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Posted on Feb 18, 2013 in Food | 8 comments

Founding Farmers, Take 2

Happy President’s Day, everyone! I’ve got the day off, and thus have sworn to high heaven that I’ll be making use of my holiday by writing (we’ll see how well that goes), but for those of you who are stuck dredging away the day in the office, I’ve got some mouth-watering photos for ya.

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I had dinner with my good friend Lauren from Oatmeal After Spinning, and my new friend Kelly from Kelly Fiore Writes on Saturday! Lauren and Kelly are best friends from high school, and while I’ve known Lauren for a while thanks to the mad and lovable world of blogging, I got to meet Kelly for the first time last weekend (at the Frederick Restaurant Week sneak peek).

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We dragged our significant others out to dinner to belated celebrate Lauren’s birthday, and to celebrate Kelly’s husband’s birthday. While I was obviously super excited to get to hang out with these lovely ladies (and their equally lovely husbands), I was admittedly a little hesitant as well. See, our dinner destination was the Montgomery County location of Founding Farmers, and some of you may already know that I had a pretty miserable experience at the original Founding Farmers in DC a couple years back. So even though I knew this was an entirely different location, I was still a little bit unsure of how the experience would go.

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Well, I’m happy to report that things went MUCH better this time around! It wasn’t an impeccable dining experience, service-wise, but it was like 10,000 steps up from what I experienced before. And since the food was indeed delicious, and the company was perfect, overall I really did end up having a great time. I started with a glass of Willamette Valley pinot noir (the best!) and we all shared a few of the small plate appetizers from FF’s extensive farm-to-table menu. (Seriously, I spent like 15 straight minutes poring over the menu–so many options that ALL appealed to me!)

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The selection of apps included housemade ranch popcorn, bread and dips (including this garlicky green goddess dip that I wanted to spoon directly into my mouth), and spicy pickled carrots. Lauren also ended up getting a thing of skillet corn bread with her meal, which ended up being my favorite thing on the table. Lots of real pieces of corn, and an epic honey butter (which was literally butter and honey combined in one little condiment cup, haha)… mmm, I’m drooling just thinking about it. Regretting not having snagged a picture.

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For my meal, I started out with a sample sized Farmer’s Salad, which included romaine, avocado, figs, cherry tomatoes, grapes, slivered almonds, olives, and a bit of parmesan cheese. Yum.

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Then, for my entree, I ordered the Lemon Meunière Diver Scallops, which were delicious. I loooove scallops, so it’s pretty hard to screw them up for me, and these were garlicky and lemony and cooked very well.

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They were served with a butternut squash risotto in the middle, which ended up only being okay for me. While I loved the concept of the butternut squash in the risotto, there was just something off about the flavor–it had kind of a bitter aftertaste that I wasn’t expecting. Still, overall I enjoyed my plate a lot. And I also enjoyed the bites from Sean’s steak and enchilada dish that I stole, hehehe. Ultimately it was an awesome dinner out with friends, and certainly helped redeem Founding Farmers in my eyes–at least at the Maryland location.

Now I’m off to write! And if you’ll allow me just one li’l shameless plug before we part ways here, I do have a fun announcement: My book, Terra is currently on sale!!

Pick up a digital copy for your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or iPad/iPhone for just $3.99. Happy President’s Day!

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Posted on Apr 11, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 20 comments

Happy Birthday to MEEEEEEEEEE!

That’s right, today I turn the big ol’ 2-3 and I figure that if there’s any day to lapse in modesty and subtlety, it’s gonna be today! So I’ll be honest with you all right off the bat this morning: I decided that as a birthday present to myself I am not weighing in today. My birthday is a really big deal to me, and I just don’t want the day to be tainted by the scale especially considering the superfattyfat weekend I had, ahaha. But! If you’ll stick around for the rest of this weight-less post, I promise I’ve got a nice long (probably too long) post for you! A fun one! With DSLR-taken pictures, BEN. 😉

Hokay. So. Let’s start with Friday! Steve came into town for my birthday weekend, and we went on a date to Open Kitchen in Falls Church (where else? :P)

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Open Kitchen is a really cool concept restaurant where the kitchen is literally open for you to see into while they prepare your food. It has a pretty gourmet menu (and gourmet prices!) but the food was all really, really delicious. And the staff there is awesome! We didn’t get there until like 9 PM, so it wasn’t crazy busy or anything, but the wait staff was all really friendly, gave us their recommendations without us having to ask, and the owner Chef Ken came out to talk to us when he saw me taking pictures of all my food, haha.

They started off by putting some delicious rosemary bread on the table with olive oil for dipping:

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And I got a roasted pear salad to start with as well:

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It was AWESOME. Although… full disclosure… the salad came with blue cheese on it and I totally demolished it. I know! I know! Lent fail (again.) But… BLUE CHEESE! It’s the best kind of cheese! It’s okay, I still feel sufficiently guilty about it 3 days later.

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My entrée was a cauliflower “cowboy steak” – grilled cauliflower seasoned with southwestern spices (that Chef Ken brought out for us to sniff afterward!) on top of a bed of yukon potatoes and some other veg. It was awesommmme! Obviously not quite like a steak but still delicious and supahdupah filling.

And of course, since it was date night we had to get some dessert…

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Chocolate hazelnut torte. Enough said. 🙂

Steve and I both decided that Open Kitchen was delicious, a great date-night destination, but a little pricey for any sort of everyday eating. They do offer cooking classes 3 days a week though, so I think I need to check that out!

Just a sidestep away from food to discuss b-day presents (because I know you are just DYING to know, hahaha!) The big present from the boyf and my whole family (!!) was that they’re paying for the majority of my admission to the Fitbloggin’ conference in May! Hooray!! Plus, I’m getting a massage this afternoon (my sissypoo’s treat!) for Spa Week (which you guys need to check out and book ASAP — massages, facials, and other spa treatments are all $50 at select spas this week and you can search by zip code!). Plus, Steve got me a couple other totally Gretchen-perfect gifts! Observe:

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Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. That, my friends, is a Golden Snitch locket. And because I’m a huge, huge, huge, huge nerd, I put the following note inside:

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Non-Harry Potter fans, don’t worry if you don’t get it. True Harry Potter fans who don’t get it though… FOR SHAME. 😉

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The last thing that he got me I hardly expect ANY of you to get:

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But it’s kind of like this shirt was actually made specifically for me. Also as you can see, I cut my own bangs because I got bored waiting for Steve to get here Friday night, hahahaha.

Okay! Onwards, to Saturday!

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For my big family birthday dinner Saturday, we ventured into DC (gasp!) to Founding Farmers, a popular American-cuisine restaurant that has a mission to support sustainable, local agriculture!

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And when I say it’s popular, I mean it. It was RIDICULOUSLY busy. We got there at 8:15, our reservation wasn’t until 8:30, we didn’t get seated until almost 8:50, and didn’t get out of there until 11 PM! And as we were leaving, people were still being seated and ordering food. Whaaaaaat!?

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So yes, the whole fam was there to celebrate with me. Once we finally got seated, we immediately ordered drinks and appetizers, and then had to wait a while before ordering our entrées from another waitress (I guess ours got bogged down in the hubbub of the restaurant.) For my drink, I got a Fraise Fling:

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Which had strawberries, lychees, and then a whole bunch of sweet liquors. It was like drinking dessert! Very delicious.

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For appetizers, we got their seasonal pickled vegetable medley, which had green beans, carrots, and some other root vegetable I couldn’t identify. We also got a tomato goat-cheese flatbread that came disassembled so I could have some (just didn’t put the goat cheese on it), and a thing of fried green tomatoes (unpictured.) Yum-o!

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My main dish was off of Founding Farmer’s special vegan menu (which was another cool thing about this place): Tofu and Chips!

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It’s supposed to come with both fries and chips along with the tofu, but I asked if I could sub out the chips for a veg instead. They have a constantly rotating menu of seasonal sides, and I picked…

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My old nemesis, Brussels sprouts! They were done with a touch of maple syrup and they were actually pretty amazing. Guess I just needed to give them another chance. Between eating them on Saturday and Anne’s post about how to cook ’em properly, I think I can fully win myself over next time!

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Dessert for me was a scoop of strawberry-basil sorbet (their only vegan option.) It was really interesting! Very well balanced – at first you think it will be too basil-y, but then you’re hit with the strawb and keep going back for more! Even Steve liked it. 😛

Final verdict on Founding Farmers for me was that it was really good food (for most of us, at least. Ben said his was mediocre, unfortunately), a really great concept and mission, but the service was too slow for me to be able to give it 5 stars. Because I’m so digging the whole sustainable agriculture/locally sourced/house-made foods and whatnot, I really want to be in love with this place though! I think I’ll have to go again on a weekday, or maybe for lunch and see how it is then.

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Sunday was a lot more low-key. Lunch at Clare & Don’s in FC (which also has a really great vegetarian/vegan menu!) and watched Harry Potter 6 with Steve (he’s almost all caught up!) I pre-ordered the 7th movie and it should becoming this weekend… 😀 All in all, a pretty fantastic pre-birthday weekend! (But can you see why I didn’t want to weigh myself this morning? Hahahahahaha.) And then of course, we still have the post-birthday weekend coming up which includes the birthday party!! I looooove my birthday… 😀

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It’s supposed to get up to the 80s today!! Hopefully the drizzle and clouds go away, too — can that be my birthday present from you, Mother Nature? I hope everyone is having a fantabulous day!

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