What I Ate Wednesday #124: Valentine’s Feasting

Valentine’s Day might be one of my favorite holidays. We don’t do the bouquet of roses, sappy cards, get dressed up for dinner kind of thing. We learned that wasn’t necessary many years ago. Not to mention, who wants to pay $200 for a dinner that takes HOURS to come out after ordering while 100 other people wait around you? Personally, I’m a fan of a quiet night at home, cooking together and drinking some good wine.

Peas & Crayons What I Ate Wednesday WIAW

We cheated a little bit this year and bought our main dish. Last year, we went all out and made a pistachio-crusted lamb which turned out wonderfully. This year, however, we went to the farmers’ market the week before Valentine’s Day and saw that Roli Roti has a new rotisserie duck l’orange. We already love their rotisserie chicken, brussels, and potatoes, so how could we say no? We woke up on Valentine’s Day and got to the market as soon as they opened to get our duck.

It was so nice to relax rather than having to work on the main dish. So we broke out a bottle of Black Zeppelin, a 2009 Syrah blend, that we got in 2012. We bought 2 bottles and had the first right away. This bottle was even better than we remembered!

Black Zeppelin Syrah Blend 2009

It was also gone pretty quickly!

Cabot Cheddar Cheese Dried Apricots Blue Diamond Almonds

I also made a cheesy [ha.. in both senses of the word] plate to snack on while the side dish was in the oven. Thank you very much, Cabot!

Kirkland Prosecco

And what goes better with cheese than prosecco? Only the finest bottle in our house..

Duck L'Orange Roasted Brussels Sprouts Potatoes Egg Yolk Porn

The main event.. it was better than I could have imagined! Did I mention that this was my first time eating meat in 2 weeks? Nathan’s idea for the dippy egg over top of the rosemary garlic roasted potatoes and brussels was killer. I was absolutely in heaven!

Blueberry Squares Smitten Kitchen Lush Tahitian Vanilla Gelato

And if that wasn’t enough, I made a “single serving” [which really turned out to be a double. So we nicely shared.] of Smitten Kitchen’s blueberry crumb bars. I’d only made them once before, a couple years ago, and Nathan has been talking about them ever since. I decided Valentine’s Day was the perfect day to break it out again. We also bought some Tahitian Vanilla gelato from our favorite place, Lush, right down the street. It was the perfect topping.

Dinner was fabulous, as always, and we were more than full. Or as we like to say, fat and happy.

Food for Thought

Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?

A Love-ly Weekend

Gooood morning! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and hopefully a nice Valentines Day too [if you celebrated.] Friday was a bit crazy for both of us and by the time we got out for dinner, all we wanted was something cheap and easy. Mexican it was!

Baja Grilled Vegetable Black Bean Guacamole Rice Plate

It was the last dinner of my 2 week vegan experiment and what could be a better way to finish it off than with grilled veggies, rice, black beans, and lots of guacamole? Oh right.. fresh tortilla chips and salsa, too 😉

Saturday was all about taking it easy. In all of the running around that we’ve been doing lately, we decided that pulling the married card out and relaxing all day sounded like the best way to spend Valentines Day. We hit up the farmers’ market bright as soon as they opened to get the main star of our dinnerrotisserie duck l’orange. I guess we cheated a little bit in a way by not making the main dish like we usually do, but hey, it was hard to pass up! And such a gorgeous day, too. Which is why we took the opportunity to spend more time outside and walk over to the nearby rose garden.

Rose Garden Nathan Brittany

Too bad we forgot that it’s still winter [yep, 75 degrees in February!] and there were only about 10 roses to be seen. Ha! We’ll have to make our way back over there in a couple of months.

The rest of the day was spent watching movies and having a few drinks on the couch.

Kirkland Prosecco

Only the finest in our house! The perfect apertif while we were cooking up some roasted brussels & potatoes to go with the duck. We also popped open a bottle of Black Zeppelin, a 2009 Syrah blend, that we bought in 2012. It was surprisingly better than we had remembered!

Brittany Nathan Valentines Day Wine

Don’t worry, I’ll fill you in on the rest of the food on Wednesday. Except for dessert.. a homemade personal pan blueberry square topped with Tahitian Vanilla gelato from Lush, down the street.

Blueberry Squares Smitten Kitchen Lush Tahitian Vanilla Gelato

Sunday was for workouts, working, errands, and the start of the new day bed for all of our guests! Ikea is the best.. ish.

Nathan Ikea Day Bed

Don’t worry Mom and Dad, the room will be a little more put together in a week and a half when you get here! Looking forward to this week being a little quieter. And actually being able to do some real meal planning. I missed meat and seafood!

Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday20 Minute Thai Basil Turkey and Lemongrass Rice Bowls
MondayKung Pao Salmon and Chicken with Sweet Potato and Broccoli
Tuesday – Leftover duck l’orange with citrus fennel and avocado salad
WednesdaySmoky Chipotle Beet and Quinoa Burgers
ThursdayBurrito Bowls
Friday – Out!
Saturday – Leftovers

Food for Thought

Did you celebrate Valentines Day?

We Took a Little Trip

Well, maybe we didn’t take a trip for real, but we tried our hardest to have a honeymoon-style date night. And I’d say it was a huge success!

We’ve been wanting to try Cinghiale, a Cindy Wolf restaurant, since we got back from Italy. Hearing repeatedly that it is the best Italian restaurant around, it sounded like we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to taste-test and compare to the real deal we experienced just a few months ago. Luckily for us, restaurant week was coming up; reservations were made and we had a date night upon us!

About two hours before our reservation, we decided go big or go home. Cocktails before dinner at Wit & Wisdom, another restaurant we had yet to check out, and these drinks definitely did not disappoint!

Pisco Punch Wit Wisdom Tavern Four Seasons Baltimore Maryland MD

Pisco Punch – pisco porton, pineapple, fresh lemon, sage syrup

I started with the Pisco Punch. It was perfect for a summer night; the pineapple gave it a little bit of sweetness and the sage syrup gave it just the right amount of savory. Nathan ordered a classic Old Fashioned. It had the perfect mix of ingredients and was possibly the tastiest Old Fashioned he and I ever had.

Sticky Wicket Wit Wisdom Tavern Four Seasons Baltimore Maryland MD

Sticky Wicket – jim beam, fernet branca, smoked maple syrup, soda

Nathan’s drink inspired my next decision to go with the Sticky Wicket. I wanted something with a little more punch and this drink was perfectly balanced with the punch of whiskey, bitters, and smokey syrup. The soda added a little fizz to lighten it up. A definite repeat next time we go!

We saddled up and made our way over to dinner. When we walked in, we immediately noticed the charcuterie and cheese station over to the right. I loved seeing that right as we walked in; if we even questioned ordering a plate of charcuterie, that settled it! As far as atmosphere goes, it was definitely a far cry from the tiny restaurants we experienced on the honeymoon, though it was nice to not be seated on top of other people!

I joked that I hoped the bread would be better here than in Italy; thank goodness it was! We tore through the first little basket of bread while figuring out our orders. I went with the 3-course restaurant week menu and Nathan opted for a pasta dish, knowing that we would be sharing the charcuterie and cheese, my first course, and dessert.

Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD Sourdough Foccacia

Fresh focciacia and grilled bread

Cinghiale 75 Cocktail Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Cinghiale 75 – Hendricks gin, prosecco, fresh cucumber

I rarely get cocktails, but I was really feeling them the other night! [Maybe it’s all of Caitlin‘s fun cocktails I’ve been reading about..] I couldn’t say not to this one; I’ve recently discovered that I love gin. And anything with prosecco and cucumber is alright in my books! The bubbles hit the spot 😉

Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD Porchetta Fontina Toma Malga

Porchetta, Fontina, & Toma Malga

Nathan’s quest to find the best porchetta in the states has continued and I’m pleased to say that this was definitely a hit! It didn’t look like much, but it packed a flavorful punch full of rosemary and other herbs. The cheese was great too; the fontina was nice a creamy and the toma malga was a bit firmer. Both had great flavor and complimented the porchetta nicely.

Cinghiale Italian Heirloom Tomato Salad Baltimore Maryland MD

Local heirloom tomato salad, gorgonzola, basil, arugula, Sportoletti extra virgin olive oil

And this is what happens when all the sudden you realize you’ve forgotten to snap a pic.. whoops! I just couldn’t wait to dig in. I love the vibrant colors of heirloom tomatoes and they’re nice and sweet right now. The accoutrements perfectly complimented the tomatoes and I was glad to see that the portion size was just right. I didn’t want to fill up on salad before my entree!

Tagliatelle Lamb Bolognese Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Hand cut tagliatelle, lamb bolognese, & pecorino

Along with the porchetta, we’ve been on the lookout for fresh, homemade pasta. In Italy, the pasta melted in your mouth; there’s nothing like it and this came pretty darn close! Nathan’s lamb bolognese was more of what we learned to be a ragu, which was just what he was hoping to find.

Bronzino Eggplant Tomato Mushroom Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Grilled bronzino, eggplant purée, hen of the woods mushrooms, & tomato vinaigrette

My grilled bronzino took me right back to our first dinner in Italy. It was a nice, full portion and was perfectly seasoned and cooked. I love a good, crispy skin! The pairing of the earthy flavor of the mushrooms with the sweetness of the tomato, and the creaminess of the eggplant was right on par.

Panna Cotta Fresh Fruit Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Vanilla panna cotta with fresh local fruit

Finally, we finished with a vanilla panna cotta. I’m usually one to go for a richer dessert, but when I asked the server for her suggestion, she didn’t miss a beat and I was happy to have a lighter end to the meal. I, of course, stole all of the figs and Nathan all of the nectarines.. at least we know what we like! The fruit was a great addition to the creamy panna cotta and we left feeling satisfied but not overly full.

All in all, it was a great night; the service at Cinghiale left a bit to be desired, but the food was on point. I would definitely make my way back to try some more dishes.

Food for Thought

Are there restaurants around you that you’ve been dying to try?

What is your drink of choice when going out?

What I Ate Wednesday #13 – Birthday Edition!

It’s my birthday!

Or, at least it was yesterday. And what better way to celebrate then with some of my favorite foods and sharing them with you today.

Barr & Table Chocolate Protein Coach's Oats Earth Balance Coconut Peanut Spread Fig Tone It Up TIU Bombshell Spell

[Breakfast]
For such an important day, I had to make sure to have my most favorite breakfast. Chocolate protein Coach’s Oats, topped with Earth Balance Coconut Peanut Spread and a fig, plus my Bombshell Spell on the side!

And no worries, I would never keep something so delicious from you. The recipe is coming soon 🙂

[Snack]
Grapefruit (not pictured)

Barr & Table Brio Wood Grilled Salmon Salad Chicken Tomatoes Feta Crispy Onions Mixed Greens

[Lunch]
My lovely friend, Jessie, offered to take me out to lunch for my birthday. I decided to check out Brio, which happens to be right around the corner from both of our offices. I’d never made it over there, but I will definitely be going back! I got the Wood Grilled Salmon Salad, exchanging grilled chicken for the salmon. I was shocked when it came out; so many times I’m disappointed in the size of “entree” salads at restaurants, but this salad was huge! And super delicious. And the steaming hot sourdough bread to start out didn’t hurt either!

Barr & Table Vega One Chocolate Nutritional Shake GNC Shaker Blender Bottle

[Snack]
Vega One Chocolate Nutritional Shake. I have to say, I was quite impressed with the flavor of this shake. It was my first time trying this brand, and really any vegan brand of protein for that matter, and I’m looking forward to trying the other flavors!

Barr & Table Birthday Flowers!

[Birthday Flowers!]
He done good. Real good 🙂 Nathan definitely knows me well enough by now (almost 9 years!) to know that I’m not interested in a bouquet of roses. I just love all of the colors!

[Dinner]
Oh heyyyy awesome birthday dinner!

In the spirit of trying new things, we went to Dogwood for dinner last night. Neither of us had ever been there before, but we’ve heard so many good things about it over the years and I’m so glad we finally made it!

Barr & Table Dogwood Restaurant Baltimore Maryland MD Summertime Squeeze Irish Bread Mango Butter Grilled Summer Ratatouille

The meal started with a deliciously dense homemade bread served with mango butter; a little bit of sweet and a little bit of savory. I ordered the Summer Squeeze, a cocktail of watermelon juice, lemon juice, basil, and house-infused citron vodka. I’m a sucker for any kind of watermelon or cucumber cocktail so I had this one picked out before we even sat down!

For my first course, I chose the Grilled Summer Ratatouille.

Local summer squashes, eggplant & tomato, fresh basil

Nathan described this as a “hug in a bowl.” It was so fresh and flavorful; it was really the perfect comfort dish for a summer evening. Not to mention, it is vegan and gluten-free. For those of you Baltimorian’s out there that are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free, I would highly recommend Dogwood; everything on their menu is noted, and they even have an entire vegan prix-fixe menu!

Barr & Table Dogwood Restaurant Baltimore Maryland MD Pan-seared Wild-caught Swordfish Coconut Cake Prosecco

For my entree, I was between a few options, but landed on the Pan-seared Wild-caught Swordfish per our waiter’s suggestion.

North Carolina swordfish served with ruby grapefruit, jicama and avocado salad, baby arugula and yukon gold potatoes

He definitely did not steer me wrong! The fish was cooked perfectly, the salad was light and fresh, and the potatoes were creamy and flavorful. And those sauces were divine. I topped off my entree with a glass of white wine recommended, again, by the waiter; a little sweet to play off of the sweetness of the fish.

Dessert was an amazing coconut cake. And if you’re like Nathan or me, you immediately just thought of the coconut cake episode of Good Eats. I will be trying Alton Brown’s recipe very soon.. I couldn’t get enough of the cake!

Oh, and that glass of prosecco? On the house.

As if the food wasn’t wonderful enough, the service at Dogwood was the icing on the (coconut) cake! They were all very attentive and friendly, and always willing to share a recommendation. This restuarant gets a huge Barr & Table seal of approval. I can’t wait to go back!

[Summer Staples]
FIGS!

Barr & Table Chocolate Protein Coach's Oats Earth Balance Coconut Peanut Spread Fig

I completely forgot how much I love fresh figs and have reminded myself in the past week. I could have eaten the entire box in one sitting, but instead I decided to space them out and savor them. Oh, and Nathan doesn’t like them. Darn.. more for me!

Speak Up!

What is a food for which you’ve recently re-discovered your love?