If you are not redirected automatically, follow the link to Gretchen, In-Between dinner | Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!
Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted on Apr 23, 2013 in Food | 6 comments

PassionFish

Herro. So, now that I’ve adequately covered the many emotions that came out of schnauzer poisoning scare from this past weekend, let’s tune back into our regularly scheduled programming, eh?

Friday, my family and I put the final pin in my birthweek celebrationgs (as opposed to birthday, since the events stretched quite a bit past the actual date, haha). My mom has been in Houston attending to my sister and niece for the past month, so we delayed our family celebration until she got back. The whole family headed out to the Reston Town Center to eat at PassionFish, a seriously delicious (but ‘spensive!) seafood restaurant with an Asian flair.

IMG_1402.jpg

When I made the reservation on Open Table, I did put in a note that we were celebrating my birthday dins, but I didn’t expect PassionFish to really do much with that info — maybe put a candle in my dessert or something? Well, imagine my surprise when we sat down and opened our menus, and this was inside:

IMG_1403.jpg

They had specially printed menus for our table that said “Happy Birthday, Gretchen!!!” on the left page! Totally unexpected and a really, really awesome touch.

IMG_1421.jpg

And they even packaged it up for me to take one home as a souvenir! I felt special. Heeeee.

IMG_1405.jpg

Right, so. Food. Instead of a bread basket, every table at PassionFish gets a plate of crostini with a crab/fish spread. I’m not actually sure what was in the spread, only that it was yummy.

IMG_1407.jpg
IMG_1410.jpg

We also ordered shrimp & crab spring rolls and the kung pao calimari for apps. The appetizer list was really where you saw the Asian influence in the menu.

IMG_1413.jpg IMG_1412.jpg

Oh, yes, and obvs there were drinks, too. Tay got the “Dirty CEO” martini, and the rest of us shared a bottle of vino. Mmm.

IMG_1417.jpg

I also got a beet salad, with pecans, goat cheese, and greens, and a few other people got soups (my dad got this butternut squash & lobster bisque which was uhhhhhmazing!)

IMG_1423.jpg

My entree was a plate of seared scallops over a bed of corn polenta, these little spaetzel-like noodle things, and with super crispy ham (think basically bacon) on top. The scallops were cooked perfectly, and the combination of flavors were so, so, so on point. I tried everyone else’s dishes too (duh!), and whlie they were all really good, I still think mine was the best. Win!

IMG_1428.jpg

Even though we were all pretty much stuffed at this point, and we had cake waiting at home, our waiter informed me that I got a free dessert for my birthday. Never one to pass up free food, I selected the donut holes, which came in an adorable little mini fry basket and were hot and delicious. Just enough for the 6 of us all to share a bite or two! And they did, as you can see, come with that birthday candle. ๐Ÿ˜‰

As mentioned, the evening wasn’t quiiiiite over yet though, as there was a cake at home for me!

IMG_1436.jpg
IMG_1440.jpg
IMG_1451.jpg

So the night ended with my family all sharing ice cream cake. My mom also gave me her present — a super gorgeous ring with diamonds from her jewelry collection! It’s really beautiful, I’m a little scared to actually wear it, hahahaha. You guys already know the unbelievable present Sean got me, and I had also already received my present from my dad, sister, and brother earlier — a Nike Fuelband! Which I’ve been wearing every day and it really is a great reminder of exactly how sedentary I am on an average day. I never really got the point of fuel tracker things before, but I definitely get it now — it’s actually fun to make sure you meet your goals and can track your activity!

Whew. So that does it. Thus, my week of birthday celebrations (and obvious gluttony) officially comes to a close. (Sad panda!) Wellps, guess now I can start planning out birthday #26 now, eh? Hehehe.

Before I go, I just have two quick things:

Caitlin from Cait Strides has put together a t-shirt fundraiser in the wake of what happened in Boston. 100% of their proceeds are going to One Fund Boston, and their goal is to raise $1,000 for the victims’ families! Check it out: http://skreened.com/janeofsometrades/keep-running-bahston

Lastly, the winner of the Shabby Apple giveaway is being chosen tomorrow, so get your entries in now!

Happy Tuesday, friendos! <3

Read More

Posted on Apr 12, 2013 in Food | 18 comments

Birthday Dinner

Hi dee ho, chickadees (and, uh, chicka…dudes?)! Happy Friday! It’s an especially happy Friday for me, given that I had an absolutely wonderful birthday yesterday — thanks in large part to all the wonderful messages I received from you all! You guys really know how to make a girl feel special. ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_1188.jpg

So, as you might have guessed, Sean did not in fact end up taking me Taco Bell for my birthday. No, he surprised me by taking me to 2941–a truly awesome (and swanky!) restaurant that I actually visited for the first time last year for my Mom’s birthday.

IMG_1192.jpg

2941 is in the Fairview Park area in greater Falls Church. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but in a really beautiful location because of it. It’s on the edge of a lake, and has waterfalls and stone paths and koi ponds (oh my!). It was February the last time I came, so it was already super dark when we arrived. This time, I got to appreciate the scenery for a bit before the sun went down!

Untitled

To start, I ordered a glass of Oregon pinot noir (the best!) before we tucked in.

IMG_1193.jpg

The restaurant focuses on french/italian-style haute cuisine. It was a real FEAST! Everything I tried was sol, so delicious–just see for yourself!

IMG_1197.jpg

The bread basket included three kinds of bread: a classic french bread, a soft wheat, and an olive loaf. The olive was my favorite! I totally ended up picking out the extra kalamata olives from the leftover pieces of uneaten bread, hehe.

IMG_1195.jpg

We also ordered an appetizer of calimari. I know it seems a little random, but honestly this may have been the best calimari I have ever, EVER had. The breading wasn’t heavy, but was super crisp (I’m thinking it must have been panko) and the sauces were just delightful–a tomato coulis and a light honey mustard that I think were supposed to be a play on ketchup & mustard. I demolished these little squiddos.

IMG_1200.jpg

2941 also orders both 2nd course-sizes and full-entree sizes of their pasta dishes. This Hawaiian prawn risotto just sounds too incredible NOT to try, so Sean and I ordered a small size to share. Oh. My. Lanta. The risotto was perfect–creamy and lemony and tangy and delicious–and the prawns were absolutely to die for. I almost–almost!–wish I had just ordered a full-sized version for myself. Luckily, what I did end up choosing as my entree was without a doubt the right choice.

IMG_1203.jpg

I got the roasted duck breast, served with zucchini and asparagus, and it was PHENOMENAL. Perfectly cooked, tender, flavorful… I was getting pretty full by this point (for obvious reasons, haha) so I ended up taking half home. Which means I GET TO EAT IT AGAIN FOR LUNCH AND I’M SO FRAKKING EXCITED OMG.

Aaaand recomposing myself… yes, I obviously loved this dish. I think it’s a tie between the duck and the risotto for best dish of the night.

IMG_1204.jpg

In true Gretchen form, I also insisted we order a side of Brussels sprouts, because evidently I am incapable of seeing them on a menu without ordering them. They were quite good, but I still think I make ’em better. ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_1212.jpg

Of course, since it was my birthday and all, we couldn’t NOT sample a dessert! We got the crema fritta, which was a rich cream inside little crisp triangles, with root beer caramel (!!) and a cocoa nib ice cream. Really rich and tasty, and the perfect size to share.

IMG_1215.jpg

I had forgotten from my last visit here that you get complimentary beignets at the end of your meal, so Sean and I each had one little lemony donut hole to polish things off.

IMG_1217.jpg

And I capped off the night with a delicious cup of Earl Grey tea. Whew.

So, as you can see, the night’s meal was pretty incredible, though I’m sure I’m MORE than paying for it today. Hahahaha, between last night’s dinner, tonight’s Melting Pot excursion with Ai Rei and Aileen, and my birthday party tomorrow, I’m pretty sure I’m never going to want to weigh myself again. Lololol.

Oh! And I can’t forget to tell you the BEST PART OF THE ENTIRE DAY! Yes, better than dinner last night, better than the free birthday scoop of pistachio almond ice cream I got from Baskin Robbins… check out the present my boyfriend gave me:

Untitled

Yep.

He got me a Vitamix.

*cue my complete and total freakout*

I am so flipping spoiled. I love it I love it I love it I love him I love him I love him. AHHHH!! And yes, I totally cried when I opened the box and saw what it was. Straight up burst into tears, just like I did when my brother got me my KitchenAid mixer for Christmas a few years back. What can I say? Evidently extravagant kitchen appliances are the true way to my heart.

There may be some of you who are shaking your heads or scratching your chins in confusion. What’s so special about a blender? you’re thinking. Well, to start, this is no mere blender. Sure, it blends. But it does so much more. You can COOK SOUP in this blender. You can make ICE CREAM with this blender. This blender can CHURN BUTTER. IT CHURNS BUTTER PEOPLE.

So, yeah. All in all, I’d say that 25 is shaping up to be one of my best years yet. Thanks again for all the birthday love, friendos! See you on the (post-Quarter Quell) flipside!

Read More

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 in Food | 6 comments

The Wine Kitchen

So, remember when I said that I was going to work on not eating out as much? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. Yeah, apparently that’s not really happening quiiiiite yet. But! I did get some delectably delicious photos out of it (consider this your warning not to read the following post when hungry) so… you’re welcome?

Some of you may remember that a few weeks ago, I went up to Frederick, MD to participate in the Frederick Restaurant Week Sneak Peek. Well, this past week WAS Restaurant Week, so this past Saturday Sean and I headed back up to Frederick to meet the wonderful Lauren & her husband, Greg, for dins.

Photo stolen from Lauren :)

Photo stolen from Lauren ๐Ÿ™‚

We actually first met up with Lauren & Greg at an oil & vinegar store that was a couple blocks away from the restaurant.

IMG_0720.jpg

I’ve been seeing these kind of places popping up all over the place (one that’s near me is called “Ah Love Oil & Vinger”, hahaha) and it’s super fun to go around to taste all the delicious infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

IMG_0721.jpg

This place had a MAPLE SYRUP balsamic vinegar that, I swear, I would have walked out with a gallon-tub of the stuff, had we not had to run to our dinner reservation. Next time, next time…

IMG_0723.jpg

We actually ended up eating at a new-to-me restaurant–not one of the ones that I visited during the sneak peek–based on Lauren’s recommendation… and the fact that we forgot to make our reservations ’til kinda late. Heh. It ended up being an absolutely AMAZING meal, so this was clearly fated!

IMG_0724.jpg

We ate at The Wine Kitchen, which is right on the little waterfront area that runs through downtown Frederick. Great location, and since the weather was so amazing this weekend, we took full advantage of embarrassing our men by taking lots of photos by the water.

Photo, again, stolen from Lauren.

Photo, again, stolen from Lauren.

The Wine Kitchen, rather obviously, has a fabulous wine menu. They offer lots of variety, and also tasting flights grouped together by wine type.

IMG_0725.jpg

I ended up going with the Pinot Evil flight (best name ever), and because great minds think alike, Lauren got the exact same thing!

IMG_0726.jpg

It consisted of three pinot noirs, one of which was from Oregon which means it was automatically the best one. Duh. ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_0731.jpg
IMG_0729.jpg

Then, we ordered a few appetizer/small plates to share. We got the bacon biscuits with maple butter (mmm, butter…) and the seasonal vegetable, which happened to be BRUSSELS SPROUTS. See? FATE. We actually ended up ordering a second order of the b. sprouts, hehehe.

IMG_0734.jpg

The Wine Kitchen’s Restaurant Week menu was a little different from what I’m used to… in kinda the best way possible. Instead of giving you a set prix-fix menu, they basically offer their entire regular menu! You could order any starter, entree, and dessert for the fixed Restaurant Week price (there was an upcharge for certain menu items). You know how much I love options, so I thought that their approach was really wonderful! I started off with the kale salad, which had shredded apple, cornbread crumbles, and ham. It was deliiiiicious.

IMG_0736.jpg

I also snagged a few bites of Sean’s tuna tartare starter, which was epicccc. It had pistachios in it! Brilliant.

IMG_0740.jpg

For my entree, I went with the crispy lamb belly, served with mushrooms, onions, and pureed sweet potatoes. It. Was. Incredible. Possibly the best lamb I’ve ever had, perhaps with the exception of the roast leg of lamb my family had at Zaytinya for my birthday dinner, like, 3 years ago.

And for dessert, I got what was essentially a deconstructed fruit plate, but none of my photos turned out (perhaps I’d just had too much wine at that point?).

Regardless, all in all, it was an EPIC meal, spent with some seriously epic friends. I’m so sad that Lauren & Greg are moving out to Colorado later this Spring! Ah well, guess that’ll just be my excuse to go back to visit Boulder, eh?

Actually, this weekend was full of fun blogger-y meetups, since Sunday I got to have brunch with Jen from Knack for Nutrition, too! Although, I was almost late because Daylight Savings Time really threw me for a loop this year. I kept looking at my computer clock (which gets updated automatically) and thinking that the time was off, and I had way more time than I actually did! Heh, you’d think after almost-25 years of time changes, I’d get used to it. Well, I guess it’s technically more like 22 years of time changes, since when I lived in Taiwan, they didn’t do DST. So let’s blame my years living as a teenager in Taipei as the reason why I can’t tell time anymore, yes?

Does Daylight Savings Time still mess you up? Or are you a clock-changing pro? Regardless of whether it’s got me outta whack these few days, I’m happy to turn the clocks back. With the days getting longer, and the weather this weekend being as beautiful as it was… BRING ON THE SPRINGTIME!

Read More

Posted on Mar 7, 2013 in Food | 10 comments

What I’m Eating These Days

First off, thanks for all your awesome comments and suggestions on yesterday’s, er, mildly uncomfortable post. I really appreciate how helpful you all are, and will definitely be implementing some of these strategies!

So with all my proclamations about how I’m changing up my diet and whatnot for my renewed weight loss, I imagine there be at least one or two of you out there who are curious as to what kind of stuff I’ve been eating lately. No? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway, so tough cookies. (Spoiler alert: cookies are, sadly, not something I’ve been eating.)

As a refresher, I’m embracing more protein and fats in my diet, and trying to actively reduce the number of refined carbs and excess sugar I consume. I’m certainly not carb-free or any such nonsense, and I allow myself the lenience to follow my cravings/not deprive myself (within reason). So when my future sister-in-law baked up a batch of awesome blueberry breakfast muffins, OBVIOUSLY I partook. I just slathered some coconut oil on it first. Thus far, I’m finding that aside from the issue I discussed (a little too openly) yesterday, I’m actually feeling pretty good. My periods of satiety are longer, so I’m actually not eating as frequently, and, as you guys know, I’ve lost over four pounds in the past month (which, granted, isn’t a rocketship pace, but considering how badly things were going for my weight loss before, I am pretty ecstatic).

Now because I’ve been absolutely heinous about taking pictures of my food lately as well (WHAT KIND OF BLOGGER AM I!?!), so you might be seeing a few repeat pictures here. But they illustrate the right kind of things, and primarily I’ll be painting you a picture with my words anyway. So, it’s cool. ‘Cause I’m, like, a writer. Kinda.

Anyway! A typical day of eats in my life these days, subject to frequent changes and falling-off-the-wagon… but it’s all about the effort, right? Heh.

Okay, breakfasts. This has really been the biggest overhaul, since most of my experience with breakfasts come in the form of cereal and/or bagels, neither of which fit into the new parameters of my diet. So typically, I’m having something like smoked salmon & cream cheese roll ups, or high-protein toast with half a mashed avocado and an egg patty on top. Both of these are delicious, fairly portable, and really (REALLY) satiating. I usually have some fruit, too–a pear, apple, or some grapes. f I’ve premade breakfasts earlier in the week, like my smoked salmon eggs cups, I can just heat those up and get going. If I have the time to actually sit down and eat breakfast instead of being in the car and cramming bites into my mouth between stoplights, I might do up some eggs and bacon.

IMG_0710.jpg

I’ve been finding these breakfasts keep me seriously full until lunchtime, so I’ve eliminated my need for mid-morning snacks. Which is good, because these breakfasts are higher in calories than, say, a bowl of Special K Red Berries with almond milk. But obviously it all works out!

Okay, so lunch–if I’ve been good about packing my lunch–generally is either dinner leftovers from the night before (which is the best when I’ve had STEAK FOR DINNER AHAHAHA), or strange little ensemble tasting plates. I’ve gotten REALLY into just like, a ton of different snacks, combined into lunch, lately. So, things like baby carrots and celery with hummus or sunbutter, a few slices of aged cheddar, grapes, lunch meat roll-ups, any leftover chicken/steak I might have, a Babybel cheese wheel, a hardboiled egg… etc, etc, etc. It’s fun, because it allows me a lot of variety in my lunches, and easy, because you can just store everything separately in the fridge, and grab whatevery you’re vibing on that morning.

Of course, I fall victim to the laziness of not packing/forgetting my lunch more often than is probably good, at which point I really have to steel myself against all the awesomeness that the food trucks bring to the area where I work on a daily basis. I mean, yes, there is a mac and cheese truck… and a grilled cheese truck… and lots of pho trucks… and an empanada truck… okay, I need to stop. Anyway, I often talk about how I don’t feel you have to give up going out for dinner or trying new restaurants (two of my favorite things) in order to lose weight, and buying lunch is no different. It’s just about finding something that fits. There are places nearby that offer great salad options, there’s a sushi truck, and tons of halal trucks that offer awesome meats served over salad, with chickpeas or spinach on the side. Om nom nom. Can you blame me for occasionally forgetting my lunch at home?

Aaaand, dinner. This is really the wildest card. I have dinner at my parents’ house once a week, and still tend to eat out quite a bit. But when it comes to cooking (if I’ve been good about grocery shopping) a lot of the time it’ll be something like marinated baked chicken or grilled steak with veggies (green beans, aparagus, brussels sprouts cooked in olive or coconut oil) and probably a salad on the side. If I’m feeling fancy, there might be shrimp or scallops involved, hehe. And there might also be some rice if I’m having dinner with Sean (he’s a rice man through and through, and I don’t say that because he’s half-Asian, I say it because I literally think if rice were the only food left on the planet, he would still be a very happy guy).


Half of this gorgeous filet would go on to become part of my lunch the next day.

Of course, as mentioned above, we still eat out kind a lot. I’m trying to be better about only eating out on the weekends, though it really is something I enjoy, so it’s tough. But from both a health- and monetary-standpoint, I know it’s something I need to work on. All that said, I just want to reemphasize the part about how it is still possible to eat healthy/in line with your current dietary preferences even at a restaurant. It’s just all about making certain choices, and not being afraid to ask about possible substitutions and whatnot.

IMG_0662.jpg
Scallops, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower from Clyde’s

Okay! So there we go! This ended up being a much wordier post than I was anticipating, so I’ll cut myself off here. Feel free to weigh in with any comments you may have about my current eats–I really value the insight that I glean from you guys. Plus, I know that someone out there has to have an opinion of some kind. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What do your daily eats look like these days?

Read More

Posted on Feb 21, 2013 in Food | 6 comments

Duck, Duck, Goose?

My mom was in Houston visiting my super preggo sister, my aunt, and my grandmother last week, and returned on Tuesday. To celebrate her return (before she goes right back in a couple of weeks, haha) my parents took my brother, Taylor, Sean, and I all out to dinner at Lotus Garden, a Chinese restaurant in Vienna.

IMG_0654.jpg

As we always tend to do when we go to Chinese restaurants, we leave the ordering to the expert (my fittingly Chinese mama). She rustled up some peking duck, lamb, seafood stirfry, kung pow chicken & shrimp, and a veggie dish made with morning glory (?), and it was all delicious. Especially the duck. Because peking duck is the bomb diggity.

IMG_0655.jpg

Even if it wasn’t quite as good as it is at the Peking Gourmet Inn. But, of course, what is?

Unnnnfortunately, the duck is the only thing that I actually managed to get a picture of, because I just plum forgot to take photos of anything else before it was all demolished.

IMG_0656.jpg

Blogger fail. Oh well, at least you can take my word that it was tasty stuff! (Though never as good as my mom’s home cooking, I say suck-uppily.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_0658.jpg

The proof is in the pudding empty plate.

Peking duck is probably one of my all-time favorite specialty dishes–out of any kind of ethnic cuisine! Granted, I may be at least 50% biased due to my genetics, but surprisingly enough, I actually tend not to eat a ton of Chinese food unless I’m at my parent’s house. Probably due to the fact that I grew up eating so much of it? I dunno. But when I’m craving ethnic food, I tend to go for Thai or Indian instead. But offer me a chance at some peking duck, and pad thai and palak paneer might as well not even exist.

What’s your favorite kind of ethnic cuisine? Your favorite dish?

Read More