Swahili Village

Of all the ethnic restaurant that are readily available in the D.C. area I haven’t really had the opportunity to come across one dedicated to Kenyan food until now. Swahili Village offered just that. When I stepped in I wont lie, I was taken aback normally African restaurants in this area have a mom and pop feel but this space was extremely contemporary.

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The concept was open and the lights dim. African music could be heard playing through out the restaurant.  And a large bar dominating the space in the back. Once seated the wait staff immediately came to take my order and offered insight to items on the menu. I was a part of a group so the combinations of food were endless.

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There was the chapati, a flatbread that is common to Kenya and many other nations in that region. Then the Pilau, a seasoned Basmati rice that was someone claimed was similar to West African Jollof Rice (it wasn’t. 😦 nothing is ever close). Then the Nyama Choma, or grilled cubed Beef Steak and the Fried Tilapia. Some folks ordered onions and collard greens aka Sukuma Wiki; Pan fried cabbage and onions, Kabeji; Sauteed spinach and onionsh onions, and the Kachumbari, a tomato salad with onions, cilantro, andhabanero tossed in lemon juice.

Honestly the menu had so many great things to try and I plan to visit again in the near future. So if you are ever in the Washington D.C. area make sure to stop by the Swahili Village.

Judy’s Island Grill II

If you are craving quality Jamacain food Judy’s Island Grill is the place to go, especially the second location in Glen Burnie, MD. The menu is pretty straight forward with the normal fare you would expect to see offered; beef patties, ox tail, jerk chicken, etc. But what really makes the restuarant is the staff. I have been to the location several times and each experience has been great. The wait staff always offers a warm greeting and are quick to recognize you and strike up a conversation.

For this trip I went with friends, so we were able to order a variety of dishes. From Oxtail with Mac and Cheese, Rice and Beans, and Cabbage Medley; to Veggie Roti with Coconut Cream of Spinach and Green Beans.

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But the show stopper, in my personal opinion is the fried Red Snapper in Spinach Cream Sauce with Rice and Beans on the side. I am addicted to this dish. It is so good that I have no problems driving the 30 odd minutes from my house to the restuarant in order to have it to eat. It is just that good!

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So if you are in the greater Baltimore area and have a hankering for Jamacain just stop by Judy’s Island Grill.

Rice Paper

July has been a bittersweet month, especially as friends and family transition to new phases and places in life. Luckily Rice Paper is the type of restaurant that forces time to stop and makes you focus on the meal and those you are sharing it with.

Located in Falls Church, VA, Eden Center. Rice Paper is a Vietnamese restaurant that offers traditional fare. The restaurant layout is beautiful and calming with hanging lanterns above the center and a large bar taking up the back wall.

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The menu offered has an extensive list of selections. With clear delicious descriptions of every item shown. Each item on the menu was large enough to shared and that is definitely what we did.

We ordered  Cơm Bò Lúc Lắc, a Cubed Beef dish sauteed with onions,tomatoes,and oyster sauce served on a bed of greens; Lẩu Đuôi Bò a spicy oxtail soup that came with rice; and Bánh Hỏi Con Điệp & Tôm Nướng, Grilled Scallop & Shrimp served with steamed thin Vermicelli noodles, meant to be wrapped and eaten in rice paper.

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So if you are ever in Falls Church, Va make sure to stop by Eden Center and catch a meal at Rice Paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Icecream

 

I will be the first to admit that I always viewed no churn ice cream recipes with a lot of skepticism, especially when folks touted it as only taking 2 ingredients. Well…I have to eat crow. After making some. I have to say that this will be my go to for the summer. The ice cream is quick and easy to make; light in terms of texture and consistency; and far better tasting than most store brands. I know, I know you think I’m exaggerating. But I challenge you to try the recipe for yourself and see how it goes.

You need:

1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 Pint of Heavy Whipping Cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Toppings of your choice (In my case crispy m&ms and twix)

Chilled Bowl

Hand mixer

Freezer safe container

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Pour the heavy whipping cream into the bowl.

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Take you hand mixer and place on a medium setting and whip.

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Initially you will just be looking at a liquid but as a couple minutes go by the cream will start to thicken.

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Add vanilla and whip the cream until its mixed well.

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Now pour in all the condensed milk.

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Whip the cream again to till the consistency is thicker and matches what is seen in the picture.

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Now add your toppings. (I attempted to crush the twix in the wrapper…it didn’t work too well -_-‘.)

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Whip until the candy is evenly distributed.

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Spoon your cream mixture into you freezer safe container and freeze overnight.

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The next day take out your icecream, serve and enjoy!

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Toki Underground

What do you do when you are in D.C. and get a hankering for ramen that wont go away? You go to TOKI UNDERGROUND! Located in Northeast D.C. this restaurant is a hole in the wall that can be a bit hard to find. contrary to it’s name, Toki Underground is actually nestled above a pub. Blasting hip hop on it’s speakers, manga on the walls, skateboards as railings,  28 bar stools for seating, this is truly an urban hipster paradise.

 

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There was a wait to be seated due to the high demand. Once we were we started with kimchi and pan fried vegetarian dumplings.

And then moved onto the Taipei Curry Chicken Ramen which consisted of a curry infusion broth with fried chicken, greens, soft egg, and pickled ginger; and the Vegetarian Ramen, with tofu, daikon, seasonal pickles, shiitake, greens, and marinated kombu.

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I can definitely say that I left feeling satisfied. So if you are in Northeast and get a hankering for ramen make sure to stop by Toki Underground!

Riverside Hot Pot

For those of you in the DMV, I’m sure you understand when I say this area has been going through some things. We are in May, but the weather has been unusually nippy and the sun has been on hiatus for, what feels like, months. Because being outside wasn’t a top choice a friend and decided to try Chinese hot pot at Riverside Hot Pot.

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Located in Gaithersburg, the restaurant has a casual intimate feel that immeadiately makes you feel welcome. Once seated the waiter presents you with a checklist for your selection of the broth base (for the soup), meats, veggies, and add-ins. While the soup add-ins are shared, each diner has an individual hot pot. Allowing for personalized soups with endless choices from the menu of more than 24 items. That and the fact that the restaurant is all you can eat (Yayyyy!!!!) made it amazing!

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Once we made our selections it was a matter of waiting. But it was definitely worth it! Initially the two of us were overwhelmed the amount of food, because we ordered pretty much everything on the menu. But once we started eating it was a wrap.

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So if you’re looking for a great place to eat and a new experience to try. Stop over at Riverside Hot Pot.
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Shimmy for the Chimichurri!

My co-worker introduced me to true greatness when she brought in some “adobe sauce” as dip for for pita chips. The mix of olive oil, parsley, cilantro, garlic, and jalapeno really pushed the snack over the edge and gave it the ultimate status. So I had to make it for myself.

After researching for a bit I discovered the”adobe sauce” that my co-worker had given me was actually called Chimichurri. An Argentinean condiment that is used to spruce up meats, and vegetable dishes. In a way it’s the ketchup of Latin America.

Because of the green nature of the sauce I decided to push it a bit further and add an unusual twist to the recipes I saw by adding spinach, for the cocktail of vitamins it offers, and cucumber, for vitamin K. The difference in the taste of the sauce is extremely subtle, so I managed to retain the taste while adding more nutritional content. Below is my take on this simple but awesome sauce. The sauce which I have been using to spruce up pretty much anything from rice to sushi.

What you need:

1/4 Yellow Onion

1 clove Garlic (if you like garlic add more)

1 jalapeno (or pepper of choice)

3 mini snacking cucumbers

2 cups Spinach

1/4 cup Parsley

1/4 cup Cilantro

1/3 cup Olive Oil

2 teaspoons salt

First gently wash your vegetables. Keeping the spinach and herbs in a separate container as they are more fragile.

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Next place your spinach, salt and herbs in the food processor with the olive oil and blend.

Now chop up your vegetables and add them to the processor and blend.

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Voila!!!! Your Chimichurri is ready. It was so quick and easy that it doesn’t even feel as if you were cooking. 😉

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Soretti’s

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I felt like Ethiopian so I decided to stop by Soretti’s with a friend. The restaurant has an intimate feel with a bar dominating the bulk of the space and tables spread out for customers who came in groups. There is a TV playing Ethiopian music videos and an assortment of African artwork scattered about.The menu is pretty clear cut, so that even the most unadventurous eater will find something.

Just to be clear the bulk of African foods are meant to be eaten by hand, and also shared to enhance the experience. Ethiopian food does this extremely well because even the “plate” your food is served on (injera) is meant to be consumed after its soaked in the flavors of the dishes its serving.

We ended up ordering Spicy Lamb Tibs (lamb cubes sauteed with oinon, jalepeno, and traditional herbs) and Dora Alicha (chicken pieces simmered in an onion, garlic, and tumeric sauce), as our meats. With Misir Wot (red lentils), Timtim Selata (tomato salad), and Misir Selata (chickpea salad). Consuming it by hand with the aid of additional injera made sure that it hit the spot!

Can I say Yum? Next time you are in the mood for food give Ethiopian food a try!

Northside Social Coffee & Wine

If you are in the DMV area you clearly know that this picture was not taken recently. Especially since we are in the midst of a blizzard. But alas I dream of a warmer time.

Northside Social is a great place to be, especially after a long day of work. It acts like a trinity of sorts being a mix of a Cafe, Coffeehouse, and Wine bar; Offering pastries and sandwiches. The restaurant is 2 stories, with the 2nd floor housing the wine bar and the lower story the cafe and coffee house aspect with the pastries and baristas present.

The day I went I wanted to sit outside and enjoy the Cafe especially since it was a warm day and the inside of the restaurant was feeling a bit too intimate. I went with a friend, so we grabbed a table and went inside to order. Only downside to being outside was the fact that we also had to go in to pick up the orders as well.

We both got the House Smoked Salmon which consisted of tomato, cucumber, spinach, pickled red onion, wasabi cream cheese on sesame bun, and came with a mixed green salad. It was especially delish. I topped mine off with a ‘small” hot chocolate, and released the stresses of the day.

Be sure to check it out if you are ever in Clarendon, Virginia.

Pupuseria Las Delicias

The weather has warmed up and memorial day has arrived. What better way to welcome the summer days than with BBQ. And I did just that this weekend.

Pupu20150510_132153seria Las Delicias is a roadside barbecue stand on route 1. Seeing smoke, trucks, and people milling around w20150509_184820 (1)hile driving by I just had to go and see what was being offered.

The set-up is incredibly simple. You simple go up to the grill and order a steak or tacos from the menu and wait. I ordered steak and chicken tacos and was pretty pleased with my choice.

So my challenge to you this summer is to be adventurous and find interesting eats. It may just be worth your while.