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!

RequinDC Pop-Up, Mosaic District, Merrifield, VA

Recently, some friends and I went to RequinDC‘s Pop-up, located in the Mosaic District in Merrifield, VA. The restaurant is run by former Top Chef alumni, Jen Carroll and is in partnership with Mike Isabella’s Concepts. I am so glad that Chef Carroll has come to Washington, D.C. to show off her amazing talents.

The evening did not disappointed. The food which is French Mediterranean-inspired was amazing!

Veggie Platter

We started out with the Veggie Platter. A wonderful array of vegetables which included: Celery Root “Pastrami”; very smoky and savory, Eggplant Tomato Ratatouille; rich and flavorful, Curried Cucumber; presented like “noodles” complimented with a curry sauce and Blistered Shishito Peppers, which were charred and smoky.

RequinDC Veggie Platter

Roasted Root Vegetables Salad

The endives, goat cheese and lemon vinaigrette complimented the three kinds of beets.

RequinDC Roasted Root Vegetable Salad
Legume Salad

The tangy, mustard vinaigrette enhanced the watercress greens and is served with warm, cannellini beans, crunchy, haricot verts and pieces of croutons.

RequinDC Legume Salad
Kabocha Squash

How can you go wrong with anything in a puff pastry? The pastry is layered with this sweet, winter squash and topped with the earthiness of hen of the woods mushrooms. This was my favorite. I could of eaten it by myself!

RequinDC Kaboucha Squash
Braised Pork Shank

The braised pork was moist and fell off the bone. The waiter poured the pork jus all over the dish at the table and was delicious with the creamy, squash risotto and pickled carrots.

RequinDC Braised Pork Shank
Desserts

You need to save room for dessert or at least share with your dinner companions.  The chocolate soufflé is served with hazelnut ice cream. Take the pieces of praline and dump it on the soufflé which make each bite that much more decadent.

RequinDC Chocolate Soufflé

The profiteroles are drizzled with warm scotch caramel, crunchy pistachios, candied kumquats and yummy brown butter ice cream.

RequinDC Profiterole

The spongy pumpkin spice cake is super-moist and served with yogurt ice cream. I especially like the pieces of sweetened roasted pumpkin that is sprinkled on the dish.

RequinDC Pumpkin Cake

Requin is in Mosaic only until April before it moves to its permanent home at the new Wharf development on D.C.’s Waterfront in 2017. Do yourself a favor: don’t wait that long. My advice, Go, now! You will be treated to a worth while dining experience!

Foodie Travel: Dining in Vegas, Middle of The Strip

Recently, I took a trip to Las Vegas for business. In Vegas, you can always find any kind of food you want, no matter what you are craving. With some of the best restaurants and celebrity chefs from around the country; there are so many choices.

Here are some of my favorite bites:

Bouchon-The Venetian Las Vegas

Bouchon, in the Venetian, is one of my favorites. You can always get a great meal. There are so many scrumptious items to choose from their mouth-watering menu. Very casual and great service. Meals start with french bread from the Bouchon Bakery and warm pistachios. The Boudin Blanc, a white sausage, with potato purée and dried french plums to go with each bite of the sausage, was delicious.

Spago-Forum Shops at Caesars Palace

I still love going to Spago in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace year after year. It is the most quiet of all the restaurants that I went to, which makes for a nice meal to getaway from the excitement and energy of Vegas. Service was exceptional. And the menu highlighted fall items.  Save room for their desserts. The Dark Chocolate Soufflé was worth ordering and takes time to make. Each bite was so decadent.

Yardbird-The Venetian Las Vegas

Yardbird was a fun place to try. Very lively. The menu features southern cuisine. We ordered a lot of different items to get a sampling and it was perfect for a late night bite. The Fried Green Tomato BLT was with smoked pork belly, tomato jam, pimento cheese and crispy frisee. It was having the best of the south all in one bite. Deviled Eggs were tangy and creamy and topped with smoked trout roe. The Warm Farmer’s Cheese & Watermelon was a refreshing bite. And the charred Heirloom Tomatoes with creamy, fresh ricotta cheese, sea salt and chili oil was delicious and a tasty combination.

Giada-The Cromwell Las Vegas

Giada is the hot spot restaurant on the strip. Nice view of the Bellagio fountains. And when the restaurant opens their windows, it is a great way to enjoy Vegas views above the bustle of traffic and pedestrians. The antipasti side of the menu gives you lots of options to share. My favorites were the Chicken Marsala Meatballs served with bright red cherry tomatoes and savory sauce of roasted wild mushrooms. Tasty. Gilda’s Caprese salad with creamy, buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and syrupy, dark, vincatto reduction. And the highlight, the Tricolor Salad with prosciutto, gorgonzola, dates, walnuts and a trio of greens which included kale, endive and radicchio. Yum!

The Creperie-Paris Las Vegas Hotel

I confess. Crepes are my guilty pleasure. The Paris Hotel‘s La Creperie has the best crepes this side of the Atlantic. A great late night bite if you want something simple, fast and true comfort food. The crepes are light and fluffy. We ordered these two crepes, one savory and one sweet. The ham and gruyère cheese crepe was covered with creamy béchamel sauce and sprinkled with micro-greens. The sweet crepe of nutella had banana, caramel sauce, chantilly cream and covered with candied hazelnuts. Just heavenly.

Just goes to show you, you can get anything you want to eat in Vegas.