Tag Archives: food

Eating our way through Washington, D.C.

You may have noticed that I recently visited Washington, D.C.  I’ve mentioned some great meals that we experienced so now I want to go into a little more detail and share some photos of most of our meals.  I think you’ll like it :)

I had been perusing the various restaurants near our hotel in the weeks before we departed for D.C. to find a good spot for dinner our first night and there were several to choose from!  That is one reason I chose the Washington Plaza hotel for our stay.  For that first night I chose Estadio because it was within walking distance of our hotel and because it’s a Spanish tapas place. It also gets great ratings on TripAdvisor and is currently #38 of 2,703 restaurants listed on TripAdvisor for the D.C. area. The food was very good even if it was a bit spendy for what you get.  I was a bit disappointed in the tortilla de patatas or as I prefer, tortilla española.  Oh, it was good, but I was expecting the same tortilla española that you get in Spain.  Estadio puts their own stamp on it and they really don’t have to.  It was good, it just wasn’t what I wanted. We also got their jamón variety platter, boquerones, manchego cheese and olives all of which are pictured in the following gallery. The bread that accompanied several dishes was very fresh and quite delicious. There were little slices of sweet breads that came with the cheese, also very yummy. We also ordered shrimp and that was really too much for us. Probably should have skipped the shrimp but it was very tasty!  We took the rest of the ham and manchego as well as the olives back to our hotel’s mini fridge. And that package served as snacks for the next several days.

Another reason I chose our hotel was because it gave me the option to include breakfast with our room.  I did that and I’m so glad!!  The breakfast buffet at the Washington Plaza hotel is one of the best American breakfast buffets I think I’ve ever had.  They had everything you could possibly want for breakfast and that is one of my criteria.  They had an egg station and I chose that every day. I got an egg either over easy with fried veggies or scrambled with veggies. Their hot food choices were great too.  Green beans for breakfast?  Why not?!?! And they were delicious! Most mornings they had roasted potatoes, our last morning the spuds were still good, I just preferred the roasted spuds. One morning there were roasted tomatoes instead of the green beans and those were quite good too!  Photos of the hotel’s breakfast bar and my plates  from two different mornings:

We had some great lunches too, mostly sit down places and one cafe, the Pavilion Cafe located on the mall next to the National Gallery of Art. The food’s pretty good and I just like being amongst the sculptures.  I also ate at one of the newest Cava restaurants and that too was great! It’s similar to the Naf Naf Grill that we have in the twin cities area. Both use the same format as Chipotle where you build a meal. I usually get a salad bowl with hummus and other toppings.   Cava has way more choices than Naf Naf as well as some great tasting teas.

I looked around the area of the Portrait Gallery for a place all four of us (hubby, me, my sister and nephew) would like for lunch and I scored with Zaytinya! Oh my, this place was fabulous!  Truly, if you’re in the area, do check them out. It’s one of the many restaurants run by José Andrés and now I’ve been to three of them.  Each as great as the next.  Zaytinya is billed as serving Greek, Turkish and Lebanese food.  Everything we ordered was so tasty.  I wrote a review for Tripadvisor so feel free to check that out if you like.

We also randomly chose the Chop House Brewery for lunch on our last day.  We visited the National Archives just before lunch so we wandered up 7th Street and checked out what looked like many great spots and then chose the Chop House.  We were greeted warmly and seated immediately.  With our drinks came this warm cornbread in a small skillet and we didn’t eat it all.  My lunch was perfect and hit the spot.  Hubby enjoyed what he had too.

We had two very good dinners in the neighborhood of our hotel.  Hubby discovered P.J. Clarke’s  after exiting the wrong side of our metro station.  He realized his error when he didn’t recognize his surroundings but P.J. Clarke’s caught his eye that day and he stopped in for refreshment.  When he saw that they had an oyster bar happy hour, he knew he wanted to come back. That’s where we dined our third night and again, great food, friendly staff and perfect ambiance. He had his oysters at the bar then we moved to the patio for dinner. It was a perfect night to eat on the patio.  I even indulged in dessert.  A fantastic and rich dessert to end our repast.  Yum, yum!!   I wrote a review on Tripadvisor for P.J. Clarke’s.  Check it out if you’re so inclined.

Our last dinner choice was a bit of a struggle. We were both so tired of walking by our last night so we opted to choose something that was no farther than 5-10 minutes, preferably on the 5 minute side.  I know you’re going to find this shocking but again, we scored!! We chose The Pig of course for the location but it gets great reviews and I can see why. We got there just before the dinner rush and it was nice to have a bit of quiet after our many days of touring the city. Friendly staff once again,  great locally sourced food and most meals contain something pig-related.  One different thing that The Pig does is they offer 3 different sizes of wine glass.  I had never heard of that before but I chose the middle size and it was perfect.

I’m amazed that we had such great experiences with just about all of our meals.  It really helps to do research ahead of time.  I typically look at TripAdvisor reviews when seeking places to eat.  You’ll always get a mix of reviews but I try to choose restaurants based on the majority of reviews and so far, that has worked very well.  I would recommend each of the places that I talk about here.  D.C. certainly has no shortage of great restaurants to choose from!

 

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Muffuletta, St. Paul, Minnesota

I have wanted to try this restaurant for many years.  The biggest thing it had against it is the parking.  I thought that the only place to park was on the street but I recently discovered there is a parking lot behind it, thanks to my employee.  When going west on Como Avenue, turn left onto Carter Avenue, the parking lot is on the left. We did that our first trip and it worked great. We got there at 11:30 just before the lunch rush begins.

We’ve been there for lunch twice now and the trips were about three weeks apart.  Hubby enjoyed it so much the first time he wanted to take me to lunch on another day that he had off.  We sat in a cute and small corner booth the first time we went there and that added to the charm for our initial visit. Both times they served us a free appetizer consisting of a garlic puree along with a bread basket.  YUM!!! The food is great here!

On our first visit I had the beet salad which looks small but it turned out to be just the right portion.  Hubby had a ham and cheese sandwich but the cheese was on the outside of the sandwich? He had to eat it with a fork but he said it was delicious.  The second visit I had their three course meal.  You can see most of the menu from my photo below.  It was great too but I didn’t have room for dessert so took it home with me. And hubby had the Muffuletta described thusly on their website:  Smoked pit ham, Italian meats, pepper-jack and provolone cheese, olive relish, sesame bun.  Except it looks like ciabatta bread and not a sesame bun. Either way, he loved it!!

The staff is very friendly and quick.  I recommend this restaurant highly. Come have a look see at the photos I took of the restaurant and our food.   We both loved this place so much, we will definitely go back.

Here’s a little ditty from their website:

Winter at Muffuletta
Let our heartiest cooking sustain you on these cold, dark days. Now is the time to crack a bottle of red, rediscover our classic beer-cheese soup, and cast your eye to our daily specials, beckoning with winter stews, roasted root vegetables and Minnesota game.
Located in Milton Square
2260 Como Avenue
St. Paul, MN
Reservations 651-644-9116

 

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Eating our way through España

The next installment in what’s become my weekly post about my trip to Spain is all about the food.  Did I mention that we had fabulous food during our two weeks in Spain?  Pretty sure I did and it’s true!  I tried to take photos of the great food we had but sometimes I forgot.  I did get some good food shots and some come with stories too.

The food markets in Spain are filled with seafood, meats, nuts, candy, fruits, vegetables as well as food stands where you can sit at a counter and have a little snack while you do your fresh food shopping.  We went to three of these markets but for one of the markets in Madrid we were there too early.  I had hoped to find a leather goods shop at this market near the Lavapies metro stop but it was too early on Sunday morning and there were only a few stands open, so I did not take photos.  But I did get a few photos of the other two markets we visited. They were Atarazanas market in Málaga and La Boquería in Barcelona.  Click on any image in any gallery to see a larger photo and the gallery itself.

Atarazanas market in Málaga:

La Boquería, Barcelona:

We had tapas frequently as meals but we did have some other meals too.  For example, the best paella I ever had was at Cafe Varela in Madrid and the service there is impeccable. They also have an excellent breakfast buffet which is pricey so Miss M and I only went once and absolutely loved it!  Hubby did not want to join us that morning.  Another great meal was at Vinoteca Moratin in Madrid where we ate with my blogger friend from Te Veo en Madrid.  You must reserve a table for this restaurant as it’s very popular and not very big.  My friend made our reservations two weeks in advance.  Another fabulous meal that we enjoyed was at Pura Brasa in Barcelona.  We liked it so much that we went back a second time two nights later and it was just as good!  We had a fun waiter at Taverna del Bisbe in Barcelona which, by the way, has THE best crema catalana in the known universe.  Take my word for it.  We had fun and delicious eating experiences all over Spain.

What follows is a conglomeration of some of the food we had in Spain, a couple of restaurant shots and a few people shots.

Food in Málaga and Córdoba:

Food in Madrid:

Barcelona food:

This last gallery consists of what is now a special place for us.  Hubby had his first boquerones here six years ago when we stopped for refreshment after sightseeing in Barcelona and he’s been eating them ever since. Taverna del Bisbe is right next to the cathedral so it was easy to find. Hubby attempted to tell the waiter about his initiation into boquerones but I don’t think he understood.  He smiled a lot and was a most jovial server. When I started to order one crema catalana he asked “Una?” meaning “only one?” sort of giggling.  I laughed and answered yes.  Miss M and I had the same desserts that we had six years ago as well and once again, they were excellent. When we paid and started to leave our waiter shook each of our hands and thanked us profusely.  He was so much fun on our last day in Barcelona.  Here’s what we ate at Taverna del Bisbe:

Eating in Spain is one of the highlights of traveling there.  I have not had any bad food ever in Spain.  I highly recommend all the restaurants that I mentioned above.  Cafe Varela and Vinoteca Moratin in Madrid, Pura Brasa and Taverna del Bisbe in Barcelona. Casa Aranda for churros y chocolate in Málaga and definitely try something sweet from Lepanto in Málaga.  We also had nice meals at El Viejo Pop and Tapa Tapa, both in Barcelona.  One rule of thumb we use when looking for a place to eat: are there many locals eating there? If there are, you’ve probably found a good spot.  We also take a look at the menus to see if there are enough items that are appealing.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my food tour.  What is your favorite from the photos above?  Or if your favorite is not shown here, do tell me about it.  I’d love to know your favorite foods.

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Cheesecake Factory – Pembroke Pines, Florida

I just spent 10 days in Florida packing up my mother’s apartment with my sister and daughter.  Mom is nearly 92 and can no longer be on her own.  She is now living with my sister which gives me much comfort knowing she is no longer alone.  We had a most awesome team, my sister, my daughter, Mom’s aide and me.  We decided to keep Mom’s daytime aide so that we could concentrate on the sorting, tossing and packing and I’m so glad we did!  I am quite sure we would not have made the deadline if we hadn’t.  Merline was such a great help and we are all so thankful for the nearly three years of care she gave to Mom.  She was there the last day too and said “Well Goldie, do you have anything to say to me?” Mom said no.  “What?? You mean after almost three years you have nothing to say to me?” Then Mom said “I love you!!” So darn sweet.  We were truly blessed hiring Comfort Keepers and Merline.  I would not hesitate to hire them in the future.  We had such a good experience.

After I took Mom and my sister to the airport, my daughter and I had a few more things to take care of before we headed back home. I am writing this on our final night here in southern Florida from our hotel room.  And by the time you read this I will be on  my way home, finally.  We donated many  things to Salvation Army and the rest was picked up this morning by Hands on Property Services.  And I was so impressed with them.  I was given a quote over the phone and he ended up taking much more than what I told him I would have and he was going to charge me the same amount!  So I said “are you sure?” and then he added only $25 more!  Wow.  So if you’re in southern Florida and need junk removed, don’t hesitate to contact this company.  They were on time and just plain awesome.

So back to the restaurant review that is the title of this post.  My daughter and I decided to dine at the Cheesecake Factory in Pembroke Pines last night.  We had such a good meal that we decided to go back tonight!  Last night we both chose pasta dishes.  Miss M had the Four Cheese Pasta: Penne Pasta, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Romano and Parmesan Cheeses, Marinara Sauce and Fresh Basil.  And I had the Garlic Noodles with shrimp:  Spaghettini, Fresh Asparagus, Shiitake Mushrooms, Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Parmesan in a Delicious Garlic Sauce.  I did not get photos of our meals but they were both fabulous!!  And there’s always room for dessert right? Heh, almost.  A friend had recommended the Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake and said it was to die for so that’s what I had.  He was SO right!!  Miss M had the Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake, also very yummy!  But we could not finish them and took them back to the hotel with plastic forks.  We attempted to finish them later last night, however, they were just too rich!! So our desserts were finished in three sittings, the last one earlier today.

Tonight’s meal was equally delicious!!  Miss M had their Margherita Pizza: Fresh Mozzarella, Basil and Tomato Sauce.  And I had the Grilled Steak Medallions from their Skinnylicious menu:  Certified Angus Beef® Served with Fresh Asparagus, Shiitake Mushrooms, Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes, Crushed Croutons, Mashed Potatoes and Madeira Wine Sauce.  Outstanding!!  I’m so impressed with the great selection, excellent food and service.  This time I got photos of our meals.  We chose to dine on the patio and had the perfect spot just outside the door where waiters were coming and going so every so often we felt a nice, cool wave of air mixed with the breeze of a warm, southern Florida evening.  It was perfect!

We were truly blessed and managed to get just about everything done by the deadlines.  We had one snag today with turning off the water. I didn’t realize that I had to do it in the apartment so Miss M and I went back to do that this afternoon however it was not to be.  For some reason, today the deadbolt would not budge.  We used it the entire time we were there.  Two nice gentlemen tried to help by spraying WD40 in the lock and then using a tool to try to pry the deadbolt out of the door jamb, to no avail.  One of them said he thought the pin broke.  The management company is going to get in there on Monday to turn off the water for us.  Thank goodness because I’m not sure I’d be able to sleep tonight.  Other than this last snag, everything went fairly well.  We had awesome people along the way, from the lovely folks at the UPS store to the funny guy at the U-Haul place, the awesome Salvation Army team who took many things that we donated and finally the great company that hauled away the damaged furniture that Salvation Army didn’t take.  And Mom is safe and happy in Virginia with my sister and her family.  Finally, I’d like to share a photo of Mom and Merline, her aide of nearly three years.  This was her last day in Florida.

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Boca Chica restaurant, St. Paul, MN

Recently we dined at this great restaurant just over the river from downtown St. Paul.  One of our favorites as we always have a great meal and leave satisfied.  We started off with some margaritas.

Next was the soup and then our entrees. We both had their delicious tomato soup with what looks like small pieces of spaghetti and fresh cilantro on top, oh yum.  Hubby had the tamales, their grandmother’s family recipe described like this “Two fresh tamales filled with your choice of pork seasoned with chile ancho sauce or chicken seasoned with salsa verde, then wrapped in a plantain leaf and steamed to perfection. Served with chile gravy and sopa.”   I had Los Dos Amigos: “Two handmade thick corn tortillas topped with refried beans, green chile sauce, onions, queso fresco and cilantro. Served with sopa and any one enchilada.” Hubby ate both his tamales and I took home most of his beans and rice and had them with the other half of the two amigos the next day for lunch.  Yum!!

The walls of the restaurant are decorated with interesting murals and we sat by the fireplace this time which was nice on a cold, winter evening.

If you’re in the twin cities you really should have a meal here. I’m pretty sure you will leave happy.

Boca Chica
11 Cesar Chavez Street
St. Paul, MN 55107
651- 222-8499

Boca Chica Restaurante on Urbanspoon

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a once in a while Hanukah celebration

We always light the candles for Hanukah but this year Miss M also requested a Hanukah meal.  I don’t make a special Hanukah meal every year and it has been a while since the last one, so I got to celebrate with fun food along with lighting the candles this year.     Of course I took photos along the way so come along and see how this family celebrates Hanukah.  First, a photo for every night we lit the candles, except one because there were only two and both were bad!

My Hanukah meal consisted of roast chicken, potato latkes, noodle kugel and carrots in a maple/orange juice sauce.  One word: Delish! I’m kicking myself because I forgot to take a photo of the chicken!  But I did get some nice ones of the other food.

I always make rugelach every year as they’re my favorite holiday cookie.  A mixture of currants, honey, nuts, sugar and cinnamon rolled up into a butter/cream cheese/flour dough, then brushed with cream and a dusting of sugar.  Yum, yum, yum.

In this house we celebrate both Hanukah and Christmas, one because it’s my heritage, the other is due to my beliefs.  I also look forward to and celebrate the solstice.  The days have a little more light and now we’re moving in that direction again.  It always makes me feel better for some reason.  And it gives me the strength to get through the winter.  Spring will come again!!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy New Year!!

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not our usual Thanksgiving

But it was a fine one nonetheless!!  Since we decided we weren’t going to turn on our new oven just yet due to our mice infestation issue, we opted to spend Thankgiving at a restaurant almost at the last minute.  I say at the last minute because when I started looking for restaurants that were open on Thanksgiving less than two weeks ago, some had already filled up!  And in the 2-4 hours that I started looking then booked our reservation, more reservation spots had filled up at Fire Lake Grill House.  A few days later a co-worker suggested Windows on Minnesota, which is atop the Marquette Hotel, also in downtown Minneapolis.  He said it was an excellent buffet and the views are fabulous.   I never could get in touch with anyone there.  Each time I tried I got a voicemail box and I didn’t leave a message.  It was probably about $5 more than the meal we had and from the sounds of it, it may have been a better meal choice?  I might consider Windows on Minnesota next year, we’ll see.

For nearly our entire married life, I have planned and cooked (and cleaned up after) our Thanksgiving meal.  It’s my favorite holiday, so much so that I created a post about it last year.  Feel free to read about it at the link.  Since we decided to spend the meal out this year, we opted to make just some appetizers to get us through the day until we left for dinner just after 5 p.m.  We had our usual deviled eggs, mixed nuts, cheese and crackers, longhorn caviar and cheddar stuffed mushrooms.  All were excellent and we staggered them throughout the day.  We all agreed that it was odd to not have much to do and that not much cooking was going on.

What’s interesting about this trip downtown is that there are plenty of places to park within walking distance of the restaurant.  We chose the lot adjacent to the restaurant.  It was an underground lot and when we drove down the ramp, we were greeted with a huge panel of doors with a sign that read something like “pull forward, the doors will open automatically”.  Like out of a sci-fi movie, cool!!  What’s also interesting is that we didn’t know this would be a nice, warm parking lot, meaning we really didn’t need to bring our coats.  However, being the weather saavy Minnsesotans that we are, we always bring our coats, boots, gloves and hats with us in the unlikely event of going in the ditch.  And considering that yesterday was the coldest day of the week (a high of 10, whee!!), it was nice to not have to face the elements.  Score!!

We were seated immediately with our friend joining us from the bar.  I noticed that our table was on the edge of two rooms so I wondered how that was going to work.  Luckily, my happy-go-lucky hubby had the “right” seat.  He was the one that everyone kept bumping into and he didn’t mind a bit.  One thing that I liked about this restaurant was that they had more than their Thanksgiving meal on the menu.  So, if my vegetarian daughter didn’t want their Thanksgiving meal, she could choose something else.  Instead, three of us had their Thanksgiving meal and hubby had their prime rib.  Miss M just ate everything but the turkey, which we brought home with us. Here is the write-up from their website of their holiday menu:

Join us for Thanksgiving and what has been a tradition for many over the last decade at FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar in downtown Minneapolis.  Our Executive Chef Jim Kyndberg and his team will provide the perfect meal to celebrate.  Enjoy our cider cured, applewood smoked, Wild Acres Turkey prepared over the wood-burning rotisserie.  The trimmings include wild rice stuffing, cheddar herb mashed potatoes, cider gravy, maple glazed yam and apples, green beans with crimini mushrooms and crispy shallots and cranberry-orange relish.

There were plenty of other choices on their menu but I’m glad that I chose the traditional meal.  The turkey was delicious and moist, the potatoes, yams and green beans were equally yummy.  It seemed that the stuffing was not a big hit as all three of us had some leftover at the end.  There was also pumpkin pie for dessert but I was too stuffed to finish mine and I didn’t like that it was cold. I guess they had to refrigerate the pie but we’ve always had room temperature pie.

Some photos of the meal and environs:

 

They also sent everyone home with “leftovers”: a bag with a turkey sandwich inside!  I thought that was a nice touch.  Here is Miss M with her bag:

Here’s hubby in his holiday garb.  He matches so well with the decor doesn’t he?

All in all a good experience.  And we really enjoyed the restaurant.  We will probably go back again!

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