Posts Tagged ‘eat local’

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.

At Market: Watermelon Carpaccio with Chèvre

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

It’s melon season! The foodie tots and I can’t get enough of melons in every size and color — we’ve enjoyed cantaloupe, honeydew, sun melon, a melon that looked like cantaloupe on the outside but was green like honeydew on the inside, and of course, watermelon. Now, I consider myself something of a watermelon expert, having been quoted on the subject in the Washington Post (cough), but I was still shocked to spot orange watermelon at the Reston Farmers Market this past weekend.

summer of melon love

After tweeting a picture, a friend suggested sprinkling fennel pollen on the melon. I couldn’t find fennel pollen at Whole Foods (uh, where else would it be?), but remembered that Cypress Grove‘s Purple Haze chèvre is made with lavender and fennel pollen. And so this quick summer appetizer was born: extremely thin slivers of watermelon, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, a heavy pinch of sea salt, and topped with crumbled Purple Haze chèvre. It’s not really a recipe as a suggestion: you could mix it up with flavored vinegars, use plain chèvre to keep it local, and/or top with fresh mint or basil or any other herbs from the garden.

watermelon carpaccio with chevre

The kids were intrigued — the boy asked for a helping of “my” watermelon alongside his straight-up slices, and the bebe nibbled a few crumbs of chèvre before turning her attention back to the melon. What’s your favorite watermelon recipe? (And you do buy seeded melons, right? Remember, Seedless is Soulless. ;-) )

Local Potluck Tuesday (and Recipes for Peach Season)

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

If you’ve been to a DC-area farmers market lately, I don’t have to tell you peaches are here. After a couple week hiatus, we stopped by the Crystal City Farmers Market last week to stock up on fruit at Kuhn Orchard — but I passed up the peaches and went for apricots, plums, blue and blackberries. I’ll definitely get the peaches this week, but I figured apricots were easier for one-handed eating while holding the baby.

If you’ve already stocked up on peaches and need inspiration, here are a few of my favorite recipes from past years:

If you’ve got a favorite peach recipe, please share it below — or anything else you’ve cooked up lately from the farmers market, CSA or your garden!

Local Potluck Tuesday — a few guidelines:
1. Share a relevant post — a recipe, menu or pictures of a meal featuring local foods, from the farmers market, CSA, farm stand or your own garden — using the MckLinky widget below. In the link title field, enter both your post title and your name &/or blog name, e.g., “Lemon Cucumber Salad — Colleen @ FoodieTots.”

2. Bonus points if you included your kids in picking, growing, purchasing or cooking the ingredients for the meal! (And by bonus points, I mean increased likelihood of seeing your post featured in a future post.)

3. In your post, please link back to this post here at FoodieTots, so your readers can find the potluck and be encouraged to join in as well.  Of course if you don’t have a blog, you’re welcome to share in the comments.

That’s it! I hope you’ll join in and share what you’re cooking up that’s fresh & local to you!

{Editor’s Note: I’m on “maternity leave” for the next couple weeks. Posts are scheduled to keep you satiated (including a whole month of cherry recipes!), but please forgive me if I don’t respond to comments promptly.}

Local Potluck Tuesday June 29

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

It’s not unusual for “spring” in the DC area to go from frosty cool to hot and steamy within days. But this year’s extremely hot temperatures started early and haven’t let up, resulting in summer produce flying through the markets. It’s not yet July and I’m hearing this may be the last week for cherries. We’ve already gotten blackberries and apricots, and I hear peaches, corn and tomatoes are here this week. It makes me wonder if we’ll have anything left to eat in August?!

What are the highlights at your local markets this week? Are you doing anything to preserve summer’s fleeting fruits? I’m freezing berries as fast as I can. I made a yummy whole grain cherry crumb cake that I’ll share with you later this week. And I still have a (last?) pint of gooseberries awaiting its fate.

What local eats are you cooking up?

Please join in and share what local foods you’ve enjoyed this past week!

Local Potluck Tuesdaya few guidelines:
1. Share a relevant post — a recipe, menu or pictures of a meal featuring local foods, from the farmers market, CSA, farm stand or your own garden — using the MckLinky widget below. In the link title field, enter both your post title and your name &/or blog name, e.g., “Lemon Cucumber Salad — Colleen @ FoodieTots.”
2. Bonus points if you included your kids in picking, growing, purchasing or cooking the ingredients for the meal! (And by bonus points, I mean increased likelihood of seeing your post featured in a future post.)
3. In your post, please link back to this post here at FoodieTots, so your readers can find the potluck and be encouraged to join in as well.

Of course if you don’t have a blog, you’re welcome to share in the comments.

That’s it! I hope you’ll join in and share what you’re cooking up that’s fresh & local to you!

Local Potluck Tuesday June 22 (and Swiss Chard with Tomatoes)

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Swiss chard is pretty much a weekly constant in our summer CSA share. I enjoy it just fine sauteed on its own — but the boy doesn’t (yet) eat leafy greens and the husband has merely grown to tolerate it over the years. Attempts to boost flavor with dried cranberries and/or bacon didn’t impress, but a recent variation with garlic and cherry tomatoes actually had the husband voluntarily eating a second helping. (No, this was still no help with my tomato-averse son, but that just leaves more for us.)

Recipe: Swiss Chard and Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, rinsed well
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt & pepper

Instructions: Trim the ends of the Swiss chard stems. Cut the stems into 1-inch pieces, and cut or tear chard leaves into 1-inch strips. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook garlic for 1 minute, then add the chard stems and cook for 2-3 minutes, until they start soften. Add cherry tomatoes, cut side down, and cook another minute. Add chard leaves to the pan, add vinegar, cover and cook until leaves wilt, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat, drain any excess liquid and season with salt and pepper. Makes 2-4 servings. Enjoy!

Your turn: Please join in and share what local foods you’ve enjoyed this past week!

Local Potluck Tuesdaya few guidelines:
1. Share a relevant post — a recipe, menu or pictures of a meal featuring local foods, from the farmers market, CSA, farm stand or your own garden — using the MckLinky widget below. In the link title field, enter both your post title and your name &/or blog name, e.g., “Lemon Cucumber Salad — Colleen @ FoodieTots.”
2. Bonus points if you included your kids in picking, growing, purchasing or cooking the ingredients for the meal! (And by bonus points, I mean increased likelihood of seeing your post featured in a future post.)
3. In your post, please link back to this post here at FoodieTots, so your readers can find the potluck and be encouraged to join in as well.

That’s it! I hope you’ll join in and share what you’re cooking up that’s fresh & local to you!