Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eiffel Tower Cafe

One Wednesday every month, I have the privelege of getting a wonderfully relaxing massage in downtown Leesburg.  Its the one day I don't have to work, I run errands only if I have to, and I can explore some shops and eateries that I don't normally get to go to very often.  So I had one these days recently and it just so happens my massage ends around noon...just in time for lunch.  Where to go? There are so many unique little cafes and such in oldtown Leesburg.

I leave the massage parlor and begin walking down the street contemplating this very matter when I happen upon a little building that looks like an old house with a small hanging sign that says Eiffel Tower Cafe.  It seems kind of quiet. Is it open? I'm not sure.  What kind of atmosphere? Can't really tell.  Ah, but there is a menu out front.  Hmm, a few things catch my eye.  My only alternative is to go in and find out what kind of establishment it is.

The main door is on the side of the building where there is an adorable little patio area where I imagine on a nice summer evening it being full of couples enjoying a glass of wine by the ivy and twinkle lights.  The bell on the door jingles as I open it.  It does not appear there are any other customers inside but a middle-aged gentleman with a friendly smile, greets me with a menu and asks if I am alone. Yes, just me, I reply.

He leads me to a table against the wall which is decorated with many paintings and various ornaments of the Eiffel Tower and Paris scenery.  The tables are all covered in white linen and adorned with single red roses and small table lamps. In his genuinely French accent, the waiter tells me about the specials, takes my drink order of San Benedetto sparkling water, then apologizes that its not more busy in the restaurant.  Its always busy on the weekend evenings, he assures me.

He returns with my fancy water and I order the tarragon chicken salad sandwich. A few minutes later, out comes this beautiful plate with a greatly portioned chicken salad sandwich on a croissant which is so buttery and flaky and the tarragon just sings right through so joyously. It is topped with fresh dark greens and a slice of ripe tomato.

Next to this delicious sandwich is a lovely dark green salad lightly dressed with some sort of citrusy vinagrette. It is a delightful compliment to the tarragon chicken. In addition to the salad, there is also a side of pasta.  Penne with some olives and feta cheese.  An interesting Greek flair in a French cafe.  But it works so nicely together.  A lot of food but still light on the tummy as well as the wallet. That whole wonderful feast was only eight bucks!

Thankfully before I was finished with my meal, a group of ladies had come in for a lunch date so I didn't feel so bad that I was the only one in there anymore.  I would love to go back on a Saturday night sometime when the weather's a bit warmer and have a date night with my Superking on the patio.  Their desserts looked pretty amazing too! While I finished up my lunch that day, I felt as though I had been transported to a little cafe in the heart of Paris herself.  What a delightful addition to my day!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Carolina Brothers BBQ

Last Sunday after church, my family and I were discussing where we wanted to go for lunch.  The last couple times we went out to eat, we talked about barbecue but ended up choosing something else.  This time I decided I needed some barbecue.  But there's really only one place in town with barbecue.  Its good food but its a chain restaurant so its nothing special.  And then I remembered a friend of ours had recommended a place called Carolina Brothers Pit Babecue in Ashburn VA.

This is not a fancy place but Ive found those not-so-fancy places with the big barbecue pits out front are usually the best places for real good genuine barbecue.  And this place did not disappoint.  Rumor has it that the building used to be an old-fashioned General Store back in the day.  There are still some of those elements present...the creaky wood floors, the antique decor, and a nostalgic Hersheys sign on the window.

The eats are fairly cheap in price but not in quality.  I ordered the BBQ Chicken sandwich platter.  The soft bun piled high with juicy shredded chicken and served with two sides...we chose two classics...mac 'n cheese and baked beans.  The chicken was served "naked" but there was a bottle of sauce on the table. It had a bit of a bite to it but was mostly sweet and a little tangy.  The sides were tasty and comforting...the mac 'n cheese was hot and ooey-gooey while the baked beans were slightly sweet.

Superking got the Baby Back Ribs smothered in a smoky sweet sauce.  The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender with loads of flavor.

I couldn't resist getting a nostalgic Cheerwine in a glass bottle.  Sweet and bubbly!

And a dessert to take home for later...a home-made double fudge peanut butter brownie.  What else is there to say but YUMM!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cajun Experience

Superking has been craving crawfish.  But where can we go to find them?  Cajun Experience in downtown Leesburg VA. Downtown Leesburg is a quaint little area with lots of antiques, boutiques, and unique eats. Theres even an old-timey movie theater called the Tally-Ho.  If you're looking for parking, it may be difficult to find it on the streets but there are a couple garages which are free on the weekends. Even on the weekdays its not expensive. I once parked there for over 2 hours and had to pay a whole $1!!

Cajun Experience: Loudoun St Leesburg

Anyway, I digress.  Cajun food is not something you see a lot of here in the suburbs of Northern Virginia.  But if you get the craving and don't want to go all the way to New Orleans, the Cajun Experience is the place to go.  A quaint, cozy atmosphere with delicious authentic food with offerings such as a fried oyster bowl, crawfish mac'n cheese, and seafood gumbo...cuisine that sticks to your belly and makes you feel at home.

Their specialty of course is their Po'Boys.  I had the shrimp po'boy and Superking had the oyster po'boy.  Fried juicy seafood piled high on top of a special bread called the Leidenheimer roll, apparently a tradition in New Orleans.  Leidenheimer bread was originally baked by a German guy who migrated to New Orleans and began baking it in a French bread style.  Its crispy on the outside but soft on the inside similar to a French baguette.

shrimp po'boy

oyster po'boy...doesn't look much different than the shrimp one

The po'boys also come topped with a spicy chipotle sauce, ketchup, lettuce, and tomato. The ketchup seemed an odd addition to me at first but the acidity and sweetness of it worked well to balance out the spicy creaminess of the chipotle sauce.  Then with the crisp lettuce and fresh tomato, it all came together for the perfect Cajun po'boy. And it was also served with some crispy salty potato chips that seemed freshly home-made.

We did get an appetizer before our po'boys which I would be completely remiss to forget.  The hush puppies.  Oh the hush puppies.  Normally I'm not a huge fan of hush puppies because in most other restaurants they are dry and kind of bland and very uninteresting.  But these at the Cajun Experience were nothing like that at all.  Quite the contrary.  Very crisp on the outside (almost too crisp at first) but the inside was so soft and buttery like a home-made corn bread! I've never tasted hush puppies that good.

Of course we couldn't leave there without ordering a dessert to-go.  Hmm, what mysterious sweet delight could this brown paper bag hold?? 

Beignets of course!! Mmmm, beignets...sweet pillowy layers of fried dough smothered in mountains of powdered sugar.  Their warmth is radiating through the bag on the way home.  I'm still so full from lunch but I have to have a bite while its still fresh and hot.  My mouth is burning a little and there is sugar everywhere but it doesn't matter. Once you taste that beignet, its like the windows of heaven have opened up and the angels are singing the Hallelujah Chorus. 

Ok maybe thats a bit much but those beignets were darn good! We felt as though we truly had an authentic Cajun Experience there.  Can't wait to go back and try that crawfish mac'n cheese!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

2 Amy's Again

2 Amy's is a great little authentic pizza place in the Cleveland Park area of DC.  We've been here before but its taken us almost a whole year to make it back here.  There are always so many new places we want to try, its hard to make it back to the good ones we've already been to.  But we had been craving some 2 Amy's pizza for a couple weeks and we had a free Saturday to make a trip to DC so here's where we ended up...

A selection of mixed olives in their own olive oil...

Be careful of the pits! These things are fresh!
 Nice tart mix of favors, some strong, some subtle, all delicious.

A lovely salty combination...sardines and olives

Pretty little salty sardines served with bread and butter...

The butter added a slight sweet and creamy texture to the salty little fish.

The bread was baked fresh too.  Soft on the inside, a bit crunchy on the crust.

And then the pizza...

Salami, peppers, buffalo mozarella...yumminess!

Oh yeah, sometimes on Saturdays, they also offer these donuts for a dessert.  I guess we ate them so fast we forgot to take pictures of them. But trust me, they were awesome!  Lightly crisp, covered with sugar, baked fresh, and still warm when they put them in the paper bag.  They even let you have the leftover donut holes that go with them!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Bratwurst King

Food trucks in DC have been a big craze for the last couple years.  But now there are food trucks beginning to pop up even in the suburbs surrounding DC.  I've already shared with you my yummy experience with Windy City Red Hots based in Leesburg and Ashburn VA.  But the Bratwurst King I found in Herndon.  Well technically my brother-in-law found him and told my husband (Superking) who then told me. Regardless who found him, The Bratwurst King is a food truck worth searching for.

Wolf Antoni, the Bratwurst King himself, wanted to bring a taste of home here to America by serving traditional German and Austrian dishes with an Old World European charm.  From what I tasted, he's pretty successful...both with the food and the charm. 

We ordered the Bratwurst platter...a German style bratwurst on a soft roll with a side of sauerkraut. The bratwurst was plump and juicy and very flavorful.  I love a good sauerkraut and this definitely hit the spot...nice and sour with a slight crunch...a perfect pairing with the savory brat. The mustard I added on my own.  There was a variety of mustards available to choose, spicy, sweet. I went for the straight up German mustard all the way which also added a nice tang to the rest of the dish.

We also ordered the currywurst...Ok let's hit the pause button for a second.  Do you remember the weird not-so-great experience I had with currywurst before at the Doner Bistro? This experience, thankfully was nothing like that.  I finally got to see and taste what currywurst actually is and the Bratwurst King knows how to do this up right.

First of all this dish is very cabbage, yellow curry powder, lovely sausage...beautiful.  The taste? Amazing!  Sweet and spicy...not hot spicy but spice flavorful!  The cabbage and the sauerkraut that came with it, once again was the perfect compliment to the sweetness and spiciness of the currywurst.  My bratwurst was really good but I totally wanted to steal the rest of Superking's plate of currywurst after I tasted it.  I will definitely be ordering that myself next time!

An acquaintence of Superking's also came with us to check out this delectable food truck and he ordered the Schnitzel burger. I believe schnitzel is like a piece of pork which is flattened, then breaded and fried, and in this case put on a bun and served with German potato salad.  He was too busy eating it as quickly as he could to make any further comments but it must have been tasty as it gone in no time flat.

As we continued to chat with Mr. Antoni about his business, we let on that I was a food blogger and he graciously offered a couple other sausages for us to sample.  The skinnier one (on the left in the picture below) was the Nurnberger.  It reminded me of a breakfast sausage...smaller than the brats, slightly sweet and herby.  The fat red one (on the right in the picture below) was one I can't remember the name of but had a spicy kick to it, this time I do mean hot spicy, but only a little.

Its so refreshing to see a few food trucks brave enough to venture outside the city, especially ones that serve great food like this. Its unique, its ethnic, the price is cheap but the quality isn't.   The Bratwurst King's slogan is "Royal Pleasures-Tasty Treats" and it certainly is that.  If you're near Sunrise Valley Drive in Herndon on a Thursday, you must look for the Bratwurst King and his tasty treats!! Or check out his Twitter page or  Facebook page to find out where else he'll be, maybe Reston or Tysons, or even your neighborhood!