Behind the Scenes #17: Just…Food.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Reflecting on food with my fellow food lover, Amanda!

1. We’re finally home! After visiting several cities for the admitted students’ days at University of Maryland and University of Virginia, I’m so happy to be chillin’ out back at our house. Except for the fact that there were patches of snow on the ground when we arrived…Excuse me?

2. Remember how I said I despise driving in DC? Well, I meant it. I meant it with a deep burning passion, because getting out of that city was a pain yesterday. It’s a good thing I had this brunch at Busboys & Poets beforehand, which made things a whole lot more bearable 😉

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Mom and I shared the Oaxaca omelette that had black beans, pico, cheese, and GUACAMOLE. Served with the best home fries and whole wheat toast. So, so delicious.

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I had to take a picture of the men’s restroom sign. Had to.

3. After this amazing breakfast and almost a week without my usual breakfasts at home, I had some sort of enlightenment: I might be okay with savory breakfasts. I’m as shocked as you are, but I think I’ll start introducing some eggy, toasty-type breakfasts into my rotation! Sweet breakfasts will always have a special place in my belly heart though 🙂

4. I drove the whole 4.5 hours back home from DC yesterday, which has resulted in major tightness in my neck today. Luckily, we made a stop for Naked Juice and Cinnabons by the highway, so it’s all good.

5. After I attended altar server rehearsal at church for the Holy Thursday and Good Friday Masses last night, I met my parents and Victoria and her mom for dinner at a fancy tapas restaurant called 42. We had to wait a little while for a table to open up, but it was definitely worth it. We shared everything, and everything was divine. (A lot of these are small plates! Others aren’t 😉 )

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Crispy calamari, shrimp, and jalapeño with lemon tartar sauce

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Spring salad with arugula, grapefruit, asparagus, radish, pecans, and house balsamic vinaigrette

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Beef and pork pastry with burrata cheese and egg-yolk sauce

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Macau pepper steak with soft egg, burnt scallion chimichurri and brioche

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My dish: Halibut with mango pepper sauce, pickled mushrooms, zucchini, squash, and mint

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Mom’s dish (my FAVORITE of the night): whole wheat tortellini with black truffle, ricotta, parmesan, and herbs

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Victoria’s dish: Vegetable paella

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Dad’s dish: Branzino with lemon jam and roasted peanut potato

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Wendy’s (Victoria’s mom) dish: Kale caesar salad

6. Yeah, I’m not done yet. You didn’t think we wouldn’t leave room for dessert, did you??

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Cutest little plate of milk and cookies ever. Coconut macaroon, double chocolate chunk, snickerdoodle, and peanut butter cookies!

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Creme brûlée doughnuts. YOU READ THAT FLIPPIN’ RIGHT.

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“The Bar”: Ovaltine mousse, peanut butter crunch, dulce de leche, vanilla ice cream

I don’t know where all this food went, because looking at all these pictures, it looks like it was meant for 20 people. We didn’t finish the desserts, but we cleaned up our plates pretty darn well!

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This was before the food came. If we took a picture afterwards, we would have been slouching with our eyes closed…but still smiling 😀

7. I did have some MUCH needed house-made food for lunch yesterday though:

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Salad with homemade honey mustard dressing and a soft-boiled egg

Plus some fruit and snap peas with hummus. The freshness of this simple meal made my belly so happy…before I filled it with all those tapas, which also made my belly very happy. Tooooo happy.

8. Surprisingly, I was hungry for breakfast this morning. I was also craving oats and nut butter, so I had some cookie dough cereal and it hit the spot! Since we don’t have any ripe bananas currently, I ate it with kiwis, but I ended up eating those separately. Kiwis + nut butter is not my combo of choice.

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9. Of course, my hospitable mom set up a huge bed+breakfast spread for our guests:

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Because we obviously don’t have enough food in our lives.

10. I had a dream last night that I had a super cute piglet as a pet!!! I want him back.

Happy Holy Thursday! May we remember to serve others as the Lord has served us. 🙂

So tell me: 

When was the last time you really craved light, fresh food?

Sweet or savory breakfast?

Would you want a pet piglet?

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University of Virginia + Washington DC Fun

Salutations! (Charlotte’s Web anyone?? 🙂 )

I totally wanted to put up a recap post of my visit to UVA yesterday, but I was pooped from another long day of walking and eating yet again. Thus, I’m comin’ atcha today with a huge photo dump from the past couple of days!

{If you haven’t read the other posts from my great college tour finale, you may want to check out what I think of University of Maryland and Charlottesville!}

Monday

Up and at ’em at 7:30 AM!

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Breakfast part 1: banana with coconut peanut butter in the hotel room

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Breakfast part 2: trail mix in the hotel room

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Breakfast part 3: hunk o’ yummy banana bread at the UVA Days on the Lawn Welcome (pear saved for later)

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Super talented a cappella groups entertaining us as we waited for the event to start

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Grand Wahoo welcome!

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Singing one of their famous anthems

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Bavaro Hall

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Kinesiology info session

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Word.

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After all our dining out this past weekend, I was more than ready for these veggies from the dining hall. They had some delicious options!

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And then this. Free froyo, people.

Alright, I’m sure you want to know the verdict on University of Virginia, so here’s the rundown:

Pros:

  • Gorgeous campus
  • Super nice people
  • Charlottesville is a very walkable town
  • Great education
  • Awesome Catholic center
  • Blogger/foodie town
  • Kinesiology program
  • Best campus food I’ve had so far
  • The students seem very serious about their studies
  • School spirit

Cons:

  • Out-of-state tuition is pricey
  • Distance (7 hour drive from home)
  • Not very close to a big city
  • The opportunities did not seem quite as vast as UMD

Conclusion:

I do not think I will attend UVA. As much as I liked my experience at Cville this weekend, UVA just didn’t click with me like UMD did. The price and distance are also major factors. This conclusion took a lot of thinking and pondering!

After the Days on the Lawn finished, mom and I drove to Dulles Airport (near DC) to pick my friend, Victoria, and her mom, who flew in from California! We’ve known each other since we were 5 years old when my family lived in southern California. Victoria is also visiting colleges on the east coast, so I have a buddy for this college decision process!

We went out to dinner with their friends who live in DC, which was fun, delicious, and filling. As if I hadn’t eaten enough this spring break. The restaurant was called Miss Saigon, and the food was absolutely fantastic.

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We shared a ton of dishes family style. We also left with four containers of leftovers.

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But there’s always room for mango with sticky rice!

I feel like I’ve had a food baby after every dinner on this trip. SO MUCH FOOD.

We did make it over 20,000 steps that day though!

Moves: a crapton of walking.

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Champs.

I ended up giving the Polar Loop to my mom so she could track her steps, and we were super excited to see that we made it to 20.6K steps on Monday!

Tuesday

Slept in until 8:30 AM. I basically max out at 8 hours of sleep nowadays.

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Coffee and hot cocoa at Illy with Victoria 🙂

We walked around American University for a while since that is one of Victoria’s top choices right now. It has a beautiful campus in the midst of DC. Plus, if she goes there and I go to UMD, we would be super close to one another! SoCal girls’ partayyyy.

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I guess I like to get in my veggies at lunchtime. This is the veggie burger in a lettuce wrap from Elevation Burger at the AU dining hall. Very tasty! Especially since it took 10 minutes for them to make…

In the afternoon, Victoria and her mom went to an art museum in DC while my mom and I went back to relax at the hotel. I snacked and got some homework done.

After picking them up and having dinner at the hotel cafe (we ordered a bunch of apps to share), everyone except my mom walked through wind, rain, and suddenly freezing temperatures for one reason and one reason alone.

Cupcakes.

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Baked and Wired Bakery

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After our courageous trek. Hi from Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.

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Our reward!

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Carrot cake cupcake (they call them “cakecups”). It’s supposed to be “enough to share”…Haha. Nah.

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DEMOLISHED that sucker.

It’s a cycle, really. Snacky breakfast➔ veggies at lunch➔ sugar at night. It balances out.

This “cakecup” got me all sugared up for a late night workout at the spiffy hotel fitness center. Moves included a 1 mile run on the treadmill, some bodyweight lunges, pushups, and Julie’s 8 minute ab tabata. It felt good to move! And groove to my music when no one was watching 😉

Unrelated side note: I officially despise— DESPISE—driving in DC. Half of the roads are one-way for only certain hours in the day, some roads are two-lane or one-lane for certain hours in the day, there are too many roundabouts, tour buses are everywhere, cars are parked in driving lanes….holy moly. DC makes NYC look like a breeze.

And that’s a wrap! I apologize for the length of this post, but it was another two-days-in-one-post deal.

Hope you all have a happy hump day!

So tell me:

Have you ever been to Washington DC?

Do you like veggie burgers?

What is your favorite cake/cupcake flavor?

Where is the worst place in which you’ve driven?

 

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?