Archive for the ‘around DC’ Category

A Trip to France via Olivia Macaron

Monday, July 14th, 2014

In preparation for Bastille Day (July 14), we took a field trip to learn the secrets behind our newest favorite treat, authentic French macarons. Olivia Macaron opened in Georgetown in 2013, just off of M Street across from Dean & DeLuca.

clay macarons at Olivia Macaron | foodietots.com

The foodie tots love to check out the latest window display, featuring macaron trees in the colors of the season. (We learned a secret: the macrons on display are filled with royal icing so they’ll hold up longer — so don’t bother trying to pinch a taste, as they won’t taste very good!)

Olivia Macaron | macaron trees | foodietots.com

Inside, they are easily tempted by the rainbow of cookies in the case.

macarons at Olivia Macaron | foodietots.com

We met with store manager Joelle, who told us a little more about the shop and the process of making macarons. Unfortunately, Chef Michel Giaon does the baking at a commercial kitchen in the suburbs, not on site, so we didn’t get a true peek in the kitchen. (You can, though, by following @oliviamacaron on Instagram.) The macarons are delivered fresh each morning.

choosing macarons | foodietots at olivia macaron

There are 13 signature flavors available year-round, and three new featured flavors each month. We stopped by in June, so we got to sample the spicy chocolate bacon macaron created for Father’s Day. This month, look for a special strawberry — blue, white & red for Bastille Day — mojito, s’mores and champagne mango.

olivia macaron tasting | foodietots.com

So how do macarons differ from macaroons, the standard Passover dessert? Macaroons with two o’s are made with coconut, while the French macaron is made with almond flour. Olivia grinds almonds down to flour, then mixes them with egg whites and sugar. Those three ingredients are the base, which are then flavored, piped on baking sheets and baked. The fillings can be a cream cheese or buttercream frosting, ganache, or jam.

Olivia Macaron is named after the owner, Ana Claudia Lopez’s daughter, a three-year-old who, much like the foodie tot, tends to prefer the pink macarons in rose and raspberry.

A few more tidbits:

The most popular flavor they sell is salted caramel, and they offer mini packages of two that can be customized to match your event’s colors. (We thought about macaron pops as a party favor for the Foodie Tot, but were afraid they’d crumble too quickly.) Did you catch the clay macarons in the top photo? They were made by local preschoolers after their own field trip to the bakery.

From the Foodie Tot:

favorite part of the visit: tasting the flavors!

favorite flavor: bacon and cassis

flavor she’d like to create: blueberry bacon

From the Foodie Boy:

favorite part of the visit: Getting to taste the June flavors.

favorite flavor: piña colada (another June special)

flavor he’d like to create: red licorice

fun at olivia macaron | foodietots.com

We have plans to attempt to bake macarons at home this summer, but in the mean time, it’s nice to have Olivia Macaron nearby! After a visit (they also offer coffee and espresso for mom and dad), it’s an easy stroll down to the canal or waterfront park.

Olivia Macaron
3222 M Street NW
Washington DC
Monday to Thursday: 10AM-8PM
Friday-Saturday: 10AM – 9PM
Sunday: 11AM-7PM

In the Kitchen at Cava Grill

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

We recently went into the kitchen at one of our favorite local eateries to learn how to make falafel. The foodie tot and I frequently lunch at Cava Grill on her days off from preschool. When I was explaining to her recently that both hummus and falafel start out from the same ingredient, chick peas, it seemed like a cooking lesson was in order. Fortunately, the kind folks at Cava Grill welcomed us into the kitchen to learn their secrets.

foodietot loves cava

Cava Grill makes their falafel and most other ingredients fresh in house each day. They work with a number of local farms to source their ingredients, including naturally-raised lamb, beef and chicken, and are working to ensure every item is GMO-free by the end of the year. Later this year, they’ll transition to baking pita in-house as well. Cava’s hummus and spreads are made in a central commissary and delivered to the restaurants three times a week; you can also find them at local Whole Foods, MOMs Organic Market and other natural grocers to enjoy at home.

But back to the falafel. It turns out their recipe is the result of a miscommunication when they started testing recipes. A cook didn’t mash the chick peas first and when the falafel were mixed, whole beans remained in the balls. This happy accident results in falafel that isn’t as dense as many others, and tastes fresh and flavorful.

fresh-made falafel at cava | foodietots.com

The foodie tot was eager to get into the kitchen and mix things up. There’s just seven ingredients: chick peas, salt, cumin, parsley, cilantro, onion and flour. The Mosaic District location, where we were cooking, goes through 100 pounds of chick peas each day — just making falafel!

Take a look at the video to see the foodie tot — and Cava’s director of operations, Rob Gresham — in action.

FoodieTot Loves Cava from Colleen | GlassBottle on Vimeo.

While I couldn’t entice her to write this blog post herself, the foodie tot did consent to a post-visit interview.

Q.  What did you enjoy about making falafel?

A.  Putting everything in!

Q.  Were there any surprises in the kitchen?

A.  How big the cans of beans were. (6 pounds each!)

Q.  What’s your favorite thing to eat at Cava?

A.  Fawaffle! (i.e., falafel ;) )

In addition the the tasty falafel, we love Cava for its healthy and customizable kids meal. The meal comes with a mini pita, choice of brown or white rice, choice of proteins, carrot sticks and hummus. The girl gets her falafel, while the foodie boy prefers the lamb meatballs. Kids can choose fresh toppings too — the foodie tot gets either the cucumber or cucumber-tomato salad and kalamata olives. I love the “super greens” salad blend, myself, which includes kale and brussels sprouts; I get it fully loaded with toppings and usually go for the spicy harissa or sriracha greek yogurt dressing. Perfection. Drink-wise, kids can get organic milk or choose the freshly-made juice. It’s strawberry season right now, which means strawberry mint lime juice is our beverage of choice.

cava grill healthy kids meal | foodietots.com

Just look at that colorful, fresh, veggie-loaded meal!

A casual spin-off of the original Cava Mezze restaurants, there are currently 5 Cava Grill locations in the metro DC area, with five more on the way within the next year. The newest location, Chinatown, will open early this fall. Visit their website to find the location nearest you. They have a fun Tumblr, too.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored review, but we did receive a free lunch. As always, all opinions are our own, and we really, really love Cava! Many thanks to Nikki, Liz and Rob at Cava Grill for welcoming us into the restaurant.

Scenes from Mosaic Central Farm Market

Friday, May 16th, 2014

May, as you locals know, brings opening day to the rest of the DC region’s seasonal farmers markets. Brand new this year is the Mosaic Central Farm Market in Merrifield’s Mosaic District. If you follow us on Instagram (@foodietots), you know the Mosaic District is one of our family’s new favorite hang-outs. From fast, healthy lunch options at Cava Grill, Sweetgreen and Chipotle to Friday night outdoor movies on the big screen — last weekend I enjoyed a date night with the foodie boy to watch E.T. — it’s not hard for us to find an excuse to stop by. You’ll likely catch us there on sunny weekends, in particular, when the kids can be found splashing in the water fountains while mom and dad enjoy iced coffee from Dolcezza. (And yes, there’s also a big Target there for those less glamorous essentials and MOM’s Organic Market for our organic pantry staples. And an Angelika Theatre, where we escape for date nights without the kids.)

Mosaic Central Farm Market from Colleen | GlassBottle on Vimeo.

Central Farm Markets, which currently operate locations in Bethesda and Rockville, is now operating a Sunday market along District Avenue each week from 9am to 2pm. The first week was bustling, and I was pleased to recognize a few favorites from other markets, like Toigo Orchards, Twin Springs Fruit Farm and Westmoreland Berry Farm (they’ve got asparagus & strawberries) and two new-to-me, certified organic farms, Bending Bridge Farm and The Farm at Our House. All-natural meat vendors include Cibola Farms and Springfield Farm. One of our favorite pickle stops, Number 1 Sons, is there too.

Mosaic Central Farm Market -- Opening Day -- FoodieTots

There are prepared foods, too — I brought home asparagus ravioli from Ovvio Osteria — and Nicecream, the made-to-order ice cream sensation that launched last year. Rumor has is it their new shop is now open in Clarendon, too. We enjoyed the strawberry ice cream at market and look forward to sampling many more flavors as the weather heats up.

Nicecream at Mosaic Central Farm Market | FoodieTots.com

Did you hit the market this weekend? We finally scored some strawberries! All our cold and rainy weather has put a damper on strawberry season, but local pick-your-own farms are opening very soon. Asparagus season lasts for a few more weeks, so stock up while you can.

Kids Food Festival, Nov. 2-3, Union Market, DC

Friday, November 1st, 2013

This weekend, Nov. 2 & 3, the Kids Food Festival comes to Union Market in Washington, DC. Originally held in NYC, this special event presented by the Creative Kitchen includes cooking and fitness demos and food entertainment — like the “Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt” based on USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov guidelines. Activities take place from 10am to 4pm each day. Kids and their parents can also participate in hands-on cooking classes in the James Beard Foundation Future Foodies Pavilion with local chefs including Cathal Armstrong (Restaurant Eve),  R.J. Cooper (Rogue 24/Gypsy Soul), and Spike Mendhelsohn (Good Stuff Eatery). Note that tickets are required for the cooking classes, and available here.

kids_food_fest_dc_2013

Arcadia Farm Fallfest {Support School-to-Farm in Virginia}

Friday, October 4th, 2013

What’s even better than bringing farm-fresh foods to schools? Bringing school kids to the farm! The Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture is doing just that at its working farm on the grounds of the historic Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Virginia. The non-profit arm of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, produce grown at the Northern Virginia farm is sold via a converted school bus, the Mobile Market, which travels around DC providing access to fresh produce in under-served areas.

chickens on Arcadia Farm, Virginia | FoodieTots

I had the privilege of attending a summer dinner on the farm earlier this year, and toured the beautiful farm. Just take a look around the Children’s Garden:

Children’s Garden at Arcadia from Colleen | GlassBottle on Vimeo.

Arcadia hosted kids farm camps over the summer, but now that school is in session they welcome schools to visit on field trips and offer family education programs on weekends. They’ve recently launched a brand new membership program to support all the good work they do. Members are given first dibs to sign up for culinary classes with master chefs and bakers from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group and others in the local food scene. To see upcoming classes and join the cause, visit their website

Arcadia Farm Fallfest 2013

You can visit Arcadia Farm this Sunday, October 6, for their Farm Fallfest Family Frolic Funtacular. It will be held from 12 to 4pm at Woodlawn, 9000 Richmond Highway, Alexandria.