What I Ate Wednesday #85: Pre-Retoxing

I mentioned on Monday that this week has been deemed “detox before retox” because when you have a week like I did full of cheese..

Cheese Charcuterie Wood Tavern

Margherita Pizza Il Casaro

Asparagus Raspa Dura Il Casaro

..fried chicken..

Addendum Fried Chicken

..barbecue..

Addendum Pork Barbecue

..and plenty of beer..

Il Casaro Anchor Steam Nathan

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room Birthday

..I needed a break. Before we go away to wine country for our anniversary. So this week has been very lean, clean, and green!

Breakfasts have looked a little like this:

Banana Sweet Scramble Coconut Cashew Butter

Egg whites, banana, cinnamon, and coconut cashew butter.

Snacks have been especially green!

Kale Mango Smuice Live and Diet LA

Still smuicing it up!

Lunches have been salad-filled.

Bonsai Salad Sushirrito

Mixed Green Salad Chicken Avocado Brussels Sprouts Salsa

Dinners are protein- and veg-happy.

Beer Can Chicken Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Baked Turkey Meatballs Zucchini Noodles Joy the Baker

And because there is always dessert:

Halo Top Creamery Chocolate Ice Cream

A new-to-me ice cream with peanut fluff.

Personally, I know that when I eat foods like grains and starches, even starchy vegetables, my stomach isn’t always happy. And even though I seriously love them, sometimes I just need to give my body a break. I’ve been binging on kabocha and sweet potatoes recently and kabocha-belly is definitely real! My carbs these days are primarily coming from fruits and I’ve also cut back on random snacking. Overall, I’m feeling better after a few days so I’m calling this detox a success thus far.

Food for Thought

What foods are your go-to for detoxing?

A “Crazy” New Years Eve

Remember I mentioned recapping my crazy New Years Eve? I guess you could say it was crazy in its own right..

We had never really gone out for NYE, it was always spent with my family for dinner and then with friends afterward to watch the ball drop. Since we’re still newbies around here, we decided to give the whole crazy night out a go! Boot & Shoe Service, a restaurant that is known for their pizza, was having a cassoulet dinner followed by a dance party with live music at their sister restaurant, Penrose, across the street. Sounds like a good time, right? Sold!

Dinner was fabulous but unfortunately the lighting was not so I decided to spare you and show smaller pictures. You’re welcome 😉

Boot & Shoe Service Cocktail Hour NYEDinner came with a drink ticket for the “josephine baker”—spumante, bonal, & cane sugar. It’s not the drink that I would have chosen from the list but it was fabulous! The sparkling wine cocktail was a nice, light way to start the night. Not long after we arrived, they began passing the hor d’oeuvres. The gougère—mini cheese pastries—were warm and light.. perfect for popping! The caramelized onion tart was loaded with flavor and really, you can’t go wrong with caramelized onion and a crunchy crust.

By this time, we were ready for a couple more cocktails. I went for the “elevator to the gallows” [Caitlin would be proud!]—islay scotch, housemade french prune brandy, & génépi—and Nathan chose “the upright”—amaro montenegro, cocchi rosa, suze, & lemon. After he took one sip of my drink, I agreed to share. What can I say? I’m good at choosing cocktails! I grabbed a couple of dungeness crab bites on endive with creme fraiche and an oyster on the half shell; these were my least favorite of the hor d’oeuvres.. I really enjoyed the warm bites more and I’m not a big fan of creme fraiche. I suffered through it to get the crab though!

Boot & Shoe Service Appetizer Entree Dessert NYEAfter cocktail hour, we were seated at a long family-style table where we shared a charcuterie plate with the couple next to us. I was already being “that girl” taking pictures of everything so I thought I’d spare Nathan and not take a picture of the shared plate too! Included on the plate was duck liver pate, rabbit terrine [the best!], whole grain mustard, mini gherkins, pickled carrots, and crostini. We’ve grown to really love terrine so we definitely enjoyed this starter.

Next up was the frisee salad with marinated beets and perigord truffles. It was lightly dressed and topped with crunchy garlic chips which really pulled everything together. Unfortunately, the truffle didn’t really add anything to the dish but I loved it anyway and ended up eating most of Nathan’s beets too! The star of the meal, the cassoulet, was served next. Nathan and I shared the big ceramic pot filled with pork belly, duck, and white beans, and you bet we polished it off! It was a hearty dish and the meat fell right off the bone. There were also plenty of crispy bits which added a nice crunchy texture to the stew.

We finished off our meal with vol au vent with poached pears. We were both so full but it was too good to waste! Not too sweet and the layer of homemade whipped cream under the pears gave the dessert a nice balance. And as if that wasn’t enough, they also brought us stuffed figs. I’m not sure what they were stuffed with, but I could have eaten 100 of them!

After we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant around 11:15, we decided we were perfectly happy to head back to the hotel [yes, we’re old] and have a quiet end to the night watching the ball drop.. in New York. So bizarre that they just replayed the ball dropping in Times Square! But hey, I guess no one else does it quite like they do in New York!

Cheers to 2014!

Food for Thought

Do you have any big plans for 2014?

We’re looking forward to getting settled in California and having lots of friends and family come visit!

We’re Road Trippers

As soon as we landed in California, we hit the ground running. We had a weekend to adjust to the 3 hour time change, Nathan started work that first Monday, and I started the apartment hunt. We really haven’t had time to slow down during the week [hello there, lack of blog posts..] and on the weekend we road trip! There’s so much here to explore and it’s our way of relaxing. Not to mention, it’s nice to get out of the hotel for the day.

Nathan had a big trip planned for us on Sunday and tasked me with picking up a few things from the store on Friday; we were picnicking on the beach! We drove south past San Francisco to Pacifica for our first stop where we went for a little hike by the water.

Pacifica Beach

Such beautiful views!

It was so nice to be able to walk out by the water in December and not freeze! Definitely new for us 😉 There were a good amount of people there surfing, but it was certainly not a busy beach!

Pacifica Beach

Looks like some of our honeymoon pics 😉

After Pacifica, we drove about 15 minutes further south to Gray Whale Cove Beach. It was just as beautiful there and even more secluded. There might have been about 10 people on the beach the entire time we were there. Perfect time to break out the wine!

Gray Whale Cove Beach Brittany

Almost the only people there!

Gray Whale Cove Beach Nathan

Short sleeves in December!

And then it was lunch time.. Friday’s selections!

Charcuterie Cheese Foccacia

Charcuterie, cheese, bread, and wine. What more do you need?

I grabbed some [not so] spicy salami, salami with fennel seed, and turkey pastrami. I knew the meat had to be the base, so after picking that out, I went for the cheese and ended up with a lighter, but flavorful gouda and a super fresh parmesan. We were totally spoiled with parmesan in Italy so we’re especially picky but this was from a wheel that was just cut open and it was fabulous!

The topper of the tower is the best bread ever. We’ve been trying to get a loaf of this foccacia bread from Liguria Bakery about 3 or 4 times but every time we go, they’re closed! This bread is so wonderful that they have a line as soon as they open. We got there on Saturday about an hour after opening and they were already sold out of the mushroom bread! I got a loaf of rosemary garlic and a loaf of onion. It’s honestly the lightest, fluffiest bread I’ve ever had.. nothing compares and I think it might be dangerous to be so close to this place now 😉

And because we can’t go a weekend without trying a new brew, we had to make a pit stop on our way back to Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. It was the perfect way to round out the trip.

Gray Whale Cove Beach

Gray Whale Cove Beach. Loved the waves crashing on the rocks.

Can’t wait to see what’s in store for next weekend!

Food for Thought

What’s your favorite way to relax on the weekend?

What is the best bread you’ve ever had?

What I Ate Wednesday #63: Going ALL Out!

This past weekend was one for the books. We crossed off a couple more places from the bucket list and then some! It was our second-to-last weekend in the city so we had to take advantage as much as possible and it was so much fun.

Of Love and Regret

Love this place. As I mentioned in my bucket list post, we had been here before but wanted to head back once more and I’m so glad we did. The food is always fabulous and the drinks didn’t disappoint either.

Old Mans Hatten Of Love and Regret Baltimore Maryland MD

The Old Man’s “Hatten” – bourbon, cochi di torino vermouth, aperol, luxardo cherry garnish, rocks

Saison Darkly Stillwater Of Love and Regret Baltimore Maryland MD

Saison Darkly – Brewed with dark malts and burnt sugars then lightly spiced with rose hips, hibiscus, & schisandra berries

Vegetarian Bahn Mi Of Love and Regret Baltimore Maryland MD

Vegetarian Bahn Mi Burrito – seared Asian Pâté (black beans, barley, scallions, & ginger), South Asian slaw, Sriracha sweet chili aioli, fresh basil & cilantro, wrapped in a grilled whole wheat tortilla + a baked sweet potato

Nathan surprised me and sprung for dessert. He usually doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth and this one was delicious.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Of Love and Regret Baltimore Maryland MD

Pumpkin Cheesecake with chocolate sauce and goat cheese caramel

Bluegrass Tavern

Another place that we’ve been to a couple times that didn’t make it on the bucket list post, but I knew we had to go back for Nathan. They make a smoked fried chicken to die for! It’s the perfect combination of smoke and crunch, plus they topped it with crispy brussels!

I was worried my Apple Cobbler cocktail would be too sweet but the bourbon balanced it nicely. I’d highly recommend anything that comes with a bourbon-soaked apple 😉

Apple Cobbler Bourbon Bluegrass Tavern Baltimore Maryland MD

Apple Cobbler Bourbon Cocktail

Charcuterie Sausage Rabbit Terrine Bluegrass Tavern Baltimore Maryland MD

Charcuterie & Cheese Plate – Homemade Garlicwurst, Rabbit Black Truffle Terrine, Sharp Cows Milk Cheese, Pickled Okra, & Chutney

Kale Salmon Lemon Shallot Salad Bluegrass Tavern Baltimore Maryland MD

Kale salad with goat cheese, shallots, fennel, grilled salmon, & lemon vinaigrette

Smoked Fried Chicken Mashed Potatoes Brussels Sprouts Bluegrass Tavern Baltimore Maryland MD

Smoked Fried Chicken with crispy brussels sprouts over garlic mashed potatoes

Lexington Market

FINALLY! Lexington Market is a Baltimore staple. Everyone I know that doesn’t even live in Baltimore has been to Lexington Market so I had to go and it was so worth it! On top of the crab cake, I also had a couple raw oysters [best I’ve ever had!] and a fresh Berger cookie. The chocolate literally melted in my mouth. You should really order some.. they’re worth every penny [and calorie].

Faidley Seafood Lexington Market Baltimore Maryland MD

Faidley Seafood – Lexington Market

This place is no frills. Just the way it should be.

Faidleys Lexington Market Crab Cake

The famous crab cake from Faidley Seafood with pickled beets and cucumber salad.

The Food Market

This wasn’t an official bucket list place either since I was lucky enough to have a catered work brunch, but when my family wanted to get together for brunch, I figured it would be a good choice. Plus, I need to get all the blue crab I can before we go.

Crab Benedict The Food Market Hampden Baltimore Maryland MD

Crab Benedict – Homemade whole wheat english muffin, crab cakes, poached eggs, & potatoes

I guess you could say I really ate my way through the weekend. Every bite was fabulous and so much fun.. though the best part was all of the time I got to spend with my family. It was the perfect way to break up all of the packing!

Food for Thought

What food is your hometown known for?

Monday Already?!

Wow, that weekend kind of flew by, huh? I’ve definitely noticed the days getting shorter and I’m already missing summer. I had to take advantage of the last weekend of summer and we had a marvelous time!

Friday night, we went for dinner and drinks with our friends, Adam and Jessie.

Jessie Heavy Seas Ale House Baltimore Maryland MD

Blog, meet Jessie. Also note my navy dress/yellow sweater combo and her yellow shirt/navy sweater combo. Not planned.

We actually go out with them quite a bit, but apparently I’m really bad at taking pictures of more than my food or drink. Not this time!

Despite my original plan to get a Musket Ball, I asked for the bartender’s recommendation and ended up with the Lost Cargo. The drink was pretty good, but if you happen to get a sip without any of the toasted spices, it was a little bland. There’s always next time..

Lost Cargo Cocktail Heavy Seas Baltimore Maryland MD

Lost Cargo – Peg Leg Imperial Stout, bourbon, Fonseca port, old fashioned bitters, & toasted spices.

Beer Nuts Heavy Seas Baltimore Maryland MD

The greatest beer nuts in all the land! Glazed with an amber syrup made from their beer.

Charcuterie Cheese Heavy Seas Baltimore Maryland MD

Charcuterie and cheese. Need I say more?

We followed that up with dinner at My Thai. The food was wonderful and they also had a fun list of cocktails! I’d already started my night with a cocktail so it’s not like I could switch to beer or wine at that point, right?

Eye Opener My Thai Baltimore Maryland MD

The Eye Opener – Woodford Reserve Whiskey, Thai Organic Honey, Cucumber Liquer, and soda water

Chicken Shrimp Bean Thread Noodle My Thai Baltimore Maryland MD

Pad Woon Sen – Chicken and shrimp with bean thread noodles, egg, and veggies

And what’s one more drink? Off to Oliver Speck’s! While I’ve heard lack-luster reviews about their food, the drinks did not disappoint!

Ziggy Piggy Oliver Specks Baltimore Maryland MD

Ziggy Piggy – Pig’s Nose Scotch, Domaine Canton, muddled fresh plum & mint, simple syrup, ginger beer, & candied bacon

Saturday we went over to the Fells Point Farmers’ Market for the first time ever. Peter’s Inn sells their famous BLT at the market and Nathan has been dying to try it. We made it just in time; he got the very last BLT of the day and we quickly learned why they’re so famous. All of the ingredients were so fresh and I’ve never seen a sandwich so loaded up on bacon! I can’t believe I forgot to snap a picture..

I did, however, remember to document German beer fest at Max’s. Nathan and I shared a bunch of samples and treated my cousin’s boyfriend to a little 1 liter birthday gift 😉

German Beer Fest Maxs Taphouse Baltimore Maryland MD

Round 1

German Beer Fest Round 2 Maxs Taphouse Baltimore Maryland MD

Round 2

Das Boot German Beer Fest Maxs Taphouse Baltimore Maryland MD

Das boot!

I finished off the weekend with tons of food prep for the week! I made the Healthy Jalapeno Sweet Potato Chicken Chili but swapped out the chicken for ground turkey that we had. I also added extra tomatoes and some zucchini. I might have made enough to last us through the winter! I also made some lemon basil tofu, roasted a spaghetti squash, and packed all of my meals and snacks to take to work with me for an extra early Monday morning.

All in all, I’d say it was a successful weekend! Is it Friday yet? 😉

Food for Thought

Did you do anything fun over the weekend?

What I Ate Wednesday #44: Wine in Italy

Did you see my guest post today on Eating Bird Food? So glad to share some of my honeymoon experiences while she’s away on her honeymoon!

Maybe it should be what I drank Wednesday..? But let’s be honest, you can’t drink in Italy without being fed some amazingly delicious home-cooked food!

When we were at Pedroni for the balsamic tasting, we met another group of people that were also tasting and touring a la Anthony Bourdain recommendations. They told us about a biodynamic, organic winery called Cosimo Maria Masini where we could have a similar experience. Wine tasting with a multi-course meal? Done!

Not only were we in for good food and wine, but also for incredible views of Tuscany. I kept snapping pictures and telling Nathan that no matter what I did, the pictures could never do any justice for the breathtaking sights.

Cosimo Maria Masini Tuscany Italy Wine Tour

One of the managers gave us a tour of the grounds and each of the buildings where they age and harvest their wine. He went into great detail about the biodynamic process; it is a chemical-free process that “tries to regenerate the soil and the plants, through organic activators which help plants to find their own nutrients in the soil.”

After the tour, it was time to eat! We sat down with the manager and his father, who was visiting from Naples. It was just the four of us enjoying a homemade meal.

Cosimo Maria Masini Tuscany Italy Wine Food Tasting

First Course
Charcuterie of sopressata and 2 kinds of salami paired with the Daphne, an unfiltered white wine that is processed with the skins to give it an orange tint. The process gives this wine a bit more flavor than a typical white.

Second Course
A delicious ragu paired with the Cosimo. Still in love with the ragu and totally missing it everyday. Again, this just melted in your mouth and light meat sauce was the perfect accompaniment.

Entree
Braised beef and potatoes paired with the Nicolo; this was a more robust red wine that stood up to the stronger flavor of the beef. The beef had great flavor and fell apart the second the fork touched it. No knives here!

Dessert
Blackberry tart. It had the perfect crumbly crust and wasn’t overly sweet. I can almost taste it now..

BONUS!
I didn’t snap any pictures, but apparently up until this point, we had been missing out! To finish off your meal in Italy, you are supposed to have a small glass of Trebbiano wine and cantuccio—an almond cookie, similar in shape and texture to biscotti. You dip the cookie into your wine and sip slowly as you’re eating the cookies. It is the perfect way to end a meal.

We walked out of there with two bottles of Nicolo and two bottles of the Trebbiano. And incredibly full stomachs! When people ask what my favorite part of the honeymoon was, I tell them I don’t have one, single favorite. I just can’t choose. Visiting Cosimo Maria Masini was just one more of my top experiences that I adored. And speaking of adoring something, I leave you with the sign below found at the winery.

Wine is the most beautiful gift from the gods.

Wine is the most beautiful gift from the gods.

Food for Thought

What was one of your favorite experiences that you’ve had on vacation?

What I Ate Wednesday #36: It’s Really Real!

First things first, HUGEEEEE congratulations to our WIAW host, Jenn! If you didn’t see already, she spilled the beans the other day and I couldn’t be happier for her.

I’m less than 3 months away from my wedding and weekends have been completely taken over by plans. We have all of the big details done and now we’re just making all of the final decisions. It’s getting really real and Nathan keeps realizing he can’t back out anymore 😉 It’s already been over a year in the making and I can’t wait to see it all come to fruition. But really, I can’t wait to wear my dress, party, and go on my honeymoon. Hey, I’m just being honest!

And speaking of the dress, Saturday was my first fitting; it fits almost perfectly and I’m in love. But that’s all you’re gonna get from me 😉 Afterwards, I headed to a baby shower to spend some time with these lovely ladies..

Here Comes Baby V Shower

..and to celebrate the beautiful lady in the black flower dress. It was such a good time.. bellinis, good food, lots of chit chat, and most importantly, no games! Seriously, it was great!

Finally, I ended my day with a date night. Best part of all, other than the company, is that it was at Mr. Rain’s Funhouse; the restaurant at our wedding venue. It was a nice way to tie all of the crazy planning together to a nice, relaxing evening.

Barr & Table What I Ate Wednesday WIAW Peas and Crayons Mr Rains Funhouse American Visionary Art Museum Baltimore Maryland MD Carrots N Cake Sweet Breakfast Scramble

[Breakfast]
Slimmed down sweet scramble with fat free ricotta cheese instead of squash. A new spin I’ve been doing for a little extra kick of protein.

[Lunch]
Baby shower eats! Mini crustless quiches, bacon spirals, beet & pecan salad, artichoke crostinis, & a couple pear raspberry bellinis. I’m sorry I didn’t snap a few shots of the food, the hostess with the mostess did such a nice job.

[Dinner]
Started out with an incredible drink.. unfortunately I don’t remember exactly what was in it, but it involved rye, black tea, blood orange marmalade, bitters, and more. Completely out of the ordinary for me but so delicious and accented my entree perfectly.

I always appreciate freshly baked rolls to start a dinner, but even more, I love freshly baked pretzel bites! We also shared a charcuterie plate.. it’s kind of our thing. And there will be lots of charcuterie on the honeymoon!

Nathan got the burger and fries; it was cooked perfectly which is so rare to find these days. My entree choice was decided almost solely on the fact that it included kabocha squash which I’ve been dying to try but can’t find anywhere! The rest included roasted eggplant, bulgar wheat, olives, and lemon. It was so light and delicious!

[Snacks]
We skipped dessert after dinner because we shared a huge Levain Bakery style chocolate chip walnut cookie earlier in the day provided by the host of the baby shower. She really outdid herself with the food and it did not go unnoticed! And you should definitely make that cookie!

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie

Tempting, right? 😉

Food for Thought

What is your favorite cookie? Is it a homemade recipe or from your favorite bakery?