11 Questions, Travel

11 Questions with The Dining Traveler

Jessica van Dop Dejesus - The Dining Traveler

Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop Dejesus

If you’re a food and/or travel blogger in the Washington, DC area, you probably already know Jessica van Dop Dejesus aka The Dining Traveler. If you don’t, well you’re missing out on a generous blogger and local influencer who pays-it-forward more than any person we’ve ever met. Seriously, almost every cool trip, blogger-friendship, and restaurant relationship that we’ve established over the last year can in some way be traced back to her.

Jessica is currently in the last leg of a Kickstarter campaign to fund her Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico, a photo book and travel guide that portrays the island from a Puerto Rican perspective. Take a moment and check out her campaign video below, then channel some holiday spirit and make a donation to help her close in on her goal. And “donation” is a loose term, since you’re basically pre-ordering the guide along with some other cool perks at different pledge levels (including a home-cooked Puerto Rican meal made by Jessica herself!).

Despite being insanely busy with the campaign, as well as traveling, and finding time to enjoy the holidays, Jessica was kind enough to answer 11 questions about Puerto Rico, traveling, and (of course) food.

1.  What’s the one food dish that you recommend people try while in Puerto Rico?

Where do I start? My favorite places on the islands are the panaderias (bakeries). I love a medianoche sandwich. It’s similar to a panini; a soft baguette filled with roasted pork, ham, and Swiss cheese.

The Dining Traveler - Jessica | getinmymouf.com

Medianoche | Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop Dejesus

2.  If someone wanted to stay away from touristy areas in Puerto Rico, like San Juan, what area(s) would you tell them to check out?

The west coast of Puerto Rico. Cabo Rojo in the southwest coast has beaches to die for, like Playa Buye and Playa Sucia. The town of Mayaguez for the food; they are known for their artisanal sangria and the guava jelly roll (Brazo Gitano).

Playa Buye in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Playa Buye in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico | Photo courtesy of Jessica van Dop DeJesus

3.  What is the one thing that you’d like to share about Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican culture that people might not know?

That Puerto Ricans are very welcoming and open people. Don’t get weirded out when people tell you their whole life story after five minutes of meeting you!

4.  On average, how many days do you spend traveling each year?

This past year I have been on the road over 100 days so far.

5.  You seem to have already traveled almost everywhere, but what’s one country or city that you haven’t visited yet, but would like to?

Peru. It’s my dream destination. We’ve been trying to go for the last two years but something always happens. Hopefully in 2016.

6.  Do you have any travel rituals that you follow before a big trip?

I always wait until the last minute to pack. Does that count as a ritual?

7.  Do you remember your first plane ride?

I was five. We flew Eastern Airlines (dating myself here, LOL). We moved from Rochester, NY to Puerto Rico. I was super excited. The whole family, including our German Shepherd, was on the flight!

8.  When you’re back home in DC, what are some of your hobbies and other activities that you like to do to relax?

I love exploring DC. I enjoy going for a run along the Mount Vernon Trail and admiring the monuments across the Potomac. I also love checking out the new exciting restaurants that continue to pop up in the city.

9.  Okay, it’s late at night and you’re craving a sweet and/or salty snack. What do you make or grab from your kitchen to satisfy your late night hunger?

Well… this food blogger is trying to lose weight! I’m trying to be disciplined! However, my downfall is cheese. We always bring tons of cheese back from Holland, where my husband is from.

10.  You currently live in Washington, DC; what other U.S. city or cities do you think you would enjoy living in for an extended period of time? 

I lived in Miami for three months and truly enjoyed it; there are so many cultures converging in this area. Wouldn’t mind returning. I would be open to living in Chicago or San Francisco. However, I love DC. It will be hard to get me out of here.

11.  If you could have one person from any time period, dead or alive, be your tour guide in any city in the world, who would you choose and why?

I would have loved for Pablo Neruda to show me his native Chile. I studied his poetry in high school and college. His words made me feel as if I was already in the country.

Many thanks to Jessica for taking time out of her non-stop travel schedule to chat with us. Don’t forget to check out her Kickstarter, Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico, before the campaign ends on December 10th!

Holiday, Recipes

An Evening with a Spiced Pecan

Spiced Pecans | Get in My Mouf

Our Spiced Pecan recipe (at the bottom of this post) has become an MVP of our holiday season, playing a role in multiple dishes both savory and sweet. From green beans, to cookies, to binge eating at midnight whilst watching Netflix, these pecans really are team players. We had an opportunity to get to know one of deez  these nuts a bit more intimately and to try and figure out what makes them such a solid classic.

Get in my Mouf:  Really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with us–I realize this is a busy time of year for you.

Spiced Pecan:  Not a problem. I’m happy to be here. Prefer to keep it short, though. Already a bit behind this year…

GIMM:  Absolutely–I want to start with a question, an old debate that’s be around for a while. What do you prefer to be called. Pe-con or Pee-can?

SP:  Well, I don’t go by either, since that’s not my name. It would be like me calling you “Human.”

GIMM:  Oh, I’m sorry… What’s your name?

SP:  Charles. Friends call me chuck.

GIMM:  Pleasure to meet you, Chuck!

SP:  Charles.

GIMM:  Right… [awkward pause]

Egg Whites | Get in My Mouf Spiced Pecans

GIMM:  Anyway, you’ve seen quite a bit of success over the years–You’re a very traditional holiday staple–Is it hard to stay consistent? There are a lot of food fads that take hold and I could see that becoming a distraction.

SP:  Not really. I grew up in a family where tradition and work ethic were really important. You do your job. I do my job. It’s just what we do. I watched a lot of our friends get mixed up with Wasabi and Sriracha. Sure that’s popular now and I get it, I really do. Commercials, prominent shelf space at Target, features on FOOD BLOGS. There’s definitely an allure that’s hard to turn down. But at some point the fame will fade and at the end of the day, people always go back to the classics.

Pecan & Egg Whites | Get in My Mouf Spiced Pecans

GIMM:  I’m not sure if anyone picked up on the tone you had about food blogs, but it did take a bit of persuasion to agree to sit down with us. Why were you so hesitant?

SP:  Honestly, recipes should be shared between family members on faded scraps of paper. This whole internet blogging thing is just too impersonal. For example, when you want to make a pumpkin pie, what do you do?

GIMM:  I Google a recipe. 

SP:  Exactly! Now how many choices are there?

GIMM:  Who knows…hundreds of thousands? A million?

SP:  How do you know which one is a good recipe?

GIMM:  I’ll try and find a site that has reviews or find a recipe that’s on a blog I trust.

SP:  Basically, you’re outsourcing your pumpkin pie recipe and basing your decision on a stranger’s who may or may not have a similar flavor profile as you.

GIMM:  Sure, but–

SP:  Meanwhile, you could have just called up your mother and asked her if she had any secret family recipes. AND during which you could engage her in an actual conversation. A real human to human interaction. Why is that important? Food is at its peak enjoyment when it’s connected to memory or tradition. Would you rather eat a pie that you found online from a stranger, or eat a pie that has roots to your family?

GIMM:  If given the choice between two pies, I would prefer to sample each before making a decision.

SP:  When was the last time you called your mother?

GIMM:  Speaking of…my mom is actually VERY allergic to pecans.

SP:  Her loss.

GIMM:  Agreed. You are delicious.

[Another awkward Pause]

GIMM:  I’m not going to eat you.

SP:  I think we better wrap this up.

Spiced Pecans | Get in My Mouf

Well, that was fun. A big thanks to Charles for joining us. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure who was interviewing who. He might be stuck in his old fashioned ways, but man he was, er is–from what I’ve been told–delicious. Want to give him and his friends a try? Don’t bother your mother, as she’s probably busy planning your Thanksgiving dinner. Instead give our recipe a try, ’cause we’re sort of like family at this point, right?



  • 3 Cups Pecan Halves
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Mix together the sugar and spices and set aside.
  2. Combine the egg white and water and whip until stiff peaks form.
  3. Fold the pecans into the egg white mixture. Once completely moistened, add the sugar and spice. Mix well.
  4. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread pecans into an even single layer. This single layer may not sound important, but it is. Crowded pecans mean too much moisture and, in the words of Alton Brown, definitely not good eats.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes at 300°. Remove from oven, carefully stir, and reduce oven to 250°. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Let cool on a wired rack – we keep ours on the parchment paper so they don’t fall through the cracks – until they come to room temperature.
  7. Try not to eat all of them in one sitting. They are seriously addicting. Sorry, Charles.

Spiced Pecans | Get in My Mouf


Potomac Point Winery – Stafford, VA

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

Thanks to DriveShop and Mazda, we had a 2016 Mazda CX-5 to play with for a week (check out our car review here). Its nimble handling made for a fun drive on some winding roads to Potomac Point Winery.

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

Our handsome +1 to a winery wedding.

Question:  When you’re driving up and down I-95, stuck in a swell of cars commuting from parts north and south in Virginia, do you ever wish you could take a quick detour and find a happy place filled with nature, wine, and good food?

If so, Potomac Point Winery is that happy place.

We recently attended a wedding at Potomac Point Winery (Congrats Dianna and Gregg!), so our detour to happiness included a night filled with good company, wine, fine food, and plenty of my off-rhythm dancing.

Tucked away in the woods, it all starts with the drive leading up to the entrance where you’ll soon forget that you were just on a major highway. This is where the happiness begins. Rather than describe it, just take a look at our first impression of the winery:

Not a bad way to start a wedding, eh?

Sweeping views of vineyard, surrounded by woods. It’s truly a serene escape from the traffic-filled highways of Northern Virginia and a romantic getaway for not only a wedding, but even a short day trip or date night.

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA


We’ll definitely be going back to try their full array of wines, but the Abbinato was clearly the hit of the wedding selection with our table. It’s an easy to drink Chianti-style blend with fruit and vanilla flavors and pairs well with most Italian meals, barbecued chicken, tomato-based entrees, and pizza. Though, to be fair, what doesn’t pair well with pizza?

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

There was very little deviation from the Abbinato, but I also enjoyed the Coyote Cave Red, which was also a light smooth red blend that pays homage to the coyote cave in the winery’s cellar–named after a mother coyote and her cub, who took an “unguided tour” of the cellar before the winery opened to the public.

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA


You’re welcome to bring your own food and non-alcoholic drinks for a picnic at the winery, or you could dine at the attached Le Grand Cru Bistro. The menu focuses on local and seasonal ingredients, and ranges from cheese plates, to tapas, and even full entrees like a Brined and Smoked Pork Chop with Sweet Potato Mash and Sage Butter.

Fortunately for us, Le Grand Cru Bistro also catered the wedding, so we were well fed during our visit. All around, the food was solid and included mini crab cakes, mountains of cheeses, meats, and pickles, along with main courses of Pan Seared Sea Bass with Sorrel Butter Sauce and a perfectly cooked Beef Tenderloin with Caramel Sauce.

Our personal favorite was an appetizer that brought out our inner childs: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Shooter. It’s everything an appetizer should be, lighthearted, comforting, fun, tasty. It was also a cool October night, so throwing back some warm soup hit the spot like a can of emergency Campbell’s on a snow day.

Potomac Point Winery - Stafford, VA

We had a really enjoyable time at Potomac Point Winery and look forward to heading back with our pup (yes, they are dog friendly) to revisit this new happy place.

Potomac Point Winery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

If you want to know more about the winery, including tasting notes on their wines, then check out “Field Trip:  Potomac Point Winery” from The Armchair Sommelier. Lots of good, in-depth wine knowledge and plenty of pictures!

Car Reviews

2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD Review

2016 Mazda CX-5 Review

This post is made possible through a partnership with the awesome folks at DriveShop and Mazda, who provided us with a vehicle to test drive for a week. You can follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #DriveMazda.

Also, one of the cool things about testing out this Mazda, was that upon receiving the vehicle, we were provided with a $25 charitable gift card redeemable at OneOC.org/givingcards to donate to the charity of our choice. The Mazda Drive for Good charitable program has helped raise more than $7.6 million and has resulted in over 120,000 charitable service hours pledged since 2013.

Mazda Drive for Good

Given that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and this is a food blog, we chose Food & Friends. The organization is dedicated to helping men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses by preparing and delivering specialized meals and groceries in conjunction with nutrition counseling. What does that entail exactly? They deliver meals year-round, six days a week (including holidays) and since inception have delivered 18 million meals to over 26,000 individuals. Thus, the impact is huge, but they can’t do it without volunteers and generous donations! To learn how you can help, visit their website for more info.


2016 Mazda CX-5

Full disclosure: I owned a Mazda for almost a decade. Does that create bias? Maybe. Does that also create some higher-than-normal expectations. Maybe. So, everything should balance out…


MSRP (as tested):  $32,340
MPG Estimate: 24 city – 30 highway
Engine:  2.5L Skyactiv, DOHC 4 cylinder
Power:  184 hp @ 5,700 rpm  | 185 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm
Transmission:   6-Speed Automatic
Color:  Titanium Flash Mica
Options:  Grand Touring Technology Package (Navigation System, Smart City Brake Support, LED headlights with auto leveling, Adaptive Front-lighting System, LED fog lights, LED daytime running lights, LED combination tail lights and auto-dimming mirror)

For more info, click here to view the 2016 CX-5 Brochure.


The entertainment system works really well, keeping in mind it does take some time to get familiar with navigating through everything. So, it’s not quite as initially intuitive as others, but I easily learned what I needed within a few days of driving. No biggie for a car you’ll keep for a decade.

2016 Mazda CX-5

Voice commands also worked easily for making calls and entering addresses for the navigation system.

In my opinion, a huge plus is the fact that the Grand Touring comes standard with a Bose sound system (it’s also optional in the Touring trim). I love me some Bose. I’ve got a pair of Bose computer speakers that can shake our house. So, needless to say the system in the CX-5 is plenty good enough to rock out, hip hop, or blast whatever your preference is.


Although the seats were comfortable, the ride is a bit harsh, but that’s the trade off you get for some of the zoom zoom that’s discussed later.

2016 Mazda CX-5

The A/C was decently cold and I only bring that up, because my old Mazda’s only fault was its air conditioning. Quite the testament to how much I enjoyed that car, as I spent nearly a decade enduring long, sweat-filled summer commutes. This car was a sweat-free zone. Except when I took that one hairpin turn at 80 MPH. Kidding. Or am I?

Oh and not sure if you’re into safety, but the 2016 CX-5 was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, which means this car could save your life. Especially during those 80 MPH hairpin turns. KIDDING. Drive safely.


This is quite a deceiving little SUV. First impressions would likely lead one to believe that this little go-getter is a suburbanite’s dream, ready for trips to big box warehouse stores, home improvement shops for weekend warriors, and carting the little ones (two and four legged) around town. But honestly, all that stuff seems to bore the CX-5. Not that it won’t do all that stuff well, but it seems to do the chores almost begrudgingly.

2016 Mazda CX-5

The CX-5 yearns to stretch its legs and search for winding roads, rural scenary, and areas where there might not be a road at all. During our time with the CX-5, the most fun we had was exploring the curvy roads on our way to visit Potomac Point Winery, and soaring across a grassy field, escaping the hellacious parking situation of a just ended Renaissance Festival.

I really wish we had some snowfall to play with like in this video.

Oh, and the gas mileage. Was it good? Well, for an AWD compact utility vehicle, I was pretty happy with our average of 26.8 MPG. That included five days of commuting to and from work (32 miles round trip) along with two longer trips with mostly highway.

Because of the nature of this car, my only complaint on the performance is the lack of a little more umph. And sure it might be gratuitous, especially for those who want to retain the solid gas mileage, but oh the fun you could have with a turbo-charged MazdaSpeed CX-5…

Smashing Good Looks

Co-workers and neighbors were happy to compliment the looks of the CX-5. The light Parchment color interior was noted on more than one occasion to be sexy. Also, the Titanium Flash Mica exterior made the car look almost like a mini-tank, which was cool. B-Y-O-Rocket Launcher.

cx5 (10)

And personally, upgrading to the Grand Touring model is worth it for the wheels alone.

Who Should Buy This Car

This might be the car for you if you need a little more suburban hauling capacity, but you’re not ready to sacrifice the handling of a smaller vehicle. You might want to check this car out if you enjoy taking weekend trips off the beaten paths and you’d rather take the long way versus a highway. And in all honesty, I was very close to purchasing this vehicle a couple months ago. Had it not been for our dog’s extreme fear of change and anything remotely resembling an SUV, I might own one right now.

cx5 (6)

Disclaimer: As noted above we were provided this vehicle courtesy of DriveShop and Mazda. Other than being allowed to test drive this vehicle, we were not provided any monetary compensation for this post. All opinions remain our own and I seriously almost bought this vehicle. 

More care reviews…