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!

 

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Weekend Recap…a little late

Weekend Recap…a little late, but we’re just rolling with it.

man vs pho

Friday: After a week of chilly rain, we were ready to warm up with some pho at Pho Saigon in Catonsville. We are huge fans of the ramen at Mi & Yu, but sometimes we just want the traditional pho and for that we always go to Pho Saigon. We started with summer rolls and then I had a small bowl with tofu and veggies which hit the spot. We spent the rest of the night watching old episodes of the Office (we’re re-watching the series) and I couldn’t stop laughing during “A Benihana Christmas” which is one of my favorite episodes.

Saturday: Nothing like waking up before 6am on Saturday morning. We piled into the car and drove to DC for Race for the Cure with my mom and cousin. Even though we registered ages ago, we never received our race packets which is why I am rocking the vintage shirt in that pic. Like every year, I was wowed by the celebratory nature of the event and the waves of people rocking their pink outfits.

race for the cure 2016

After the race and festivities, we walked up the street for brunch at Old Ebbitt Grill. I branched out and had the corned beef hash cakes with sunny side up eggs and breakfast potatoes with toast on the side. I can’t have gooey eggs without toast! My mom and cousin stuck to their usual orders: the fried oyster eggs benedict and the eggs Chesapeake which is a benedict with a crab cake. Even though we had to wait a longggg time for our food, everything was delicious as always and the potatoes were particularly crispy and fantastic.

Saturday evening we had friends over to watch the Kentucky Derby and we munched on a spread of snacks and sipped mint juleps. After the race and a few more rounds of drinks (and snacks) we walked to the 8×10 to see our friend’s band Slow Lights perform. The band was great and venue is small and bare bones which made for a great show.

slow lights 8x10 baltimore

Sunday: I celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom by getting dim sum at Oriental East down in Silver Spring. If you like dim sum or want to try it for the first time, you definitely should make the trip down for it. We waited an hour and a half for our table and it was well worth it – that’s how good it is! We enjoyed fried taro dumplings, shumai, spare ribs with black bean sauce and several other tasty dishes. The rest of the day was spend in true Sunday fashion – grocery shopping, gym, laundry.

Jack Birthday

And now it’s Tuesday and we’re celebrating our favorite furball’s third birthday. Happy Birthday Jack!!

Ray’s: the Steaks

A couple of weekends ago we ventured across state lines to Virginia to see family. It was a long(ish) drive but worth it because they bribed us with the promise of a good steal. And they delivered.

I had been to Ray’s: the Classics and to Ray’s Hell Burger, two of the three restaurants originally started by restaurateur Michael Landrum, but had never before ventured to Ray’s: the Steaks. When we arrived, our party of nine was seated at a large table in a private space off the dining room. It was a little warm in there, but otherwise was really nice to have a room to ourselves.

We started with a round of drinks and I shared a bottle of pink cava with my mom and cousin. We were afraid it would be too sweet, but it was perfectly crisp and bubbly. After the important stuff was taken care of, we moved onto salads.

I had the wedge salad because wedge salads are decadent and fantastic and usually all I want at a steak place. This one did not disappoint, it was huge and had a bit of a kick to it which gave it a little something extra. I ended up sharing with my mom because well, look at the size of it.

rays the steaks ny strip

Next it was time for the pièce de résistance, the meat! Most people at the table got the filet (which they said was fab), but I’m not much of a filet girl  and went for the NY Strip. I got the classic cut with none of the offered sauces or preparations (thought I was tempted by the brandy mushroom cream sauce). It. was. delicious. Perfectly cooked and obviously a really high quality cut of meat. Their meals come with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach for the table which is a nice touch since so many steakhouses charge for those a la carte. I ended up bringing home half my steak and the remaining sides and had more than enough food for another meal.

There are plenty of tasty steak places in Baltimore (hello Prime Rib my love), but if you find yourself in Arlington, Ray’s: the Steaks is highly recommended!

Miami Vacay

Happy hump day blogosphere!

I’m hitting those midweek doldrums hard today and to escape the monotony of rainy Baltimore, I thought it would be a great time to recap my January vacation to Miami. It was a fabulous trip with the hubby where we spent as much time as possible on the beach soaking up some sun. We pretty much only left the shore for sustenance and let me tell you we ate and drank aplenty.

hallandale beach florida

The culinary highlight by far was dinner at Jose Andres’ The Bazaar. The swanky restaurant is in South Beach at the SLS Hotel. As a big fan of Jose Andres’ DC restaurants, we were excited to give this tapas spot a try. The menu has a lot of the more traditional Spanish tapas dishes you find at Jaleo with the addition of more internationally inspired small plates. Everything we tried was fabulous: creative and interesting without being to froufrou or pretentious.

the bazaar jose andres miami

I was blown away by the Yuca “churros” which we ordered last and served as our dessert. The slightly sweet yuca was served with peanut butter and honey and was so, so good. My second favorite dish was the Iberico sliders which were meaty and delicious. Other favorites were the Dragon Fruit Ceviche (a little disappointed that they were out of the scallop ceviche) and the Kueh Pai Ti which is described as “Singapore’s Favorite Street Food”. The presentation of both dishes was great: the ceviche actually looked like a dragon fruit due to the hibiscus foam and the street food looked like little edible baskets. We also tried the octopus romesco, chicken with black garlic sauce and the brussels sprouts – all fantastic! Yes, there were only two of us. Yes, we stuffed our faces. And the Jasmine’s Margaritas hit the spot to wash it all down.

Other vacation activities:

  • Window shopping and people watching on Lincoln Road.
  • Shuffleboard. Things got very competitive.
  • Exploring Ft. Lauderdale.
  • Lobster mac and cheese at the Tipsy Boar.
  • Video blackjack at Gulfstream casino.
  • Shopping at Charming Charlie because we don’t have one in Baltimore.
  • Going for a run and spotting a giant iguana.

iguana florida

On past trips to Miami we’ve:

All in all it was a great vacation! And now I just want to go back…

Have you been to Miami? What is your favorite thing to do there? 

 

Dinners Lately

I know we talk about food a lot here on Young(ish), but it’s been a while since I recapped a new-to-me restaurant. To make up for it, we’re going to talk about three meals I’ve had recently. One at a new-to-me place, one at a place I haven’t been to in years and one at an old favorite.

Grano Emporio: I visited Grano for the first time on Christmas Eve with Adam and his family for an early, festive dinner. Growing up, my family always had Italian food on Christmas eve and I was happy to keep with tradition. We were seated upstairs and quickly ordered drinks while we waited for the rest of our group. I loved my blood orange vodka martini while the others polished off a few bottles of the house Montepulciano (it’s red and that’s about all I can tell you).

We started with antipasto and salads (I enjoyed one with shaved beets off their special holiday menu) before the main meal. For our main dishes, I had the lasagna and Adam had Grano’s version of the Feast of the 7 Fishes (in keeping with the holiday). As you can see above, the portion was pretty small (a bite or two of each fish), but luckily I had more than enough lasagna to share.The meal ended on a high note with delicious mini cannoli. The service was fantastic and the whole night was a great experience. I still think you can get better Italian food elsewhere in the city (check out my top 5 spots for Italian food), but for Christmas eve you can’t beat being able to follow dinner with a walk to 34th Street.

Neighborhood: Hampden                               Price: entrees $15-25

Sobo Cafe: We returned to our neighborhood favorite for a cozy New Year’s Eve dinner and were not disappointed. I started with a sparkling flight that included a prosecco, cava and a rose. Nothing like a little bubbly to kick off a fun night. Our meal began with the house smoked salmon spread which is one of our go-to favorite dishes, served with pickled veggies and thin crostini. For my main course I kept things going with the salmon served over potato cake, leeks and cabbage with a creamy mustard sauce which was amazing.The salmon was cooked perfectly and I loved the accompaniments. The portion was large and since we were saving room for dessert, I saved some to bring home as leftovers. Speaking of dessert. It was apple bread pudding and It. Was. So. Good. Warm and sweet (but not too sweet) and served with vanilla ice cream.

Neighborhood: Federal Hill                                     Price: entrees $15-20

13.5% Wine Bar: As I mentioned last week, Adam and I went to 13.5% with two other couples and I started with a nice white wine before we shared a variety of small dishes. I found the menu a bit confusing as nothing is organized into categories and we ended up with sort of a hodgepodge of tastes: barley arancini, brussel sprouts with peanuts and anchovies, smokey mussels and fettucini and house ribs. I wasn’t particularly crazy about any of it, though I enjoyed everything but the ribs (which came with a crema that I didn’t care for). Our friends shared the pizza which looked delicious so I had a bit of food envy! I think my experience could have improved with better ordering.

Neighborhood: Hampden                                         Price: Small plates $7-15

So that’s the scoop! A little insight into three Baltimore restaurants, two options in Hampden and if you haven’t been to Sobo Cafe yet – check it out.