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Herndon Festival and a Treat from Amphora Diner

2 Jun

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I told you Herndon Festival was around the corner.  I actually decided with the amount of food festivals and “Taste of’s” Bryan and I hit every year that I will make a Food Festival category for the blog.  It just makes sense!  St. Katherine’s Greek Festival, a festival down the road from us with you guessed it- great Greek food and culture, was on the calendar for this weekend as well.  We weren’t sure we’d make both as B had a golf tournament out of town, but we made a showing there too.  More to come to that end another day.

This was the third time we’d hit up Herndon Fest.  The festival is free and includes live music, arts and crafts vendors and other business expo exhibitors, carnival rides, and of course, awesome eats. 🙂  It runs Thursday night through Sunday afternoon so go check it out if you want something to do tonight or tomorrow.  Here is the website for more info:  There is a great shuttle bus service that I recommend you look into if you end up going to the festival.   In the past we’ve done the rides and taken in the other experiences, but this night was all about the food.  Also,  the vendors were not present on Thursday evening of the festival so we didn’t have the opportunity anyway.  We arrived and did our typical walk through to get a lay of the land and plan out the menu.

As a perfect starter, we had the $1.00 sample ($5.00 by the bowl) of Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern’s Jambalaya.  Man oh man is it good!  It has a fabulous kick to it.  Good enough in fact that I suggest you hit up the Tavern to get it.  They’ve been around like 15 years in downtown Herndon and follow the mantra, “Where everyone is treated like a regular.”  You know you’ll feel real welcomed with that sort of mentality.  We came back for another Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern food item after we inhaled John the Greeks’ Chicken Pita.  John the Greek is a food concession business that is family owned and operated so you won’t find a standalone restaurant in Herndon, but I always grab a gyro, pita stick, or chicken pita when I visit the festival.  You know how I said I’m tainted by meatballs now that I had filet mignon ones in Vegas?  Well, I have a tainted by gyro issue in my life too.  My college, James Madison University (GO DUKES!), has a spot called Dave’s Downtown Taverna.  It is home to the best gyro I’ve ever in my whole life.  End of story.  The tzatziki sauce is unparalleled.  In any case, other gyros and chicken pitas work for me just not like Dave’s.  If you are on I-81 S around the 240 exits and have a tummy rumble, get off at Exit 245 and hit up Dave’s Express on Port Republic Road or follow signs for downtown to sit down and enjoy the gyro at Dave’s Downtown Taverna.  You will not be sorry!  Back on track here…After the chicken pita, we re-visited Jimmy’s Old Town Taverna for the Festival Shrimp.  This entailed 3 BBQ skewered shrimp wrapped in bacon. Oh myyyy gooodness.  Bacon = always fantastic.  It was the skewer of 3 decently-sized shrimp for $5 so of course we had to get our own!

After those eats, we perused around for a treat.   We had discovered one of the spots we looked forward to, The Tortilla Factory, had gone under after 37 years of business.  The chicken nachos they offer every year are so this was a total bummer.  Thus, it was time to humor our sweet tooth.  Nothing was jumping out so we decided to stay for the fireworks display and go venture elsewhere for a treat!  B made a number of suggestions- none of which I was feeling so ultimately he put the ball in my court and tried very hard not to get super annoyed with me.  Good patient guy!  I suggested we head to a local 24 hour diner called Amphora’s.  This spot holds a special place in my heart because my best friend from high school, Becca, and I used to frequent Amphora’s for late night hot tea and toast and maybe something else time to time.  I’m aware how random tea and toast at 2 am sounds, but it was our thing!  I made sure to tell Bryan how special he is for me to take him there haha.  Amphora’s has a fantastic bakery with every pie, bread pudding, ice cream sundae,  cookie, etc. you dream of.   A table tent highlighting the pie of the month caught our eye.  It was May 31st mind you and so the pie of the month was going to turn over the next day.  After reading the description for the Chocolate Caramel Candy Bar Pie, we knew what was going down.  As the picture in my slide show does not truly give this thing justice, please take a look at this picture and description!!  B loves chocolate mousse and you have me at caramel let alone OOZING caramel.  The addition of a scoop of vanilla ice cream was a great choice.  Needless to say I was not planning on a bunch of treats the next day, but oops they happened at the Greek festival.  I’ll tell you about it soon 😉  Have a fantastic rest of your weekend!

Tis the Season for Food Festivals: Taste of Arlington

22 May

As it has gotten warmer now in the DC area, it’s not just pool time it’s food festival time.  It is a time where you can go sample a ton of specialties from local area food vendors and because they are small you can justify that they are not horrendous for you.  Okay okay I am aware that they can be horrendous for you and that is exactly why I made Taste of Arlington my breakfast, mid-morning snack, and lunch this past Sunday.  Pictured above you see the remnants of my ticket which originally was a card with 8 tear-off  tasting tickets.  As you can probably guess I did use all 8 of my tickets as well as one or two of my boyfriend’s Mom’s because she (thankfully) got full.  This was my second time attending Taste of Arlington and while I thoroughly enjoyed last year I think I enjoyed this year even more.   There was around 35 food vendors this go around.  I had 10 samples- 8 savory and 2 sweet.  I’ll walk you through in the order that I enjoyed them.  The asterisks denote my top 3 favorites on the day!  It is not a shocker that 2 of my favorites were the sweet samples I had since my sweet tooth is insanely strong.  The Chicken Lettuce Wraps at P.F. Chang’s were so awesome when I tried them last year that it was not long before I was inspired to find a knock off recipe, buy a food processor, and make them myself.  Yes, my ownership of a food processor stems from Taste of Arlington 2011-  it’s true!  Read on to see what else I sampled enjoy the slideshow.  The next food festival I’ll report back on is from my hometown’s annual festival called Herndon Festival.  This is my and Bryan’s favorite out of all the ones we’ve attended in the area.  Check out the website and consider going yourselves.

  1. P.F. Chang’s*: Chicken Lettuce Wraps
  2. Sangam: Butter Chicken and Chickpeas
  3. Rocklands: Mini Pulled Pork with Coleslaw
  4. Cafe Caturra: Red Pepper Chicken Lettuce Wraps
  5. Lebanese Taverna: Beef Kafta in Pita Pocket (included ground beef, lamb, spices, parsley, and onions patties with hummus)
  6. Willow*: Bite-sized Churros with Caramel or Chocolate Dipping Sauce
  7. Thirsty Bernie: Kielbasa and Reuben samples
  8. Whole Foods: Chicken Kebab with Fire Roasted Corn Salsa
  9. Rustico: Veal Meatball
  10. Bayou Bakery*: New Orleans-style Sno Ball (with Wedding Cake flavored syrup and condensed milk on top)

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SPINco de Mayo and Trucko de Mayo

8 May

SPINco de Mayo

My Cinco de Mayo included a nice mix of a hardcore spinning class at my favorite local spinning studio and a food truck/live music extravaganza at RFK stadium with great friends.  I hope everyone enjoyed their Cinco de Mayo fiest-ivities as well!

Revolve Fitness is Arlington’s first indoor cycling studio.  It is the epitome of a chic, well-oiled machine of an exercise studio!  As soon as you walk in the door, you are greeeted by friendly Revolve staff as you check-in on one of a few iPads that remind you of the seat you reserved online.  For right around $2 each, you can grab rental cycling shoes or a variety of cold drinks like Smart Water, Coconut water, or Vitamin Water.  Then, you proceed into their studio room where you’ll find around 40 top of the line bikes and a friendly, energetic instructor ready to help you set up if you’re a newbie.  I have taken two of their 3 formats of classes offered, Complete Body Ride and Barre Ride, which are both unique compared to a traditional spin class.  Complete Body Ride offers the intense cardio experience characteristic of a traditional spin class and adds a strengthening component by incorporating an upper body workout with your choice of 2, 3, or 5 lb dumbbells.  Barre Ride, the ride I chose for SPINco de Mayo, offers that intense cardio cycling as well as lengthening barre-based exercises.  You essentially complete your ride portion in around 40 minutes, hop off the bike, and using your bike’s handlebars proceed through a unique set of Barre series movements that aim to sculpt your guns into a lean dancer-like shape.  You use a small, squishy ball as well as dumbbells during the series and tone that behind, legs, and arms as you plié (bent) or relevé (lift) at the instructor’s request.  Barre Ride kicks my butt everytime, but I keep going back for more.  What made this week’s Barre Ride class even better was the inclusion of the Cinco de Mayo theme.  We had battles during the class where one side of the room was competing against the other or where individuals were competing to hold positions the longest during the Barre series movements to win free classes.  All that while our special guest drummer drove the energy in the room along with our fabulous instructor, Christianne.  Afterwards, free smoothies and Vitamin water with gummy worms (mimicking a tequila-type cocktail) were offered.  Additionally, funny photos in sombreros were being taken which would be posted to Facebook.  If you tagged yourself, the promise of a free class was upon you.  It was a great time!  The class and atmosphere at Revolve got me all the more pumped (and hungry) to take on some serious eats at Trucko de Mayo.  Let’s discuss shall we?

Trucko de Mayo involved 40+ DC food trucks, beer, and live music by RFK Stadium.  Admission was free, but you are left with the tough decision of where you want to spend your money before your tummy fills up.  Luckily, I am not new to this environment.  I have attended Truckeroo which is a smaller (20-ish food trucks), similar type of event held monthly across the summer at Das Bullpen by Nationals Park.  Typically, selections at the various food trucks will run $5-10 from my experience.  The food truck vendors often offer tastings of their larger meal offerings so you can feel it out before you buy a bigger entree.  This is to your advantage at food truck festivals because you can enjoy a wider array of the truck cuisine!  This time Bryan and I went with our good friends Fahad and Arfa who were new to the food truck festival concept.  I’d say both couples tried about 5 different spots this go around.  Here’s a list of what Bryan and I chowed down on:

  1. Fojol Bros of Merlindia– Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice (tasting)
  2. Sinplicity– Black and White Sinwich.  This is without a shadow of a doubt my FAVORITE dessert ever.  It occurs second in this list because I was having anxiety that they might run out so after one savory tasting, I was in line for my sinwich.  A sinwich involves two generously-sized macaroons with creamy, sinful ice cream in the middle.  The black and white features blackberry flavored macaroons, berry compote, and vanilla bean ice cream.  It has some crunch but then you hit the soft middle of the macaroons followed by the creaminess of the ice cream.  I’m drooling on myself typing this so I’d better leave it at that.  In sum, you MUST try one!
  3. PORC (Purveyors of Rolling Cuisine) – Pulled pork (tasting)
  4. TaKorean– Korean BBQ Tacos.  They offer 3 for $9 so we did 2 Bulgogi steak and 1 chicken.  These are worth talking about a bit more.  My favorite savory item would be these guys for sure.   The deliciously marinated meat is place on corn tortillas and topped with Sriacha, lime crema sauce, fresh cilantro, sesame seeds, and  your choice of slaw (spicy kimchi style or napa romaine- I prefer the first one myself.)  The line alone is an indication of how crazy tasty these are.  Ok, I’m experiencing the onset of drooling again.  NEXT!
  5. Dangerously Delicious Pies – Chicken Pot Pie with side salad.  I have visited the DC restaurant location of DD Pies before and it did not disappoint.  They offer a broad selection of savory and sweet pies that leave you with that just had a homemade meal feeling.  This particular chicken pot pie recipe was unique compared to the chicken pot pie one usually thinks of.  It was good and hearty with large chunks of chicken and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, peas, and corn) and less emphasis on a creamy gravy.  As I said, it is no doubt the definition of comfort food.

I’ll close with the top food pics of the day!

The infamous Sinwich.

TaKorean Tacos.

Dangerously Delicious Chicken Pot Pie.