Simple Happiness

Some of my friends think I’m crazy, some of them are in complete agreement. Going grocery shopping is fun. And going to Wegmans is even better! There isn’t one near me; I have to drive at least 25 or so minutes to get to one. But once there, it’s just pure, simple happiness. So much produce, bread, cheese, meat, seafood, other stuff. They just have everything, you can’t go wrong…bliss.

I hope one gets built in upper NW DC where the Fannie Mae building is. I was so hoping one was going to come to North Bethesda. I could have walked to it. Though walking home from Wegmans could be tough after shopping. That could also help limit what you buy, I guess.

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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!

Brazil Nuts

The other day I was offered some cashews and I wasn’t very hungry so turned them down. But then I was told they were from Argentina and this guy’s mom picks and them toasts them herself. Then she sends them up him (her son). I could see there was something unique about them from far away because of the dark and sometimes tiny black accents on them. Had one…wow. Most amazing cashew I’ve ever had. These things were also enormous!

Made me think about Brazil nuts and my trip to Brazil a few years ago. Overall, I love nuts. But, I usually avoid buying mixed nuts because of those darn huge Brazil nuts that take up so much space in the container. They are a bit tasteless and almost chewy.

Well, when I was in Brazil, we visited a local market in Manaus on the last day. Think of something like Pike Place in Seattle on beyond illegal steroids. Among other local stuff, they had Brazil nuts and I told the guide how they weren’t my favorite. So, he grabs one, whips out his machete and shells the thing. He says ‘try it.’ Staring at it, it was just bright and a bit moist. Take a bite, it’s almost like candy. So good, nothing like we get here. It totally changed my perspective on Brazil nuts. I came back to the US hoping all these nuts had followed me on the plane, but of course when I opened a package of them or purchased them in bulk, they apparently had not boarded the plane…

Another reason I love traveling, enjoying the true local fare.

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Dax Farmer’s Market

I have been off the blogging scene recently because of an oh-so-rough trip to Ireland and France.  I am now starting to recap said vacation…

One of the best parts of the trip was why I went — for a friend’s wedding in SW France, in a small town named Dax.  It’s about a 90 minute drive from Bordeaux.

franceMy friend’s fiance had told me about the must-do the morning of the wedding, the local farmer’s market.  It ended up being about 2 blocks from the hotel.  WOW.  The place was making Pike Place look weak on some levels.  Some 3+ hours later we returned to the hotel with lunch to enjoy outside.  I grabbed Paella, as this town is close to Spain so they get some of their influence.  Others grabbed cheese and sausage, bread, veggies, some had nice flatbread-like pizza.  And, of course, wine!

Almost too good to be true.

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Edible Insects

Was flipping through a copy of National Geographic the other day and came across one of their Future of Food/Food by the Numbers pieces (there have been several).  This was quite interesting about how insects are essentially multi-purpose; used for both feed and food.  They are used to feed cattle and in some places they (grasshoppers in particular) are a delicacy for humans!  That’s in Uganda where they cost 40% more than a pound of beef.  Will be interesting to see what happens in the US with this in the future.

Check out the video.  National Geographic also has several other great pieces on various food topics  Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the NatGeo museum before the exhibit closed to see all of this in person, but it received great reviews.  If you live in DC, or visited the city, and made it to the museum, would love to hear what you thought about the exhibit.

natgeo                                                                       Photo Source:  nationalgeographic.com

Wine Crack(ers)

You can drink wine alone — there is zero problem with that.  You can find a wine that pairs perfectly with your meal.  You can find a meal to pair very nicely with your wine.  Or, you can find snacks to nibble on while sipping your wine.  While at the wine store, namely Total Wine, working a wine tasting and they give you these little nibbles to include at your table.  Innocent little off-white globes, about the size of a thumb nail.  These are Wine CRACKers.  OMG.  So, so, so good.  I don’t know what is in these things but they are addictive!!!

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Per the website, they are “O.T.C. Original Wine crackers are delicate, dry, yet slightly sweet with a hint of lemon and a touch of vanilla. O.T.C. Wine Crackers cleanse the palate and enhance the subtle flavor of fine wines. But you don’t have to be a wine lover to enjoy OTC wine crackers. While many people first experience them with wine, most end up eating them as a delicious snack or treat.”

They are totally right — have them on hand — they are like candy, oh, I mean snacks.  So good!  I’ve seen them at Total Wine and Wegman’s.  Googling them brings up many other options, as well.

African Meat Tastings

When on my trip to South Africa, I was able to try several meats I had never had the opportunity to sample before.  I wanted to take every opportunity I could to go local with what they had.  I was about 50/50 on them.

First was a Kudu loin.  It was served grilled with a cranberry & carrot sauce, spicy parsnip shavings, roasted garlic polenta, and these DELICIOUS, addictive sesame brinjal batons. I didn’t actually know what brinjal was until writing this post and looking it up.  It’s eggplant, just the name they use for it in South Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia (you learn something new everyday).  The meat was very, very chewy.  Glad I tried it, not my favorite.

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Next one I tried was a Springbok Carpaccio.  It was a bit ‘tasteless’ — but still nice to have a wild game carpaccio!

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Third new meat I tried was Ostrich.  Super healthy/lean.  According to the American Ostrich Association (there is an association for everything…), “ostrich is similar in taste, texture and appearance to beef. It’s comparable to beef in iron and protein content, but ostrich has less than half the fat of chicken and two-thirds less fat than beef and pork. Ostrich beats the competition with fewer calories, too. That’s why ostrich is the choice of health-conscious consumers who refuse to sacrifice flavor.” It’s tough to determine if this falls under poultry, game or other, but it is classified as red meat.  What I do know is that I loved it!  So lean, tasty and I wish we could easily get it here!  I did research when I got home and the couple places in the DC-area who used to carry it can’t get it anymore because at last count it was $60/lb.  Ouch!

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The last one I tried that was unique was Warthog.  OMG!  AMAZING!  Get me a warthog farm here in the States.  I can’t begin to describe how flavorful this stuff was.  Unreal.

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Another great part of the trip — some unique food to South Africa, some of which we can’t get here in the States.  Just another reason to go back.

 

Asparagus Hummus

Just made this recipe. Delicious!! The only changes I made were that I used a little bit of tahini instead of the olive oil. I also made half the recipe vs the whole. Great, unique flavor!! Thanks for the recipe, Homemade Delish!

Homemade Delish

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My family and I love purchasing and making fresh hummus in our house.  I was interested in trying to make  a new flavor. So I went ahead and made an asparagus hummus to enjoy with some crackers and veggies.  The flavor of the asparagus really comes out.  I think this is just another way to add more nutrition to your hummus.  This hummus has a refreshing finish too.  Enjoy as a snack or with your next get together.

Ingredients:

2 (15.5 oz) Can of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed

10 Asparagus Spears

3 Garlic cloves

Salt & Pepper, to taste

1/2 to 1 cup of Extra Virgin Olive oil

Juice and Zest of 1 Lemon

 

Preparation:

In a medium pot bring water to a boil and add asparagus. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. In a medium bowl with cold water and ice add asparagus. This will stop the cooking…

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DC Brunch Spot

Last Sunday the weather was bad but that was no reason to avoid heading out for brunch.  It had been planned and was going to happen.  There is a great restaurant called El Centro on 14th Street with a (food and drink) bottomless weekend brunch on Saturday and Sundays from 10:30-3 for $35.

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It’s a great Mexican fare and you order, essentially, small plates.  So, you can have a little bite of everything.  The drink menu contains everything from Mimosas to Bloody Marias to seasonal mixes.  What’s ironic?  You HAVE to pay for coffee, tea and juice.  Dang!

As soon you get there they bring you great chips and salsa and come on, guac is a requirement!

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I tried some of the ceviche, chicken tacos, beans and eggs.  Others at the table had beef tongue, jicama, chile relleno and more.  Didn’t get pictures of everything.  It was delicious.  Definitely worth checking out.  It was very slow, though.  Sort of ironic with things like ceviche that don’t really cook and the restaurant wasn’t that busy.  But, there was no rush since it was an ugly weather day out there.

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