Marathon Monday 2017

PJ: “Marathon Monday is the most American day of the year.”

Me: “Even more so than Fourth of July?”

PJ: “Definitely.”

After this year, I can actually believe him. Marathon Monday, aka Patriot’s Day (technically, vice versa) was yesterday, and it was as awe-inspiring, patriotic, and fun as ever!

I’m sure many of you know that the Boston Marathon is a pretty huge deal, and we students at Boston University have the privilege of getting the day off classes watching the participants charge right through our campus.

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LOTS of police security

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If you missed coverage of it, here are 12 must-see things moments from the marathon. My friends and I got to see Jose Luis Sanchez (a marine who lost his leg and ran the race with a prosthetic leg while holding a LARGE American flag) run to the finish. It was incredible. Everyone who participated is incredible.

Marathon Monday is also a notorious drinking day for the young, 21+ adults of Boston, but that’s much less important.

My day started early with more peanut butter, banana, strawberry overnight oats (it’s good to be back).

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Then I headed to my friend Lauren’s place to watch them celebrate Marathon Monday the way young adults do 🙂

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applause for those leggings, please

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After a couple hours of hangin’ out, I headed back to my apartment to study for an hour and nap, because I have been the worst at letting myself sleep at night lately.

I woke up feeling refreshed and then scarfed down a quick lunch before meeting back up with the crew on their way to see our friend/Rachel’s boyfriend, Austin, at the finish line!

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As always, we had a grand ol’ time cheering on all the runners/cyclists. It’s not a Marathon Monday without losing your voice a little bit. But we were truly the loudest kids on the block when we saw Austin coming!

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Congrats, Austin!! He got pretty badly dehydrated but still finished in 3:45:15. What a champ.

The rest of us were just like, “Our feet hurt from standing. Let’s go eat.”

Afterwards, I went back home to study a little bit more and do a quick workout in the apartment:

4 rounds for time:

  • 10 pushup burpees
  • 20 jump lunges
  • 15 pushups
  • 30 mountain climbers each leg
  • 40 air squat to side leg lifts

It took just under 19 minutes to complete. That’s about the extent of my stamina right there.

Then I rushed out to meet PJ for dinner at Saloniki Greek in Fenway!

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It’s kinda like a Greek version of Chipotle or Subway, except a little more gourmet. I got “The George”, which had spicy Colorado lamb meatballs, charred eggplant spread, zesty garlic yogurt, secret sauce, greens, tomato, cucumber, Greek fries, and I added some broken olive tapenade, all in a homemade pita.

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It was giant and so delicious. I [slowly but surely, and very messily] finished every last bite. Thank you again for treating, PJ!

Of course, we had to end with dessert, so we went to Cafe 472 for frozen yogurt. I got the apple pie flavor with granola on top. This isn’t like other froyo, guys. This is more like a massive soft-serve-blizzard-type deal.

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I also finished every last bite of that. Look at this sunset we got to witness while we ate!

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Goodness gracious, I love you, Boston.

Hope you all have a great Tuesday!

So tell me:

Did you follow the marathon at all? What were your favorite parts if you did?

Best thing you ate yesterday! That pita for sure.

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Thoughts On “Getting Back On Track” After Vacation

It’s only been a week since we got back home from vacation, and we’ve gone through two bunches of bananas already.

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I didn’t ask a question, but thanks for the answer anyway, Madre 🙂

Last week was as great a week of work as any could have been after vacation. I am so grateful for wonderful coworkers and mentors who make my job so enjoyable.

Let’s talk about “getting back on track” after a vacation.

After having three (or five) course meals for dinner every night on the cruise and heavier-than-normal breakfasts every morning, I was looking forward to a little bit of a break from endless food (although, I definitely chose to indulge in more food on the cruise). You could say that I was looking forward to “getting back on track”.

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my first meal back at home was classic avocado egg toast

But when I think of “getting back on track”, the first things that I’m tempted to do are:

  • Cut out all desserts for the next month.
  • Eat “clean” (whatever the heck that means) 100% of the time for the next month.
  • Compensate for the amount I ate on vacation by cutting down the amount/density/volume of food I eat.
  • Be strict about exercising and doing the “right” kind of exercise to maximize calorie burn.

Hear me out: These are just the first things that pop into my mind when I get back home. However, I’ve learned that this kind of absolutist mindset does me a huge disservice, and it stresses me out more than anything, which I don’t need for my digestive health or overall health.

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Pop and I went out to dinner the night we got back because we didn’t have any groceries yet // vegetable bibimbap + Kalbi beef short ribs to share

I definitely did NOT eat “clean” 100% of the time before the vacation, so why do I need to change anything after vacation? I’m still working, exercising, doing my activities of daily living, etc. Those still require fuel. I also often like to eat something sweet after a long day of work, so I don’t really want to deprive myself of that.

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still lots of sweet breakfasts (that sometimes had ADDED sugars in them *gasp*)

This doesn’t mean that I still want a three course meal with a decadent dessert every night. All I wanted was dried figs (which have quite a lot of sugar in them, even if it’s natural sugar) with Greek yogurt for a few nights last week, so that’s what I had.

Other days, I did still have some not-as-natural sugars. Like a slice of homemade banana bread at work, a Reese’s egg…also from work, and this snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich for National Ice Cream Day.

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You might be thinking, “Sure, Alison. But what if I actually gained a lot of weight on vacation?”

Well, I am in agreement with many wise RDs (like Robyn!) and healthy living bloggers; without too much thought, our bodies tend to naturally shift back to our happy weight. You’re going to be hitting your regular workouts again, which I presume worked well for you before vacation. You’re going to be back to your own kitchen, and you’re not going to have access to as much food as on vacation anyway.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with consciously and deliberately eating healthier and/or lighter foods after vacation. I just don’t think it’s helpful to shift to any kind of extreme “cleanse” mode. 

You went on vacation to get away from everyday routine for a little bit. Let yourself enjoy that during the vacation, but don’t let it haunt you after the vacation.

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spicy honey chicken thighs (based on this recipe) + roasted green beans for a dinner last week ➔ this was SO GOOD!

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turkey quinoa taco bake with avocado and cilantro (and Greek yogurt added post-photo) based on this recipe for another night ➔ this was ALSO SO GOOD

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avocado egg toast + salad with homemade honey mustard dressing

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hunk o’ asiago sourdough

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quinoa with teriyaki chicken thighs + chicken spinach sausage + sautéed green beans a la Madre

It’s nice to be back in the kitchen to make our own nutritious food, but it was nice that none of us felt the need to eat oil-less, dry chicken breasts with steamed vegetables and brown rice every day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s kind of sad if you feel like you need to do that as “recompense”. I know I used to feel that way.

If you do want to “get back on track,” maybe focus more on the quality and nutrients of your food rather than the calories or amount. Eat what you know you need and what you know makes you feel genuinely good, whether that’s kale or chocolate cake. Treat Trust yoself.

Needless to say, I still indulged in some sweets and rich foods this week. For the most part though, I’ve been eating foods that I normally love, which are generally nutritious and delicious. As for workouts, those have also been the same (a post about my workouts is coming soon!).

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I got Ben on the overnight oats train *high fives*

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lots of perfect cado-avos

My family even decided to go out for a rather fancy dinner on Saturday night after Mass. We were planning on using a Groupon (of course) at a Thai restaurant, but it was closed. Thus, we were diverted to a nice Greek restaurant called MP Taverna that we had been wanting to try for a while.

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three dips to share // chickpea (with some extraordinary spices), eggplant, and cucumber yogurt

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“dumplings”: basically the fluffiest ricotta gnocchi you can imagine in a tomato-based sauce with spinach, lamb sausage, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, and feta #dead

Hooray for family time and outdoor lighting! 🙂

Yesterday I hung out with my good friend Joe from college in the city! We celebrated National Ice Cream Day with ice cream sandwiches from Melt Bakery on High Line.

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We ate lunch after dessert, which is extra acceptable on National Ice Cream Day. Joe actually suggested salads, which was shocking but welcomed.

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I think there were tomatoes, roasted red peppers, broccoli, beets and brussels sprouts in there with creamy sriracha dressing

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you literally asked for it, Joe

It was so good catching up with him and walking around, despite the fact that we were being slow-cooked by the NYC heat.

I hope you all have a fantastic week! Eat foods that are fluffy, cheesy, creamy, and spicy this week. Report back on Friday.

So tell me:

What are your thoughts on “getting back on track” after vacation?

Did you celebrate National Ice Cream Day?

Two things you did this weekend!

The Best Vacation Ever {Part 3}

Part 1 and Part 2!

Friday, July 8th

The first of two consecutive days at sea. The day consisted of eating (duh)…

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…walking around by myself…

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…relaxing…

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Christie and her dad got 1st and 2nd in the mini golf competition!

…the Men’s International Belly Flop Competition (as ridiculous and hilarious as it sounds), and some other random activities. But the highlight by far

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I MET US THE DUO.

If you don’t know about them, they’re a married couple who sing together, and they’re pretty famous. Daliza and I saw them in concert two years ago in Orlando!

Here’s how this went down:

I’m walking along the “Boardwalk” with my friend Monica and her parents. I catch Carissa (the girl pictured above) from the corner of my eye walking with her parents. I do a double take and see her famous tattoo on her arm, but I’m not 100% sure it’s her. Monica and her parents don’t know who Us the Duo is, but they encourage me to see if it’s really them (after 30 seconds of “ahhhhh I don’t know…it’s fine…I won’t go…but wait…”).

I decide to stalk Carissa for a minute, and in less than 10 seconds I see Michael (her husband with an unmistakable curly man bun) sitting at the tequila bar, ordering some daiquiris. I go in for the kill:

I’m so sorry to bother you, but are you Us the Duo? (I knew it was them for sure at that point, but I thought it was polite to ask anyway.)

They introduce themselves (as if I didn’t already know their names, haha) and we all hug. Carissa’s dad takes a couple photos for us, and my cheeks are TREMBLING as I smile for the photo. What I feel like:

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They ask for my name twice and say, “Hopefully we get to see you around the ship again!” I cry inside.

A quick couple small slices of pizza before a 2.5-hour show that afternoon.

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Now, it was not my intention to stalk Michael and Carissa (I’m a fangirl, but I try to be cool, ya know), but my parents coincidentally grabbed seats right next to Us the Duo and their families for the matinee showing of Mamma Mia! I came in late because I went to the bathroom, so when I saw that they were right there, I freaked out.

a) It’s Us the Duo again.

b) They definitely think I’m stalking them.

c) I had to squeeze past them in the aisle, probably smelling a little bit like sweat and ocean spray.

I got to chat with Carissa’s dad though, who said my parents are amazing dancers (he saw them at the club the night before lol).

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should have changed out of my athletic clothes // peep Michael and Carissa doing their social media celebrity thing

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nervously playing with my pinky ring

I have to take a second to thank Madre for loving taking photos as much as I do and thus for capturing these special moments.

Anyway, Mamma Mia! was Broadway quality and so fun to watch!

After a 16 minute workout at the fitness center, I showered for that time of day again…DINNER.

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Royal Seafood Salad for appetizer

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Thai Chicken

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Classic soufflé with vanilla Grand Marnier sauce

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shared a couple bites of Ben’s baked Alaska

I’m a new fan of soufflé! I think the table shared one order of prime rib that night as well. I had a couple bites, and it was divine. This vacation assured me that I’m not becoming a vegan anytime soon.

Later that night, we went to two game shows that were wildly entertaining. My parents turned into different people during those game shows.

At around 11pm, my parents headed to the Dazzles club for some more dancing, so Ben and I joined them. Guess who walked in on me while I was doing the Macarena with only one other little boy on the dance floor???

Us

the

Duo.

I kinda sorta danced the Electric Slide with them later. At the end of the night, my family got to meet them and chat with their family as well. Me all night in my head: “Is this real!?!?”
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Michael’s mom wanted to hop into the photo!

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“He dislocated his shoulder on the FlowRider.”

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Michael and Carissa are incredibly down to earth and easy to talk to! (p.s. they’re tight with Tori Kelly NBD.)

What a top-notch way to end a Friday, am I right?

Saturday, July 9th

Last day on the cruise 😦

I decided to go way out of my comfort zone for breakfast and get mostly savory foods, including something called “vegetable upma”— some sort of grain with vegetables and spices. I loved it!

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also pineapple + split a blueberry muffin with mom

I somehow got lost from everyone when we split ways after breakfast, so I spent some time planning out these blog posts and writing thank you letters to some of the crew members who served us the whole week. Eventually, I went to lunch and rock climbing with Monica and my uncle.

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Took some groovy photos with Mort the squirrel (“jungle rat/mouse lemur”) from the movie Madagascar.

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Over at the fitness center, I did an impromptu cardio workout on the bike for 30 minutes while Monica and Ben cheered me on. When they left, I stayed to do an upper body and core workout.

Our last dinner of the cruise was delightful and as epic as the first dinner we had on the cruise.

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scallops and chorizo

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roasted turkey with brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes apple bread dressing (!!!) and cranberry sauce added on the side later

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warm apple strudel a la mode

The night ended with a game show based on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, where Ben went up for only one round because neither he nor the audience knew the shape of a British twenty-pence coin.

(It’s a freaking heptagon, by the way.)

We stayed in the same venue afterwards to spectate some superstar karaoke. Holy talent on that ship!

And finally, dancing at Dazzles as our last huzzah! With our friends Us the Duo, of course (I promise we were there before they arrived…although I left and came back after Ben called me that they were there. I’m creepy, I get it).

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This was the singer at the Dazzles nightclub all week. She and her husband and their band are super talented! It was actually so sweet to see Michael and Carissa cheering them on from the dance floor like fans too.

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#UsTheFamily

I want to go to their Dublin show so badly this fall, but they’re sold out!

In case it wasn’t obvious, this cruise was the experience of a lifetime. Thank you to all who made it happen, especially my parents ♥︎

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Sunday, July 10th

We had our last breakfast on the cruise at 6 am before disembarking.

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My family went to Mass before we met up with our friends in Miami for some tourism and lunch.

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Miami Beach

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walking in 92 degrees at 10 AM should not happen more than once a year

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Farmers’ Market beauties

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a parking meter that accepts change for feeding people who are homeless!

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fresh rolls, lettuce wraps, and green papaya salad for lunch

Our families parted ways after lunch and a sweaty walk back to our cars. Four hours of driving later, dinner was Greek!

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falafel to share

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chicken salad for me

Ben and Jerry’s awaited us the freezer (you can’t out-dessert me).

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a few spoonfuls from each 🙂

Monday, July 11th

Pop and I had a 4:30 AM wakeup for our flight back to New York. Madre kindly dropped us off at the airport, where I had a salad with walnuts, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, and blue cheese for breakfast (my brain was not functioning quite right at that hour, and I really wanted veggies).

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In flight snack:

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I slept the whole flight, not surprisingly. Back at home in NY, I did a quick 12 minute workout before showering and heading to a full day of work!

Back to reality, and I cannot complain at all.


These were some looooooooong recap posts. I’m keeping these posts as my “vacation diary”, but I hope you guys enjoyed reading too!

So tell me:

Have you ever run into a celebrity unexpectedly?

Have you heard of Us the Duo?

Do you like soufflé?

Have you seen your parents become different people in a different setting?

WIAW: A Dinner of Small Plates

It’s Wacky Wednesday in the world of high school (or at least my high school)! It’s homecoming week right now, so all the days are themed, all the students are a little more wild, and some teachers are a little more annoyed. All in good fun! Yesterday was “Retro Tuesday,” but apparently everyone wanted to change it to pajama day this past weekend, so most people donned their adult onesies and subsequently burned all day inside their warm felt suits. I and a few others kept the Retro Day theme. I actually just threw together the outfit Monday night, because pajama day just seemed bland on my end since I don’t own a onesie.

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Don’t ask me which decade I’m from, because I’m not sure myself.

But I’m sure you all know what else is going on today….the most amazing food party on the web! Thanks, Jenn for hosting another fabulous What I Ate Wednesday! I’m going to be showing some random good eats in no particular fashion (not all from one day, as some of my friends thought) until I decide to move onto the most amazing dinner that my mom and I had in Washington DC. (Also, I totally owe you a Maryland recap. Coming tomorrow hopefully!) So here we gooooo:

what i ate wednesday october breast cancer awareness halloween button

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A quick breakfast before teaching Sunday School: Honeycrisp apple with yogurt+pepita sunseed butter dip

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Random but delicious dinner: Grilled cheese and tomato, salad with homemade honey mustard dressing, grapes

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Three part lunch before hitting the road to MD: Leftover veggie and egg quinoa/brown rice, Greek yogurt with pineapple, veggies with hummus. I’m not efficient with dish and utensil use. 

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Pumpkin oats with sunflower seed butter. This time I didn’t add banana, and it tasted more pumpkin-y! 

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Spinach, egg, salsa, sauteed onions, and sweet potato (yam?)

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Classic: Avocado toast, two sunny eggs (that became hard because I let them cook too long 😦 ), sauteed onions and spinach underneath

And now onto the absolutely fabulous dinner at Zaytinya in DC! It’s a pretty upscale Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese small plates restaurant (called mezze instead of tapas, which are Spanish small plates) by chef Jose Andres, who owns several other popular restaurants in DC. This place is so incredibly popular, guys. We called in to make reservations at around 7 pm and the earliest opening for two people was 8:30. Once we got there, the place was packed and we still had to wait a few minutes to be seated. The clean, modern, open ambiance made the wait much more bearable despite our growling stomachs.

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Zaytinya has been gracious in helping out the furloughed workers in DC by giving away free sandwiches from 3-5 every day! How awesome!

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We were seated in the upper level of the restaurant, giving us quite a nice view of the restaurant and the urban streets.

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The friendly servers gave us hot-out-of-the-oven pita bread that was SO puffy and delicious! Served with olive oil + balsamic and hummus.

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Then it was time to order. If you’re not familiar with tapas or mezze, each person is supposed to order a few dishes, or small plates, instead of one appetizer/entree. My mom and I were starving, but we had to make sure our eyes weren’t bigger than our stomachs, so we settled for six mezze. Boy am I glad we didn’t order more, because we were stuffed by the end! But so happily stuffed. 🙂

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Red lentil patties with yogurt sauce. Tasted like falafel, but not fried!

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Crispy brussel sprouts with coriander and tangy yogurt sauce. ONE OF THE BEST DISHES OF THE NIGHT. Surprising, right?! We knew we had to try them after raving reviews for them on Yelp. Glad we did!

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Spanikopita. Fresh and delicious. And shaped like an egg roll. How could you go wrong?

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Mushroom pearl couscous. Creamy and tasty. One of mom’s favorites.

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Baby crab cakes! Yummy, but nothing super wow-ing.

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Potato-crusted snails. Another hit!! The potato crust was spiced perfectly, and these little bites were just so unique and delicious.

It may not look like a lot since the plates were so small, but we were so full after we finished these. However, our dessert compartments were still calling the sweet selections 😉 The desserts luckily came in mezze-style (mini) and full portions, so we each ordered a mezze-style.

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For me: “Turkish Delight” Walnut ice cream, yogurt mousse, honey gelee, phyllo pastry, and pine nuts. Oh so divine.

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For mom: “Chocolate Rose” Rose ice cream, chocolate mousse, spiced berry compote. The rose ice cream was amazing!! She wished she had just ordered that by itself since they actually had that flavor available. Next time, next time. She still enjoyed the chocolate though.

And that concludes our culinary adventure. The dinner was pricey, but if you want some fabulous and unique Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese food whenever you’re in DC, definitely check out Zaytinya! You won’t regret it.

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A note for the staff 🙂

Happy Wednesday!

So tell me: What yummy things have you been eating? Have you ever tried tapas/mezze before?