Day of the Dead Party

Happy Halloween!

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.

Until next year, Oyamel!

Arcadia Farm Fall Harvest Dinner

In early fall each year, Arcadia Farm hosts a special Fall Harvest dinner benefitting Veteran farmers. This kind of food event is one of my favorite ways to transition to Autumn here in DC.

See my two previous farm dinners, Feast in the Forest and Arcadia Farm to Table Dinner.

This particular afternoon was PERFECT.

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!

Feast in the Forest

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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!

Off Shoulder Top and Suede Skirt

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Last weekend, I enjoyed a fall weekend getaway to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

It was the perfect opportunity to finally wear more autumn appropriate clothing like this off shoulder top and suede skirt.

My husband and I stayed at Hacienda Nicholas, a charming Southwestern style bed and breakfast.

I wore this look to the happy hour hosted in the courtyard and then out to dinner at a nearby cozy restaurant, Sazon (so much more to say and show about this beautiful dining experience!).img_1369

Hacienda Nicholas was really lovely. When traveling, small inns and bed and breakfasts appeal to me more than big hotels.

This inn had traditional desert New Mexico architecture, and I fell in love with the red adobe exterior, the colorful artwork, the hanging chili peppers, and that red and orange ivy hanging over our door!

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I can’t wait to share more details from this trip including some truly gorgeous mountain views and (you know me) all my favorite meals and food experiences there!

It’s safe to say I’m officially obsessed with blue corn and green chili now…

Banana Republic Off Shoulder Top/Danier Suede Pencil Skirt (similar here)

Charles and David Black Pumps

Tweed Newsboy Cap and Stripes

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For Day 2 in Shenandoah (see day 1 Enjoying a mountain cabin getaway), I wore this tweed newsboy hat with a stripe sweater and layering vest.

Mountain mornings are the best, aren’t they? Fresh cool air. Bright blue sky. This unbelievable view. And a whole day of hiking and waterfalls before of us. It was a cool morning, but sunny enough that I didn’t need that many layers as we prepared hot coffee and breakfast over the open fire and then went for our hike.

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We hiked along a trail that followed a stream and led us by some beautiful waterfalls. I wasn’t expecting there to be much run off given the time of year, but there was enough for these spots to be really pretty.

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Of course, our dog Quinn completely love the rocks and splashing water. It was way too cold to go for a dip in any of the waterfall pools, but we’re already planning to  do this hike again during the summer and bring swimsuits along.

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Outfit details: Sweater: Ann Taylor, Vest: Calvin Klein, Jeans: Express, Boots: Vasque, Hat: Unknown (vendor in the mall), Scarf: Amazon

I love sharing my experiences here on the blog, but I’m curious about you. Do you enjoy hiking in the mountains? What would be your outfit of choice during the fall for comfort and style?

If you like this post, please like it and follow my Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter accounts. I really appreciate your support!

Enjoying a Mountain Cabin Getaway

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Two weekends ago, my husband and I escaped the business of Washington DC to enjoy the quiet of Shenandoah National Park for the Columbus Day weekend. The orange, reds, and yellows were in full force.6

We try to spend the weekend in Shenandoah twice a year in summer and fall, but the hotel rooms, cabins, and camping spots book up fast! This year, we were lucky to go around mid-October when the scenery is absolutely gorgeous.1collage3collage1

As soon as we arrived to the Lewis Mountain Cabins, we unpacked our stuff and immediately went for a hike to breathe in fresh mountain air and cast off the  workweek stress.

Thankfully, the temperature was mild during the afternoon, so no jacket was needed! I wore this comfy sweatshirt from Anthropologie with jeans from Express and these excellent water resistant Vasque boots.

After our hike, we fired up the grill and enjoyed some wine and cheese while preparing dinner. I’m a huge fan of using Pinterest for inspiration and I found so many great suggestions for making pizza in a cast iron skillet on the open grill. You really need to try this the next time you’re looking for camping food ideas!

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As the sun went down, the temperature dropped and we spent a cozy rest of the evening bundled up sipping wine next to the fire.

As always, I love sharing my experiences with you here on the blog, but I’m curious about you! Do you enjoy the mountains? Where do you explore nature? Tell me in the comments!

White Denim and Red Silk

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The Tabard Inn is a popular brunch spot in downtown DC. It’s attached to a historic hotel rowhouse that’s been around since 1922 and took in female emergency service volunteers during World War II.

Both the cozy interior and brick garden exterior patio have so much character. My husband and I got up bright and early one Saturday morning and snagged a table at the ivy adorned outdoor patio.  Continue reading “White Denim and Red Silk”