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Giada’s Coming to DC April 30, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Around Town, Food.
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This year marks the third annual Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show at the DC Convention Center. We attended the first show in 2006 and had a wonderful time. We even got to see the Deen Boys show off their cooking skills. We tried all types of food and also paid a little extra to take part in the beer and wine tasting. Unfortunately, we missed out on last year’s show due to previously scheduled plans. On the flip side, I’m totally pumped about this year…not just because it’s a GREAT show, but Giada De Laurentiis is going to be there along with Paula Deen. We purchased our tickets this morning to go see Giada who is my favorite Food Network personality (and she doesn’t know it, but we would make great BFFs)! If you happen to be in the area the first weekend in November, I highly suggest making plans to attend. If not, maybe it’s time for a little getaway to your Nation’s Capital!!

Local Eats: Vermilion April 29, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Food.

Yesterday was Casey’s birthday. For dinner, we ventured to one of our favorite restaurants in Old Town, Vermilion. Their menu changes seasonally and the current options are delectable. We actually opted to go for the tasting menu with wine pairings. We were certainly not disappointed.

We were initially given canapés of asparagus tempura with a lemon jam. The tartness of the lemon jam paired nicely with the lightly battered asparagus. The rest of our menu is shown below along with my commentary.

panko crusted scallops
celeriac mousaline, pineapple & hazelnut brown butter
wine pairing: 2006 mar & tierra, sauvignon blanc, curico valley, chile
comments: This dish was wonderful with the exception of one thing, the celeriac mousaline. For those of you who are oblivious, much like myself, that is a mousse of celery root. I can stomach a lot of things, but celery is not one of them. Since it was used as more of a plate decoration, I was able to avoid its celery creaminess and enjoyed the remainder of the dish. The sauvignon blanc brought out the sweet and tangy citrus of the pineapple.

crispy skin char
shredded potato cake, cider “caviar” & apple beurre blanc
wine pairing: 2006 st. francis, chardonnay, sonoma, California
comments: Loved, loved, loved the potato cake. The fish was cooked to perfection and the apple buerre blanc paired with the chardonnay was one of a kind. I am not typically a fan of chardonnay, but paired with this dish, it was excellent. Casey and I both commented how pleased we are that there are people out there much smarter than ourselves who pair the food and wine together. It certainly makes trying new things a lot more exciting.

merquez wrapped lamb loin
artichoke puree, olive, pinenuts, feta & caramelized potatoes
wine pairing: 2006 catena, malbec, mendoza, argentina
comments: Again, the wine with the lamb loin was an unbelievable pairing. I like red wine; however, I have never had a malbec that pleased my palate. This was totally different. The malbec paired wonderfully with the spiciness of the merquez (lamb sausage) and the tang of the olives and feta.

angel food cake
strawberries 3 ways, davon crest mint & vin cotto
wine pairing: nv domaine chandon, “riche” extra dry, california
comments: The dessert was great! I don’t typically drink sparkling wines and this was no exception.

Dec-ear-ations! April 27, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Fashion, Shopping.
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Spring has finally sprung and I wanted that to be reflected in my accessories as well.  Etsy is the perfect place to look for new additions to any spring wardrobe. It took some searching, but I found two great sellers each offering equally unique and beautiful accessories.

These earrings from Olive Jewelry live up to their name, Playtime.
Just looking at them screams fun!

These little beauties from The Stone Garden are blossoms for your ears.
I was more or less “window shopping” when I came across this pair, and I just couldn’t say no to buying them!

Tee-Totally April 25, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in General.
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Bought this shirt a few weeks back, love it bunches.
Life is Good indeed.

Looking for a Baby Gift… April 24, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Shopping.
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…then look no further.  A coworker of mine is pregnant with her first child, a little boy who is due next week!  I was looking for a unique gift to send her and came across Sara Tams’ etsy shop, Sarah + Abraham. She sells an assortment of personalized prints, stationary, and stickers. I ordered the personalized 8×10 ‘kids at play’ print where I chose the child’s image and text font. These are the kind of gifts I love to give…something a mom can truly treasure because it’s unique to her precious child.

Diary of a Travel Guide Junkie: Charleston, SC April 23, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Food, Running, Travel.
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Better late than never, right?! A couple of weeks ago we headed to Charleston, SC, to run the Cooper River Bridge Run. It was a nice weekend getaway before officially heading out of town for work. I have always enjoyed Charleston, but this year it felt a little different. It just seemed too crowded. While that part was disappointing, one arena in which Charleston doesn’t disappoint is the food.

We hit up Jestine’s Kitchen for dinner on Friday night. This is a restaurant with no website and no reservations…just country cooking and blue plate specials. I tried the glazed ham with a side of collards and mac & cheese and, you know me, I couldn’t pass up on a glass of sweet tea.

On Saturday, following the race, we headed to Virginia’s on King to meet some friends for lunch. I would have to rank Virginia’s way high on my list. Upon being seated, we were offered bite-size pieces of their broccoli cornbread. Ok, really. I just ran 6.2 miles, must you torture me with this miniature morsel of deliciousness. We tried two of their appetizers: fried pickles served with remoulade and fried okra with spicy aioli. The okra was pretty tasty, the fried pickles (aka frickles) were just ok (my taste buds have been spoiled by the frickles served up at Del Merei’s). Moving on to the entrees. I can’t pass up on pimiento cheese. It’s a comfort food from my childhood, one that I don’t see very often and don’t make at home mainly because Casey hates pimiento cheese (and he calls himself a southerner). Virginia’s Pimiento Cheese Sandwich on Texas Toast was jaw-smackin’ good and paired with the most drool-icious blue cheese coleslaw. If anyone out there has a recipe for this coleslaw, please let me know! I couldn’t even tell you what anyone else ordered because I was up to my elbows in pimiento euphoria.

We grabbed dessert at Cupcake. This is the cutest store ever which specializes in made-from-scratch, you guessed it, cupcakes. They have 32 different flavors and serve up nine of those flavors daily. Our group sampled the chocolate peanut butter, red velvet, and chocolate chip cheesecake. I really wanted to try the pina colada, but it wasn’t on the menu that day.

With our bellies at maximum capacity, we crossed the street to go to Three Dog Bakery. Since I was going to be away from home for such a long period, I wanted to send some goodies back to Dixie Belle. Her package included a few Scottie’s Biscotti, Puppermint Patties, and Carob Chip Cookies. You can just save me the speech on how spoiled our dog is.

We got our seafood fix at Fleet Landing. I tried the sea scallops in lemon butter sauce…not my absolute favorite; however, my mom tried their shrimp and grits which was prepared very nicely.

We were pressed for time on Sunday morning, so we didn’t get a chance to stop by Hominy Grill for brunch. I don’t know about you, but an hour wait didn’t really appeal to me. Instead, we hit Camille’s Sidewalk Café which was surprisingly refreshing. The food was simple and good and the coffee rocked my world. I was sad at the thought that this may be my one and only opportunity to eat at Camille’s, but then I discovered that there’s one in Arlington and in DC! Guess I won’t need to start a franchise after all.

What’s that? You want to know how the race went? I had a PB for the 10K finishing in 1:05:28. While I didn’t reach my goal for this race (60 minutes), I did shave about five minutes off of my previous time. Not bad, considering the humidity was unreal and I was struggling a lot more than anticipated. Note to self: When you average a 10 minute mile, don’t think that you can sustain a pace of 8:57 just because your friend, Mr. Adrenalin, is sitting on your shoulder. Casey finished in 51:53, my dad finished in 1:05:28 (notice a similarity? thank goodness parents show pity on their children), our friend Blythe finished in 1:04:07 (oh, and friends show pity too).

Happy Earth Day! April 22, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green.
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Today is Earth Day.  There’s no better time to make a pledge to better our environment…one baby step at a time.  Speaking of steps, check out EarthLab to calculate your carbon footprint and learn new ways to lower your impact. Input a few pieces of information to formulate your personal ECP (Earth Conservation Plan) score. My ECP score was 318 which is not a terrible start considering the US average ranges from 325 to 354. It also revealed that my carbon output is 12.2 tons compared to the national average of 15.2 tons. Since ECP scores can reach as high as 900, I feel like my strides toward recycling, using my own bag at the store, and switching to CFLs have made a positive impact. I know that there are still many changes I can incorporate into my daily habits. What’s your score?

It’s the Small Things in Life April 21, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in General.
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Since being out of town and under the attack of Vista, I have felt somewhat out of touch with everything.  When I got back home, I had a stack of mail and catalogs to go through (sounds daunting, but it’s a sick thrill I get from opening mail).  On top of my stack, Casey had strategically placed the Personal Journal section of the WSJ from April 10th.  There sat an article on my absolute favorite blogger, Dooce. This is a person who writes in such a way that when I peruse through my Google Reader listings, I save hers for last because I know it will be good and probably make me chuckle.  I love little surprises like that.

Oh Stop, You’re Making Me Blush April 20, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Food, General.
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Want to enjoy all of the health benefits of a glass of wine, but you’re not really a wine drinker?  It’s your lucky day.  Check out First Blush Juices. These juices pack the same antioxidant punch as a glass of wine minus the alcohol. The available flavors are Merlot, Cabernet, and Chardonnay. The other health perks are that these juices contain no preservatives, no added sugar, and contain only natural ingredients. Cheers!

Trackin’ Those Miles April 19, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Gadgets, Running.
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I received a Garmin Forerunner 205 as a birthday gift a few years ago. I have loved using this GPS wristwatch for all of my runs. It tracks my distance, time, average pace, and calories burned. About a year or so ago, Garmin created an upgrade to the 205 with the Forerunner 305. This version included the addition of a heart rate monitor. Just recently, they’ve added the Forerunner 405 to the collection. This newest model features a touch bezel to allow you to easily scroll through all of the features during your workout and it has a wireless transmitter so that when you are within range of your computer, your data transfers automatically. Nice.

Another exciting gadget on the horizon is the Nike+ SportBand. I love Nike. I run in Nike+ shoes which when paired with an iPod nano and Nike+ SportKit can track your distance, pace, and calories burned. Now that so many races have banned earphones and music players, it renders the Nike+ iPod of the past useless. Enter the SportBand which eliminates the need for a music player. Simply drop the sensor in your shoe and slap on the wristband. When you’re finished with your workout, remove the Nike+ link and plug it directly into the USB of your computer. With your Nike+ account, you can track everything on your computer and share it with others. Don’t run in Nike+ shoes? No worries. You can purchase a ShoePouch which attaches to the laces of any athletic shoe and holds the Nike+ sensor.

So many options to track those runs!