Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dinner at Jaleo in Washington, DC

Our last meal in DC was by far the best - Jose Andres' Jaleo.  Definitely the best Spanish food I've had outside of Spain, and considering the ridic amount of food we ordered, it was pretty well priced.  The only negative comment was that they ran out of octopus, but the calamari we ordered was pretty freaking amazing and almost wholly made up for it.  Everything was perfectly cooked and seasoned and each was special and added something to the meal.  And despite all the food we ate, I didn't feel gross afterwards. 
Sangria was excellent.  Had a little bit of umph in it

Jamón ibérico Fermín - Cured ham from the legendary acorn-fed, black-footed ibérico pigs of Spai.  Better than any ham you can get at a store here
Idiazábal cheese - A smoked, nutty-flavored sheep‘s milk cheese paired with house-made quince paste.  The cheese itself was wonderfully nutty but the paste blew my mind.  Together it was perfection.
Buñuelos de bacalao - Fried cod and potato fritters with honey aioli.  The fritters were perfectly crunch yet soft inside and the honey aioli was a perfect complement.
Warm green bean salad with apricots, apples and serrano ham.  The dressing was so light but there was still a great contrast with the warmth of the beans and ham.

Gambas al ajillo - shrimp sautéed with garlic with some tomato sauce.  Nice and garlic-y but I would have preferred it without the tomato

Lomo de buey de Valdeon - Grilled hanger steak with mustard sauce and Valdeón blue cheese.  Perfectly cooked with great charred flavor.  I loved the blue cheese but it was VERY blue.  I only wish there had been more meat

We tried to order octopus but they ran out :(  Instead we ordered Calamari seared on the 'plancha' with traditional squid ink and white rice.  So tender and meaty and the rice was so moist and great just eating with the ink. 

Some of the best flan we've ever had.  Classic spanish custard with ‘espuma’ of Catalan cream and orange.  The whipped cream was so vanilla-y it tasted almost like ice cream. So freaking good with the slight hint of orange.

Brunch at Scion in Washington, DC

I took Dan to Scion for one of the best brunches in DC.  Last time I went to Scion I thought it had the best breakfast potatoes I ever had, and this experience definitely confirmed that was still true.  The potatoes are just perfect thickness yet still crispy.  We ordered a little too much food but it was all totally worth the food coma aftermath.  It was fine since we walked a lot afterwards in the heat.

Fresh fruit buffet included with our entrees

Bottomless bloody mary and mimosa.  Not watered down hooray

The beginning of our downfall - Potato Nachos - Breakfast Potatoes Smothered with Bacon, Cheese, Tomatoes and Fried Jalapenos.  This was definitely the best part of the meal.  I ate so much before my entree came I was already kinda full.  Next time I could definitely just order this as my meal

Lobster Hash - Lobster Meat, Red Potatoes, Bacon, Poached Eggs, Old Bay Hollandaise.  Rich and delicious

Home-made egg scramble with spinach, cheddar, tomatoes, mushrooms, and bacon.  Plus breakfast potatoes.  Amazing

Lunch at the District of Pi in Washington, DC

First meal in DC for wedding weekend was gluten-free pizza at The District of Pi.  The salad appetizer was actually my favorite part of the meal.  It tasted so fresh and healthy and was a great way to start off the meal because it made me eat less pizza.  The pizza itself had great toppings.  Decent crust, though honestly I thought Domino's gluten free crust is better eeep.  But still solid effort.
Kale-fornication: Tuscan kale, sprouted quinoa, pickled red onion, toasted chickpeas, toasted almonds, grape tomatoes.  Instead of buttermilk dressing got raspberry vinaigrette.  The whole thing was AMAZING.  Plus pizza dough bread on the side.

Maplewood pizza - mozzarella, house-made spicy Italian sausage, cherry peppers, fontina and fresh basil.  Loved the combo of cheeses and meat plus the fresh basil on top.  Each bite was delish.

Grove pizza - mozzarella, volpi sopressata, red chilies, fresh oregano, spicy tomato sauce.  I liked this slightly less because it was a little bit spicy for me liking.  Fresh ingredients and great taste though

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dinner at Jimmy Chung's in Edinburgh, UK

Actually I lied and we had one more meal in Edinburgh that I forgot to mention, but maybe because it was so horrendously bad I was trying to forget.  After a 12 hour trip to Loch Ness we came back to Edinburgh and it was raining - for once true Scottish weather.  There was a Chinese buffet right by the bus station and after all the heavy food we had it seemed like a nice change.  This was downright the worst Chinese food I've ever had.  Add that it was a buffet and I still couldn't find anything good or memorable and you have some sad Chinese food.  The only green food was some raw cucumber and terribly sauced broccoli.  Majority of the other food was fried and you couldn't really differentiate it.  Even the dessert was bad!  They used fresh bananas in a fritter instead of plaintains.  Shame shame.  But I guess in Europe they might have a lower standard for Chinese food.  I wasn't fooled though.

Dinner at the Doric in Edinburgh, UK

Our final real meal in Edinburgh was at the Doric, which is apparently the oldest gastropub in Edinburgh. We were almost and hour late for our reservation and the kitchen was about to close, but they kindly stayed open and delivered one of our best meals.  It was a ton of food and very heavy, but again very delicious.
The last flavor of Thistly Cross Cider I tried - whisky cask!  By far my favorite of all of them

Slow braised lamb shank with honey and thyme roasted root vegetables, creamy mash, and a Sangiovese red wine sauce.  The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender

Baked whole Seabass Dressed in a Provencal dressing of garlic, rosemary, tomato and basil, served with baby potatoes.  My mom got this and we were all surprised that all the bones were there because usually only Filipinos enjoy that ha

Char grilled Veal Chop marinated and served with gratin dauphinoise potatoes and topped with a winter vegetable casserole.  The meat was so tender and delicious but the creamy sauce on top made it pretty heavy.  Potatoes and root veggies were wonderful though very filling

Lunch at the Royal Deck Tea Room on the Royal Yacht Brittania in Edinburgh, UK

We had quite the busy day and didn't end up eating lunch til about 4pm because we were running around doing everything planned for the day except eating.  Fortunately we had that hearty breakfast to tide us over.  We kind of sped through the tour of the Royal Yacht so we could make it to the Tea Room before closing, and good thing because it was a great meal.  I just heart scones and clotted cream so that's what I ate, plus their spiced chips were amazing along with the garlic aioli.  My parents' sandwiches were fine too but the scone and chips took the cake for me.

Cappuccino - beautifully blended

Scone with jam and clotted cream.  I could eat this all day.  Also the scone was giant about the size of a hamburger.

Shetland oak smoked salmon sandwich with lemon, cracked black pepper cream cheese on wholemeal bread.  With cullen skink soup and smoked paprika potato wedges.  The potato wedges were the best part of this.

My dad's Ayrshire honey roasted ham, tomato, and grainy mustard sandwich on  white bread.  Plus Ayrshire smoked ham hough and pea soup and smoked paprika potato wedges

Breakfast at Jury's Inn in Edinburgh, UK

As part of our booking deal we got free breakfast in the hotel everyday.  There was actually a great mix of hot and cold food and it was all pretty good considering it was hotel food.  The first day I went a little cray-cray to get my full Scottish breakfast.  Very similar to an English breakfast haha.

Hash brown, egg on top, beans, chocolate croissant, bacon, and tomato

Lots of fresh fruit

Dinner at Whiski Bar in Edinburgh, UK

My dad selected Whiski Bar for dinner because they have live music each night.  When we arrived it was 9pm and no live music yet, but that was good because we got to enjoy our meal and talk before crazy loud bagpipes and singing.  Not to say that the music wasn't good, because it was, just saying it was nice to have a meal where we could hear.  I didn't think I would be even able to eat dinner because lunch was so filling, but somehow managed despite the heaviness of it all.  Again, a great traditional Scottish meal.  And more Thistly Cross Cider, though this one was less easy to go down.

My Thistly Cross Strawberry Cider and my mom's Appletiser - sparkling apple juice

This was very sweet and little much to drink with a full meal

Light and bubbly.  Opposite of difficulty as mine

Spicy Tiger Prawns - pan fried in a spicy sauce and served with crusty bread.  Super delicous and tasted almost like a lobster chowder but with shrimp and just a tad bit of spice.

My dad's Fish and Chips - battered haddock, chips, peas, and chunky tartar sauce

My steak and ale pie - scottish beef marinated in a special ale gravy served with fries and seasonal vegetables.  I was a bit surprised that the meat wasn't IN the pastry but was basically a deconstructed pie

A shot of the plate with pastry on the side.  Don't get me wrong - it was delicious and I think less heavy because the flaky pastry was on the side.  It was just surprising.  I finished nearly the entire plate though minus a few chips

Lunch at Howie's Restaurant in Edinburgh, UK

This post will be my first from my trip to Edinburgh with the parents.  This restaurant which my dad picked out had a great lunch deal of 2 courses for under 10 pounds.  Super good deal and we got to try a lot of authentic Scottish dishes.  The restaurant was walking distance from our hotel and seemed to have a mix of both locals and tourists.  Great way to start off the trip.
Bread and butter
The beginning of my love affair for Thistly Cross Cider - this was the traditional flavor.  I don't really know what that means since there's an original flavor, but delicous and smooth and fruity.

Appetizer portion of traditional haggis, neeps, and tatties.  Haggis seems to be some kind of meat innard blends.  Neeps are mashed turnips and tatties are mashed potatoes.  I actually enjoy the haggis a lot despite not knowing what it was.

Traditional Cullen Skink - smoked fish, leeks, potatoes and cream chowder with Artisan bread

Pan Fried Wood Pigeon Breast with buckwheat & beetroot pancake and a juniper jus -  I really wanted to like this but the meat was so tough and gamy.  The pancake also kind of had no taste, so couldn't even counter the strong unfriendly taste of the meat.  At least I can say I've tried pigeon now haha

Scottish Salmon Fillet served with sunblush tomato rosti and a garden pea & mint velouté - my dad got this and it was very well cooked
A special of the day - cod with capers and lemon sauce.  Very well cooked again.  The fish just melted in your mouth

Grilled Mackerel Fillet with roast potatoes, bacon, wilted spinach, sauce gribiche - the fish was delicious but the potatoes in bacon etc. were even better

Better view of my meal.  The potatoes and spinach were sinfully bacon-y

Black Cherry and Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding with organ scented Creme Anglaise - now i don't generally like fruit in my desserts but this was pretty amazing, esp. due to the creme anglaise.  I was already full but had a few bites and tasted almost custard-like with a great mix of chocolate and light fruitiness.

Brunch at Hamilton Inn in Jersey City, NJ

We were in Hoboken but couldn't find anywhere to eat brunch, so instead went to Jersey City for some tried-and-true brunch at The Hamilton Inn.  We got to eat outside on a gorgeous spring day and had a great meal.  The food portions are never too big, just the right amount to feel full but not disgusting.  The drinks are also really wonderful.  Always a good choice for brunch.

My Lamb Burger with tzatziki, picked onions, and crumbled feta, with fries

Close-up of the inside of my burger

Pear Bellini and Bacon Bloody Mary. 

Dan's BBQ Brisket Benedict