Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

What It’s Like Cooking At The #1 Hotel Cooking School in the World

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It’s no secret that I love to cook – it’s one of my favorite de-stressers of all time.  There’s something cathartic about chopping vegetables, mixing together the right spices and sauces for new flavors, and seeing a finished product.

A few weeks ago, myself, some of my company, and some of our customers took a cooking class at Cavallo Point Cooking School, in San Francisco, and it was amazing.

Led by Head Chef Tony Adams (who has an impeccable sense of humor), walked us through the multi-course meal we were going to cook, before we were counted off into four teams.

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The menu is set close to the day of, after Tony has gone to the market to see what is fresh for the day.  The result is a custom menu full of fresh ingredients, and it was amazing.

We learned cutting techniques, cooking techniques, how to plate things the way they were intended, and used new totally helpful cooking utensils that I now seemingly can’t live without (my cabinet space is begging to differ on that one).

Our team did a pretty incredible job with dinner, and it was amazingly delicious!  I highly recommend taking a class from here if you are in the area.  After, grab a drink at the bar downstairs and certainly, take in the beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge!

Below are some more pics of the event.  People have been left out of them, since this was a company event 🙂

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Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Harold Black and B Too

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Anyone who knows me, knows I have a HUGE love of speakeasies.  A few weekends ago, we decided to try Harold Black, and we were definitely not disappointed.

Like most speakeasies, you either spend quite a bit of time looking for the entrance, or you look it up (like we did).  Below are the directions on how to find the speakeasy, including a video!

Directions: To the left Acqua al 2’s patio is a nondescript wooden door.  It looks as though it’s locked, but it’s not.  You go up the staircases, open another door, and up another staircase.  At the end of the hallway is a table with instructions.

Once inside, you’re transported into a genuine replica of a 1920s speakeasy.  From the furniture, to the lighting (which makes the atmosphere that much cooler), to the decor, and even the bathrooms, they left no detail out. (Note, bathroom lighting makes great selfie lighting 😛 )

As for the drinks/food – both are amazing.  We spent two hours tasting some of the appetizers, and each choosing two cocktails from the menu.  (The menu changes often enough that it’s hard to recommend anything.)

Out of the three I’ve been to in D.C. thus far, PX, Harold Black, and Captain Gregory’s I’d recommend, in that order.

B Too

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I’ve been to B Too before, but it was so good I had to come back! Bart Vandaele has created a Belgium concept that has become something of a staple in Logan Circle.  If you have ever been to Belgium, you know that there’s primarily two sides to the country: French and Dutch.  Known for mainly mussels, chocolate, and waffles, (and cheese on the dutch side), a lot of authentic Belgium food can seem bland.  Bart has managed to take many common dishes and put a tasteful flair to them.  It’s one of the reasons it’s so popular.  We ended up with a three course meal for each, and out of that, only one dish got a picture (we were so hungry, we sort of forgot).  Below are my recommendations:

Starters:

  • Salade Van Bietjes (Red beet salad) – gluten-free – highly recommended
  • Wafel Van Kreeft (Maine lobster waffle) – highly recommended

Main Dish:

  • Poulet Rôti Père Maurits (Roasted Amish chicken) – gluten-free – highly recommended
  • Belgische Filet Pur Met Friejtes (Center cut filet with fries) – The steak was decent but the fries were amazing!

Dessert:

  • S’mores dish (cannot remember the actual name of the dish) – Isn’t recommended – the waffle dessert is better
  • House made ice cream and sorbet – gluten-free – Isn’t recommended – I wasn’t a fan of the taste of any of the flavors

 

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Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Steve Martin and Martin Short at Wolftrap

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Two of the funniest men on the planet came to Wolftrap last Friday night, and it made for one of the best variety/comedy shows I’ve ever been to (and one of a start to the weekend).

Steve Martin and Martin Short are on their “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life” tour, and they had two back-to-back Wolftrap performances this past weekend, to sold out crowds.

From SNL, to “Father of the Bride”, to their individual performances in their own films; these two are are considered the epitome of classic sketch comedy that’s both relatable and appreciated at any age.  With their quick wit (cue Three Amigos skit with participating audience members, and Martin’s on-the-fly responses), their love of a good roast (Martin Short can deliver some great jabs), and physical comedic acting (both had their share); they prove that their talent is unique, as well as rare.

But, what made this show even more special, is Steve Martin’s love of Bluegrass.  His band, “Steep Canyon Rangers” delivered an amazing mini concert, some of which featured Steve’s unbelievable banjo playing skills.  All around, I laughed so hard I cried, I tapped my foot so hard it was sore, and I smiled so big my cheeks hurt.

If they come to your area, make sure to grab your tickets before they are sold out!

Check out some of my pictures below (excuse the graininess – we were in box seats high up).  Video was prohibited, so I couldn’t take any.

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Date Ideas, Events/Performances, Fun, Travel, United States

Richard Marx and Rick Springfield at Wolftrap

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“… so after three days of recording the album with N’Sync, they had to sneak out the back door, because there were 800 girls waiting in the front, and I, not being known, went out the front… to my car… in the main parking lot. Out of no where, a smoking hot girl runs up to me and asks, ‘Are you Richard Marx?’ To which I reply, ‘Why yes I am!’  She responds with, ‘My mom LOVES you!’…” (Richard Marx on his age.)

This is just a small snippet of how wonderful the evening was with both Richard Marx and Rick Springfield.  They are (self-deprecating) funny, relaxed, and prove that they are still willing to tour, solely because they love their fans, and they love performing.  While I agreed to accompany my mom to see her longtime heartthrob (Rick Springfield), I found myself truly enjoying the show they put on separately, as well as together.  The entire thing was done acoustically.

Check out some of my videos and pictures below.  More videos can be found here.

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Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Iron Gate and St. Yves

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This past weekend, in what felt like the first time in forever, my other half and I got out for date night.

As most of you know, I love trying new restaurants/bars/clubs in D.C., as there are so many, it’s practically impossible to repeat!  So, we ventured out to a D.C. favorite, and a new spot that just opened a month ago: Iron Gate and St. Yves.

“We’re Coming Here Often”

Is what I told my other half when we were half way through our meal at Iron Gate.  It’s on par with our favorite restaurant in Reykjavik, Grill Markadurinn, in terms of impeccable service, beautiful atmosphere, and absolutely incredible food.  In the case of Iron Gate, it celebrated my Greek/Sicilian roots with beautifully plated Mediterranean food.

The above are three of the five dishes we ordered, not realizing the meat and potatoes platter could have fed us for the night!  Pro tip: If you get the platter, order one more dish, per person, to try, or save room for dessert (which we didn’t get to).

As for drinks, both the Greek orange wine and rose were amazing!

St. Yves

St. Yves is a tough one to review, because the owners are friends of mine.  We attended a birthday party in the “Cloud Room”, before heading into the main room.  It might have been the sheer amount of people there for the birthday party however, the spaces were hard to move around in, the other clientele there (not part of the party) were a bit undesirable, and the sound system was far too loud for the space.  If you want to get a drink at the main bar, it’s not navigable with the large ramp (complete with railing) that takes up a lot of available foot space.  On a positive note, the decor is beautiful!  Pro tip: It’s great if you can rent the whole space out for just your party.

SO – my recommendation is to definitely try Iron Gate and perhaps, skip St. Yves if you’re looking for a club with elbow space and good music.

Date Ideas, Events/Performances, Fun, Other Things I Like

Celebrating Love, Friends, and New Adventures!

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On top of the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.

I had a couple of messages this morning, asking me if I stopped meditating, since I’ve not posted in close to five days.  I’ve definitely had my morning practice however, I did not finish the 21-day Meditation Challenge.  So much of what I shared, over the last 2 1/2 weeks, was already shared.  I felt as though a bit of it was too repetitive and thus, I’m not comfortable writing a blog post if I can’t give unique, applicable content. So instead, I’m going to show you proof of what “hope” looks like…

This past weekend (includes Thursday) was filled with celebrations of love, new milestones, and great friendships.  It’s one of those rare weekends that I was constantly on the go, but so happy to share in the joy in so many other people’s lives.  Below is a peek into my weekend, and what I am most grateful for because of it:

Thursday: A New Year, and New Connections

My “weekend” kicked off with the birthday of my BFF, and a date auction.  (Yes, I’m taken but I also happened to throw a male friend up there, and wanted to be there for moral support.)

I am so grateful for my girlfriend (pictured below).  While I have so many amazing women in my life, she’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We often joke we’ll be living together at age 80, watching Star Wars movie marathons, while knitting.  Thus, a year hasn’t gone by where I’ve not celebrated a birthday with her.  In fact, it’s also the anniversary of when we met!

For her celebration, a bunch of us girls took her to Cafe Milano for dinner (complete with a firework slice of cake).  (If you have never been there, I HIGHLY suggest it!  It’s home of the power dinner, where the “who’s who” goes to dine.  It’s also home to some of the best gluten-free pasta and rosé in D.C.)

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While her own personal celebration had concluded, we weren’t done with the evening.  We all headed over to Capitale for our friend Sher Mathew’s date auction.  She is in the running to be LLS Woman of the Year, and she’s knocking it out of the park with about three events A WEEK!  It was there it felt like one, big friend reunion, complete with stage takeover to sing my friend Happy Birthday!

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Photos, courtesy of Vithaya Phongsavan

Friday: Celebrating My Most Favorite Person in the World

My other half is seriously THE BEST.  Between the move into our new home, my compulsive behaviors to get everything unpacked, put away, and decorated; AND putting up with my work schedule, he’s a complete rockstar.  Thus, I wanted to surprise him with a dinner outside (check out Cactus Cantina if you want some great Mexican food and drinks, on an outdoor patio with a view of the National Cathedral) and a quick stop at a private Tiffany’s event in Chevy Chase, to buy him something he’s always wanted” a Dog Tag.

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Saturday: Celebrating New Beginnings

Last year, my mom, sister, and myself held an annual Bags, Baubles, and Bubbles fundraiser at Westwood Country Club, to raise money for the Stroke Comeback Center.  I wrote about the Center last year when we were getting ready to hold the first annual event.  It’s a wonderful place for Stroke and Trauma victims to rehabilitate, and certainly, there have been some amazing comeback stories because of it!

This year was bigger and better, with a private fashion show, hosted by Bloomingdales; hundreds of auction items, a beautiful luncheon, and even more attendees!  I was so grateful to be a part of it again!

When it was over, I was down for a quick nap and then onto the last event of the evening: Saying goodbye to one of my close friends and her husband (plus pending baby), as they are moving to San Antonio!

It couldn’t have been a more perfect evening, atop the Watergate Hotel (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you check this out), with the sun setting (everyone was grateful for being able to witness the most perfect sunset from the best view in DC), being surrounded by good, close friends.

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Sunday: Celebrating Love

To cap off the weekend, we were grateful to be able to celebrate two amazing people who are the absolute epitome of true love.  It was so special to be amongst our close friends, and both the bride and groom-to-be’s respective families, in one of the most beautiful historic homes in D.C.

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It’s weekends like these that make me thankful for the friends, family, support, and love I have in my life!  Stay tuned for Mother’s Day weekend, when I take you all down to Williamsburg, VA with me!

 

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Washington Nationals Opening Day 2017

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Every year I’ve lived in D.C., and so long as D.C. has had the Washington Nationals in our backyard, I’ve wanted to go to Opening Day.  There’s something so special about taking the day off work with a few thousand other people, meeting up with friends, having a few drinks (and plenty of ball park food), and watching one of America’s oldest sports.

This past Monday, April 3rd, my other half and I were lucky enough to snag two suite tickets to watch the game (in style).  We were even luckier to wander the stadium and run into friends, making it one of the most memorable games (and Mondays) I’ve been to (had).

If you have never been to a game here, I highly recommend it.  It’s one of the best baseball stadiums in the country!  Not only is the park itself so beautiful, but the surrounding areas of Navy Yard/Waterfront – are being built up to include some really great bars and restaurants.  Walking distance from the stadium, you can visit The Bull Pen, Scarlet Oak, Cantina Marina (my favorite, and where we ended up after the game), as well as many others.

If you don’t have time to explore the neighborhood, note that there are so many food and drink options to choose from, within the ball park, that you truly don’t have to leave.  Note that for those who are gluten-free they have two gluten-free stands in the park, including one by Centerfield!

Happy baseball season!

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Compass Rose

Okay, while this wasn’t a date with my other half, it WAS a date with my girlfriend for her birthday!

Compass Rose has long been on my list of places to try in D.C. and it absolutely doesn’t disappoint!  It’s a place I definitely want to go to again and again – especially if I’ve got a hankering to travel to another country 🙂

Compass Rose’s menu is amazing – allowing you to sample small plates from all over the world, while being in an atmosphere that is reminiscent of any Western or Southern Asian countries.  Bonus points for them bottling and serving their own FABULOUS rosé!

My suggestions on what to order, especially if you have a soy and/or gluten allergy like we do:

  1. Pasteles (El Salvador) – ask for a side of rice, as opposed to the sides listed on the menu
  2. Broccoli Rabe (Italy)
  3. Bhel Puri Chaat (India)
  4. Asado (Argentina)

For dessert, we ordered an orange creme brûlée from Catalan.

On a gluten-free friendly scale, this place is a 10. I definitely recommend making reservations for this highly busy place!

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Convivial

One of the most talked about restaurants in D.C. is sitting smack in the middle of the newly-developed Shaw district, and is a not-to-be-missed!

Convivial is the brain child of Cedric Maupillier who paired his expertise in French cooking with the light and “cheery” ambience foodies crave in the D.C. area.  The dishes are smaller, which means they are perfect for sharing 2-3 or if you are a light eater, can feel satisfied with just 1-2!

What We Ordered: Since we didn’t want to be overstuffed, he ordered the Friend Chicken “Coq Au Vin” (which he highly recommends) and I ordered the Quinoa (which I also recommend).  We also split the Creme Brûlée.

On a gluten-free friendly scale, this place is a 9 (mainly due to the slimmed-down menu).  I definitely recommend making reservations for this highly busy place!

 

 

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: RPM DC… for Valentine’s Day!

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Yeah, we’re the cheesy, in-love couple that made reservations for Valentine’s day… two months in advance!

Actually… that is the standard for RPM in D.C. – the new (ish), hip, upscale Italian restaurant that has taken the district by storm.  First established in Chicago by Bill and Giuliana Rancic, their upscale Italian concept made it’s way south to the already vibrant restaurant scene in the Nation’s Capital, and there are absolutely no signs of it slowing down.

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What to Order

Cocktails: Being the cocktail lovers we are, we each tried a different cocktail at the bar.  I chose the “Spritz and Giggles” (I don’t recommend it) and he chose the “Ten Cent Pistol” (we both HIGHLY recommend), prior to being seated at our table.

Wines: Once we were seated (in one of the best tables at the restaurant), I took a look through the wine list and was so deliriously happy to see Blackbird Vineyards, owned by the magnificent Michael Polenske, on the list of recommended wines.  Naturally, we splurged for the Paramour 2013 – one of the smoothest reds I’ve ever had.  It’s on the pricier side of the spectrum but well worth it (it’s also worth to check out their site and order in bulk).

Food: The biggest thing to note is that the food menu is designed to eat in courses.  All of the plates are small enough for two people, to enjoy more than one (usually 2-3), without feeling full.  We shared the prosciutto with peppers (this will “change your life” and is a must), the gluten-free pasta Pomodoro (big enough to share as a side dish), and the filet mignon (it’s cooked to perfection at medium and was absolutely amazing).  For dessert:

The green apple gelato with kiwi and the black cherry Panna Cotta are both highly recommended and just big enough to share!

This place is on the top of our list to go back to and on a gluten-free scale of 1-10, comes in at a 10!  We highly recommend you make reservations at least a month in advance for non-holidays.  Enjoy!