Friday, May 7, 2010

Wonderful Eats for a D.C. Finale

Tonight is my last night in D.C. until August and as I sit on my couch watching the "Sex and the City" movie (who is excited for number two?!?!) with my roommates, my stomach is happily remembering the past few days in food. Cinco de mayo is collectively our favorite holiday, so shortly after I got home from my last day at Ping Pong, we started making a feast for eight. On the menu were refried beans, spanish rice (Near East works wonderfully), sour cream, shredded Monterey jack cheese, tortilla chips, tomato and peach salsas and fajitas with red chile tortillas.

The key for optimum fajita flavor is caramelization. For the fajita fillers I used one red, one yellow and one orange bell pepper, one sweet onion and a large zucchini, all sliced with a julienne cut. I also added some chicken that we had in the fridge, but you can definitely omit the meat here. Grease your pan with a tablespoon or so of canola oil and get that thing hot (medium-high heat). Place your onions flat down into the pan to sear and immediately reduce the heat to medium. As much as you might like to peek, do not touch or move the onions at all for 5 minutes, this is where all of that beautiful brown stuff will come into play!

At this point you can add some garlic or paprika to the pan if you would like, and once you've turned the onions, you can begin to add the other vegetables flat down as well. You can make the heat a bit higher as you begin to add more vegetables and then lower the heat again slightly once they've seared just so that they do not burn (if you are adding a meat, cook it in a separate pan). Caramelize your vegetables and watch as even the weariest boys gobble them down:

On Thursday Tina and I went for an early dinner at Founding Farmers with two friends. I love, love, LOVE this restaurant for many reasons. In my opinion, if you eat with your eyes, your mouth can certainly water a bit from some great interior design. This place has got a beautiful bar right smack in the middle of the restaurant with wooden medicine cabinets lining the walls and jars of preserves on metal stacks at the entrance. The stairs leading up to the second floor of the restaurant run parallel to plastic birds on the ceiling that have light bulbs between their wings:

We ordered the Ramos House Fried Green Tomatoes as an appetizer for all, which comes with a goat cheese and homemade green goddess dressing. This appetizer is lightly-fried but thickly coated perfection all wrapped in the cutest parchment paper vessel:

For dinner Tina and I split the Lobster Macaroni and Cheese with creamy, ooey gouda and lemony accents. This is definitely a dish to share (and to go to the gym for later!):

Today my roommates and I went to Georgetown with several friends. Transportation time took longer than anticipated so we were all pretty darn hungry when we arrived at Dolcezza. I went there with Will two years ago directly after his time abroad in Argentina, and I definitely trusted his opinion on the authenticity of their Argentine treats.

The spot has about 20 flavors of gelato on hand at any given time along with cafe beverages and dulce de leche-filled treats such as churros and alfajores:

I ordered avocado honey orange and blood orange flavors, I always love avocado in desserts:

I also got an alfajor which can only be described as salty, milky, gooey, soft (OK, it can be described in many ways, but it is hard to identify just a few!):

None of us had eaten lunch so we stopped into Puro Cafe just across the street from Dolcezza for some afternoon snacks. My Grand-Little in Alpha Kappa Psi, Kayden, works for a marketing company called Tasty Concepts which is doing marketing work for Puro. We ordered our food and Kayden pointed us to the beautiful courtyard. I typically don't do dessert before lunch but it was just one of those days!

I got some flat breads with extra virgin olive oil and mozzarella for dipping:

Their cushioned backyard area with flowy fabrics is a calm spot to relax with good food and drink. A great way to end a fantastic semester in D.C.!

Tomorrow morning I will be heading back home with my dad where I will continue to share my food adventures with you all!

With health,


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Week of Epic Food

In the midst of procrastination Saturday night, my roommates and I planned out our week in food:

Monday: dinner at Chef Geoff's
Tuesday: day in Alexandria with lunch at Bittersweet Cafe
Wednesday: Cinco de Mayo feast for dinner
Thursday: late lunch/early dinner/cinco recovery at Founding Farmers
Friday: Dolcezza Artisnal Gelato and Georgetown Cupcake for mid-day treats

This is what most people do, right? Plan out what they're going to eat a week in advance? Anyway...

Thinking of future eats typically gets me out of a rut so as I completed my last final yesterday and handed it in, I immediately thought of the light at the end of the tunnel; dinner at Chef Geoff's. At a restaurant that is always delicious and innovative, I decided to be boring and order my Chef Geoff's standard, an Asian Salmon Burger. Perfectly crisp on the outside and soft and seasoned on the inside, the burger is topped with thin slices of cucumber, pieces of pickled ginger and just the right amount of wasabi mayonnaise. I opted for a salad of mixed greens as a side:

Before dinner Rebs made these Sprinkles red velvet cupcakes (a special thank-you to my friend Kayden for buying me the mix!). We waited until after dinner to frost them and ate them happily while watching "The Real Housewives of New Jersey." A beautiful end to junior year of college.

Today we ventured out to Alexandria's King Street for a late lunch and candy fix. For lunch we went to Bittersweet Cafe, a spot serving up a hot buffet, a slew of sandwiches and some whimsical desserts. They are most known for enormous quart-size servings of lemonade (the one I got is about half the size of the quarts!) , which is definitely thirst-quenching on a sunny day. I had a wrap with chicken, veggies and spicy Thai peanut sauce

After lunch we made our way down King Street toward the waterfront and stopped into Candi's Candies, a candy shop with every confection imaginable plus about 50 different flavors of salt water taffy. Here's Rebs in the store with the longest gummy worm of all time (note the barrels behind her, they're all topped with taffy!):

Along with some taffy I got this all-natural marshmallow wrapped in caramel. It was so good!

The waterfront was so beautiful:

Tomorrow is my last day at my internship with Ping Pong until September and I can't wait for Cinco de Mayo celebrations at night (I am making fajitas with all of the fixings)! I will be back on Friday for our fiesta recap plus what is sure to be a delicious meal at Founding Farmers and more!

With health,


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spumoni Gardens

Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn, NY is a magical place. While there isn't really a garden, there is spumoni and lot's of it. My family went there two weekends ago to celebrate my Grandpa's 71st birthday and for the occasion we ordered the Chef's Table. The Chef's Table involves carafes of wine, appetizers, salad, pasta, a main meat with vegetables and dessert. The menu is created by the table and the servers there know the restaurant's offerings like the back of their hand. For our appetizers we ordered: shrimp cocktail (which came with plain and fried shrimp), calamari, baked clams, seared and stuffed artichokes and mozzarella in corrozza (triangle-shaped fried mozzarella). The latter two were my favorite picks with the artichokes being especially delicious and less-sweet-than-usual due to the some lovely caramelization and added salt.

After the appetizers came a simple salad with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and mozzarella, which was then followed by the two pasta dishes we had chosen for the table; spaghetti with fresh white clam sauce and fusilli bolognese. I had the spaghetti and it was absolutely delicious and perfectly al dente. Here is a picture of the fusilli (imagine two of these enormous platters for just 10 people!):

After we had our pasta our server came over with a frozen Frangelico and coconut beverage to cleanse the palate and then the main dishes came. We ordered chicken francese and veal dish which came with garlicy-swiss chard and mashed potatoes:

I was pretty full at this point so I just stuck with the eggplant from the francese and a small heap of the swiss chard. The eggplant was incredibly soft and lemon-y while the chard was spicy with a bit of crunch from the stem. When you order the Chef's Table food comes out non-stop for two or so hours and we had literally almost forgotten that dessert was coming post-dinner. Well it did in a very big way:

We got TWO of these dessert platters filled with chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice creams, whipped cream, chocolate covered strawberries, tartufo, cheesecake, chocolate cake and last but not least, spumoni. This was all drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. A dessert such as this should not be legal. I dug in with the rest of my family and scored a serious scoop of spumoni along with a chocolate covered strawberry and called it a meal... and a good one at that. Here are my grandparents with one of the platters:

The keys to this meal were nibbles, pacing, splitting, tasting and a lot (a LOT) of take-home containers. I am definitely going to try to come back over the summer for a simple slice of pizza and serving of spumoni.

Sticking with the Italian theme, my roommate Tina made this incredible bruschetta with peppers and gorgonzola by Ina Garten. Her tip? Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to your pan along with the sugar for some tang. Crunchy bread and a soft, warm topping are always winners in my book:

With health,


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Veggie Bites Season 3, Episode 4!

In true final's week fashion I decided to update the blog last night around 3a.m. only to find that my internet wasn't working. But my internet is working now (yay!) and will hopefully not cut out on me before finishing this post. The past three weeks have been legitimate insanity. The new brothers in my fraternity (Alpha Kappa Psi) got initiated and I planned our formal with the help of these lovely people:

I spent a week in the editing lab tweeking these photographs for my final series (the model is my friend Christina Bartol, how amazing is she?). I have been having a ton of fun at Ping Pong doing a bunch of media and promotional planning and all of my final tests and most of my final presentations happened over the last three weeks. The great thing about all of this is that I've only got three projects left to complete this week and now that my photography class has ended and my AKPsi duties are over I have time to blog again!

The most recent episode of Veggie Bites to go up on YouTube is Barcelona! My friends Rebs, Jeff and I went to Barcelona directly from Paris during our winter break and we had an incredible time. Check out my London blog to read more about it! In this episode Jeff helps me make vegetable paella and we have a special guest to toast with us at the end!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Vegetable Paella


· 2 cups long grain white rice

· 26 oz. can crushed tomato

· 4 cloves garlic

· 1 white onion

· ½ cup green peas

· 1/3 cup artichokes, chopped

· 3 carrots, cut into thin disks

· ½ lemon

· 2 cups vegetable stock

· Tbsp tumeric

· 21/2 tbsp paprika

· Salt and pepper


Add crushed tomato, onion, garlic and rice to your largest pan on a medium-low heat. After 10 minutes or so add in peas, artichokes and carrots along with tumeric, paprika, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Gradually add vegetable stock for rice to absorb until all of the vegetable stock is used. While cooking be sure to let the rice at the bottom of the pan brown and harden. After about 40 minutes or so, serve paella onto plates using a spatula, being careful not to break the bottom rice crust (that’s where all of the flavor is!).

Serves 6

Non-alcoholic sangria


· One gala apple

· ½ orange

· White grape juice

· Pomegranate juice


Cut gala apple and orange into small cubes. Add fruit to a pitcher or carafe and fill 2/3 of the way with white grape juice. Add a few splashes of pomegranate juice, stir and pour over ice.

My hair looks crazy in this picture, but this is the picture of us in the speedboat with the woman who lives in the same town as me, small world!

Us with our bracelets which are all a very dark shade of brown now! We had lunch that day about half a block away from the Sagrada Familia!

I think I am going to wait just one more day for my Spumoni Gardens re-cap and I will also give you an incredible bruschetta recipe courtesy of Ina Garten/my roommate Tina!

With health,


Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm Back!

After a long blogging hiatus, I am back in action! Classes ended today and with only three projects left to complete for the semester I now have time to write again, yay! Over the past two weeks or so I've totally detached myself from the blogging world and I'm clicking my mouse all over the web to catch up on my favorite blogs (this might take me a while haha).

I have been up to a lot and I've been eating a lot and I will update you all on all of these things starting tomorrow. For those of you who follow me on Twitter you'll know that I ate an enormous meal last weekend at Spumoni Gardens in Brooklyn for my Grandpa's 71st birthday. You will not want to miss the pictures of this food tomorrow!

With health,


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hitting the Gym + Rowing Machine

Every semester of my college career other than this semester I've worked out in a gym. Freshman and sophomore year's it was in the Jacob's Fitness Center at American University and in the fall of junior year it was at Club Kensington in London. This semester things have changed a bit what with a photography class that is like a part-time job, an internship with Ping Pong and an executive board position on my fraternity (plus Veggie Bites!!), so I've tended to workout in my apartment.

Working out sans "proper" machinery is no issue for me-- I make use of chairs, large cans of crushed tomato as weights and my yoga mat for carpet burn-free exercise. My apartment building has a gym at the first floor but it's pretty awkward; people can see you as they are entering the building due to its glass wall and people can also see you while walking by on the first floor. In addition to that, the gym is teeny tiny and makes me feel pretty strange when it's just me and one other person and we're both eying each other for the same silly gossip magazine.

I know I don't post a lot about exercise (my mind is usually on the food!), but I do get in physical activity everyday. This can range from dancing at a club, to walking back and forth between my apartment and campus two times because I forgot my photo printing paper, to doing side planks and push-ups in my living room while my roommates are in class. I have definitely maintained the same weight throughout the semester through my atypical exercises but it's almost summertime so I have a new focus; my arms.

After a full day of classes the absolute last thing I want to do is to stay on campus longer to go to the gym (I'd rather blast Lady Gaga in my room and do squats and lunges), but the problem about my apartment versus a real gym is the equipment. Other than my cans of garbanzo beans and bottles of sparkling water, I have no real weights in my possession. During my stay in London I got really into the rowing machine at the gym because it worked my core, legs and arms at the same time, while especially making my arms look toned. Today I made myself go to the gym on campus after class so that I could hop onto that machine again and see what it would do for me across the pond.

The Jacob's Fitness Center has Concept 2 rowing machines, so I decided to check out their website to learn more about what the machine can do for me. Here they identify which muscles are used while rowing, which I think is really great because I am all about visuals! They've also got tabs such as "Technique" and "Training Programs" which can show you how to row correctly and do so effectively to meet your weight and fitness goals.

Today I did a 15 minute sprint on the elliptical with a resistance increase at least at every 2 minutes 30 seconds (starting at a 5 resistance), 10 minutes rowing and 30 minutes of strength including box squatting with weights, torso twists with weights and also vertical crunches but reaching my arms straight up to the ceiling instead of having my hands behind my back (you can see what a vertical crunch looks like here).While I have been doing a lot of strength training in the comfort of my apartment this semester, it is nice to be able to add additional, non-edible weights to my workout via the gym at school.

Does anyone workout at home? Do you find that there is a difference between working out in a home setting or at a gym?

With health,


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ben's Chili Bowl and Matzah Brei

Last year I tried to go to Ben's Chili Bowl around Inauguration time but the line was so crazy that I ended up going somewhere else to eat instead. Both of my roommates went recently and since I was going to an event near there Friday night for my internship with Ping Pong, I decided it would be the perfect opportunity to go.

Will came to visit for the weekend and he was all about going, too! The line wasn't too bad-- we waited for about 15 minutes or so-- and the atmosphere was energized. You order your food while waiting on a snaked line and receive it as it's ready, even if that mean's passing chili cheese fries down the line to the person who ordered it. This, in addition to the Jazz and Funk music blasting from a jukebox, is what I think makes eating at Ben's Chili Bowl more of an attraction than a food experience.

I ordered a small Veggie Chili Bowl and coleslaw and fries for Will and I to split:

Will (who got a chili cheeseburger) and I both agreed; the food was not that great. We've both had better chili before and the fries could have easily come from any roller skating rink's eating area. While I'm not sure that I would go back again for the food, if you haven't gone I would definitely check it out to see the behind-the-counter hustle, hear the music first-hand and appreciate the relatively cheap prices.

On another note, this afternoon I made matzah brei for Will and I for brunch. The dish is egg-coated matzah that people either eat with sweet or savory toppings (my family is all about the sweet!).

To start, break three pieces of matzah and add to a bowl with a bit of warm water to soften. Once the matzah has absorbed the water, add two eggs and combine everything with your hands (rings off!):

Once the matzah is coated in egg, add the bowl's contents into a pan that's been heated with 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil on a medium heat. Turn over matzah to cook the egg and top with cinnamon and agave nectar while it's on the stove. Let the matzah cook in the pan for 7-10 minutes and serve with a peanut butter-filled chocolate egg if your boyfriend is Catholic and it's Easter :)

You can also top it with sugar or brown sugar instead of the agave, and we even ended up adding some of the pumpkin butter I blogged about yesterday. Delicious.

With health,