My Favorite Bites of 2016

Next Great Bite Best Bites 2016With the end of 2016 approaching, I like to look back and list some of my favorite bites this year. They include some from the Washington, D.C. area and some from my travels.

Reuben Egg Rolls
DGS, Washington, DC

dgs-reuben-egg-rollI love DGS‘s take on the egg roll. The crispy roll is stuffed with shredded corn beef and sauerkraut and served with a spicy russian dressing. They are so good; I can make a meal out of these! Yummy!

 

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Aggio, Ashburn, VA

aggio-spaghetti-and-meatballsThere is something comforting about a dish of spaghetti and meatballs. When you eat Aggio‘s take on this simple meal, it is like eating a big hug. The pasta is perfectly al dente and the rich, tomato sauce has been slow cooked and is served with a flavorful meatball. Delicious!

Roasted Salmon with Asparagus Risotto
Bastille, Alexandria, VA

bastille-roasted-salmonBastille is my favorite hidden gem in Alexandria. This dish which features roasted salmon is cooked to perfection. But I love the way that Bastille serves it with creamy, asparagus risotto.

Chicken Salad Sub
Chase The Submarine, Vienna, VA

chasing-the-submarine-chicken-salad

I LOVE this sub at Chase the Submarine! I think it is one of the best chicken salads I have tasted. The chicken is mixed with a spicy mayo, topped with peppery arugula and served on a sesame seed bun. I wanted to go back the next day and order another one it was that good.

Croquetas and Empanadas
Colada Shop, Sterling, VA

colada-croquettas-empanadasI was very excited when Colada Shop opened because of my love for cuban food; the food of my childhood. I love their Sterling location. On a warm day, you can sit outside, watch people and eat some tasty food. These croquetas and empanadas are the best I have tasted here in the D.C. area. Can’t wait to try their downtown location when it opens.

Nitro Brewed Coffee
Junction Bakery, Alexandria, VA

junction-bakery-nitrobrewed-coffeeTechnically this is not a bite, but I just love the nitro brew coffee at Junction Bakery. This ice coffee packs a punch. There is no need to add sugar or cream because the coffee is so smooth. I always enjoy it with one of the bakery’s tasty, baked goods.

Outside of the D.C. Area

Cochinita Pitil
Barrio Urbano, Phoenix, AZ

barrio-urbano-cochinita-pitbilWhen I visited Phoenix this year, I was excited to try some authentic Mexican food. Barrio Urbano is one of Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s restaurants, well-known for her Mexican cuisine. This dish is a must try! Marinated pork, slow roasted overnight, just falls apart. Served with black beans, pickled onions and corn tortillas. Heaven!

Burrata
Eataly, Chicago, IL

eataly-burrataJust walking into Eataly is a foodie’s dream. Besides all the mouth-watering and diverse selection of food items, there are some enticing restaurants to try. At La Piazza eatery, we stopped for a casual lunch and ordered this burrata which was served beautifully. This delicate bundle tied with a chive leaf was served with plump, juicy, cherry tomatoes. The burrata was so creamy. The cheese oozes on to the plate when we cut into it. Glorious!

Roasted Pork Platter
Brasa, Minneapolis, MN

brasa-roasted-pork-platterI always say that when you travel, it pays to talk to locals and ask them where they like to go eat. You get to try something that is a favorite that is not aimed at tourists. In Minneapolis, we went to Brasa, where we enjoyed this delicious meal. The slow roasted pork was tender and the side of pink beans and yellow rice, a typical Caribbean inspired dish, was yummy.

Ice Cream
Izzy’s Ice Cream, Minneapolis, MN

izzy-ice-creamThis is one of the best ice creams places I have ever tried. Again, thanks to a local that suggested it, Izzy’s is worth a trip. I love all the unusual ice cream flavors. Mine was ginger ice cream, passionfruit sorbet and topped with their “Izzy scoop”; a smaller bonus scoop of your choice. Mine was a scoop of grapefruit sorbet. Refreshing! Nice treat after walking around and seeing this beautiful city.

Tres Leches Torte
Mariposa, Sedona, AZ

tres-leches-cake-mariposa-sedonaSedona is a magnificant place. We happen to stop at Mariposa which was a lucky find. Mariposa sits up high on a bluff and has one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. The dining room has floor to ceiling windows that lets you get lost in the landscape while you dine. This Tres Leches torte is elegant and decorated with delicate, eatable flowers and fresh berries. Topped off with sweet, creamy milks.

There are many more dishes I wish I could have added to my list. I post my favorites all year-long on Instagram. Follow me there. Happy 2017 everyone. Hope it brings you some amazing adventures in food!

Fontina Focaccia Bruschetta, Ozzie’s Corner, Fairfax, VA

Fontina Focaccia Brushetta, Ozzie's Corner, Fairfax, VA

Have you ever gone to a restaurant that you frequent often and discover something on the menu that you have overlooked? That is what happen when I ordered the Fontina Focaccia Bruschetta at Ozzie’s Corner in Fairfax, VA.

I just loved the way they prepared this dish. The focaccia is split in half and they fill it with sharp fontina cheese. They grill it until it is crispy and golden brown. It is topped with fresh plum tomatoes and mozzarella. Then it is drizzled with sweet, syrupy balsamic vinegar. It comes to the table with the cheese oozing out of the sides. It is a grown up grilled cheese. The only thing I regret is that I had to share it with my dining partner. Next time, an order just for me!

Staycation: A Trip to Union Market, Washington, DC

If you can’t get away for a summer vacation, why not explore the city you live in as a tourist? Summer is the best time to get out and get to know your city. This past weekend, I headed to Union Market DC to check it out. Union Market is a year round indoor market which has multiple vendors under one roof. From butchers, cheese makers, bakeries, fresh produce, retailers and many food vendors.

exterior union market dc
Exterior of Union Market is sleek. Great outdoor space to sit and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Union Market is located near Gallaudet University right off New York Avenue. You can either take the metro’s red line to NoMa-Gallaudet U stop or you can drive. There is plenty of free parking in front of the market and on the street.

Interior Union Market
The interior of the market is lofty and has lots of tables to sit and enjoy some of the tasty food.

First stop was Buffalo and Bergen. This stand is inspired by the old soda shops. The counter was hopping with patrons at each stool. Brunch-lunch menu consisted of yummy choices of bagel sandwiches, egg creams, house-made sodas and knishes. I got this cheddar and bacon knish. I had them “turnpike it up”, which meant the knish was served with melted butter, garlic and parsley and a side of sour cream. I suggest you order your knish this way. It takes it to another level.  I headed back later to get a few of their knishes to go for the next day.

Next stop on the food adventure was DC Empanadas, which also has a food truck. From the choices that were available, I chose the Bronx Bomber empanada: italian sausage, mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce. Delicious and fried up when ordered so it was nice and hot. I also picked up some Cheerwine black cherry soda to compliment the tasty pocket!

The Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., is a pop-up artisan at the market. They feature their flaky, yummy, biscuits as a feature sandwich or they can be enjoyed on its own. I had one of the hot, buttery biscuit with two side spreads of apple and strawberry. I hope that they become a permanent booth at the market. Their biscuits are out of this world!

I kept eyeing Righteous Cheese and their “fancy” grilled cheese. On this day, they featured a manchego, roasted tomatoes on crispy sourdough bread. Served with a side of cornichon pickles. Great flavor combo! Righteous has a nice selection of cheeses. Pick a few of their cheeses to take home with you and enjoy with a nice glass of wine.

On to dessert. I walked by Panorama Bakery earlier and was drawn in by the case full of wonderful baked items. Huge macaroons, cakes and cream filled pastries. The Saint Honoré pastry is what I ended up ordering. This puff pastry was piped with sweet, heavenly cream and had three little cream puffs on top. Saint Honoré is the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs so maybe it was divine intervention that made me pick it.

Make plans and enjoy the food feast at Union Market. There are many other delicious food vendors that I am going to have to try on my next visit. Check out Union Market’s list of vendors on their website before you head over there and go on an empty stomach!