Hot Date at Otto

Shortly after B moved to DC, my mom surprised me with a 90 minute Swedish massage at my favorite spa. My massage was so relaxing a rejuvenating that, as I left the spa on a gorgeous fall day, I did not want to rush home.

So, as I stood outside of the spa, I turned to my left and just walked. I was in search of lunch. I let my feet decide. I walked through SoHo with Balthazar Bakery on my mind when I suddenly realized I wasn’t that far from Otto. One of my favorite places to enjoy a solo meal at a bar.

Otto it was.

At noon on a beautiful Saturday, I parked myself at the only available seat at the bar. I ordered a sparkling wine and sipped it with slowly.

20150919_122711

The couples nearby were all ordering the anti pasto dishes on the menu. When in Rome. I ordered an old favorite. Eggplant caponatina. Sweet succulent chunks of tomatoes, eggplant, pine nuts and whatever else they sneak in there.

20150919_123019

I inhaled that magnificent appetizer realizing it would be a challenge to fit my main course… but my thoughts were if I walked home I would be okay, maybe.

20150919_124540

For my main course, I had another glass of sparkling wine with a plate of fusili con sausage and escarole; topped with lots of freshly grated parmesan. The al dente pasta. The spicy sausage and the bitter escarole made this a balanced dish and one I did not struggle to finish.

I enjoyed eavesdropping on the conversations around me and even made small talk with my bartender who tried, unsuccessfully, to get me to order dessert. I did want dessert but I needed to walk more to make room.

And as I left Otto, I craved a creamy vanilla soft serve with a rich shot of espresso poured on top.

Chickalicious Dessert Club. An east village gem! The cozy little shop with but 4 stools to sit on has a very creative menu ranging from a chocolate éclair ice cream cone to their take on the Cronut (The Doughssant). I love practically everything there and I love how it still feels like a well kept secret.

20150919_140118

I ordered their affogato. Freshly made vanilla soft serve ice cream, complete with specks of vanilla bean, chocolate candies and a shot of espresso poured over. Since I was there, I grabbed a snack for later: the Crème Brulee Doughssant. For those that do not know, these doughssants taste better than any cronut I have ever had. So if you want to experience the cronut the way I think it was meant to be enjoyed, head over to Chickalicious and enjoy!

It was an amazing day! Unfortunately, this day of walking really aggravated my plantar fasciitis. The following day, while walking on sore feet, I split my fascia in half and have been stuck in a walking cast ever since.

No regrets. 

Shake Shack Brooklyn: The Chicken Shack

Tags

,

I talk some big talk.

When B and I were preparing to say our goodbye, I didn’t think it would be so difficult. On our last day in DC together, we checked out of our hotel and I went with him to his airBnB- where he would stay until his official move in day at his new apartment. His temporary digs were so warm and cozy that upon walking through the door, a huge lump developed in my throat.

I would be going home. Alone.

I watched as the minutes ticked by. I took deep breaths hoping to be strong.

I wasn’t strong.

My mom sent me a text asking if I said goodbye yet and I burst into the heaviest sobs as I thought about leaving DC without my husband. Sure, its short term. Of course he will get to come home for long weekends. But this was the most difficult moment to get through.

After some deep breaths, I was able to calm down enough to stop crying. He and I both thought it was best to let me go to the train station on my own. I ordered an uber. Kissed my husband goodbye and took the longest ride of my life home. The entire ride home, I was keeping myself busy trying not to think of the tears stinging my eyes, threatening to fall.

For the most part, I held it together.

The moment I waked through the door, I was greeted by a very happy Mickey who spent the long weekend with my parents and the heavy sobs began again. This time, I didn’t try to stop myself. I cried it out.

You’re probably wondering why this post is named for Shake Shack and I have yet to mention it…. the point is coming. I promise.

Once upon a time, I was awesome at being on my own. As soon as I had the moment to, I forced myself to go out and enjoy myself- alone.

The sun was shining. The weather was just right. And it was lunch time. I hopped on the train and ended up in Downtown Brooklyn. Shake Shack was calling my name. More specifically, the chicken shack. 20150822_174729

A soft and pillowy potato bun filled with a crisply fried chicken breast, mayo, lettuce and pickle made for sandwich perfection. Add a side of crinkle cut fries and a cup of root beer, you not only have a delicious calorie fest, but you also have a reason to walk home.

20150822_174721

I sat in the sun soaked pavilion near Shake Shack, people watching and completely basking in the moment. I missed my husband terribly but I felt so incredibly at peace and so sure that time was going to fly by.

Until that day comes, lets all head over the Brooklyn Shake Shack for some chicken shacks and Shack-cago dogs.

Das Ethiopian in DC

Tags

,

On our first day in DC together, my husband and I hopped in an uber and made small talk with our driver. We talked about where we were from and yada, yada, yada and the cab driver said “New York does everything right in terms of food. But DC has a leg up on their Ethiopian food- we have the best Ethiopian food, hands down… you just have to be open to trying new things”
And that we are!
So on our last night in DC together, we found Das Ethiopian a nice walk away from our hotel room. It was a Saturday evening. We did not have reservations but it was early enough into dinner service where finding a table was not challenging.
The restaurant is cozy but not so that it feels too crowded. It seems like the dining room of an actual house is the dining area of the restaurant which i thought was a nice touch. Felt really homey. 20150815_192448
We looked around to see what others were eating and it seemed a lot of diners were sharing sampling platters. It seemed like the best bang for our buck to try several things at once. We split an appetizer that looked like a samosa but had a spring roll texture to it. It was filled with lentils which are a personal favorite of ours.
We got our first taste of Injera. A spongy flat bread that is used to sop up delicious bites of food in addition to acting as a plate. It took a few bites to get used to but before we knew it, they were bringing us more rolls of injera. 20150815_193527
For our entree, we shared the Das Combination Chicken & Beef Entrée Sampler For Two which included chicken doro watt, beef kaey watt, beef alicha and beef cubes segana gomen. While different than any meal we have ever had, we recognized familiar flavors. It was pretty good!
We filled up quickly and politely declined dessert.
This is a nice place. The staff were very friendly and patient with us as we asked a lot of questions about the cuisine. We would definitely go back…maybe when I visit hubby!

Blue Duck Tavern in Georgetown

Tags

, ,

During B and I’s last weekend in DC, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice brunch. Right across the street from our hotel; the Blue Duck Cafe.

It was a very balmy and hot day but the promise of a sorbet sangria seemed refreshing and perfect.

20150815_112541

We both sipped cocktails in the shade of an umbrella in the scenic backyard. Blue Duck Café has a perimeter of green surrounding their outdoor dining area. Upon close inspection, we were pleasantly surprised to see this green was actually herbs and vegetables. Occasionally, someone would come from the kitchen to snip herbs for whatever they were preparing.

20150815_113521

Since the occasion was “Treat [our]self” we decided to start our brunch with an appetizer. One of our favorite things in Bone Marrow. Gross to some, this delicacy is rich and delicious but definitely not for every enjoyment.

This particular bone marrow came with crisp baguette slices as the vehicle to smear the marrow all over with a honkin bulb of caramelized garlic. The marrow was seasoned with everything- like an everything bagel.

We devoured this. It was absolutely amazing and quite possibly the best bone marrow we have ever had. Our waiter came by to check on us and agreed the marrow was their most popular dish; even said some well-known chefs come to Blue Duck Café JUST to have some of their bone marrow.

Strong words.

20150815_120312

For B’s entrée he went with the short rib hash. A huge and rib sticking portion of short ribs, potatoes, and caramelized onions topped with a perfectly fried egg. As Brent was diggin’ in, our waiter came to recommend B dip his bread into the hash. And then B’s life changed.

I’m definitely over-selling the moment but the combination was very good! However, having annihilated a plate of Bone Marrow, we were feeling a little full.

20150815_120317

I, on the other hand, enjoyed the Blue Duck’s take on shrimp and grits. The portion was smaller than B’s hash but after indulging on all that marrow, I had just enough room to enjoy my entrée…

20150815_123659

…before our waiter convinced us to get dessert. It was the strangest, most delicious combination for dessert. Popcorn. Marshmallows. Panna Cotta. Caramel. I cannot explain this concept at all but it played on sweet/salty and creamy/crunchy combos. It was great.

20150815_124005

The sun was moving and our beloved shade had shifted, leaving us to bake in the hot sun. We got some cold brew iced coffee to go with our dessert.

20150815_124205

…and before we knew it, it was over.

We were STUFFED.

It was a fantastic brunch! We will definitely be back [for that bone marrow]!

Room Service at the Westin

Tags

, ,

After our exhausting first day in DC we went back to the room with every intention of going back out to peep the scene. One of our Uber drivers told us that DC was THE place to try Ethiopian food and since we love to try new things we put it on our list… but after our 2nd nap after walking all over DC on a 98 Degree day with 100 percent humidity.

20150815_132451

The heat exhausts me.

We were a short walk away from a Trader Joes so we stocked up on snacks (booze) to keep in the hotel room.

20150815_133355

After coming back into the cool air conditioning we plopped on our huge bed and said what the hell, let’s order room service!

If you have ever ordered room service, its quite nice if you like to pay 3x the price of what things should cost (I’m talking about YOU $15 bagel!). But it was our 6 month wedding anniversary (aww) so why the heck not.

With our $4 bottle of sparkling wine from Trader Joes we toasted a great mini getaway and a great 6 months of marriage while eating room service in front of the hotel tv.

20150814_204318

Brent got a burger with a side of calamari. I got a french onion soup and a short rib over parsnip puree.

The french onion soup was the biggest disappointment while my main course was absolutely perfect. I was stuffed halfway through but with no way to reheat leftovers, no way to store said leftovers and paying gouged prices for it, I persevered.

We also bought some chocolate covered almonds for dessert.

It was a nice experience!

(We stayed at the Westin Georgetown)

Nando’s Peri Peri

Tags

, , , ,

And we’re off!

To help Brent look for an apartment and to have one last hurrah before school started, I went with Brent to DC. We booked an early morning Amtrak from NY to DC and planned our weekend.

B and I have both been to DC before but never together so this was an experience.  Our hotel room was ready when we arrived which was fantabulous. Not really knowing the lay of the land meant lots of Ubers. Our first Uber ride from WAS to the hotel was quite memorable as our driver exited her mini-van in her bathrobe, slippers, and rollers to remove the car seat from the back seat- she was super friendly and her car smelled like candy. But having a driver in her pjs was def a first.

After a quick siesta in the hotel room (traveling is exhausting) we needed some Grub. B knew of a place that he visited as a kid and since I had never been before, our first DC experience together was Nando’s Peri Peri.

Nando’s specialty is Chicken. Flame grilled chicken. Flame grilled delicious chicken.

When you walk into Nando’s you are greeted by a host or hostess who escort you to the ordering line. The Brazilian music playing throughout the restaurant is interesting and even catchy.

20150814_135437

Once you make your way to the counter you order your meal. They do have other options aside from Chicken but when in Rome… I ordered my size chicken (half), and selected my spice level (mild), then I ordered my two sides (roasted corn and Rice)

You receive a ticket and depending if you are dining here or to go you get a number. We picked a spot and brought our number with us. They serve alcohol so I ordered a sangria (meh).

20150814_135451

The chicken was tender and delicious. They offer hot sauces on the side if you want to challenge your palette. I toyed with the medium and realized that level of spicy was out of my league. Gimme sriracha any day!

It is highly recommended you clean your teeth after this meal. I had char in my teeth for a while and i was wishing i had a pocket toothbrush.

We took our time enjoying our chicken at Nando’s and decided to see a movie after. With it being so humid in DC we took a long slow walk to the movie theatre and saw Inside Out which was adorable beyond words.

20150814_175405

After the movie we walked around some more and watched some kids feeding the ducks overlooking the Potomac.

20150814_175157

It was really starting to sink in that this will be the most difficult trip I have ever taken.

Benoit NYC

Tags

, , , , , ,

During our countdown to Brent’s departure, we set out for dinner in honor of our 6 month wedding anniversary and restaurant week! I let B take the lead on dinner reservations and he totally outdid himself. We went to the very charming and very old school Benoit in Midtown.

Nothing says romance like French cuisine, though, when I think of French cuisine I am reminded of the episode of Sex and the City where Harry and Charlotte have a romantic night out at a French restaurant. They overindulged and spent the entire evening taking turns in the bathroom.

Thankfully that wasn’t the case for us but I can see how Charlotte and Harry did themselves in. French food is RICH and should be enjoyed in moderation.

We had every intention of being modest by ordering off the pre fixe menu but B thought we were selling ourselves short and suggested we go for the glory and get whatever we wanted.

So we did.

First things first. Bubbles. Not just because of the 6 month anniversary but when we dine out (which has significantly decreased in frequency) we treat ourselves to a sparkling wine or champagne. It goes down easier and we usually have zero negative effects in the AM.

20150731_184131

For B’s starter, he went with the pate of foie gras and I went with the escargot. The last time I tried escargot was when B and I took our first vacation together; this time was much more positive and much more delicious. I shared with my mother that I had escargot and she was genuinely curious about what it tasted like. Upon first glance, it looks like green moss. But after a whiff, it’s very garlicky in a beautiful way. Once you scoop it into your mouth it tastes like a stuffed mushroom- so if you like stuffed mushrooms, there is a good chance you will like escargot.20150731_184122

There are two main dishes that I can never say no to: Beouf Bourguignon and Cassoulet. Very heavy and hearty dishes. The latter was available so I went in. Brent ordered the roasted chicken which was delicious.

The Cassoulet, which is essentially a white bean stew with sausage and duck confit was rich and totally did me after 5 bites. No matter though. I packed up the leftovers and enjoyed them the following morning with a poached egg- my fave way to enjoy leftovers.

20150731_195819

When the dessert menu rolled around I was beyond stuffed but was somehow convinced to order profiteroles. Delightfully airy cream puffs with a rich chocolate sauce for dipping. And washed it down with a creamy cappuccino and some ice cream.20150731_195829

Talk about Indulgence! The great thing about NYC is the ability to WALK after heavy meal and our train was several long blocks away.

Benoit was a great choice. We got to enjoy a wonderful meal and check another great NY restaurant off the list.

Alice’s Tea Cup

Once the countdown to Brent’s departure became a reality, I felt a huge need to milk every single day we spent together doing our favorite things.

We even decided to spend a day together doing what we love: NOTHING. There is an art to doing nothing and I believe we have mastered it.

20150724_121141

The art of doing nothing is best spent over unlimited scones and tea sandwiches…at Alice’s Tea Cup!

20150724_140016

We initially intended to go to Bosie Tea Parlour where we first fell in love with afternoon tea but they were closed for a private event. Instead of letting that ruin our day, we set out to our second choice. Alice’s Tea Cup.

20150724_140205

Sometimes these things happen for a reason. We sat among kids with their parents, ladies lunching, and even some solo diners to relax with some tea and nibble on some sandwiches. PINKIES UP.

20150724_143251

Our last visit to Alice’s was shortly after we got married and it was nice to reminisce about all the time we spent with our families and just how nice it was to have all the planning behind us! Oh and marriage is nice, too!😉

Later that day we caught a movie and had a nice walk in the city- followed by a pool party in the evening !!!

20150725_212854

I got to show of my Whip/Nae Nae skills.

Great day!

Surprise Party!

So.

Where should I start?

20150807_205825

I’ll try for the beginning.

Since we last spoke, I had a dismal cronut; I am happy to report that I’ve gotten over the disappointment and moved on to other things to obsess over.

Like my husband moving to DC.

::screeching halt::

OH, RIGHT! My husband is in grad school… in DC. So this summer has been jammed packed with tons of things to do together before he leaves (left). I am currently without a personal computer so I will try to figure out a regular(ish) posting schedule.

I will be sharing all the great things we did together that I was able to document including the food-filled weekend we had in DC.

20150807_203102

When B got word as to when he started classes, I started scheming on something for him. He has a great deal of support from his coworkers so I thought I would plan a small get together for his coworkers and some of our family to send him off with lots of love.

First order of business. WHERE? We are newly-weds. Our pockets are NOT rolling deep. So, I considered his favorite pizzeria in our neighborhood that also doubles as a bar/lounge. Then I went to his company picnic in the early summer months and acquired everyone’s Facebook or phone number to send the invite.

Now that I had a venue. I created the invite and set out to order a cake. Since it was a farewell party, I made it one of his favorites. Pizza was a given. But the cake? A huge (and ridiculously inexpensive) Dominican Cake!

If one thing is certain, its that I am TERRIBLE at keeping secrets- especially from my husband. On so many occasions, we would be having a conversation and he would mention someone that just RSVPd to his party and I would instantly feel the urge to mention but I kept the lid sealed TIGHTLY.

The days leading up to it, B kept insisting he should plan a get together before he left and I kept dissuading him. That was so difficult! And on D Day, while we were getting ready for my friend’s birthday party (great cover!) I was receiving so many text messages of guests who were running late!

Surprise parties are NOT for those with anxiety. Just saying.

20150807_205901

We made our way to the Pizzeria/Bar and I was nervously agreeing with everything he was saying. I swore he knew what was up.

But when we arrived, everyone was there and I stepped aside as everyone yelled Surprise and B was sincerely shocked- confused even! His reaction was “What?!?” and the evening was filled with pizza but the pie, soda by the gallon and all the shots we could do! Followed by a HUGE Dominican Cake!

20150807_193412

It was a huge success! And totally worth it! Anxiety and all!

20150807_200501

So I finally had a Cronut…

Tags

, , , , ,

cronuts swag

In 2013, the Cronut came to New York City by way of the Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo. The baker, Dominique Ansel crafted a limited supply of donuts daily and the anticipation drew much plublicity. Upon its release, donut enthusiasts waited in line for hours daily just to get their hands on one of the 200 available cronuts.

I admit, I was one who would read article after article of the beautiful donut croissant hybrid and dreamt of having my own; just to say I have tried it.

I have been to reputable bakeries and tried their dough’ssant and their croissant donuts and all were good, but nothing to make me obsessed. The hype for Dominique Ansel’s Cronut was really making me feel like I was missing out.

…until about a year ago when a friend of mine acquired some cronuts thanks to the cronut preorder online. She had one left and she sold it to me for $5. It was a fig cronut. She told me to eat it immediately as they are best when eaten the day they are purchased.

I took photos of the cronut. I posted the pics to Instagram and twitter. Held my breath and sunk my teeth into the cronut.

“Isn’t it AMAZING?”

Well, it’s not terrible but I did not experience the thing that made me want to get up at 4AM to get in line for one of these babies. Not at $5 a pop either. And if it were up to me, can I have a choice on my flavor? Fig, Chocolate, raspberry- plain even. I need variety.

I chalked up the MEH cronut to the fact that it had been purchased way early in the AM and it was now evening- it clearly wasn’t “fresh”…

Fast forward to Sunday.

I was able to acquire my own cronuts thanks to the online preorder system. I had no idea that when I chose to pick up cronuts on July 19th that it would be 94 degrees in New York City and that it would take me an hour to get there. My husband and I (really just me as I dragged him there with me like a good wife) braved the heat for the cronuts. The line was long inside the bakery but since I pre-ordered, I was able to skip the line and grab my cronuts.

I glanced over the register and saw the DKA and the Cannelle de Bordeax. These are two of the regular pastries at Dominique Ansel Bakery that are absolutely delicious- there is NEVER a line for them and they are, without a doubt, way better than the cronut. (highly recommended!)

With my huge bag of cronuts, I slowly walked back to the train station so I could enjoy the bananas foster filled cronut as soon as possible. I was so self conscious of my purchase as the entire world could see my bag contained Cronuts- it was a huge YELLOW Bag. Like, HEY LOOK AT MY BAG!

I purchased some for my family and I plus two more to enjoy if I really liked them. . .

Cronuts

I set up our cronut experience. Coffees on deck. Photos taken. Heart racing with excitement.

I took a bite.

And it was good but not mind-blowingly so.

I believe this item was way over-hyped. The texture of the donut was lacking something.  I was fully convinced by the sugar coating and the crisp-looking layers that the cronut would have a slight crispness/flakiness to it and a soft, delicate center with a glob here and there of custard or whatever the filling of the month was. Instead, I sunk my teeth into a donut that was not light and crisp. It was a bit greasy and lacked the texture that I was seeking; much like my first cronut encounter with the fig filling.

I was disappointed. My husband doesn’t like any kind of donut with filling inside-so that was a bust, My parents both preferred the dough’ssant we got from one of other bakeries we frequented and I felt like I wasted a perfectly good Sunday morning, sweating my butt off for something I didn’t even love.

I am still a big fan of Dominique Ansel. His DKA and cannelle de Bordeaux are enough to keep me coming back over and over again. I will just check cronut off my bucket list.

It’s just not for me.