Hummus, oh my hummus

There are so many varieties of hummus out there!  They can cause problems…aka addiction.

I didn’t know until a couple weeks ago that Boar’s Head (like the meat people make it).  Picked some up…new addiction.

IMG_5105[1]

There is also the Humm! by Fountain of Health.  They aren’t my favorite but twist my arm if needed.

Sabra of course is way up there. Sooo smooth! And so many flavors!  They and Boar’s Head are tied now for the leaders.

sabra

Cava is darn good.

cava

Trader Joe’s ranks up there pretty high and they have both ‘normal’ and smooth.  The price is good.

tjs

Then you get Tribe, Whole Foods, Wegmans and so many more.

tribe  wf   wegmans

I also love making the stuff at home.  Do you have a favorite hummus — by brand and/or flavor?  Or, is it the homemade stuff?

Then the next most important question — what’s your favorite pita chip?

Capital Wheel Lunch

Finally made it to the Capital Wheel at the National Harbor, MD recently.

IMG_5047[1]

Went on a cold day, which meant the line was non-existent.  Great views all around.  After the ride, checked out a restaurant in the area, Granite City.

IMG_5052[1]

They brew their own beer so opted for a sampler.  The four brews on the taster were The Prairie Vixen, The Northern, the Cran Gose and the Smith & Forge.

IMG_5056[1]

The Prairie was a Hef with mild banana and clove, bubble gum, hints of citrus and mild spiciness.  It was not that exciting and actually way too banana-y for me. The Northern was an American Lager that was mild, crisp and had mild bitterness.  Very good, a true Lager. The Cran Gose  tasted like toothpaste to me.  The Smith & Forge was solid.

The menu was a normal brewery menu and based on the location, quite expensive.  They had a traditional MD crab soup so I opted for that and a salad.  My friend went for a bowl of chili and caesar.

IMG_5058[1]

IMG_5059[1]

Once we finally got the food…it was fine.  It took nearly 45 minutes to get the stuff, and you can tell all it really takes it a couple ladles and putting lettuce on a plate.  Nothing that exciting and there are many other places at National Harbor I’d rather check out.

The Birth of Saké

The Environmental Film Festival was in DC over the past week or so I read over the rundown of shows. There were some interesting movies running and one that really caught my eye was The Birth of Saké.  Side note:  how does that truly fit in with the environmental part?

IMG_5131[1]

Anyway, my friend and I decided to see the movie.  It was a compelling documentary about the origin of this well-known Japanese drink, from its origin, processing, to current state.  The movie follows the one brewery that continues to make sake by hand vs. going to machines/automation.  Their process of making sake takes 6 months and those who work at the brewery are gone from their families for that entire time.  Unique piece, and worth checking out. Definitely not something you hear or think about everyday.

 

 

8407 Kitchen Bar

Have heard of the restaurant 8407 Kitchen Bar in Silver Spring, MD for awhile and was finally able to check it out recently.  It’s right next to the Silver Spring Metro and just outside of Washington, DC.

There is a bar area downstairs with TVs and then the restaurant upstairs.  My friend and I were ‘normal’ and (actually) got a table upstairs.

IMG_5061[1]

After looking over the menu we decided to split a bunch of small plates versus going for entrees.  The decisions the ended up on the table were:

-Farm Fresh Deviled Eggs

-Pickled Veggies

-Salmon Bites

-Gouda Ewephora Cheese

-Black Goat Truffle Cheese

-Prosciutto Americano

IMG_5065[1]

(so we devoured half the salmon before I took a picture)

Also ordered some Temptation Zin to pair with all this.  Nice wine with berries and spice.

IMG_5069[1]

Was a very nice meal.  Service was a bit slow but nothing to worry about.  Prices are about the same as most restaurants (as in entrees were low upper teens to mid 20s) in the DC area. Would totally be game for checking this out again.

Newbies

Always great to pop a new cork or have somebody pour you a new brew.  The two most recents…

Was in Rehoboth Beach so had to of course visit one of my favorite breweries, Dogfish Head.  They have some brews on tap they you can only get while standing under that roof.  The one I opted for was the QuatroSanque.  ‘an intensely citrusy IPA made with blood orange juice, sliced lemon and orange zest. Dark and medium crystal malts provide a deep amber color and sweet caramel/toffee notes to balance the the tartness of the citrus. Generous dry-hopping with Centennial and HBC431 dry-hops at a massive 2 pounds per barrel pushes the citrus and tropical juiciness to the next level. ‘  7.25% ABV (served in 10 oz. pours).  This stuff was smooth, not too hoppy and just refreshing.  I was close to buying a growler…

IMG_5119[1]

LAM Pinotage.  A bit earthier than normal, some tobacco in there, had minimal leather and smoke notes, but very interesting.  I tasted some fizz, but it was a ‘normal’ bottle.  It was a VERY light red.  Was definitely the most unique Pinotage I’ve tasted.  About $20/bottle.

IMG_5122[1]

 

Agua 301

Yards Park, DC.  Visited what is labeled as a ‘modern Mexican’ restaurant.  Don’t know if that’s the middle ground between tex-mex and authentic Mexican, but of course had to give it a try.  So, the place is Agua 301.

IMG_5036[1]

The time of the visit was oh-so-fortunately in the evening which meant happy hour was at hand…margarita, on the rocks, no salt.  I took a sip and sort of jumped back.  Waited, took another.  Took a sip of my friend’s as a comparison.  Then truly confirmed…they don’t skimp on alcohol.  I guess that’s good?  While I appreciate tequila in my drink I very much appreciate the lime in a margarita.  I had to send it back.  I could not drink this. It was straight alcohol.  Some people might love this…anyway.

Of course came to this place for dinner to also check out the food.

Guac was also on happy hour.  Ordered that ASAP.  For $6 you got probably a softball size serving of great guacamole.  Some nice chunks of avocados were in there, too.  Tasty!  Paired nicely with their unique salsa.

IMG_5040[1]

For dinner, I had to get their Ceviche Pescado Blanco.  It was extremely unique.  It was mixed with some salsa and other unknown, good flavors.

 

IMG_5044[1]

My friend went for the Camarones en Crema de Chipotle, which are pan seared shrimp in a chipotle cream sauce over Spanish rice.  Good flavor and nicely cooked.

IMG_5043[1]

Overall, dinner was good.  But, service was marginal.  We were there around 6pm on a Friday and the place wasn’t too busy.  It was tough to attract or find the waiter and it took a long time to get drinks and food.  Considering they don’t take much time to cook, it was odd.

Cheers to the Weekend

Have been sipping a range of drinks recently so thought I would pass them along as we enter the weekend.  They hit all the choices out there — beer, wines, liquor.  The rundown as the 5 o’clock whistle approaches.

IMG_5093[1]

Beer:  It’s Flying Dog’s 25th Anniversary and I heard about their anniversary brew, Tropical Bitch.  It’s a Belgian-Style IPA, 8.0% ABV.  Per the description, “pineapple and mango dominate with subtle passion fruit and sticky sweet, yet crisply bitter, hop notes.”  Was finally able to snag a 6-pack.  Yeah, it’s ok.  Fairly bronze in color and just off in taste, for me.  Not that impressed (personally, keep that in mind).  I keep opening more to see if I like it and not so much, but the color is very cool.  It’s about $8-$10/6 pack.

White Wine:  Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc from Chile.  Nice and light, with subtle citrus notes.  Has just a perfect body to it.  Also has the convenient screw top.  Perfect to enjoy with some cheese or seafood, or totally on its own.  This is around $10-$15/bottle.

Red Wine:  Napa Cellars Pinot Noir. I’ll let you guess where it’s from. It has just a nice balance of subtle chocolate and berries.  Perfect.  What I loved is that I was able to pick some up for $10/bottle vs. the normal $20!

Margaritas:  Jose Cuervo Light Margaritas (pre-mixed).  Addiction in a bottle.  Only 95 calories a serving.  Just don’t read how small the serving is, ok?  It’s just perfect to throw some ice in a glass and pour this on top.  Then grab the chips, salsa and guac.  Can usually find this for $12-$15/bottle.

 
Drink on, my friends.

Carluccio’s

Yet another new restaurant has been added to one of the growing areas just north of Washington, DC on the red line.  In Pike & Rose, the latest restaurant to open its doors is Carluccio’s.  They are so new that they haven’t even added this location to their website.  Went during their soft opening and you could tell things were still getting worked on/staff trained.  Took awhile to get service at some points, when waiters were just standing there chatting with each other or doing nothing.  But overall a good experience.

IMG_5016[1]

You have to pay for bread at this Italian place.  I was not impressed with that.  Tried a bellini and it was nice.

Also ordered some Caponata which was very tasty!

IMG_5025[1]

For dinner, I opted for the Insalata al Abruzzese – an Italian-style Nicoise. Per the menu it was albacore tuna, green beans, sweet peppers, vine tomatoes, new potatoes, anchovy fillets, salad leaves and soft boiled eggs with olive oil vinaigrette. I was disappointed when it arrived and the tuna was albacore tuna from a can.  I expected it to be a grilled steak.  Nonetheless, it was good.  The anchovies added a nice taste.

IMG_5028[1]

My friend ordered a basic Spaghetti con Polpette, with their house-made meatballs served with spaghetti and tomato basil sauce.  Exactly what it was labeled.

IMG_5027[1]

Will totally check this place out again and see how it progresses as it gets a little ‘older’.

Vermont, we have a problem

Innovation is key, yes indeed.  But sometimes staying a step behind helps people stay away from ‘harmful’ things.  What am I referencing?  Ben & Jerry’s, that just slightly known ice cream name based in Vermont, has just come out with a non-dairy ice cream.  Lactose-intolerant ones, oh lactards, let’s rejoice! Also, if wondering, it’s certified vegan. I see trouble on the horizon…

I happened to read a press release about this about a month or so ago and have been waiting for this stuff to come out.  Finally found it after going to…I’m not going to say how many stores.

IMG_5071[1]

IMG_5083[1]

I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I have eaten Chunky Monkey.  I just sort of let that spoon hang out of my mouth.  Are there really four servings in a container?

IMG_5086[1]

Vermont, you have really caused a problem here.  I’m going to start spending way too much money and will need to go to the gym a bit more frequently.  Besides Chunky Monkey, they also have a few other flavors of the non-dairy addiction.  Totally check this stuff out.

 

A Green Staple

I love seafood, I love cilantro, I love avocados, I love olives.  What does one do when they all come together?  Melt, find their happy place, eat way too much and then just share — oh not the food, just the recipe.
I found this Ceviche Verde Recipe in Bon Appetit several years ago and just can’t get enough of it.  It’s almost a Green Staple to me. So many things in it that I just love.  When halibut is sort of affordable (Costco, I love you) it’s amazing, but using another, affordable fish is just as good.  It might not look super eye appealing but it is appealing to the taste buds!

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh Pacific halibut or other firm-fleshed fish
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
3/4 cup green olives, sliced
1/2 cup tomatillos, diced
1/4 cup onion, very finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Tostadas or tortilla chips

Directions:

Chop fish into 1/2″ cubes; place in medium bowl. Add kosher salt; toss to coat. Add lime juice; toss to coat. Marinate until the edges of the cubes begin to turn opaque, tossing occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Dice avocados; add to bowl along with green olives, tomatillos, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño Add olive oil and season to taste with salt.

Serve over tostadas or with tortilla chips for dipping.

 

IMG_4975[1]