Each year, Oyamel hosts a Mexican Day of the Dead fiesta here in DC. (Incidentally, Oyamel is just one of many fabulous restaurants run by star chef Jose Andres. You may have heard his name lately because of all generous Puerto Rico relief work!)
Anyway, here’s how the festive night unfolds…
You line up outside with all the other eager patrons, waiting for the doors to open.
As soon as they let you in, you’re presented with a colorful display of food and drink stations, passed bites, a live latin music band, a dance floor, and painted skeletons everywhere.
The atmosphere is buzzing with festive energy, amplified by the free-flowing drinks.
Seriously, I could not even keep up with all the interesting cocktails being made all around me.
A bit of a lightweight (it was a week night after all), I enjoyed two non-alcoholic Mango aqua frescos for most of the night, but later topped those off with one very salty and delicious traditional Margarita.
One of my favorite food stations was the Ceviche, where I devoured about 5 of those little tuna tartar tostadas and a couple of oysters.
Waiters with large trays endlessly circled the area, presenting us with street tacos!
There was everything from roasted pork to beef to vegetables, all served with the spiciest sauces and moles. Not for the spice shy, that’s for sure!
This night was so fun, and we ended up meeting a great group of people.
Although I grew up in the South a few hours away from Nashville, I never really spent any time there.
But recently, we took a quick trip to Nashville, and I was surprised by how much the city offers. Here’s a quick round up of what we did, where we stayed, and what we ate.
The first day we arrived close to dinner time and headed straight to Rolf and Daughters for dinner. This restaurant serves small plates, and it’s a must if you like innovative cuisine.
It was too dark to take flattering pictures of the food inside, but we had a series of really delicious plates like sourdough bread with seaweed butter (obsessed!), homemade fusilli pasta with mushrooms, Njuda baked sweet potato, and the signature dish, chicken with preserved lemon and garlic.
The drinks were really good too and I had something so unique made with Pimm’s, fresh herbs, and falernum, an old timey simple syrup made of ginger, cloves, almond, and lime.
When we travel, we like to stay in Airbnb. This time, our rental was in a neighborhood near Vanderbilt University. This historic red brick cottage had so much Nashville charm- old creaky floors, a slanted bathroom ceiling (where we bumped our heads a few times), country music posters and art, and country decor.
I loved the bedspread and the chicken motif decorations!
The next morning, we headed to Biscuit Love early so we’d be there when they opened. This place tends to get long lines and it makes sense why. The food was so good.
I feel like biscuits are making a revival in the States right now. I know biscuits can be different things in different countries, but here biscuits refer to traditional southern rolls made with tons of butter and flour. As you can see, they can be eaten savory or sweet.
We ordered the fried chicken biscuit smothered in spicy white gravy. The star of the meal though were the mini biscuit donuts served up with blueberry compote and whipped mascarpone cream. Needless to say, it’s worth heading back to Nashville just for this plate again!
After breakfast, we walked downtown and spent some time in Centennial Park. This park has green public spaces where people can perform or exercise (African dancing and drumming) and a replica of the Parthenon.
From there, we headed to lunch.
You can’t come to Nashville and not eat Nashville hot chicken. There are a couple of good places that serve it, but we went for Hattie B’s. We stood in the long line for about an hour, but it was worth it!
After our lunch, we went to Music Row for some country music at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. This place is really amazing. There are three levels and each one had live music all day long. We ended up staying for about 3 hours and then walking around the streets to hear other musicians playing too.
Even if you don’t know much country music, this part of Nashville is really great to visit.
After listening to music, it was getting later in the day but rather than dinner that night, we decided to have some drinks and appetizers instead.
This speakeasy was so charming. I’d call the atmosphere swanky old-fashioned library (sounds strange, but it works). We tucked ourselves in to a dim cozy corner and enjoyed our lovely drinks!
The bar tenders are really enthusiastic about their job and so skilled here that they can even concoct something just for you. You just tell them your preferences and they come back a few minutes later with a delicious custom made creation.
My cocktail was great. Herbal. Fresh. Gingery. Exactly how I like it.
The air was crisp and clean. The sky was sunny. This was the kind of day that makes you feel energized and happy to be alive.
The afternoon started with delicious drinks around 4:30 pm. They had wine and beer, but the Huckleberry Juice Punch called my name. Similar to cranberry, this punch was tart and and refreshing, made with infused herbs and vodka.
During the cocktail hour, you were encouraged to walk around the farm, admire the sights and say hello to the chickens!
Because they started running out of the Huckleberry punch, I switched to champagne, which I enjoyed while sampling oysters and trays of passed appetizers.
Soon, we all sat down for dinner at a long family style table, and feasted on 3 scrumptious courses of meats and vegetables.
Everything served was local, either grown on this exact farm or nearby.
There were so many delicious courses like Thai style beef salad and fried okra, but my favorite course of the night was the roasted pork with tomatillo sauce.
This dinner was a true indulgence, and it was made better by all the fun conversations with people nearby.
As the afternoon sky slowly turned from golden to lavender, the moon come out overhead.
That meant it was soon time for DESSERT!
They served a trio of little sweet bites including cardamom shortbread, mint meringues, and butternut squash cake. (I might have snuck a few of these home in a napkin!)
This day was the perfect welcome to fall.
And guess what I learned, ya’ll?
While I absolutely cannot wait until I can attend this dinner again next October, I found out Arcadia Farm hosts a summer dinner harvest too.
I’ve got my sights set on the next Farm dinner in May 2018!
October already… I can’t believe it. Things have been a little quiet here on the blog.
I had a whole line up of posts about Puerto Rico, but as the island continues to recover, it just doesn’t seem right to be like “Look at all my vacation pictures in Puerto Rico, ya’ll!”
Of course, I will post more from PR when things settle down there, but in the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to lately.
A few weeks ago, I went to Uncensored DC, a fundraiser held at an old underground metro station. The event was all about books with themes of censorship, and the night was meant to honor our freedom to read.
When my husband suggested we go, I imagined people awkwardly standing around wearing brown grandpa sweaters (I know, active imagination here).
But as you can see, this event was actually really hip… no grandpa sweaters in sight! It helped that there were 5 stations of different cocktails, provocative art on the walls, and a fun band playing.
Another fun highlight in the past few weeks was Pizzalapooza at the MGM National Harbor. Thirteen chefs from all over the country (and even one from Italy) showcased their pizza creations, like this one with thinly sliced beef and a dollop of ricotta cheese.
There was also a dessert table where you could sample mini-desserts like creme brûlée, tiramisu, biscotti, fresh berries with cream, and pistachio cannoli. This was sugar heaven. (Why? Why do I love sweets so much?)
Finally, this month had lots and lots of walks around the lake with the dog. The leaves started to turn colors in the last few days, and it’s getting to be Autumn around here.
Two other fun things happened this month including a special Farm Dinner I attended and a 3 day trip to Nashville. I’m going to write about those in my next posts soon.