The 10 Best Things I’ve Ever Eaten.

A few weeks ago G and I were heading back from the beach and we made our obligatory stop by Whole Foods for hot bar mac and cheese. After savoring every last bite, I made the declaration that the mac and cheese was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. That started a conversation (that made me really, really hungry) about the best meals/foods I’ve ever had. So after a lot of thinking, I’ve managed to narrow it down to a top ten.

What really surprised me when I started thinking about this is how simple most of these foods are. No fussy sauces or delicate souffles… just quality food. Food like this is why I love food so much, and why I love to eat local (Whole Foods is the only chain on this list). You will never, ever have the best meal of your life at Chili’s or Outback.

And unfortunately, a couple of these meals happened before I started obsessively taking pictures of everything I eat, but oh well. It is what it is.

10. House Made Tots from Venture Kitchen & Bar in Hampton, VA.

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Tater tots. Something I am absolutely powerless to resist. Especially when they are THIS. DAMNED. GOOD. These are made in-house and are the best potato dish you’ll ever have in your life! The insides are soft and fluffy, the outside is crispy, and they are perfectly seasoned. Basically, they’re deep-fried cubes of heaven.

9. Hot Bar Mac & Cheese from Whole Foods

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It may not look like much, but this macaroni and cheese is the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had. Ever. First of all, as you can obviously tell, it’s super creamy. I loathe baked macaroni and cheese. I’m not sure why people bake it. It’s supposed to be creamy and cheesy, not dry and crumbly. This stuff… oh, this stuff. It’s super rich, so you can’t eat much of it (G and I usually share a portion this size), super cheesy, has the hint of onion in it and just melts in your mouth. I could eat this every single day, and be so, so happy. They’re opening a Whole Foods down the street from my apartment this spring, so there is a possibility that could happen. So, if I gain about 50 lbs. next year, you’ll know why.

8. Tuna Poke from Union Bistro in Little Rock, AR.

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First, to anyone who thinks a Droid is as good as an iPhone, no. Just no. This picture is terrible, and was taken with a Droid. Second, sadly no one else will ever be able to enjoy this (or take a better photo of it), since the restaurant is now closed. But this tuna was life changing. I hadn’t been eating sushi or raw/rare fish very long when we went here for the first time and we ordered this to be adventurous. The tuna was served with caviar, wasabi aioli, sliced avocado and sriracha. When you put each component together, you got the best flavor explosion ever in your mouth. Every time we went to Union Bistro, we tried to order at least one or two different items, but we ordered this every single time.

7. Apple Crisp Ice Cream & Goat Cheese Honey & Fig Ice Cream from Rococo Artisan Ice Cream in Kennebunkport, ME.

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We stopped at Rococo Artisan Ice Cream on our way back to our hotel in Boston, and we were blown away. It was a small shop, and didn’t look like anything special. They had some pretty exotic flavors and a few normal flavors, but it was all amazing. Graham had goat cheese with honey, whiskey & figs. I went the more traditional route and ordered apple crisp. Both were phenomenal. The apple crisp had HUGE chunks of apple and pastry throughout. And even though all of the flavors going on in G’s made me raise my eyebrows, I had a bite, and it was so, so delicious. I would happily eat one of these ice cream cones every day for the rest of my life.

6. King Salmon from Fahrenheit in Charlotte, NC.

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I love salmon. LOVE it. It’s typically my go-to entrée when we go out to dinner, and this salmon was probably the best I’ve ever had. This salmon was served  with wasabi mashed potatoes, blood orange saikyo miso and pickled cucumbers and carrots. This was AMAZING. The salmon was huge and perfectly cooked. It had an excellent crust, but was perfectly cooked inside. The potatoes had just a hint of wasabi, but not enough to be overwhelming. I gave Graham a bite, and all the flavors together reminded him of a sushi roll. This was one of those dinner where you ate really slowly, and savored every bite, because you just didn’t want it to end.

5. Hot Dogs from JJ’s Red Hots in Charlotte, NC (Specifically the Breaking Batter & the Big Cheesy).

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It may make me a bad foodie, but I don’t care. I love hot dogs. LOVE them. I could eat them probably every single day if I weren’t somewhat concerned with my weight (not as concerned as I should be, but that’s a post for another day). And the hot dogs at JJ’s are as good as it gets. It’s always really hard for me to narrow down to just one favorite between these two. If I’m being completely honest, the more delicious one is probably the Breaking Batter. But the Big Cheesy is the first hot dog I had at JJ’s and made me realize I DO like pimento cheese, despite a lifetime of believing I didn’t.

4. Pizza from Lou Malnati’s in Chicago, IL.

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When we went to Chicago back in 2012, I had a huge list of potential places to get authentic, Chicago style pizza at. Lou Malnati’s got the most votes, so we ended up getting a pizza one night. The smell tortured us on the drive back to the hotel. When we opened the box, it was kind of a “meh” moment. The pizza was thick, but didn’t look very big. It looked like a smaller, thicker crusted version of the pepperoni & sausage pizza we got at a local chain in Arkansas. That “meh” moment flew out the window the second we had that first bite. Holy. Mother. Of. God. There were layers of cheese and sausage beneath the top layer of cheese and toppings. The sauce was excellent, the toppings were good, and we happily ended the night lying in bed, comatose from too much pizza. And when we have a house again, and have space for a deep freezer, it will be filled with frozen Lou Malnati’s.

3. Anniversary dinner at Zaytinya in Washington, DC.

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This may be cheating, to pick an entire meal, but we ate everything in one sitting, so I say it counts. Since we had two weddings, we get two anniversary dinners. For our December anniversary in 2013, we spent the night in DC and had dinner at Zaytinya. Zaytinya serves a HUGE menu of Greek/Mediterranean style tapas, and after much consideration, we were able to narrow it down to six items. And everything we picked was a winner. However, Graham and I walked away that night with differing opinions on which was the absolute best. I argued it was the scallops served in a harissa-carrot puree, orange sections & radishes. Graham thought it was the octopus Santorini (grilled Mediterranean octopus, marinated onions, capers, & yellow split pea puree). The grilled hangar steak with arugula tabbouleh, roasted hazelnuts & pomegrante seeds was pretty spectactular as well. See why I have to narrow it down to the whole meal, instead of just one dish?

2. THE Buffalo Chicken Pizza to end all Buffalo Chicken Pizzas from Tavern on the Square in Salem, MA.

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I have this pizza on such a pedestal, it’s borderline insane, and unfortunately, it’s pretty much the one food I’ve loved that I didn’t take a photo of. Over five years ago, my mom & I roadtripped up to Boston for the week. We had such a wonderful time seeing historic sites and visiting so many beautiful places. But by far, one of my favorite parts of the trip was eating a buffalo chicken pizza in Salem. It was a place called Tavern on the Square and our lunch was delicious. Well, mine was. My mom had momentarily lost her mind and was on a low carb diet. Who goes on a low carb diet on vacation? So, while I was indulging in amazing fried pickle spears and the best pizza of my life, she was eating salads and mashed turnips. That pizza though… it was divine. It came out with the cheese perfectly browned and bubbly, the crust was good, and the flavor was amazing. The pizza was spicy, but not too spicy. It was also huge, so I took the leftovers with me and snacked on them throughout the rest of the trip.

When Graham and I were in New England this fall, I debated over whether or not to go back to the restaurant and order the same pizza. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I seriously gave this way more thought than a logical person ever should. But I have this pizza on such a pedestal, I was terrified that I would order it again and be disappointed. So, we’re in Salem and I finally decide to go for it. We get to the restaurant, and I’m sure the waitress thinks I’m crazy as I start gushing about a pizza I had four years ago. She tells me she hasn’t been there very long and tracks someone else down to see if the recipe had been changed.

It had been. My heart broke a little, and at the same time I was a little relieved. The pizza that I had in 2009 would remain the perfect pizza, and I wouldn’t have to worry about what I ordered living up to it’s memory. Graham ordered the “new” buffalo chicken flatbread. It was very mediocre. It had corn on it. Who puts corn on a buffalo chicken pizza? It seriously didn’t work. At all.

Not to be melodramatic or anything, but I’m going to quote Titanic right now (only change the him/he to it):  “I don’t even have a picture of him. He exists now… only in my memory.”

And finally…

1. Seared Scallops & Squid Ink Linguine from So! in Little Rock, AR.

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People don’t give Arkansas enough credit. When I first moved there, I didn’t give it enough credit. But I grew to love it, and throughout my two and a half years of living there, I had some amazing meals. We had so many wonderful dinners there, but So! was our go-t0 restaurant for our special meals. Birthdays? Yes. Anniversaries? Heck yes. Deployment homecomings? Yes x1000 (when Graham returned from that first deployment of our relationship, we actually had dinner there the night before we got engaged).  And almost every time we ate there, I ordered the same thing: the seared scallops & fennel with squid ink linguine. I know the pasta looks a little scary, but don’t be intimidated by it. It’s salty, garlicky and absolutely delicious. The very last time we went was the only time I ordered something else, which made Graham very happy. He refuses to order the same thing as me when we go out, so he finally ordered this dish for himself. I loved this dinner so much, and when we eventually make it back to Arkansas (one of these days…), I’m going to stop by Crye-Leike first to visit with the people I miss oh so much, and then we’re heading to So!

Restaurant Review: Founding Farmers

4 times Graham and I have spent the day in DC, we’ve tried to have lunch or dinner at Founding Farmers. We tried for lunch one day, and it was a two-hour wait. We tried making reservations for dinner a few times, but apparently I didn’t plan far enough ahead and they were always booked until about 9:30. So, when my mom & her man friend had to push back their visit, I immediately made logged in to Open Table once they rescheduled and I was able to get a reservation for the four of us at 7:30. Score!

That afternoon in DC, we split up and did our own thing. Dale wanted to see the Air & Space Museum, and I had no desire to be THAT bored ever again. So, he and Graham went and did that and my mom & I went to the National Gallery of Art, and then to the American History Museum (my favorite of the Smithsonian museums). They spent a lot longer at the Air and Space museum than I thought they would, so once we finally met back up, we hauled ass to make it to Founding Farmers before our reservation. We got there right on time, and only had to wait a few minutes for our table.

We were in a bit of a rush once we got there. We parked in a parking deck near the FBI building on Pennsylvania Avenue, which closed at 9:00, and we were a little over a mile from it. So, this wasn’t a leisurely dinner, filled with appetizers and desserts. We ordered our food as soon as he brought us our drinks.

(Here is some advice: don’t order sodas. They serve them in the can, which means no free refills, and they’re $3 each. Ridiculous.)

Our waiter kind of sucked, to be honest. He didn’t tell us what types of fish they had, suggest any appetizers, or tell us about any specials. He literally took our drink orders, came back with those, took our food orders and then came back with the check a little bit later. He didn’t engage with us at all, he wasn’t friendly or informative, and I was just really disappointed in the lack of service.

The food, however, was delicious. And honestly, that’s what matters most. And that’s why I can’t wait to eat here again on a future DC trip. My mom and Dale aren’t the most adventurous eaters, and one of the reasons that I picked Founding Farmers is that the menu is very normal. They have a pretty good variety of comfort foods & southern classics, and the prices are pretty reasonable. Especially for the portion sizes.

Mom ordered chicken pot pie, and it was delicious. The sauce was rich and creamy, there were huge chunks of chicken, and the biscuit topping was perfect. My only complaint with this is that there weren’t enough vegetables in it. It was mostly chicken, potatoes and a few green peas. This would have been amazing with pearl onions and huge chunks of sautéed carrots and celery.
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Dale ordered the fish & chips. I didn’t have any of this, but it looked really, really good & he said it was delicious. The fish was cod, and buried underneath the potato chips were a huge pile of fries. He said the fries were some of the best he’s had. I wish I hadn’t been stuffed from my dinner, because there is little that is better than a perfect French fry.
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I had the Yankee pot roast. It was delicious, but Graham and I both agreed that what I make at home is better. I adored the presentation, though. The huge sprig of rosemary sticking out of the top was so pretty, and I loved that it was layered in a bowl. With this plating, you’re able to get bites of the delicious roast, mashed potatoes and the vegetables in every bite. I don’t like crispy onions, so Graham took care of those for me. I also am not a big fan of butternut squash, but in this the big chunks of squash were delicious. All of the vegetables were perfectly cooked (still had a bit of a bite to them and not at all mushy) and the roast was very tender.
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Graham had this monstrosity of a pork chop. I wish I had gotten a better picture of it, but his food came out about 5 minutes after the rest of ours, and I felt bad making him wait. This pork chop was MASSIVE. It was about 2″ thick, and yet was moist and had a ton of flavor. The mashed potatoes were delicious, but he wasn’t a big fan of the broccolini. It didn’t have a ton of flavor, and is just an odd vegetable. But, he wanted something green, and their list of side dishes was severely lacking.
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All in all, it was a wonderful meal. I’d love to go back some other time when we have more time, aren’t quite as full from lunch, and have a better server. There were a lot of appetizers I’d love to try, and a few of the desserts they walked by with looked amazing! It’s a good thing we didn’t indulge though… We made it back to the car at 8:57… =)

A Capital Fourth: 4th of July in Washington, DC.

My alarm clock went off this morning for the first time since Thursday. And with that the long weekend was officially over. I know, I know, I have every Monday and Friday off. But Graham doesn’t. So him being off Friday and Monday as well made my days off extra fun. We took the dog to the beach, we spent all day Monday riding roller coasters at Busch Gardens, we ate a lot of peach cobbler and we took a day trip to DC.

Back in 2007, my college boyfriend and I spent the week of 4th of July in Washington, DC. It’s one of my favorite American cities (Boston is #1, but it’s a much, much further drive) and the perfect place to spend America’s birthday. As soon as I found out we were moving to Virginia I got so excited about the fact that we would be able to spend the 4th in DC, and have been looking forward to it since last summer. My mom & her man friend were supposed to come with us, but Hurricane Arthur kept them in Charlotte. So, Graham and I got up Friday morning and headed out. I’m guessing the hurricane screwed with a lot of other people’s plans, because we didn’t hit any traffic until we got to the Pentagon and it didn’t seem as busy as it was seven years ago. Also. The high was 81! It still was hot in the sun, but oh my gosh… we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day!
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IMG_2071The past few times we’ve been here, we’ve gone to Arlington (it might sound morbid, but it’s one of my favorite places in the city), but we’ve always just missed the changing of the guard. So, we made sure to get there in time for that on this visit. I know the men who do this volunteer for this and it’s a great honor, but I don’t see how they do it. I mean, it’s hot. And those uniforms aren’t exactly cool and breezy.

2014-07-04 16.42.06 So, one thing you may or may not know about me is that the X-Files is one of my favorite shows of all time. I can’t walk past the J. Edgar Hoover Building without taking a picture of the corner of it. The corners of this building were always featured on the show, so I have to pay tribute to Mulder, Scully, Skinner & the rest of the gang and take a picture of it. Sometimes I’m really dorky and take a picture in front of it, with a ridiculous smile on my face.

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The White House was completely blocked off. We found out after the fact that the Obama’s were hosting an event for military families. I think our invitation must have gotten lost in the mail…

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By 6:00, my feet were killing me and all I wanted to do was sit down. So, that’s what we did. We collapsed in the grass in front of the Capital Building. I would have been content to stay there for the rest of the day, but Graham was restless and itchy, so we got back up and walked around some more. We walked over to the Capital, to see what the set up was like over there. The concert started at 8:00, and you kind of have to choose between the concert or a pretty view of the fireworks. For the most part, it was impossible to see the Washington Monument from the Capital, since the trees were in the way. I cared a lot more about the fireworks, so we walked back to the parking garage, got Hermione’s dog blanket out of the car and went back to our spot in the grass. We people watched, took selfies, talked and just relaxed until it was time for the fireworks, and the fireworks were truly spectacular. Besides the impressive, traditional fireworks, they also had some that made hearts, smiley faces, and the letters “USA”.

It was also entertaining listening to the drunk people behind us singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to America during the fireworks.

IMG_2097Funny moment of the day: Graham was wearing his Carolina Panthers t-shirt. I wore my New England Patriots one. These two teams played each other in the Superbowl about 10 years ago. The Panthers lost, and their fans still hold a grudge. I honestly hate football, but I wear this shirt for two reasons. 1) It irritates Graham. 2) Like I said earlier, Boston is my favorite city. Anyways. Two people commented on the shirts and asked us, “didn’t they play against each other in the Superbowl?” I was pretty amused, since we’ve gone out wearing those a lot and that’s never happened before.

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It was a great day. And I have MAD respect for the police & the sanitation department there. There were so many people and so much trash everywhere… As soon as the fireworks were over it was like the floodgates were opened and everyone had the same goal: get out of the city as quickly as possible. We both thought it would take forever, but it actually only took about 20 minutes to get back on the interstate.

And here are a few tips if you ever plan on spending the 4th in our Nation’s capital:
1) Be sure to use the bathroom before you get to the Mall. Seriously. The port-a-potties had ridiculous lines, and by the time we walked back to the car, the smell was God awful. I had to pee for like 4 hours, but there was no way I was going into one of those. Most of the museums close at 7:00, so stop in one of those for clean facilities before staking out a spot in the grass.

2) Don’t be like Graham. Remember sunscreen & a hat (if needed). He has a shaved head and we were in the sun all day. According to Google, we parked 3.9 miles from Arlington National Cemetery. Not wanting to walk back to the car to get a hat & sunscreen, he stopped and bought what he needed. So, we wasted $20 on a hat he didn’t even want and sunscreen.

3) A parking deck is your best friend. Parking in DC sucks. It always has sucked, and always will suck. I don’t care for public transportation (we had a scary incident in Chicago), so I wasn’t crazy about riding the metro. After driving around for about 20 minutes looking for street parking, we found a parking deck literally right across the street from the Capital Building offering all day parking for $15. I hated paying for parking, but I also had peace of mind that our car wasn’t going to get towed, and we were parked in a safe place.

4) Bring some type of water bottle. It’s hot, you’re out in the sun all day, and hydration is important. There are plenty of people with coolers trying to sell you water, but why pay a $1 for a bottle of Deer Park when you can bring your own and just refill it throughout the day.

A Beautiful Day in DC

Like I’ve said a 1,000 times, my favorite thing about where we live is our proximity to DC. I know a two and a half hours isn’t exactly next door, but since we have driven 2+ hours plenty of times in Arkansas to take the dog on an adventure, I’m more than willing to drive a few hours to visit one of my favorite cities.

I already mentioned that we took a day trip to DC and enjoyed the most beautiful day imaginable. Seriously. It wasn’t too hot, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was just the most perfect day.

Graham had never been to Mount Vernon, and we’ve talked about stopping there on every trip, so we finally made it happen this time. Mount Vernon is one of my absolute favorite historical homes in the nation. Obviously it’s cool because it’s the home of our first president, but the home and the property itself are absolutely gorgeous. They also have some very cool artifacts… they don’t let you take pictures inside the house, but they have the chair he sat in as president, the bedroom he died in is exactly how it was when he died, and they have the key to the Paris Bastille.

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ImageOne of my favorite things about Mount Vernon is how the land on the other side of the Potomac remains undeveloped. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association has worked diligently since the 1950’s to make sure the view from Washington’s backyard remains unchanged. I am so grateful for that. The view would not be nearly as awe inspiring if there was a factory or a few office buildings there. They also offer river cruises, for an additional charge. One of these days we’re going to have to do that.

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2014-04-12 01.35.35Other interesting things about Mount Vernon: George & Martha are buried there. Last time I visited was on the 4th of July, and they do wreath laying ceremonies through out the day. This time, we just stopped by the tomb, and found out that they had originally been buried elsewhere while the tomb was constructed.

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It was such a gorgeous day, we just hung out on the lawn for a little bit before heading into the city. 1907948_10101295621281727_7541500056213726891_n

DC was a mad house, as usual. Apparently everyone and their brother picked that day to go see the Cherry Blossoms. You could barely walk along the Tidal Basin.

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2014-04-12 16.40.11 2014-04-12 16.39.56It wouldn’t be a trip to DC without stopping by the White House. Unfortunately, we didn’t see anyone important this time.

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We did stop for a very important bomb pop though. By the end of our day it was pretty hot, and this was just about the most refreshing thing ever.

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We decided to save ourselves the trauma of trying to find a parking spot in the city, and parked across the bridge at Arlington Cemetary. On the way back to the car, we passed this little spot of beautiful yellow flowers.

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All in all, it was a perfect day. I’m already looking forward to our next trip!

Celebrating Spring with Kirin & Cherry Blossoms

“I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Kirin. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”


One of my favorite things about living in Virginia is our proximity to our nation’s capital. Since moving here in early August, we’ve taken four day trips to DC. Sometimes we do the touristy things and visit monuments and museums. Other times, a trip to DC just means an amazing dinner and a trip to Ikea.

This past weekend we headed to DC for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. In 1912, the Mayor of Tokyo gifted 3,000 of these beautiful trees to the city as a token of friendship. As a historian, I think the story of how the trees came to DC is fascinating, but seeing them lining the Tidal Basin was truly spectacular.

The timing of our day trip to DC coincided perfectly with the request for me to sample beers from Kirin Ichiban. When Millennial Central reached out to me for this campaign, they not only sent beer for us to sample, they also included an informational booklet that contained Japanese recipes from celebrity chef Candice Kumai and the tools we would need to make them.

All of the recipes sounded delicious, but I was the most intrigued by the thought of making my own sushi. I took the recipe in the book and modified it to make a spicy tuna roll. Other than the fact that we used too much rice, we had so much fun making these, and they turned out SO well!

I had never tried Kirin before, and I was very pleasantly surprised with it. Kirin Ichiban is a 100% malt, first-press beer with rich flavor, a smooth finish and clean aftertaste. They only use the first strain of malt liquid, which means it’s truly beer at its purest.  Kirin is known in Japan and all over the world as beer at its purest because of its first-press brewing process and clean taste, and that was something I definitely appreciated. It didn’t have an aftertaste, or taste artificial; which is something that I get from a lot of beers. It was simple and clean. We tried both the Kirin Ichiban and the Kirin Light, and I must say, I preferred the Kirin Ichiban. It had a more crisp flavor and a smoother finish.
The Kirin Ichiban was the perfect accompaniment to our dinner. The beer was light and very flavorful. It was exactly what I needed after a long day of traipsing around DC. I also appreciated that it complimented the sushi (and the seaweed salad I served on the side) and didn’t take away from those flavors. 
If you’ve never tried Kirin, I would recommend it. Throughout the year Candice Kumai will share more recipes and pairings, so I also recommend heading over to the official Kirin USA Facebook page

Restaurant Review: Zaytinya (Washington, DC)

For our second “second” anniversary, we took a short trip to DC. We had a great day exploring one of my favorite cities and ended the evening with an amazing dinner at Zaytinya. 
We had reservations for 7:45 and we arrived a few minutes early. They couldn’t sit us yet, so we had a drink at the bar. I had a delicious glass of wine & Graham had an interesting cocktail. It was called the Olympic Torch. It had Greek brandy, Cocchi Americano, cardamom syrup, lemon juice, flamed orange… and an egg white. The egg white made us both a little concerned, but the drink was absolutely delicious, and the egg white gave it really nice body.

Once we were seated, our waitress brought out amazing pita bread with Greek olive oil & pomegranate vinegar for dipping. I had also mentioned that it was our anniversary when I made the reservation, so she also brought us complimentary glasses of champagne to toast with. The bread was amazing, and the pomegranate vinegar was a very pleasant surprise. It was tart & delicious with the oil & warm bread.

We asked our waitress about the sizes of the portions, and she said that most couples order 5-7 items. We started with five but as the waitress was walking away, I added on an order of the Elies Tis Elledas (marinated olives). I love olives. I could live on olives. These were wonderful. 

The Piyaz (imported warm giant beans, kale, oven roasted tomato & garlic) was delicious. I actually tried to recreate this as soon as we were back in Virginia. It wasn’t nearly as good as what we had at Zaytinya. Theirs was creamy & delicious, and packed with flavor.

The mushroom couscous was phenomenal. I’ve never has couscous like this before. The couscous was huge, and the dish was rich and hearty. The Brussels sprouts leaves didn’t offer as much flavor as I hoped, but the mushrooms were delicious. This was my favorite of the side dishes that we ordered. I even liked the garlic toum. 

I didn’t like that they brought all of the side dishes out first, and all of the meat out at the end, but whatever. The scallops were my favorite thing we ordered that night. The scallops were served in a harissa-carrot puree, orange sections & radishes. This was amazing. The scallops were perfectly cooked, and all of the flavors tied together really well. The carrot puree was so good. I was worried it would be overly sweet, but it was amazing.

The octopus Santorini (grilled Mediterranean octopus, marinated onions, capers, & yellow split pea puree) was Graham’s favorite. This was fantastic. The octopus had a slightly smokey taste and was super tender.

And last, we had the ufra biftek (grilled hanger steak, arugula tabbouleh & roasted hazelnuts). Oh my gosh, this was good. Everything about this was perfect. The steak was perfectly cooked and so flavorful. The arugula tabbouleh was delicious, and the pomegranate seeds were the perfect tart & sweet surprise.

Even though we were full, ordering dessert is a must on an anniversary dinner. We couldn’t decide which one to share, so we ordered small portions of the two we were torn between. I had the chocolate rose (rose ice cream, chocolate custard, spiced berry puree) & Graham had the Galatopita (semolina custard espuma, apples, crispy phyllo, almonds, honey crisp apple sorbet). Both were completely amazing & the perfect end to our dinner.

This was a completely amazing dinner. I read a lot of “Best of DC” lists trying to decide where to have dinner, and I’m so glad that so many of them mentioned Zaytinya. This was one of the best dinners I’ve ever had. If you have the opportunity, make a reservation (you’re definitely going to want a reservation) and get yourself there. You will not regret it!

Zaytinya on Urbanspoon

A Little Day Tripping =) (Part One)

While I’m currently counting down the days until we head to Boston (!!!), I realized I never posted about our fabulous Labor Day Weekend excursions.

One of the reasons I was most excited to move here was for all of the great places we could explore for day trip, and we took advantage of those places over Labor Day weekend. We decided to play tourist in Washington, DC and the Outer Banks. The weather was amazing, and we had SO much fun.

First, DC:

Road trips require stops at Dunkin’ Donuts for a Strawberry Frosted… 😉

I had never been to the FDR Memorial before, but it was completely amazing. Quotes were all over the walls, and I really wish we could put into practice today what he said 60+ years ago. 
He always makes me think about my grandmother. She was a child of the depression and always talked about he was pretty much the savior of the world.

After that we walked back towards the Mall. 

We found the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, which I’ve also never been too. It was just as inspiring.

Everything in DC inspires me.

The Lincoln monument has always been, and will always be my favorite. Such an amazing man. However, from here on out I see Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln, and the real Lincoln looks odd to me…
We stopped by the World War II Memorial, and gave a shout out to our first home as a couple. 
What’s awesome is that we were in DC back in 2009 and Graham took a picture in front of Arkansas, and he was less than happy about it. He said his opinion of Arkansas changed when I came out there =)
Really cool White House experience. There was a motorcade going on, taking foreign dignitaries to and from the house. And you could see a woman that was the same size & coloring as Michelle on the front porch… I’m just going to keep telling myself that it was definitely her =)

Love the old buildings.

Since the Washington Monument was closed, we went up in the old post office for views of the city. 
 We also went to Ford’s Theatre and did their free tour. So. Freaking. Cool. They have a museum in the bottom of the theatre you can go through, and they have some fascinating information & artifacts. It’s definitely worth checking out on your next visit. 
But of course, seeing his box where it actually happened gives you chills.












    
Across the street from the theatre is the house where Lincoln actually died. What’s funny, is that we started off Labor Day weekend last year in Illinois looking at his tomb, and we spent this year doing other Lincoln related stuff. 

Mary Todd waited at this table for news on her husband…

The room where he died. The real bed he died in is on display at a history museum in Chicago. 

The house is also home to a very cool museum about Lincoln’s death & the countries reaction to it, and a cool gift shop. This metal “book” statue extended throughout the whole thing, and was very, very cool.

I saw this t-shirt in the gift shop & couldn’t resist =)

And onto the Capital Building; Graham’s favorite. The inside was closed to tours, but the exterior was as gorgeous as ever. 

And our last stop was Georgetown Cupcakes…
The line was ridiculous, but the cupcakes were very good. At least the banana split one was. The frosting was the best I’ve had. The hazelnut one was very meh. The cupcake was dry and the ganache was a little too rich. So if you go there, get a cupcake with fluffy frosting.