Archive for the ‘restaurants’ Category

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 |

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 |

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.

Fresh Summer Flavors at Silver Diner

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

It’s birthday week at Casa de FoodieTots — mine was Monday, and the boy celebrates his this weekend. I know many of you are already back to school, but we still have two weeks of summer vacation here and are squeezing every last delicious bite out of it. So we thought we’d share a few of our favorite tastes and places this week. Up first, a local diner where you can feel good about what the kids are eating. No, really.

Our local Silver Diner chain, as I’ve written about in the past, sources local and natural foods from farms in the region. Earlier this summer they invited us in to sample their summer menu options, including more gluten-free and flexitarian choices. They offer an entire page full of options for kids, though the younger foodie tot is pretty set on her macaroni and cheese with strawberries on the side. I did talk her into sampling the black bean hummus appetizer with cucumbers and tomatoes, though, which was quite tasty.

Silver Diner summer menu |

The boy has a wider range of favorites, including the turkey and mashed potatoes, sliders, and pancakes. Kids can choose from a list of healthy sides that includes strawberries, edamame or mixed  vegetables.

The farm fresh ingredients include free range turkey from Koch’s Farms, PA; eggs from Martin Farms, PA; and goat cheese from FireFly Farms in MD — as well as fresh produce in season. I loved the bahn mi turkey burger (pictured above). Top off your meal with a classic ice cream shake or opt for a healthy pomegranate yogurt shake with wheat germ, my personal favorite.

Silver Diner kids menu |

And Tuesdays are kids night at the Silver Diner, with entertainment and activities to keep the kids busy while the parents finish their meals in relative peace. There are 15 locations in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. If you’ve been, tell us what your kids’ favorite menu selections are?

Disclosure: We received our meal for free to review the summer menu, but all opinions are our own. We frequently eat at Silver Diner on our own dime.

Now Open: GBD Chicken and Doughnuts, DC

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Happy opening day, GBD Chicken and Doughnuts! GBD is the latest from one of our favorite bakers, Tiffany MacIsaac, also of Buzz Bakery and her husband Kyle Bailey, chef at the popular Birch & Barley. Happy (organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free) fried chicken and delicious doughnuts — maybe not the healthiest of meals, but perfect for the occasional indulgence. My college years were fueled by California’s famed Donut Man, and my hometown spawned the most delicious doughnut on earth — so I’m delighted that the doughnut craze has finally reached DC. (And that the GBD crew spell doughnut properly, at least outside of Twitter where you’ll find them at @GBDchixndonuts.)

The younger foodie tot and I sampled the chicken and doughnuts at a pre-opening pop-up. Here’s her review:

GBDchixndonuts pop-up from Colleen | GlassBottle on Vimeo.

That tres leches rivals my favorite from NYC’s Doughnut Plant, so I’m thrilled to be able to get my fix without commuting to the Lower East Side.


Find GBD — which stands for golden, brown delicious — in Dupont Circle, 1323 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC.

Foodie Tots Take on Flushing, New York

Friday, April 6th, 2012

The foodie tots and I spent our spring break visiting the kids’ grandparents (my in-laws) in New York — Flushing, Queens, to be exact. In the 10+ years I’ve been coming to visit, we’ve rarely actually stayed in Flushing, so it was nice to do so this time and actually sample the local flavors. The boy really enjoyed learning about Chinese New Year at school earlier this year, so it was an ideal time to check out some authentic Asian cuisine — of which there are plenty of options in Flushing.

We started with red bean pastries (left in the photo) and pumpkin sesame doughnuts at Parisian Bakery:

parisian bakery flushing ny

Cooled off with afternoon bubble teas (mango green tea, pictured, and pearl milk tea) at Chatime:

chitime pearl milk tea flushing ny

And had dumplings and noodle soup at Nan Bei He:

noodle soup flushing ny

The foodie baby is a little more adventurous than foodie boy these days (he asked his aunt to pick the scallions out of scallion pancakes) but fried dumplings are always a favorite. And as you can see, the baby scooted onto my lap and dove into the noodle soup.

Hope those who celebrate have a Happy Pesach and/or Happy Easter this weekend! I hear asparagus is arriving at the markets in DC … hello spring!

Gone Bananas with DC Cupcakes

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Do you watch cooking shows with your kids? I’ve managed to get the 4-year-old hooked on “DC Cupcakes,” so much so that his birthday morning we skipped our usual bakery (sorry, Buzz) to surprise him with a trip to the flagship store. Insider’s tip: the cupcakery’s real name is Georgetown Cupcake, but don’t try to tell that to the boy.

dc cupcakes birthday

When I heard they’d be supplying cupcakes for a gorilla birthday party at the National Zoo, I knew we had to go. We met up with one of his best friends and waited patiently for our free cupcakes — or as patiently as two 4-year-olds can, that is. There didn’t seem to be much of a plan (it is a “reality” show, after all), just a bunch of hungry people waiting for free grub. Eventually, a truck pulled up in front of the Great Ape House, trailed by a camera crew and, wait — two women in their signature pink aprons and rain boots!

dc cupcakes gorilla

They proceeded to unload the gorilla cupcake masterpiece and carry it right past us into the party. Needless to say, the boy was thrilled.

We then joined the mad swarm into the Ape House, and got to witness Kwame and Kojo’s surprise party — complete with presents and their own primate-friendly cupcakes. After the gorillas opened their gifts, we made our way to the cupcake table for our own goodies. (If you’re curious, the gorillas’ cupcakes were made of bananas, primate biscuits, unflavored gelatin and water, reports the Zoo. I think we got the better deal.)

gorilla dc cupcakes episode

Later, we came back to the building to take a closer look at the cupcake gorilla. We were surprised to see the show’s stars, Katherine and Sophie, still sitting inside — but the boy was too shy to say hello. (Next time!)

gone bananas cupcakesDC Cupcakes” season two premiere is tonight at 10pm Eastern on TLC — The gorilla episode airs at 10:30. We’re DVRing it for the boy’s cupcake premiere party on Sunday — check back for pictures next week!

And local peeps: head to either location of Georgetown Cupcake to purchase the “Gone Bananas” honey banana cupcake, and proceeds will benefit the National Zoo’s conservation programs. (Now through March 4.) Visit their website for locations and hours.

(Bottom photo courtesy National Zoo, all others (c)