Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Screw Top Wine Bar

The other night I met up with some old friends to catch up and we decided on Screw Top Wine Bar because we all LOVE wine. I have been having amazingly good luck with parking lately and I was just around the corner. There is metered parking around using coins, but luckily it was free because it was after 6. They do say they have free parking in the garage next door, but more then likely it will be full so be prepared to drive around to look for a spot.
I arrived before my friends and I managed to snag the last available table...its a pretty intimate place, so its a hit or miss depending on the time if you wanted a table. They served me truffle popcorn while I waited for my friends. It was pretty tasty but I wouldn't buy this as an appetizer.
We decided to split all of our entrees so we each got a little bit of everything. Ethan decided he wanted to try the Goudalicious Cheese Platter $17. This was an amazing cheese platter, coming with 3 different types(Goat Gouda from Holland, Midnight Moon from CA, Prima Donna from Holland). 2 of the 3 cheese were amazing (the bottom two) and the other one was good. It always seems to surprise me when things I wouldn't think taste well paired together do, ie honey and Gouda...and it made my taste-buds jump for joy.
They served bread to pair with the cheese, I preferred to eat it on the crackers they gave out.
Rosie decided that she wanted to try the Buffaloaf sandwich $13 (bison, bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, cheddar, chipotle aioli). This was a really good sandwich except for the fact that I think I am not a big fan of the way buffalo tastes.
For the last item we decided to get the Greek Nachos $11 (pita, lamb chilli and feisty feta). Yum. My only complaint was that there was not enough tzatziki sauce (I guess I could have asked for more...o well).
When we went, it was "Greek Month" so we all got flights of Greek Wines. E and R got the white flight and I got the red.They were both good selections of wine, and I love being able to try the different types without having to go through 3 whole glasses.

In choosing what wine you want, you can choose a smaller tasting sample, a glass or buy the bottle. I like being able to choose the tasting sample . R and E each got another glass of wine, and I got a tasting sample. Everything we got was pretty good, the waitress we had was very knowledgeable in suggesting wines based off of everyone's personal preferences. I am not sure what we got, but just ask one of the knowledgeable servers and they will help you pick out what is right for you!

I loved the creative menu items and the impressive wine list and I would love to come back here to try some of their other dishes and wine. The 3 dishes that we split were more then enough for all of us, we were all stuffed when we left.

Grade: B+

1025 N Filmore Street
Arlington, VA
Screw Top Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dairy Godmother

After eating a lunch at Pork Barrel, I convinced my Mom and Jeff that we should get dessert at the Dairy Godmother because I have heard rave reviews about it. It did not disappoint.

I decided to just get a basic Vanilla Custard and it was delicious, creamy and flavorful.
My mom got the Chocolate Custard Sunday. Another winner.
Jeff got what I believe was Cranberry Sorbet. If you like cranberries then this was delicious-I am not a fan but I did appreciate the flavors and the fact that it was not loaded with a ton of sugar.
This place is simple and delicious and I am very lucky that it is so close to my apartment-less then 5 minutes away!


I just looked on their website, and they are on vacation until Feb 10 so don't try to go before then.

Grade: A

2310 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA
Dairy Godmother on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pork Barrel BBQ

Pork Barrel is a new restaurant (ok at this point its a couple of months old-still pretty new) in Del Ray. I'd been waiting for it to open, and then I of course forgot about it until recently so when my Mom and Jeff met me for lunch I was googling places to go I re-found this place.

My mom and I decided to split a pound of the Hand Pulled Pork $12.95. This was decent, there was to much fat on it for me (yeah I am a picky eater).
Jeff got the 1/2 Rack of the St Louis Ribs $13.95. Decent as well.
We got a whole bunch of sides with our meal. With each of the entrees we were able to get 2 sides each for an extra $3.45 and then we paid full price for one $2.45.
My favorite side, and the one that I picked was the Monster Mac and Cheese. There was just enough cheese and it had a smokey taste to it-wonderful and original. My mom kept stealing additional bites of this. I can see myself just coming to get this to go.
 
The Creamy Cole Slaw was also quite good. I love the addition of the sliced peppers. Another winner.
I also really enjoyed the Skin on Potato Salad, a dish that I am normally not to fond of in general.
The Sweet BBQ Baked Beans were also pretty good. I don't like beans, but I appreciated the flavor of the dish overall. 
Overall the real winner of this place are their sides. They were phenomenal. I liked their BBQ sauces as well, the original and the sweet were very good. As for the BBQ I think it could use some work, I feel like I could get just as good BBQ at Red, Hot and Blue for a lower price.

Grade: C+

2312 Mount Vernon Ave
Alexandria, VA
703-822-5699
Pork Barrel BBQ on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Goat Cheese Balls with Bacon and Basil aka Thunderballs

I was trying to think of some sort of ball appetizer to make to pay homage to a Bond movie for my Night of Mystery and my friend came up with idea of Thunderballs (for the movie Thunderball...thanks Rommie!). He had suggested sausage balls, but I had a log of goat cheese so I googled different ideas and found an awesome recipe to base this off of.

This recipe actually blends goat cheese and cream cheese together which is the perfect combination as goat cheese can sometimes be a little to potent for me. I definitely licked the spoon...and part of the food processor out when I made this.
Goat Cheese Balls with Bacon and Basil
Source:  The kitchn
Ingredients for the Balls
1/2 block cream cheese (4oz)
4-6 oz goat cheese (I used 6oz)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil
Ingredients  for the Coating
10 slices of cooked bacon crumbled
1 1/2 Tablespoon Fresh Basil
1/4 cup pecans

1. Combine all of the ingredients for the balls together in a food processor until thoroughly mixed.
2. Cover a baking sheet with wax paper. Using a teaspoon to scoop up some of the mixture and then roll into balls and place on wax paper and put in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up.
3. Once bacon is cool, put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until everything is crushed together.
4. Roll balls in the mixture to coat and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Tips/Comments
-You might have to tweak the ingredients for the coating, I made what the original recipe had and I only had enough to cover half of the balls.
-Fresh Basil is a must in this recipe.



Old Cairo Grill

The other day I met my friend Carrie for lunch at Old Cairo Grill, a Egyptian/Mediterranean restaurant in one of the most chaotic shopping centers in Burke.
For appetizers we decided to get  Kibbeh $5.95 and Grape Leaves $5.95. The kibbeh was pretty tasty, I would order these again if I wanted an appetizer. The grape leaves were not bad, they were served warm which rarely happens when you order grapeleaves. Served warm is not bad, its just an adjustment from what I am used to.
 
I decided to play it safe an order a Chicken Shawerma $6.50(Sliced chicken, grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes and tahini) + $1.00 for fries. This was HUGE, enough for two people or one person with a really big appetite. Sadly I was not as happy with this dish-there was something off with the sauces/flavors. Fries were average.
Carrie ordered the winning dish, a truly original dish that I have never seen and probably wouldn't ever thing about ordering until now, Koshari (brown lentil, chickpeas, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, topped with caramelized onions) $5.50. I would recommend ordering this dish if you are looking for a good vegetarian option.
Overall the food was decent. I was not a fan of their yogurt/cucumber sauce. There were so many cucumbers in the sauce that you couldn't dip anything in it. When I asked what was in the shawerma the guy at the front told me it was just tahini and garlic sauce(that maybe I wasnt used too..which I am) and that everyone makes theirs different (I am aware that things don't taste the same everywhere...) and that it was one of their most popular items. I assured him I was just curious because there was a briny taste to it I was trying to figure it out but he wasn't very happy with my 'criticism,' I was very polite about it and not annoyed at all.

I would come back here if I was in the area, the prices and food are good, but not worth a trip out of your way. 

Grade: C+

703-250-0490
6030 Burke Commons Road
Burke, VA
Old Cairo Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hello Cupcake and Dupont Circle

After a delicious meal at Shake Shack, Teddy and I decided to wander around the DuPont Circle area and stopped in the Circle to relax and take in the scenery.
Taking the camera and catching me at my best...thanks Teddy
Makes me wish I knew how to play chess...
On our walk we passed by Hello Cupcake...and I just had to stop in (Teddy could not resist the Krispy Kreme). I picked out a Cookies and Creme cupcake and a Dulce de Leche cupcake to try.
These cupcakes were ok, no wow factor for me. The cookies and creme cake was too dry, and my roommate and I both were not phased by these. The prices were about the same as other cupcake places in the area ~$3 a cake.

Grade: C

202-861-2253
1351 Connecticut Ave
Washington, DC
Hello Cupcake on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tuscana West

My friend Rosie received a groupon for her birthday to try Tuscana West and I was honored that she chose me to go along with her<3.

The meal started off with some bread and olive oil. Wow, the olive oil was amazing-good quality stuff. I was not a big fan of the bread (R liked it) but it did a good job of being the vessel in which I ate the olive oil.
For an appetizer we decided on Melanzane al Formaggio di Capra $6.95 (Aubergine, goat cheese, onions, sun-dried tomatoes). Delicious! This was a great appetizer, a little awkward to eat but o so delicious!
R got the Scottaditto di Agnello $26.95 (grilled lamb chops served with a porcini mushroom sauce and oven-roasted potatoes). Delicious, perfectly cooked and the sauce on top, A+. Highly recommend this if you like Lamb.This dish made me realize I need to go outside of my box and stop ordering pizza everywhere I go (no matter how good it is!).
Being the Pizza addict I am, I decided to go with the Quatro Stagioni (aka 4 seasons) $14.95, having a different topping on each quarter of the pizza-Mozzarella, Artichokes, Aubergine, Prosciutto ham . All of the sides were delicious except for the ham, something just didn't taste right about it.
For dessert we decided to try the Pear and Ricotta Gelato. I was really excited to try this as it sounded very interesting. Sadly it was extremely disappointing. It was icy and flavorless.
Overall the food was pretty good. Prices were a little expensive, the Groupon helped a lot. This is more of a romantic date night place, ambiance was definitely there, maybe even a going out to catch up with your friends place-not my scene, but its still nice.One nice thing to note is that when we arrived, our table was wobbly and they promptly moved us to another table-service kept up with the ambiance.

Grade: B

202-289-7300
1350 I st NW
Washington DC
Tuscana West on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mojo Bruschetta

According to Dr Evil...Mojo is: The libido. The life force. The essence. The right stuff.

For a spy themed party I did for New Years I was trying to come up with foods that I thought would go with the Austin Powers movie. I mean an International Man of Mystery, a sex symbol so I looked up aphrodisiac foods and thought an Avocado Bruschetta, better known as Mojo Bruchetta. I added tomatoes to this to give it a little bit of color.
 List of the Aphrodisiacs Foods
Almond
A symbol of fertility throughout the ages. The aroma is thought to induce passion in a female
Avocado
The Aztecs called the avocado tree "Ahuacuatl which translated means "testicle tree". The ancients thought the fruit hanging in pairs on the tree resembled the male's testicles.
Basil
Is said to stimulate the sex drive and boost fertility.
Garlic
The 'heat' in garlic is said to stir sexual desires. Make sure you and your partner share it together. Garlic has been used for centuries to cure everything from the common cold to heart ailments. This is a good time for moderation.
Pine Nuts
Zinc is a key mineral necessary to maintain male potency and pine nuts are rich in zinc. Pine nuts have been used to stimulate the libido as far back as Medieval times.
 Mojo Bruschetta
 
Ingredients: 
Baguette
3 Avocados
2 Roma Tomatoes
1/3 Cup Basil
1-2 Garlic Gloves (depending on your preference)
2 Tablespoons Chopped Almonds or Pinenuts
Juice from half a lemon (to help delay the browning)
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Directions
1. Slice baguette, place on pan, use a pastry brush to dab a little olive oil on each of the slices and toast in the oven
2. While toasting chop up all ingredients and mix together.Adding just enough olive oil to coat the ingredients.
3. Once slices of the baguette are cool, put a spoonful of the mixture on each baguette. 


Enjoy and Behave ;)



Tips/Notes

I used almonds in mine because I forgot to buy pine nuts and the taste was not over powering, but pine nuts would probably go better in this.
I had a little leftover (you probably wont have any leftovers!) the next day and it didn't brown that much but you can add a little more lemon juice to try and prevent it

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Night of Mystery, a Spy Themed Party!!!

Happy New Years Everyone! Hope everyone had a fun-filled and delicious night, I know I sure did :) For New Years I decided to throw a spy themed party, "A Night of Mystery." This was all made possible by Foodbuzz 24x24...24 unique meals happening around the globe with in a 24 hour period.
Foodbuzz
Basically the idea was to have spy themed food-there are so many variations that are possible for this sort of theme. You will see that I was all over the place in my ideas. Also, you could definitely do a whole dinner party themed to the millions of Bond movies out there.

They look like innocent peppers, but if you look closer you will see they are not just peppers. They are actually hollowed out and filled with dip. A play on having something look like one thing (a pepper) but really having something else inside it.
Sushi Rolls? Or are they? Chicken Salad Rolls.
Golden Eye Cake balls. Homage to one of the James Bond movies.
Thunderballs. Another homage to James Bond. And a ridiculously delicious appetizer that you need to make right away!
This recipe is my pride and glory. Mojo Bruchetta...perhaps one of the most delicious things I have ever made. This pays homage to Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery-a man with a lot of mojo. I used aphrodisiac foods to represent the Mojo ;).
"Pouf pastries" A fun play on words. Ok, so I cheated on this one and just used store bought ones because I didn't have time to make them but they are fairly simple to make if you want to go the homemade route.
 And of course, you have to have the ultimate spy drink...a martini. I had thought about making an original martini, or doing the Vesper (which by the way I called a Vespa for about a month and noone thought to correct me...) featured in Casino Royale but I don't really like any of the ingredients in them. I decided to go with a slight alteration on the Cosmopolitan Martini because its pretty and delicious! 
There were a couple of other things that I did that I forgot to take pictures of but they have equally cool meanings.
Agent 99 Shooter. From the TV show/movie Get Smart. A simple shooter using Sprite and 99 Apples liquor.
Mata Hari Meatballs. This is the only thing I did that had truth to it. Mata Hari was a spy during WWI who was caught and executed. You should really read about her history here, it is fascinating.

Lately I have been forgetting to bring my camera out but I do have pictures of the roommate and I before the festivities started because per usual we like to take pictures of ourselves.Why I am wearing a fur hat I have no idea..but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Plus if anyone has ever watched Bond movies, I feel like there are a lot of bad Russian spies in them, so it makes sense right?
 
I will be posting the recipes this week on my blog so stay tuned if any interest you (which they hopefully should because they were all delicious!!)

Thanks again Foodbuzz for making this all possible!