#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Travel, Videos

#DCTravelBlogger Brunch – Jaleo Crystal City

Jaleo Crystal City  

[This is post #004 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project.]

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to attend a blogger meet-up, I’ve got the dirty secrets right here in this very post. Yup. It’s like General Hospital up in this crazy blogger world. Betrayal, murder, paternity tests…

Okay, aside from maybe stealing someone’s sangria, there wasn’t any soap opera drama.  And kinda hard for there to be any secrets when everything is tweeted or Instagramed the second it happens. Such is life for a blogger.

Anyway, Jessica at The Dining Traveler was kind enough to set up a brunch at Jaleo Crystal City for DC/VA/MD-based bloggers. Most of the attendees have travel blogs, but a few of us food bloggers snuck in and there were even a few fashion-focused folks as well. It was a great mix and I’m happy to have made some new friends in the local blogging community. I’ll get to Jaleo’s phenomenal food in a second, but it goes without saying that the people are what made the event successful. For fear of leaving someone out, I’m not going to attempt to list everyone, so check out the hashtag #DCTravelBlogger on Twitter or Instagram to find the folks who partook in the fun. 

It was great to share stories of gumbo, DC traffic, blog traffic, DC weather, cocktails, food, Tastemade, home ownership, New Orleans, food photography, day jobs that pay the bills, upcoming vacations, California, wine, dog hair, old phones, and #DCFoodPorn. 

Speaking of food porn…

So what’d we eat? I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Speak is probably too weak a word, as the food at Jaleo sang to us at every course. And the service was SPOT-ON. Our sangria glasses were never empty and the staff welcomed the insanity of our selfies, food pics, and blog videos. 

Jaleo Crystal City #DCTravelBlogger

‘Ferran Adrià’ liquid olives – Like a delicious science experiment in your mouf.

We were even lucky enough to get a demonstration on how the liquid olives were made by Head Chef, Domenick Torlucci:

Jaleo Crystal City #DCTravelBlogger

Smoked salmon on cristal bread with hardboiled egg, goat cheese and capers.

Jaleo Crystal City #DCTravelBlogger

Yes, we even ate our veggies…because Chef Torlucci and his team made them taste amazing.

Jaleo Paella Crystal City

Vegetable Paella – Fun Fact: This paella pan was bigger than my Mazda.

Jaleo Crystal City #DCTravelBlogger

Sweet-soaked Spanish toast with caramelized bananas and rum whipped cream.

There might have been a selfie stick involved…

And of course we made good use of said selfie stick…

Being a blogger and living on Twitter and Instagram, it’s easy to forget that there are REAL people behind all the pictures and tweets. It was nice reminder that the pictures and stories we share online are nothing without anyone to share it with. So, Salud! to new friends and future meet-ups.

PS:  Don’t take my word for it. Check out the links below to some of the other bloggers’ experiences at the event. There are a TON of great pics, so prepare your eyes for mucho #foodporn:

Jaleo on Urbanspoon

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Reviews, Travel, Videos

When in Sacramento…Drink Wine!

Skinner Vineyards

[This is post #002 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project.]

Before I go on any trip, I typically have at least 701 restaurants mapped out to visit. However, since this was a work trip, I wasn’t quite sure how much free time I’d have. I could have done some research anyway, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up for nothing. So, I landed in Sacramento with my boss, zero plans and no expectations.

It ended up working out well, since my boss is a wine aficionado in the truest sense of the word. He had some nearby wineries mapped out on his to-taste list, so I tagged along. In hindsight, I probably should have taken a wine tasting class, since I’m about as opposite as can be from a wine aficionado. I’m sure we were quite the odd couple:  He sniffed, inquired about production levels and varietals, while my input was limited to…”{grunting sound} Me likey.”

We visited about a half dozen wineries during our limited free time and luckily ended up finding some decent restaurants, too. Below are a few of my favorites, but first a quick disclaimer:  Most of the spots below are near Sacramento, but only one is actually in the city, so be prepared to travel a bit.

1. Klinker Brick Winery (Lodi, CA)

Klinker Brick Winery

I really loved the casual atmosphere of this winery. It’d be a great place to hang out on their patio, sip some wine, play some corn-hole, and just enjoy that fresh California breeze. And the name, Klinker Brick, is just fun to say. How can you not have a good time at a place called Klinker Brick?! Oh, the wine. Right. The wine highlights for me included their Albariño, Petite Syrah, and Farrah Syrah. Truth be told, I don’t think I had ever heard of Albariño before. Either way, me likey.

2. Jessie’s Grove Winery (Lodi, CA)

Jessie’s Grove Winery Ice House

The dessert wines at Jessie’s Grove were brilliant. Give me a dark chocolate bar, a bottle of their Sweet Perfection and I’d be set for the evening. (BTW – It’s hard to concentrate right now because I’m blasting “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield. And YES, I am singing along and replacing “girl” with “grove.”) Aside from wine and chocolate, I was struck by the history of the vinyard, which stretched back to the late 1800s. Some of the original vines that were planted in 1888 are still used for production in their wines today. You’re not just drinking wine here, you’re traveling back in time and tasting history. But since there were no blogs back then, I recommend traveling back to present time as fast as possible.

3.  The Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery (Lodi, CA)    The Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery on Urbanspoon

The Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery

The name is a little misleading, as I saw no foxes dancing, but that was quickly reconciled by the fact that The Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery bakes its own bread. Honestly, if you bake your own bread, it almost doesn’t matter what you put between it.  Tried a Tri-tip Green Chili Melt and surprisingly, the highlight wasn’t the green chili, tri-tip, or the melty-cheese. It was cheddar-jalapeno bread so fresh I could taste the field the wheat was harvested from. (Now that’s how you hyperbole the heck out of  sandwich!) Also, they give you a cookie with every order! It’s the little things that can make me happy and in this case it was a snicker doodle. I recommend stopping at this place for lunch in preparation for a day of wine tasting in Lodi. Create that solid bread foundation in your stomach for which the wine can fall upon.

4. Ella Dining Room & Bar  (Downtown Sacramento)     Ella Dining Room and Bar on Urbanspoon

Ella Dining Room & Bar

Ella Dining Room & Bar is the kind of place that I would’ve planned to go to, had I been aware of its existence. First of all, the restaurant is adorned with shutters on the walls, imported from somewhere like Hungary. Why? Who knows, but it looked cool as heck. I tried their signature cocktail, The Real Gin and Tonic, and was not disappointed. I was so not disappointed that I had two more. And then there was the fried chicken, which was guaranteed to be moist because it was sous vide before being fried. I also have to admit that although it was a nice restaurant and I was with work folks (including my boss and our company President), that did not stop me from ordering said fried chicken and eating it with my bare hands. #NoShame. Oh, and the housemade hot sauce was the bomb.com/yummy.php.

5. Skinner Vineyards (Somerset, CA)

Let’s not beat around the grape vines:  Enjoyed a stellar 2012 Grenache, Estate wine, but the highlight of this place was the VIEW. We could have been drinking rainwater out of red solo cups and I would’ve still had a great time. You can’t tell from the video, but snow-capped mountain tops were even visible! Made the mistake of going to Skinner Vineyards as our last stop before the airport. Almost didn’t get on the plane… If you’re heading to Lake Tahoe from Sacramento, take a couple hours out of your trip and stop here to sip the wine and take in the scenery.

As much as I love the other cities of California (you know, the ones that start with ‘San’ or ‘Los’), I wouldn’t mind going back to Sacramento. I actually do have unfinished business. There’s a restaurant called Bacon and Butter that I didn’t get a chance to try. Yes, BACON and BUTTER. Need I say more?

Like what you see? Then let’s be email buddies:


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Reviews, Videos

Tastemade Video: True Food Kitchen – Fairfax, VA

True Food Kitchen

It doesn’t take a detective to figure out what makes this kitchen’s food so true. Although, that would open up an excellent True [Food] Detective parody opportunity (man, someone should do that in a Tastemade video…) Anyway, all of the dishes on the menu closely adhere to Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. So, the goal is to serve food that not only tastes good, but is good for you as well. Does this place deliver on taste? If “health” food tasted this good when I was a child, I wouldn’t have cried myself to sleep during my parents’ vegetarian phase.

Although True Food Kitchen‘s menu contains some familiar dishes (street tacos, panang curry, turkey burgers), our palates were also surprised by the likes of edamame dumplings. They are as close to an asian pierogi as one could get–smooth, flavorful edamame on the inside, floating in a soy broth of deliciousness.

Oh, and do YOU know what a sea buckthorn is? Sounds dangerous, right? It’s an orange colored berry. (Don’t say you never learned anything from this blog.) And it tastes dangerously delicious (not affiliated with the pie place), especially in TFK’s Super Berry Tart. I give massive bonus points to any restaurant using an ingredient I’ve never heard of and then like 10 gold stars for making it taste real good.

True Food Kitchen - Sea Buckthorn

Time is a flat circle and so is this Super Berry Tart…it’s also filled with the power of Sea Buckthorns.

Even Rust Cohle could find happiness in a glass of their unique, definitely healthy, thirst-quenching beverages. Where else can you get a grapefruit cinnamon soda? I’ll give you a hint: NOWHERE.

Disclaimer:  Our meal was comped by Tastemade, but all opinions and references to True Detective are our own. 

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True Food Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Recipes, Videos

Leftover Pizza Bread Pudding

Recipe: Leftover Pizza Bread Pudding

Full disclosure:  I didn’t expect this to actually taste all that great. Part of me wanted it to taste awful. Would’ve made for a funnier ending to the Tastemade video if I vomited into a trash can.

But unfortunately (or fortunately for our trash can), it wasn’t too bad. I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise that cheese, tomato sauce, meats, veggies, and bread soaked in an eggy mixture tastes good. All the major food groups are covered, including the Pizza Food Group.

So, it wasn’t awful and I’d dare to say it was pretty good. Here’s the question: Does it succeed at being a suitable use for leftover pizza? Is this better than eating plain ol’ microwaved (or toaster oven-ed) spare slices?

I think so.

The microwave tends to make the crust chewy. And I by ‘chewy’ I mean an inedible substance related to the leather shoe family. The oven and toaster oven help keep the crust crispy, but it always seems to dry out the rest of the pizza. With the bread pudding, you get moist crust and gooey cheese, nicely paired with burnt cheese on the edges along with a top that has a nice crunch.

So, if you’re like us and tend to have a lot of leftover pizza hanging about, then you should give this a try.

leftover pizza bread pudding

LEFTOVER PIZZA BREAD PUDDING

A quick Google search will let you know that this isn’t a new idea. Our recipe was guided by this post from A momma with ideas… As a slight alteration, you could even increase the eggs, decrease the milk, and call this a breakfast casserole.

  • Two slices of leftover pizza – Any will do, but I would not recommend thin crust.
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 2 XL Eggs

1.  Whisk together the eggs and milk and set aside.

2.  Cut the pizza into rectangles and squares.

3.  Place the pizza into a small (single-serving) casserole dish, then pour the egg/milk mixture over the top. Cover and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour (the longer, the better).

4.  Remove from the refrigerator and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top, then bake in a 350° oven for 30-45 minutes, until the top gets crusty and brown.

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Reviews, Videos

Tastemade Video: Tachibana – McLean, VA

Tachibana Japanese Restaurant

We made the trek out to the ever-expanding area of McLean to check out Tachibana. It’s long been known as one of the best spots to grab some sushi in the area and its reputation was confirmed by the amount of customers that had already filled the restaurant. The place opened at noon and was nearly completely packed by noon-fifteen. A good sign that actually ended up working out in our favor: We didn’t intend on sitting at the sushi bar, but since all the tables were taken, we figured it’d be better than waiting over an hour. This made the whole experience, as the sushi chefs are all friendly, fun, and informative. After watching them, my biggest takeaway was that I need to work on my knife skills. Seriously, I can barely cut a uniform slice of french bread, let alone delicate fish flesh. Luckily abstract bread slices are totally in right now.

Not a sushi fan? No worries, as Tachibana has an extensive menu that includes various soups (ramen, soba, udon), rice bowls, and appetizers for people who prefer more “turf” than “surf.” We’ll definitely be back to check out the rice bowls, which we watched our sushi chef artfully construct for another customer. It was overflowing with meats, vegetables, sushi; everything perfectly in place. Upon seeing it, I lost all capacity for high-level thinking and grunted “Me want that.”

For a quick peek at our lunch, check out the Tastemade video above–which is 100% narrated in bad haikus (you’re welcome!)–and if you get a chance to check out Tachibana, definitely skip the tables and head for the sushi bar!

Disclaimer:  My meal was comped by Tastemade, but all opinions, bad jokes, and typos are my own. 

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Tachibana on Urbanspoon

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