Posts Tagged ‘alexandria’

5 Local Taco Joints for Cinco de Mayo

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

As one-time Californians, the husband and I take our taco eating very seriously. Fortunately, we’ve staked out a number of acceptable local places over the years, and they’ve become favorites of the foodie tots as well. It’s hard to go wrong at any restaurant that provides free chips and salsa to satiate the can’t-possibly-wait-another-second-before-eating needs of toddlers and kids and tasty margaritas for mom and dad, but these in particular are our family favorites.

A photo posted by Colleen Levine (@foodietots) on Jul 15, 2014 at 4:26pm PDT

Los Tios, Del Ray: We’ve been eating here my kids’ entire lifetimes, and even though we no longer live in the neighborhood, we still get a warm welcome each time we return. It’s always loud, no need to worry about noisy kids, and a great place to celebrate birthdays — complementary ice cream for birthday kids or flan for adults. Get there early for a patio seat and then let the kids burn off energy on the playground across the street after you eat. Oh, and we always order the Tacos al Carbon, side of fried plaintains for the kids, though once in a blue moon we branch out and order something off the Salvadorean side of the menu.

District Taco, Arlington, Alexandria & DC: We have the original Arlington location of this beloved local chain conveniently located between home and the kids’ tae kwon do studio, so you’ll find us here often. The kids take their quesadillas with guacamole, rice and beans, while mom appreciates fish tacos (Tuesdays and Fridays) and the Boylan’s cane-sugar sodas (or bottled Jarritos sodas) for a treat.

Taqueria Poblano, Del Ray & Arlington: These popular taco spots make a fantastic margarita and have LA-style deep-fried tacos. The duck tacos are my favorite, and we always get a side order of jicama to share. Best to plan to eat early, though, especially at the smaller Del Ray location. (Look for the special spicy chocolate sorbet for dessert!)

Tacos de Jaiba Azul! #softshells @tacobamba A photo posted by Colleen Levine (@foodietots) on Jun 1, 2014 at 4:15pm PDT

Taco Bamba, Falls Church: When we’re craving something more authentic/unique, Taco Bamba fits the bill. Located in an out-of-the-way spot behind the Tyson’s Whole Foods, chef/owner Victor Albisu turns out classic and seasonal special tacos. My personal favorites are El Beso (yes, tongue) and soft shell crab, while the tots stick with flautas and El Gringo. Bonus: house-made horchata or agua frescas and elote. (Note: this is primarily a take-out spot with limited counter seating.)

Chaia, farmers markets, DC: Currently only available at farmers markets and occasional street festivals, Chaia’s fabulous vegetarian tacos will soon be available at their first retail spot in Georgetown. The flavors vary with the season but are always served on their homemade corn tortillas. For now, seek them out at FreshFarm Dupont Circle (Sundays) or White House (Thursdays) markets.

What’s your family’s favorite taco spot?

Quick Stewed Summer Squash and Sweet Corn

Friday, August 24th, 2012

It’s the home stretch of summer, when markets are teeming with fresh sweet corn, peppers, peaches, squash, tomatoes and melons. I’m pretty sure my kids would happily live on corn and watermelon, but the other veggies are too tasty to pass up. On a recent market trip, the foodie boy was particularly smitten with this curly-q eggplant.

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To make use of as many veggies in one dish as possible, I recreated the Oyamel dish the foodie tot loved at Union Market’s summer picnic. Squash and tomatoes are diced nearly as small as corn kernels and the dish is quickly sautéed so that the tomatoes release their juices, creating a warm stew that is a perfect summer side — and the ultimate summer dish for finger-eating toddlers, too. Get the recipe below.

And speaking of market trips … our busy summer weekends have made us especially grateful to have two Sunday markets to choose from, the West End Alexandria Farmers Market (9am to 1pm) and the new Westover Farmers Market (8am to noon) in Arlington.

We paid a long overdue to our favorite Amish cheese/yogurt seller, Mr. Tom, at West End recently. Papa’s Orchard peaches were spectacular, and the kids’ eggplant/pepper/tomato binge took place under the F.J. Medina & Sons tent. We followed up our cheese snack with a Westmoreland berry and Vera’s pastries picnic in the park. (Then, turtle watching!)

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At Westover, Black Rock Orchard and Bigg Riggs are is the must-visits for stone fruit — and early season apples (yes, already!). Smith Family Farm offers grass-fed meats, Blue Ridge Dairy provides mozzarella, ricotta and more, and always-popular Atwater’s Bakery and Baguette Republic have your bread needs covered.

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Recipe: Quick Stewed Summer Squash and Corn

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 zucchini, diced
2 ears corn, shucked and kernels cut from cob
2 large tomatoes, diced
handful fresh epazote or basil
Kosher salt
pepper
optional: crumbled goat cheese or feta or queso blanco

Instructions:
1. Prep and cut all vegetables before you begin cooking. Zucchini should be diced nearly as small as corn kernels.
2. Heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.
3. Add zucchini to pan and cook until just beginning to soften, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes to pan and cook until juices are released.
5. Add corn and simmer just until warmed, about 2 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and season with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Optional: top with crumbled feta or goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Cinco de Farmers Markets!

Friday, May 4th, 2012

It’s opening weekend at Northern Virginia, DC and Maryland seasonal farmers markets! Head out early to score the best asparagus and strawberries and give a local flair to your Cinco de Mayo fiesta. (It’s the perfect excuse to blend up a batch of our strawberry horchata! Or perhaps a rhubarb margarita.)

virginia strawberries

Some of our favorite family-friendly markets are reopening this weekend, including Alexandria’s West End Market (Sundays, 8:30am to 1pm at Ben Brenman Park) and Reston Farmers Market (Saturday, 8am to noon at Lake Anne Village Center). (All Fairfax County and Loudoun County markets are now open for the season). And a brand new market is opening in Arlington’s Westover neighborhood (Sundays, 8am to noon on N. McKinley Rd.).

Follow Me on Pinterest (Psst…are you on Pinterest? I’ve pinned a few Mexican-inspired recipes for Cinco de Mayo.)

Tea and Manners with Mrs. B

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

You know the drill. The crowd has gathered for the holiday, friends and family are seated around the table and lovingly-prepared food is passed from plate to plate. Just as the chatter dies down, while people dig in for their first bite, your charming child loudly declares, “Ew, this is disgusting!” We’ve all been there. (We have, right?) Well local parents rejoice: The Grille at Morrison House hosts a monthly story time tea with Mrs. B. Who’s Mrs. B, you ask? A children’s etiquette teacher.

tea spread

The monthly themed teas cater to the children with an introductory activity, kid-friendly menu items (pb&j and egg salad sandwiches, naturally), and story time. All the while, Mrs. B works in subtle tips about proper tea time manners casually throughout the afternoon. Tea is served in the hotel’s elegant tea room (available for afternoon tea for grown-ups every Saturday, 2:00-5:00pm).

We were invited to attend the Spooky Halloween tea and my five-year-old son had an absolute blast. He was smitten with Mrs. B, delighted to hear they had a “special hot chocolate” just for him and thoroughly enthralled the entire time.

tea with mrs b

Spooky Tea with Mrs. B

The breaks between the savory and sweet courses helped keep him entertained, and the champagne cocktail for mama made the afternoon even sweeter. As we left he declared that he wanted to return every month. The November and December teas feature Thanksgiving and Christmas themes, naturally, but story-time teas are held the third Saturday of every month. See details below for reservation information. And visit Mrs. B’s website for more info about her other classes and birthday parties. (I foresee a birthday tea party for the foodie bebe someday.)

MONTHLY STORY TIME TEA with MRS. B

The Morrison House
Old Town Alexandria, Va.

Every third Saturday of the Month, 2pm

November 19: Giving Thanks
December 17: A Very Merry Christmas Tea

All ages welcome

$38 adult / $28 child

RSVP
703-838-8000
storytime@morrisonhouse.com

Disclosure: We attended the tea as guests of the Grille at Morrison House. As always, all opinions and reviews are our own.

At Market: Two Minute Asparagus (and West End Market Opening Day)

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Yes, I’m still harping on asparagus. For a moment at the market this morning I hesitated, knowing we won’t be in town for the whole week and thinking I might not get to cooking it. And then I caved and bought just one little bunch of perfectly tender little stalks from Black Rock Orchard. What can I say, I’m addicted. And I made a critical discovery to convert the boy from his “I hate asparagus!” conviction one day to, “Actually, I *love* asparagus!” two days later. I recently came across an article suggesting that kids prefer their veggies closer to their natural state — i.e., still crisp. This is certainly true for my son with peas, who still prefers frozen peas over cooked. And we all know that over-cooked mush they call vegetables in school cafeterias are hardly appetizing.

As for my discovery, I was making a potato salad and decided to add asparagus. I didn’t want to use it raw, so I blanched it quickly. The bright green stalks had barely hit my cutting board when the boy snatched one. “Yum!” he exclaimed. I wound up blanching a second batch and serving it straight up for him — and he ate half the plate.

The recipe is below, but first a few highlights from opening weekend at the Alexandria West End Farmers Market:

foodie tots family at the market

Click here to view photos — West End Farmers Market, May ’11

Recipe: Kid-Approved Two-Minute Asparagus

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • water
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions: Fill a medium-sized pot about 2/3 full of cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling, add a pinch of salt and then drop in the asparagus. Cook thicker stalks for just 2 minutes, skinny stalks need just 1 minute. Drain and quickly plunge into a bowl of ice water to ensure stalks stay crisp-tender. Drain again, and serve as is, with an extra pinch of salt and pepper — or refrigerate to add to salads.

Preserving Asparagus

Blanching is also the method I use to hoard, er, save asparagus for later in the year. I blanch it for just one minute, then chop into 1-inch pieces. Let them dry, then freeze in a ziploc freezer bag or other freezer container. They won’t be quite the same as fresh asparagus, but work just fine for soup or stir-fry.

Cathy, aka Mrs. Wheelbarrow, recently shared a recipe for pickled asparagus. I may have to make a batch of these for the fridge, too.

Just call me Mrs. Asparagus.

This week I shared some of my favorite family-friendly Washington, DC-area farmers markets on the Washington Post‘s new On Parenting blog. What do your kids like about your local market?