Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Experimenting Novice: Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Caramels

I am sure I am not alone on this, but I will go through craving trends where I am obsessed with a particular type of food until I am sick of it. Sometimes the craving is seasonal (naturally), and sometimes it becomes everlasting, like chocolate chip muffins, spinach pizza, or a Negroni.

One particular item that is increasingly becoming a part of the year-round obsession list are caramels. Chocolate covered caramels, that is. I enjoy Trader Joe’s version of them, and I probably buy out their entire stock from time to time because they run out of them more often than other candies. Therefore, I became determined to make my own so that I can have my own personal inventory.

I am no expert when it comes to confections other than being around my Mom, who is an ultimate master. She made a batch of her own caramels a few years ago, and I have never forgotten them so I am pretty curious to see how this attempt is going to go.

I based the caramel making experiment off of a recipe from the blog, Inspired Taste.
Super simple and cheap, these morsels can be creative gift for friends or as an immediate go to whenever you are craving sugar, which for me is almost all day.

Result? Overall, I think I cooked the caramel a little too long for my liking, probably because I was almost more interested in taking pictures than I was concentrating on the stove at the time. Everything took much faster to cool and harden than what the recipe stated, partly because there is literally no heat in my kitchen and we have marble everywhere. The chocolate ended up being a little sloppy since I did not temper it as well as I should have but overall looked pretty reminiscent of my Trader Joe’s favorite. They surprisingly tasted like See’s Candies caramels so I think I did pretty well for a first try.

Interested in taking a shot at creating these morsels? Find the recipe here: Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Caramels

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Social Menu: Weekly Trending Foods in Social Media

Happy Monday! Here are what foodie pinners, bloggers, tweeters, and photographers are up to in the digital media world.

DYI Kits never fail to show you how to make just about anything

Cupcakes and not the sweet kind

Mini Pot Pies


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Do not forget the tomatoes!

I know I am  a little late for this post. In fact, three weeks late. It is October, and tomato season has passed the corner. However, if you still have a few batches of tomatoes as I know I would in my parents' backyard in Georgia, you can try this short and sweet recipe.

The inspiration comes from the hospitable staff at The Cavalier in Lynchburg, VA. They were giving away home grown tomatoes and I could not let them go to waste.  It is a little bit of summer and fall combined with its dressing of bacon fat, sugar, and apple cider vinegar. It is a salad to most certainly melt in your mouth.

Give it a try if you have a few tomatoes left in your house, if not it is definitely worth saving for next season!

Tomato Bacon Salad with Blue Cheese

1 12 oz package of apple smoked bacon
6 small to medium heirloom tomatoes
1-2 heads of Boston lettuce
1 8oz package of blue cheese
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T sugar
1 T water

1.     Cook all slices of bacon over the stove stop. Remove slices and set aside to cool. Preserve all dressing and set aside to cool.
2.     While the dressing is cooling, wash and cut the tomatoes in quarters. You can cut them smaller if you prefer.
3.     Wash and cut the head of lettuce. Mix with the tomatoes.
4.     Add the blue cheese to the salad.
5.     Add the apple cider vinegar, sugar and water to the cooled dressing and stir until blended and sugar has dissolved.
6.     Cut cooled bacon slices and add them to the salad.
7.     Pour onto the salad or save on the side for guests to use sparingly.
8.     Enjoy!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pit Stop Blondies

The road trip to Lynchburg was almost worthless in taking if I did not go to Sheetz first. Sheetz is a fan favorite amongst my college friends where we could always either pit stop during a road trip, to try to sober up after partying, or to wake up to finish our homework.

This Pennsylvania modernized “kwik shop” harbors a list of feasting favorites such as the chicken salad sandwich on a pretzel bun, flavorful coffees, and breakfast pastries. However, Sheetz has only one thing that I made sure I purchased no matter how many times I went, Smoothie Blondies from Boyer Candy Company in Altoona, PA.

These rich, butterscotch covered, peanut butter filled cups of mouth watering delight always accompanied me while I studied every hour, on the hour. They include their own version of “play money” inside each package to collect and earn merchandise. No matter how much play money I have collected, I do not think I will ever earn enough of it to be able to purchase anything.

Smoothies are not the only nostalgic gem on their confectionery menu. They also have my mother’s personal favorite, Mallo Cup, and the Triple Twist Pretzel.  The website is filled with not only their play money online shop but also a library’s worth of recipes to use with all of their brands.

PS: As promised, I would show a highlight of Negroni Week back in June. Well, here you go! This beauty is brought to you by Compass Rose off of 14th Street on U Street Corridor. The cocktail alone was unequal parts, but I know everyone prefers their Negroni a little bit differently (I like equal parts Gin, Campari and Sweet Vermouth). Regardless, it was definitely refreshing, and you must check Compass Rose out if you have not done so already. The food alone will take you around the world in one visit. 

1346 T Street NW
Washington, DC 20009

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Cavalier

I can only begin with stating that I am amazed this place has not been talked, tweeted, blogged, pinned, or produced through any form of media ever since the birth of the “foodie”.  Not only is The Cavalier a hidden piece of American history, but it produces some of the most satisfying American culinary classics I ever tasted. I look back and try to think if I am partial to this place just because I studied two blocks away from this restaurant, but on behalf of all the students and locals in central Virginia, The Cavalier is truly a hidden, mom and pop gem that anyone must go to if you happen to travel to this part of America.

The Cavalier originated as a carriage house, and Thomas Jefferson himself could have possibly been there before this place evolved into a convenient counter store, and finally into full service restaurant packed with almost every inch of Virginia atmosphere you could imagine. Expired license plates, a pool table, old school arcade games, college flags, and initial etchings from every best friend, lover, spouse, or family member covers the inside of this restaurant.

 Everyone I know who developed a relationship with The Cavalier has their personal appetizing favorites: the cheeseburgers, grilled cheese, the personally favored Reuben, hot dogs, onion rings, they even have Mr. Pibb. I am not a particular fan of regularly feasting on fried food, but The Cavalier’s home fries is one fried creation I know I could devour every day if I was given the chance. Not just home fries, home fries with their special seasoning and ranch sauce for dipping. I ordered enough over the weekend for me to take back home and I have to admit, they are even better when the seasoning sits.

The Cavalier is a genuine expression of not only classic American food, but also a true definition of what Virginia means to me. I encourage you to take that pit stop at The Cavalier in Lynchburg if you are traveling through the great state of Virginia. You will be glad you spent your meal there rather than a drive thru, I guarantee it.

The Cavalier
2920 Rivermont Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24503

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ode de Rose's

Every now and then a restaurant comes along and just steals your heart away with everything it has to offer, from decor to dishware to garnish. Rose’s Luxury in Capitol Hill does just that and then some to make sure you remember each moment of it. It undeniably never fails. I may have written very briefly about it in a previous post, but after my most recent experience, I just had to share what this place is made of, especially if you have not experienced it yet. Rose’s is magic waiting to happen.

Now, restaurants always have their ups and downs with guests’ experiences, and I am sure they have had their challenges to make sure a guest leaves more than satisfied, especially if someone makes a, for lack of a better word, mistake. However, when I go to Rose’s I think a mistake is not possible, because it simply does not look possible. The staff is entertaining, and you can tell they want to be there. The restaurant alone feels like a home that you just want to either bring some of your closest friends for some laughs or bring your main squeeze for a little alone time. It just brings that good old, classic feeling we have to feel entertained.  

The food speaks for itself from Chef, Aaron Silverman. It is a perfect combination of innovation and originality.  To begin with as well as the ultimate staple of the evening besides my (yes, my) Fig Martinez is the potato bread. With butter. The crispy squid salad is an ultimate starter dish. Designed to share, I almost felt like using it as a spread rather than a salad with its creamy combination of avocado, crema, and lime.

Uni scrambled eggs, potatoes, and hollandaise. I am at the point now where I feel like I am in a fairly tale and magic is actually happening during my meal. I am not usually a fan of fried food, despite the fact I was raised in the deep south. However, the fried chicken with honey and benne seed syncs sweet and savory into an addicting symphony that never wants to end. The brisket sandwich can be on or off the menu and will be waiting for you if you ask for it.

And for dessert? Mascaparone with fruit and crumbles as a “cheese course” is simply one of the best things I have ever tried here in DC. Doughnuts with vanilla ice cream and Cabot cheddar sprinkled on top. You think you might despise it, but you will not stop thinking about it after you try it.

The combination of vintage dishware, simplistically bohemian decor, hanging garden lights, and now the garden rooftop makes you feel like you are being entertained in an enchanted courtyard. Rose’s simply has the right pieces to make the right combinations, making you never wanting to leave and itching to come back.

So, do yourself a favor: If you really want to just have a good time, show off what today’s DC dining is all about, or spoil yourself for that matter then go to Rose’s Luxury. It is a genuine magic maker in the heart of DC.

Rose's Luxury
717 8th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Negroni Week

The Negroni. One of the few cocktails I have enjoyed for years. It is the cocktail that made me fall in love with various spirits that I used to despise, Campari and Gin. Now, I am amazed to even think I did not enjoy these flavors when I was younger. Just more proof that as one becomes older and wiser, so becomes one's palate.

I happen to admire this cocktail so much that I shared my respect for it last year in a previous post .  Therefore, you cannot be too surprised to know how excited I am that Imbibe and Campari are teaming up on June 2nd for Negroni Week, a Drink for a Cause. Participating locations will be promoting the classic cocktail, and a portion of the earnings will go to a charity of choice. Everything from the vintage recipe to the modernist creation will be to your savoring, depending on the location you plan to go to.

Since I live in DC, I plan to tour around the participating locations in the area. So check the event's website out to see which bars and restaurants are celebrating the one and only Negroni in your area. I will share some of my favorites and not so favorites so stay tuned.