Where To Dine In Mosaic District: Dinner At Brine

Are you trying to make weekend plans or looking for a fun Friday dinner? If so, I highly recommend dinner at Brine. Last Friday I took the metro all the way to Dunn Loring station where my friend Mary picked me up and we drove to Mosaic District for dinner at Brine. I've been to the Mosaic District multiple times, but this was my first time checking out Brine. Ever since I've heard of Brine and that they serve oysters, I've wanted to go. It's a perfect place for a date, a girls night out, or a family dinner.

The restaurant is GORGEOUS! I loved the reclaimed wood tables and chairs, open kitchen, high ceilings and stunning plates. The only thing I wish they'd change are the tacky fake flowers in the bathrooms.

Apparently this restaurant has had mixed reviews, but everything Mary and I ordered was amazing. Yep, amazing.

Here's what we had (not counting the clam bucatini dish which although was good, wasn't stellar):

Oysters! Get the oysters!!! We ordered two of each on the menu.

Oh, and you get a bucket of the most buttery, pillow'y and decadent rolls with flaky salt on top. Let's just say that when we were asked if we wanted another order, we said YES!

For the shared appetizer we chose Yellowfin Carpaccio with ginger, sweet onion, sesame oil and puffed tendon. I could eat this dish daily. The fish was sliced thinly, and the Asian flavors marinated it perfectly.

And then there was the burger....oh the burger! Please get it medium rare! The red onion jam on the bottom bun was sweet and a perfect counterpoint to the sharp cheese and the slaw. I wish we could have had a few more garlic pickles. NOTE: the burger comes with fries. Do not order fries. Do order the corn side though!

Was there room for dessert!? Of course! We got the Creamy Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with blackberries and pound cake. What a perfect way to end a meal.

And then I went salsa dancing ;)

Have a great weekend!


Dinner in Under 15 Minutes: Charred Corn & Tomato Salad with Burrata & Lamb Loin Chop

Let's be real: we all lead busy lives. Some of us are busier than others, but I still believe you have the time (if you choose it) to make dinner. You don't have to make dinner every day, but when you want to treat yourself to something other than cereal, takeout or a frozen meal, I have something that will only take 15 minutes from start to finish and will not only impress YOU but also those who may be lucky to dine with you.

This Charred Corn & Tomato Salad with Burrata & Lamb Loin Chop is a great summer meal and can be served for lunch or dinner.

Ingredients for 1
olive oil
lamb loin chop
salt & pepper
1 ear of corn
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 burrata ball
1-2 slices of bread, toasted
chili oil
chopped chives

1. Bring your lamb loin chop to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper and cook in a bit of olive oil in a heated pan for 2-4 minutes on each side depending on how rare you want your lamb to be. I like mine quite rare!
2. Meanwhile, char the corn directly on top of the gas stove. Allow it to cool a bit, remove the kernels and mix them with tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Time to plate: arrange the corn and tomato salad on a plate next to the lamb loin chop, add a ball of burrata and one or two slices of toasted bread.
4. Drizzle with chili oil and garnish with fresh chives.

What's your super quick dinner idea?


Cucumber, Avocado & Sweet Pea Chilled Summer Soup

Happy Monday! If like me you had a weekend of too much drinking, eating out, dancing and not enough sleep, this Cucumber, Avocado & Sweet Pea Chilled Summer Soup will invigorate you and make you feel like you are doing something good for yourself.

A few weeks ago there was a debate about whether or not adding peas to guacamole was a good idea. I don't really care what you do, but I don't want peas in my guacamole. The debate made me think, however, about using creamy avocado and sweet peas in a dish together: a chilled soup came to mind. I added a few other ingredients to a blender, and voila!

Cucumber, Avocado & Sweet Pea Chilled Summer Soup
Serves 2-4

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, roughly chopped
1 avocado (halved, pit removed, flesh scooped out)
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
salt & pepper to taste
garnish: chopped pistachios, chili oil, chopped chives, defrosted peas

1. Add the first 4 ingredients to a blender and blend till smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
2. For best results, refrigerate the soup for about 30-60 minutes.
3. Serve the soup in bowls garnished with chili oil, chopped pistachios, a few peas and chives.
I absolutely loved this soup! It's perfect for a hot summer day (lunch or dinner) and would make an elegant first course at a party. Who wants a spoon?


Fun Fundraiser At Studio Theatre In DC

Good morning! Are you looking forward to the weekend!? I am! If you are like me and plan ahead, I have a great event to share with you.

Next Saturday, August 1st, Studio Theatre is having a fundraiser. I was invited to attend and am happy to share the information with you. Come for the food, drinks, retail therapy, and more importantly to support a local theatre!

Taste of Studio
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Studio Theatre, 1501 14th Street NW, Washington, DC
noon – 8pm First Floor Memorabilia Sale and Beer Garden
4pm - 7pm Main Event: Taste of Studio
4pm – midnight Mixology Lounge and Guest Bartenders

This summer, in conjunction with Midcity Dog Days, Studio is debuting a new fundraising
event—Taste of Studio—a twist on our annual Garage Sale. As in years previous, attendees will
be able to purchase costumes, props, and even set pieces used throughout the season. This
summer’s event includes a multi-floor food and beverage experience featuring neighborhood
restaurants and bars, along with live entertainment and behind-the-scenes views of Studio’s
upcoming productions.

$15—access to Beer Garden and Memorabilia Sale, 12 noon-8pm
$90—access to Beer Garden, Memorabilia Sale and tasting rooms, 4pm-7pm
$135—access to Beer Garden, Memorabilia Sale, tasting rooms, and Mixology Suite, 4pm-12am

Will I see you there?


How To Turn Hot Coffee Into Iced Coffee In FIVE Minutes

The first thing I thought this past Saturday morning when I woke up after a night of salsa dancing was "who is this in bed next to me???????????????"

KIDDING. I wanted to see if you {whoever you are who may be reading this} were paying attention.

No, what I actually thought was "fuck, I forgot to put my French press with finely ground coffee beans and cold water in the fridge the night before to make iced coffee."

It was super hot outdoors, and although I had my AC on full blast, the idea of hot coffee did not sound appealing. Nor did I want to go outside to get iced coffee. I also did not want to wait for the hot brewed coffee to get cold.


But then I remembered a super cool method of turning freshly brewed coffee into iced coffee in a matter of a few minutes that Carey showed me while I was attending Cape Cod photography workshop a few months ago. When Carey first mentioned this method, I did not believe her.

I may have trust issues.

Once I saw what Carey did, however, and drank the results, I was a believer ;)

How To Turn Hot Coffee Into Iced Coffee In FIVE Minutes

1) Brew hot coffee.
2) Take two heat proof containers and fill one with 1-2 cups of ice. {I used 2 Pyrex containers.}

3. Poor the brewed coffee into the container with ice and then quickly pour it into the second container. Don't worry, the ice will not immediately melt despite what you may think.
4. Pour the coffee and ice back into the first glass container and repeat these steps a few times.

5. Like magic, the hot brewed coffee would have cooled down by quite a bit at this point. Pour it into a glass or a jar with new ice and add half and half.
6. Add a straw and enjoy.

Do you trust me!? Then definitely try this at home ;)


Spicy Sweet Potato & Black Bean Sliders With Sabra's Jalapeno Hummus

Guess who got to develop another recipe for Sabra!? ME!!! I'm really excited about what I created this past weekend and hope you'll make it soon. How about today? These Spicy Sweet Potato & Black Bean Sliders With Sabra's Jalapeno Hummus are perfect for Meatless Monday!

Disclosure: Sabra compensated me for my time and skills (ha!) and provided samples of their product. All opinions are my own.

The great thing about using jalapeno hummus is that it adds all the necessary spices to the sliders. Also, you can use as little or as much of the jalapeno "topping" to get the desired heat level. Finally, because I used hummus as the binder instead of eggs, I was able to taste the mixture before cooking it to decide if I did want to add salt or pepper.

Spicy Sweet Potato & Black Bean Sliders With Sabra's Jalapeno Hummus
Makes 8 sliders or can be turned into 3-4 patties

1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled, cubed, cooked in olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper until tender
1/2 cup black beans (I cooked my own)
3 tablespoons jalapeno hummus, more for the rolls
2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar
1 tablespoons chopped chives
8 mini yeast rolls, halved, toasted
1 avocado
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1-2 teaspoons lime juice
8 tomato slices

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. In a bowl, lightly mash sweet potato cubes and black beans. Add hummus, cheese and chives, and mix to combine. Taste and add salt if needed.
3. Make 8 patties.
4. Spray a cookie sheet with oil and bake the patties for 10 minutes on each side. BE CAREFUL when flipping the patties because they are pretty delicate: you don't want them to break.
5. Spread a bit of hummus on the bottom of each roll and top with a patty.
6. Mash together avocado, Greek yogurt and lime juice. Season with salt. Top each patty with the avocado crema and a slice of tomato. Finally, add the top part of the roll.

How cute are these!? They are a perfect little appetizer or can be a full meal in themselves.

If you have a few of these patties left over, heat them the next day and serve with a fried egg for breakfast! Make sure to check out other recipes I developed using Sabra products!


Toronto: What To Do? What To See? Where To Go?

Oh, Toronto! How I miss you. No humidity. No work. No dealing with computer support people.

Today I want to share with you some of the highlights of my long weekend in Toronto. Although I paid my own way for transportation, lodging, and food, I received a lovely gift from the Toronto Tourism Board of the City Pass which let me check out many of the attractions for FREE! I also took the hop on/hop off tour bus to give my feet a bit of a break from walking!

The picture above is from the Distillery District. Great area of town to walk around, check out a few boutiques, get ice cream, and maybe get a late night dinner. Picture by Isabelle who was super sweet to meet up with me, take me to brunch and show me around a bit ;)

Next to the Distillery District is St Lawrence Market. If you've ever been to the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, that's what St Lawrence Market is like, but bigger! I was so sad my hotel did not have a little kitchen: I wanted to buy all the produce and meat and cheese and seafood to cook a big meal. Le sigh. I took some photos instead.

I always check out a few museums when traveling. One of my favorite exhibits during my trip to Toronto was Viva Mexico at the Royal Ontario Museum. My grandmother used to embroider intricate patters on pillows and table cloths, and my mom used to embroider wedding dresses when we first moved to the US: I can really appreciate the beauty of the handwork. These Mexican dresses were absolutely stunning!

Another museum I visited was the Gardiner.  A museum dedicated to pottery!? Sign me up! I loved seeing the work of potters from decades ago next to modern pottery. It was a great inspiration for the pottery classes I signed up for in DC.

Another fun thing to do when visiting a new city is to check out cultural events. Lucky for me, there were several large events happening in Toronto the weekend I was in town. The one I checked out was Taste of Toronto. It was a blast to try out different dishes from some of the top restaurants in Toronto. That's also where I finally had my first poutine! With duck!!! The wait was worth it.

This girl was the cutest ever!!! And she gave out samples of Bonne Maman!

Do you ever forget how tiring traveling can be!? Remember to give yourself a bit of time to chill in bed, watch TV and plan what you will do during the day.

Another day, another museum! I absolutely loved the architecture of the newest addition to the Art Gallery of Toronto designed by Frank Gherry who actually was born just a few blocks away from the museum. I took a one hour free tour of the museum to get a quick overview of all of its collections and then spent some time walking through the modern collections.

If you have the time, wait in a long line and then another line and then another line and take the escalator up the CN Tower. The views were pretty spectacular. I bet the views are even better at night!

At the end of my last full day in Toronto I took a little boat tour around the islands. It was relaxing and a great way to see the city skyline!

Can you imagine living on one of the islands and having a private boat?

During my last day I had 4 hours and spent my time walking around Queen Street, people watching, window shopping and eating ;)

Alas, I wasn't able to take all these lovely policemen with me back to the US!

Thank you Toronto for a wonderful time! I shall be back.


Seeing Toronto With Urban Expeditions: Private City Tour

Happy Wednesday! Today I am sharing the first of 3 posts with you that recaps my trip to Toronto. Over the 4th of July weekend I decided to whisk myself away for a long weekend after booking tickets to Toronto, Canada and finding an adorable hotel right in Downtown area. I've been to Vancouver and Victoria many times when I lived in Seattle, and have traveled to Montreal about 6 years ago. This was my first time in Toronto. Long story short: great city, lovely people, good food, so much to see and do!

After flying in and checking into my hotel and failing to nap, I had a quick lunch and then met Peter of Urban Expeditions for a private 3 hour tour of the City. The tour was complimentary, but all opinions are my own and I'm not being compensated for this post with anything other than wonderful memories ;)
"Urban Expeditions is more than a tour company; we’re in the business of storytelling. Running year round in major cities across North America, our private city tours facilitate small groups of six or less. We offer a comfortable way to explore the city in practical luxury. All tours include refreshments, transportation, and a guide. By highlighting the unique features of each city, Urban Expeditions helps bring the city to life."
After accepting the offer for a tour, I started to panic. After all, I'll be meeting a total stranger and spending 3 hours with him in a city I've never been to. Would it be awkward? Will we have things to talk about? Would I get back to the hotel safely in one piece? {These thoughts are very similar to the ones I have in those rare blimps of time when I go out on dates.}
Luckily, I had an amazing time. 3 hours turned into 6 and I gained a unique overview of Toronto and many of its neighborhoods.
Urban Expeditions is a perfect choice when visiting a city for the first time and not having a week to explore it. You can choose to go on a tour that covers art, or culture, or food, or nature, and then specify which things are on your must list, which things you would like to see but are not necessarily on top of your list and also note if you have any allergies (not only will you see the city, but you'll also explore a bit of its food scene).
Oh, and if you are one of those athletic people, Urban Expeditions has many of its tours that take place by biking, not walking. I of course chose the walking tour ;)
Peter took me on a walk through downtown explaining how the city has changed over the last few decades and years. Toronto is #1 city people move to when they come to Canada. There are high rise condo buildings built all the time!
Still, there are quaint neighborhoods tucked in between. One of them was graffiti alley:

One of the benefits of touring the city with another person is being able to have photos of you taken that aren't selfies ;)

After walking for some time, I needed a rest!

On the tour I saw two old synagogues, beautiful bright houses (that were quite a bit more expensive than I'd imagined), and walked through Kensington market full of produce stands, random Army supply stores and unique little bars and restaurants.

Then it was time for a beverage break: mojitos! Notice my real camera: because this was a private tour, I did not have to worry about taking as many photos as I wanted and potentially boring the other people to death or having them wait on me. If there was somewhere I wanted to spend a bit more time, or somewhere I did not have much interest, Peter was able to customize the trip to better suit me!

One of the best places I saw on the tour, which I probably would not have discovered on my own, was Walnut Studios. It was a big warehouse-type building filled with artists' studios. It was such a blast to walk around and see how talented people are. Of course I also went to a few museums during my long weekend trip, but this was a different feel.

When I visit places, I love checking out local restaurants. Peter took me to Rock Lobster for lobster roll, oysters, and beer. Yes, I even drank beer. Located on Queen Street, it was a perfect place to sit, chat, eat and people watch. There were quite a few interesting characters.

As we made our way back, we stopped at Delysse's for dessert. I had my first gelato macaron: macaron filled with gelato. It was spectacular. Of course I chose pistachio flavor.

Thanks Peter for a great tour of Toronto!

I can wholeheartedly recommend Urban Expeditions for your next trip! Check them out next time you are in Toronto, Montreal, Chicago or New York!