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Posted on Apr 24, 2012 in Food, Giveaway, Reviews | 11 comments

Woodberry Kitchen

Good morning lovers. Now, I know you are all anxiously awaiting to hear who the winner of the Sparkle Gift Pack is, but you’re going to have to wait just a smidge longer. As a bonus, however, there is lots of beautiful food in between now and then! Though technically, I guess you really could just scroll down to the end. It’s like I’d ever know. I place the choice firmly in your hands. 😉

So! Aside from my awesome rock climbing adventures from this weekend, I also got to spend a little QT with my “big” sis (the word “big” is loosely applied here, as she is 7 inches shorter than me). We spent Saturday afternoon scouring Old Navy and Target for swimsuits for our upcoming St. Maarten family vacation (I found a neon pink bikini that I am in lurrrrve with) and then chilled out in her apartment with the dogs while we made sushi. Mmmm.

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That night, while the skies opened up outside, we watched My Week with Marilyn, which was excellent! I am a HUGE Marilyn Monroe fan, and I found the movie/story really interesting. I want to read the book it is based on now! It also helped soften me towards Michelle Williams a little bit, who I don’t actually like very much as an actress (blasphemy, I know). I just can’t see past her Jen Lindley ways, I guess? Hahaha.

The following morning, after carting Harry & Daxter out in the freezing rain to do their biz-niz (if I ever move into an apartment, I am not even kidding about getting one of those fake lawns to put on the balcony.) I decided that I MUST have crepes. I whipped up a bit o’ batter with some whole wheat flour, milk, and an egg, and went to work.

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One sweet crepe filled with raspberry preserves, and one savory with sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and a sprinkle of cheese. And a runny egg (and pickles, hehe) on the side. Nom! I wanted to make sure we had enough to eat so that we wouldn’t be starving by the time we got around to lunch. Jenny had made a 1:30 lunch reservation for us at Woodberry Kitchen, an awesome restaurant in the sketchiest part of Baltimore, hehe.

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Woodberry Kitchen is a sustainability-focused, locally-sourced restaurant with a rustic American menu. On weekdays it’s only open for dinner, but on Saturdays and Sundays they also serve brunch from 10 to 2. The location is, as even Jenny admitted, rather obscure. It’s amidst this beautiful new development of row homes and higher-end shops… which is smack-dab in the middle of this run down, super sketchy area. There’s a huge warehouse with smashed windows and boarded up doors just a block over, haha.

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The whole place has a very farm-like feel to it, with a large, open main dining room (that has a small upstairs balcony area where we were seated), an open kitchen, and vintage decorations. All the servers wore plaid shirts (the guys) or skirts with handmade-looking aprons over them (the girls), which was pretty adorable. You can probably already tell that there was a definite hipster aesthetic to the whole place, which I dug!

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They had live music playing, which made for a really nice ambiance.

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From our upstairs seat right along the edge of the balcony, we could see right into the balcony, which was super fun for me! They prepared all their eggs in little cast-iron skillets which they put directly into their woodburning oven.

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They offered complimentary house-carbonated seltzer, so I was pretty much in love after that point. Jenny got a Bloody Mary which was really peppery and delicious, too. I also loved their house-made hot sauce — spicy! They boast that everything they serve is made in-house, although when we asked for ketchup it definitely tasted like Heinz to us, hehe.

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To start, we shared a piece of monkey bread which was so good, I wanted to wrap myself up in it and die. Holy moly, it was amazing. Fluffy and buttery on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Homina, homina, homina.

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Jenny ordered the Asparagus Croissant Sandwich, which came with goat cheese, spinach, chile oil, and skillet potatoes on the side. The goat cheese tasted SO fresh, it really rang out.

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I ordered the Egg in a Hole, which was made with Pullman Bread and had sauteed asparagus and ramp leaves. It also came with this sweet onion cream on the side, which I think our waiter called bisous (?). It. Was. Incredible. For the sauce, our server said they just cook down onions and blend it with cream, and it was so delicious — sweet and light and I just wanted to take a bath in it. I also got a side of scrapple, hehe.

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The food really was excellent. I obviously can’t speak for their dinner menu, though I’ve heard rave reviews from Jenny as well as others on that, but their baked goods are incredible. The monkey bread, croissant, and the bread in my dish were all outstanding. I’d say that between the two dishes we got, mine edged out Jenny’s just a little bit, only because the goat cheese masked a lot of the other flavors in her sandwich. Not that goat cheese doesn’t taste delicious on its own, but I guess we were just expecting a little more complexity. Either way, I definitely recommend Woodberry Kitchen if you’re looking for a new place in Baltimore and are willing to brave the drive there, hahaha.

Okay! For those of you who have survived this post thus far, here we go. Out of the most entries that I’ve ever had on a giveaway EVER, the randomly drawn winner of the V8 V-Fusion Sparkling gift pack is…

Dani! Congratulations! Shoot me an email (gretchen@honeyishrunkthegretchen.com) with your address details, and we’ll take it from there!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and I’ll try to come up with another fabulous giveaway soon! Have a great day, everyone!

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Posted on Apr 12, 2012 in Dear Diary, Reviews | 16 comments

Evo Bistro

Good morning lovelies! I hope you are all enjoying Day 1 of the 24th Year of Gretchen (as it shall henceforth be known) as much as I am! Thank you all so, so much for your wonderful birthday wishes yesterday — my day DEFINITELY got better after the car-battery debacle from the morning.

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Cheers to you for brightening my day!

In addition to the lovey-doveyness I felt all day, my office also surprised me with a birthday celebration in the kitchen (I blushed SO red when I walked in, haha!) that included not one, not two, but three different kinds of cakes. I still have an entire cake’s worth leftover that I took home! And if all that wasn’t enough, I got taken out to a birthday dinner by this studly guy:

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Not a bad 24th at all, my friends. And it’s not even party day yet! 😉

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Sean took me to Evo Bistro, an upscale Mediterranean tapas-style restaurant in McLean that neither of us had ever been to before. I liked the general feel and decor of the place, but overall I have to admit I wasn’t too impressed. I’m generally not a hard person to please when it comes to restaurants (or movies, or books, or generally anything at all, haha), but I am trying to get a little better at providing honest reviews to you guys, so here’s the facts: It wasn’t terrible, but the service wasn’t strong and it simply couldn’t hold a candle to our Graffiato experience from Saturday. The restaurant was certainly hopping for 7:30 on a Wednesday night though — the bar area was packed! It’s in an area that’s surrounded by a few office buildings, so I have to assume it’s quite the popular happy hour spot.

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We were seated at a small table next to the window, given some water and menus to peruse. There was unfortunately a bit of a wait after that, as there was evidently some VIP (the restaurant’s owner, perhaps?) in attendance that night, so they were readying his special table behind us at during that time and I think we got a tiny bit neglected as a result. Eventually, our waiter came over and took my drink order (a glass of prosecco, of course. What else?) and in the interim the VIP/owner guy arrived so the entire staff of the restaurant made a point to come say hello to him.

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Warm bread with “hummus” dip that was pretty heavy on the cumin. Sean thought it tasted like taco seasoning!

When our waiter finally came back with my drink and our bread basket to take our food order, I’ll admit I was a little surprised that there was no “Welcome to Evo, have you been here before?” type schpiel. It just seemed like this was the kind of place that would have that sort of thing down? Especially because part of their menu is small plates, which usually requires a little bit of explanation (especially because, as we found out, their definition of “tapas” was a little bigger than I’m used to. We ended up with a lot of food for two people! Through my mastery of the art of eavesdropping, however, I found out that our waiter had only been working there for 8-days, so I cut him some slack for lack of presentation at that point. (That sounds snobby, haha. I don’t mean it to be though, I’m just being honest!)

Since our understanding was that the majority of the dishes were tapas-style, we ordered a little selection to share.

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I started with the Ensalata, which was greens and a couple of cheery tomato halves tossed in a white balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It had a small medallion of pistachio-encrusted goat cheese on top as well. It was quite good, and I enjoyed the cheese a lot (uh, duh), but I didn’t think the price point ($9) was fair given that there wasn’t really anything of cost on that plate other than the cheese.

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The first dish they brought to the table was the Kufta, or lamb meatballs. I enjoyed the flavor of these, but they were a little overcooked so the texture was quite dry and crumbly. I couldn’t help but compare them to the Keftedes from Zaytinya and, well, they lost, haha.

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Along with the meatballs, they also brought out the Les Moules dish, which was mussels with a tomato/garlic sauce and feta cheese. This was my favorite dish that we ordered! I always love mussels, but this had a really nice soft heat from the chili flakes, and I really enjoyed it. This dish I definitely recommend.

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While we were still working on those, they brought out the next set of tastings, which included the Pollo con Ajo. This dish is described as “seared chicken wings with garlic and herbs”, but the cooking technique reminded me of a Chinese dish my mom makes called “Drunken Chicken”. I really didn’t know where the seared part came into play. They were also INCREDIBLY garlicky, almost overpoweringly so (and you guys know I love my garlic, but not that much!). I was also a little turned off to see that they served us part of a broken drumstick on the plate. The handle (?) of the drumstick had clearly broken off, but they served us the head part anyway. Just didn’t look very nice.

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The final part of our meal was the Lobster Ravioli. Anytime I see lobster anything on a menu, I tend to get pretty excited, and it was no different with this dish. Unfortunately, this was my least favorite item on the table! The description from the menu says “Housemade lobster ravioli with crab meat sauce,
and crispy Serrano ham” but you couldn’t taste the lobster OR crab OR ham at all. All those delicate flavors were completely overpowered by whatever herb they used in the sauce, and I really didn’t respond well to the flavor combination. I don’t think I even ate an entire ravioli’s worth, which is saying something.

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So overall the dinner food itself wasn’t too impressive (though it bears repeating that the mussels were excellent!), but I will give credit where credit is due: The blueberry cheesecake that we got for dessert was really delicious! It was very clearly homemade, so it was creamy but not heavy, had whole blueberries baked right in, and was a really good note to end the meal on. So if you ever do decide to go to Evo Bistro, I would recommend just going for dessert! We should have taken a tip from the owner and his party, since that’s what they did. They came in, got wine, and a smattering of desserts. Smart man!

So there you have it! Ultimately, I always enjoy trying out new restaurants regardless of how it all turns out. Our overall feeling about our experience Evo was that the hecticness of the staff and whatnot (probably brought on by the VIP’s presence?) made it kind of feel like the restaurant had newly reopened, although I couldn’t find anything on the website that said so. Ah well, not every bite of every new foodie experience is going to be epic! Still, a really great birthday overall. And (much to your chagrin, I’m sure), the celebrating isn’t even over yet! I’ve still got my Potteriffic party happening on Saturday and a lot of good feelings to ride out until then. 🙂

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Posted on Feb 7, 2012 in Dear Diary, Food | 20 comments

2941

Last night my family (sans my sister and her husband who are in Australia right now — the punks) went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday!

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My dad made a reservation at 2941, which is a fancy-schmancy restaurant that I’ve heard scores about but had never been to. The restaurant recently finished a big renovation and redesign, and it looked great.

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As I understand it, 2941 used to be traditional French cuisine (not 100% sure about this?) but it now has a more modernist neauvou-French vibe to it. The restaurant is in Fairview Park, which is just slightly off the beaten path in the greater Falls Church area, but I can see why it’s tucked away back there. It’s on a lake, with fountains and waterfalls and a freakin’ koi pond out front. Our reservation was pretty late (8:00) so it was really dark, but I can definitely see myself wanting to go back when it’s still light enough to be able to take in the scenery a little bit more.

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As this was yet another special occasion (aren’t they all?), I’ll tell you right off the bat that this wasn’t the healthiest meal ever. But all things considered, I think I did pretty well! We started off with a bottle of pinot noir that my dad ordered for us all, which was actually very delicious (I’m still pretty scared of red wines, haha).

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Before ordering a couple of items off of the “Nosh” part of the menu (essentially small plates/tapas). We went for the black truffle mac & cheese croquettes (!) and the calamari with a romesco dipping sauce. Be proud, I limited myself to just one croquette (though I could have easily inhaled all six) and a few pieces of calamari.

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Since 2941 does small, appetizer-sizes of all their pasta dishes and I really wanted to try one, I got a starter salad as well as a small pasta for my entree.

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The salad was a pear and endive salad with a walnut vinaigrette and — I kid you not — blue cheese marshmallows. I know. I KNOW. They were amazing. The waiter said they make them in house and they were SO amazing. Blue-cheesy, salty, and a little bit sweet, they melted in my mouth and… augh. So good.

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The pasta dish I chose was a fresh buckwheat pasta with pancetta and mushrooms. I had absolutely NO idea that it would come out with a butter sauce on it as well, but oh how it did. Literally, the “sauce” was just melted butter. And it was drenched in it, as you can see. Don’t get me wrong, it was frackin’ amazing but also probably the least healthy thing on the table, haha. Oops, a happy accident! I also got to try my dad’s lamb loin and it was really fantastic. I would probably get that next time.

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After our dinner plates were cleared, my mom opened up her presents and we perused the “Naughty” menu for our dessert options! As with all gourmet restaurants, the portion sizes here were basically perfect and I wasn’t stuffed to the brim, so I could actually fathom the idea of dessert.

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I opted for a single scoop of pistachio ice cream (my favorite!), which came with a little sliver of biscotti (a nice touch). I did, of course, get to sample some of the other options too though…

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Of which my mom’s caramel-pineapple eclair was my favorite. The vanilla bean ice cream it was served with? To die for.

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They also brought out a little tangerine sorbet, uh, thing as an extra birthday treat for her! I thought it was a little bit bitter, but it had great presentation and was a nice surprise.

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And finally, if ALL of that weren’t enough, at the very end of the meal they supplied us with fresh glazed beignets. They were soft, pillowy, and still warm. Drool.

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So there you have it! Yet another decadent family celebration that, paired with Sunday’s Super Bowl snackage, is sure to inform quite the disappointing weigh-in tomorrow, ahahaha. Not that I’m complaining, per se, just preparing myself, hehe. FYI: 2941 is still in “soft re-opening” mode, so from now until February 9th they’re taking 12% off of the food portion of your check if you’re interested in checking it out over the next couple of days!

How do you prefer to celebrate your birthday? Dinner at home? New restaurant? Old favorite? I am ALL about trying new restaurants for my birthday — ones I probably wouldn’t go to just for any random occasion. Birthdays of the past introduced me to amazing places like Volt and Zaytinya… as well as a less amazing experience at Founding Farmers. Who knows where I’ll end up this year come April — I’m happy to take suggestions!

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Posted on Dec 5, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 15 comments

Much Ado About Nothing

After the Hot Chocolate 15K on Saturday, I would have been perfectly content to lay prostrate in bed for 24-hours straight. Of course, that doesn’t exactly make for a productive day, nor for an exciting blog post.

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Luckily, I already had plans with Claire to have a fancy grown-up ladydate last night! So we headed into the city for a delicious dinner at Zaytinya, then to see Much Ado About Nothing at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Zaytinya

I hadn’t been to Zaytinya since my birthday dinner two years ago, so it was fun to go back! It’s a Mediterranean mezze restaurant, which is small-plate style (like tapas). It’s a little on the expensive side, but is definitely tasty!

Pita Bubbles

Claire and I got a bunch of li’l plates to share… as well as some sparkling wine to sip. We are ladies, after all!

Tzatziki

For starters, we got a little bowl of tzatziki to dip our warm, fluffy pita bread in. You could tell it was made with real, full-fat Greek yogurt and it was AMAZING. So creamy and rich. Nom.

Beet

We also got the beet salad that I distinctly remembered from my birthday dinner. So delicious. Can someone PLEASE tell me where I can find golden beets? I need more of them in my life but can never, ever find them in the grocery store or at the Farmer’s Market!

Zucchini Pancakes
Zucchini & cheese patties

Lamb
Shredded lamb wrapped in phyllo

Keftedes
Lamb and beef meatballs

Everything else we got had crazy Greek names that I can’t really remember… Keftedes… Kolko-something-edes… it was all delicious, so to channel the playwright of the evening: What’s in a name?

We also got to sample some Mediterranean desserts! One was a sort of deconstructed Turkish Delight, and the second was a saffron rice pudding, with candied pistachios and candied rose petals! We got the latter out of curiosity more than anything else, but it was pretty good, if somewhat different. Rice pudding is never my favorite dessert, but I feel proud as a foodie for being adventurous, haha. All in all, a fabulous pre-theatre dinner!

Shakespeare Theatre Company

As for the play, it was fantastic! We got the tickets as part of a LivingSocial deal about a month ago, but didn’t know much about either the production or the venue. Turns out they were both very modern as well as very cool! Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s comedies, and was full of snark and wit. This production was set in 1940s Cuba, complete with tangoing, mojitos, and flamenco guitars. I’m always amazed by how easily Shakespearean language translates into more modern staging. It runs until January 1st, and I heartily recommend the show!

The only real downside was that the show didn’t end until 10:30 last night, and that’s not including the metro ride back and the time spent editing the photos above, haha. So not only am I super sore, but I am also mucho exhausted. One thing at a time though… What is the consensus on post-race massage? Am I supposed to wait until I’m no longer sore, or is 48-hours enough time to have waited?

Happy Monday!

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Posted on Oct 10, 2011 in Food | 35 comments

K-BBQ (or, That Time I Ate All the Meat)

Abby & John-Paul’s wedding was absolutely beautiful, but the recap will have to wait due to me having to edit roughly twenty zillion photos of the amazingness. Good thing I have today off from work to get through them all, eh? [/brag]

In the meantime, let’s talk about last night’s family dinner!

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Sorry sis, I just couldn’t NOT post this pic.

The whole gang got together, minus Steve, but including my unpictured brother who served as co-photog for the night (I’d say the photo cred split goes about 50/50 for this post.)

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My uncle, aunt, and cousin (different relatives than last week, haha) were visiting from Boston, and my mom picked out Korean as the cuisine du jour.

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Hi Aunt Martha, Uncle Tommy, and Tomas!

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Oe Gad Gib is in Annandale, VA, and offers an All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ special that my mom had seen advertised in the Chinese Newspaper. So what did we do, friends?

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We All-You-Can-Ate, of course! Boy, oh boy, did we eat.

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Thin strips of beef, marinated tenderloin, and pork belly – whoosh! I’m pretty sure I ate all the meat there ever was, ever.

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With some salad and kimchi in between, of course! Korean food is notorious for being especially spicy, so even with my spice-lovin’ tastebuds I was, er, a little hesitant at first:

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Phew, not that spicy after all!

With so much red meat in one sitting, my stomach certainly wasn’t thanking me, um, later on (tmi?), but in the moment it was delicious. Sometimes we (non-vegetarian, non-vegan people) just need to be a little carnivorous, y’know?

Again, stay tuned for a full wedding weekend recap to come tomorrow, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with this little nugget from the big day:

Photog at Large

What, you don’t go to weddings toting thousands of dollars worth of your brother’s camera equipment? Bahaha.

Are you working for The Man this glorious Columbus Day, or do you have the day off?

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