Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Wine House

I had a Groupon for The Wine House that was about to expire and a dinner date with my mom so I thought it would be a great idea to combine the two. After my experience here, I was dying to try another wine restaurant/bar. We arrived around 6pm on a Tuesday night and it was not crowded, although about halfway through our meal a ton of people came in.

I started off with a glass of their Malbec Wine $6. Sadly I am not a sommelier so I can't give you some in-depth description but both my mom and I really liked it-I thought it was one of the better Malbecs that I have had.  My mom ordered a diet coke, which they serve in cans.
For our appetizer we ordered the Wine House Baguette $10 with 3 spreads. Starting from the front of the photo: truffle butter, olive tapenade and honey butter. The honey butter was amazing, def a favorite for my mom and I. The olive tapenade seemed to be a winner for anyone who likes olives, but I strongly dislike them and the truffle butter didn't seem to taste to much like truffle to me- bland and tasteless.
For dinner I ordered Clear River Farms Natural Filet Mignon $22. It came with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. This was a delicious meal- steak was cooked perfectly and I really liked the mashed potatoes (I am very picky when it comes to mashed potatoes). I would highly recommend this for dinner.
My mom got the Caprese Salad (I am not sure of the name because they haven't switched to their summer menu online) $16. This was really good, my mom loved the addition of the yellow tomatoes. I thought it was pretty tasty, but I don't think it is worth the price, $16 is a lot for a salad with a few pieces of tomato and mozzarella.
They serve the water in these cute little jars (only after you ask for a refill).
Overall I thought all of the food was really good. The bill came out to about $20 after my $40 groupon went through- def a really expensive meal. A very pricey meal that I would probably not come back for unless I had a coupon or I received a sudden increase in my income and I was in the mood to splurge.

Service was ok, the waiter was very nice, but the food took forever to come out. I feel like the baguette took almost as long as the rest of our meal. I realize that things need to be cooked and I should enjoy my company but it was kind of ridiculous how long it took. This seems to be a consistent problem that The Wine House has, as I see it has been a complaint on yelp.

I felt that the caliber of the restaurant was not reflected in the service. For example I had to ask for a refill of my water, to which our server responded by bringing out the jug. But for the money I spent and the atmosphere of the restaurant, I felt that having to ask for my water to be refilled shouldn't have been an issue.The seats are also slightly uncomfortable.

I will say that the presentation of the food was visually attractive. The flowers were a different but nice touch.

Grade: B- (food was good, but it was too expensive and slow)

3950 University Drive
Fairfax, VA
The Wine House on Urbanspoon

McDonalds New Summer Drinks

I don't really like fast food. I would rather try to suck it up and survive until I get home or I can stop by the grocery store. My cravings for fast food usually occur after a night on the town but sometimes pulling through the drive through is so convenient and my hunger is so overwhelming that I just have to make a trip.

I am a sucker for fun, fruity drinks and dipping sauces and McDonalds has released some new ones recently. Since I have sampled a few recently I felt it was my duty to report my findings.

I have been wanting to try their Frozen Strawberry Lemonade for a while and when I finally got around to trying it I was very disappointed. The drink just tasted bad overall. There was not enough strawberry in it, and the lemonade was tart and had a horrible after taste. I have heard rumors that if you ask for extra Strawberry mix, the drink is tolerable but I will not be wasting my time with this drink again.
On the way back from the beach the other day, our group stopped at a McDonalds to use the restroom, so I felt obligated to buy something. I decided to try the new "real fruit smoothie" they have been promoting: Mango Pineapple. This was very tasty. I love mango and pineapple, and the combo is even better! It was a little sweet, so a small smoothie would quench your appetite/thirst, and it would be perfect if it had a little less sugar in it.
McDonalds also has 4 new nugget dipping sauces they are debuting, but I have only tried the spicy buffalo. This one was really good-just your basic buffalo sauce, although it didn't go well with the flavor of the chicken nuggets. Although I am not a huge fan of sweet and sour, I will have to say it does mesh well with the flavors of the nuggets.
I thought I would end my post with some lovely artwork created by me courtesy of the McDonalds website. Yes, I was absolutely hooked when I went on their website to look at the smoothies, if you want to try it out click here.
who knew I could write so much about mcdonalds?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Taqueria Poblano

L and I were in Alexandria apartment searching a little while back and were getting hungry. Using my food apps on my phone, I spotted Taqueria Poblano and saw that they sold single tacos that were decently priced so we decided to check it out. Every time I think of the Del Ray area, I think of my horrible experience at Fireflies, thankfully my luck was about to change!
We parked down a side street, and walked 2 blocks to the restaurant. When we got inside, I was very pleasantly surprise at the deco, very cute and fun. Our server brought us out chips and house salsa. The chips were pretty good, and the salsa was not bad either. Although it was not the kind that you keep on eating even when you are full (for those like myself who struggle with self control).
To start off we tried an order of Grilled Onions $2.50. These were pretty tasty, although they were not what I was expecting. They appearance kind of reminded me of a larger version of onion grass and the shape made it a bit awkward to eat.
We each got Tacos Al Pastor $3.50 (pork, onions, pineapple, cilantro, red chili sauce) to start off our meal. It was pretty tasty, and I thought the addition of pineapple was an interesting twist.
And then to top the meal off we decided to split a Duck Carnitas (taco) $5.50 which includes guac, cheese, pico de gallo, and onion. Amazing, all the ingredients were fresh and the flavors went together. I have never had duck in taco form before and I will be more than willing to try it again sometime.
Here are all of the salsas: the house is served with the chips, and then the Ancho-red chilli and Tomatillo Pepper Sauce are at the table, and the Habanero Sauce is available upon request. You can buy their salsas too I believe. None of them stood out to me.
This is the type of place I feel like I would order carryout from if I lived in the area, I am still curious enough to try some of their other tacos. Taqueria Poblano was pretty tasty, but I would not make a separate trip out here for the food.

Grade : B-

Taqueria Poblano on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Massis and Last night in London :(

My mom and I went to London for Spring Break when I was in High school. One of the restaurants that we fell in love with was this Lebanese Restaurant, Massis. We went here for lunch 3-4 times in the week that we were there. This is the original restaurant in what is now a chain in London. Very cool we came here before it decided to expand :)
I was in London for 3 weeks and I didn't manage to go to this place until the last night I was here, very sad.

I brought my roommate and my friend David with me. 

D and I both ordered the Hummus Shawarma 6.75 (with lamb, I believe they also had chicken available) and it was amazing (roommate ordered the regular hummus).We both had leftovers so we wrapped it up in a pita and ate it for a snack after our exhilarating night.
I ordered the Fattoush salad 6.99 (but I got an appetizer version of this and it was a little cheaper), a favorite of my mom and I's. It was not as good as I remember, but I probably had it idolized in my mind. Massis' fattoush is still the best version I have had.
D ordered something that I have never tried before(the pumpkin version), Pumpkin Kibbeh 5.25 (pumpkin and crushed wheat, filled with onions, chickpeas and walnuts) and it was pretty darn tasty.
And hey, they didn't charge us for pita bread! First time in London I haven't had to pay for something like this!
This place held up to my expectations, and I am very glad that even though it was the last night, I did manage to get here. On my next trip to London (yes there will be future trips) I hope to be able to stop by here and try some of their other dishes.

Afterwords (after some more wine and cards) we went to the Tower Bridge and took pictures at night...sadly we didn't get a lot because we got there at 11:30 and the tube closes at 12 so we had to hurry back :(

Grade: B+

Massis on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First Meal in London, Cafe du Coin

The roommate and I had just unpacked our bags and tried to make our little flat feel lived in when we were hit with overwhelming hunger. We decided to try and venture around and being completely new to the area, we ended up taking the longest, most complicated way to Earls Court, which we later found was literally a block away from where we were staying.

Being very indecisive, we finally ended up deciding to eat at this place called Cafe du Coin.
The guy behind the counter was very nice and helpful and catered to our needs. We both started off with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice-delicious, perfect for my first drink in London (and look at the straws!).
Then we split 2 different veggie/Mediterranean sandwiches. The guy behind the counter offered to split the two in half. They were both very tasty! I have noticed during my time here, I have almost become a vegetarian (GASP!). It also came with a little salad which was a nice touch.
Overall this was a good meal, it came to about £6-7  a person which is pretty good for what we got. The roommate also came back here and got a take away breakfast and enjoyed it. I can only attest to the extra toast she got, and they did that well ;)

Grade: B (was good, but I never ventured back here in the 3 weeks I was here)

Cafe Du Coin on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 11, 2011

A very British last day ..Tea at The Orangery

Trying to decide what I wanted to do my last day in London was pretty hectic, but then I decided to not try and cram a bunch of things in and just have a chill day and go to Camden Market, Tea and Massis, a Lebanese restaurant my mom and I frequented last time I was in London (looking back, it seems like I did try and cram a bunch of stuff in!).

After looking around a few websites, I decided that we should try the Orangery at Kensington Palace for a few reasons. (1) It was located in Kensington Gardens/Palace, which is really close to where we were staying and (2) Prices were affordable, they had a range of teas from £15.95~32ish. Most places I looked up had tea starting around £30 and higher.
Afternoon tea starts at 12 (for some reason I read 230 so we planned to get there around 2) and goes until 5 or 6 depending on the season. We got there around 2:15 and had to wait inline for about 20 minutes, which really was not bad considering it was a gorgeous Friday out and the middle of summer.
All of the afternoon teas come with a orange scented scone with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted creme and finger/tea sandwiches. The top tier of the serving rack changes with what type of tea you order.
They have 4 different tea options, and the roommate and I both decided to get the "Enchanted Palace Tea" £18.35 which came with a Chocolate Ganache Slice and a Heart Shaped Raspberry Shortbread along - they were both delicious, the chocolate fiend in me especially loved the Ganache slice. Amy ordered the "Signature Orange Tea" £15.50 which came with a chocolate thing of some sort and a orange and passion fruit tart. Both of them were really good.
All 3 of us chose the Roobis Breakfast tea (Orange) which is recommended with Amy's tea. instead of the recommended Chocolate tea (just sounds weird). The Roobis tea was delicious and it came in a tea pot (which meant we got about 3 cups worth) and a drainer so you don't get the tea leaves in your drink.
Cucumber, Cream Cheese and Chive on poppy seed bread: My favorite!
Poache Salmon and dill on onion bread
Sliced Ham with Grain Mustard mayo on Sun Blushed Tomato Bread:
4th Sandwich: do not remember what is was...whoops
Now for one of the best parts! Scones with CCC (Cornish clotted cream)and strawberry jam. The scones were pretty darn tasty and the strawberry jam was on point. 
One thing that was horrible about this place is the service. I had finally gotten used to ( more so accepted) that I will never get good service here. Is it so much to ask for my water refilled or be able to get the check. The waiter was terrible. 
I am very glad I got to do something traditional and British before I left, and even though the service was probably the worst I have had in my 3 weeks in London, company, experience and food/tea was enough to make this a really good adventure :)

Orangery on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 8, 2011


During our lunch break from class one day, the roommate and I wondered around High St Kensington to find something to eat. We had heard a lot about Wagamama so we decided to give it a go (there is one in Earl's Court. 
Wagamama is another chain restaurant and it is extremely popular during the lunch hour.

I ordered Duck Gyoza £5.15 which are duck and leek dumplings with a spicy cherry hoi sin sauce. I have been on a duck kick lately so I usually try and order duck when I see it on the menu. These were pretty tasty, not the best I have had, but there were very good. I really liked the hoi sin dipping sauce, original flavor to me.
Roommate ordered the Yaki Soba £7.40 (teppan-fried soba noodles with egg, chicken, shrimps, onions, green and red peppers, beansprouts and spring onions. garnished with mixed sesame seeds, fried shallots and pickled ginger). She really liked this dish, and it was enough for two meals. 
My place setting - I thought it was cool that they just gave you chopsticks. If you wanted silverware I am pretty sure you had to ask. I like being forced to use the chopsticks, good practice. 
I thought that this place was pretty good, service was pretty friendly and food was quick. They really have the whole "it's lunch hour so I need to eat quick" mentality. 

Grade: B-

Wagamama on Urbanspoon

Zizzi's Italian in Earl's Court

I feel like the majority of my postings are going to be in the Earl's Court/Kensington area because sadly I didn't not travel to much farther to eat food, lucky for me they both have plentiful options.

The first time I came here was to meet my friends John and Kristi for dinner because it was their last night in London :( Very glad I got to hang out with them! My roommate and I came here another time to get dinner too.

Zizzi is an chain in London, boasting about 25 locations (at least that is what urbanspoon tells me). I will try and portray the menu items as accurately as possible, for some reason I can't get access to the website, maybe because it is a UK website?
J and K started off their meal with some Fried Calmari and Medaterranian Olives. J made me try both since I am not a fan of either, and they were not horrible, but Olives and Calmari are not my thing. I will have to say even though I have a strong dislike of olives, these were prob the best I have had. The both really liked their appetizers.
My roommate ordered the Goddess Olives and she loved them. I loved the way they looked, like mini Granny Smith apples.
For my entree I got the Pizza Calzone. It is suppose to be half pizza-half calzone, but it was more 2/3 pizza 1/3 calzone -very good. I would recommend this item. The Calzone had ham and cheese in it and the pizza had aubergine (eggplant), onion, arugula and olives (although I requested these to be removed and they were still on the pizza). I have never had the pizza-calzone combo before and I thought it was awesome.
 Roommate ordered Calamari for her entree and she loved it-I loved the way it was displayed.
K ordered a pasta dish with red sauce which looked really good and she enjoyed it. She gave me the leftovers, which tasted pretty good even though it was dried up since Brits don't really understand the concept of takeaway containers, and give the leftovers to you in flimsy containers that do not preserve the food.
J ordered a chicken dish which he enjoyed.
My roommate and I went here a 2nd time and we both got goat cheese ravioli which was amazing.

Overall everyone enjoyed their meal and the prices were decent-average of £10 a meal. Service was ehh, but I am beginning to see that is a trend in Britain.

Zizzi on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 4, 2011

Photography mini assignment - Secrets and Fears

We had a mini assignment one week, where we had to pick a secret or fear and type it on a piece of paper and then go take pictures of it. Naturally I picked spiders. This assignment was interesting, and also ridiculously hard to do since it was very windy out and the paper kept flying around. These are my top two picks of the final photos.