Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ella's Wood Fired Pizza

After a trip to the Crime and Punishment Museum to use up my living social deal, G and I decided to get a bite to eat. After wandering around for about 30 minutes, we finally decide on Ella's Wood Fired Pizza. Before we went there, we actually stopped by Red Velvet Cupcakery first so I could get some cupcakes to try later.

We decided to split two 10 inch pizzas. The first pizza we decided to order was the Margherita $12.95 (If getting more than one pizza I always like to try a classic). This pizza was just ok, I personally felt like there was not enough cheese on it, and that the flavor of the crust was lacking.
I had a version of this pizza at Tony's in Fairlakes and it was delicious so I wanted to give Ella's version of Pucillo $13.95 (arugula, smoked mozzarella, prosciutto) a try.This was just ok, I guess I am not a fan of the crust here.
We got a side of sauce to dip the crust into, and they charged us I believe $.50. I think it should have been free, it is a nicer establishment, so they should be willing to give you a small side of sauce to go with the over priced, wafer thin pizzas. The simple task of delivering a side of sauce took an unreasonable amount of time.
I don't think I will be coming here again, at least for dinner. Although it wasn't terribly bad, the pizza was wafer thin and expensive. After eating, our appetites were not quenched. They apparently have a very popular happy hour, so if there were people there I knew or I felt like giving this place a chance, I might stop by.

Grade: C

Ella's Wood Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 27, 2011

Birthday Dinner (Part 1) @ La Sandia

For my birthday, I met up with my mom at Tysons Corner Mall so we could grab a bite to eat and get iPhones!!!! I decided to go to La Sandia because I am always in the mood for some fresh guac and salsa. See my previous post of happy hour with the ladies.

As always the Guacamole ~$10 is fresh and made to order. This is one of my favorite places to get guacamole in the area (I am always welcome to suggestions for where to get some good, fresh guac).
The free chips and salsa = amazing.
We both wanted a lighter meal (after unlimited chips and salsa it is necessary) so we both ordered salads. My mom got the Grilled Salmon Salad $15.95 served with radish, green onion, cilantro, tomato, avocado, tortilla strips and a habanero-orange dressing. This was an OK salad, I didn't think all of the flavors came through enough but the salmon was cooked well.
I got the La Sandia Chopped Salad $11.95 with Steak +$2. The salad has bacon, roasted corn, tomato, black beans (I got mine without...gross), panela cheese (not sure what this is, but it was good), chickpeas, green onion, egg and an avocado vinaigrette. Although my photography was not at its best here, the meal was pretty good. I enjoyed all the flavors of my salad and the steak was a nice addition to the meal.
I mainly come to this place to get Fresh Guacamole, chips and salsa, and delicious drinks-these 3 items never fail to impress. As far as their food goes, they are decent, nothing too spectacular. I usually just prefer to get guac and just stuff myself with chips and salsa.

Grade: B

La Sandia on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakery

I am giddy as I write this post. Finally a cupcake shop worthy of a return visit. After a quick trip to visit the Museum of Crime and Punishment, I had to give Red Velvet a try since is located on the same block.
When I first walked up to the door I was very discouraged because I saw people lined up to the door. I decided not to scrap the mission, and I bravely opened the door and entered the store. It turns out that Red Velvet is a very small store, and the "line" of people I saw amounted to 4 people, the perfect amount in front of me in order for me to make my decision.
I ended up settling on two cupcakes: Carrot Cake and Peanut Butter Cup. I know, I know, the name is "red velvet" but there are so many other things I would rather try before getting what they refer to as a "Southern Belle"(red velvet cupcake).
The Peanut Butter Cup (chocolate buttermilk cake infused with chocolate chips, peanut butter icing) looked decadent but sadly appearances did not match up to the taste. The peanut butter icing was delicious and light, but the cake was severely lacking. I have yet to find a good cupcake with a chocolate base that is not dry or flavorless.  Maybe I should have tried the red velvet?
I saved the best for last! The Carrot Cake cupcake (spiced cake with shredded carrots and pecans, cream cheese icing), finally something that I want to come back to. One bite of this and I immediately wanted to keep it for my self, and not share it with my other testers: G or W. The cake was flavorful and moist, and the icing complemented it perfectly, just the right sweetness without being overly so. I kept half of this for myself, and let the other two split the other half.
They give you the cupcakes in these cute little boxes. You have to buy at least two cupcakes to get a box, the lady at the counter let me know they were trying to be more environmentally friendly (and I am sure it saves them some $$).
Overall, I was in shock that I finally enjoyed a cupcake. While it was not the best I've ever eaten, homemade still kicks butt, it was pretty darn tasty. They are a little pricey for cupcakes, around $3.50, but hey its DC, I don't expect anything less. The lady at the front was very helpful, and answered all of my questions, but I was the only one in the store at the time. If you are in the area I strongly suggest stopping by and picking up one of these treats.

Grade: B+

Red Velvet Cupcakery on Urbanspoon

Union Jacks Happy Hour

I received a happy hour at Union Jacks at their Ballston location a little while ago (I believe they have one in MD as well). I got to put in a request for my two hour time-slot for discounted drinks. They had an opening from 8-10 on a Friday so I figured I would go out after (turns out I am really cool, and I went back to play R's Kinect....AWESOME! if you haven't played kinect yet,  you are missing out)

I had about 8 people in total, but G, R and Rommie(RC) went with me right at 8pm, because when you get the happy hour, they also give you a free sampler platter-right up our ally, and that was going to be our dinner :) The platter included Pretzel Twists with Mustard (not bad, would have preferred cheese. but hey, it was free), Spinach and Artichoke Dip (the best thing on the platter, it was decent), Wings (decent) and Chicken Tenders (Not bad). This platter went nicely with our drinks.
Wings were also on special- 25 cents a wing (minimum order of 5) and there were 4 flavors to try so we got one of each. Starting from the top and going clockwise: Old Bay (gross "Like a desert in my mouth"-RC), Hot (spicy and dry, should have had some Buffalo sauce or something on it), BBQ (a little overwhelming with the sauce) and Cider (this was the best flavor-I'd get this one again). 
The drinks were $3 for my party which included beers, rail drinks and house wines. The $3 was a pretty good deal for certain beers-you could get a dogfish IPA. -->although I think that the happy hour going on at the restaurant was very similar to the prices my "Special" happy hour received

All in all the experience was good, there was just a minor attitude problem with the bartender. One of the girls in the party received little to no vodka in her cranberry vodka, and she was too scared to ask for some more, so I went up to our server who was right by the bar and asked about it. She took the drink to the bartender and asked her to top off the drink with vodka. She made an unpleasant face, and glared at me as she poured. Way to be inconspicuous if you're angry. She is lucky she was not getting tipped, because I wouldn't have left anything. 

However our server was very nice and I made sure to tip her well. If I ever got another happy hour here, or one of my friends did, I would be happy to come back. Union Jacks turns into a bar/club on the weekends which is pretty cool. 

Grade: B- (happy hour) C (food)

4238 Wilson Blvd (located in the Ballston Mall)
Arlington, VA

Union Jack's Ballston on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 23, 2011

Quick and Easy: Yummy Egg Muffins

I was browsing one of the blogs I follow, Cuisine Queen, and I saw that she had made a recipe for these yummy looking egg bakes and I was immediately inspired to bake my own version. I have a serious problem waking up in the morning, often leading me to skip breakfast and go to work with wet hair. Able to make ahead, this recipe will now give me breakfast in the morning when I am running late (now I just need to work on the hair). Eggs are also really cheap and good for you, so this is a great way to utilize those factors. After trolling the internet for awhile, and assessing what I had in my own kitchen, this was the recipe I came up with.
-Muffin Tin
2 Full Eggs
7 Egg Whites
Cup of Cheese
3/4 Cup Onions
1/2-1 Cup of Ground Turkey

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees*
1. Saute Onions for about 10 minutes (longer if you have time)
2. Collect all of your ingredients together that you want to add to the eggs (in my case cheese, sausage and onions) and mix your eggs together.
3. Spray your pan with PAM, this is crucial...or else your eggs will stick .
4. Mix together your eggs, cheese, onions and ground turkey.

To make things easier to pour into the pan I poured the mixture into a measuring cup and then poured it into the pan.
Cook for 15-25 minutes depending on your oven and your preference for texture of eggs. When you take them out of the over, the will deflate a bit, so don't worry (thanks for the tip Cuisine Queen!)
I couldn't wait to try them the next morning for breakfast...so I had to sample them, and they were awesome. The next morning they made for an equally delicious breakfast on the go (hair was put in a wet braid). Next week I am going to try these with spinach, feta and onion (for a yummy Greek style egg bake).

The great thing about this recipe is that you can pretty much do whatever you want with it. There is no set list of ingredients, you can put whatever leftovers you have in it (my case leftover turkey tacos). I found that using 7 egg yolks and 2 full eggs was a good ratio for my muffin tin (12 holes). You can do full eggs if you'd like, I do mostly egg whites because I have never like the yolks...which is an added health benefit because the yolks have more cholesterol and fat in it (disclaimer: I am not a nutrition expert, this fact is based off of my own research on the internet).

This is also a simple and delicious recipe in general to have for a breakfast/brunch gathering.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Epicure Cafe

G and I were driving around aimlessly the other night, trying to figure out what to eat for dinner. It was getting late, and not a lot of places were open. I saw this place called Epicure and it looked pretty interesting so we decided to stop in.
We both got beers to start out, they were only $4 a piece which is good in NOVA if you want something other than Bud or Miller. I got Blue Moon, and G got Magic Hat #9.
I decided to try their Greek Pizza $10 with gyro meet, feta cheese and tomatoes-I also asked for a side of tzatziki sauce. This pizza was surprisingly good. It's not NY style or wood oven, but it definitely satisfied my appetite. My only complaint was that part of the crust was a little under cooked but not enough to deter me from eating the pizza (I went here again recently, and the pizza was cooked perfectly!).
G got Epicure's Philly Cheese-steak Sub $6 with a side of French Fries $2.This was a decent sandwich. There was a little too much spice (I love spice, just not on this sandwich) for my taste for a Philly Cheese Steak. If you don't mind spice with your Philly cheese steak, then this is a good option to try. The fries were decent, nothing extraordinary. 
I would definitely come here again (in fact I already have! later post). I love the atmosphere. It is very chill-a great place to hang out and get a bite to eat. When we went on Thursday, they had an open mic night, so I thought that was pretty cool, I like those sort of things (they also have open mic on mondays). Fridays/Saturdays they offer free music. I believe they also have hookah if you are into that sort of thing. Service is quirky and friendly.
My only complaint is that you have to order a side of fries to go with your sandwich, and I think items like that should be included with your meal.

Grade: B (their Greek Pizza is delish!!)

Epicure Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Irish Adventure

I had a buy one get one free appetizer coupon from Murphys (if you sign up for their email list they send you this, along with a buy one get one free entry for your birthday) so C and I went to try it out.
We decided to try the Spinach and Artichoke Dip and the Potato Skins. The Spinach Dip came in a bread bowl which was really cool, I wish more places did this. Sadly though, neither appetizer was that great. The potato skins were very dry, even with the sour cream and the dip was lackluster.
They also had a happy hour, so we both got some sort of Irish Beer. I don't remember the names but they were both good (I think one may have been Killians).
713 King St
Alexandria, VA 22134
Murphy's Grand Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

Instead of getting food at Murphy s, C and I decided to walk around Old Town Alexandria and get something else to eat. After walking around, and getting a great deal on a cardigan, we decided to stop at Eamonn's. I had gotten an email from thrilllist that they were offering a special of deep fried Cadbury Cream Eggs (as you can tell by the Cadbury Creme Eggs, we went back in April). Eamonns specializes in Fish and Chips, along with their deep fried goodies.
We just ordered some "chips" $3.75 (Large...the guy suggested this size..saying it was not big-we couldn't finish them all) and some deep fried goodies. The chips were pretty good, but the dipping sauces that went along with them were lacking. I think it might have been because the dipping sauces were geared more towards the fish. Luckily I enjoy ketchup and malt vinegar with my fries so I was happy.
For the fried goodies, we tried the Dough Balls $3.50 and the Snickers Bar $3.50. The dough balls were kind of dry,not very great. On the other hand the Deep Fried Snickers bar, o man, was great. Next time I want to gain a few lb I am stopping by a getting one of these.
Being a sucker for cool/interesting/new products I decided to try this drink (C played it safe and got a coke). I saw that it was an "Irish Classic," red and lemonade so I had to try it. It was kind of bland, and not the best drink I've had. I would pass on it in the future.
They have a pretty cool interior too.Bench seating, very pub like(at least in my mind).
Here is a little "Dublinese" to end your read off with :)
728 King Street
Alexandria, VA
Eamonn's on Urbanspoon

I have to say that I was disappointed in Murphy's appetizers, although they were a great deal (they app's were half price that night, and they gave us buy one get one free!). The highlight of this place is definitely their entrees, beer and environment. Our total for Murphy's came to about $12-13 so I don't regret going, and I will defenitely be back for some entrees or pub "chilling."

As for Eamonn's, I was a little disappointed. The whole point of that trip was to try the "Deep-fried Cadburry Cream Egg." I either have a problem with thrilllist, or the restaurant. When I asked the guy up front, he had no idea about what I was talking about, even when I brought up thrilllist, he just seemed kind of confused the entire time. The fries were good, and so were the fried goodies. If I am wandering around Old Town, and crave some fried goodies, this is definitely a place to be.

Murphy's Grade: C+ (stay away from the appetizers-stick to the beer or entrees)
Eamonn's Grade: B- 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pastry Xpo

I have a weakness in the form of Baked Goods, but I don't really like cakes and sweets, so I am not sure why I have this weakness. Anyways I was getting lunch one day, and I passed by this pastry shop that I have never heard of, Pastry Xpo. I walked inside and the first thing I saw was a case of cupcakes staring me in the eye. I knew immediately I would have to purchase some.
Why 3 you ask, well I was going over to babysit my cousins, so I decided to do a group taste test.
I got German Chocolate (middle) because that is my aunts favorite, Salted Carmel (left) for my self and I asked the guy behind the counter to recommend me one, and he suggested Chocolate Fudge (right) (he actually first recommended Red Velvet 1st b/c it's the top seller, but I am not a fan).

The cupcakes were more moister than Crumbs Bakery, but I still wasn't a huge fan of the cake-all 3 cupcakes all had the same base cake. The frosting was not bad though, very whipped and light.
Salted Caramel: My personal favorite. I liked the caramel filled center and the icing. 
German Chocolate: First, this is not a real "German Chocolate" cake, it is a chocolate cake with cocunut frosting. Not bad- but nothing extraordinary.
Chocolate Fudge: Kind of bland. The chocolate cake was not good other then the fact that it did not try my mouth out. 

This place is not worth making a separate trip to, but if I were to be eating in this office park, or in the general area and craving a cupcake or other baked good (this place has a wide variety of products) I would give this place another go around. 

Grade: C+

8190 Strawberry Lane <---How cool is the street name?
Falls Church, VA 
Pastry Xpo on Urbanspoon