Well Dined


No Bake Vegan Date and Nut Bars

Well Dined | No Bake Vegan Date and Nut Bars

I recently moved to a new house about 35 minutes from my old one, but I still have a gym membership near my old place because I need to use up some training sessions before I quit.  So I've been driving over there twice a week to train.  I'm used to drinking a protein shake on the way to the gym, working out, then getting lunch.  But now with the extra drive (and waking up earlier), I'm getting hungry by the time I get to the gym - and that is no good for working out!  So here is where these (vegan, paleo, gluten-free) date and nut bars come in handy.  I throw one in my bag straight from the freezer, and by the time I get to the gym they are thawed, so I eat it before heading in.  They fill me up and give me a boost of energy - perfect!

These are also great for healthy homemade snacks or desserts, and especially for people with food allergies (other than nuts, obviously).  I bet kids would love them.

Well Dined | No Bake Vegan Date and Nut Bars

The crust is made from nuts, date, and coconut -  most of which is pressed into the bottom of a pan, and the rest is sprinkled on top later.  The original poster is a big fan of soaking and drying nuts before eating them to remove the phytic acid that can make them difficult to digest.  I tried it for this recipe and it took quite a bit of time (I dried them in the slow cooker overnight), but if that is too much work for you it's okay to just use raw nuts.  The original recipe also calls for brazil and macadamia nuts, but these are a bit hard to find and a little expensive.  I recommend raw cashews as a replacement.

Well Dined | No Bake Vegan Date and Nut Bars

The filling is made from dates, dried figs, and orange zest - yum.


S’mores Treats

Well Dined | S'mores Treats

I had recently been experimenting with Rice Krispies treats, and when I saw Golden Grahams at the store I immediately thought of making a s'mores treat.  I wanted there to be bits of marshmallow and chocolate throughout (instead of all melted together).

Well Dined | S'mores Treats

It ended up being super easy - cereal, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips bound together with melted marshmallow.

Well Dined | S'mores Treats

S'mores any time of year, no matter the weather, and without the mess!


Holiday Roadtrip Restaurant Reviews

Well Dined | Inn at Biltmore Estate

We had two different events planned in two different states in the weeks before Christmas: a weekend-long birthday party in the Outer Banks and a family get-together in Nashville, TN.  We decided it would be fun to connect the events via a long roadtrip, stopping at the Biltmore Estate in NC before continuing on to TN.  Biltmore is HUGE.  The house is the largest privately owned house in the US, and the grounds cover 8000 acres.  It takes 30 minutes to get from the Inn on the property to the house.

Well Dined | Inn at Biltmore Estate

We stayed for two nights at the Inn, which is a really nice hotel and spa.  They were all decked out for Christmas, and had a gingerbread house replica of the Inn.  There are multiple restaurants on the Estate - we ate at the Inn Dining Room the first night, and like it so much we decided to eat there the second night too!

The Dining Room is seasonal, farm-sourced fine dining.  I really liked their small plates and respectful treatment of produce.  The amuse bouche was a different cream based vegetable veluote both nights and they were both outstanding.  I could have eaten a bowl of that for dinner and been happy.

My favorite dish was the fried brussels sprouts with a farm egg, frisee, and bacon.  This is seriously the BEST brussels sprouts dish I have ever had.  It was eye-rolling good.  I ordered it both nights and asked for the recipe, which they gave me!  I'll post it at the bottom.

Another standout was the roasted corn and lobster soup with piquillo peppers.  This has been added to my list of favorite lobster dishes, and is in the top 3 lobster bisques for sure.

The pork belly with apple tart and goat cheese ravioli appetizers were also very good and I would highly recommend them.  The gnocchi with brie, figs, and bacon was not enjoyable, though.  The brie overpowered everything else and the bacon was way too salty.  It sounded great on paper, but didn't work.

The artisan meat and cheese platter was very satisfying, with lots of variety and good portions.  I didn't order any entrees, and Jasper ordered specials both nights.  He really enjoyed the seafood special the first night, but did not like the steak special the second night.

Overall, the good outweighs the bad here and I would recommend trying it out if you are ever in the area.


DC Wine Week Kick-Off

Well Dined

This month is the 25th Anniversary of Virginia Wine Month, which I didn't know about until last week.  I also didn't know about DC Wine Week, which kicked off it's 3rd year last night, until I got a special invite to attend some of the events.  You see, the co-founders are social media marketing experts, and they scour the web looking for locals who might get excited about their events.  And let me tell you, I was excited.

Lisa Byrne and Vanessa French started DC Wine Week as a celebration of all things wine, but especially of local wines and the places that serve them.  So it makes sense that they chose Veritas Wine Bar (one of the best wine bars in the city and, I'm told, one of the first) for their opening event.

This was my first time at Veritas, but I would love to go back.  The selected wines were all new to me, and all fantastic; and the cheese and charcuterie pairings were outstanding on their own, but also some of the best examples of food and wine pairings I have ever experienced.  These guys know what they are doing.  Period.  Special shout-out to Uri Martinez, who took really good care of us even though the place was packed.  They do seem to serve their reds at room temp, whereas I like them around 55 degrees, but it's hard to find anyone who puts a little chill on a red.

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I don't have many photos of the event, so here are some shots of me doing silly poses. You're welcome.

Wines and Pairings

1) Sparkling, Rossignol de Moragas, ‘Brut,’ Cava, Penedes, Spain, NV - This was clean, crisp, and dry (everything I love in a sparkling wine) and paired with some fantastically meaty (read: not thin and dry) prosciutto.

2) Sparkling, Cricova, Spumante Original, Brut, Moldova, NV - As much as I liked the first wine, I liked this one even more.  Also crisp and dry, it had a lot of floral going on that brought out the more complex flavors (like juniper) in the wild boar salumi it was paired with.

3) Chardonnay, Slo Down Wines, ‘Broken Dreams,’ California, 2012 - Oh my gosh, you guys - this wine.  My favorite of the night, possibly my new favorite ever.  This is not your standard buttery CA Chardonnay (which is good, because I don't like those) - full bodied and fruity (think tropical), this reminded me more of a dry Riesling.  It was paired with a firm sheep's cheese from Spain called P'tit Basque.  The guys who make Broken Dreams are hilarious, and the wine is less that $20 a bottle.  Seriously, check it out.

4) Viognier, Barboursville, ‘Reserve,’ Virginia, 2012 - VA is famous for Viognier, so of course there had to be one on the list!  This particular one was very nice, with a good amount of terroir (aka funk).  We really loved the cheese it was paired with - a firm cow's cheese with peppercorns from Oregon called Marco Polo.  With the wine, I was picking up notes of citrus and herb in the cheese - super yum!

5) Pinot Noir, Laetitia, Arroyo Grand, California, 2012 - Light bodied and dry with notes of cherry, this was paired with a killer braseola.  It didn't set off the allergic reaction I get with some Pinots, so that was definitely a plus for me!

6) Tempranillo, Baron Ladron De Guevara, Rioja, Spain, 2012 - Medium bodied, dry, and jammy and paired with an outstanding duck rillete.  Neither of us really likes pates or terrines, and we loved this rillete, so that says a lot.

7) Sparkling, Aecovi, ‘Penelope,’ Jerez, Spain, NV - This was another favorite.  Very sweet, a sparkling dessert wine, with honeyed apple notes that reminded me of a Tokai.  Paired with a creamy and salty blue cheese.

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And here is Jasper - drinking and thinking. What a cutie!

This event was super fun.  I learned a lot, I met some cool people, and I had some really great food and wine.  Be sure to go to www.dcwineweek.com and sign up for one of the events!