Weekend Recap: lights and animals!

This was a busy weekend. I thought last weekend was busy but this one might have it beat. It was a great mix of adult fun and kiddo fun and spending time with friends and family.

Friday night I picked up carry out from Samos on my way home from work. We had gyro salads with my mom and Maya and then once Maya went to bed, Adam and I returned to Baltimore to check out Light City! We are big fans of the light and arts festival and loved strolling over to check it out when we lived just a couple blocks away. This year it took a bit more planning but we made it! We walked around with Jeanette and K, tried the signature whiskey cocktail and took in the cool exhibits and festive atmosphere. It is so nice to see crowds in the Inner Harbor on a Friday night: families, dogs, young people and old all having a good time. Hooray for Baltimore!

Saturday morning we all slept in a bit before dashing out of the house for a morning gymboree class. Maya was 15 months old yesterday and just moved up to level 4 at gymbo (16-22mos). She’s a super active and comfortable walker and fit in great with the other little girls in class.

My mom stuck around on Saturday which meant I could get my grocery shopping done during Maya’s nap. Once she was back up and we’d eaten lunch, we visited Clark’s Elioak Farm. The farm was awesome! It was a beautiful day and Maya loved seeing all the animals! Entry was $6/person for anyone over one year old and that got you access to the grounds to see all the animals – feed and pet the goats – and see pigs, donkey, emu, horses, turkeys, rabbits etc. Big Red Barn is one of Maya’s favorite books and she loves all animals so she was very interested in everything…and also interested in picking up sticks and hay of course. There is also tons of little playground areas on the farm and Maya spent some time climbing and going down a fast slide shaped like a mouse and cheese. You can also pay a little extra to go on a hay ride or train ride.

Saturday night we took my mom to dinner at Woodberry Kitchen. She had been wanting to try it and we wanted to show are appreciate for everything she does for Maya! The food was outstanding but our waiter had a little too much personality and the kitchen was backed up all night. We were enjoying the food, drink and company but they ended up comping our dessert and we noticed them doing damage control with a few nearby tables as well. I guess even the best restaurants can have an off night! But anyway, back to the delicious food…

After sipping on a fruity vodka cocktail, we started with the meatballs and the fried oysters both of which were delicious. The oysters were cooked perfectly- plenty of soft and gooey oyster flavor and not overwhelmed by the breading. My mom and Adam also shared the chicken liver spread which Adam raved about.

For my main dish I had the lamb shank which I loved. I really enjoy the taste of lamb and never make it at home so it is something I frequently try at nice restaurants. It came with a wheat berry side dish that I could take or leave but the meat itself was excellent.

For dessert we shared the peach cobbler which came with a small scoop of ice cream. It was the perfect sweet and juicy dessert!

Sunday afternoon Adam went to the O’s game and Maya and I met a friend at Sweetgreen in Bethesda. The weather was perfect so we followed up lunch with a long walk and a stop at a nearby playground.

Now I am watching the Wizards win their playoff game and getting ready for the week ahead!

How was your weekend?

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Weekend Recap (Shamrock 5k)

My big takeaway from this weekend is: I am so ready for warmer weather! Getting the baby all bundled and ready to go out with socks, shoes, and jacket is such a production. I cannot wait for the days where we can just hop outside whenever the mood strikes us. Especially since Maya loves to spot airplanes and every time we hear one overhead she points out the window and says “airpa”!

Aside from spending plenty of time bundling up to leave the house, we did do a few fun things! Saturday morning Maya and I did our grocery shopping before nap time. After nap we went to gymboree for class. Maya clapped along to the songs, played with balls and bubbles, and explored all of the fun stations they had set up for the little ones.

Saturday night, we went out for an early dinner at Clyde’s. They have a surprisingly awesome kids menu so Maya dined on sautéed cod with broccoli and tater tots while I had a Caesar salad with shrimp. The food was good but the highlight of the meal was my guava margarita. It was so nice and refreshing!

Sunday morning we slept in a little bit – thanks daylight savings! – then met a friend for coffee at Mankira Coffee. We had the place mostly to ourselves which was awesome for Maya who enjoyed toddling around the place in between bites of egg, toast and avocado. We sipped pretty lattes and spent a couple hours catching up. It was great!

Sunday afternoon we left Maya with the grandparents and drove into the city for the Shamrock 5k. Jeanette and I ran this race in 2016 and I was excited to run it again. If you’re a casual runner and looking for a good race then I highly recommend this one. It’s a festive atmosphere because it’s run along the route for Baltimore’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and all of the people posted up to watch the parade cheer for the runners. It also starts with an awesome downhill stretch which makes it a pretty fast course. Even though I didn’t feel like I ran particularly well, it was still one of my faster times. Plus this year they gave out race medals for the first time. You know you want that sweet shamrock bling! 😉 After the race we were ready for some lunch and got sandwiches at 101 Deli. Adam got his with roasted Brussels sprouts that were really tasty!

I wrapped up the weekend by seeing A Wrinkle in Time which was awesome. The Reese/Mindy/Oprah trifecta have been hyping this movie A LOT but I think it lives up to it. For fans of the book, it stayed true to the story but having read the book isn’t necessary to understand the movie. I was most enamored with the outfits of the Misses (can I get that Mrs. Whatsit dress please?) and the acting of the little boy who played Charles Wallace.

All in all it was a busy and fun weekend. What were you up to? Have you seen A Wrinkle in Time?

Alma Cocina Latina

Saturday night, Adam and I headed into the city for a much needed date night (thanks Bubby for babysitting)! After hearing many good reviews, we were eager to finally try Alma Cocina Latina. We walked in for an early(ish) reservation and were told our table wasn’t quite ready which is usually a big pet peeve of ours. We grabbed drinks at the bar while we waited and I got a refreshing margarita with salt and red pepper on the rim. When our table was finally ready the host was very apologetic which I appreciated. I know restaurants get busy and can’t always anticipate when a table will turn over, but there is nothing worse than getting seated 30 minutes late without even an acknowledgement. Thank you for NOT being like that Alma Cocina!

Once we were seated we game planned our order. Everyone talks up the arepas (which are delish), but we were delighted to see the menu has so much more that just arepas. Our waiter also gave some helpful recommendations that we took into account. He did ask us to order our whole meal at once, which also usually bothers me, but the restaurant paced everything perfectly.

We tried a dish from each section of the menu which was fun! We started with the tostones del diablo – crispy, savory plantains with cheese and sauces. These were very tasty and plated beautifully. Per our waiter’s recommendation, these came out with the tartar del mar. The tartar was probably my favorite thing we ate. It was half salmon and half tuna with crispy quinoa and mango and pineapple purees. The mango flavor really came out and paired perfectly with the fresh, cool, raw fish.

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For our next course we had to try an arepa, the signature doughy Venezuelan dish, sort of a cross between a pita and a pancake, baked at Alma Cocina on a special cooktop behind a back bar. I was bummed to hear that they were out of the short rib option that evening but we decided instead to get one with chicken, steak, chorizo and egg. It was so good! Not as photogenic as some of the other dishes and you have to accept that it will be a little messy but it is well worth it.

Next, we shared two entrees: the crispy octopus and the polenta. I feel like it’s a sign that everyone is enjoying themselves when your entrees arrive and the guests at the tables on either side of you all lean in and ask what you ordered. I mean, look at that presentation, I get it. By this point in the meal, I was super full and couldn’t manage more than a bite or two of the entrees. Both were really good and unique. Adam brought the leftover polenta home and had it for breakfast the next morning!

If I had to rank the dishes I’d say:

Tartar

Arepa

Tostones

Polenta

Octopus

All were delicious and beautifully plated and I hope to make a return trip and try even more of their offerings!

Weekend Recap: Dinner Date and Costco

Ahh a relaxing weekend with the right amount of time spent out and about and chilling at home. Friday night we had sushi and chicken teriyaki from Sushi Sono. Maya has been going to be a little later lately (7:30pm rather than the 6:30-7pm that had been her bedtime for months) so now we’ve started having dinner as a family before putting her down to sleep. Maya loved the chicken and rice along with some broccoli and oranges. We loved the salmon avocado roll and a chef’s special roll with tempura shrimp, Japanese squash, spicy tuna and tempura flakes.

Saturday morning the whole fam headed to Wegmans for breakfast, coffee and grocery shopping. If you’re going to Wegmans, you gotta go early – the place turns into a zoo later in the day on weekends. The store was already much more crowded by the time we wrapped up. We got our shopping for the week and Maya picked out a book with a lion on the cover…her favorite word right now is “Yion!!”

Once we were back home, Maya went down for a nap and I set to work making nachos. We had friends over around noon to watch the Maryland basketball game and munched on nachos with all the fixings – cheese, salsa, sour cream, corn, black beans, tomatoes, onion, shredded lettuce, and avocado + ground turkey taco meat. The game was awful, but the nachos were delicious and Maya was very entertaining. After Maryland lost and our guests left, we took Maya for a walk around the neighborhood stopping to point out airplanes and to keep her from picking up sticks and putting them in her mouth.

Saturday night, Bubby came over to babysit and Adam and I went to Alma Cocina Latina for date night.   We had a fabulous time and I’ll recap our meal in a post later this week! There’s a sneak peak of the tuna and salmon tartare that tasted so fresh and incredible.

Sunday morning started with an early, rainy run followed by a much needed shower. Once Maya was up we had eggs and hash browns for breakfast before settling in for an episode of Sesame Street. During Maya’s morning nap, I meal prepped for the week by cooking up a big batch of chicken thighs and chopping onion, cabbage and portobello mushrooms. For lunch I had a chicken salad platter and a iced vanilla latte from Mad City.

Our big plan for Sunday afternoon was a trip to Costco to get a membership. After reading a lengthy discussion in one of the mom facebook groups I am in, it seemed like the general consensus was that if you have enough storage space to stock up on cleaning supplies and non-perishables, then Costco was worth it. Since our new house has a great bit of storage in the laundry room, we decided it was worth it to fully live our best suburban life and become members. Of course Costco was packed but we manage to navigate the huge store and grab a few before heading back home. Anyone have tips on best things to buy at Costco?

Maya looks so tiny in the giant cart!

Friday Five (Fave Local Meals of 2017)

Not to harp on the fact that we just had a baby, but we did. So 2017 was not a big year for leisurely dinners out with cocktails, wine and many courses. Typically convenience and quality time with babe trumped everything else. We did have a few memorable dinners though and I wanted to share them today….

Samos

Okay, nothing too glamorous to kick off this list, but Samos is delicious and was the last meal we had before becoming a family of three. Friday evening we went out to Samos at McHenry Row and devoured the amazing gyro, rice and Greek salad. By the wee hours of Saturday morning I was in labor and by 5 am we were heading to the hospital! After almost 24 hours of labor and nothing to eat or drink (thanks epidural!), that Samos felt like a way too distant memory. It was also our favorite carry out food to request when our friends generously offered to bring food by when Maya was an infant.

 

Rasika

Adam and I had a belated anniversary celebration with dinner in DC at Rasika. It had been on our list for years but we had somehow never ended up there so we were super excited to try it. We love Tom Sietsema, the Washington Post food critic and so were sure to check out his review before we went. Following Tom’s recommendation, we started with the malai palak – incredibly flavorful and delicious crispy spinach. For our entrees we had the chicken tikka masala and the black cod. The chicken is my go to Indian meal order and it was of course fabulous but the real star was the cod. It. was. so. so. so. good.

 

Peter’s Inn

Currently closed after a late December fire (but with plans to reopen!), Peter’s Inn has been a favorite of Adam’s family for years. We ventured in for a birthday dinner last November and started things off with a tasty ahi tuna and seaweed salad appetizer. For our entrees Adam had the filet with mashed potatoes and root vegetables and I had scallops with butternut squash risotto and applewood smoke bacon. This was such a wonderfully rich dish full of fall flavors. We love that the small menu at Peter’s is always changing but consistently full of creative and appealing options.

 

Jaleo

Another DC standout, I have been going to Jaleo since high school for the amazing Spanish tapas by Chef Jose Andres (my favorite outspoken liberal chef who is working tirelessly to feed the people of Puerto Rico after the hurricane). I shared about our amazing meal at his restaurant The Bazaar in Miami a few years ago. We headed to Jaleo for an early lunch which meant a mimosa and bloody mary were out drinks of choice. We had the patatas bravas because I can’t go to Jaleo and not get these perfectly cooked potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli. From there we tried several new-to-me dishes: a sandwich of ibérico ham and Manchego cheese, stewed vegetables topped with quail eggs and, per the recommendation of the table next to us, rabbit confit with apricot puree. Everything was fabulous and I might include the egg dish as part of my usual rotation going forward (along with the sauteed spinach and chicken with green sauce).

 

Brendali

My family has a long-lasting tradition of eating Italian food on Christmas Eve. This year we took a walk through the festive holiday market in the Inner Harbor before walking into Fed Hill for an early dinner at Brendali. We knew that this no frills spot would be perfect for dinner out with an eleven month old! We started by splitting a house salad and fried calamari and for my entree I had the fettucine bianco – a filling dish with old bay cream sauce, shrimp and scallops. There were A LOT of leftovers. Maya loved being out for dinner and ate her share of penne with marinara. After dinner we popped into Berries by Quicha for a sweet treat before heading home. It was a great Christmas Eve!