Category Archives: Travel

Nashville: Lockeland Table

As I mentioned in many blog posts, I spent a weekend in Nashville a couple of weeks ago.  It was a girls weekend trip planned last June to run the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon.  Although we had pretty horrible weather for the trip, I was glad to experience Nashville’s delicious food!

Whenever I travel to new places, I like to have a good grasp on the city: popular bars, good restaurants, the streets that you need to walk on, or the beautiful parks.  This time around I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be.  But with the amount of rain falling on the city, I was just fine with exploring the great food and music.

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There are many bars such as this one on Broadway, filled with local beers, live music, and an entertaining crowd.  Don’t worry, that was a box the girls and I definitely checked off- but we also wanted to try delicious food!

My friend Becky, who resides in Boston and is a new blogger, and I flew into Nashville on Thursday before everyone else.  Back in the January issue of Food & Wine, we noticed Top 10 Plates of Nashville.  After browsing the menus and reviews, we chose Lockeland Table as our Thursday girly date night location.

Nashville: Lockland Table

Lockeland Table opened in August of 2012, so it’s a fairly new restaurant- but I couldn’t tell that by the excellent service and delicious dishes.  The building used to be a small grocery store, and Chef Hal Holden-Bache and General Manager Cara Graham wanted to keep some of the historical details- the original phone number, the 30-foot rafters, and they even replicated a similar sign that once hung in the original store.  The ambiance is relaxing and intimate, with a wood-fire oven as the centerpiece of the room, a repurposed original stamped-tin ceiling, and the recovered barn wood decorating the space.

The restaurant is situated in the East Nashville residential district, a couple of miles away from the bars and music halls.  We took a cab ride from the Sheraton, where we were staying, and it was about $10- definitely worth the trip!  Per website recommendation “reservations are highly recommended”, we had made one about 2 months ago!

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The menu is local, with purveyors for produce and meat given credit on the menu, and seasonally inspired, which makes it hard to choose your dish- but that’s a good problem to have!  The low-carbon footprint extends to the bar, with just American vodkas, local bourbon and whiskey, as well as Tennessee beers such as Yazoo, Fat Bottom and Jackalope.  There are a couple of exceptions, the bar does have scotch and international wines.

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Chicken Liver Pâté in a Jar: Benton’s bacon fat, grilled Tuscan bread, and smoked peach preserves

The pâté is served in a small mason jar, with the layer of bacon fat on top.  The liver was smooth and velvety.  The thick-cut grilled toasts are perfect for the spread, and the overturned lid holds the smoky preserves.

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Cox Farms Roasted Bone Marrow: grilled Tuscan bread, Italian parsley, pickled red onion salad

The pickled onion isn’t just there for decoration, it’s to add to the dish.  Interestingly enough, it is pickled by Holden-Bache’s mom, his friends, and himself from his garden!  Rubbing the marrow on the crisp toast, and sprinkling with parsley and pickled onions, was dazzling and finger-licking delicious!  The straight-forward presentation fit the ambiance of Lockeland Table.

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Carolina Mountain Trout with Honey Bourbon Glaze: spring hash, lemon spring cream, crispy prosciutto

Although the trout is always on the menu, the sides depend on the season- the start of spring is vivid with the fresh green peas, light cream and dill.  The trout was perfectly seared with a crispy skin, not overwhelmingly heavy, but still full of flavor.

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Steak and Frites with Roasted Tomato Aioli: Hereford hanger steak with balsamic, cipollini butter, arugula

The steak was cooked just as I asked, medium rare.  Seared, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  The aioli was balanced, rich and savory- great to spread on the steak, or to dip your fries into!

We were too full for dessert- but the sweet ricotta doughnuts and the rhubarb strusel cake did catch my eye.  I think this just means we have to visit Nashville for another (sunny) weekend!

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DC’s Union Market: Rappahannock Oyster Bar

I’m probably one of the last people to explore Union Market.  A big thanks to Alix for taking me there one spring Sunday afternoon.  That day we walked around, explored and then we enjoyed a sandwich from The Red Apron.

Since that afternoon I’ve been wanting to go back and check out the Rappahannock Oyster Co.  Upon my insistence, and his love for oysters- Sam agreed to go!

First a little history.  Rappahanock River Oysters can be traced back to 1899.  James Arthur Croxton, Jr. purchased 5 acres of land near the Rappahanock River near Bowlers, VA.  Today it’s led by his great-grandson’s, Travis and Ryan Croxton; the company also expanded- located in Butylo, VA on over 100 acres.

The 3 types of oysters sold at Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Union Market are:

Union Market: Rappahanock River Oysters

Rappahanock River Oysters

  • from Topping, VA
  • salt range: 13-17
  • sweet, buttery full-bodied taste

Stingray Oysters

  • from Ware Neck, VA
  • salt range: 17-22
  • quintessential Chesapeake Bay oyster, sweet & mildly briny

Olde Salts

  • from Chincoteague Bay, VA
  • salt range: 28-33
  • taste like the ocean, briny

We did order additional plates, since this is more of small-plate restaurant.

Union Market: Rappahannock Oyster Bar

Lots of delicious dishes to choose from.  In addition, there are a number of great drinks, local beers and specials.

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Since we’re still on the search for the best Bloody Mary in DC, we had to try this one.  Definitely towards the top range of the one’s we’ve tried- extra spicy, just like we wanted!

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Other than the oysters, we split 2 small dishes:

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This was the Tuna Tartare, with limes, chilies and Thai basil.  It was light and refreshing, a perfect pairing with the crispy bread.

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We also shared the Crab Cake with celeriac remoulade.  Someone had told me that they thought this might be the best crab cake in DC, and I will have to agree!  Delicious!

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This was a great Sunday early afternoon outing, and I can’t wait to come back for more oysters!  Afterwards we stopped by to pick up pickles from Oh! Pickles.

Where do you go for oysters and crab cakes?  Would love to hear recommendations!

Boston Marathon & Food Matters Project #37: Central American Red Beans & Rice

The blog post below was ready to be published when I found out about what happened at the Boston Marathon.  I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this tragedy and devastation.  Although I blog about food, my other hobby is running.  Running races are a time when runners can celebrate all of the hard work they put into their training, and their family and friends can support them.  During races the amount of energy, comradery, and excitement is like nothing I have every experienced before- this is the reason I continue to sign up for races, cheer my friends on, and volunteer.  My heart goes out to all those affected by yesterday’s events.

If you’d like to read more, here are some blog posts which resonated with me.  There are more posts being published by the minute, so if you find one that touched you, please share in the comments below.

Health on the Run
Pavement Runner
Run to Eat
Sweet Life Ericka

Or, check out these articles:

If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon – The Washington Post
The Meaning of the Boston Marathon – The New Yorker

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The start of the week means a new post from the Food Matters Project!  This week our host is Aura, of Dinner with Aura.  Aura lives in Michigan, so she was happy to make a warm and comforting dish for a cold, rainy day.  Fortunately, DC has had better weather the last couple of weeks- spring is finally here!

Aura chose Mark Bittman’s recipe for Super-Lemony Kidney Beans, from his Food Matters Cookbook.  Definitely check out her Lubia Chalow-Afghan Lemon Kidney Beans, as she stuck to the original recipe in the cookbook.  The photos are beautiful, and now I can’t wait to try this recipe.  Make sure to stop over and check out what other Food Matters Project participants made here.

Aura mentioned this in her post, and I agree with her, I have a hard time imagining what each recipe will look like, since there are no photos in Mark Bittman’s cookbook.  As I’ve been doing this project for over a year now (this page has the list of all of the FMP posts we participated in), I realized that I skip over many recipes in other cookbooks just because I can’t visualize them- changing this might have to be a new resolution when it comes to cooking!

I read the ingredients.  Then I went to the grocery store, and rather than buying a bag of kidney beans, I was intrigued by the Central American Red Beans.  So I got a little side tracked, and the Afghan flavors turned into South American one’s…so I didn’t follow Mark Bittman’s recipe!  The beans are great, perfect when incorporated with the rice- but they do take a little to cook (although it’s worth the time and effort).

Central American Red Beans & Rice

Central American Red Beans & Rice
Fifth Floor Kitchen Original

This recipe makes a lot!  We had friends over for dinner, and only half was eaten- so be prepared to eat it for a week, or halve the recipe.  We started with chips and salsa, and paired this with some steak in chimichurri sauce which was made on the grill.

1 lb Central American Red Beans (although you can use any dried beans)
water
2 cups of uncooked rice
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, chopped
1 tbsp adobo sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
green onions (optional)
cilantro (optional)

Add the beans to a large pot, then add water so it covers all of the beans.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to medium heat.  Cook the beans until they start to be soft (once cooked, these are bit harder than black beans or garbanzo’s).  I had to add additional water while cooking, so keep an eye out for them.  The cooking process should take about 5 hours.

Cook rice per package directions.

Once the beans are close to being done, add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, adobo sauce, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Continue to cook for about an hour, then take off heat and mix in with the rice.

Feel free to sprinkle with green onions and cilantro for additional flavor.

DC: El Chucho

Since we’ve moved to a new neighborhood, we’ve been doing some exploring for new restaurants, coffee shops and stores.  As many cities around the world, I love that DC has a variety of pockets, providing us with different communities, restaurants and vibes wherever you explore.

A little less than 2 weeks ago, it was a beautiful (and warm) DC Sunday.  Sam and I love restaurants that have outdoor seating.  You have a different perspective, and there is the bonus of people watching.  As we were walking towards the Columbia Heights area, we noticed the El Chucho had some open outdoor seating and our tummies were grumbling, so we decided to check it out.

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This has been on my list to try since the New Columbia Heights Blog mentioned their new covered roof deck and the amazing Monday Happy Hour.  I hope these photos might entice others stop over.

El Chucho
3313 11th Street NW
Washington, DC 20010

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A lot of the dishes on the menu sounded really good.  I will note, we did not order one of more popular items (a good reason to come back).  One of the top dishes is the corn- Elote Callejero.  It’s a “street-style” corn on the cob, covered with chili, cilantro and cotija cheese.  Sounds and looks delicious!

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We started off with some chips and salsa.  Now there is a serious lacking of good salsa in DC (or if you have found it, please let me know the secret!).  But I was pretty satisfied with this one, it’s got notes of cilantro, a tad bit of spiciness and the chips were fresh.

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Of course, beers were mandatory.  It was a sunny and beautiful day, there is no reason not to enjoy a good beverage.  Sam tried a new beer- Chatoe Rogue, from an Oregon brewery.  There are a couple of local beers on tap, some microbrew bottles, and plenty of margarita flavors for everyone to enjoy.

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What did we order?

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I got the Torta Ahogada, with a side of gloves!  What’s inside?  It’s got marinated ground pork shoulder in adobo sauce, black beans, Chihuahua cheese, onions and avocado.  The sauce covering this sandwich is a smokey arbol salsa and cilantro.

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I won’t lie, that’s probably one of the messiest sandwiches I have ever ordered.  I ended up using a knife and fork.  But it was delicious- and very filling (there were plenty of leftovers).

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Sam ordered this behemoth of a sandwich, Cemita Classica.  It. was. so. big!  And delicious, I liked his choice a tad bit more (just a smidge).  Cemitas, sandwiches originating from Pueblo Mexico, were noted to be one of the new trends 0f 2013- I’m glad to finally have a chance to taste one.

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Between the freshly baked bread, was a piece of chicken milanesa, black beans, onions and adobo sauce, to make a very filling sandwich (even Sam had leftovers!).

I’m sure we’ll be back to El Chucho, since I do want to try the corn, as well as the margaritas.  If anyone stops in and finds a perfect dish, definitely let us know!

Honeymoon in Phuket, Thailand Pt 2

Check out what we ate during our honeymoon in the first post about Phuket.

While we were on our honeymoon, we spend one Sunday evening exploring the Phuket Weekend Market.  It’s a night bazaar which includes goods (you can find everything there) as well as foods.

For those who have been to Bangkok, apparently it resembles the markets there, and another name for it is Talad Tairod (the literal meaning: Car Boot Sale).

Of course, food interested us the most.  What can you eat here?  Everything in various forms: fried, deep fried, boiled, steamed, crushed, chilled, rolled and fermented.  We walked around and tried a little bit of everything- not much need for writing, the photos will say it all!

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Yes- those are fried bugs…

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Angry birds!!!

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Some giant shirmp!!!

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Lots of sugar cane juice to sip on!Phuket 2 Phuket 1