May has five Mondays this year, which means - themed Secret Recipe Club post! Falling on Memorial Day, the theme for this reveal is Picnic/BBQ and my assigned blog was A Day in the Life on the Farm. Wendy and her husband are former police officers who moved out to the country and became farmers. They treat their animals humanely, are part of an organic CSA, trade with other farmers, and live sustainably as much as possible - I am so jealous! I dream of being a radical homemaker, but don't have the commitment. I was on a specific mission this month, but I look forward to perusing the blog more thoroughly.
I actually made three recipes from Wendy's blog this weekend, in order to have a full meal for the holiday. She had tons of recipes that are appropriate for the challenge, and I chose BBQ Beef Sandwiches, BLT Pasta Salad, and Black Forest Trifle. Each of these was easy to make with the help of store-bought ingredients, so that I didn't have to spend a full day in the kitchen. And each of them was a big hit!
I wanted to give a quick shout-out to a couple of my favorite local establishments in Chantilly, VA.
First up is 5T*Ice, an Asian dessert shop at Dulles Landing. I used to frequent Tutti Frutti, owned by the same people, but 5T opened much closer to where I live. Yay! In addition to frozen yogurt and gelato (including hard-to-find durian), they serve Patbingsu - shaved ice topped with ice cream, fruits, and syrups. I really like the coconut and ube bingsu with coconut shavings, sweetened condensed milk, and ube ice cream.
They also have bubble tea, smoothies, milkshakes, and other various similar drinks. I really like the Che Thai - a Vietnamese drink with coconut milk, grass jelly, coconut jelly, pomegranate jelly, lychee, jackfruit, and toddy palm. It is crazy good. If sweet is not your thing they also have steamed pork buns, sticky rice with Chinese sausage, and other goodies. And, no, I don't know what the name means - no one I know does!
So, I'm kind of obsessed with the new shopping area called Mosaic District, I spend a lot of time there. It has a lot of restaurants, but not many of them are sit-down type places. Of the few that are there, I like Matchbox the best. The food is good, the drinks are decent, and it's right next to the movie theater. For these reasons, it tends to always be crowded. But don't let availability on Open Table fool you - every single time it has claimed to have no reservations, we have walked in and been seated in less than 15 minutes. It's billed as a pizza joint, but more than half the menu is other types of food. I'd say it's pretty comparable to Chef Geoff's, but in a better location.
One thing that is pretty cool is that they have wines on tap, so you can order by the glass pretty easily. But what's even cooler is a deal with Swirl and Sip where if you buy a bottle of wine from them, Matchbox will waive the corkage fee!
This is one of my favorite pizzas - the prosciutto and black mission fig with black pepper, arugula, and honey.
Another favorite (for Jasper, as well) is the chicken pesto pizza.
This is the crab and avocado salad with roasted corn and tarragon aioli.
I'd been meaning to try this restaurant for a while, but it is inside a hotel which always makes me wary - overpriced and mediocre quality are the norm. The website claims that the chef is devoted to farm-to-table cooking and that they have an organic garden that provide herbs and produce and that they use local meats - I'm a sucker for all of that. So I finally just went over there for lunch to try it out.
My first impression was that the space is GORGEOUS - modern, impeccably designed. The hotel is very modern and upscale on the inside, too - which you cannot tell from the outside. The restaurant is long and narrow, with huge windows that run down the entire length of one side and provide lots of light during the day. When you enter, you walk past the kitchen with wood burning stove (hence the name) on the right and a large, glass-encased wine room on the left. The dining room is decorated with pearlescent white leather, pale green, and purple alligator print - very modern and luxe. There are glass fireplaces set at intervals throughout, just in case you forgot the name of the restaurant. It's very trendy and modern and I totally love it.
Now, the food - good quality with inconsistent pricing.
The lobster roll is what brought me here over the summer. The quality of the lobster salad was good and the buttery brioche bread was tasty, but as usual the ratio of bread to lobster was too high. Red Hook Lobster Pound really has spoiled me for life. I wasn't a big fan of the house chips - nice crunch but no flavor. The pickles, however, were fantastic - and served in an adorable tiny jar with a tiny spear fork.
This turkey sandwich is very much Thanksgiving-esque with caramelized onion, cranberry mayo, and their signature bacon jam. That isn't deli turkey, either - it is big slabs of roasted turkey breast. Huge, delicious, good value.
The fall agnolotti was very good, too, wit brown butter, crispy sage, lemon ricotta, and walnuts. I didn't see any figs though, which are listed in the description. Here's where the prices here get a little wonky - that giant turkey sandwich was $13.50, and this tiny appetizer sized pasta (which is billed as an entree) is $16. I mean - what?
My husband said he liked this turkey chili with white beans, cheddar, creme friache, and hot sauce. But I thought it was overpriced - $20 for a bowl of chili, just because it's listed as a main instead of a soup or appetizer.
Here is an example of the uneven pricing that swings the other way, thank goodness. This giant dessert of fresh made butterscotch pudding (served warm) with scotch soaked pound cake, salted caramel sauce, and fresh whipped cream is enough for 4 people, easy - and it's priced the same as the other desserts! It is ridiculously decadent and delicious and I love that they serve it in a pot with the little Le Creuset spatula.
We also got to try a free dessert that the chef was working on - angel food cake with more of that salted caramel and whipped cream. When I saw it I thought - boring. But it was actually really good. The thing with simple dishes is that each component has to be top notch, and that was the case here. Now I get why the chef wanted people to try it for free - you might not order that if you saw it on the menu, but once you knew how good it was that would change.
Here's an insider tip - if you check in using the Yelp app, you will get a coupon to take home a little jar of bacon jam! Do it - it's fantastic.
My takeaway from Harth is that the main plates are overpriced, so stay away from those. Stick with the creative sandwiches, huge salads, and wood fired flatbreads. If you are with a group, definitely get that butterscotch pudding. And take advantage of the fact that Mon-Fri any glass of wine is $8.