Pokemon Pasta, Prawn Onigiri, Potato Salad Bento


May 11th – I knew the next day (12th) was going to be a very very long day, so I planned a lunch and dinner bento. Lunch (blue/yellow bento) was boyfriend’s mom’s homemade potato salad, onigiri with grilled tiger prawns inside, raisins, goldfish, mini nilla wafers, and some frosted mini wheats. Dinner was pokemon macaroni and cheese with chives and pepper and a mini clif bar. There is a green wasabi pea on top of the onigiri–its from an “asian trail mix”. There are two ginger thins in the top lid. Since it was going to be a long day, I packed a star-shaped freezer pack later (didn’t take a picture). The ice pack worked so well, my onigiri was too cold! I also thought I had put too much sushi vinegar in the rice, but I couldn’t even taste it.

Taste of Arlington 2009

Huge Pot of Paella at Jaleo!

Is it just me, or are there a lot of “Taste of” festivals this year? I’ve heard of various festivals in Maryland, Crystal City, Reston, and of course: Arlington. After attending the Taste of Georgetown festival last year, this seemed a bit lack-luster. It was set in Ballston, and let’s be honest, there’s not a great collection of restaurants in Arlington. There were about forty restaurants there (Full list here), and for $25 you got 8 tasting tickets. We could have bought our ticket ahead of time and gotten 8 tickets for $20, but we weren’t 100% sure if we would be going to the event. But, for around $12.50 per person, Dan and I got pretty full! We had originally planned to go to El Pollo Rico after the festival, but we got too full!

Even though we got 8 tickets, it costs 1 ticket per taste and 2 tickets per drink (even water), so we brought our own drink. This festival was also geared more towards familys and kids. We had:

  • Delhi Daba – Channa Masala with Rice
  • Lebanese Taverna – Chicken Shwarama Pita
  • Best Buns – Red Velvet Cupcake
  • Bayou Bakery – Strawberry Shaved Ice with Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Me Jana – Hommos and Naan
  • Restaurant 3 – BBQ Ribs
  • Liberty Tavern – Grilled Octopus with Fennel, red onion, blood orange, mache/mint salad
  • Front Page – Crab “Cakes” (Fritters) with Bruschetta

Delhi Daba was great, it was one of the first things we got when we went to the festival, and there was a long line (for a reason). You could choose butter chicken, chick peas, paneer (spinach), with rice or naan. Dan was hankering for some chick peas, so there was no debate. Restaurant 3’s ribs were okay. We had gone to Sweetwater the night before just to get ribs, and they were out, so again, Dan was jonesin’ for ribs. They were quite fatty, didn’t fall off the bone, had a lot of cartilage, and weren’t evenly cooked. Lebanese Taverna’s sandwich was okay. The chicken fell out and I don’t care for tomatoes. Me Jana offered whole containers of hummus with pre-packaged naan. The Best Buns cupcake was about half the size as the normal cupcakes (which I guess are twice the size of a standard cupcake). They had vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet to choose from. I had a feeling they would be dry, so I picked red velvet, which is the moistest cake due to the whole bottle of food coloring in there. The cake was still a little dry in some places, but the cream cheese frosting more than made up for that. Bayou Bakery isn’t even open yet (they took over Murky Coffee), but I’ll be interested to check them out! They had two different flavors of shaved ice — Wedding Cake (almond) and Strawberry. They packed a lot of ice in to a little Chinese take-out box and then asked me if I wanted “Sweetened Condensed milk floated on top”. Uh, yes! Liberty Tavern had strangely un-tavern food with the grilled octopus. The salad didn’t look appetizing, but the grilled octopus was okay. It had a slightly rubbery consistency, and no real seafood flavor. We thought Front page was burgers, but it was actually a really fresh and juicy tasting bruschetta with some mushy crab fritters.

All-in-all, it was okay, but it just made me miss Georgetown’s Festival! Georgetown is more for adults and there is better food there. You won’t see Chipotle or Mall Food Court Ghetto Sushi Places there — and they give out free soda (well, Arlington did give out free yummy Ice Cream Sandwiches!).

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Taste of Georgetown 2008

October 11th, 2008
I know, I know. Talk about procrastination. But, I have to write about this “Taste of” festival before I can write about the most recent.

The price of this Georgetown festival was $20 for 5 food tickets, which works out to be $4 a tasting. There were separate tickets/tasting prices for wine tastings. The day was beautiful, and the location was great. The festival was in-between M street and K street by the Georgetown Shops and C&O Canal. Our main strategy was to go only to places that we could normally not afford, or places that were giving out dishes that were a great deal for $4. So, we weren’t going to a cupcake place (even though I wanted to) because the cupcake is less than $4, and I’d had all of them already. That’s one of those “If we have a ticket left” kind of places. I can’t believe people pay $20 for each person! I just shared a tasting ticket (and all “tastes”) with Dan. Sure, there might have been one or two other tastes that I would have liked to try, but it wasn’t worth busting out another twenty and making the day cost forty dollars instead of twenty.

Another great (and bad for the choosy, only 5 ticket holders) thing was that most places offered two dishes to choose from, and if they were nice, they threw in things such as cookies, or sashimi. Here’s a quick run-down of the menu (I’ve bolded the ones I tried):

  • 1789: Sweet Potato Gratin with Lobster
  • Agraria: Ancho & Maple Braised Pork Belly with Virginia Spoonbread or Caramel Chocolate Pecan Tart
  • Baked & Wired: Cupcake and a Cookie (Choice of Strawberry or Chocolare Cupcake with Choice of Peanut Butter or Vanilla Frosting and a Chocolate Chip or Molasses Spice Cookie)
  • Bangkok Joe’s: Pad Thai with Chicken or Pad Thai with Vegetables
  • Café Bonaparte: Josephine Crepe (Nutelle & Bananas), Last Tango Crepe (Nutella & Strawberries), Moulin Rouge Crepe (Caramelized Apples & Pistachios), or Montpelier Crepe (Caramelized Peaches)
  • Chadwick’s: Chadwick’s New England Clam Chowder or Famous BBQ Baby Back Ribs
  • Clyde’s: Butternut Squash Soup
  • Fahrenheit: Chilled Cajun Jumbo Shrimp, Jicama Slaw or Chocolate Tart
  • Filomena Ristorante: Ravioli Di Funghi or Ravioli Della Michele
  • Georgetown Cupcake: Red Velvet Cupcake or Chocolate Cube Cupcake
  • Hook: Seafood Sausage
  • J. Paul’s Surf & Turf Sliders, aka “One of Each” Classic Cheeseburger Slider and Crabcake Slider or J. Paul’s Famous BBQ Ribs Glazed with Chipotle Sauce
  • La Chaumière: Petit Cassoulet Toulousain or Apple Tart “Normande”
  • Los Cuates Restaurant: Chicken and Steak Fajitas or Costillas de Puerco “BBQ Pork Ribs”
  • Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar: Wild Boar and Black Bean Chili or Delicate Squash Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds and Curry Oil
  • Mie N Yu: Kobe Brisket Rendang or Lobster Miso Soup
  • Morton’s The Steak House: Steak (Filet) Sandwiches
  • Neyla: Half a Falaffel Pita with Tahini Sauce, Mint, Tomato, and Onion, Chicken Shawarma Sliders, or Mini Pita Stuffed with Garlic Chicken and Pickles
  • Nick’s Riverside Grille: BBQ Ribs, Coleslaw
  • Old Glory BBQ: Sweet Pulled Pork Slider or Fried Green Tomatoes with Lemon and Cayenne Mayonnaise and Pico de Gallo
  • Paolo’s: Meatball Slider and Parmesean and Arugula
  • Ristorante Piccolo: Fresh Ravioli Stuffed with Porcini Mushrooms in a Sage Butter Sauce, Drizzled with Truffle Oil or Tiramisu
  • Rugby Café: House Roasted Pulled Pork Sandwich or Hereford Beef SLiders
  • Sea Catch Restaurant and Raw Bar: Jumbo Gulf Shrimp Wrapped in Puff Pastry with Bacon and Boursin Cheese
  • Tackle Box: Chilled Shrimp Salad or Potato Salad
  • The Guards: Shrimp Tenderloin Brochette
  • Third Edition: Pulled Short Rib Sliders with Homemade Garlic Pickles and Cheddar Cheese or Georgetown Hot Wings with Bleu Cheese Dressing or Ginger and Lemongrass Chicken Tenders with Drunken Fruit Salsa
  • Tony & Joe’s: Macademia Shrimp Topped with Balsamic Glaze served with Pineapple Mango Salsa
  • Wine Pavillion: Tarara Winery, Boston Beer Co., Sierra Nevada, Potomac Wine & Spirits, Green Mountain, and Peak Organic
  • Other: Washingtonian, Washington City Paper, Martens Volkswagen, PNC Bank, Safeway Beverage Booth, FotoWeek DC, Verizon, Driven, Inc., and various events (Tarea Anderson Plus Three, Jacques Johnson & Friends, Grace Jazz Poetry Trio, Judge’s Favorites Announces, Blues Alley Youth Orchestra)

As you can see, this is a pretty prestigious Tasting Festival! The dishes all sound amazing, complex, and expensive. It’s a great way to decide if you want to go to one of these restaurants if you haven’t been, or to try a dish at a restaurant that you have been. My opinions on the dishes I tried:

1789: The gratin came with lobster on top and with a small, airy cookie. The texture of the dish was fine, but neither the sweet potato or lobster flavors were there for me.

Agraria: The pork belly was delicious–a little fatty for my taste, but it is pork belly–but the spoonbread was not for me. Reminded me a little of cornbread. This did remind me of a traditional “Virginia” meal, though.

Café Bonaparte: Usually I hate strawberries and would have gone for the banana combination, but something about seeing the strawberries in person, all syrupy and dripping over a nice crepe made me want to get that one. The crepe itself wasn’t that great, but it did make me want to try Bonaparte for other crepes.

Neyla:  I had gone to Neyla before and was not happy with the food or service there, but the falaffel sandwich looked so fresh and flavorful! Turns out the bread was a little hard and I didn’t like any of the fillings. Dan ate most of this one.

Sea Catch: I think this might have been one of the best ones! Dan had eaten here before, but I hadn’t. We got a wrapped shrimp brochette, but then a little surprise — two pastries filled with beautiful chunks of raw fish! The seafood tasted fresh and delicious.

I also received a free copy of the Washingtonian and free beverages (provided by Safeway?). This is a great, high-class festival! It was so much fun that I can’t wait to go back (and I will be) next year!


Food Decor Service Cost
22 19 15 $14

dupontcircleinnerimg May 13th, 2009
I finally made it over to Teaism! There are three different locations, one in Dupont Circle, one in Lafayette (Farragut), and one in Penn Quarter. The Dupont Circle location is open the latest and has the largest menu (about the same as the Penn Quarter’s). The Lafayette location only serves lunch until 230, but has afternoon tea options at a set price and menu until closing. All locations serve breakfast — I hope I can get over there one day to taste that menu.

The Dupont location has two levels. The first level is great for solo diners. To the right hand side upon entering is where you place your orders. There are also small areas on the first floor where you can buy various tea pots, cups, books, teas, and accessories. I’m particularly interested in the Tea Tiger (image in the gallery below), which is a plastic thermos that you can put tea leaves directly into, pour water over, and close the lid. The tea will brew within the thermos and you can drink through the second lid, which has a filter on it.Unfortunately (fortunately?), I don’t care much for tea (outside of Chinese restaurants and Chai). Low tables with chairs line the two large windows on the storefront. It’s quite hard and crowded to eat hear as a group, but would be quite comfortable for a long, quite sip by your lonesome.

If you travel up the worn, wooden stairs, you’ll see an elegant, bare-bones dining area. Simple Japanese fabric lines the booths along the walls and wooden tables are spread generously throughout the area. One of the greatest things about the upstairs seating is the view. Teaism has the windows open, looking out onto the quaint row houses outside as the sun set. Even though Teaism is right off of a major road and next to a Starbucks, there’s something quiet and relaxing about this. It reminds me of maybe a restaurant in a third world country that doesn’t have air-conditioning, so leaves windows open and lets natural wood speak for itself. The restaurant is worn, but in an elegant and sophisticated way. This is a restaurant to go by yourself for contemplation or a nice read, or to come with a friend for a long catch-up chat that can go on for hours (I speak from experience).

I was set on getting the naan and mango chutney with the sweet potato salad, but when I arrived at the register to order, I spotted the Seitan Stir fry Special. Seitan is wheat gluten with a meaty texture that many vegetarians and vegans eat as an alternative to meat (of course) and tofu. I also ordered the Zhenzhou Pearls bubble tea. My friend ordered the Salmon Bento.

The food was ready very quickly and was served on trays lined with brown and green Japanese-looking paper. I took the food upstairs and sat at our table. Chopsticks as well as normal utensils are available (self-serve style). Seitan stir fry wasn’t really a stir-fry. It reminded me more of an ocha-zuke with the crispy rice ball in the middle with sesame seeds, spinach, seitan, and delicious macadamia nuts surrounded by a savory, shallow broth. Each bite was delicious and complex, yet clean. The sweet potato salad was interesting. For only 2.50, I received a very large serving. First bite was too flavorful, but after a few bites I got adjusted to the taste. After adjusting, the sweet potato was nice (a bit too firm for me), but the sauce was still a bit off. The miso sauce tasted more like a gravy, and I had been expecting a potato salad–just made with sweet potatos. I packed up my remaining half of each dish and took it home to eat the next day. The bubble tea had a nice flavor, not too sweet like most bubble teas, but still pleasant to drink. Unfortunately, I drink my tea a bit slower than most, so some of the bubbles were soggy by the time I got to them.

My friend’s bento was served in a traditional Japanese bento box, complete with dividers and lid. There was a small piece of teriyaki glazed salmon, a sliced cucumber and ginger salad, and two brown rice balls and edamame. We shared a Salty Oat cookie as well. This cookie was substantial. It wasn’t too large, but it was dense. At first bite, the salt is jarring, but if you hold the bite in your mouth, the sweetness blends with the salt and becomes perfect.

The food itself really fits the weather (warm with a nice cooling breeze through the windows). It’s hot, but not hot. It’s cool, and placed neatly on plates– more of an indoor picnic than anything else. I will definitely have to return very soon to try one of their ochazuke (rice served in tea), and many of their teas, drinks, sides, and desserts, as well as breakfast and afternoon tea.This is truly a unique establishment in DC.

From Zagat:

This trio of very “un-DC” counter-service tearooms offers a “quick and cheap bite without sacrificing taste and health” amid Asian-inspired surroundings that can be “serene” or “bustling” depending on the time of day; “dishes as good as they are simple” range from “guilt-inducing to Zen-lightness”, and the “variety of food” “makes up for the long lines during rush hour”; N.B. the Golden Triangle branch is open weekdays only.

Food: 20, Decor: 16, Service: 15, Cost: $16
Dupont Circle | 2009 R St. NW (Connecticut Ave.) | 202-667-3827

Home-made Mac & Cheese and Hummus


– Homemade Macaroni and Cheese with peppered turkey bacon and Baybel light cheese – Homemade hummus with matzos
– Apple and kumquat skewers
– Apple banana
– Chai Latte (Trader Joe’s Chai concentrate mixed with fat-free milk)

This was a real legit bento — for me! The first day of real work in a long time. Well, it’s still not real work because its temp work, and only for 4 days, but still. It’s a commute-to-a-place-that’s-not-your-parents’-house job.

I was going to make regular mac and cheese, but the processed cheese seemed a bit too heavy for me, and Danny was in the kitchen cookin’ up some habanero sausage from Whole Foods, so I decided to improvise. I took two peices of turkey bacon, ripped it up, and cooked it in a saucepan for a few minutes. Then I took 4 mini baybel light cheeses (courtesy of Dan’s dad!) and crumbled them up with some milk in the same saucepan. The mixture was still milk and cheese seperated because I didn’t want to double boil it or anything, but when I mixed it with the cooked and strained pasta, it seemed okay. This pasta was good hot, not so good room-temp post refrigeration the next day. Also, I had to eat some of the pasta then and there in order to seal the container. (This was way too much food– I only ate the pasta and was full the rest of the day!)

I also finally got enough courage to eat a kumquat! I got 3 for I think $0.33 (total!) at Wegman’s and had Dan try one before I did. I really like the peel, it’s sweet, almost candied tasting, but the inside is so sour! It really does taste like a Warhead back from elementary school. What can I say, I’m a sucker for pain.

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