread were all pretty good. It was kinda cool how the sausage was sliced, it made it easier to eat. I probably wouldn't order this again though, I prefer hot Italian sausage, I need a kick or the sausage just seems kind of flavorless to me. G need not like this sub, and he passed on eating his half *gasp.* I think I am going to try and make a version of this dish soon.

When I come here, I usually just get pizza, and I have never been unsatisfied. As far as their additional menu items, I kinda have an "ehh" approach, but hey, it's a pizza place, and they do that right. I will probably just stick to pizza when I come here so I know I will leave happy and satisfied.

Grade: B+

Tony's New York Pizza on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mardi Gras and Margaritas

As you all may know, Tuesday was Mardi Gras, and I had seen an advertisement for a parade in Clarendon so some friends and I decided to give it a go. We decided to hit up Chevy's first because they had a decent happy hour~$3 drinks(including margaritas!!) and 1/2 priced appetizers. 

I decided to try the Blood Orange Margarita, because really, who can pass that up? It was pretty tasty, but as far as blood orange flavored things go, I think Pinkberry is the winner with their blood orange frozen yogurt.
L got a Strawberry Margarita.This was really good. I think this has been one of the best strawberry margaritas I have had in awhile. 
T and G got the original margaritas...how boring. I didn't try these, but they seemed to enjoy them. T making his appearance once again in my blog :)
I also decided to try the Peach Margarita because once again, I am a sucker for good deals and new flavors. This was good for the first sip or two, but after that it got way to sweet. After finishing I kind of got that feeling that you get after eating way to much sugary candy.
The Margaritas were all pretty good-for $3, really good. There was a lot of ice in the glasses, but I didn't really feel like I was getting jipped. L2 and tequila do not get along, so she got 2 rum and cokes $3 a piece, and she said that you could taste the alcohol in them. The chips and salsa were pretty good, although the chips were very flimsy and broke very easily. L, L2 and I each ordered a side of guac, which was average for any place that does not make it fresh. Service was ok, I don't think our server was fond of us, he glared a lot. I understand that we didn't order a lot of food, but it was during a happy hour, and we were probably only there for 30 minutes. No excuse for the glares, we were a easy and reasonable table.
Chevys Fresh Mex on Urbanspoon
From there we went to the parade. Or at least we tried. The metro shut down, so we ended up walking from the VA Sq stop, which was actually not a bad walk. The parade was an interesting experience, it's all about the company you are with, right? It was fun yelling for beads, and trying to catch them. Overall the parade was pretty lame. I am not upset I went, but it is not something I would go to again unless I lived in the area and I wanted to get some free beads. These pictures are pretty much the highlights of the parade.
Picture of use with our beads :) and then I decided to get artistic with my beads at the end of the night.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Vinoteca and the Best Cheese I have ever had.

Sunday night Rosie and I decided to try Vinoteca, a wine bar located off of U street. R discovered this place from DC City Stream.

We get there a little before our reservation so we decide to sit in the bar area and take advantage of their happy hour specials.

Recently I have been really into Malbecs, so I decided to order a malbec (latitud 34. mendoza, argentina 2009) and R ordered the carménère (cance. maule valley, chile. 2007). I liked my wine and R liked hers.
 
It seems that lately I have heard/read a lot about fried Risotto balls so we decide to order the Arancini for $4 (in the restaurant it's $12 and you get 3 balls). It was pretty tasty but I don't think I would order it again here. I do want to try it at an Italian Restaurant at some point.
We each order one more glass of wine, so we could get it at the happy hour price, and then close our tab at the bar so we can move to the table to eat our meal in the adorable seating area. I tried the granache blend (KL. cotes du rhone, france. 2008) and R got a wine from Sicily, I believe it was "hero d'avola" but I can't find it online right now. They were pretty good, but I liked my malbec the best.
R and I decide to split two entrees, one cheese and one meat. The dishes are almost tapa size (a little bigger), so you would need to order a couple for the table. Once we ordered the server brings us out some bread and olive oil. The EVOO (bringing out my Rachael Ray) was mixed with crushed fennel seed, cumin, coriander, pimentón (a spanish paprika) and crushed black pepper. It was an interesting combo that R really liked, and I liked. The bread served was amazing. 
For the cheese we ordered Sottocenere from Veneto, Italy (pasteurized cow) $5. This is a semi-soft cheese with hints of black and white truffle and a spiced ash rind rubbed in truffle oil. AMAZING. I literally died and went to heaven every bite I took. I still think about this cheese. They also included some sort of a honey jello thing to cleanse the pallet which was very interesting. L&L2 would LOVE this.
For the meat we decided to get the Salchichon de vic from Spain which is a coarsely ground sausage with black peppercorns $4. It was served with a mustard, but I don't think it complimented the sausage well. The meat was very tasty and it had a very distinct peppercorn taste, but it was good, not overwhelming.
For another bite of amazingness we got the Grilled Flatbread: grilled eggplant, caramelized onions, oregano and house-made ricotta $8. Another taste of heaven (almost as good as the cheese). All of the flavors complimented each other well. This is a must order dish, and next time I come here, I will get this again. It's dishes like this could turn me into a vegetarian (don't worry, I am not ready to give up meat anytime soon).
R really likes duck confit, and I was willing to try something new, so we got the Hudson Valley Tabelle Farms Duck Confit $12. Included in the dish are fresh pears, spicy pecans, baby field greens and a fig-sherry vinaigrette. This was surprisingly very good, the duck was cooked well, and everything complimented each other well.
For dessert we ordered the Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with poached apricots and a sherry caramel $5. This was pretty tasty. The apricot was a surprisingly good addition to the tart. I really didn't get much of a taste of the sherry-caramel, but everything went together went well.
To end our meal we each ordered one more glass of wine, (from 8-10pm they offer 1/2 wines from South America for flamenco night price from 8pm-10pm) because we all know I am all about the discounts.

Overall I really liked this place. The service was amazing, the 1/2 priced and $5 glasses of wine were a great deal. And the food (my mission is life is now to find some more of that cheese) was all excellent. The only downside was the noise level. It was sometimes hard to hear R talking. I would have preferred some sort of noise control in the dining area.

Grade: A

Vinoteca on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mardi Gras Parade Tuesday in Clarendon

I have no idea if this is fun, but I am going to check it out!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chocolate Festival in Fairfax this Weekend!!!

Let's be real, who doesn't love chocolate? 


Click Here to find out more details

Happy Hour @ La Sandía :)

La Sandía is a Mexican restaurant located in Tysons Corner at the mall. I discovered this place a few years ago with my friend Rosie (who I am going to Vinoteca with Sunday!). Since then I have been periodically going back there to get guacamole (I have yet to really find anything comparable so if anyone has any suggestions) and enjoy some of their cocktails. Because of my cheapness I try to go during happy hours to get the discounted drinks but I have also been there for lunch/dinner which I will post about later.

 Here is the happy hour special that is Monday-Friday 4pm-7pm
$3 Tacos . Quesadillitas (chicken or cheese) . Sopes
$3 Mexican Draft Beers
$6 Latin Cocktails
andddd this is new to me, but mon-thur from 4-7 the have $3 bottomless Guac (not as good as the one made in front of you, but still really good, def worth it)
  they have some other specials which you can find on their website
To take advantage of their happy hour you have to sit at the bar or on the patio
L, L2, Carleigh and I decided to go to happy hour to enjoy some cocktails, guac and of course to eat our weight in chips and salsa. All of the patio and bar seats were full, but they have standing tables too, so we took one over so we could get the happy hour special. We managed to snag 2 bar seats at the beginning, and 2 more were brought to us later.  

L, L2 and C all got the Sangria. L let me try hers and I thought it was really tasty and the fruit in it was yummy. They all liked their drinks.
I ordered the Mango Margarita, it was good, but not my favorite flavor for a margarita(I have had the Mango Mojito-AMAZING...later blog about that). I could taste the tequila, but it was not to overwhelming, and there were pieces of mango in it. I was really disappointed that it lacked a salt or sugar rim.
L and L2 got orders of the chicken quesadillas and C and I split an order because our focus was on the free chips and salsa. They were really good, but the portion was really tiny.
Along with Pizza, Guacamole is one of my sought after foods. I ♥ the fresh made guac at the table. They give you the option of mild, medium or hot. We got medium, and I thought it had the right amount of spice. If you get a bite with a jalapeño there will be more of a kick so if you do not like spicy, I would suggest getting the mild.
I forgot to put the pic with the chips and salsa in it, but they are bottomless and delicious (I will include it in La Sandia part 2).

For dessert we ordered the Tres Leches cake. It was pretty tasty, and for only $3 it was a pretty good deal. According to C it was the best tres leches that she has had outside of homemade. We both agreed that there was some aspect of the cake missing.
As far as service goes, I have always had great service here. The waiters have been attentive, my water has been filled and refills of chips and salsa have been prompt. Tonight was a different story. Our server must of hated us from the start. He took our drink orders. When I ordered guacamole I ordered the normal one, not the happy hour special which he ended up bringing. When I questioned it, he said he saw me looking at the happy hour menu so he brought that one out instead. He brought us out the correct guacamole and then we didn't see him again.

C had to stop another server that was walking by and ask him for water and to order another app. He took over for awhile, and his service was impeccable. He made sure we had chips and salsa, that our water was filled, got us 2 chairs so all four of us could sit and told us about other happy hour specials during the week. Next time I come back I am going to request Jesus as a waiter :)

Of course our waiter returned when it was time to do the checks, and we all tipped minimally because we were told that tips were not split, and Jesus wouldn't let us tip him. 

It's kinda cool, the owner of La Sandia owns a whole bunch of restaurants around the country, Richard Sandoval.



La Sandia on Urbanspoon