Archive | July, 2011

Annie's Bannanies – The Perfect Beach Treat

29 Jul

This past week, Brett and I shared a beach house with a few friends in Dewey Beach, Delaware. It was an ideal weekend of sun and sand, and of course, great food and drinks. Just a few weeks prior, I had traveled to Rehobeth Beach with some girlfriends, and it was then that I finally got my hands on my very first taste of Annie’s Banannies.

You may wonder, what exactly is Annie’s Banannies? Well, “Annie” is Ann Ketchum, the owner and founder who learned how to transform frozen bananas into an ice cream consistency from her parents and decided to honor their memories with a store of her own.

Mocha Nannie

Between my two visits, I can safely say that I have had Annie’s at least six times. It’s just that good. You can watch the employees push the frozen bananas through the Champion Juicer, and out comes thick swirls of “ice cream.” It’s healthy, vegan, and gluten-free, something that has become even more important as more people are diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

The banana base may be a little bland in itself, but that is when the fun toppings come in. You can choose from many concoctions like the Nutty Banannie (natural peanut butter and chopped peanuts), the Tropical Banannie (mango, pineapple, and coconut flakes), and the Banana Cream Pie (crushed graham crackers and whipped cream). You can also create your own from a variety of toppings. My personal favorite is anything blended with their natural peanut butter. Mix that peanut butter with chocolate syrup and some nuts for an indulgent dessert, or with strawberry puree for a taste just like peanut butter and jelly.

Snicker Nannie

You really can’t go wrong with any of the selections. I even got Brett hooked and it’s tough to lure people away from other boardwalk options such as Kohr Brothers! And for all you Weight Watchers out there, keep in mind that the Bannanie is simply a frozen banana, and if you add just fruit toppings, you have yourselves a Zero Points Plus treat.

And here’s the really good news: you don’t even have to trek out to Rehoboth to enjoy it. Annie’s has opened up a temporary location at the Inner Harbor Light Street Pavilion in downtown Baltimore! It’s slightly closer than Delaware, but we would be doing backflips if she opened up a shop in DC.

One thing to note is that apparently Chicken Out also serves a similar variation of Annie’s. I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t vouch for it, but if it’s anything close to Annie’s, it may have to do to feed my addiction before our next beach outing.

Annie's Banannies on Urbanspoon

Recap: Truckeroo 2

28 Jul

Truckeroo is a food truck lover’s paradise. We first heard about the idea back in June and knew right away we had to go to at least one of these monthly events. Essentially, the owner of The Bullpen and Das Bullpen Biergarten by Nationals Park decided to capitalize on the food truck craze and get all of the trucks to gather by the bars as a way to draw crowds on a Friday when the Nats are away.


It’s a win-win for everyone since it’s a fun, new event to look forward to each month in the summer, a great way to see all the food trucks in one setting (especially for those who don’t work downtown such as ourselves), and attracts customers to the Nationals Park bars that generally don’t see any business unless the Nats are in town.

We got to Truckeroo right after work a few weeks ago only to find a line that partially wrapped around the block. The event goes from 11am to 9pm, and immediately we wished the food truck gathering fell on one of our flex days so we wouldn’t have to fight the crowds. There were predictable long lines for Red Hook Lobster Pound and Takorean, so we decided to try some new trucks we hadn’t tasted from yet. We shared everything we got so we could try more items as well as give our feedback. Here we go!

TakoreanSurfsideBig Cheese

First up was Fojol Brothers’ Benethiopia truck. They have one truck for Indian cuisine as well as one for Ethiopian, and we were lucky enough to try the latter that day. This was Brett’s first time trying Ethiopian food, and he immediately decided we needed to try more, and soon! We had the berber meat and the stewed carrots and beans that were incredibly flavorful and tender after stewing for 12 hours. We had a “dingo bite” of each instead of a larger plate which made for a great way to start our food truck outing.

Classic Mac and Cheese

Next up, I had to try some CapMac as I have been waiting to try their macaroni and cheese. Brett was curious about the DC Empanadas truck so he waited in that line while I got my classic mac and cheese with cheddar, pimento, and crushed Cheez-Its on top. Yum! I couldn’t get over how much they gave you in a container. It was definitely more than enough for two people to share. It was such a nice summer day that I couldn’t help but also get some of the summer salad, which consisted of feta, watermelon, picked melon rinds, and basil. It was so refreshing and a great side dish.

CapMac Summer SaladClassic Mac and CheeseCapMac Menu

Brett got the vegetarian Tio Shawn empanada that came with black beans, rice, Monterrey Jack cheese, Chipotle peppers, and onions. He came away impressed as it had a nice Mexican flavor while the shell was flaky and crunchy without it being overly greasy. Given his appetite, he wished the empanada was slightly larger, but overall he thoroughly enjoyed it.

DC Empanadas - Tio Shawn

At that point, we were perfectly content and just walked around for a bit while our friend Erika got a chicken pita. I thought a great last treat for the night would be a pop from Pleasant Pops. I thought they were just fresh fruit ice pops, but discovered that they are actually Mexican-inspired paletas. Whatever they were, I couldn’t get over the flavor from the peach pop – it literally tasted like a frozen pureed summer peach! They were also serving Sweet Tea pops and both were going fast.

Truckeroo will take place once a month and continue through October. The next one is coming up on Friday, August 12th, so make sure to check out your favorite food trucks – all in one convenient location!

Bethesda Restaurant Week: Newton's Table

22 Jul

While Bethesda has an innumerable amount of restaurants that are within walking distance from one another, there are very few that offer fine dining and, more importantly, successfully execute it. The recently-opened Newton’s Table accomplishes both.

When Newton’s Table opened back in April, we were very excited about the notion that Dennis Friedman, the chef and co-owner of the renowned Bezu in Potomac, would be opening his very own restaurant in downtown Bethesda. Occupying the former Rock Creek space, Newton’s Table is perhaps one of the more expensive restaurants in the DC suburb, but for good reason: their high-quality ingredients make for an excellent meal.

Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Because of their pricey menu, we initially postponed a trip to Newton’s Table unless it was for a special occasion. Then Bethesda Restaurant Week came along, and wouldn’t you know it, Friedman’s venue was participating! Rachel worked her OpenTable magic within minutes of hearing the news.

With our cousins Scott and Barbara, we arrived a few minutes early and got a drink at the bar. While their wine list is nothing to scoff at, their beer selection is rather limited. Hopefully it’s something they can improve in the near future, especially given all the relatively local breweries in the area.

Kapow Flank Steak

While our reservation was for 8pm, we weren’t seated until 8:30 due to a table taking an excessive amount of time chatting it up. Not that it was a big deal for us, but the hostess was very apologetic for the inconvenience.

Once we got to our table, we looked over their Restaurant Week menu. While it was only limited to three entrees, the least expensive dish would have cost $26 a la carte, so this was a very good deal considering we were paying $30 for three courses.

For our first course, both Rachel and I ordered the salt and pepper shrimp. The jumbo shrimp was atop a bed of creamy polenta that was drizzled with chili sauce. The combination made for a great first course. In fact, I might have enjoyed the polenta more than the shrimp itself. The presentation was also a very nice touch and something you typically don’t see in Bethesda restaurants outside of a few places (which is sort of depressing when you think about it).

Fuzu Noodles

For our entrees, I went with the Fuzu Noodles, a dish Friedman made famous when he was the chef at Bezu. A modern twist on pad Thai, it featured a mixture of rice noodles, snow peas, carrots, onions, bean sprouts, eggs, chicken, shrimp, scallops, sweet and spicy soy sauce, black sesame seeds, crispy shallots, and scallions. Phew!

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. Between the silver chopsticks protruding from the heap of noodles as well as the generous portion size, I could see why this was such a hit at Bezu. I especially liked the crispy shallots that were sprinkled atop as it gave the dish a subtle, crunchy texture.


The rockfish was prepared grilled and complemented with Israeli couscous, basil pesto, summer squash, and a saffron aioli. The rockfish was simply prepared, but perhaps it needed to be in order to balance with the flavors of the couscous. Rachel couldn’t get over how good it was, especially combined with the pesto flavor. Usually I think of pesto as fairly heavy when accompanied with pasta, but with this, it was very light and perfect for summer.

Lemon Sorbet with Fresh Fruit

For dessert, there were only two choices for Restaurant Week: lemon sorbet with fresh fruit, and vanilla bean honey cheesecake. Rachel ordered the former while I went with the latter. We both agreed that while the sorbet tasted good when blended with the fresh fruit, it was overly tart by itself.

Meanwhile, the cheesecake was absolutely phenomenal. I’m not even a big fan of cheesecake, but this was some of the best I have ever come across. I hate to make blanket statements like that, but seriously, it’s that good. The vanilla and honey blended together in perfect harmony while the cheesecake itself wasn’t overly heavy, making for a nice summer dessert given the extraordinary heat we’re currently having.

Vanilla bean honey cheesecake

All and all, Newton’s Table has a very promising future. Outside of waiting for our table earlier in the night, the service was fine as our waiter was friendly and attentive. It’s a welcome addition to Bethesda and will hopefully cause a ripple effect for other restaurants to step up their game. One thing is for certain: Chef Friedman is swiftly making his mark in this town.

Newton's Table on Urbanspoon

Bethesda Restaurant Week at Food Wine and Co.

20 Jul

We already wrote about Food Wine and Company when they first opened last fall, and while the restaurant definitely had a promising start, we thought the food was just okay yet was lacking some direction. Clearly our hunch was right, as since that time Food Wine and Co. has been through several chefs and growing pains.

One chef, the well-known Carole Greenwood, only made it 48 hours. Since then, we have noticed great changes in the menu and offerings. Their new chef, Michael Harr (formerly of Butterfield 9), brings much experience with him that is clearly evident in his dishes and overall presentation.

Watermelon and tomato gazpacho

We have always enjoyed Food Wine and Co. and welcomed it as a much-needed replacement to the generic Pizzeria Uno’s. This past week was the first time I tried dinner there, and what better way to experience multiple dishes than during Restaurant Week.

Since their happy hour is one of the best in Bethesda (in our humble opinion) we couldn’t resist enjoying some drinks at the bar first. While the place is called Food Wine and Co., we should note their extensive beer selection. It’s one of the best in Montgomery County, which isn’t easy to do given their alcohol restrictions. Even better, their happy hour menu includes both beer and wine flights for $9.

Oyster Platter

I decided to get the beer flight, which included any four draft beers in 4oz pours. It was a great way to try some new beers that I haven’t tasted before, and after finding one I really liked, I ordered a full draft which also happened to be on special. They also had dollar oysters, so you know we couldn’t pass that up. We tried a mixture of Blue Point, Rappahannock, and Old Salts, and I have to say, they really are some of the best oysters I’ve tried recently, and at a dollar a piece no less!

Beer Flight

Happy with our drinks and oysters, we made our way to the dining area for our reservation. I should point out that they did offer a fairly extensive menu for Restaurant Week. It wasn’t the complete menu, but it wasn’t just three entrees either. After some debate, I decided on the watermelon and tomato gazpacho with ricotta. It was light and refreshing, but not too chunky or heavy like some gazpacho dishes I have had. In fact, I had one earlier that day at Assaggi and you couldn’t even compare the two in terms of quality.

Wedge Salad

The main courses included everything from pizza to salads to sandwiches to mussels, as well as full entrees. I figured I might as well try one of their pricier selections, so I ordered the salmon with English peas, alba mushrooms, radishes, and a horseradish cream sauce. It was perfectly cooked, seared on the outside while medium rare on the inside. The vegetables that accompanied the salmon were so fresh that I felt like I was tasting part of summer. I was really happy with my dish but tried not to eat it all so I could save some room for dessert.

Roasted salmon with english peas, alba mushrooms, and horseradish sauce

We decided to each pick a different dessert so we could try a few different ones. I ordered the Coconut Joy while my friends got the double chocolate bread pudding and the Elvis. I have to admit, I definitely had some food envy when I tried theirs. Mine was good, but it was originally supposed to have coconut and chocolate sorbet along with coconut macaroons, chocolate almonds, and rum syrup. Turns out they were out of the coconut sorbet and substituted it with raspberry instead. It was still decent, but it didn’t even compare to my friends’ dishes.

Coconut Joy dessert

I would order the Elvis next time – peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, fudge crispies, sweet and salty peanuts, bananas and chocolate sauce. The bread pudding was to die for as well. And considering that I work in the same building as this restaurant, there will be many next times. I may have forgotten to mention that before, but Food Wine definitely isn’t a bad place to work right above! Maybe we can get a discount for being neighbors?

Food Wine & Co on Urbanspoon

Recap: Best of Washington

19 Jul

Rachel and I made the swift decision of attending last week’s Best of Washington party after our names found their way to the top of the waitlist the morning before the event.

Tuna Crudo - BLT Steak

This was our third consecutive year attending, and it might have been the best yet given the quality of restaurants as well as the food they were serving.

Beef Tartare - Citronellle

Earlier Best Of parties featured unexciting vendors such as California Tortilla while more expensive eateries were offering cheap plates. For example, there were several instances of restaurants serving up watermelon and feta – who wants that?

Rappahanock River Oysters

When you’re paying $100 per ticket, you obviously want to get your money’s worth.

Basil-cucumber CollinsEggs with pickled red peppers - Estadio and BLT SliderLettuce cups - Jackie’s Restaurant

The 2011 edition felt like a vast improvement from past years. All of the major players were in the house. From Estadio to The Source to Rasika, this was a great year to be in attendance.

Macarons - Adour

Our favorite dishes of the night? We would have to go with Cintronelle’s wonderful tomato tartare. I don’t think we can ever go back to bruschetta again.

Bison Tartare - LevelGeorgetown CupcakeIce cream push-pops - Oval Room

As for dessert, Bibiana’s Bomba al Cioccolato (milk-chocolate mousse with gianduja custard and hazelnut powder) was the unanimous favorite. Absolutely decadent, the name of the dish says it all.

Scallop Crudo - Perry's

Overall, we had a great time and got to try some plates from restaurants we haven’t been to yet. After last Monday, Bibiana might be on the top of our list.

Recap: Fancy Food Show

14 Jul

This past Sunday, Brett and I were fortunate enough to obtain passes to the Summer Fancy Food Show at the Washington Convention Center. Even though we already had reservations that morning for Birch and Barley’s decadent brunch, we knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore this behemoth of an event.

Fancy Food Show Convention Floor

I used to work for the Food Marketing Institute, so I had an idea just how massive these food exhibits can be, but nothing prepared us for the countless rows of vendors from all over the world showcasing everything from fresh meats and cheeses to chocolates to wine to vegan and gluten-free fare.

This was a unique opportunity, as the reason for the DC location was due to their home at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City undergoing extensive renovation. In total, there were 2,400 exhibitors, 80 countries represented, and 24,000 attendees. Whew! To say we were overwhelmed would be an understatement.

Sweet Potato MuffinsSpare RibsFreshly-sliced Capicola

We started off wandering the aisles one by one, which soon proved fruitless given the endless number of them. Some cool features we got to check out included the “New Brands on the Shelf” area, highlighting the newest specialty food and beverages that would be debuting soon. We quickly realized that the hall was organized with countries along the back and companies in the front, with various showcases for states in the U.S. as well.

Black Truffles

While wandering through an aisle, we happened to see a crowd of people gathered around a cooking demonstration. Turns out it was none other than Cat Cora showing how to make a Mediterranean dish with eggplant, Santorini tomatoes, and other vegetables. She was right by her booth of branded sauces and cookbooks, and also happened to be the keynote speaker at an awards event. Crazy to think we saw her the day before on an episode of Iron Chef America!

Cat Cora!

It’s hard to remember everything we saw, but some of our favorites included the endless amounts of olive oil, olives, and fresh cheese from Greece and Italy, trying a mangosteen fruit for the first time from the Thai exotic fruit exhibit, and of course, a Jelly Belly mural of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter Jelly Belly Mural

We also heard there was a craft beer sampling booth, so with five minutes to spare, we found ourselves in front of the exhibit from the Breweries Association. It was our last stop of the day, and within a few minutes, we tried new brews from Dogfish Head, Allagash, 21st Amendment, Victory, and Lagunitas. Not a bad way to end a Sunday!

Bethesda Restaurant Week Starts on Monday

12 Jul

RedwoodSummer means it’s time once again for Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week!

Starting Monday, July 18 through Sunday, July 24, diners can visit the 30 or so Bethesda-area restaurants participating in the biannual promotion.

Newcomers this time around include the well-received Newton’s Table as well as Freddy’s Lobster & Clams.

Lunch prices will range from $12 to $15 while dinner will cost $30.

As for our picks? Persimmon, Raku, Jaleo, Food Wine & Co., and Grapeseed are all recommended.

Courtesy of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, here is a full rundown of restaurants that will be participating in this year’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week. Bon Appetit!

Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $ 12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Dinner $29
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $15 & Dinner $30
Lunch $12 & Dinner $30

Graffiato Shines In Debut

11 Jul

It’s not often that we write about a restaurant as soon as it opens, but Mike Isabella’s Graffiato was about as flawless as a debut as we could have imagined. Even though the Top Chef alum’s restaurant has now been open for several weeks, we have heard such positive word of mouth that we were eagerly counting down the days until our reservation last Wednesday night.

With our friends Pat and Fraser, we headed to Chinatown while discussing our game plan on what to order. When we arrived, the place was full to the brim but we were immediately seated by the hostess after checking in for our 8:30pm reservation. The modern yet simple interior was very inviting, and with two floors of space with a kitchen on each floor, Graffiato can certainly accommodate many guests.


Once we were seated upstairs, the four of us deliberated over ordering a la carte or getting the tasting menu for $55 per person. The tasting menu limited us to four courses, and while everyone would receive different plates, we still wanted to have the freedom of choosing our own dishes as we went along. Thus, we went the a la carte route. I don’t think any of us could imagine sharing 16 dishes!

Of course before ordering our food, the ladies couldn’t resist indulging themselves with a few glasses of prosecco. And how could you blame them when it’s the only venue in the city serving the sparkling Italian wine on tap? They also carried several local brews including DC Brau and Port City.

Even though Isabella is from Jersey, Graffiato gives off a sense of DC pride as it sources its ingredients from nearby farms and vendors. It emits an authentic neighborhood vibe despite Isabella’s nationally known mug from Top Chef. The fact that Mike himself was making rounds with customers all night made you feel at home which resulted in a nice, laid-back atmosphere.

Sorry for going off tangent – let’s get onto the food!

Bread Basket

Up first was the bread basket which featured polenta, focaccia and raisin bread, along with olive oil jam and fresh ricotta. If this was a taste of what was to come, then we were in for one heck of a meal. All four of us devoured the freshly-prepared bread while scraping the ramekin clean of any leftover ricotta. Our only negative comment would be the fact that bread isn’t included and will cost you $5, but maybe they are going for a European feel there.

Stretched mozzarella

Next was the fresh stretched mozzarella with fava bean relish. This was one of my favorite dishes of the evening. I have never tasted mozzarella so fresh with such an engaging texture. Well done, Mike.

Polenta with spicy pork meatballs

Following the excellent mozzarella was the polenta, accompanied with three spicy pork meatballs as well as a soft egg. I really enjoyed the meatballs even though they seemed to fall apart a little too easily. Blending the over-easy egg with the polenta and meatballs created a rich sauce which made the dish even more pleasurable.

Wood-roasted mushrooms

The next plate was wood-roasted mushrooms with cherry peppers and mustard. While this should have been served earlier given the complexity of the previous dish, plus the fact the fungi are served cold, it was still another solid choice. The mushrooms were rich in flavor and were one of Pat’s favorite items of the night.

Chicken Thighs

Our collective heads then turned towards the chicken thighs featuring Chef Isabella’s infamous pepperoni sauce. In all honesty, it didn’t quite meet the hype after Gail Simmons gushed about it back on Top Chef. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, because it most certainly was, but it wasn’t particularly mind-blowing. It more or less had the taste and consistency of wing sauce (we thought it would be thicker), but with a hint of pepperoni. The chicken, however, was excellently cooked.

While the pepperoni sauce was slightly underwhelming, our next dish shot us right back to euphoria. Words cannot express how delicious the gnocchi was. Just order it – you can thank us later. Served with braised pork shank and burrata, this dish was simply exceptional. The gnocchi was extraordinarily delicate while the pork was the perfect complement to Isabella’s pasta. Kudos to the chef on this one.

Jersey Shore Pizza

Our first pizza of the night (yes, we ordered two) was the Jersey Shore. Featuring fried tomato, provolone, cherry pepper aioli, and pieces of fried calamari placed atop each slice, this wasn’t your average pizza. The ingredients were fun, but there just wasn’t that much flavor coming out of the pizza. The calamari provided a nice, crunchy touch while the aioli almost tasted like the spicy mayo you would find on a California roll. At least the crust was nice and crispy, but as a whole, it was just lacking something.

Wood-roasted octopus

Following the pizza was the wood-roasted octopus. Served with chickpeas and baby artichokes, we thought it was just average. In fact, I might have enjoyed the artichokes and its sauce more than the octopus. While nicely cooked, it lacked a distinctive char flavor that set it apart from superior versions found at Cava and Isabella’s old haunt Zaytinya.

Bone Marrow

Up next was the bone marrow. While Rachel and I had never had marrow before, Pat and Fraser recently ate it at Marrakesh and wanted to try it again. Served inside a split-open bone, the marrow was stuffed with pistachio, bread crumbs, and bacon crumbles. It was granular in texture and incorporated a bacon flavor that was a tad overwhelming at times. Interesting dish, but I’ll probably pass on this one next time.

Countryman Pizza

Our second pizza of the evening, for a lack of a better term, knocked it out of the park. If you should order one pizza when dining at Graffiato, we highly recommend the Countryman. I’m glad our waiter purposely served the Jersey Shore first, as the Countryman was just on a whole other level. Topped with black truffles, fontina, and a duck egg whose yolk is spread over the surface by our server, this felt like you were eating deliciously rich pasta that happened to be on top of a pizza crust. Between the gooey egg yolk, robust fontina, and subtle hints of black truffles, it was a hit amongst all four of us. We have heard good things about the White House pizza too and may have to get that one next time as well.

We somehow still had room for dessert, so we ordered the chocolate tart as well as the unlisted zeppoles. Yes, the latter is not on the menu, but within less than a month it’s already achieved “Animal Style”-like status where it’s a secret but, well, not really a secret.


One reason why the zeppoles are not on the menu is because they are cooked to order, and they do take some time before they ultimately reach the table. It was well worth the wait, however, as they were purely outstanding. These fried dough balls, dusted with strawberry flavored powdered sugar, were piping hot and utterly delightful.

Chocolate Tart

Meanwhile the chocolate tart was accompanied with olive oil and sea salt gelato, which gave the dessert a nice balance of sweet and salty. The tart even had some saltiness to it, but in the end, I think the zeppoles might have been our favorite of the two desserts.

Overall, we walked away very impressed with Graffiato. It’s a positive sign when even our least favorite dish was still good, you know? The service was first-rate, the atmosphere was pleasant, and the food was consistently great. We honestly cannot wait to go back and try many more of Chef Isabella’s dishes, as long as we order the gnocchi and zeppoles, of course.

Graffiato on Urbanspoon

Cava Grill Adds Greek Yogurt to its Menu

7 Jul

With little fanfare, it seems that Cava Grill has tweaked their menu a bit, and for the better might I add. Not that we didn’t love it before, but there are some great new additions. For example, you can now top your pita with kalamata olives. Meatballs have also replaced the sirloin as a protein choice.

The biggest change would be the recent addition of Greek yogurt to its menu. A few weeks ago they had a free sampling, so I went down to grab some while expecting long lines as per the norm for free food in DC. When I arrived, I was surprised to find no line at all, and was offered yogurt with my choice of toppings. Granted, the promotion ran from 2 to 5 pm (and this was at 4:50), but as soon as I took a bite, I felt like I should go outside and shout to people to take advantage of trying this wonderfully creamy yogurt.

Cava Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has become extremely popular in recent years, not only as a breakfast item but it has also been incorporated in tart frozen yogurts found at places like Pinkberry. The owners of Cava Grill wanted to capitalize on this by offering their own version. Since Cava offers an interactive nutritional guide on their website, you can see that a 5.3 oz serving size will cost you only 140 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and includes 12 grams of protein. Not bad for breakfast or a quick snack!

Two toppings are included, but you can always add on more. I decided to try mine with strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, and honey. The yogurt itself was rich and creamy, but it was also light and didn’t feel too heavy or like sour cream, as some Greek yogurts tend to do.

While the yogurt may not feel as indulgent as a trip to Haagen Daaz, it is definitely a great new option and could be a serious competitor to Sweetgreen’s Sweetflow yogurt as well as the self-serve yogurt machines at Yogiberry. I for one welcome the competition and will add it to the rotation of Bethesda treats!

DMV Dining (In): Fresh From the Market

1 Jul

While I wouldn’t call myself an avid chef or baker by any means, I do like to cook from time to time. Yes folks, we don’t just dine out, we do like to dine in as well! The biggest difficulty is finding the time to prepare the more fun and elaborate meals, especially during the week. Plus, I need to convince Brett that whatever I’m making won’t require too many pots or pans to clean, as that’s his domain in the house. Usually I win out since most of my meals have been a hit thus far.

This past week I was particularly inspired to make some fun dishes, and I got most of the ideas from the Bethesda Central Farmers Market. This farmer’s market runs on Sundays from 9am to 1pm on Elm Street in downtown Bethesda, and as long as we’re in town, we make it a point to go almost every weekend. There are so many great vendors and I love seeing what is in season.

Last week I picked up some fresh tzatziki from Cava (after sampling almost all of their spreads available). Cava is one of our go-to stops at the market, especially since we love all their dips as we’ll typically have at least one container in our fridge. While we usually pick up some hummus for snacking, this time I thought the tzatziki would be great to incorporate into some meals. I looked up a recipe that included the Greek dip and decided to make turkey burgers.

Turkey Burger

The turkey burgers were actually made with shredded zucchini, which came from a giant piece I picked up at the market as well. That, along with some minced jalapeno and onion added some nice flavor to the burgers. I topped them with a tablespoon of the Cava tzatziki as well as some fresh cherry tomatoes and placed them in small pita pockets.

The only thing I would change with the burgers would be some additional seasoning since I think they needed some more kick to them. We had so much zucchini left over that I sliced up the rest and grilled them on our grill pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Of course, I had to add some sliced cucumbers to dip more tzatziki with, some fresh corn from Giant, and our favorite new fries.

I had heard someone at work tell me last week about kale chips and how delicious they were, so when I spotted kale at the market, I knew I had to try for myself. I found an easy recipe online and started cutting the leafing green away from the ribs with a kitchen knife and then broke it up into rectangles and squares. Then, after washing thoroughly and drying with a salad spinner, I placed each piece onto a baking sheet with waxed paper, and drizzled some olive oil from a mister with a sprinkling of season salt.

Kale Chips

I should have put some spray down on the paper or coated them more evenly before placing them down, because the bottom parts of the kale never got oil on them. No matter, they crisped up in 10 minutes or less and resulted in a great crunchy snack. Even Brett devoured them, and this is kale we’re talking about! You honestly don’t even think you’re eating a vegetable. Maybe next time I’ll try some chili powder or soy sauce to mix in too.

Lastly, I had a specific reason to pop into the market last Sunday, and that was to see if Toigo Orchards had sour cherries again. Around this time last summer, we were at the market and they were encouraging customers to pick up some sour cherries. I was intrigued but skeptical, wondering what I would even do with them. The woman said matter-of-factly, “just make a cherry pie.” So I did, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was, and how good it tasted! I couldn’t believe I made it.

Sour Cherry Pie

Seriously though, sour cherries do taste like cherry pie, they just need a little sugar to enhance the flavor. This time, I realized I needed some help in the pitting department, and purchased a pitter on Amazon. This one allowed you to tackle four at a time, and was so simple and easy I was done with two quarts in a matter of minutes. After that, I just added in some sugar, lemon juice, and flour. For the pie crust, I was tempted to make my own, but went with the Betty Crocker mix with water that I rolled out. Besides, the focus is on the cherries anyway, right?

As the season goes on I’ll definitely look for some other fun recipes to incorporate finds from the market. Brett’s already looking to see where else we can get sour cherries so I don’t only have to make the pie once a year!