With weather in the 80s the last few days, it already feels like summertime here in the DC region. And I’m not complaining!
Last Sunday, we took advantage of a pleasant morning before the afternoon heatwave to visit Barrel Oak Winery in Northern Virginia.
This is one of our favorite wineries ever. The pastoral farm setting is so peaceful, the wines are nice, and best of all, it’s dog friendly!
We timed it so we could enjoy their Sunday morning special which includes a breakfast champagne cocktail, bagel, newspaper, open space, and all the green you can take in for miles.
One of the things I really love about this area is that roads are sign and billboard free, meaning there’s just nature to appreciate. And what could be more peaceful on a lazy Sunday morning than that?
This winery can get crazy crowded on the weekends, but the morning hours had the perfect amount of folks for people-watching and interacting with other dog-owners. We were able to snag a picnic table with umbrella next to the fields.
There are so many wineries in this area and we always vow we’re going to branch out and try something different. but in the end, we gravitate back here though because the setting is so pretty.
It’s safe to say, I’m sure we’ll be making lots of trips back here over the next few months. How about you? Do you have a favorite nature setting in your area?
Charleston, SC was the spot where we bid farewell to 2016 and rang in the New Year 2017. Relatives live there, so at least once a year we are lucky to visit and discover some new places. This trip full of new experiences and lots of good food, of course. Here are some highlights:
Late fall and early winter in the DC area makes for great outdoor time!
While temps are chilly in the morning and evening, the days are pretty mild. (Update: today we got our first winter arctic blast!)
Recently, my husband and I headed to Great Falls, Maryland to hike the Billy Goat Trail. The sky and scenery was beautiful, and I’m so glad we got to experience it before our proper winter arrives (which apparently it has!)
For the hike, I threw on this zip high neck sweater from Zara, my Lysee denim leggings from Nordstrom, and comfy Vasque Talus Treks. Both the sweater and leggings are still available! The sweater is so cozy and I like how it’s sporty but could be versatile for other looks too. These leggings are so flattering- the denim material is thick and offers a lot of coverage so you don’t feel like you’re wearing gym leggings out somewhere. They are offered in different colors too.
How’s the weather where you are? I already see snow storms and blizzards on the news!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.Below 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.
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.
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.
Yes, we did some damage…
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
The bar area was so cozy with Mexican art and skeleton decor… perfect for Halloween.
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.
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.
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)
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?
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.
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.
But let me tell me, my husband and I finally made it there last weekend, and nearly a week later, we’re still talking about our meal.
We started with a few interesting drinks including pureed watermelon and chili pepper, an Old Fashioned for my husband, and a “shrub” for me.
(Have you ever heard of shrubs? They actually go back to 17th century… these historic old timey drinks are made from rum or brandy and fruit.)
My version was rum infused with fresh green tomato and herbs. So refreshing!
We ordered a few appetizers such as the frittata below and rabbit sausage bites. My personal favorite, though, was the zucchini bread. A thick slice of toasted brown rice bread, topped with yogurt, marinated zucchini, and balsamic glaze.
The next course was a kale, anchovy, and goat lasagna with salsa verde. (there’s the goat you may have been wondering about…)
The slice of lasagna was massive and we shared it. it was certainly one of the most unique things I’ve eaten lately. Isn’t it beautiful (and kind of strange looking too?)
There was still room in our stomachs for dessert, so we ordered the almond apricot cake and the cannoli. Both so good and so pretty!
We loved this meal and can’t wait to go back and try some new dishes. Everything that came out of the kitchen and was served to nearby tables looked so good!
As mentioned in my Eastern Market post, the DC weather is still like summer.