Lentil Chips

Was roaming through World Market and a fuchsia bag jumped out at me. Had to inspect a bit. It was (Bandar) lentil chips, or Poppadums, to be exact, and they were original cumin flavor. Figured I should give them a try, especially since I had my 20% off coupon that expired that day.

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They were very dry and cardboard-y. And ironically soft at the same time. Not all that impressed, though ironically I kept eating them. The cumin taste was very nice, especially considering it’s one of my favorite spices. Totally not something I will pick up again, but was worth trying.

 

Cacique

This year I visited Frederick, MD a couple times and on one occasion had dinner at Cacique, which serves fine Spanish and Mexican cuisine. Fortunately on a Friday night it wasn’t too packed when we arrived, but I could tell we just beat the rush!

We ordered the required of guac and margaritas, both of which were very good.

For dinner, my friend ordered the Paella de Marisco — a rice dish consisting of shrimp, scallops, fish, mussels, calamari, and garnished with a clam. Cooked in a seafood broth and Spanish herbs (made to order). Made to order in the sense that they warn you it takes 20-30 minutes to prepare. Now jumping forward it did take quite awhile (30-45)…but come the end it was quite good.

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I went for my favorite of ceviche and found one with calamari, which isn’t all that common. The whole dish was Ceviche Mixto — fresh tilapia, shrimp, scallops and squid marinated in fresh lime juice with red onions, cilantro, celery, garlic, ginger, and jalapenos. Very good! The ginger was also a unique ingredient in the dish.

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The food and atmosphere overall were very good. Service got a bit slow mid-meal, though it was a Friday night. But, I would definitely check this place out again. Salud!

 

The Wine Harvest

There is a fun local restaurant in Park Potomac, MD (just outside of DC) called The Wine Harvest. If you know the area, it’s off of Exit 4/Montrose Rd from 270, or if you’re ever just going up 270, it’s where that Harris Teeter, Founding Farmers and the ever-growing townhouses/developments are (though that last part doesn’t totally narrow it down).  They also have a location in The Kentlands.

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It’s a small, family-owned place that offers a casual, tasty menu and also sells wine by the bottle/is a wine shop. Oh, beer, too. They have a bar where you grab or drink and tables to sit back and relax.

Last time I was there I just went for some sort of finger food and opted for the Smoked Salmon Plate — smoked salmon served with chopped red onions, capers, sour cream and baguette slices. Instead of sour cream they were great and put manchego on there for me!

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My friend went for the Greek Salad romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, Greek olives, pepperoncini, feta cheese, served with Greek dressing and pita and added a bowl of the Soup of the Day, which was a Cream of Broccoli.

We enjoyed a bottled of Italian wine with dinner. You can order wine by the glass from the menu or buy a bottle from their nice selection, but are then charged a corkage fee. But, you can take it home if not finished.

Everything, from food to service was very good. The prices are also excellent. Not your typical DC prices, which is great!

Fish Taco

I had heard so much about Fish Taco that I eventually had to try it. Also did it by taking a friend there as a thank you for picking me up from the airport. Good excuse, right?

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Their background is ‘Our food is rooted in traditional flavors inspired by various regions including Baja California, Mexico and the Southwest. We embrace local, seasonal and authentic ingredients presented simply, yet prepared with passion and precision.’

It’s one of the restaurants where you go up and order and they call your number when it’s ready, the new fast-casual, or something along those lines. I had sort of wondered about that, or how exactly they worked. They have three locations in the DC-area, and I visited the one on Old Georgetown Rd.

Was torn on what to order. I was assuming that based on their background (and name) they’d have ceviche (or some sort at least), but no.

I ended up getting the Blackened Fish Salad; mixed greens, romaine hearts, baby kale, avocado, grilled mango, cherry tomatoes, red onions, cotija cheese, blackened fish, and our house made Lemon Cilantro Vinaigrette (minus the cheese) — $11.95. The seasoning was nice, but the fish was pretty greasy.

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My friend went with the Adobo Barbacoa (Brisket) Tacos; fresh white corn tortilla, adobo marinated barbacoa, pickled jalapeno/carrots/onions, guajillo sauce — $8.95. This was apparently darn good, but not a very big portion.

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To kill time we also ordered chips and salsa. It’s always a strike against when at a mexican restaurant (generic term) you have to pay for chips and salsa. And, it was $4! (and not that ample of a size).

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I can see why this place gets hype. It was relatively quick and easy. But, I personally wasn’t all the impressed. I would rather cook at home. And it was overpriced for what’s offered/delivered. But, it is Bethesda/DC so you come to expect it. Glad I was able to pass the opinion myself.

Sausage & Potato Pan Roast


Had Supper Club at my place awhile back and it was right before Halloween (yes, catching up on writing many posts). The theme I chose was Orange & Black, meaning that anything people cooked had to contain something of/with those colors. I came across a recipe in Food & Wine, Sausage-and-Potato Pan Roast, that with some slight alterations to the ingredients would fit the theme.

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Active: 20 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

2 large red potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch wedges
1 large baking potato, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
**for the potatoes overall, I used fingerlings, several medium reds and a sweet (for my orange color)
10 medium unpeeled shallots, halved
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage, cut into 3-inch lengths **I grabbed chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s
One 8-ounce bunch of arugula, stemmed and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Prep

Preheat the oven to 425°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss all of the potatoes with the shallots and the 1/3 cup of olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are lightly browned. Brush the sausage with olive oil and add to the baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes longer, until the potatoes are tender and the sausage is cooked through.

Transfer everything on the baking sheet to a platter. Fold in the arugula and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and serve.

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This stuff was delicious! So easy to make, too. Definitely added this to my default list for recipes to make.

Flor de Luna

I don’t love trying out new restaurants right after they open all that often. But when it’s a family-owned restaurant that serves Latin-American cuisine, I’m there. It’s also great when it’s very close to where I live.

So, my friend and I checked out Flor de Luna in North Bethesda/Rockville, MD recently. If you know that area, it’s 1/2 block from Whole Foods. So, we called to make a reservation and we could only get in at 6:30pm (I think vs 6:00). Basically I say that because they made it sound like they were packed and it was empty in there (and it wasn’t getting busier). I think there were 2 other tables filled.

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The menu said that Happy Hour went until 7 so we ordered some margaritas and mentioned that it was great that HH was on Sundays. He said, well, oh no, it’s not on weekends. We mentioned that nowhere did it mention that, either on the menu, signs, or website. He just sort of shook his head. Not good advertising and way to mention things. The waiter also said with all this they don’t serve margaritas on Sundays because as of right now the bartender isn’t there (just opened) so they can’t make the drink. He said he could try, we mentioned we would really appreciate that, happy hour price didn’t matter.

Note, when it did eventually come, service was slow, it was an awesome margarita! Nice work non-bartender!

We started looking over the menu, this was while enjoying a very unique opaque dip (no picture). It looked like a cheese dip but I was guaranteed there was no cheese/dairy in it. It was just so emulsified, but it was all good.

While skimming the menu we noticed several mistakes for the new venue…lots of typos, such as a staple for this type of restaurant, you could get ‘guacamole deep.’

Moving on, it was a cold night and I decided to get the Seafood Soup — Fish, mussels, squid, shrimp, and scallops in fish broth. I was about $16 or so, and was sure hoping it was going to have a good amount of seafood in it. That was an understatement when I got the bowl. This picture does it no justice at all. So much good stuff in here. Absolutely amazing.

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My friend opted for the Carne Asada — New York stake (*another typo, I copied and pasted) served with rice, beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo. My friend quite enjoyed it, all tasted very good.

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During the meal, the owner of the restaurant came out to meet us, very nice. I unfortunately can’t remember where she is originally from but it was great to see who cooked our delicious food. We eventually finished everything and asked for our check. Our waiter delivered it and did make the margaritas the happy hour price as he mentioned they should be based on what was advertised/mentioned. Thanks and nice work for ‘saving’ yourself.

Very nice dinner and will definitely go back and try several other choices from the menu. I also hope their business starts to pick up. I think I went in the first week or two from when they opened so it’s very likely this will be the case.

La Fiesta Grill & Cantina

Awhile back I checked out a great Mexican place in Steamboat Springs, CO — La Fiesta Grill & Cantina. What drove me there? The coupon that was on the back of the receipt from the grocery store. I guess those things actually work!

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Some of the required drinks were ordered, margaritas. But, after some discussion with the waitress I changed from my normal, or I guess just what is normally served, and got one with white tequila. Ok, that’s my new favorite.

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Had some simple stuff for lunch between the two of us there.  I had one of my staples — ceviche, and the other had chicken tortilla soup.

The ceviche was good, but not quite the normal. It was almost like a gazpacho. There was tomato juice in there. Not saying I didn’t like it, but totally not what I was expecting. The tortilla soup was just perfect!

With the coupon, we got one of the margaritas free, too. Heck yeah! Worth checking out if you’re in that town.

Santa Came Early

Got a great Christmas present recently. A stocking stuffed with wine. Box wine, removed from the box, stuffed in the stocking, and the tip of the stocking had been removed. Perfect! Just press the button and your wine glass gets filled. And since box wine has improved a lot, this is a great way to enjoy the holiday season!

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Quality in cans

Simple pleasures can come in the form of cans, and I try to only enjoy them during the holidays. Cranberries says it all.  Canned Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce. Get it out of the can in the shape it came in, make sure it still has all the lines on it, then carefully slice it, and enjoy. Oh yes, what would the holidays be without this high quality sugar rush?

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Cugino’s

While in Steamboat Springs, was looking for some lunch and came across a sort-of-hidden Italian place, Cugino’s.

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Italian food sounded good and their lunch options sounded even better! For under $10 you could get a small pizza and beer (not sure if they have seasonal menus and I was not there during ski season). That was almost too good to be true. And the beer was good stuff, not just some boring macrobrew.

The service was a bit slow but the waiter was very apologetic. And we were sitting outside enjoying the weather so that helped.

When the food came out, well worth the wait! I went for pizza with no cheese (lactard) and some other great toppings, the other pizza at the table did have the nice melted stuff.  Perfect crust, perfect size, absolutely delicious.

Will definitely check this place out again next time I’m in the area.