Tuesday, March 22, 2016

John Hancock's Fit Foodie 5k in Fairfax, VA : Come Run With Me!

I have a love/hate relationship with running. I hate getting back into running shape but I absolutely love the runners high I get when I am in shape. 

I have done a few 5k races in my life but I normally just choose to run on my own. Running for charity is great but I'd rather just donate the money and not run. That is, unless, I personally get something out of it (I know, I am a terrible person)*. Enter in the John Hancock Fit Foodie 5k. Not only do you get to get your fitness on, but you also get two FREE drinks, an awesome goodie bag and lots of different vendors telling you about their awesome food/workout products/samples/etc. 
Anyways, I liked the idea of this race so much I decided to apply to be an ambassador for the race...and I was chosen! One of their hashtags is #caloriesburned #caloriesearned - story of my life. 

As part of the ambassador program all of my friends, family, readers, anyone really gets 10% off the price of the race.   

What? John Hancock Hosts The Cooking Light & Health Fit Foodie Race Weekend 
Where? Strawberry Park in Mosaic District 
When? May 20-22, 2016! 
Why? This event is the ultimate celebration of food, fitness, and fun. John Hancock Hosts The Cooking Light & Health Fit Foodie Race Weekend is jam-packed with three-days of events that get your mouthwatering and your heart pumping. The weekend includes a Friday night VIP Party and Saturday morning race concluding at the John Hancock Vitality Village, chock-full of delicious food and beverage samples, exciting culinary demonstrations from Cooking Light personalities, and mini fitness classes led by acclaimed professionals. The weekend concludes on Sunday with a calorie-torching workout followed by a delicious dining experience.
Price? Tickets for the Fit Foodie 5K Race are priced at $35 until April 25, 2016, and $45 until May 21, 2016, so be sure to register before prices increase! If you use the discount code LETSDOLUNCH you can get a 10% off online ticket sales! To purchase tickets, go to: www.fitfoodierun.com.

*There is also a charity chosen for each race location, and depending on the ticket you get, a portion of it goes to that charity! 

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Restaurant Revisit: California Pizza Kitchen in Pentagon City

You may remember that a few months ago I got to meet Head Chef and SVP of Culinary Development, Brian Sullivan and try a bunch of new menu/drink items, along with learning how to properly toss a pizza. If you don't, that's sad, and you should click here to see the yummy food or here for the drinks

Anyways, I was super impressed with the taste and quality of all the foods and knew I wanted to come back and try some more items. I usually try to make it back to a restaurant if I was invited in for a media dinner as they are usually on their best behavior and that may not be the norm for the restaurant. 

I tried a pretty wide variety of their cocktails, and have pretty much told anyone who will listen about the wonderfulness of the California Roots svedka vodka, fresh avocado and mint, fresh agave sour, fennel salt rim. It was still one of the most delicious drinks I have had. The Coconut Blossom Mandarin Blossom Vodka Casamigos Tequila Blanco, agave sour, pureed coconut, fresh pineapple was good, but my favorite will always be the California Roots - I mean a drink with avocado, how can you resist? 
I loved the Bacon + Brussels Flatbread last visit so much that I decided a repeat needed to happen. I was not disappointed. Bacon, brussels, caramelized onions and goat cheese. Perfection on carbs. 

We needed some greens in our life so we ordered a side Caesar Salad. It was your basic, nothing out of the ordinary, average caesar salad. 

Chef Brian had told me a couple of his favorite dishes at CPK so we decided to go with one of them - the Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pizza spicy sweet Caribbean sauce, authentic Jamaican spices, bacon, red onions, bell peppers. The sweet and spicy of this pizza was amazing. And the bacon - I will talk about it's greatness later. This was a fun twist on pizza. 
While the food was spot on, the service was a little slow. They definitely need to work on a better rhythm behind the bar. That being said - the food is fun and delicious and the pizza reheats awesome the next day for breakfast (in a toaster oven/regular oven)! 

A couple of extra things I would like to add about CPK - they have a separate area where they handle the gluten free items so there is a very low chance that if you have a gluten intolerance that you will deal with cross contamination. 

If you enjoy bacon, the bacon that CPK uses is some of the best bacon I have ever had. It's Nueske's Apple-wood Smoked Bacon and ridiculously amazing. I could eat plates of it if you put it in front of me. 

Would I come back? Yes! Still a lot of fun dishes I want to try (Kung Pao Spaghetti! I love trying all the different flavor profiles - it gives me inspiration in the kitchen. 

1201 South Hayes Street
Arlington, VA
Metro: Pentagon City
California Pizza Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Washington DC: Dinner at Crane and Turtle in Petworth

One of my foodie friends messaged me the other week about Crane and Turtle - she wanted to go because they are closing up shop April 24 and it's gotten rave reviews (It's in the Top 100 Washingtonian Restaurants for 2015). The restaurant isn't closing because they can't keep up with the DC restaurant scene, they are closing because Head Chef Makoto is moving to New York. "The restaurant is so connected to Makoto and to his background and to his cooking that it was hard for us to imagine continuing it without him," says co-owner Paul Ruppert. "We thought it was best to go out on a high note and spend these next two months celebrating that and then open with a new project." (quote taken from Washington City Paper) 

Head Chef Makoto blends his culinary background with his cultural background, fusing together French and Japanese cuisine. This results in food combinations that you wouldn't think of putting together, creating a dancing party of flavors on your tastebuds. This is a foodies haven, and if you put yourself in this category (trying things a little out of the ordinary) - a visit to Crane and Turtle before it closes is a must. 
We split two starters - the Sea Trout Carpaccio Avocado Mousse, Smoked Ikura, Dill Crème Fraîche $9 and the Roasted Baby Carrots Brussels Sprouts, Cheddar Corn Muffins, Mustard BBQ Sauce $11. I can't seem to make myself like raw fish, but Amy really enjoyed this carpaccio - however the avocado mousse was creamy and delicious and I dipped my bread in it. The carrot appetizer...man oh man - roasted vegetables are just perfect. There is nothing better then that sweet, crispy caramelization on the outside. Pair that with the tangy mustard bbq sauce - just a perfect combo. 

Amy ordered the Mugi Miso Red Snapper Romaine Lettuce, Couscous, Boiled Peanuts, Cauliflower Purée $27. This dish was very good, if you haven't ever had grilled lettuce - you should try it out. Much milder in flavor profiles compared to my dish, but a solid and and fun dish. 

I went with the Goan Brook Trout Vindaloo Eggplant, Potatoes, Almond Ricotta, Banyuls Gastrique $26. This dish was a work of art. I assumed based off my knowledge of Indian food (Vindaloo = spicy), it might be a spicy dish but it wasn't. The flavors were complex but tended toward sour and tangy because of the gastrique while the ricotta added a creaminess to the dish that rounded everything out. I really enjoyed the flavors and originality of this dish - it was unlike any other fish dish I have had before. 
Service was great, food was stellar - I am sad to see this place to go, but will definitely make the trip back to this spot in DC to see what the owners come up with next!

If you can swing it, I highly recommend visiting before it closes up shop! Make sure to make a reservation as it will most likely be pretty busy (I went on a Tuesday and it was pretty full!). 

828 Upshur St NW
Washington, DC
Metro:Georgia Ave Petworth Station 

Crane and Turtle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Washington DC: Dinner at DBGB KITCHEN AND BAR

Some of my girlfriends and I have decided to do a girls night once a month where we dress up and wine and dine ourselves. The first restaurant we picked is DBGB KITCHEN AND BAR. We decided to visit DBGB after attending for brunch a few weeks back and falling in love. 

The first thing that we did when we arrived was check out the cocktail list. Collectively we tried 4 cocktails on the menu and they were each innovative and creative in their own way. Being a bourbon lover my eye was immediately drawn to the SEXY SADIE backbone bourbon, lemon, blackberry, mint $14 (3rd drink from the right, pink). Man, this packed a punch; the bourbon really shined through but lemon and blackberries added a refreshing kick. My second drink was the FLORIDA MIST tequila, housemade black sesame-grapefruit soda, lime, salt $14 (far right). Put anything in grapefruit soda and I'll drink it. The black sesame really added a mysterious and unique, but tasty element to the drink that I can't really explain. Carrie stuck with these for the night, the BUZZWORDS chamomile-infused vodka, honey, lemon $14 (2nd from the left)- refreshing, comforting and fresh. Sarah ordered the DON'T WORRY, WE'VE GOT THYME enlightened grain windsor vodka, aperol, thyme, citrus, prosecco $14 (far let). Floral, bubbly, easy going drink. 
Bread, crackers and butter are brought out to the table before dinner is served. The bread is a carb lovers dream.
We split two appetizers : Sweet and Sour Eggplant $13 honey baked eggplant, sherry vinegar, sumac yogurt, mint, chickpea socca and the Burrata $13 arugula, pistachio, blood orange, pomegranate, mint.

Oh man, the eggplant. Words can not describe how delicious this dish was. The eggplant melted in your mouth and the hot (eggplant) and cool (yogurt) temperatures created a magical party for your taste buds. I could of just had two of these for dinner and been happy with my life choices that night. 
While you can't really go wrong with Burrata Cheese (it was creamy and everything it should be) the overall dish was a little salty and I would probably pass on this dish in favor of trying something else/new. 
After the appetizers, Carrie and I were not quite hungry enough to each get a separate entry so we split an entree and an appetizer. 

After spotting this dish at someone else's table, and the server told us it was the Crispy Lamb Belly $14 quinoa tabbouleh, harrisa yogurt, coriander. Being big fans of pork belly we decided to try this dish and it did not disappoint. 
Torn between a few items, we inquired with the server and she told us to go with the specialty dish of the restaurant, the Coq au Vin mushroom, lardon, pearl onion,chicken, spätzle $29. This dish was amazing, rich, smokey, tender and just full of flavor. 
I will say the only downside of DBGB is they are not super vegetarian friendly entree wise. Our resident vegetarian got a salad and a veggie side as their only vegetarian entree isnt listed on the menu. If you ask - they have a veggie pasta they can make you, but our server recommended picking an appetizer or two over the pasta. Sarah settled on the Roasted Beet Salad mitibleu cheese, endive, sunflower seed $14This was a very earthy tasting salad with a variety of textures, but while this beet lover thought it was ok, she would go with the server's recommendation of the Kale Salad next time. 
After seeing multiple pictures of this dessert online we knew we had to pick it - ROCKY ROAD PROFITEROLE  coffee-cardamom ice cream, marshmallow, hazelnut, hot chocolate sauce $9. Overall this was pretty darn tasty but I am not a huge fan of cardamom and had I actually read the description I probably would have gone a different path. Cardamom has a very different and very complex flavor profile, so if you are not familiar with it, maybe go with a different dessert. You are at a French restaurant, so you pretty much can't go wrong with desserts. 
Our server was great, the food was great. A great experience for the second visit back. My only complaints are the lack of a vegetarian entree and just a small complaint against the manager. He was going around checking on tables asking how peoples meals were and chatting - when he got to ours, he just took the check and swiped our cards without saying a thing to us. Rude. (It's my blog and I'll complain if I want to - set to the birthday song "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to")

Would I come back? Yes, this was my second visit here. I want to come back for that eggplant <3 and try a few more dishes. 

931 H Street Northwest
Washington, DC
Metro: Gallery Place or Metro Center
DBGB Kitchen and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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