Flower Child: Healthy Food for a Happy World – Exploring Maryland

The hubs and I have been eyeing this place/restaurant for a while. However, anytime he sees the word “healthy” he tends to steer clear of that restaurant. I know, such a food snob. ;-). However, I wanted to see what it’s all about, so we ventured into Rockville, MD to check out Flower Child.

What is Flower Child?

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Flower Child is a healthy food restaurant that uses local ingredients to serve sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free dishes to satisfy your cravings. The restaurant boasts that they can cater to any kind of diets – so whether you are vegetarian, vegan, or paleo – they have dishes for you!

Where is Flower Child located?

It has 3 locations in the DMV: Rockville, DC, or Bethesda.

Rockville: 10072 Darnestown Road, Rockville, MD 20850

DC: 2112 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 101, Washington DC 20037

Bethesda: 10205 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, MD 20814

How much is it?

Appetizers from from $6.50 to $8.50, while main courses go from $9 – $13.50.  Drinks go from $3.50 – $8.00 except for the wine. They’ll give you the price points of those depending on the wine.

Is there parking?

Yes! It is located in the plaza that consists of Trader Joe’s and other food places so there is certainly parking in the lot. However, watch out for when Trader Joe’s deals days because parking will be scant on those days. Luckily, Flower Child is across the lot from Trader Joe’s so more than likely there will be a spot! Good luck ;-).

Dress Code at Flower Child?

It’s casual all the way! The place itself is beautiful and classy inside but I feel like you can roll up in t-shirt and jeans and be just fine. The atmosphere is very laid back.

Our Experience at Flower Child

We had a great time here! You come in and if there’s a line, you get to look at the massive menu on the wall and think about all your life choices.

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The kids loved the gluten free mac and cheese and I really liked my organic kale salad with salmon. A was a little disappointed in his Vietnamese inspired salad because it was a little too bland for his taste, but otherwise enjoyed the other dishes we got.

We really liked that the atmosphere was pretty chill. Either our 2 and 5 year old were just really good that day or the atmosphere made them calm (highly unlikely, who am I kidding). Haha

I mean just look at Flower Child’s interior design and all the cutesy stuff they did to it!

CUTEEEE!!!

OK anyway, so that’s what I think about Flower Child. It’s a great place! I hope that it stays there for a while because I feel like their location is “cursed.” I feel like all the restaurants or drink places that have occupied this space have gone out of business in a short amount of time… so good luck Flower Child! I do hope you stay put!

Thanks for reading everyone! Try out Flower Child! (PS, not sponsored just saying). For the rest of my Exploring Maryland Series click here.

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(all gifs from giphy.com)

Pineapple and Pearls – Exploring Maryland/DC Series

Yes, I know another restaurant blog. However, since we are pretty busy with life right now, we don’t get to go out and do other stuff. So for our 9th wedding anniversary, A and I decided to go all out and dine at Pineapple and Pearls – a 2 Michelin star restaurant that offers a tasting menu of about 12 courses. And boy was it an experience! Here are my thoughts on it!

Pineapple and Pearls

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What kind of restaurant is it?

It’s labeled “New American” on yelp. But when we went, I don’t feel like it really had a type of cuisine that they focused on. It’s like a fusion of everything.

Where is it?

Pineapple and Pearls is located in DC, Capitol Hill – 715 8th Street SE, Washington DC.

How much is it?

The price has gone up. It’s $325 per person. Bar seating without wine pairing is $225 per person.

I know. I know… it’s a lot! But A has always wanted to try it and when you have a hubby who is a foodie, you gotta splurge once in a while! Enter… Pineapple and Pearls! LOL

You pay when you reserve your spot. So after dinner, there’s no check. You just go on your merry way. If you cancel your reservation more than 5 days before you are supposed to dine, then you can get a full refund. Otherwise, you will lose some money.

Is there Parking?

Street parking. If you want valet, Pineapple and Pearls share a valet contract with other restaurants nearby. So you can also go there, but note that you will walk a block from the valet to the restaurant.

How long is the dining experience?

When we asked one of their staff, they said up to 3 hours. I think we were there around 2 hours and 40 minutes. So make sure you alot some time for that.

Dress code?

Casual, but like not too casual. I believe they said they want you to be comfortable but also dress to impress. I wore a jumpsuit with my leather jacket and A wore a button down long sleeved shirt with dress pants.

Our Experience

Ok, now that I got some of the questions I think you may have asked answered, time to share our experience.

Basically, you walk in to Pineapple and Pearls and you are greeted warmly by the hostess in a rather small, unassuming room. It’s “closed” off to the rest of the restaurant so you don’t see anything going on really.  They give you warm towels to wipe your hands with and then for us, a small cup of tea to taste while waiting.

Chef’s Counter

Once your seats are ready, they lead you through the curtain to your seats. A loves to watch chefs at work, so he chose to reserve our seats at the Chef’s counter – same price as the dining room price. It didn’t disappoint. You literally get to see how the chefs create all the dishes that are put in front of you. They even personalized our seats with a nice “Happy Anniversary” card. =)

Here you are greeted by another person, I’m not sure what they are called at this point. But he or she will be your guide throughout the night, detailing everything you eat and drink. Pineapple and pearls is definitely fancy schmancy in a way that you feel personally taken care of. I mean for the price, I hope you would feel that way!

1st Pairing

Hot Milk Punch and Cocktail Snacks. The hot milk punch is milk washed cognac, citrus and burnt thyme. There were two cocktail snacks. One is a smoked A5 wagyu tallow tart, red onion gelee and rosemary. The other is Peconic Escargot Vol-au-vent, with creamed parsley and Garlic.

These are bite-sized pieces by the way. The pictures make them look huge, but literally, one bite per piece.

They were all delicious though. the cognac was warm and sweet but definitely strong. The tart was savory and light. It’s a nice way to get your taste buds to wake up. The escargot was delicious! Probably my second favorite of the night. Flaky on the outside and full of flavor on the inside. It’s not the “rubbery” type of escargot. It’s a melt in your mouth type of goodness.

2nd Pairing

Toasted Rice Custard with Blood Sausage with burnt caramel and preserved fish peppers. This was paired with Schlenkerl Rauchbier Marzen and Atomized Oloroso Sherry which our “guide” sprayed on top of it.

The custard was pretty good! They were very meticulous with the presentation. I think this was maybe 2 bites. ;-). I don’t really like alcohol too much, so I didn’t quite appreciate this drink. After this, I asked for the non-alcoholic pairing.

3rd Pairing

The next pairing for Pineapple and Pearls was for the next two dishes. A chardonay/savagnin – Domaine de Montbourgeau. My non-alcoholic pairing was celery juice with cucumber and some kind of pepper. Not bad actually. Tasted pretty refreshing.

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Don’t worry… they refilled A’s glass after he finished it ;-).

The dishes that came with it are as follows. Monkfish en Papillote (with Charleston ice cream, mussels and etouffe). Note: Charleston ice cream is a rice dish, NOT ice cream! Go figure! This was probably 3-4 bites. My favorite of the night! Savory and well flavored. The monkfish was flaky and perfectly cooked!

Then the Live scallop Mulle Feuille with fermented kohlrabi and cremini mushroom cream. Also good. Not the fave, but I do love me some scallops! They serve it on a shell. Cute! Oh hmm… I’d say 2-3 bites.

4th Pairing

This next one is Black and White Mole with House Nixtamalized Tortillas with Huitlacoche and black truffle, benne seeds, baking spices and wild rose vinegar. This was paired with Gut Oggau, Theodora, Gruner Veltliner and Welschriesling. While the non-alcoholic pairing was Cilantro, black lime, and cayenne – me likey. For some reason, I didn’t get to take many pics of this pairing. I don’t know why. Oops.

5th Pairing

This pairing is for the next two dishes. A got the Herman Story – ‘On the road’ Grenache, Paso Robles. My non-alcoholic beverage was simply called “Tonico.” I don’t know what it was, but it was delish.

The first dish that came with it was Smoked and Spiced Beef Tongue with fermented malt and horseradish. One bite. This was actually pretty tasty. Then Grilled Roseda Farms Beef Striploin with braised endive with smoked beef heart, cognac, tripe and green peppercorn jus with Parker House rolls. A’s favorite of the whole night. The striploin was probably 2-3 bites and the bread we shared between us about 2-3 bites each.

Clearing the palate

To clear the palate, Pineapple and Pearls gave us a Grapefruit Sorbet with tarragon, chamomile, and Amaro Montenegro (for non- alcoholic, it was with bitter juices).

Last Pairing

For dessert, they gave us Butternut Squash ice cream cake with molasses, squash caramel and toasted seeds. This was paired with Domaine Rousset-Peyraguey, Aither. The non alcoholic pairing was Cranberry and maple in a quite interesting vessel.

Extras

At the end, A ordered some fancy coffee. While we were still seated, they gave us a fancy circular churro, caramel dipped gooseberry (bomb! I need me some gooseberries in my life), and a dark chocolate bon bon with honey and pickeled peppers.

Ending

At the end they gave you an envelope with the menu. They also said that they used to give you something for the next day. However, instead of that, they now make a donation to World Food Program USA that will help provide a meal to a hungry child.

Last Thoughts

All in all, Pineapple and Pearls was a great experience. But unless we become millionaires, it was a great once in a lifetime type of thing for us. Something to check off A’s bucket list. Food is something A and I love to enjoy together and this was something we really liked doing together. I mean you’re literally with whoever you’re eating with for 2.5 to 3 hours… I hope you like whoever you’re spending time with.

 

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

 

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Urban Hot Pot – Exploring Maryland

I was trying to refrain from writing about restaurants because I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be with sites already dedicated to restaurant reviews. But I realize that most of the places I go to in Maryland are food places! And well, it is my blog and since I love food so much, then why not share about my experiences! Ergo, Urban Hot Pot. Why start out with this place? Because I just recently went and so it’s fresh in my mind!

What is “HotPot”?

It’s a cooking method that involves boiling/simmering bowl of soup with which you place a variety of foodstuffs in to cook it. I believe it originated in China but I do know a lot of other Asian cultures have their versions of it. It’s basically the Asian version of fondue if you will – except instead of cheese, it’s broth.

Urban Hot Pot

I believe Urban Hot Pot opened early last year (2018) or mid to late 2017. There are many hot pot places in Maryland but I must say that I like Urban Hot Pot’s concept (which I’ll describe more below). The place is so clean, which is nice, because typically, in restaurants where people cook their own food, the place tends to be a little greasy  or at least doesn’t look as swell kept. I don’t know if it’s because this place is new-ish that it feels clean or they are just thorough when they clean it. Either way, I approve of their cleanliness.

Their Concept

Urban Hot Pot is an all you can eat type of restaurant with a rotating conveyor belt where ingredients are put on for your convenience. This is only located in the middle tables though. The tables on the side (as well as the tables in the middle), come with iPads where you can put in your orders. Each person gets their own pot of their choice of broth on top of their own “stove.” Everyone gets up to 2 hours to stuff their faces. Simple enough right??

Basic Info

Lunch: $18.99 per person
Monday – Friday: 12pm – 3pm

Dinner: $25.99 per person
Monday – Thursday: 5pm – 11pm
Friday: 5pm – 12am

Weekend/Holidays: $25.99
Saturday/Holiday: 12pm – 12am
Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

There are some options during dinner that are not available during lunch – hence the price. There are also some things on the menu that you have to pay extra for – including drinks. But to be honest, the ones included in the price are great! No need to get the extra ones unless it’s something you’re really aching to taste =)

The Sauces

Urban Hot Pot has their own sauce bar which include soy sauce, peanut sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and lots of other sauces you can combine to make your own. My go-to is a combination of soy sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar… but you do you brah, you do you!

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The Extras

There’s also a bar for “sides” and desserts. Urban Hot Pot also has a frozen yogurt machine – a little tip – keep eating the hot pot stuff, the froyo is just ok.

My Thoughts

So I’ve been to Urban Hot Pot a few times and here are some tips as well as pros and cons.

Tips

Urban Hot Pot opens at 12pm. Get there at 11:45am so you can sit right away and pick out the middle booths you want. Otherwise, you may have to wait 2 hours since they give people 2 hours to eat all they can!

If you do get lucky and sit in the middle section, you want the 4 seater… the 6 seater is big but harder to get to the conveyor belt and the iPad (for ordering) located near the conveyor belt.

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The tables that are not in the middle uses iPads to get the orders. Look through the choices. Make sure you scroll left and right as well so you can see all the choices you have.

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Pros

The thing that stands out with Urban Hot Pot is the ordering through iPad. Once you master this, service is pretty good. It’s not only a way to order food, but you can also use the iPad to get more napkins, get some drinks, or if you just need to ask them a question – these options are on the iPad.

The conveyor belt is great because you don’t even have to use the iPad to order stuff. Just wait for whatever you want to come to you, and there you go!

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You get your own bowl of broth in Urban Hot Pot! They fill it up any time you want (within those 2 hours). I know in some places, the bowl is in the middle of the table and people just share the broth. So it’s kind of nice having your own so you can pick what type of broth you want.

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Cons

Urban Hot Pot is probably not the most kid-friendly of places. By “kid” I mean 5 and below. I mean it’s a pot of hot soup  right in front of you. It takes time to “cook” the food and what toddler likes to wait and not touch anything while waiting.

The bigger tables have 1 iPad for the whole crew. So unless someone is ok ordering for everyone the whole dinner, then some people may get frustrated.

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Overall

I do really like this place. I would definitely go here again and again. Give it a go! It’s a good place to try. Also, I love hot pots so I guess this review is biased toward hot pot places. But I truly enjoyed eating here. I took my time and just chugged along.

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Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Filipino Food 101: Picadillo – Inay’s Recipe

It’s been a while since I wrote up a recipe for anything! My mom came to visit over the weekend and we had some time for her to teach me one of my favorite Filipino foods. It’s not fancy, it’s probably not something you’ll find in a Filipino restaurant, and it’s probably not something someone will think of when you ask them what their favorite Filipino food is. But I love it because it’s easy to make and it’s comfort food for me especially in the cooler months. Anyway, get excited! Here’s how she makes picadillo!

What is Picadillo?

This dish is a stew that consists of ground beef, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peas that was inspired by the Spaniards when they colonized the Philippines. However, my mom’s version is way different and I love it just the way it is.

My mom’s picadillo doesn’t consist of potatoes, carrots and peas, and instead of ground beef, we use ground turkey. So it really is nothing like the “original.”  But I love it and I wanted to share it with you! It’s easy to make and it has veggies and great for toddlers!

Ingredients

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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tomato (diced)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 16 oz cans of chicken broth (you can get the less sodium one if you want)
  • Spinach or Bok Choy (if you use bok choy, chop it up to smaller pieces so it’s easier to cook)

Instructions

  1. Wash all produce.
  2. Mince garlic cloves, dice the tomato and onion.

  3. On medium high heat, heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil and saute the minced garlic and diced onion in a large pan until it’s fragrant and the onions are shiny.

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  4. Add the tomatoes and saute until tomatoes are soft and cooked through. E wanted to “help” so I let her stir during this time. She subsequently got tired of stirring after 2 minutes and said “Mommy, you can do this now.” Thanks for the help bud!

  5. Add the ground turkey and cook through. Then add salt and pepper to taste*. There’s no measurements here. You just gotta taste it and make sure it’s not bland. Keep in mind that the chicken broth will also add saltiness!

  6. Then add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. This helps with the turkey absorbing some of the flavor from everything in the pan.

  7. Add the spinach or the bok choy and increase heat until it boils. Then decrease heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked but not wilted.

*You can use salt or my mom will sometimes use fish sauce to taste… don’t knock it til you try it I say 😉

How to Eat

You can either eat picadillo over rice or quinoa or just by itself! There are no rules! You do you!

I especially made this dish a lot (well my version… not my mom’s) when I was trying to incorporate veggies into the kids’ meals. It’s hard for me to think up of dishes to get greens into their system, so I’m glad I got picadillo up my sleeves.

Anyway, hope you enjoy picadillo as much as I do. It’s quick and easy so give it a try!

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Check out other recipes in my “I Like Food” section of my blog.

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs from giphy.com)

A Day in New York

Since my husband is originally from New York, we often visit his family there. When we do go visit, his parents usually take the kids for one of the days we are there so that we can have a full date day. Most of the time we usually go into the city (Manhattan) to hit up the plethora of foods that it has to offer. It’s impossible to write about all the restaurants and activities in New York in one blog post. However, the last time we visited, I made it a point to hit up as many places as we could in one day so that I can write about it. So here it is folks! Hope you will find this useful if you ever spend a day in New York.

[Disclaimer:  This is NOT a sponsored post, nor am I affiliated with any of the places or activities I mention in this article. I literally am just recapping what we did in New York for  Day]

Lunch

Ok, why lunch? I woke up late… I mean hey, we rarely get to sleep in so if Andrew’s parents are gonna play with the kids in the morning, More power to them! This mama is sleeping in!

We started the day by going to Ippudo (West Side) for some authentic ramen. The original one is in East Village, and both places are pretty popular so expect some wait times. We got there at 10:45am because the restaurant opens at 11am. Since it was a Thursday, the line was pretty short so we were able to get seated right away.

We ordered ramen and the special of the day – Ippudo Gyudon, which is a rice dish with meat and side dishes. Both were pretty good! We also got their famous pork buns which I know is one of their specialties. Definitely worth a try. =)

Dessert

“Bibble & Sip” has been one of the places we’ve been wanting to try for a bit. You can walk here from Ippudo West Side. According to google maps, it’s exactly 407 ft away from Ippudo!

They are most famous for their cream puffs which they don’t usually start selling until noon. They also sell a variety of drinks and desserts. We tried two types of cream puffs – matcha and early grey. Both were pretty good but also really filling. They’re huge! We also got the black sesame panna cotta and my fave, hot chocolate with a jumbo marshmallow.

Food Break

At this point, we are pretty full so we decide to walk around. So even if we’ve been there a thousand times, we walk over to Times Square because sometimes you just have to be a tourist. Also, you gotta walk off the food so you can eat some more! Okkkkaayyy??

Times square was less than a mile away (0.3 to 0.4 miles depending on which way you go) from Bibble and Sip so walk on over there and enjoy the view! Yes, the shops around there are over priced, but window shopping is always fun (and freeee!!). Though I did get to pick up some stuff from Sephora because why not?? It’s Sephora! Andrew shakes his head at me all the time when there’s a Sephora around, but I don’t care! It’s Sephora!

Then because there was no way I could stuff my face at that time, we decide to trek on over to the Empire State Building because it’s Neeewwwww Yoooorrrkkkk! “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothin’ you can’t do. Now you’re in New York.” Sorry.. sometimes I break out into song and keep going because I think I sound fabulous. Lucky for you this is a blog, not a vlog… okkkaayyy?

It’s 0.7 miles away from Times Square so get on over there! Again, no lines for us since it was a Thursday and sort of a rainy, foggy day but hey, YOLO, so we go. Views were still amazing and there’s no time limit on the 86th floor so go you have time to just enjoy the views and walk around several times so you can work off that meal. The last pic below shows the ball that drops at midnight during New Year’s Eve. We didn’t get to take a picture of it while we were in Times Square because it was raining so there you go!

Pre-Dinner

My husband is a big eater. So since he knew dinner was going to be sushi, he needed to eat before hand so that he wasn’t going to be hungry. What can I say? I’ve got a keeper! Priorities people, priorities. 😉

We walked over to Hi Collar, which is about 1.6 miles away from the Empire State Building.  It’s described as a “western inspired Japanese cafe.” Their specialties include fancy schmancy coffee (siphoned coffees) and omurice (“fluffy omelet over tomato sauce rice”). I’m not a coffee connoisseur so I know nothing about coffee but real talk… it looked real cool but it tasted like cold watered down coffee. I did not understand it but the people sitting next to us seemed real sophisticated and they seemed to love it so there… you… go.

I opted for some vietnamese-style coffee and just waited for the hubs to finish his omurice and japanese coffee, which he said tasted ok. We were not too impressed, but this place got really great reviews so maybe we just went on an “off” day.

Dinner

By this time, my feet were a little uncomfortable, so we decide to uber it to dinner. It’s only 1.2 miles away so if you wear proper footwear, you can totally hike it to “Sushi Nakazawa.” Ok so the hubs planned this for my birthday. It’s real fancy (hence my shoe choice) and you have to book it a couple of months in advance. He booked the omakase dinner which is a prefix 20-something course meal. Each course is really 1 piece of sushi. You sit in front of the sushi chefs (for an extra $30 per person) and you can see them prepare all the courses. It will cost you about $180 per person. I know… but the hubs is a foodie and that’s what happens sometimes. I like makeup, he likes food.

Dessert

Since the dinner took about 2 hours, my feet were well rested and we were able to walk the 1 mile to get to “Spot Dessert Bar.” It’s pretty small inside, but the desserts are pretty and they taste pretty good too! I would go for “The Harvest,” which is kind of like a deconstructed cheesecake with berries and oreo crumbles. YUMMY! We also got the “Winter Yuzu” which is kinda really sour so if you like that kind of dessert, then by all means.

After that, it was around 10pm and mama had no energy left. As much as I wanted to be cool and stay out later, we had to go home and go to bed because I was exhausted and my feet said “nu uh, no more!”

Other Awesome Places

Again, it’s impossible to write about everything you can do or eat in in New York. But here are some that I’ve been to and have left a great impressions in my mind. Just in case you are looking for somewhere else to go to!

ChikaLicious Dessert Bar. Not to be confused with the ChikaLicious Dessert Club across the street which is also pretty good. They are in East Village. But this one is like an elevated version on desserts and you will not be disappointed

Contra. Lower East Side. It’s a Pre-fix menu and depending on what is included can range from $78 and up. You never know what you’re gonna get because the menu is ever changing. However, it has a Michelin star for a reason. I went before it received the Michelin Star so it sounds to me it’s just getting better and better =).

Renee’s. Queens. Guys, the best filipino restaurant in NY is not in Manhattan. It’s in Queens. Legit. Go here. I can’t even… I would take my mom here. And we all know Filipinos don’t like to go to Filipino Restaurants because they think they can cook better. I mean I can’t… but the moms probably feel that way. This place is legit though so take that subway and go!

That’s It!

Not really. There are tons of places! But this is already long enough. It’s a great place to explore. Honestly, the hole-in-the-wall places are just as great as the fancy schmancy places. Definitely a great place to visit from time to time because of all the different places and restaurants that you can visit. There’s also of course, broadway and off broadway shows. Until next time New York… until next time!

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the day!! <3!

(as per usual, all gifs are from giphy.com)