Feast in the Forest

farm-dinner

A few weeks ago, we attended Feast in the Forest, an annual fall harvest dinner at the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm. It takes place in the most beautiful location, a family owned farm out in the Virginia countryside.

All the food is locally sourced and some of it even comes from the forest trees… more to say about that later.

See our pictures from a similar farm dinner event we attended last year.

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The meal starts late afternoon with cocktail in the garden at the main house of the restaurant farm. The sweeping views of the valley looking out from there aren’t too bad, right?alice-and-olivia-dress

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After mingling with some of your new friends/dinner companions, you walk together down a long forest path to the dining area in the middle of the forest.

You sit at the long table next to people you’ve just met and share a family style meal. Usually, this is my favorite thing about events like this … you  always end up next to the most friendly and interesting folks.path-to-dinner-tableimg_1580lantern

The path through the forest is lined with these charming lanterns. By the time the evening is over, it’s almost dark and the lanterns give off the prettiest glow.

Now, on to the food.

Once the meal starts, the dishes start coming out fast and furious. I managed to get photos of a few plates, but when you’re sharing with others, it’s not all that polite to say, “Wait while I take a picture!”

The full menu is below. I had some really delicious things I’ve never eaten before, and as mentioned above, much of it was harvested from that very forest.

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These plates are the farro risotto (on the left, my favorite dish of the whole night) and the wood ear rice (on the right). Wood ear is a type of mushroom grown in that forest.first-courseBelow is the broccoli with frost grape and fresh chevre. This was pretty fantastic… I don’t know how to describe the frost grape sauce except it was like a plum flavored puree. The plate on the right side is crabapple bread with whipped cheddar and walnuts in the middle. second-course

Throughout the whole meal, I was keeping a list of my favorite dishes, but that went out the window when we got to desserts- chestnut macarons, the crabapple bread, and Paw Paw pie.

This pie was so delicious. It tasted like a cross between banana and mango pie with a drizzle of the caramel over it.dessert-plate

Never heard of Paw Paw before? Me neither.

It actually grows in long pods in trees. In fact, the chef harvested them from the very trees above our table in the forest.img_1595

Yes, we did some damage…

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The whole event was really lovely, but the real special part happened at the end.

When we got back to our car, we found we had a flat tire (drove over a nail on the path up to the farm).

But not to worry. So many people offered us help changing the tire, even the chef of the restaurant.

And while we weren’t paying attention, someone left us an entire to-go container of those chestnut macarons!

New Mexico Food Diary

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Bring on the green chili, blue corn, and giant burritos

It’s been a few weeks since my fall weekend trip to New Mexico. (You can read about the Hacienda Nicholas B & B here and my hiking adventures here and here.)

While this post talked about my special dinner at Sazon, I never shared some of my other food adventures until now.

Here are some of my favorite snacks and meals.

DAY 1: Breakfast (Central Grill and Coffee House).

Because it was balloon festival time and a perfect fall morning, we wanted to sit outdoors. A quick google search led us to the Central Grill and Coffee House.

We couldn’t resist the giant breakfast burrito with eggs, potatoes, bacon, and both red and green chili generously poured on top.  (in case you’re wondering, we shared this monster and yes, we did catch a few glimpses of ascending balloons)

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Dinner (Sazon)

Looking forward to dinner, we shared a sandwich for lunch. Then we went all out for this fabulous meal at Sazon and the very special avocado dessert ice cream we tried for the first time.

Day 2 Breakfast (Hacienda Nicholas)

Whenever possible, we try to stay at B & B’s when we travel. It feels like you’re staying in someone’s home and the breakfasts are tasty homemade affairs. This inn featured local produce and ingredients from nearby farms.

On this morning, they prepared a green chili egg casserole with black beans and sour cream. We ate outside in the rose garden! (I’ve already made this recipe since I’ve been home)

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Snack (Whoo’s Donuts)

Feeling hungry after our hiking adventure, we stopped at this unique donut shop.

As soon as I spotted this blue corn lavender donut… I was sold. I mean, look at the beautiful color! I’ve never had a corn based donut before, and this first experience was really great. It tasted similar to sweet corn bread.

Our other selection was the spicy red chili chocolate donut, which carried some heat. (try only if you like spicy with your sweet)blue-corn-lavendar-donutchile-donuts

Late Lunch/Dinner (Harry’s Roadhouse)

After exploring Bandelier monument for hours that afternoon, we ended up starving at Harry’s Roadhouse. I went in thinking this place would be all about burgers and fries, but I was so wrong.

They have a wide menu with all sorts of interesting regional and international dishes.

We started off with a big steaming bowl of green chili stew, but unfortunately we gobbled it down fast before we could take a picture.

Then I had vegetarian stuffed acorn squash with black beans, quinoa, rice, and green chili sauce. I loved all the colors and flavors going on in this. (plus, I got a new idea about how to eat acorn squash)

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Then husband got the Thai steak salad with the most delicious grilled vegetables on top. Such a healthy and unique meal from a roadside diner, right?

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Last Day Breakfast

Imagine waffles made from blue corn, loaded with pine nuts, and topped with fresh blueberries. That was our breakfast at our B & B on the last morning.

I’m sad to say we enthusiastically ate it all up before we remembered our camera!

Snack before flying home (Kakawa Chocolate House)

A huge fan of drinking chocolate, I was so excited to find out about Kakawa Chocolate House in Sante Fe.

They serve different varieties of sweet and non-sweet chocolate elixirs every day, some of  them with unique spices and herbs like Aztecs might have consumed.

When you go in, there’s a big board with the day’s selections and they’ll give you samples before you make a final decision.

I knew I wanted something on the sweeter side, so we ordered the Modern Mexican versions, made from 70% chocolate, traditional Mexican cinnamon, and almond milk. chocolate-menuhot-chocolate

Because this place was rather touristy, I worried the hot chocolate would be overly sweet, but it was the perfect balance between sweet and bitter and I recommended it to others staying at our inn. You can even buy some of the chocolate blends to take home for chilly nights!

Overall, I was blown away by all the delicious fresh tasty food we tried. Needless to say, I may have added a few pounds, but who’s keeping track, right?

Bomber Jacket and Silk Dress

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The bomber jacket craze is going strong this fall, and it’s been SO fun to see all of YOUR variations- sequined, metallic, sporty, and oversized!

I, too, have fallen for the bomber jacket trend. In late summer during the Nordstrom Half-Yearly sale, I picked up this tonal satin bomber version.(still available and a great buy under $100)

When choosing this jacket, I tried to be strategic. I wanted a more fitted silhouette made from a fabric that would translate to many outfits and situations.

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For brunch in DC recently, I wore it paired with a bright green midi dress and Converse sneakers at one of my favorite places, Dascha Biergarten.

This outdoor restaurant is inspired by German biergartens and offers so many delicious drinks (crisp pear cider) and food. As you can see, I just couldn’t resist the skillet of creamy mac and cheese, the breakfast sausage bagels, and fingerling fries.

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I’ve got lots more plans for this jacket, and thankfully, the weather has been unseasonably warm this fall.

Like I said, there’s so much great inspiration about how to wear bombers lately. How have you been wearing yours?

Dinner at Sazón in Santa Fe

                  The truly unique and beautiful dessert at Sazón- Can you guess what it is?

As you all know, I LOVE to eat and trying new food is one of my goals when traveling. (actually to be truthful, I’d say the whole trip revolves around food)

On my recent trip to New Mexico, I  had such a memorable dinner at Sazón in downtown Sante Fe.

The chef hails from Mexico City, and the food was more traditional Mexican than Tex-Mex or Southwestern, as many of us in the US are accustomed to.

This means the menu had items like moles, stuffed chilis, and the like (inventive combinations of flavors and ingredients).

We arrived to the restaurant WAY early due to me not knowing the exact time of our reservation. But no problem.  We happily headed to the bar for a drink.

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I ordered a margarita in a glass lined with really spicy chili powder and my husband got a Mexican beer. The drinks were served with a trio of moles and a little stack of corn tortillas.

The moles were so interesting. I’ve only ever had the typical mole that most Americans know made with dark chocolate and chilis, but these moles had all sorts of ingredients including white chocolate, apricot, and fresh herbs.

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The bar area was so cozy with Mexican art and skeleton decor… perfect for Halloween.

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When it was time for dinner, we headed back up to the dining room and the food adventure continued.

The server recommended their signature “Lovers” soup and promised it was both memorable and delicious.

She was 100% right.

This soup was heavenly and unlike anything I’ve ever had. It was poblano cream with fresh lump crab meat and topped with amaretto foam dusted with cinnamon.

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It was so creamy, spicy, and slightly sweet and as soon as we got back to our room that night, I started googling recipes for poblano cream soups!

Our main courses were lovely too.

I ordered Chile en Nogada, which was so satisfying and full of amazing textures and flavors.

This dish is a roasted pepper stuffed with dried fruit, minced beef, pomegranates, walnuts, and cream sauce.

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My husband ordered the seared tuna steak served with a Thai spice inspired mole. This fish was so good and could easily be replicated at home, I think.  (well, maybe not the garnish)

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Now on to dessert.

When we read the description of it on the menu, we found it rather vague. “This dessert is our chef’s masterpiece!”

We asked the server about it and she said she couldn’t really explain it to us, fearing our reaction, but asked if she could just bring us one to enjoy.

She promised that if we didn’t like it, she wouldn’t charge us for it.

After accepting her offer, we received this beauty a few minutes later.

Do you have any ideas about what it is?

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Are you ready for this?

It’s the most unusual but surprisingly delicious dessert I’ve ever had. It’s avocado ice cream with beet, ginger, and jalapeño syrup. Sounds crazy, right? I promise, you would also love it.

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Dining at Sazon was such a great experience and reasonably priced considering the originality and quality of the food.

I highly recommend you make reservations and go there when visiting Santa Fe.