Monday, June 29, 2015

Weekend Recap #1

Happy Monday everyone! I'm off to upstate NY for the week tomorrow! Be ready for an overload of nature and wine photos/posts!

Before that happens, here is a quick recap of my weekend! 

1. This week has been a little hectic because my boss (on our two person team) is headed to Africa for a few weeks for vacation so we have been busy getting our ducks in a row. Thursday I decided to unwind and made an amazing zoodle dish - steak with zoodles and chimmichuri- super simple, will definitely be blogging about it soon. With that I also enjoyed a few glasses of rosé from my favorite wine store, Swirl and Sip
2. Friday - Spent time with the family watching my mom be recognized for being awesome. So proud of her!!!
3. Made some delicious pasta salad for a mini family reunion and had the little ones help me out. I normally make this with zoodles and I am totally in love with this recipe. A lot of people at the party enjoyed it with regular noodles, so I will definitely need to write about both ways! 
4. Dog watched my aunt & uncles dog - she is adorable but very clingy. Don't worry - this was taken at a red light!
5. Sunday I spent the afternoon at the Safeway’s National Capital Barbecue Battle courtesy of Liquefied Creative Media. Walking around I got a lot of free swag which was nice and tried some yummy barbecue - including Jar B Cue (BBQ in a jar). I was a little confused about the whole event - it seemed like for the general public you just paid to get/try free samples of products and buy upscale carnival barbecue. Although there were people there actually competing for different BBQ things - I don't think the public got to try it. On that note, my favorite things that I tried were the new Chobani dips and the Olive Garden bread-stick sandwiches that were surprisingly good! 

Have a great week! <3 

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thirsty Thursday: A Bar + Kitchen Happy Hour

Welcome to Thirsty Thursday’s here at Let’s Do Lunch. Each Thursday I will talk about a local happy hour (DC, Arlington, Alexandria) and review their drink and food specials, as well as the overall environment. Who doesn’t love a good happy hour? #thirstythursdayswithapril 

I am starting off this series with the newish A Bar + Kitchen, located in the Avenue Suites on the outskirts of Georgetown. Recently remodeled and featuring a menu about 3 months old, A Bar manages to draw in a very mixed crowd ranging from hotel guests to young professionals.
We tried a couple of their drinks including a crowd favorite – the Potomac Bourbon $12. This was recommended to me by the GM, the Hotel Emerging Leader and I heard a guy telling his group at the table behind me how much he was in love with this cocktail. The flavor of bourbon was present, but not overwhelming for those like myself who have trouble drinking things straight. We also had the Moscow Mule, Chardonnay (Teddy is a classy guy) and the Strawberry Basil Sangria. The sangria was light, refreshing and had the potential to go down a little too easy on a hot day – so basically the perfect summer drink.
As far as A Bar’s Happy Hour Drinks go, above are the specials. Unfortunately the Potomac Bourbon is not included, but is worth trying out if you enjoy bourbon. They offer pitchers for $22 during happy hour which hold approximately 4 ½ glasses. I sampled the Strawberry Basil Sangria and it was delicious!
We started off with the Braised Beef Flatbread $12 pulled braised beef, mushrooms, bell peppers, cheddar cheese and spinach. This was a great “bite” to be shared while having a few drinks. The flatbread was a pita, and it was crispy without being overdone. The braised beef was flavorful and there were not any fatty chunks. This came cut into 6 pieces so I would recommend sharing this between 2-3 people.
The Mac and Cheese $10 came highly recommended so we knew we had to try it. This was seriously delicious - I loved that the bread crumbs came on the side, it gave the dish a fun element. The grainy mustard added a nice flavor profile to the cheese sauce, and although I am not a huge mustard fan, I still liked it. This would be a little awkward to share for happy hour unless you are cool with everyone just grabbing a fork and digging in like we did.
Next up were the Braised Beef Slides $13. Good flavor and the crunch of the coleslaw gave it good texture. 
We wrapped up our happy hour with Garlic Hummus and Pita Bread $10. The hummus was smooth and creamy with just enough garlic to give it flavor. The pita was seasoned with paprika and creole which added a lovely twist.   
All of the food was really quite good, I can't pick a favorite but when I put the pressure on, Teddy decided the flat bread was his favorite. This is really the place to go to get some snacks and drinks and just hang out with your friends. 

The inside is very sleek and modern, and the patio out back is lovely - they even have two fire-pits for those cool nights. Photos will be coming soon. 

My only complaint - and a not very serious one was that the service was a little slower than one might be used to in DC. 

Would I come back? Yes - this is a great place for happy hour - catching up with friends, coworkers or date night. 

2500 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC
Metro: Foggy Bottom
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Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Movie Series at the Occidental

This past Saturday I attended the Summer Movie Series at the Occidental in DC. Unfortunately there were crazy storms that night, but they were able to move the event inside. I can't even imagine how lovely the movie night normally is - I have attended another outdoor event on their patio (here) and it was gorgeous. 
Anyways - the deal is a 3 course meal and a movie for $45 (drinks not included). Which when you think about it is a great deal for a date night. Especially when you are getting food from a highly reputable restaurant. I really liked that all of the dishes on the menu were familiar but had a unique twist added to them. 

There are three more opportunities to experience this great event - July 18, August 8 and September 8. If you enjoy classic movies and fun food - make sure you check it out before summer is over! 
Being the foodie that I am, I really liked that there were options under each category to choose from instead of a set menu. I was lucky enough to be sitting with people who liked trying everything so we all traded bites. 
You will have to excuse my photos - it was a movie it was pretty dark in the restaurant. Both appetizers we tried (melon salad & ham with asparagus) were both seasonally appropriate, light, fresh and delicious. 
Hands down the favorite of the group was the Miso Glazed Alaskan White Salmon. I never thought I would order a fish over filet...but couldn't have been happier with my decision. The nuttyness of the sunchoke puree and the sweetness of the miso glaze paired perfectly with the White Salmon. I especially enjoyed the white salmon as the fish flavor wasn't overwhelming. 
You couldn't go wrong with either dessert - one was a classic with a slight twist (almond pound cake) and the other was for the adventurous - a strawberry gazpacho with some flair. 
If you are interesting in attending one of the remaining movie nights (July 18, August 8 and September 8) please call 202-737-4147 to make reservations. 

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Adventure DC: DC Duck Tour

One of the goals of my blog was to talk more about the DC/Virginia area. I love to adventure and play tourist, especially in my own city.

After about a year of talking about doing a duck tour, Teddy and I finally bit the bullet bought tickets for one a couple of weeks ago through DC Ducks. What is a duck tour? I’m glad you asked. A duck tour is one that is on land and on water – the vehicle you are in can drive into the water, it is both a car and a boat. Pretty cool.
photo from DC Ducks
Tickets are available online and in person. If you buy them online, they are few dollars cheaper. If purchased online, adult tickets will run you $35.10 and children $26.10. Tours are approximately 90 minutes long and you meet up outside of Union Station.
Our tour guide was a former social studies teacher, it made the tour more enjoyable that he was passionate about what he showing us. Even being a resident of DC, I picked up a few new facts and I only zoned out a few times (although with the facts that I remember - see below…I guess I zoned out a lot). The zoning out was due to me – not the guide. 

-Union Station was built using the style of Grecian/Roman bath houses. When Union Station was built, it was the largest train station at the time.
-The statue outside of Union Station is from the Knights of Columbus in dedication to Christopher Columbus. There is lots of symbolism within the statue – but the only thing I remember/jotted down was that the lions represent Columbus’ courage.
-Constitution Ave used to be a working canal

A couple of fun notes about the tour.
-He also played music at random parts of the tour – including the Gilligan Island theme song while we were on the water which gave me a good chuckle.
-While on the water, he let people "drive" the boat. Makes for a great photo opportunity or a fun memory for a child. 
-You get a duck whistle - which makes duck noises. 
I’m not sure how much other tours cost in DC, this one is a little pricey – coming in at almost $40. If you are from out of town, then I would 100% say the tour is worth it. If you are a local, have the money and want to see the city a different way then I would recommend it. Our specific tour was a mixture of tourists and locals.  
Food options near by: Union Station is full of places to grab a quick bite. Teddy and I decided to walk down H Street and pick something random. We settled on Chupacabra Latin Kitchen and Taqueria which is about a mile away. However, if you choose to walk down H Street, there are plenty of other places closer.  

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Washington DC: Chupacabra Latin Kitchen & Taqueria

After playing tourist for the day with a DC Duck Tour (will write more about this later!) Teddy and I decided to wander down H Street to find a bite to eat. He nixed my Lebanese idea, I veto'd his fried chicken one and we settled upon Chupacabra because of the outdoor seating and, to be honest, I was not about to pass up a place called El Chupacabra. 

Teddy got a Corona and I got a frozen margarita, both solid choices. To spice things up they will put a sangria or blue curaco swirl, or make it a beerita. 
We each ordered two tacos, both of us bee-lining for the the Borrego del Fuego very hot tender leg of lamb with habanero and spices. The meat was flavorful and it definitely had a kick to it. It wasn't too spicy, but if you don't like spicy food at all, stay away. My 2nd was the Beef Barbacoa shredded beef braised in herbs. While good, both the lamb and beef barbacoa were dry, nothing a little added salsa couldn't fix. Teddy's 2nd was the Al Pastor guajillo and pineapple marinated pork, slow roasted on a spit. This was delicious, moist and flavorful.
The outdoor patio and image of El Chupacabra. 
Although the meat was a little dry, it was still good. This was the perfect meal after a day of sightseeing around DC. Low maintenance, quick and budget friendly. 

Would I come back? Yes, this is a great patio to sit outdoors and enjoy some chips, guac, salsa, tacos and margs. What else do you need in life?

822 H Street NE
Washington DC
Atlas District
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