#100DaysOfFoodBlogging

50 Posts in 100 Days

50 Posts in 100 Days

So, our #100DaysofFoodBlogging train fell off the tracks during that last month and we only hit 50 posts. Averaging a post every other day is still much better than our prior average of about once a week, so it did work as a strong motivator to be more productive.

We’re glad we did it to push ourselves a bit, but would we do it again? Probably not; at least not exactly the same way. There’s a certain point where quantity becomes more important than quality and when you hit that wall, it starts to feel like work. The last thing we want is for the blog to become a chore looming over us every day.

Having said that, it did force us to try some stuff we probably wouldn’t have otherwise and was great motivation to think up some cool ideas for future posts (when we have more time). I think next year we’ll use the 100 days to try and come up with an idea for a post every day; essentially starting a draft of a post each day to which we can go back and take the time to have fun and make it right.

No matter what, it was fun and for a procrastinator like myself, it’s always thrilling to have one more thing to put off until the last minute (or ignore completely).

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Reviews

Woodbridge Food Truck Festival aka Food Truck Heaven

Woodbridge Food Truck Festival | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #050 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re WAY behind, but we’ll catch up…or not.]

Cost:  There is no admission fee; however parking is $5 per vehicle. There are optional $10 VIP tickets that allow you access to the festival for an hour before it opens to the public, along with free parking, and a beverage. Food from the trucks ranges in price, but be prepared to spend at least $20 per person to get a good sampling of food, drinks, and sweets. I ended up spending $31 for myself on all the food shown below along with a bottle of water. I was STUFFED by the time I left.

Location:  Prince William County Fairgrounds – 10624 Dumfries Road, Manassas, VA 20112

Past/Future Dates:  July 10, 2015 & September 26, 2015

Okay, so we’ve complained in the past about the lack of food trucks out in the ‘burbs, but on Saturday, July 10th we had absolutely nothing to complain about. With approximately 30 food trucks at the event, the Woodbridge Food Truck Festival arrived at the Prince William County Fairgrounds in Manassas, VA. Previously held at Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge, VA, the original festival attracted somewhere between 8,000 – 10,000 attendees, so the fairgrounds provided a larger venue, which can more easily accommodate that type of crowd.

With so many options, it was hard to decide what to eat. I think I spent more time wandering around the aisles of trucks lined along the the paved walkways than I actually did eating. And obviously it would be impossible and very expensive to try and eat something from every single truck (by the way I’m willing to do this if someone wants to be my financial backer). None the less, here are a few of my favorite bites and trucks from the event.

Meggrolls

MeggRolls | getinmymouf.com

Literally two days ago, a co-worker of mine was telling me how she wished there was a food truck based solely on egg rolls. You can pretty much stuff anything inside of a crispy wonton, so why not, right? Well, Meggrolls is doing it and doing it well. Their “Big Megg” is a play on a Big Mac, complete with special sauce and pickles. I’ll take the egg roll version over the classic burger any day. I also loved the Meggrolls truck because they offered smaller dishes ($3 for one egg roll), which helped me save room and money to try some other fare.

Feelin’ Crabby

Feelin' Crabby | getinmymouf.com

I’ve heard great things about this crab-themed food truck, so I made it a point to stop by Feelin’ Crabby to check out the Crabster, their “hybrid” slider. For $6, The Crabster includes 1 oz of jumbo lump crab and 1 oz of lobster claw and knuckle meat dressed in an Old Bay seasoned sauce (it’s kind of like cold crab/lobster salad sandwich). The slider was outstanding and was packed full of meat with a sauce that added that classic Old Bay taste without stepping on the delicate flavor of the seafood. If you’ve never tried this truck before, add it to the top of your “Must Search Out and Devour” list.

Arepa Zone

Arepa Zone | getinmymouf.com

Having had a less than stellar arepa experience from restaurant in another city, I was eager for Arepa Zone to make me a fan of arepas. “What’s an arepa?” I’m glad you asked! It’s a grilled corn patty that is sliced open and stuffed with meat, cheese, and/or other delicious toppings. I opted to try the Catira, which is filled with shredded chicken and shredded yellow cheese. The corn patty had a nice exterior crunch, while the chicken was moist, packed with flavor, and plentiful. It’s also served with a spicy sauce on the side that added a nice kick. The arepa was made to order, so it was burning hot which meant I was battling my will power not to quickly devour the whole thing and burn my mouf. In the end, Arepa Zone did make me a fan of arepas. BIG TIME.

Dyvine BBQ In Motion

Woodbridge Food Truck Festival | getinmymouf.com

In an industry dominated by fusion food, quirky dishes, and food trends, sometimes it’s nice to take a break with something simple, honest, and satisfying. All three are easily achieved by the chicken on a stick from Dyvine BBQ In Motion. An entire boneless chicken thigh, perfectly juicy with an awesome house rub (no BBQ sauce necessary) was the perfect way to end my adventure at the Woodbridge Food Truck Festival. So, yes, I basically had BBQ chicken for dessert.

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Reviews

Review: Popeyes® Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp

Popeyes Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #049 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re WAY behind, but we’ll catch up…or not.]

The wait is over. At the beginning of July, Popeyes introduced their newest limited time offer:  Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp.

Popeyes Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp | getinmymouf.com

Basically, they take their marinated butterfly shrimp and toss it in a hushpuppy-inspired sweet cornmeal batter. To continue their cycle of new dipping sauces, the shrimp are accompanied by a Creole Cocktail Sauce. Makes perfect sense to combine two seafood favorites into one bite, but I honestly didn’t have high hopes for these shrimp. I’m the first to profess my love of Popeyes chicken, but rarely does seafood translate well in fast food form. So, I liked the concept, but didn’t expect it to be an item I’d want to order again.

Well, I was completely wrong.

Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp

Price:  Prices vary by location, so these are based on the Manassas, VA store.

Combo:  Approx. 8 shrimp + 1 Side + Drink = $5.99
Platter:  Approx. 8 Shrimp + 2 Sides + Drink = $7.99

I opted for the platter with sides of cajun rice and mashed potatoes. The platter also comes with an even larger drink which I believe they call Diabetes Size. Seriously, take a look at this monster, which is next to a half-gallon carton of milk:

Popeyes Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp | getinmymouf.com

Looks:  The first thing I noticed was that the Shrimp are disappointingly small. I suppose for the price, it’s hard to complain, but I would recommend going for the platter, which will help fill you up with that extra side. The crust is noticeably different than previous versions of their shrimp, which is clearly made with cornmeal. The shrimp are not quite uniform, with some looking more like a group of fried amoebas.

Popeyes Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp | getinmymouf.com

Smell:  I picked up my meal through the drive-through, so I had to spend about ten minutes smelling these things on the drive home. I can’t say they specifically smelled of hushpuppies, rather they smelled more generally like a seafood restaurant (in a good way). I wanted to sneak a bite at a stoplight, but my hands were dirty from playing basketball with my brother. (And yes, I beat him two out of our three games, with a three-pointer at the end of the third game to confirm my greatness. I’m ready for you, Lebron.)

Popeyes Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp | getinmymouf.com

Texture:  The exterior crust was deliciously crunchy without being too heavy. A lot of fast food restaurants attempt to hide the actual shrimp with too much thick, cakey breading, but I like the shrimp-to-batter ratio on these. Hey, and shockingly, the shrimp wasn’t overcooked! It was moist and as pretentious as it sounds, “its softness contrasted nicely with the crunch of the cornmeal breading.” Yeah, I know…

Taste:  The good times kept rolling with the taste of this batter. As advertised, it had a nice hushpuppy-style sweetness, but the surprising part was that the shrimp were also a little bit spicy. It took me off-guard because I wasn’t expecting any spice. It was a decent heat, but I wouldn’t call it burning hot by any means. Overall, it reminded me of a hushpuppy, but even better. Most hushpuppies wish they were this good. I quickly became sad that I only had eight small shrimp to eat and regretted not getting a second “backup” order.

Creole Cocktail Sauce

Popeyes Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp | getinmymouf.com

Sadly, the name of this new dipping sauce should have been Unnecessary Cocktail-Sauce Inspired Ketchup. First, the shrimp are so good that the don’t need any sauce. Second, if the shrimp did need a sauce, I would think a cooler tarter sauce would work well with the spiciness of the shrimp. Overall, I didn’t hate the sauce by itself, as the Creole Cocktail Sauce’s heat was pleasant and I wouldn’t mind dipping some fries into the thick, dark red sauce, but it just seemed superfluous with these shrimp.

Verdict

Although I’d skip the sauce, I would absolutely order the Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp again. In fact, there’s a 93.4% chance that I’ll be stopping by Popeyes again this weekend. I loved everything about these, except for the size, which is in-part due to the fact that they taste so freaking good that I wanted more.

Not sure if it would translate well to chicken, but I’d be curious to try some chicken tenders with this batter. (You listening, Popeyes?) or maybe Popeyes should just PUT ACTUAL HUSHPUPPIES ON THE MENU. Just a thought.

Want a second opinion? Check out these other reviews:

Grubgrade | Review:  Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp from Popeyes

DanimalCrossing | Popeye’s Hushpuppy Butterfly Shrimp Review

If you liked this post, you might enjoy this review of POPEYES SMOKY GARLIC CHILE CHICKEN:

Popeyes Smoky Garlic Chile Chicken | getinmymouf.com

Disclaimer:  No free shrimp or cash money was provide to us for this review; however, they did accidentally give me a free side of mashed potatoes.

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Reviews

Duck Donuts – Fairfax, VA

Duck Donuts - Fairfax, VA | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #048 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re WAY behind, but we’ll catch up…]

The legend of Duck Donuts has grown fairly quickly around Northern Virginia over the last year.

A staple of the Outer Banks (a beach vacation destination for many in the area), the donut shop has recently expanded up the east coast via franchised locations.

Duck Donuts - Fairfax, VA | getinmymouf.com

Exterior of the Fairfax Duck Donuts location

Although I have been to the Outer Banks before, I never had an opportunity to try Duck Donuts, so last year at this time, I didn’t even know what a Duck Donut was. Now they’re popping up all around us, including one in Herndon, the newly opened Fairfax location, and the soon-to-be open Bristow shop (which happens to be about five minutes from our house).

People who have enjoyed the fried treats at the beach are happy to sing their praises. So much so, that over the last year the lore of this brilliantly delicious, yet simple donut shop has spread with conversations that have included the following phrases:

“You’re getting a Duck Donuts!”

“I don’t eat donuts very often, but I always eat Duck Donuts when I’m at the beach.”

“OMG! Is Duck Donuts open already?”

“DUCK DONUTS?! [followed by weird exclamatory noises]”

With so much hype, I was a little bit concerned of being let down. Could these fried dough rings really live up to the legend?

Fortunately, the Fairfax shop is near my office, so a co-worker kindly picked up a couple dozen for us to sample.  We tried nearly all of the  possible flavor combinations, with the highlights being orange glaze, classic cinnamon sugar, chocolate with peanuts, and french toast (the daily special, which I believe was a cinnamon sugar donut with maple glaze).

So, what’d I think?

Duck Donuts - Fairfax, VA | getinmymouf.com

I ate three donuts for breakfast, then went to the store at lunch to take a dozen home.

These donuts are freaking addicting. I’m typically partial to yeast donuts over the cake style, but these cake donuts are very light. When eaten fresh you’ll be met with a nice crunch in the middle hole where the dough was fried crispy–I love that crunch.

What’s their secret to a simple, yet addicting fried treat?

They don’t have a case of pre-made items for you to pick from, because ALL of the donuts are made to order. What makes the process even easier is the order forms. You don’t have to use them, but it definitely helps for large orders, as a grid of toppings and flavors lets you easily choose your favorite combinations.

Duck Donuts - Fairfax, VA | getinmymouf.com

While waiting for your order, you can watch the efficient assembly line at work. On one end, guided by a human donut professional, a donut machine cranks out little fried halos of heaven. Another donut pro places them on a drying rack ready for the next group of employees to fill orders by glazing and topping the donuts with the customers’ choices.

Duck Donuts - Fairfax, VA | getinmymouf.com

When your number is called, you’re shown your box of donuts to confirm everything looks right. Then they close the box up, hand it to you, and–this is my favorite part–IT IS STILL WARM.

A warm box of donuts is a dangerous thing.

More dangerous though, are the actual donuts.

Duck Donuts - Fairfax, VA | getinmymouf.com

Duck Donuts - Fairfax, VA | getinmymouf.com

Like many before me, I am happy to help spread the legend of Duck Donuts. Go ahead and drool over this menu:

Duck Donuts - Fairfax, VA | getinmymouf.com

Disclaimer:  No free donuts or ducks were provided for this post. 

PS:  Their donuts are fantastic fresh, but if you do happen to have leftovers, might I suggest using them to make this >>> Doughnut French Toast Waffles

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Recipes

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #047 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

There’s an easy trick that can be used to make almost any dish taste better: Add toasted almonds and dried fruit.

Is your salad looking like just a bowl of leaves? Sprinkle in some almonds and dried cranberries.

Lonely bowl of vanilla ice cream? Invite some almonds and dried fruit to the party.

Tired of the same old Brussels sprouts? Almonds. Cranberries.

But does it work for instant Ramen?

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds | getinmymouf.com

Sure.

Since ramen noodles themselves don’t have any sort of strong flavor, they work quite well as base for a dessert. Brown butter makes everything better, while the almonds provide a crunch and the berries cut the richness with a pop of tart. And it’s fun to slurp noodles. It just is. I would slurp all of my meals if possible.

This isn’t overtly sweet and I enjoyed it. I ate the whole bowl, even though I had already eaten breakfast and only planned on tasting it. (And let’s be honest, there’s no good reason to waste brown butter).

Okay, so it tastes pretty good, but would I actually make this again?

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds | getinmymouf.com

Maybe?

I’m not quite sure where this dessert fits. It wasn’t difficult, but for the effort you could probably make something better. I might lean more towards making this for breakfast since it has the same vibes as oatmeal. But, I’m not sure this is better than oatmeal. It’s certainly not as nutritious.

However, the name does lend itself well to a restaurant menu. If I saw “Brown Butter Ramen with Almonds & Berries” on a dessert menu, I’d absolutely give it a try over chocolate cake, cheesecake, or some other mundane choice. And the name is probably why you clicked through.

Either way, it’s still a fun dish and is worth making at least once.

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds | getinmymouf.com

Brown Butter Ramen with Almonds & Berries

  • 1 Package of Instant Ramen
  • 3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of Honey
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Slivered Almonds
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Berries
  • Cinnamon

1. Toast the almonds over medium heat in a small frying pan until golden in color. It should take about five minutes, but your nose will also let you know when they’re done (it’ll smell like roasted nuts).

2.  Brown the butter using these tips. Once sufficiently brown and not burned, pour the butter into a small bowl and set aside.

2.  Prepare the ramen noodles per the instructions on the package (don’t use the flavor packets).

3.  Drain the noodles and place back into the pan you used to boil them. While still hot, pour in the butter, pinch of salt, honey, and berries. Toss until well mixed, then place in a shallow bowl. Top with almonds and a light dusting of cinnamon.

Brown Butter Ramen with Berries & Almonds | getinmymouf.com

 

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Beyond the Food

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java – Prince William County, VA

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #046 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

I think most people living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area feel the pain of a daily commute. The money blown on gas. The monotonous crawl of cars. All those wasted hours.

Sometimes enough is enough. So, last year Kandi Mitchell decided to do something about it. And somewhat ironically, her plan to avoid the 90+ minute one-way commute from Bristow to Arlington everyday, involved spending more time in a vehicle: Her very own coffee truck, Shenandoah Express Juice & Java.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

Part of the inspiration came from the Alaskan coffee huts she and her husband frequented when they lived in the 49th state. Each hut has its own unique look, personality, and menu–quite the stark contrast to the surplus of chain coffee shops in Prince William County.

Kandi describes the moment she decided to pursue the coffee truck as “exhilarating,” but there was also plenty of anxiety mixed in.

I was excited that I’d finally made the decision to breathe life into the ideas that had been rolling around in my head for the past few years. At the same time, I was very nervous about giving up a well paying job to do something I had never done before.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

Kandi quickly got to work. She found an excellent resource at FoodTruckr.com and raved about the helpfulness of their podcasts, which feature interviews with food truck owners and related industry professionals. She also tapped into her experience in project management as a Systems Engineer for an aviation consulting firm. Patience and good organization are two valuable traits to have when dealing with the business side of things. It also goes without saying that her service to our country in the United States Air Force would also come in handy in staying cool under pressure and stressful situations.

From the start of her venture, Kandi knew she wasn’t in this just to replace her day job; she wanted to make a difference. Through Organic Products Trading Company she learned of Cafe Femenino, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide grants to programs and projects that enhance the lives of women and their families in coffee-producing communities around the world. Sourcing a product that is good is always the goal, but she was able to find coffee beans that were also doing good. After sampling the coffee, she and her husband, Jesse, were hooked. This was a product she would be proud to serve.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

With a source of quality raw beans, next was finding a commercial roaster to make those beans ready for her espresso beverages. Like some perfect coincidence, Kandi found Monument Coffee Roasters, another local company, who much like her, was in the early stages of their own coffee business. (To learn more about the story behind Monument Coffee Roasters, check out our post from last winter.)

Beans? Check. Roaster? Check. Now, the most important part: The truck. Built from scratch in Georgia, this deep red truck arrived as a blank canvas. Kandi credits her sister, Kris, for being a vital part of the design by helping to create the logo, decals, and signage. Kris even went so far as to fly down from Michigan (with everything stuffed in her luggage) to help Kandi apply the decals to the truck. With Kris’s help, Kandi was able to pay homage to the local train culture, while also ensuring that it attracts plenty of eyes–an important aspect to any food truck.

The inside of the truck is also surprisingly spacious, comfortably fitting 3-4 adults with elbow room to spare. It’s even outfit with plenty of amenities, like air conditioning/heating, running water, large refrigerator, and even a bathroom, something that will make long days at events a little bit easier.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

This is by no means an easy task, and Kandi admits that owning her own truck has created its own set of daily struggles–sustaining a parking place, sourcing ingredients, following (and sometimes interpreting) regulations–it all takes patience and perseverance. As I noticed and mentioned before in a previous post, entrepreneurs don’t venture out on their own so they can work less, they do it so they can work more at something they’re passionate about.

It’s been and continues to be really hard work. I actually love that part. I feel challenged in a completely different way than I am used to.

Kandi also noted that one of the benefits of leaving a desk job was the increased physical activity; being on her feet all day has even led her to losing a few pounds (so maybe the “Food Truck Diet” will eventually catch on). But also mentally, there’s a strong sense of accomplishment that can be achieved through interacting with satisfied customers.

“I get a lot of really nice comments about my truck and my products. People really like it once they’ve tried it and I already have a few regular customers. That’s very validating.”

Why are the customers so satisfied? Aside for fresh, locally roasted beans, she offers something different from the same ol’ options, with a menu that’s constantly changing. The menu has its standard morning fare, fresh fruit smoothies, hot or iced lattes, and pastries, but there’s always a special or two to help mix things up, like The Commuter Canon (a hazelnut and caramel latte), or a supercharged Soy Chai latte with a shot of espresso. Also, with the hot summer months, you can expect to see some refreshing cold brew being served. When asked about her personal favorites, Kandi mentioned she was more a fan of variety than of any go-to drink.

“I like to try something different every day, but my favorite flavors are hazelnut, caramel, and chai so they’re my fallbacks when I’m not feeling particularly creative.”

So, if you’re in Prince William County and you see her red truck parked somewhere, be sure to stop by and say hello to Kandi! Sure it might be easier to go to the drive-thru of a large chain, but when you have an opportunity to support a veteran, woman-owned business sourcing responsibly and supporting a great cause, seems like the choice is pretty clear. And Kandi’s coffee is way better.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

Picture courtesy of Shenandoah Express Juice & Java via Facebook.

You can follow Shenandoah Express Juice & Java’s schedule on Facebook for updates on where the truck is parked, but here is a sampling of some of the regular spots:

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Reviews

The 1st Annual Virginia Festival at America Eats Tavern

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #045 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

Since 1969, the tourism slogan for our great state has been “Virginia is for lovers.” A nice sentiment indeed, but I’d like to propose a small change:

Virginia is for food lovers.

With a growing craft beer culture, acres of wineries, southern cooking influences, and innovative modern cuisine, what’s not to love?

I’m clearly not the only person who feels this way, as José Andrés’ America Eats Tavern is hosting it’s first annual Virginia Festival June 17th – 30th. The festival will include a “Blend Your Own Bordeaux Competition,” a variety of local wine and spirits tastings, as well as a prix fixe tasting menu and à la carte items with a focus on Virginia ingredients.

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

Wouldn’t you love to hold your private event here? Call and ask for Hannah; she’s the BEST.

We were fortunate enough to get a sneak peak of the food and beverages during a media preview night, so we’ve highlighted a few of our favorites below.

Cocktails and Fried Chesapeake Oysters

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

Blackberry Smash, Gin & Tonic, and Fried Chesapeake Oyster with rhubarb remoulade, cucumber and pickle rhubarb salad

José Andrés doesn’t mess around when it comes to libations. We enjoyed a refreshing Blackberry Smash and José’s Gin & Tonic. The Gin & Tonic was carefully constructed and nearly too beautiful to drink. Nearly. Not to mention the mammoth cocktail glass it was served in to allow the drink to breathe and to accommodate a giant ice cube that could have easily sunk the Titanic.

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

No hands.

As for the oyster… I didn’t intend on licking rhubarb remoulade out of an oyster shell. I also didn’t intend on eating every fried oyster that was put in front of me (I lost count at seven). These actions were not my fault. When an oyster is perfectly fried–crispy on the outside, tender and without chew on the inside–one cannot be held responsible for his or her actions. So, I shall plead temporary insanity.

Virginia Peanut Soup

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

Sally Lunn Bread with honey butter and Virginia Peanut Soup with celery and blackberries

Although I’ve lived here my whole life and Tina’s lived here her entire adult life, neither one of us had ever had peanut soup before. I know! A crime in a very peanutty state. And personally, I never did get the appeal of boiled peanuts.  So, I didn’t expect to like peanut soup, but I really enjoyed it and found that the fresh blackberry worked very well to complement the richness of the peanuts.

Summer Squash Casserole

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

Summer Squash Casserole with zucchini juice, wood sorrel, Vella Dry Jack cheese, and bread crumbs

From the name of this dish (and at any other restaurant) you’d expect a heavy, creamy, cheesy dish with some overcooked squash in there somewhere. But this Squash Casserole was refreshingly light with crunchy squash and crispy bread crumb topping. Not what I expected at all and a good change of pace from what people tend to expect from southern cooking.

Shrimp ‘N’ Grits

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

Shrimp with Byrd Mill grits, Meadow Reserve cheddar, pearl onion petals, and ham hock

At events with passed hors d’oeuvres, I can always tell which dishes are my favorite based on the amount of time I spend hunting for servers with said dish. For the latter part of the night, I was playing a game of Where’s Waldo, zeroing in on any server with a tray of Shrimp ‘N’ Grits. It was also the dish we woke up craving this morning, so…yeah, we kinda loved it.

Cake! 

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

First, let me say that I’m a pie guy. But I think a really good cake is truly a beautiful thing. With bakeries and cupcake shops being ubiquitous in the suburbs, it’s hard to get excited about cake nowadays. However, last night I was excited about cake. I don’t know what they heck they’re doing in the kitchen at AET, but I’ve been a huge fan of both their Coconut Cake and Martha Washington’s Chocolate Cake since I first laid a fork in them. For dessert during our preview, we were given a parting gift of cake pops–one chocolate and one coconut–and they were as good as the their forefathers. We ate ours in the car before we left the parking lot.

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

And that’s not to say the rest of the food wasn’t top notch (sweet stewed cherry tomatoes, a raw oyster bar, biscuits with Edwards Surryano ham and pepper jelly, and the simple, yet so addicting fresh bread and honey butter). With the talented Chef Nate Waugaman at the helm, a friendly staff, and a constant flow of outstanding dishes, it was easy to fall in love the food at America Eats Tavern. [Cue sappy romantic comedy music.]

Virginia Festival @ America Eats Tavern | getinmymouf.com

If you’re in the mood to love some food, check out their Virginia Festival events below (most of which are complimentary). And if you can’t make it to one of the events, stop by any time during the festival to take advantage of special menu items including a selection of Virginia hams, Yohanan Farms Roast Chicken with Mushroom Jus and Pickled Lemon, and Lemon Chess Pie, a classic Virginia dessert.

Virginia Festival Events

Wednesday, June 17th (5:00 PM – 6:30 PM) – Catoctin Creek Rye & Gin Tasting: Sample Catoctin Creek’s award-winning 92 Roundstone Rye and Watershed Gin while enjoying delicious bites from America Eats Tavern. Catoctin Creek is Loudoun County’s first legal distillery, so come out and support a growing local business. Click here for more details.

Friday, June 19th (6:30 PM) – Blend Your Own Bordeaux Competition: Ever wanted to be a winemaker? Here’s your chance to create your own blend for a chance to win vineyard tours, dinner at America Eats Tavern, and more. Bring your A GAME, because the judges include Master Sommelier Andy Myers, and Barboursville Vineyards’ Chief Sommelier Jason Tesauro. Tickets are $50 per person (click here to purchase) and include food, wine, and all the tools necessary to blend your very own Bordeaux.

Wednesday, June 24th (5:00 PM – 6:30 PM) – Early Mountain Vineyards Wine Tasting: Enjoy a “Wine Wednesday” with Early Mountain Vineyards, an award-winning winery located in Madison, VA. This tasting is complimentary and does not require a reservation.

Monday, June 29th (5:00 PM – 6:30 PM) – Trump Winery Tasting: Start the week off right, with a complimentary wine tasting with Trump Winery,  an award-winning winery and also the largest wine producer in Virginia. Click here for more details.

Disclaimer: We were a guest of America Eats Tavern during a media preview night. As always, all opinions are our own. 

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Recipes

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #044 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

First thing’s first: What the heck is a pupusa?

Tortilla Press

A pupusa is a Salvadorian dish which is basically a thick corn tortilla filled with meat, cheese, and/or beans. If you’ve ever made corn tortillas, the process is similar, except you stuff the middle with lots of delicious things and fry them in a small amount of oil. When eaten fresh, your mouf is treated to a crispy exterior hiding spicy meat and melty cheese. If you’re really lucky, some of the cheese will escape when frying and get all nice and delightfully burnt. Traditionally topped with cabbage slaw and hot sauce, this makes for a solid meal.

Tortilla Press Flat

My hometown has a fairly good sized Salvadorian population, so there are plenty of pupuserias in the area, but it’s not a dish you see gaining a ton of mainstream popularity. And I didn’t even know what they were until I was introduced to them by my wife and mother-in-law (coincidentally, neither of whom are Salvadorian). Although our local Whole Foods in Fairfax, VA serves up some decent pupusas on Fridays, I’m still met with a flurry of questions when I bring them back to my office for lunch. So, there’s clearly a ton of people who haven’t been exposed to these filled corn creations.

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

Okay now that you have all that great pupusa knowledge filling your mind grapes, let’s take this traditionally savory dish and turn it into a dessert.

When you end up with four and half pounds of strawberries thanks to a day of strawberry picking, you start to look for interesting ways to use them. Thankfully, Tina tapped into her love of pupusas and her desire to use up as many of these juicy berries as possible and suggested we make a dessert pupusa. Oh and by the way, these are gluten-free. Yup. For folks with gluten intolerance, it never hurts to add another GOOD gluten-free dessert to the rotation.

Roasted Strawberry Filling

Here’s the overall construction:

  • The corn dough is sweetened, filled with roasted strawberries, queso fresco, and mint sugar.
  • After cooking, the pupusas are topped with a sweetened Salvadorian crema. You could substitute fresh whipped cream if you can’t find Salvadorian crema, but the crema makes for a nice change of pace and a better recipe title.
  • Since the traditional pupusa is topped with a slaw (and we still had almost four pounds of strawberries left), we topped the pupusas with fresh strawberries. It was a nice contrast in texture and flavor over the roasted strawberries and wasn’t just because it also made the pictures “more pretty.”
  • A touch more mint sugar on top. I’m not sure why we’ve never muddled sugar and mint together before, but we’re sure going to be doing it again.

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas

ROASTED STRAWBERRY PUPUSAS WITH MINT SUGAR AND SWEET CREMA

Makes about 4 Pupusas.

For the Pupusas:

  • 2 Cups Masa flour
  • 1 1/3 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt

1.  Combine all of the ingredients by hand in a medium bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.

For the Roasted Strawberries:

  • Approximately 2 Pints Strawberries
  • 1/8 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is preheating, combine the ingredients in a medium bowl, then spread the strawberries out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes.

2.  After roasting all the berries, allow to cool to at least room temperature.

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

For the Mint Sugar:

  • 5-10 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • 5 teaspoons Sugar

1.  Using a mortar and pestle, grind the mint and sugar together until they are one.

Mint Sugar

For the Sweet Crema:

  • 1/2 Cup Salvadorian Crema
  • 1 Tablespoon Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1.  Whisk together the ingredients in a small bowl  until combined. Add more sugar to your liking.

Additional Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • Queso Fresco
  • 1 Pint Fresh Strawberries, diced
  • Coconut Oil for frying

Let’s Make Pupusas:

1.  Using a standard size ice cream scoop, scoop out the dough and flatten with a rolling pin into a circle or use a tortilla press. Place a tablespoon of the strawberries in the middle, along with a slice of queso fresco, and a dusting of the mint sugar. Take another scoop of dough, flatten again, and place on top (kind of like a tortilla sandwich), then seal the edges. Repeat until you run out of dough.

2.  Heat a cast iron skillet or frying pan on medium heat and add enough coconut oil, so that the pan is generously covered, but still shallow enough that your pupusa won’t be drowning.

3.  Fry each pupusa individually in the oil, about four minutes per side (they’ll be golden brown). Place them on a cooling rack or paper towel to cool.

4.  Serve the finished pupusa with a sprinkling of the mint sugar, diced strawberries, and the sweet crema.

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

Roasted Strawberry Pupusas with Mint Sugar and Sweet Crema | getinmymouf.com

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Thought Nuggets

Brainstorming Notes Behind Pizza Hut’s Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza

[This is post #043 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

The Internets are all a fury with the news that Pizza Huts’ hot dog stuffed crust pizza (The Hot Dog Bites Pizza) would finally be coming to America. (Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the freaking Bacon Box to catch on…)

Some people love it.

Some people despise it.

But there’s one thing that can’t be debated:  A lot of hard work went into developing the pizza. Fortunately, the actualbrainstorming notes from the Hot Dog Bite Pizza creative development meeting were leaked recently.

Below are some excerpts, while you can view the full page here.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

Every good idea involves at least one venn diagram.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

Whew…we were THIS close to a puppy stuffed crust pizza.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

Would really like to see the full discussion.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

The engineers have their work cut out for them.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

More tough questions being asked.

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

More work for the engineers…

Hot Dog Bites Pizza | Pizza Hut | getinmymouf.com

I’m not sure they picked the best name.

Wow, really insightful stuff here. I learned more from these notes than in the five years I spent in college.

And I sure as heck can’t wait for the Churro Crust Pizza!

But seriously, WHEN CAN I GET A BACON BOX?!

The Pizza Hut Bacon Box | getinmymouf.com

*Not actual.

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Reviews, Videos

Strawberry Picking at Yankey Farms – Nokesville, VA

Yankey Farms – Strawberry Picking

[This is post #042 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

Around here, Strawberry Season lasts long enough for you to realize that you just missed Strawberry Season.

So, then you’re stuck with a strawberry craving that is forced to be fulfilled by playing a game of food roulette at the grocery store. Sure, those strawberries grown in California and shipped out here look pretty, but most of the time they’re hard and sour and overall disappointing.

Fortunately, it turns out that living in the burbs so far away from the city has its perks: There’s a strawberry farm less than 10 minutes from our house (which equates to about an hour outside of the city for you folks in DC).

Yankey Farms Strawberry Picking | getinmymouf.com

And in the spirit of the NBA Finals, we hit something of a strawberry buzzer beater by going strawberry picking on essentially the very last day of this year’s season. So we’re like the Stephen Curry (or Lebron James if you prefer) of strawberry picking.

We ended up at Yankey Farms which is a small, family owned farm in Nokesville, VA. Aside from strawberries, you can pick your own pumpkins in the fall, and in the summer months they produce melons and sweet corn. We recommend liking the Yankey Farms Facebook page to stay up-to-date with strawberry picking conditions as well as updates on their other produce.

Yankey Farms Strawberry Picking | getinmymouf.com

It’s definitely worth it to find a local farm to pick from, as we ended up with almost four and a half pounds of strawberries for $20. If you can’t eat that many strawberries, a pint was only $4. They were dark red and juicy inside with a strong sweet strawberry flavor that was pleasantly tart. And these ain’t no grocery store strawberries, so treat them with love. They bruise more easily and won’t last as long as their shelf-stable counterparts, so eat or freeze within a couple days.

“But are they organic?!”

That same question was posed on the farm’s Facebook page, so here’s the answer:

“We are not certified organic. We practice integrated pest management and avoid pesticide applications as much as possible. If we do have to spray, we use reduced risk pesticides, generally products approved for organic production.”

#TheMoreYouKnow

After an afternoon of strawberry picking, we are now experts (yep, that’s all it takes), so here are our mostly common sense tips:

  • Wear clothing that you don’t mind getting red stains on. Duh, right?
  • Boots are advisable if you’re picking after a week of rain. Even if it’s not raining, it is a farm.
  • Feed your inner child and eat a few strawberries straight from the vine while you pick (demonstration below).

Yankey Farms Strawberry Picking | getinmymouf.com

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