Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Corner Bakery Catering

There's a old saying that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. However I have found that this statement usually holds true for all sorts of people. Serve them food (delicious and something they don't have to pay for) and you will have instant friends. 
I was able to put this theory to the test with some coworkers when I was recently invited to try out the Medium Corner Classic from Corner Bakery (serves 11-14 people).
A variety platter with 24 half sandwiches. For most people a half sandwich is more then enough, especially with sides and dessert. I thought it was really nice that they offer two different vegetarian options, the classic caprese sandwich and a new sandwich, goat cheese, herbs and veggies. 
For the 2 sides I chose a Premium Speciality Side Salad ( 4 choices: DC Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad, Asian Edamame Salad, Cavatappi Pasta Salad) and a Signature Hand-Tossed Salad (6 choices: Asian Wonton, Harvest Salad with Chicken, Chicken Caesar, Chopped Salad, Santa Fe Ranch, Spinach Sweet Crisp). 

1. Cavatappi Pasta Salad roasted tomatoes, Asiago cheese, basil, garlic, arugula, white balsamic dressing. This was fantastic, a lighter pasta salad with a ton of flavors. 
2. Spinach Sweet Crisp Salad baby spinach, oranges, red grapes, dried cranberries, green onions, goat cheese, raisin pecan sweet crisps, homemade pomegranate vinaigrette. This was a favorite, everyone including myself loved everything about this salad. Everything perfectly complimented each other and there were a lot of second helpings. 
There are a ton of dessert options so I chose the Sweets Basket so we could try a little bit of everything. The bars and the cookies were fantastic (especially the cheesecake chocolate bar, sooooo good).
I was really thrilled with Corner Bakery's catering. There was a ton of variety and something for everyone. I love that there are lots of different options for sides, it takes a boring lunch meeting and adds a little excitement into the day. 

There are a ton of different catering options to go with any occasion. They have a ton of variety from sandwiches, salads, speciality salads, soups, chips, desserts.

If you need to cater a party or a lunch meeting check out their website, you will definitely be able to find something to suit your needs.

So would I come back/cater from them again? Yes, all of the food was quality and while this was my first catering experience from them I have had their sandwiches (both breakfast and lunch) and been really happy each time.

While this was a complementary, I was not compensated to write a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca with Bibbiano Wines

Recently, I was invited to a lunch hosted at Bibiana Osteria by Mr. Tommaso Marrocchesi Marzi of Bibbiano WinesBesides being a fan of wines from Italy, I was also impressed at how Bibbiano Wines has been a family business for 5 generations.  While I am a wine lover, I am by no means an expert. I felt slightly out of place being around so many people who were highly knowledgable about wine. 
Luckily Tommaso was a great host and I learned a lot about the wines. 
It's important to note that real Chianti aka Chianti Classico can only be made in the Chianti region of Italy. In addition, the grapes have to be grown and produced in the region, being a blend of at least 80% Sangiovese grapes (typical of the region).
You can tell if it's an authentic Chianti Classico by the seal. 
This was a four course meal with a wine paired with each course. 
First Course: MISTICANZA arugula, aceto balsamico
Paired with Bibbiano Chianti Classico DOCG
I have never been really good at pairing food and wine together but these two things went hand in hand, the wine really helped enhance the arugula salad.

Second Course: Gnocchi, Smoked Potato Gnocchi, Seasonal Vegetables, Parmesan
Paired with Chianti Classico DOCG Montornello
Another delightful pairing that went incredibly well together. 

Third Course: Grilled Sirloin, Anson Mills Polenta, Slow Roasted Carrots, Balsamic
Paired with Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva Vigna del Capannino
This was another delicious dish, perfectly cooked steak and the balsamic glaze pair perfectly and the polenta was the best I have ever had.
Dessert:Chocolate Ganache Terrine with Crispy Chocolate Crust
This dessert was one for the books, a perfect chocolatey indulgence. I didn't quite understand this pairing and I wasn't a huge fan of the Vin Santo San Lorenzo, it was way too strong tasting for me. 

This was a meal that was created specially for the wine tasting (at least from what I was able to see online) but if it is how Bibiana cooks normally they did a great job. I will be coming back at some point to give their normal menu a try. 

As far as the wines went I was really impressed. I liked all of them on their own (the first was my favorite). This experience made me appreciate how well you can pair wine with food. I have tried to pair wine with my meals before, but this is the first time I have experienced the smooth transition between taking a sip to eating a bite. My favorite combo was the first course with the arugula salad and Bibbiano Chianti Classico DOCG and I will definitely be searching around to pick up a bottle of this and impress some dinner guests...or just keep it for myself :)

After a little research here area couple of retailers that sell Bibbiano Wines in the DC area. You may be able to get them at Total Wine and More in the NOVA area too, I haven't had time to go and search though.

Pearson's Wine and Spirits
MacArthur Beverages

1100 New York Ave NW
Washington DC
Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca on Urbanspoon

While this was a complementary meal, I was not compensated to write a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Clarendon: Z Burger

Apparently, I am determined to clog my arteries by going to two burger places in one week. I have driven by Z Burger a bunch of times; curiosity rising each time I did. Fate seemed to agree with me so when I saw a Groupon for Z Burger, I quickly snatched it up.
The setup is very similar to Five Guys when it comes to placing your order. You make your selections for the basic burger foundation (single/double, cheese/no cheese, bacon/no bacon) and then you pick your toppings.
My friend and I both ordered single bacon cheeseburgers with toppings of our choice. While the burger itself was a bit too bland for my liking, the toppings were delicious and very fresh.
We also split an order of ½ fries ½ onion rings. Both were decent; the batter on the onion rings was tasty and the onions stayed in the batter when you bit into them (if you ever had that moment where you found yourself holding a hollow piece of fried batter, you would understand why this is a KEY factor of Onion Ring Evaluation). The fries were standard and a little dry, but dipping them in ketchup made up for it.
Taste wise, this place does not really stand out on its own compared to local burger joints in the area. Although Z Burger is not quite my new "go-to" burger place, I will point out that that pricewise, Z Burger is good and pretty comparable to mainstream fast food franchises (ie: McDonald's, Burger King, etc.) but offers better taste and quality in their food.
Would I come back??? Maybe. If I needed a late night bite or milk shake.

3325 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA
Z-Burger on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 28, 2013

Leesburg: Melt Burger

After going on a tour of the South Lawn, Teddy and I decided to head to Leesburg to go to Leesburg Animal Park. He was in the mood for meat so I looked up places on the drive there and Melt Burger looked like a good option.

We went on a Saturday around 130/2 and it was packed. While waiting in line to order you can watch as they cook the burgers and make the rolls (kind of like my fav restaurant here!).

To start off the meal I decided that we needed to split a milkshake so we went with the Double Dark Chocolate. This was really good, although it just tasted like normal chocolate to me, maybe a little richer.
Teddy ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger Char-Grilled Premium Hamburger served with Fresh Lettuce, Red Ripe Tomato, Shaved Red Onion, Crisp Bacon, Aged Tillamook Cheddar Cheese and Our Special House Sauce $9.95. He really enjoyed his burger. 
I ordered the Tex-Mex Burger Our Premium Beef Burger topped with Melted Jack Cheese, Fresh Pico de Gallo, Grilled Spicy Jalapeños, Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salsa, Fresh Lettuce, Guacamole and Our Smoky Chipotle Sauce $9.95. I ordered mine without the corn & black bean salsa. This was a delicious burger, not too spicy but enough to make my nose run some. Teddy tried a bite and said that he was fine with the spice but he definitely wouldn't be able to do an entire burger. 
It's important to note that these burgers are huge. I wasn't able to take a full bite of the burger because it was too big to put in my mouth (yes...I know) and I couldn't smash it down. Although I was starving I couldn't finish the burger because there was so much there.

On their own the fries are just ok, so I would suggest getting them with one of the toppings offered (Teddy got bacon and cheese...yum!) and sharing them between 2-3 people. 

Burgers are the new cupcake, with new restaurants popping up everywhere you look. Melt Burger stands out. I was impressed with their burgers and I liked the fact that you could choose the temperature that your burger was cooked (I need some pink in my meat!). The burgers were quality and there were a lot of fun and creative options to choose from. They cater to the low carb diet, offering to put your burger on a bed of greens.  Melt can definitely hold their own against all the other burger places popping up. 

So would I come back??? Yes! I've got my eye on the Paris Burger, probably on a bed of lettuce so I have room in my stomach for the entire burger. 

525 East Market Street
Leesburg, VA
Melt on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 7, 2013

Gwen's Mac and Cheese

This cheesy wonderfulness almost didn't happen. My family had plans for a cookout Sunday and on Saturday night a cab driver rear ended my car at 1:00 AM. Although it was a little fender bender where a quick exchange of insurance would have been sufficient, we had to wait for the cab company's manager and the police to arrive at the scene.....2 hours later I was finally on my home (when I was only a minute away from my house).

My eventful (and stressful) night explains why I felt like a train-wreck while talking to my mom the next morning. Mom suggested that I scrap the idea of making the mac and cheese to allow myself to mentally detox by indulging in some store bought mac and cheese. However, I insisted to my mom that since I had already bought the ingredients, I was going to stick to my guns and give this recipe a try.

Let me tell you, had I passed on making this recipe our lives would be missing the *amazingness* of this mac and cheese. I got this recipe from a former co-worker and at first was a bit hesitant given that this recipe does not call for a roux. However, it only took a bite of this deliciousness to conclude that this will be my "go-to" mac and cheese recipe. Perfectly cheesy, the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from this mac and cheese makes it ideal for chilly fall/winter nights. This dish also reheats well the next day and does not lose any of its delectable flavors.

An instant hit for everyone who tasted it, this dish is now in my top three mac and cheese recipes. In regards to preparation and cooking, this recipe is probably my favorite as it is ridiculously easy (cheesy and delicious!). You first mix in shredded cheese (you can shred cheese yourself or pre-shredded cheese works just as well) with cooked pasta, milk and eggs. Then you place the mixture in a suitable pan for baking and let the oven do the rest. That's it! :) 

8 oz bag/block of sharp cheddar
8 oz bag/block of mild cheddar
8 oz bag/block of mozzarella
1 12oz box of velveeta chopped (my grocery store only had the 32oz one so I used 1/3 of the box)
3 eggs
3 cups milk
1 box cooked macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Shred cheese if you bought it in block form and chop the velveeta into small pieces, placing a cup of cheddar on the side.
3. In a big bowl mix together cheese, eggs, milk and cooked pasta and place in a 9x13 baking pan, sprinkle reserved cheddar on top and cover with foil. Cook for 30 minutes, take foil off, then cook for another 10 minutes. 

-I prefer to use blocks of cheese because I think it tastes better when its freshly shredded, but pre-shredded bags would save a lot of time and energy
-The creator of this recipe also puts a melted stick of butter on top of the mac and cheese before she cooks it which I bet would be divine but it was already amazing without it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Restaurant Revisit: Pupatella

Pupatella is one of my favorite restaurants in the DC area and I have gotten a couple of my friends addicted to it too. I usually go with my friend Teddy and we always get the exact same pizzas and trade a slice for variety. This time, at the very last minute, Teddy decided to switch his order up and got one of the specials of the month-White Pizza with sweet corn, Italian ham and fresh mozzarella (middle). Wow, this was amazing, I would consider getting this next time instead of my usual, Prosciutto and Arugula (right). My friend Kristen joined us and ordered the Meatball Pizza (left) which she was a fan of. 
Next time you are in the mood for pizza hit up Pupatella, you won't regret it (past reviews 1, 2).

5104 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA
closed on Mondays

Monday, September 23, 2013

Alexandria: Cheesetique

Last Monday I had a particularly bad case of the Mondays-it was cold out and my body was not responding well to the temperature change. Luckily I have such great friends and one of them had a long lunch break so she scooped me up from work and we headed to Cheesetique in Delray (also one in Shirlington).
You can't go to a wine bar without ordering wine...as it was in the middle of the work day we capped ourselves off at one glass. Both good wines.
Carrie ordered the 'Tique Cheesesteak sautéed flank steak, creamy italian taggelio and punchy garlic aioli on crusty ciabatta. The steak was flavored really well but some pieces were not so great texturally but the cheese and garlic aioli more then made up for any imperfections the steak may have had.
I decided on the lunch special...$10 for any grilled cheese and tomato soup. The tomato soup was creamy and delicious. For the grill cheese I went with Taleggio & Onion Confit blend of taleggio and fontina smothered with house-made onion confit. A cheesy, delicious combo. If you like caramelized onions or any sort of onions really this is an amazing sandwich to get.
With the check they bring you out chocolate chips, a nice little touch to end the meal. 
They have happy hour during the week, definitely be making a return visit sometime soon!
This was the perfect meal to heal a case of the mondays, not much is more comforting then grilled cheese and soup. The food was very good and the server was knowledgeable-both things we picked he listed as his favorites on the menu. Portions were very hearty, I was full after my sandwich and ended up taking my soup to go. Not only are they a delicious restaurant, they are also a wine and cheese shop with an awesome cheese selection and gourmet goods. 

2441 Mount Vernon Ave
Alexandria, VA
Cheesetique Cheese & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Arlington: Chasin' Tails: Cajun Seafood and Bar

The other weekend some friends and I headed to Chasin' Tails: Cajun Seafood and Bar in Arlington. I'm not one who would normally jump at the chance to go to a restaurant like this (seafood, particularly things that have shells) but I had heard the rumour that alligator tastes like chicken so I figured I would be brave and try something new-they do however have a few seafoodless options.

I ordered a "fish bowl drink" mainly because it was served in a fish bowl.  This was described to me as a pink starburst and the description was pretty accurate. Delicious but a drink I could only have one of. The boys got the ginormous beers (like the ones they serve at Hunan) which luckily for them were on happy hour (they have happy hours on saturdays, but I don't remember the times).
For an appetizer we all split an order of fries. Good, basic fries.
I decided to go outside of my box and order gator bites...yes I ordered fried alligator as my meal. It was very similar to chicken so I could handle it texturally but I will continue to stick with cows and chickens.
The others ordered shrimp and clams which they bring to you in bags soaked in the sauce (also comes with bibs to protect your clothing!). They all thought everything was cooked really well and the sauce was delicious...basically butter and seasoning.
Everyone really enjoyed their meals and said that the seafood was really well done. The service was fantastic. My friend asked how you go about eating a crayfish to our server and she had someone come out and show us how to break it apart and let us try it before we made a decision on what to order. Prices were pretty good for the seafood.

2200 North Westmoreland Street
Arlington, VA
Chasin' Tails: Cajun Seafood & Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Arlington: Pedro and Vinny's

I feel like to often I get caught up in visiting trendy restaurants. Don't get me wrong, they can be great but sometimes it's nice to try the little guy, the hole in the wall, or in this case....the trailer in the parking lot. 
Pedro and Vinny's is a burrito place that some of my friends actually discovered stumbling home late at night. They proceeded to make it a daytime happening and I have been having to hear about this miraculous burrito place for awhile now. I have actually tried this place twice...once when I went with a drunk friend who had the munchies. I tried a few bites and I knew that I would have to have it for an actual meal very soon.  
When you walk in there is a menu above the counter with your options/the process. 
Basically you pick your tortilla flavor...flour, habenero , spinach, etc (or you can pick a bowl...but its a burrito restaurant so don't be that person...go big or go home). Then if you want cheese they will put some on the tortilla and warm it up. Then you choose your protein (chicken, steak or pork), they are all great. Next comes toppings, I like to get everything except for the beans. They have some sort of cucumber topping that may seem a little different from your typical toppings but trust me, it makes a great addition.

They have four salsas you can choose from and an assortment of hot sauce bottles. 

The red one was a steak burrito and the white was pork. Both amazing. My personal favorite is the burrito (any of the meats) fully loaded minus the beans with the two hot salsas (right two). These are huge, I could only manage to eat half of it.
Both times I have been the people behind the counter have been extremely friendly. Until now I have yet to find a burrito I really like from anywhere except Chipotle (which I know is not authentic but I still love it) but Pedro and Vinny's have managed win me over. 

In the mood for a burrito, sober...drunk, stop by-they are open late on Friday & Saturdays!

2599 Columbia Pike

Arlington, VA

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Falls Church: Mad Fox Brewery

To celebrate my last day at my old job some of my friends and I went out to dinner at Mad Fox Brewery. To start off the meal I tried one of their beers which was delicious. 
We split two appetizers, a soft pretzel with a beer cheese dip and fried pickles. Both awesome. 
Megan and I each ordered a side salad and decided to split a small pizza. The side salad was good, fresh, local produce. This pizza was ok, I was not a huge fan and didn't eat it-Megan thought it was ok. 
Jess ordered the black bean burger which she really enjoyed. I don't eat black bean burgers (I don't like beans...and I like meat) but I always try them when my friends get them and this was probably one of the best versions that I have had. 
This visit was a lot better then the last time I was here. Service was fantastic, we had the sweetest waitress ever, she was super knowledgeable about everything-I told her what I liked and didn't like in a beer and she picked the perfect one for me. I wasn't a fan of the pizza but everything else was great. If you like burgers I recommend the Mad Fox Burger, amazing.

Mad Fox Brewing Company on Urbanspoon