Monday, June 27, 2011

Mussel Bar in Bethesda

This will be my first blog post about a place in my neighboring state of Maryland! Superking and I went on a little drive to DC for some breakfast cupcakes and then after a short stroll down a couple streets and in a couple shops, we took another drive into Bethesda, Maryland. We were in search of a new culinary adventure at a place called the Mussel Bar.

The Mussel Bar is a rustic yet chic Belgian-themed restaurant that strives to offer fresh, local, and sustainable foods to their customers. Obviously their specialty is mussels, of which they offer several different preparations, but they also have delicious salads, sandwiches, and pizzas.

Superking, of course went for their mussels.  The Stout mussels to be exact. They come served in this large steaming pan swimming in a delectable soup consisting of stout beer, cream, smokey pancetta, and shallots. On the side, an order of crisp salty fries with a side of mayonnaise, which is very Belgian apparently.

I ordered one of their wood-fired tartes, which is a Belgian pizza.  It was a thin crispy bread topped with melted gruyere cheese, wild savory mushrooms,  bacon, arugula, and truffle essence. I'm not exactly sure what "truffle essence" is but this little pizza was absolutely enchanting and aromatic.

The atmosphere was cozy, the service was friendly, and the food was charmingly delicious. I can't wait to go back!

the lone mussel

mussel soup

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cupcakes for breakfast?!

Yep, thats right. I had cupcakes for breakfast. Ya know when you're a kid, and you want to have something super sugary for breakfast like cake (although my mom wouldn't even let me have Fruit Loops. I mean hey, it is a breakfast cereal afterall!! anyway...) but your mom says, "no you'll rot your teeth out! Have a pancake! or Eat your oatmeal!" 

beautiful fresh flowers they had out on their tables at georgetown cupcake

Well, now that I'm adult with my own house, my own husband, and I do the grocery shopping, I love that I can eat whatever I want whenever I want it and there's no one to tell me I can't! So there Mom! I love you but I'm having cupcakes for breakfast just because I can! And not just any cupcakes either. Georgetown Cupcakes!!

Every month at Georgetown Cupcake they offer a few select seasonal flavors. Well, its almost the end of the month and I had to make it over there to try one of these seasonal flavor for June...Orange Blossom.

An orange-infused vanilla cupcake with orange-infused vanilla cream cheese frosting and a candied orange peel on top.  Yumm! So light and fresh.  Lovely summery flavor! Totally worth the 40 minute wait outside. (I know it is ridiculous. Good thing we got there early!)

Superking had one of his favorites...the Salted Carmel. A caramel cupcake with salted caramel-infused buttercream frosting and a caramel drizzle. A little sweet, a little salty, a little sticky, and very yummy.

Now this next part I'm about to tell you is TOP SECRET!! So SHHH! Don't tell ANYONE!!

Every day on their Facebook page they announce a secret cupcake flavor! Its a flavor not on their menu thats only offered that day only to the first 100 people that ask for them. 1 cupcake per person IF you mention the secret flavor to them at the register. And if you are lucky enough to get the secret flavor before it runs out, its free!! BUT remember...its like the fight club...number one rule about the secret cupcake is that we don't talk about the secret cupcake! If you do, I will have to kill you!

So...anyway...the secret flavor today was Chocolate Toffee Crunch.  A chocolate cupcake with a gooey chocolate core and toffee bits inside topped with a toffee-infused vanilla frosting and more toffee bits. Superking and I had to split this one. But it was super delish!

Check out my other blog posts about my visits to Georgetown Cupcake...New Years, More DC, Cupcake Girls, and In Love.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tomatoes fresh from the Farm

A couple weekends ago, the weather was gorgeous here.  Not too hot and perfectly sunny.  We knew we had to get out and enjoy it while we could. So we decided to drive out to the country and have a picnic. And what better place to stop for the perfect picnic foods than the local farmers market!!

We packed a few accessories like water bottles, a knife and cutting board, and a big cozy blanket. Then swung by the Leesburg Farmers Market to see what goodies we could find.  Lo and behold, we found the perfect thing.  Beautiful heirloom tomatoes from Mock's Greenhouse! Plump round shape and gorgeous colors.

Then we stopped by one of the dairies and picked up some Chevre, a spreadable locally made goat cheese from Caprikorn Farms.

pretty white butterflies resting on the ground

And the last item to round out the meal, a good bread.  The one we chose was an onion and herb ciabatta from South Street Under bakery.

With our fresh market goodies in tow, we drove out to the country and found a lovely place for a picnic. Our heirloom tomato sandwiches were so deliciously wonderful.  The tomatoes were juicy and sweet.  The goat cheese was creamy and slightly tangy. The bread was soft and hearty with a lovely herby savoriness. Each flavor was perfectly in tune, all of them present but none of them overwhelming.

A delightful meal with a loved one soaking in the sun and all of God's creations.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Smores Ice Cream

I'm so excited to present to you Yumma Yumma's very first guest blog post. And its by none other than Superking himself; English major, computer genius, and ice cream maker extraordinaire!!  Superking likes to make up his own recipes but we did get a few ideas from another blog, Spache the Spatula.

ah, summertime.  the mild, vernal climates of spring have begun to ebb, and mother nature beckons us to the maternal clutch of her warm embrace.  her calescent similitude and clarion skies are harbingers of all things exuberant, things we so dearly reckon with such a season:  a holiday spent frolicking amongst the heaves of azure sea, scintillating displays of dignified patriotism, midgets in powdered wigs playing backgammon whilst they regale one another with tales of butterscotch pudding and adult diapers.  it is summer.

having noticed it was now June, and because it was over 9000 degrees outside (fahrenheit, kelvin … look, when it's this hot it's irrelevant), AND because my wife bugged me a bunch - it was ice cream time.  but what flavor?  i've done chocolate, peanut butter, honey, strawberry (and a buncha others i can't remember) we scoured the internet looking for something unique - and we found it.  s'mores.  yumma yumma.

this recipe differed a bit from my usual forays into home made ice cream.  this one did NOT use a custard base (no eggs).  SIDENOTE:  yep, raw eggs.  i know.  salmonella, and yellow fever, and in-grown toenails, and AIDS - the government says you will experience all these things if you prepare food using raw eggs.  i guess i've just been lucky so far.

anywho, the Cuisineart mixer/churner was in place and the freezer bowl was -9000 degrees for extreme coldness.  the hardware was in place, but now to prep the ingredients.

first i heated up some heavy cream.  at lot of recipes for ice cream call for milk.  lame.  heavy cream (in nearly all cases) is far superior because fat in food tastes awesome.  don't believe me?  ask your tongue.  the only time i wouldn't use all heavy cream would be if the additional ingredients have a high fat content (e.g., peanut butter).  and even then, it would still taste crazy delish.

once the cream was warm/hot (not lukewarm, but not boiling) i proceeded with the marshmallow infusion.  did i measure anything?  no.  numbers are for accountants and idiot savants.  it took a bit for the marshmallows to melt into the cream but a few minutes of patient stirring ensured proper infusion.  bear in mind that there's oodles of air in the marshmallows and as they meld final-scene-of-Terminator-2-style into the cream, the mixture will wax increasing in volume.  don't panic (or do).

having prepared the base, our classic s'mores flavors were going to be provided by crunched (NOT pulverized) graham crackers and chopped chocolate.  the semi-sweet Ghiradelli bars were the obvious choice, our base being pretty much processed sugar suspended in liquid fat.  milk chocolate in this ingredient would doom any of it's consumers to instant and cataclysmic diabeetus.  

hee hee, just kidding!

only good chocolate please

freezer bowl + churner  + lid = hammertime.  let's churn us some ice cream.

i dumped the base into the churner and let it churn for a good 20 - 30 minutes.  it was fairly warm when i added it, so it didn't really start to thicken until it got chilly willy.  REWIND:  remember the part earlier i mentioned, about how the volume goes crazy mad when you add the marshmallows to the cream?  well, now that it was cool it got way lower.  i arrived at an impasse:  go with the current volume of ice cream (barely a quart), or really quickly heat some additional cream and toss in the remaining marshmallows.  In an almost 1980s movie montage'esque fashion i dumped the remaining cream in a pot, cranked the burner heat to 11, and dumped in the remaining marshmallows.  like a boss.

Superking;s kitchen chaos

once the mixture was sufficiently heated, it joined the already churning base in the churner.  a few minutes later it thickened and the mix-ins joined the battle for culinary glory.  was it pretty?  no.  was it perfectly sanitary?  no.  executing something this epic takes a lot of dirty work.  this is an uphill battle for epicurean superiority.  this is guerilla cooking.  (i was gonna say "this is Sparta", but that whole joke is really played out - i mean, the movie came out in 2006, and even if it was more recent, its relevance to this blog post would be weak at best.  in that pivotal scene, King Leonidas of the Spartans was conversing with an emissary off an encroaching foreign land whose desire was - by negotiation or by force - to seize control of the Spartans' lands and alter their entire system of governance.  i'm only making ice cream.  i hope you see the conundrum i'm faced with here.  perhaps it is best we move on.)

can I lick the freezer bowl?

at about 40'ish minutes in, it was ready.  i pulled the mixing arm, only to realize that i forgot to (beforehand) find an appropriate container.  i tore through the (questionably) organized plastic container cabinet and found a container and matching lid.  i scooped the ice cream into the container.  the few remaining bits of chocolate, and marshmallow, and graham cracker were dumped on top of the gooey concoction and hermetically sealed before placement into the freezer.

it turned out yumma yumma (if i may say).  my wife seemed pleased with it (and refused to share it).  so, i guess we've got a point in the win category on this one.  geez, i can't believe i wrote so much.  really, if you're still reading this - you deserve a ribbon or a medal or something.  i personally woulda said "tl;dr" a while back and bailed.  anyways, go make some ice cream.  enjoy your summer.