March 25, 2015

Weekend Fun Series!

Weekends are the best days to look forward to, especially after a week of standard work days (where realistically, nothing too exciting happens). I think the appeal in weekends are the excuse to lounge, spend time with people you care about, and refuel for another ambitious week ahead.

A few weekends ago Bao and I made a trip back to Pennsylvania to his parents' home to see friends, family and his adorable wolf/bear hybrid (in actuality a Siberian Husky) dog, Rocky. Ever since moving to the DC area for a job opportunity, Bao's gone back every other week to his hometown.
We started off with a drive up to Philadelphia Friday evening to celebrate the birthdays of three friends. Bao started a tradition of stopping at Wawa's every trip to get a short break and usually a hot coffee for the road; I've come to look forward to it every time I join him on his trips back home. We all met up at Frankford Hall for drinks and laughs, and made our way home late after midnight. The drive to his parents' house was hilarious blasting music to stay awake :)

After goofing around with Rocky a bit and getting a few hours of sleep, we got up the next morning to do a little outlet shopping and stop by one of our favorite breakfast spots. The backroads to get to the outlets are always fun, local winding paths that lead us to our delectable first location.

Mal's American Diner
4006 Skippack Pike
Skippack, PA 19474
The first time we came here, it was late into Autumn and we were heavily interested in their pumpkin-themed menu. I remember ordering a pumpkin spice waffle topped with THREE scoops of homemade icecream and fresh whipped cream! Incredibly indulgent but worth every single bite. This time around, we had to go for the waffles again. I opted for the original waffle topped with a generous helping of chocolate chips while Bao got an apple spice waffle topped with fresh whipped cream and caramelized apples. We balanced the sweetness with a savory side of hashbrowns that were full of sauteed onions (drenched in hot sauce).
Comfortably fueled for a shopping trip, we made our way to the outlets and picked up some groceries for dinner. Bao makes amazing grilled steaks and decided to make a delicious dinner for us and his family.
First, he prepped the steaks by salting them for a few minutes, then coating with cracked black pepper.
While the steaks were sitting, he chopped up some white onions and tossed in an aluminum tray with basil, minced garlic, avocado oil and butter.
After searing on a hot cast iron for a few minutes each side (never flip over on the same side twice), Bao packed more freshly crushed peppercorns and placed them in the herb tray from early to finish off in the oven.
After popping the steaks in the oven for another 10 minutes (at 375 degrees), you're ready to enjoy!
After another comfortable night in snuggling with the boyfriend and Rocky, we got up the next morning to get ready for our drive home. Of course not before a hearty meal (haha!).

128 N Main Street
Souderton, PA 18984
This location is definitely a hole in the wall, I never would have noticed it had Bao not pointed it out. He knew of this little eatery from his mountain biking trips last summer with his friend Dave. After every tough run through the woods, Bao and Dave would refuel with a delicious meal here. I was so excited to try this authentic Mexican restaurant!

When we first walked in, I was a little confused since it was a small grocery store. As you walk towards the back wall, there's a doorway that leads you to this kitchen with a few tables lined along the wall. You could smell the most aromatic deliciousness coming from the authentic grill, with two friendly women smiling behind the counter.
After debating on the menu (everything sounded so delicious), I chose the Steak Mexican Style: cooked with onion, tomato and sweet peppers, served with rice, refried beans, cheese, avocado and amazing warm corn tortillas. Bao got the Cuban Torta (get ready for all the ingredients) with steak, cow's tongue, chili, garlic flavored sausage, chicken, salted steak, ham, refried beans, avocado, cheese, onion and lettuce, all on a freshly baked sour dough roll. My dish was only $8.50, and Bao's was $7! SUPER steal and the food was all incredible.
The decor was also beautiful, and the contrasting gold and purple walls are a nice, colorful touch.
I'm definitely looking forward to coming back here on our trips, hopefully you get a chance to find this gem too!

Until next time!

Stay Hungry,

March 23, 2015

New &Pizza Location!

When I think of my favorite dishes of all time, pizza always comes to mind. My mom and I love any kinds of pasta, freshly baked bread, cheese (and everything of the like) so we were excited to hear a new pizza place was opening down the street. After a busy morning of running errands, we excitedly made our way to &Pizza for a hearty lunch.

19823 Century Blvd
Germantown, MD 20874
When my family and I first walked into the restaurant, we noticed a long marble table down the center of the space and a line along the wall to match. There weren't any signs that we noticed at first, so we were a little confused on pricing and how to order. Following the end of the line of customers, we noticed the long station of various toppings and figured the customizable setup.
My mom and I decided to split a pizza since they looked fairly large, and she literally wanted every single topping (Give me one of everything! Yes... yes everything." haha). The options are quite vast, ranging from different kinds of vegetables, proteins, finishes and oils. Take a look at the menu here! The dough is already set out on small black trays (to bake on) and like an assembly line, three people behind a glass put on your desired toppings.
**Disclaimer: Whenever I try a new place, I usually bring my nicer camera (well known fact, a DSLR is significantly larger than a point and shoot) so I always make sure to ask the owner/manager of the establishment if it's alright to take photos. The manager was incredibly friendly and gave me the green light to post on my blog.**

Of all the toppings we had, the ones I enjoyed most were: artichoke hearts, caramelized onions, the local mushroom blend (roasted) spinach, meatballs, salami, smoked bacon, basil, arugula, cherry tomatoes, crumbled goat and feta cheese, all topped with an egg. I loved the egg option on top since you don't see that everywhere. That wasn't even half the toppings! Normally I go for various cheeses and mushrooms, but this pizza was wonderful in it's overloaded glory.
I'm not completely sure what my brother ended up getting but his pizza was significantly smaller than ours (in terms of the ingredient-stack). The dough was on the thinner side, reminding me of a more authentic crust than most pie restaurants and was perfectly baked to a light crisp. Normally I prefer a thicker crust for the bite, but this crust wasn't hollow like I might've expected. My mom couldn't stop raving about how delicious everything was, in addition to the great $9 price for a completely customizable pizza.

Once we started to clean up, the manager made some rounds to ask each customer how their meal experience was, and even brought out a dessert pie for my family! &Pizza's dessert pie had white chocolate sauce, four berry blend, sweet ricotta, powdered sugar and agave syrup. On the same lightly crisped dough, this was a great end to our meal.
I'd definitely recommend stopping by here for a larger portioned lunch (less than $12 for a pizza and drink)! I hear a lot of locations popping up around the area so hopefully you get a chance to try any of the locations scattered throughout DC and Maryland.

Until next time!

Stay Hungry,

March 12, 2015

Dinner at Deb's; Burgers, Flatbread and Birthday Cake!

After a hectic few days of snow, work, and overall busy schedules, a few friends and I were able to get together to celebrate our dearest Deb's birthday (a week late but better late than never)! With all our crazy schedules and distance (Kim moved to Baltimore, I was coming from Virginia, Jenny was in Hawaii for school), it was nice to finally get together again for the amazing dinners and conversation. As evening approached, I made my way to Deb's always inviting home for another great night.
Although this warm weather is a little unbelievable (I was just snowed in last week!), our plans to grill burgers outdoors fell through because of the rain the night before. Regardless, Deb already had her famous burgers marinated with all kinds of delicious ingredients and spices and started grilling them on the hot cast iron. 

As an appetizer, Deb crafted some beautiful flatbreads topped with caramelized red onions, thinly sliced zucchini, fresh roma tomatoes, basil, parmesan, bleu cheese crumbles, cracked pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. (The finished dish is pictured above)
While this was getting toasty in the oven, the chef already set up bacon strips on an oven rack and a bowl of sweet caramelized onions as additional toppers to our burgers. Look how beautifully laid out the bacon is!
Soon after a bit of catching up, we sat down to assemble our burgers. They resemble the perfectly crafted "Krabby Patties" on Spongebob Squarepants, haha! The spicy burger patties laid on soft french brioche buns.

After quickly devouring our burgers and flatbread (maybe everyone else enjoyed their food at a moderate speed, mine was gone within minutes), we prepped for dessert. I wanted to surprise Deb with her birthday cake so when she asked me about dessert, I pretended to know of no such thing. It worked out since she made her amazing chocolate molten lava cakes with Kim's raspberry reduction as a perfect pairing. Here are a few photos of previous times she's made this amazing dessert:
At this point we were all pretty full (as Deb proceeded to instruct us on how to engage your core for hip bridges from her personal training sessions, haha!) we started setting up the cake to sing for her birthday.
No secret to anyone that knows Deb, is her favorite gelato. I wish I'd have taken a photo of her freezer since everyone gifts jars and jars of Talenti gelato (the selection is more extensive than a supermarket)! I had to make a cake that reflected one of her favorite flavors, Mediterranean Mint.
Needless to say, she really loved the cake! Under the vanilla and chocolate fondant is a simple butter cake (intended to be drizzled with tres leches to match her cupcakes). After a few silly photos and admiring the gold candle that miraculously burned clean without drips, Deb showed us her beautiful whiskey gifts!
(As you can see in this photo, the candle was burning without a drip with absolutely no problem!)

Although I much rather prefer wine, Deb has an appreciation for well-crafted whiskeys. I just admired the beautiful design and clean type!

After more attempts to recover from the incredible meal we just finished, we somehow ended up taking a time lapse of silly photos (okay it was 100% my idea). There were some issues getting the photos to show up on this post, so here are the links! Any easier suggestions for making gifs? I used, but the size limitation was a bit of a bummer.

Silly Gif 1

Silly Gif 2

Silly Gif 3 (my favorite, Kim's action gif hahaha!)

We all could have goofed around for hours but finally made our ways back home early into the morning hours. Happy happy birthday to such an incredible soul, we love you!

Until next time!

Stay hungry,

March 5, 2015

Friend's Quarter Century and PlayStation Cake!

It's incredible how quickly February flew by, can anyone believe it's already March? A month full of birthdays and wedding/birthday cakes, I'm sure this one will go just as quickly. Hopefully the blizzard today let many of you rest and enjoy a warm day indoors.

Last night, Bao and I met up with our good friends Hoang and Lisa to celebrate Hoang's quarter century birthday. It was so nice to meet up with hilarious company, I completely forgot to take photos of our food! Although the food was great, nothing beats quality time with people you care about.

Lisa planned a wonderful surprise dinner for her boyfriend, complete with a custom cake order and Hoang's favorite cupcakes! Knowing how much Hoang and Bao love their Playstation game, Destiny, we brainstormed on the game theme and came up with a "Hunter" symbol cake. 

As for the Tres Leches cupcakes, the cake was a classic french vanilla, injected with tres leches (coconut milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk) and a dollop of dulce de leche caramel, topped with cream cheese frosting and another drizzle of dulce de leche! Needless to say, these cupcakes were fairly weighted and rightly so ;)

With sweets in tow, we all met up at the restaurant on the rainy evening.

Sweetwater Tavern
3066 Gateway Plaza
Falls Church, VA 22042

We were promptly seated at the restaurant, and we looked forward to the delicious beignet-style starters that come to each table. Perfectly doughy, these are the best start to a meal. We had a decadent and delicious meal of "Drunken Ribeye", lobster bisque, jambalaya, filet mignon and baby back ribs (thank you Lisa!!!). After a perfect meal, we prepped for dessert.
The best part of all the time and effort put into a cake is definitely seeing how much it means to the recipient. Cakes are definitely a labor of love! As Hoang's first custom cake ever, I was so happy to see how much it meant to him. Lisa is the sweetest girlfriend for organizing the perfect surprise!

Overall, it was a great night of laughs and catching up. I'm lucky to call you guys my friends :) Happy 25th birthday Hoang!

Until next time!

Stay Hungry,

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