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 (St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago)

Happy march madness everyone! NCAA tournament opening weekend is one of the best times of the year. Even though I didn’t have too much time to watch basketball, I did catch a few highlights including both Nevada games and subsequent live coverage of the coach and players celebrating in the locker room. After the first game, Coach dropped multiple f-bombs on live television and after the second game he entered the locker room bare chested with his shirt ripped off. This guy is hilarious. Also major props to UMBC for knocking off UVA! Baltimore County represent!

I’m going to say my weekend kicked off Thursday afternoon when I went to a march madness watch party at Rye Street Tavern. I munched on some incredible seafood – shrimp cocktail, ceviche, tuna tartare, and crab legs – and watched the first games of the tourney. Adam and I are dying to return to Rye Street for dinner but last time we tried couldn’t get a reservation. It is in high demand!

Not surprisingly, Friday night we watched more basketball and I made corned beef and cabbage in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. It was my first time ever cooking corned beef and it was easy and delicious!

The rest of the weekend involved a 24 hour trip to Chicago for work. My co-worker and I landed around 1pm and since our hotel rooms weren’t yet ready we took a long walk to see the green river and check out the festive crowds celebrating St. Paddy’s. We followed up our walk with brunch at the hotel. I had eggs, toast, sausage and potatoes which were all tasty.

Soon enough it was time to head to the United Center for the Bulls game. We had a few sponsor activation going on to encourage fans to be more green and energy efficient. We also had a suite at the game to watch the Bulls take on Lebron and the Cavs. My job is pretty great sometimes.

I was home by midday Sunday in time to do the grocery shopping and hang out with Maya and Adam.

It was a whirlwind weekend but a good one!

What did you do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

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!

Weekend Recap: Staycation

This weekend was fun and BUSY. My bff since first grade came to visit from New York and we had a blast with a mini-Baltimore staycation. We did a staycation in DC last summer, and followed the same pattern this year by choosing a hotel with a rooftop pool. Backing up a bit, Friday night was low key with a frozen chicken parm meal from Trinacria. Saturday morning I woke up early for a mani/pedi followed by my favorite gyro salad for lunch at Samos before picking up my visiting bff from the bus station.

Then the real fun began as we checked into our room at the Hyatt Regency. This hotel was definitely a bit of a splurge, but worth it for the outdoor pool and location. We quickly changed into our swimsuits and headed to the pool deck to post up for the afternoon. The pool was small but perfect for our needs and surrounded by lots of comfy couches and lounge chairs. The view of the harbor was awesome and we enjoyed a lovely afternoon in the sunshine alternating between soaking in the pool, laying out and sipping bay breezes.

After a few hours by the pool we were craving Mexican food and ended up at Blue Agave for guac and enchiladas. Following dinner we ended up back on the Hyatt pool deck for s’mores at the fire pit! We bought a s’mores kit at the front desk complete with graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate and a long stick for marshmallow roasting. It was a gorgeous night and we has a blast acting like kids and setting our marshmallows on fire. I can’t remember the last time I had a s’more and it was delicious.

Saturday morning we woke up early for the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5k.  I ran the race last year and was excited to participate again. It was another great experience and we enjoyed the supportive, inspiring feeling that comes from a women-only race. It was a HOT morning and we certainly worked up a sweat during the race. After the race we went back to the hotel for much-needed showers and checked out before post-race refueling brunch at Metropolitan. I ordered a croissant sandwich with egg, cheese and turkey sausage that hit the spot!

To cap off the weekend with more eating, we got carry out pasta from Grano. You choose your noodle and you choose your sauce. Hello drool-worthy spaghetti Bolognese, house salad and bread with olive oil.

 

What was the highlight of your weekend? Have you ever done a staycation?