I am on the NoVA Elite Squad this year, which means that I get invited to awesome events! Back in July (I'm so far behind on posting, lol) - I was invited to a tasting event at the (then) new Tupelo Honey Cafe in Arlington. We got to hear about the menu and try several dishes and drinks. It's a really great way to get an impression of a restaurant without having to visit several times in order to try a lot. That's our fearless leader, Gretchen, in the photo there (check out her blog here).
I thought the location was really cute, on a corner near Ballston with a nice patio. The decor was warm and inviting, and the staff handled the madness of the event quite well. We got to try several drinks, starting with the happy hour special of sparkling sangria. I actually did not like that drink, though many others did, because it tasted more like a vodka and soda than a sangria. After that, I ordered the Violet Beauregarde (props for the cute name) with vodka, St. Germaine, blueberry puree, fresh mint, fresh lemon, and sparkling wine. I LOVED that one. I also loved the non-alcoholic blueberry spritzer that they passed around, but not the rosemary lemonade (too bitter).
As for food, we tried the Goat Cheese Grits Poppers with Jalapeno Apple Salsa (4:00, my favorite); Fried Green Tomatoes with Grits (1:00, also really liked); Country Ham Wontons with Shaved Brussels Sprouts (10:00, very good); Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese with Apples and Figs (not pictured, pretty good); Salt Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese and Pesto (6:00, disappointed with this one); Pimento Cheese Dip (too spicy for me); Mac and Cheese with Cajun Shrimp (also too spicy for me).
My takeaway was that this is Southern food, get the fried stuff and the cheesy stuff and the grits - if you try to go healthy, you will be disappointed. Everything we tried was from the small plates menu, so I would like to return to try an entree. Or better yet, bunch - I hear the brunch is fantastic.
My thanks to Yelp and Tupelo Honey Cafe for their generosity! You can read more about the event here.
You may be interested in: Yelp Progressive Brunch at Springfield Town Center
Earlier this week I talked about my Marrakesh box from Try The World, and what I did with the sardines from it. Now I'd like to tell you what I did with the rest of the items, which was to make this beautiful lamb and couscous dish!
First I took cubed lamb and tossed it with some of the kefta rub, then browned it in batches.
I really want to tell you guys about this delightful sardine butter that I made with lemon and fresh herbs, but first I need to tell you how I happened to acquire some sardines. (Also -check out my delicious Seeded Peasant Bread in the photo, there.)
I recently signed up for a subscription service called Try The World, which sends me a box of international goodies every other month. The boxes are themed, so that everything in each comes from one country - my first box was Marrakesh (Morocco).
Lemme walk you through what it is like to get one of these boxes in the mail. You open up the cardboard cube, and inside is an adorable print and your beautiful box.
Earlier this week, I posted about homemade Seeded Peasant Bread. Well, what goes better with homemade bread than homemade jam? This jam, made with Rainier cherries and Amaretto, is the perfect compliment.
Rainier cherries are so beautifully colored, I just love them. Start by pitting and chopping (I was lazy and just quartered mine, and the chunks were a bit too large).
Combine with sugar, bring to a boil, and cook down for a bit.
I have been trying to make bread for years. I have tried so many different recipes, and never been happy with any of them. Until Melissa introduced to to this recipe from Alexandra's Kitchen, that is. It's so ridiculously easy - there's no kneading, just mixing and rising - and the texture is amazing. I'm seriously obsessed with it.
First step - activate yeast. And while that is happening, stir together flour, spelt flour, salt, and seeds. Melissa uses 1 tbsp each of quinoa, flax, chia, and millet - I don't like flax seeds very much, so I use 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp each quinoa, chia, and millet.
Then you mix the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and THAT'S IT (at least as far as mixing goes). It's so stupidly easy. Let it rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.
This week Melissa and Sarah take their vegetarian lunch adventure to the grill! Woohoo! We've been meaning to grill all summer, but for some reason every time we pick a day it starts to rain. This time was no exception - rain was forecasted starting in the afternoon - but we decided to try and grill before it started, and we succeeded! Finally!
This flatbread had been kicking around in our minds for a while, the product of brainstorming, and I am so pleased with the way it turned out! Crispy grilled flatbread topped with pesto, grilled and fresh veggies, feta, and fresh basil - the epitome of Summer.
First, we made the flatbread dough - which is very easy and requires no yeast or rising time! Just flour, salt, baking powder, water, milk, and oil mixed together.
I could tell immediately from the dialogue that this was a play adaptation, and I was right. The movie portrays the funeral of the patriarch of an extremely dysfunctional family, set in the desolate plains of Oklahoma. The cast (including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Juliette Lewis) acted the crap out of some very dark and intense material - addiction, depression, suicide, abuse, and incest. This is not a feel good movie (you know it's bad when incest is the best scenario), but it is very good and it will make you think.
As for the food inspiration - there was a ton! Many of the most tortured scenes revolved around food, including the horrible funeral dinner and the infamous "eat the fish!" scene. The moment that I was drawn to was Meryl Streep's character talking about her last interaction with her husband over biscuits and gravy. She must have said the phrase "biscuits and gravy" ten times. I'm not even that big a fan of biscuits and gravy, but that was what I wanted to make.
I wanted to make something special, not basic, so I went to Pinterest thinking I would find an herbed biscuit recipe or something. But what came up were a ton of recipes for biscuits and gravy casseroles. I had never heard of that before and it sounded awesome! Some were just biscuits, gravy, and cheese; but I liked the look of one that included eggs (kind of like a strata).
I have said it before and I will say it again - I am not much of a baker. I feel much more comfortable with the flow of cooking, than the rigidity of baking. But I want to get better, and a large part of that is experience. So my friend Melissa, an excellent baker and author of Smells Like Brownies, is helping me learn.
We decided to start with some peanut butter swirl brownies, with the knowledge that we wanted there to be plenty of saltiness to contrast the sweetness. So we made sure that the peanut butter layer was salted, then finished the brownies with flaky sea salt - yum.