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)

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)

Gift-giving Guide (Guest Blogger)

Well hello there everyone! I haven’t published anything in a while because I’ve been focusing a lot on my health lately – mental and physical. And that takes up so much time that blogging has been in the background lately. But fear not! I have a guest blogger who wants to remain anonymous save for her first name – Linda. And she’s one of the best gift givers I’ve known. So here it is folks! A gift-giving guide for the upcoming holidays!
Disclaimer, I am NOT affiliated nor am I sponsored by any products mentioned here. These are simply suggestions of my awesome gift-giving friend.

Here we go!

Ready, set, go! Take it away, Linda!
So over the years, friends have told me that I’m a “good” gift giver. That’s a great compliment! But to be honest, ever since I became a mom, my gift-giving skills have taken a huge dive. I have less time, shopping with an infant/toddler is so incredibly hard, and I hardly remember anything these days!

Tips

Here, I’ll provide some tips and offer some gift suggestions.
The key thing to remember when shopping is that you’re shopping for the recipient, not for yourself. Even though it’s super easy to buy multiples of whatever you need or want, or to go to your favorite store, resist! You’re simply crossing an item off your to-do list, which hey, I totally understand! I’m guilty, too. But if you’re looking to perfect the art of gift-giving during the upcoming holidays, read on.
The second thing to remember is to pay attention (!!) whenever you hang out or chat with the person. Readily recounting conversations has helped me the most when I need to shop for someone. Did your friend gush about a new brand or product she tried? Remember it! Did she mention that she has a new job and needs to look for more professional clothing? There ya go! Remembering these kinds of comments and conversations will help you narrow down which store you need to visit. You can even jot down notes in your smartphone as they occur throughout the year.

Word of Caution

And a word of caution about gift cards. Only buy them if: 1) you know the person shops here or eats there, and 2) this store or restaurant is physically located near the person’s home or workplace. You can’t always rely on online redemption, unless it’s an online-only store like Amazon. Getting someone to try something new through a gift certificate is risky, unless you know for a fact that this person loves to try new things and check out different places. We tend to be creatures of habit, and a gift card won’t change that.
Also, people tend to be either really easy or really hard to shop for… if a person is difficult, just accept that fact and make the most out of it. For the difficult ones, or people you don’t know very well, consider questions like:
  • What kind of things do they buy for themselves and where? Look at the person. How do they dress? Do they wear makeup or cologne?
  • What’s something they like to eat or could cook with, if he or she cooks? Edible gifts (ex. baked goods, high quality olive oil, local honey, expensive coffee beans) are easier for the receiver to use or re-gift (let’s be honest!) compared to clothes and accessories.
  • Could you just donate to a charity in his/her name?

Gifts for the ladies or fellas

I think that by your mid- to late-twenties, most women and men have a staple of brands and products they use regularly. Your best bet is to stick with these brands or products. It might not be the most creative, but your gift is more likely to be appreciated and used. I love me some Madewell. You could give me the exact same style of sweater from the Gap, but if it says Madewell, my heart skips an extra beat. I don’t know why, it just does.
If the person has hobbies, that’s super easy to mine for ideas. But if they don’t have hobbies, think about when they were younger, or where they got married or honeymooned… nostalgic gifts can be powerful. Or think about what they studied in college, a hopeful, naive time in life where you were more likely to pursue your actual interests. Perhaps there’s a gift that meshes with that area or skill set. What would make this person smile? That’s the response you want when they see your gift.
If you have a great idea but it’s out of your price range, consider asking another friend or relative if they want to chip in for a group gift. If you’re close enough, I’m sure these other people will love that they don’t need to go through the trouble of finding and purchasing a gift.

Gifts for children

When buying gifts for babies and children, don’t forget about the parents (would they disapprove?), and whether they live in a small apartment or large house. Bulky gifts are really hard to store or clean. Consider items that a parent already needs to buy… you would do mom & dad a favor by gifting something they already need, like food items (a simple box of their favorite cereal!) or gear their child may need in the upcoming year (sports equipment, shoes in the next size, etc.). It’s super hard to resist the “cute” factor in a toy or outfit, but think how practical is that gift? A family pass to a local zoo or children’s museum may be better use of your money, and bonus points if you offer to take the children to the zoo/museum yourself!

Help! I need a gift, stat.

Gift-guides abound this time of year. But these can be hard to tailor for you specific recipient. If all the above fails, and you just need an idea, any idea, here’s a short list:

That’s it!

And that’s it you guys! Hope you guys enjoyed this gift-giving guide by my good friend. Thank you Linda for taking time to blog for me! Thanks everyone for reading and have a great rest of the day!

(all gifs are from giphy.com)

Clark’s Elioak Farm – Exploring Maryland

I heard about this place from a friend who lives in Howard County. What peaked my interest was the fact that the artifacts from the “Enchanted Forest” were transferred to Clark’s Elioak Farm. The “Enchanted Forest” was a theme park in Ellicott City but it closed in 1995. The park was untouched for a long time until the current owner allowed the structures to be moved the this farm.

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Clark’s Elioak Farm

Clark’s Elioak Farm is located in Howard County, MD. Its 540 acres are part of the farmland protection programs meaning the land cannot be used for non-farm development. The farm has been owned by the Clark family for seven generations! Pretty cool!

The main attractions for this farm is a petting zoo, the enchanted forest restoration – which includes the pine tree maze, pony rides, train rides and the hay rides. On the weekends, they have Ellicott’s City’s bubble man, Mr. Barry Gibson, who brings bubble magic to the farm. There are also face painters and food vendors on the weekends. Lastly, for the fall lovers out there, a farm cannot be complete without a pumpkin patch! So during the fall, you can bet Clark’s Elioak Farm has that too!

Cost of Admission

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It’s $7.50 per person (free for babies <1 years old). I’m not sure if you think that’s pricey but I think it’s pretty reasonable for what Clark’s Elioak Farm has to offer. We easily spent 3 hours there and could’ve stayed longer if I only had the energy.

The rides also cost money except for the hayride which takes you around the farm and is included in the admission. The Pony ride is $2 per person, the cow ride (not real cows) is $2 per person, and the train ride is $4 per person. I’ll discuss each later.

Petting Zoo

This place is great because it has a lot of animals to see and pet. And ladies and gentlemen, baby goats! Who doesn’t love baby goats?!?!

Ok, that gif above is not from the farm, but I thought it was funny.

Anyway, again, I digress. E and baby bro thoroughly enjoyed watching and petting the animals that they saw. From goats, to sheep, to cows, emus, ponies, and more! E loved feeding the baby goats. She’s usually scared of the bigger goats so it was nice to see her be able to feed the little itty bitty baby goats. Did I mention I love baby goats?

There’s also a tiny little barn that houses chickens and rabbits but there are warnings that they can bite, so petting is not encouraged in this case.

 

Enchanted Forest

Part of the appeal for me is to see the structures that were in the old Enchanted Forest Theme Park! I’m such a kid I know! But the structures are from old fairy tales and it’s just so fun to look at them and imagine yourself in the fairy tales.  They are placed all around the farm and if you’re a big kid like me, it’s fun to seem them placed in different places on the farm!

Pine Tree Maze

Some of the structures from the Enchanted Forest are hidden in the pine tree maze. I believe the original plan was to have people come and cut down these trees for Christmas. However, now that the trees are so big, they are now part of this amazing “maze” with hidden gems from the ol’ theme park. Ok Clark’s Elioak Farm, I see you ;-).

What’s great about this maze is the smell. Pine trees. Yassss Christmas! I mean I know it’s not the holidays yet, but wooooot! The smell of these pine trees is enough to make even scrooges get into the holiday spirit!

I loved this place! I mean, the kids enjoyed it too because of all the stuff they “found” in the forest!

 

The Rides

There are several rides that you or your kids can enjoy at Clark’s Elioak Farm. Some of them are worth it and some of them are up to your preferences. We enjoyed all the rides ourselves. =)

The Hay Ride – included in the admission

So you basically go in a huge truck and it takes you around the farm. It’s a good way to take a break while doing a little “sight seeing.” The great thing about this is that you can go on it as many times as you want. I recommend sitting on different sides of the truck if you go on there twice so that you can see different things while going around the farm.

 

The Train Ride – $4 per person

So, it’s the same exact route as the Hay Ride. Yes, you got that right. BUT if you don’t like “crowded” spaces and you like to see the view of both sides of the vehicle AND your kids LOVE trains, then this is the ride for you! It also comes with tons of “choo choo” sounds which baby bro loved so much.

 

The Cow Ride – $2 per person

For the little ones! If you’re comfortable letting your kids go without you for a couple of minutes, this is the ride for you! ;-). Adults can also sit with their kids, but this ride is specifically made for the little ones. I think baby bro, who is 2, may have been a little scared going by himself, but E saved the day. The ride operator was really nice and let her go without a ticket. Woot!

 

The Pony Ride – $2 per person

It’s literally one of the shortest pony rides ever. But E was insistent and I was in a giving mood. Also, had to give it a go for my readers right?!? eh? eh? haha… E loved it of course, but I may forego this one unless they go around the little “track” like 2-3 times.

 

Extras

The Photo Zone

There’s a “Photo Zone” set up so you can take your little family and pose for pics with a cute little set up. Haha however our little ones weren’t too into it.

The Hay Maze

A little mini maze that for some reason was so much fun for E and baby bro. The hay is low enough so you don’t necessarily have to join your kids inside the maze and still see where they are at. E and baby bro ran around like crazy when they figured out how to get in and out of the maze. The older kids tended to be on top of the hay, so just look out for your little one as they traverse through the maze.  We could’ve stayed in the maze for a while but I wanted to explore some more.

 

Other fun stuff

It’s not every day you get to sit on a tractor. Baby bro loved it so much, I had to pry him off the seat. It also makes for a nice photo op! There are also wooden trains and other fun structures around the farm for kids to play in.  Lastly, they do have a store that I forgot to take a picture of. But they sell lots of locally farmed items. I went ahead and bought their apple butter which is actually pretty good on toast. E even wanted to make apple butter sandwich which she ate and loved as well =).

 

Final Thoughts

We had such a great time at Clark’s Elioak Farm! There is so much to do and see for both kids and adults. I would definitely come here again. I recommend going here in the fall because there is a pumpkin patch for the fam and it’s not so hot. The only shade you’ll really find is n the pine tree maze so if it’s too hot, you may get a little uncomfortable when exploring the farm itself.

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

(all gifs are from giphy.com)