10 amazinglicious days in Sicilia (feat. 36 fantabulous hours in Roma)

I don’t even know where to start‘ was in my mind when I sat down to write about our trip to Sicily, or Sicilia, and 9 months have passed since then. I’ve finally decided to finish thing post, and now I get to relive it! So, here we go.

My all-time favorite movie is Cinema Paradiso directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. While I absolutely love the music by Ennio Morricone, what most appeals to me in the movie is the small town where Toto and Alfredo share their friendship. Most scenes were filmed in Palazzo Adriano, a remote town located between Palermo and Agrigento. Visiting Sicilia and going to that little town was one of my biggest dreams and dreams do come true!

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As we were approaching Palazzo Adriano, my heart started to pound like crazy. Everything there was just as they were in the movie. No time seemed to have passed in this little town. We were guided into a little “museum” at THE square; as soon as the lady who led us there turned on the music from the movie, I LOST IT. I am guessing she’s seen quite a few people like me before, because she just had this smile on her face and said nothing. Just thinking about that day makes me tear up right now. 

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Alfredo’s bike was still there, pictures of famous scenes from the movie were hanging up on the wall. I honestly could have spent the whole day sitting at a corner at the square, sipping on espresso, talking to some old folks there and would have been completely happy. Then again, we had some food to eat!

Now, back to the point: FOOD. Aside from all things we loved about Sicilia, here’s what we ate, in the order it was devoured!

1. Palemo fish.pngTrattoria da Salvo (Corso Tukory 156, 90134, Palermo, Sicily, Italy) – Fish, fresh seafood, grilled and lightly seasoned. That’s it. And that’s all we needed.

2. Palermo gelato.png

Antica Gelateria Lucchese (Piazza S. Domenico, 11, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy) – One gelato a day is a must and we religiously followed that rule! The most incredible flavor was pistachio, which tasted completely different from what I am used to tasting in 14,000 year old store bought crap in the States….!

3. Palermo market.pngMercato della Vucciria (Via Coltellieri, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy) – Markets are the best. Fresh ingredients, lots to munch, so many stories.

Palermo Food Tour (Foodies of Palermo through AirBnb) – I strongly recommend taking this food tour on your day 1 in Palermo. Our guide Salvo was extremely knowledgeable and witty. Not only did he give us delicious food, he also took us everywhere and told us so much about the city and the people. Things we ate: pani ca meusa (spleen sandwich, yes, you heard me correctly), gelato in brioche (it’s a thing, and it’s a beautiful thing), panelle (Sicilian fritters made with chickpea flour), arancini (deep-fried stuffed rice balls), sfincione (Sicilian pizza), Sicilian wine and OLIVES!

6. Palermo fish shop.png(Oh, did I mention that Italian guys are super hot?! I repeat, Italian men are HOT! I wanted to buy all the fish he had in his fish shop. Prego.)

11. cefalu.pngLocanda del Marinaio (Via Porpora, 5, 90015 Cefalù PA, Italy) – Every single pasta dish on this trip was cooked just perfectly. Cefalu is such a perfect daytrip destination if you are looking for something to do near Palermo. The romantic train ride from Palermo to Cefalu will take you to this shoreside town full of charm.

12. palazzo adriano.pngRistorante Pizzeria Del Viale (Via Venti Settembre 2, 90030 Palazzo Adriano, Sicily Italy) – This is the only restaurant in Palazzo Adriano and this IS the best restaurant. The cook/owner did not speak a word of English. She kept asking us questions with some hand gestures and we just said, “si, si”. We ended up with too much food; or is there such a thing as too much food if that food is absolutely delish…!

13. agrigento.pngOutdoor Cafeteria at the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) – This actually makes me kind of sad. Even cafeteria salads in Sicilia tasted amazing. It’s the ingredients. A fresh, well-grown tomato does not need any seasoning or sauce. I really enjoyed my meal at this cafeteria with the beautiful Greek ruins behind me. Why can’t we get this food quality/freshness at home?

14. turkish steps.pngLounge Beach Scala dei Turchi (Strada Provinciale 68, 182, 92010, Realmonte, Sicily, Italy) – Scala dei Turchi (aka Turkish Steps) is a gorgeous white rock cliff. A scene from the movie Malena (another great movie!) was also filmed here. While gazing at the natural beauty, a sip of aperol spritz is just perfect.

 

Antonio’s AirBnb Cottage (Canicatti, Sicily, Italy) – Antonio hosts guest from all over the world in his charming home located in this little town. With a very reasonable extra fee, he will cook for you and HE CAN COOK! This 10 course dinner consisted of a few local goat cheeses paired with pistachio cream and homemade jams, a pasta dish, an eggplant dish, a couple of seafood dishes, a couple of desserts including the cactus fruit and wine and booze! Homemade food at its finest! If you are headed west from Agrigento, his place is definitely worth a stop just for the food itself.

17. modica.pngBottega Sicula (Corso Umberto I, 128, 97015 Modica RG, Italy) – A quick sweet fix on our way to Siracusa from Ragusa. On this trip, we found a hidden sweet tooth side of my I-am-not-a-dessert-person hubby. Oh, did we crush this thing.

 

I Monasteri Golf Resort & Spa (Traversa Monasteri di Sotto, 3, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy) – A hotel restaurant isn’t usually my first choice of a meal, but every single meal at this place was unbelievable! Also, the fox. The first night we walked out to the outdoor dining area, we saw an animal around tables. I was thinking, ‘no way that’s a fox,’ and asked the waiter. “What is that?” “It’s a fox.” What an oddly awesome experience! Magical things happen in Sicilia.

 

Caffe Sicilia (Corso Vittorio Emanuele 125 96017 Noto, Italy ) – Just before our trip to Sicilia, Netflix released their new episode of Chef’s Table introducing this pastry shop. I was watching the episode drooling, but also said to myself, “terrible timing.” I wanted to go there before it was filled with tourists from the TV craze. Well, it wasn’t that bad after all, and everything there was completely heavenly indeed. Canoli, cassata, and the almond granita……. Mmm……………………………. I could still feel the texture in my mouth…….

 

Caseificio Borderi (Via Emmanuele de Benedictis, 6, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy) – If you are in Siracusa, you have to stand in line for an hour, starve yourself, let the sandwich maker tease you with a piece of meat or cheese right before you die of hunger and then stuff your face with a ginormous sandwich at this place. Andrea is such a character. He’s a talker. I really wished I could speak Italian while standing in line, because people giggled and laughed every time he said something – even the intimidating looking uomini did, too. The sandwich buns are almost invisible by the time they are loaded with layers of fresh ingredients. Deliciousness overload! A visit to Siracusa won’t be complete without eating a sandwich here.

21 taormina.pngOsteria Villa Zuccaro (Corso Umberto, I 38, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy) – We had not eaten any pizza until we got to Taormina. There’s so much more than pizza and pasta in Sicilia, but pizza is damn good! The crust was just exquisite.

La Capinera (Via Nazionale, 177, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy) – This Michelin star restaurant is a short taxi ride from the busy town center. It was a chilly night and we got to have the whole outdoor dining section by the water to ourselves for a while. Impeccable service, great food and excellent wine pairing. Chef Pietro D’Agostino came out to the table and explained about every single dish we had. We totally spoiled ourselves here. One of the best meals on this trip!

23 taormina.pngLido Il Delphino (Via Nazionale 140 | Fraz. Mazzarò, 98039, Taormina, Sicily, Italy) – There is no such thing as a bad meal in Sicilia. Italian people in general seem to take pride in their food (as they should). Without Yelping or anything, we walked into random restaurants we ran into and the food was always delicious. I read somewhere that Italian people don’t really care about the Michelin star status; ‘why should someone else tell us how good our already-great-food is’? I totally get it.

 

Aloha Mare (Via Lungo Mare 102, Bivio per Savoca, 98028 Santa Teresa di Riva, Sicily, Italy) – Leaving Savoca, where the famous wedding scene from the Godfather was filmed, we asked some local people where we could find good seafood. And this place hit the spot. Seafood in Sicilia is unquestionably the best. Again, it’s so fresh. They don’t overseason it, overcook it or smother it with heavy sauce. As a huge seafood lover, Sicilia was a utopia.

 

Quattrochchiacchiere (Via Monsignor Domenico Orlando, 13, 95126 Catania CT, Italy) – We did not get to do much in Catania, but we always manage to have a nice meal fit in our schedule. The staff at Airone Hotel gave a couple of recommendations for dinner for our last night in Sicilia. The salumi board had way too much meat and cheese for two of us, but every single bite was absolutely delightful. Then, our main course, mortadella and pistachio pizza, came out. I had never seen such a combination before, or I had never tasted anything that delicious before…! On this trip, I fell in love with mortadella. Mortadella is amazing; well-made one. Duh.

27 rome.pngAfter 10 amazinglicous days in Sicilia, we had 36 hours in Rome before our return. It wasn’t enough time to see everything Rome has to offer, so we decided to do a quick e-bike tour and watch a football (if you call it soccer, that’s fine too) game. Some luck we had, though. That one day happened to be the notorious Derby della Capitale (Roma Derby) day! After these beautiful looking slices of pizza, we went into the stadium for the our grand finale of our trip. Roma Derby itself is an experience you don’t want to miss!

This trip was definitely more than just eating good food, even though food was by far the best part of it. We might have been to a couple of dozens of restaurants but, the sad thing is, there are still so much more that we didn’t get to dine at. I would love to go back to Sicilia someday.

Should you want to know more about our trip, please feel free to reach out to me: Twitter or Instagram. Prego!

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2017!

Oh my, oh my, where do I even begin? Maybe I should state that I have gained 5lbs for the last 3 days and now I’m bleeding cheese and brats?😂 

We go on this baseball/food trip every year. The destination this year was Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

When we got to the airport (MKE), we found this amazing thing: exclusive Uber pick-up zone! DCA (or taxi drivers in the DMV area?) seem to kind of mind people using Uber. However, MKE has designated a spot near Baggage Claim 1 for Uber pick-ups. No more calling the driver trying to explain where the heck you are!

Our Airbnb place was located right off Brady Street, which has fun bars, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. Everything was open late even though it was a Thursday night. 

We got to our place quite late but decided to try this Japanese ramen place, Red Light Ramen, that night. No one wants to be around hangry family! 

The most interesting thing on the menu was this “Whipped Spam”. Yes, spam. It is served with thin sheets of seaweed, aka nori, pickles and spicy mayo. We had to try it because no one had ever seen anything like this before. You gotta. Verdict? Not bad. It was a little salty (to me), but it tasted much better than we anticipated. I know even the word, Spam, itself gives some people cringes. To be honest, I do not mind it at all; I actually like it! Pan-fried spam and a piece of kimchi over hot white rice? Mmmmm. Anyway, that was our first night!

The food tour. On our annual  baseball/food trips, we seem to do this pretty much everywhere we go. With our limited time and lack of knowledge, it makes sense. We get to go to several different restaurants and try many kinds of food in a short period time.

Our first stop was Zaffiro’s Pizza. It was the original location, which was established in 1954. You can totally tell that it has been there forever: the signs, decor, etc. Now they have multiple locations including the one at Miller Park!

The pizza, though…! It definitely wasn’t my go-to, greasy NY style pizza. When they said “thin crust pizza”, I thought of Ledo pizza. It was something completely different! They cook their SUPER thin dough first and flip it. Then, they put their toppings on the dough. The dough is thinner than saltine crackers! The crunchiness and delicious toppings make it my new favorite style pizza now!

Second stop was La Masa, an empanada bar. We tried Argentine beef, pork and cheese/spinach. All of them were good but personal favorite was pork. 

More importantly, their coleslaw was a hit! It was quite different from the traditional coleslaw we get at a supermarket. Jicama adds a very unique taste and texture!

Our next stop was Peter Sciortino Bakery. We actually happen to go there before the food tour that morning to get pastries. We ended up getting way more than what we were planning on getting for breakfast but that’s what happens when you go to a good bakery, right? In fact, this bakery makes breads pretty much for the whole town. Their kitchen was up and running around midnight!

On the food tour, we got to taste their cannolis. I hate it when the shell is all soggy from sitting there too long. These were just perfect. Who says we can’t have desserts between meals, by the way! 😉

Next, we went to Glorioso’s Supermarket. It is a family-owned Intalian store with all kinds of goodies, which makes it a very dangerous for foodies! We had a nice spread of olives, hams, cheese, bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Next stop, which was our last food spot, was Red Lion Pub. This pot pie definitely filled us up! This place has a nice deck upstairs. The best feature was this “pool table” where you play pool with a soccer ball!⚽️ How fun!! Apprently, this place is a hot spot for local people to watch soccer matches. I would live at this restaurant if I lived in Milwaukee. 

Our LAST last stop was Wolski’s Tavern. You would never guess that a bar is located in this quite residential neighborhood. No frills, but just great atmosphere, good local beers on tap, some games to play and a pretty backyard where you can sit outside and enjoy your drinks. 

Walking out of the bar later, we noticed that these “I closed Wolski’s” stickers were EVERYWHERE. Apparently, everyone in this town has closed this bar once or twice. 😉

This food tour company seems to offer a lot of food tour options. I even saw their own tour buses. There are other parts of town you can walk around and taste delicious food as well. I would have been definitely interested in doing their German food tour but the only option we had for our schedule was this Brady Street food tour. Brady Street is such a fun, lively neighborhood so it can’t go wrong. Food was good, but also, it is great to walk around the town and hear fun stories and find out about hidden history from a local tour guide. We asked our awesome tour guide, Mary Jo, what happens if it rains. She said, “you gotta bring your own sunshine”☀️😎 Love that!

After the food tour, we walked to Lakefront Brewery. Didn’t get to do too much there but we did get a beer and sat by the water. 

Later that afternoon, we went to Jack’s American Pub for fish fry and fried cheese curds. Of course, we didn’t forget to get Bloody Mary’s. Yes, with beef jerky stick and cheese strings!
I still can’t get over how much fun Milwaukeeans have! Jack’s American Pub offers free rides to/from Brewers games to their customers. You can drink on the shuttle too! How cool is that? Why aren’t bars in DC/NOVA doing this already? Who’s in charge? Hello?⚾️🚌🍺

At the Brewers game, which happened to be against the Nats (GO, NATS!), even though we were so full from all the food we ate at Jack’s, we had to eat the brats. Don’t forget to try the secret sauce! By the way, it is a beautiful ball park. The fans are so much fun too. Our ride back to Brady Street was quite interesting. Party must go on.

Next morning, before we left Milwaukee, we wanted to check out Milwaukee Public Market. Markets never disappoint. Delicious breakfast sandwiches, so many cheeses, LOTS OF brats, fun t-shirts. Too bad we didn’t get to see the ourtdoor part of it, for we had to go up north to see family. One more day would have been perfect but, oh well, this way, we have a reason to go back.

Even with family in Northern Wisconsin, we ate VERY WELL. This picture has three kinds of brats: Bloody Mary, beer & cheddar and garlic & onion. Yummy!

​On our way back to the airport, we got to party HAM in the car thanks to our Lyft driver, Glowstick Tom, who provided us with glow sticks, a disco ball, a fog machine and hand-picked music videos! Never experienced anything like this before and I don’t think we will in the near future. 😂👍

I love where I live right now, but people in Wisconsin definitely seem friendlier and more fun, in a sense. We will pick another city for our baseball/food trip next year, but I would love to go back to Milwaukee and further experience what it has to offer. 

Now, I can enjoy this small piece of Wisconsin I brought from the market.

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend!

Rose’s Luxury – Roof Garden Tasting Menu

When two friends have birthdays in July, what do we do? We have a fancy birthday celebration at Rose’s Luxury

I still remember the first time I ate there. It was totally worth the wait. This time, it was even better because we had a reservation!

This beautiful rooftop garden (that I would just pass by on my way to the restroom upstairs😂) welcomed us when we got there. One of the birthday girls, “C”, had to stay online and refresh their reservation page 15,000 times to get this. The competition is intense! Special thanks to C for your fast click skills!

We basically sat there for 4 hours and kept eating and drinking. That’s what I call a great life!😁 What was even better, I didn’t have to experience that anxiety/agony/suffering at Komi, where I was asked not to take any pictures of the food. Food was great but every time they brought out beautiful dishes, I gotta say, a little part of me died. No picture, no blog post. Oh well. 

So, here are the pictures from our lavish birthday party!

Rye Challah / with whipped honey-caraway butter and sea salt 

Pheasant “Mortadella” / with pistachio, Dijon & red onion 

Stuff Date / with cultured butter

Artichoke Leaf / with barigoule & smoked trout roe

Kung Pao Tofu / with broccoli, Virginia peanuts & pea shoots (Well, most of us were Asian. When they brought out the Chinese to-go paper containers, for a split second, some of us thought, ‘they are not serving this because we are…?’😂)

Carrots “Pastrami” / with smoked butter, rye & sauerkraut (This might have been my favorite dish this time!)

THE Lychee Salad / with pork sausage, habanero, red onions, coconut milk foam, toasted garlic slices, cilantro & peanuts (This dish has been on their menu forever and I like it every time I eat it!)

Farro Reginetti / with garlic & mustard greens (Some said that it was too salty, even though I liked pasta better than the other one😉)
Rogatoni Alla Vodka / with squid & genovese basil
Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken / with honey & benne seeds (Btw, pickle juice is a great marinade! Never throw away leftover pickle juice. I use it all the time!)
Smoked Brisket / with white bread, horseradish & slaw

Italian House Salad

BBQ Beans / with Carolina gold rice 

Toasted Cinnamon Ice Cream / with apple cider donut (The. Donut. Was. The. Bomb.)
Innkeeper’s Pie / with walnuts, chocolate ganache & milk ice cream (O. M. G. 😱)

Last, but not least, the breakfast goodie bag! On our way out, they gave each of us this bag with a cinnamon bun and bottled cold brew coffee! 

It was such a nice treat! We got to meet and hang out with some cool people while enjoying scrumptious food all evening! If you have some important celebration coming up, I definitely recommmend that you set a reminder on your phone and get online to make a reservation! 

Happy summer!😎 And happy birthday, Y and C!!💕

Visit to Korea 2017 

Oh boy, where do I even begin? 

We get to visit Korea (yes, South Korea) only once every 2-3 years. I’m from Busan, the second largest city in Korea. This time, we were there for my sister’s wedding so we stayed around Busan the whole time. Seoul is fun but I think I’ve come to like Busan more. I definitely enjoyed every single moment, every bite. 

Well, right after we got off the airplane, we went to Geoje Island for a family trip. We lucked out with this beautiful resort, Hiclass Geoje
Playing in the pool means HANGRY people!
There’s nothing like stuffing your face with BBQ meat and soju on a vacay!
On our way back from Geoje Island, we dropped by this restaurant for some FRESH seafood. In addition to sashimi, they also give you so many side dishes, aka banchan. The things in the above picture are: sea pineapple (sea squirt), conch, “live” octopus in sesame oil and sea cucumbers. They sound kinda horrifying but aren’t that bad😉 

So, now, I’m just gonna list all the things we ate in Korea😂 

Dwaejigukbap: pork and rice in pork-base broth. Busan is well-known for having awesome DJGB!
Guksu: Korean style noodle soup. It’s quite easy to make it at home but I have a go-to place in Busan. Never disappoints. 

Fruit cakes are a thing in Korea I’d say. Cakes are so pretty that I sometimes don’t even wanna eat them😂 Do they taste as good as they look? Heck yeah. 
앙꼬절편, some super famous rice cake! In Korea, things change very fast. There are a few VERY trendy items whenever I visit Korea. This time, at least in Busan, this thin rice cake filled with sweet red bean paste was a hit!
Mommy’s hangover soup! This dried pollock soup, aka bugeoguk (‘guk’ means soup), is the ultimate remedy for bad hangovers. My mom loves to add ground black pepper at the end. 

Kimchi pancake and makgeolli! The salty, crispy kimchi pancake goes perfectly well with the sweet rice (alcoholic) beverage. It’s pretty easy to get korean style pancakes in the States now. I definitely recommend you order one of these next time you are at a Korean restaurant. 

Handmade dumplings. You easily run into these big batches at any market places. 

Speaking of markets, I just LOVE walking around them and looking at all these delicious snacks, sauces, etc. 

Tempura style snacks: battered and deep-dried. Everything tastes great when fried!

Tteokbokki, rice cake and fish cake in spicy gochujang (red chili paste)! If you dip that deep-fried stuffed pepper in the red sauce and have a big bite, I guarantee you that there will be a party in your mouth. One of my favorite street food dishes!

Korean beef BBQ….! We went to this butcher’s/restaurant, where you pick your own meat. You take what you have picked upstairs and they give you this tableside grill along with a variety of side dishes. Locally grown Korean beef just melts in your mouth. 

Duck BBQ! No marinating, no seasoning. Just some fresh duck meat and lots of garlic!
Bar food aka anju. One great thing about drinking in Korea is that you keep eating while drinking. Your bar food selections are amazing too. This seafood noodle soup was perfect with our sake! Also, you can drink pretty much all day/night in Korea. A great place for party animals. 

Just another typical breakfast scene at my parents’. You get a bowl of rice and several side dishes. I think I ate so many veggies even without trying. I already miss her food😭

Sashimi bibimbap and gukbap (‘bap’ means rice). We went to this old, quaint village by called Huinyeoul Cultural Village by the ocean. Right before we walked around the hilly alleys, we went to this restaurant and had an amazing lunch. Not too heavy or light. Fresh fish and lots of vegetables. 

Then, more street food! Hotteok is like a mini pancake filled with brown sugar and nuts. My brother-in-law’s favorite snack it is. Dakgangjeong is Korean fried chicken covered in spicy sauce. They are usually in a bite size so it’s easy to eat them while exploring busy streets of Korea. 

S. O. J. U! This liquor is found everywhere in Korea. Super cheap. Each city has its own so it’s another fun to try different kinds.

Rice gelato! Yes, I said rice. Centum City is a huge mall located near Haeundae beach. There, I found this mysterious flavor and I fell in love right away. The combination of tiramisu and rice flavor was oddly satisfying!

Cakes, cakes and cakes! Too pretty. 

All-you-can-eat korean buffet! You pay $25 and just go to town. Amazinglicious!

Mom’s bulgogi lunch! 

My aunt’s scrumptious gimbap…! This is one of the things that I definitely miss a lot. I don’t know what she does to it but we all love her rolls. Very addicting!

Lastly, meals served on Korean Air! In-flight meals are usually awful but I actually do enjoy eating what Korean Air serves. On the way to Korea, the lunch was bibimbap with seaweed soup. On our way back, it was rice served with doenjang (korean miso, if you will) and veggies. 

Our trip to Korea this time was a bit too crazy between the wedding and some personal issues. I am not complexly confident that I ate everything I wanted to. However, it’s always so much fun to go out there and spoil myself with endless eating and drinking. What’s surprising is that I somehow lose weight despite all of that..! I guess it’s the lifestyle. 

I did have a great time in Korea, but it’s good to be back home with my kitties. So, Korea, till next time!

Retirement gift – delicious trip to Montreal! 

I still remember our trip to Montreal and Quebec City very vividly…! That was such a treat so my husband and I decided to plan a delicious trip there for our parents this time. We all deserve to spoil ourselves after retirement! 


The retirement gift package included: tourist guide and map (available here), a gift certificate to Schwartz’s Deli, a gift certificate to St-Viateur Bagel, and a hotel voucher to Omni Mont-Royal

Special thanks to the restaurants and the hotel for their great hospitality! Merci beaucoup!

Hope the folks enjoy Montreal as much as we did! To all those who worked hard all their lives and have retired, cheers! 

Convivial D.C. 

Going out for ethnic food in Northern Virginia is always awesome: super delicious and quite affordable. However, we all have one of those days we wanna treat ourselves in a fancier setting. That was last night. 

We went out to Convivial in DC to celebrate my birthday and my father-in-law’s retirement. You may not wanna walk in there in your shorts and flipflops but it is pretty laid back there. All the servers were wearing jeans! 

First, and our favorite dish: Arctic Char Lox. Rye crisp, horseradish & caraway coleslaw, “everything” aioli. What a brilliant twist to a great food concept! It actually tastes better than it looks (and yes, that’s possible!). 

Zucchini Roulade. Tomato, goat cheese, sumac, pine nuts. Good thing I took a quick snap of this beautiful dish because there is no pretty way to cut this roulade😂 The pleasant, subtle goat cheese flavor in this cold dish was just perfect. 

Bouillabaisse. Blue catfish, clam, mussel, prawn, crab, squid, daurade, octopus. I know it can be quite intimidating if you are not used to certain seafood items in that broth. However, I think everyone should try this. The broth had this super creamy texture and the fresh seafood was perfectly cooked. Say no to overcooked, chewy squid! 

Grilled Daurade. Sautéed squid, celeriac mousseline. Daurade (European sea bream) may not sound quite familiar to you. I think a lot of Asian countries use this fish too. I know that it’s considered a very expensive kind in Korea😉 Absolutely delicious! 

And, of course, desserts! No meal is complete without desserts!

They serve French-American food in smaller portions like tapas. It’s perfect for me because I love to try many different dishes! And more importantly, EVERY SINGLE THING WAS JUST FANTABULOUS! It almost reminded me of Rose’s Luxury in a way- small delicious dishes to share with everyone. 

Their service is top-notch too. A new set of silverware is provided in a timely manner for every course. Serving spoons/forks are set aside as well in case you need them to share food. 

Even though it’s in a busy part of DC, you are not on top of each other like other well-known, hot restaurants in the city. I wouldn’t say that it’s serene but you can have a normal conversation with people in your party without other people running into you every 5 minutes. 
This weekend, we definitely well treated ourselves. Now, I’m ready for some baseball! 

Nasime Japanese Restaurant – Old Town, Alexandria, VA

I won’t beat around the bush. One of the best Japanese restaurants I’ve ever been to in the States. Just go to Nasime and get fed, if you love good food, if you’d rather pay a little more for better quality food than go to an all-you-can-eat restaurant and eat lots of meh food, if you are somewhat into Japanese food, and if raw fish doesn’t scare you!

Make a reservation. The chef, Yuh Shimomura, prepares food from scratch and he will satisfy your palate with a five course menu, which changes on a daily basis. You don’t choose what to eat; you eat what’s given to you: omakase.

Today’s first course: fried Chilean seabass with clam sauce. The fish was cooked perfectly – nice and juicy. The clam sauce, which, by the way, I had never tasted anywhere before, added just the right amount of saltiness to this beautiful dish.
Today’s second course: otsukuri (sashimi). No frills; just fresh fish nicely cut and served. Boston mackerel was my favorite. Even if you are just used to eating raw fish on a thing of rice and this “just the fish” sashimi dish intimidates you, please give it a try. With just a little bit of soy sauce and wasabi, you can totally appreciate different flavors of different fish! Yum❤️

Today’s third course: pork tenderloin with soy ginger sauce and root vegetables. Pork, soy ginger and root vegetables – it sounds like a typical dish any Asian restaurant would have. That’s why it stood out more, IMO. Feel the difference!

Today’s fourth course: fresh bamboo shoot okowa. Okowa is a sticky rice dish mixed and cooked with other ingredients. Uni (sea urchin) and fish roe over rice may sound too exotic, I know. What the heck is sea urchin anyway, right? 😉 This combination of creaminess, stickiness, briny ocean taste with that fish eggs popping in your mouth…. Mmmmm…. The green garnish on top is called shiso, which has a very refreshing, distinct aroma.

The last course: sesame and kinako ice cream! Kinako is roasted soybean flour, which you may have seen sprinkled on top of mochi. Hubby and I both agree that it’s the best ice cream that we’ve ever had! Pure foodgasm..!! Ground black sesame seeds gave this ice cream the out-of-this-world taste and texture. Gosh, I wish I could’ve bought 10 gallons of it on the way out!

All in all, it was worth every penny. I can’t wait to go back and see what the chef has to offer next time!

Happy Valentine’s Day💕

Food scene in October in Southern Maryland!

When that Indian summer weather hits NOVA, it’s time to head down to Southern Maryland! Now that I’ve lived in the area for about 5 years, I do have favorite events to attend. Here are two fun food-related events in Southern Maryland that you can take your loved ones to.

<U.S. Oyster Festival / National Oyster Shucking Championships>

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  • When: 3rd weekend of October (Saturday: 10am-6pm / Sunday: 11am-6pm)
  • Where: St. Mary’s County Fair (42455 Fairgrounds Rd, Leonardtown, MD 20650)
  • Admission: $7/person (kids under 12 are free), food is pay as you eat
  • Website: http://usoysterfest.com/

I was introduced to this awesome oyster festival thanks to a couple of friends last year. This year, they celebrated their 50th anniversary! Everything you can think of (when it comes to oysters) is there: raw oysters, fried oysters, grilled oysters, steamed oysters, oyster po’boys, oyster tacos, oyster stew… You name it. A dozen of raw oysters were $18, FYI.

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There is a barn where the oyster cook-off takes place. Sit there and watch the chefs show off their skills. You may get lucky enough to sample their final products if the timing’s right. I got to taste the oyster Benedict and this amazinglicious soup at the end!

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When you see the King Oyster greeting people, you know it’s time for the oyster shucking championship rounds!

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Go get those freshly-made mini donuts with extra strawberry icing on the side and watch the experts compete! By the way, it truly IS a national championship. The winner of this national round complete in the international oyster shucking championship!

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You don’t do oysters or you are scared of eating raw food? Don’t worry. They have other food options including  the stuffed ham sandwich or fried Oreos!

The bottomless soda guy is amazing too! You get a mug and you can fill it all day long.

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Mark it on your calendar for 2017 and drive down to Southern Maryland with the whole family!

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<Harvest Taste of Solomons>

  • When: 11am-4pm on a Saturday in October (This year, it was on October 22, 2016.)
  • Where: Solomons Island
  • Admission: no admission; $4 ticket gets you a food or drink sample at a participating restaurant
  • Website: they need one!

My father-in-law came down from Upstate New York to visit us and we needed a last-minute entertainment option. I googled local food festivals for the weekend and ta-da! This small yet fun food festival popped up. We drove back down to Southern Maryland.

As you can see in the map, most restaurants are gathered in the southern part of the island. You can park the car in the parking lot there and hit the restaurants one by one. We didn’t buy any tickets in advance but paid as we went.

KakaoTalk_20161030_174644131.jpgCrabby tater tots topped with crab dip at the Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar

kakaotalk_20161030_174645355“Half & half” soup: Maryland crab soup + cream of crab in a bowl at the Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar

KakaoTalk_20161030_174649348.jpgSmoked spare ribs at Grill Sergeant

kakaotalk_20161030_174650688Oyster Rockefeller at the Charles Street Brasserie

KakaoTalk_20161030_174651913.jpgBacon wrapped dates at the Charles Street Brasserie

kakaotalk_20161030_174653241Seafood platter at Captain Smith’s

Some of the drinks looked delish too! Wished I was more of a drinker. Oh well, I get to drive drunk people back home.

So, if you are itching for some delicious day trip in October, head down south and go to town! Happy Fall! Happy Halloween!

Summer Vacay 2016 – NY/VT/RI

I was away for a week and just got back home..! This vacation was, of course, amazinglicious as usual! LOTS OF FOOD every single day. 

It started with awesome BBQ at the annual family picnic in upstate NY. People bring not only sausages and burgers but also homemade desserts too. It’s one of the events that I most look forward to every year!
Then, there are meals prepared by Jo, who is better than any other chef!l that I know!😁👍 Her homemade food is out of this world. Pretty much everything is made from scratch! Don’t know how she does it every time. Her buckwheat crepes were a bit hit this year! 
During the visit to NY, we took a day trip to Burlington, VT. YES, when in Vermont, do what everyone else does: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Too bad that we didn’t have time for the factory tour. Oh well, next time.  
After we left NY, we went to Rhode Island. Real vacation started there! Seafood, seafood and more seafood!❤️
Among all the great food options, these 3 particular spots were my personal favorites. 

1. Matunuck Oyster Bar, South Kingstown, RI – Great location, awesome service and delicious lobster rolls!

2. Wharf Pub & Restaurant, Newport, RI – Super friendly staff, GREAT food and fun drinks! This was by far the best restaurant (food and atmosphere wise) in Newport. Sit at the bar and make some friends!

3. Del’s Lemonade – THE. FROZEN. LEMONADE. OMG. We went to Block Island for another day trip. After biking for a couple of hours, the frozen lemonade just hit the spot. Refreshing, yet not too sweet, the lemonade even had bits of lemon in it! Gonna miss this one a lot I think. 

Yes, the trip was so much fun and delish! However, I can’t deny that I’m so glad to be back home snuggling with my kitties! 

Summer is almost over but it isn’t yet! Time for some more fun back in NOVA/DC! Happy summer☀️☀️☀️

P. S. When in Newport, don’t forget to check out the Bit Players at the Firehouse Theater! Great improv comedy shows on Fridays and Saturdays! Many of the people in the audience seemed to be locals. Apparently, Newport locals hate the construction of Broadway, which is a street a little off the main drag. It’s where things are happening these days! 

Rose’s Luxury – the hype, expectations & satisfaction!

The phrase “the best restaurant in DC” usually triggers my sarcasm. Rose’s Luxury had been on my radar for a while but I wasn’t in a hurry. If it’s that good, it will stick around for years, right? 😉

Then, a friend of mine recently has decided to move to San Diego. The farewell meal of her choice was……..! Yes, Rose’s Luxury! So it happened tonight!

Rose’s Luxury: 717 8th Street SE, Washington, DC, 20003 | (202)580-8889

 The restaurant opens at 5pm. By the time she got there (at 4ish), the line was already this long. But don’t let that intimidate you! More than half of the people are there in line to reserve a spot for a later time. We got seated as soon as the door opened even though there were 50+ other people ahead of us!

  The whole staff and servers greeted us with big smiles. The moment we walked in, we felt at home. 

 Like many other restaurants in DC, the space is rather tight. However, every table has this little secret place for your drink menu (or whatever) you might wanna hold on to all night! It’s a nice touch. 

So, the food. 

  Potato brioche and butter with crispy onion bits and chives. I normally don’t fill up with dinner rolls. Man, this bread was from another world! It was nice and warm. We just killed this soft, delicious loaf in 2 seconds. I almost wanted to ask for another one to eat and another to go but I decided to behave myself….. THIS TIME. 

  Their signature dish: pork sausage, habanero, peanuts and lychee salad. We didn’t know what to expect when we ordered this dish. My friend is a pescaterian so she ordered the vegetarian version with veggie sausages. The saltiness from the sausages, the sweetness from lychee, the tangy flavor from the dressing, the spiciness from red onions, the aroma from the herbs plus peanuts and thin, toasted garlic! All those flavors were nicely put tougher without clashing with each other. Surprisingly, I actually LOVED the vegetarian version as well. It was milder. If you are not a big fan of strong herby tastes (of sausages), the vegetarian version will give you the ultimate satisfaction!

  Charred carrots with harrisa, housemade yogurt and pearl onions. The combination of the yogurt and the spicy red sauce went really well with charred veggies. Gosh, I love pearl onions! Btw, every time I say onions, I can’t stop hearing Mr. Raftery in my head haha. #NCAA #MarchMadness 😁🏀

  
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm…. Spaghetti with spring pistou, jalapeño and blue crab. Even if you are terrified with anything green, you should try this dish. Their pasta is supposed to be really well made. The noodles were cooked perfectly. The sauce was seasoned just right. There was a good amount of crab meat. We kept saying that we could eat this all day every day. We were only half joking. 

  AND when we thought we were done, this special dish (on the house!) came out for no reason. What a nice surprise! White rice with risotto-like texture topped with seasoned beans! Not sure how they made this rice so creamy without using any cream or milk! Or did they..?! 😛 I loved the perfect harmony of saltiness and sweetness!
  No meal ends without desserts! Warm chocolate mousse, toasted brioche and rose ice cream. Yes, pure foodgasm it was. 
  Then, a more classic choice. Rhubarb tart, strawberries and black pepper whipped cream. When we thought that we were done eating, we had a little taste of this tart. Like we hadn’t been eating, we started to stuff our faces again. I think, at one point, the two couples next to us kind of looked at us with judging eyes. Lol
I’ve read reviews about this place. Some aren’t nice. The wait is too long. The portions are small. It’s expensive. They don’t take reservations. And all of these are somewhat true. Some super duper famous restaurants have let me down for sure. However, to me, it was well worth it. The hype met my expectations today. 

The menu is simple. They give you familiar food choices; yet, they mix and match flavors that we are used to and give you a little surprise on your palate. 

  

I wouldn’t come here every day but it’s definitely a destination. I even asked them about private dining options! 

Farewell to my good friend, C!! Hope she finds all the good restaurants in San Diego by the time I visit her! Can’t wait!

Happy weekend!