Travels: The Crescent City of Nawlin’s Part Deux

On our third day in The Crescent City, we took the St. Charles street car to the Po’ Boy Festival. The po’ boy is New Orleans version of a hoagie, grinder, or submarine. Dave and I agreed we would each pick a po’ boy of our choosing and share. Not surprisingly, Dave chose an oyster po’boy that was panko-crusted and had an asian-style aioli.

I chose a bbq shrimp po’ boy and fries.

Both were very good. Having to choose which one we thought tasted better, our loyalties lied with our own pick, so it was a draw.

That afternoon we had a remarkable private tour of the French Quarter from Leah, a friend and old colleague’s sister, followed by a cocktail at Arnaud’s bar, French 75. Soon, it was time for dinner at August, one of John Besh’s restaurants. While waiting for our table, we ordered dirty martinis at the bar, where we had another celebrity sighting – Jason Sedeckis from SNL.

Throughout the meal, we forgot to take pictures because we were so enamored with and absorbed in everything we ate. My conclusion of this restaurant is you MUST go if you are in The Big Easy! Dave thought it may have been one of the best meals he has EVER had.

Day 3 – our taste buds were singing…..

Our last morning in NOLA, we hit the famous Café Du Monde for beignets and café au lait. And literally that is all they serve. This place takes donuts and coffee to the next level. There are 3 beignets per serving, with a mountain of confectioner’s sugar.

And after

Seeing how much sugar was left after we scarfed down those deep fried squares of deliciousness, I couldn’t help but wonder how many pounds of sugar they go through in a day. And they are open 24 hrs/7 days a week! Leah took us behind Café Du Monde to peak in the window so we could see how the beignets are made. Here is what Dave captured:

We really enjoyed watching this.

Throughout the weekend, we were trying to figure out what’s the big deal about the Praline (pronounced praw-lean). It’s basically cream, butter and sugar melted with pecans. That’s exactly what it tastes like. It’s a cavity waiting to happen.

On our way to the airport, we stopped by Southern Candymakers to grab some praline souvenirs. Here is how they make them:

We were sad to say good bye to The Crescent City, since we thoroughly enjoyed eating our way through and learning about its rich history. We highly recommend going for a visit if you’ve never been, and definitely take a tour of the French Quarter with Leah. (here is her blog, she is fantastic!) Needless to say, we will be detoxing this week.

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Travels: The Crescent City of Nawlin’s Part Un

Dave and I recently returned from a food-filled mini vacay in New Orleans. We had a fabulous time being tourists and were impressed with the flavors and quality of food the city had to offer.

On the flight out, our row mate recommended Acme Oyster House, which happened to already be on our list of places to visit. I had seen it on an episode of Man vs. Food and had intentions of going there while we were in The Big Easy. The world is my oyster since Dave made me a convert, and it seems we just can’t get enough of them. So, Acme Oyster House it was for our introductory NOLA meal.

I started with a Bloody Mary and Dave ordered an Abita Amber, a lager from a local brewery. On the glass rim of the Bloody Mary was what tasted like a Cajun seasoning – spicy and Old Bay-esque. We then shared a dozen raw and char grilled oysters along with Boo fries, all recommended by our travel companion. The raw oysters were milder and less salty than their Northeast brethren, but just as meaty. Our plate of char grilled oysters on the half shell was filled with garlic, butter, and cheese oozing goodness to be sopped up by the bread they provided.

And the Boo Fries – not sure who thought it would be a good idea to put roast beef gravy over fries with shredded cheddar cheese, but they knew what they were doing! (although my discerning palate quickly picked up that the gravy was jarred, but after a few bites I quickly let go of my judgment.)

By the end of our meal, we were still curious about what exactly the Bloody Mary seasoning was (and whether we could recreate it ourselves). So we asked the waitress on our way out. It was Tony Chachere’s and they were selling it next door. Guess where we went next!

Dinner our first evening was at Stella!, one of the finer dining establishments in the French Quarter. The atmosphere was upscale, with a touch of stuffiness. It is known for using molecular gastronomy, a modern cooking technique that includes creating foams and gels in a dish. As Dave and I perused the menu, only the appetizers seemed to really beckon us, so we got 4 small plates and a salad.  Our favorites were the deviled egg with caviar

and the foie gras, that was so creamy with compliments of bacon, peaches and fig

Day 1 – so far NOLA is living up to its culinary reputation!

Saturday, we headed uptown to the Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art and then took the street car back to the French Quarter. Adamant about trying local traditions, we walked over to Pat O’Brien’s, the place that created the infamous Hurricane. (Click here to read about its history). No wonder everyone walks around Bourbon Street drunk! 4 ounces of rum in one libation will do that to you. To fill our empty stomachs, we stopped for lunch at the Napoleon House, another recommendation from our flight friend and also on our personal list.

It’s called the Napoleon House because the building housed the mayor at the time, and offered his residence to the exiled Emperor as a refuge. Although Napoleon never made it to New Orleans, the name stuck.

They are known for their Pimm’s Cup, so Dave and I ordered one to share. Thanks to the Hurricane, one Pimm’s Cup each would have put us over the edge. Looking at the menu, we noticed it was primarily Italian-based and were confused how a place named Napoleon House did not offer French food. We later found out it is owned by an Italian family, and the significance of the name, obviously, has nothing to do with the food. We shared a Muffulatta, which is basically an Italian Cold Cut sandwich with olives and served hot, and a Meatball Sandwich.

Dinner on our second night was at Cochon, a restaurant our research concluded was highly rated.  We were eager to try alligator and this place fit the bill. Yet besides the fried alligator and the braised pork cheeks, we were disappointed. Our experience wasn’t enhanced either by our terrible service.

Fried Alligator with chili garlic aioli

Braised Pork Cheeks with sauerkraut potato cakes, goat feta & pears (tasted like brisket on Chanukah!)

Day 2 – we hit some well known local establishments, but the food did not hit the mark. We did however have a celebrity sighting that evening – Zach Galifianakis and Jack McBrayer (Kenny from 30 Rock)!

I’ll have a side of turkey with my Oyster Stuffing

If I had to create a guest list for Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey would not be invited.  My attendance list would consist completely of sides (with a few dessert and alcohol invitees too!) Every year I am happy to mingle with candied yams, brussels sprouts, broccoli casserole, pumpkin pie and coconut cake.  The turkey is only invited to my plate annually because of it’s protein value.  Only Reason!

Stuffing is a plated guest every year as well, and sometimes it’s the life of the party and other times it is a Debbie Downer.  The Debbie Downers are usually of the boxed varietal.  My Bubbie (yiddish for Grandmother) used to make a stuffing with Rice Krispies when I was growing up.  My mom and I have tried to duplicate it multiple times and everytime the flavors are full of nostalgia, but the texture doesn’t always come out right.  And to be honest, with my new found food snobbery, I was disappointed that the recipe doesn’t call for more fresh ingredients.  I guess that is a post for another time.

When I found a recipe for Oyster Stuffing on Food & Wine’s web site, I thought I have to try this because 1) Dave and I love oysters and 2) I am still on the hunt for a good stuffing recipe.

*Side Note:  The recipe author is New Orlean’s own John Besh.  We’ll be in NOLA this weekend and we’ll be dining at one of his restaurants!

We halved the recipe, since we weren’t planning on feeding 6 to 8 people on a Sunday night.  Maybe 3 if you include my golden retriever, Beresford (aka Bere, pronounced Bear), although he rarely gets people food, except if he snatches it!  In addition, the recipe called for a slab of bacon which apparently is just that, a slab; it hasn’t been cut into strips yet.  But that wasn’t an option at Whole Foods, so we used the traditional strips.  The bacon and vegetables were cooked in a cast iron skillet and the kitchen was filled with an alluring aroma. When all the ingredients were combined and put in the oven, this was produced:

You’ll see that there are dark pieces scattered throughout the stuffing.  This is the bacon and green pepper, although they weren’t burnt when the dish went into the oven.

Dave and I think this is because we cooked those ingredients the same amount of time as called for in the original recipe, which you recall is double of what we actually made.  However, this did not affect the taste of the stuffing at all.  The flavor combo had our taste buds singing!

If you love oysters and stuffing separately, then you’ll love them together!  Give it a whirl, let me know how it turns out!

Oyster Dressing
(Adapted from foodandwine.com, contributed by John Besh)

Ingredients
2 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 stick unsalted butter
1 celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large baguettes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch dice (12 cups)
4 dozen shucked oysters plus 1 cup oyster liquor, oysters halved (2 cups)
2 scallions, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 10-by-14-inch shallow baking dish. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and let melt, then add the celery, green pepper, onion and minced garlic and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the paprika, garlic powder and cayenne and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Put the diced baguettes in a large bowl. Spoon the bacon mixture on top. Add the oysters and their liquor along with the scallions and parsley.

3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the hot sauce and salt. Pour the eggs into the bowl and mix everything together. Scrape the dressing into the prepared baking dish and bake in the upper third of the oven for about 45 minutes, until heated through and crisp on top. Serve hot.

Make Ahead: The baked oyster dressing can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat before serving.

The Communal Table: A Virtual Thanksgiving

This year I’ll be attending more than one Thanksgiving meal.  Food Network along with a variety of other food-centric web sites has invited food bloggers to a virtual Thanksgiving and I am planning on being at the communal table.  The bloggers that are participating have to bring one dish “to the table.”  The dish I am bringing is Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

A simple, yet delicious recipe that doesn’t require much effort, while adding your own flavor preferences.  I make mine with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste, so it’s sweet with a bit of a kick.  Here’s the recipe adapted from the Joy of Cooking:

Ingredients
2 pounds sweet potatoes or yams, scrubbed (and peeled only if desired)
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, softened
Salt to taste

Directions
Boil potatoes until thoroughly tender.  Drain and pour potatoes back into potMash and add butter.  Mix or beat potatoes til smooth or to desired texture.  Add cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger or additional flavors such as:

chopped pecans or walnuts
diced crystallized ginger
honey
brown Sugar
bourbon or dry sherry
grated orange or lemon zest

My Internet dining companions brought:

Cocktails, Appetizers, Soups and Salads:
Eat Be Mary: She’s Mulling It Over Wine
Cookistry: Bread With Ancient Grains
Celebrity Chefs and Their Gardens: The American Hotel Peconic Clam Chowder
Picky Eater Blog: Butternut Squash Soup With Thyme and Parmesan
Good Food Good Friends: Mushroom Soup

Mains:
Examiner.com: Grilled Quail with a Warm Beet, Frisée, and Pistachio Salad
She Wears Many Hats: Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey

Sides:
Living Mostly Meatless: Vegan-Friendly Corn Casserole
Healthy Green Kitchen: Red Kuri Squash Pie
The Naptime Chef: Crispy Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes
Gluten-Free Blondie: Apple and Cranberry Studded Stuffing
Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat: Blue Cheese and Rosemary Celebration Potatoes
Burnt Lumpia: Turkey, Sweet Potato and Cranberry Empanadas
Panfusine: Pan Fried Polenta Seasoned With Cumin, Ginger & Black Pepper
Homemade Cravings: Warm Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Slaw
Bakeaholic Mama: Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Crispy Prosciutto
Show Food Chef: Beer-Braised Brussels Sprouts
T’s Tasty Bits: Sweet Empanadas with Pumpkin and Lupini Beans Filling
The Amused Bouche Blog: Braised Kale
The Little Kitchen: How to Make the Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Desserts:
The Macaron Queen: Macaron Tower
Poet In The Pantry: Amaretto Apple Crisp
Farm Girl Gourmet: Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta
That’s Forking Good: Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies
Out of the Box Food: Out of the Box Food Maple Pumpkin Pie
Cake Baker 35: Orange Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Lisa Michele: Pumpkin, Pecan, Cheesecake Pie
Food For My Family: Buttermilk Custard Pear Pie
Simple Bites: Black-Bottom Maple Pumpkin Pie
A Cooks Nook: Swedish Apple Pie
Yakima Herald: Pretzel Jell-O Salad
How Does She: Three of Our Favorite Desserts
Dollhouse Bake Shoppe: Thanksgiving Candy Bar Name Plates
Sweet Fry: Pumpkin Latte
Tasty Trials: Spiced Apple Panna Cotta With Caramelized Apples and Caramel Sauce
An Uneducated Palate: Puff Pastry Apple Tart
Frugal Front Porch: Mini Cheaty Cheesecakes

Kitchen Courses: Thanksgiving for Six People Under $60

Travels: Empire State of Mind

No, Dave and I were not singing Jay-Z and Alicia Keys while we were walking through the concrete jungle of New York City this past weekend. But we gave our taste buds a ride all over town while visiting family and cheering on a close friend for the NYC marathon. Here is a quick rundown of our itinerary:

Friday night
Dinner at BYOB Kuma Inn in the Lower East Side with Dave’s sister and her boyfriend (this place was an obscure restaurant above a Bavarian bar, but the tapas style Asian food really stood out!)
Drinks at Elsa’s

Saturday
Brunch at Petite Abeille in Stuyvesant Town with my cousin Jami
Being a tourist at the Empire State Building (spectacular views!)
Dinner at One If By Land, Two If By Sea

Sunday
Brunch at The Standard Grill in the Meatpacking District
Quick walk through of EATALY in the Flatiron District (where Dave freaked out because Mario Lemieux walked by us)
Being spectators at the NYC Marathon

I’d like to shine a spotlight on a few activities from our weekend….

  • Dinner at One If By Land, Two If By Sea in the West Village. Dave’s research paid off for finding a romantic atmosphere for our Saturday night date night. According to press clippings displayed near the restroom, One If By Land has been voted Most Romantic Restaurant in NYC multiple times and apparently is an old carriage house once owned by Aaron Burr. This fact I thought was especially cool, because I am always thoroughly entertained by this Got Milk? commercial from a few years back:


I’m sure Burr was proud to have won the dual, but I would hope he would be proud to know that his former residence is now a pretty awesome restaurant. My love of dirty martinis has been elevated with their Horse and Carriage cocktail. It was a dirty martini with horseradish-infused vodka, olive juice, and a tooth pick spear of bleu cheese & onion stuffed olives. A first whiff smelled like a Jewish Holiday, but it gave the cocktail a swift kick in the pants, like the Jews did to the Egyptians.

Their menu is a Four Course Prix Fixe including a choice of a small, medium, large, and dessert dish. With this type of menu, there were many delectable bites, but my favorite dish was the Halibut, which sadly was not included in our photo shoot for the evening. It was perfectly cooked and surrounded by trumpet royale and Shiitake mushrooms, on a bed of roasted garlic potato purée. There was a lemon burst that really balanced out the flavors in the rest of the dish.

  • Brunch at The Standard Grill in the Meatpacking District. I first stumbled upon this place the summer of 2010 during my annual Girls Weekend with college friends. We had drinks here and it was a fun, happening place. When I came back to Philly from that trip, the Twenty Manning restaurant near Rittenhouse Square had been reinvented to Twenty Manning Grill. TMG eerily looked like The Standard Grill I had just been too in Manhattan; Beef, Fish, Fowl, Poultry sign and all. I had told Dave previously about Philadelphia’s venerable restauraneurs’ imitation of New York City restaurants; now he had had seen it first hand with this example as well as Pastis (Parc in Rittenhouse). Brunch didn’t really stand out for me, besides our celebrity sighting of Bridget Monyahan, the housemade raised donuts, and these really cute salt and pepper shakers.

  • I failed to mention the real reason for our visit to NYC, I opened a bakery!

    Just kidding……but if I did, I guess I couldn’t use this name. However, because this shop had my namesake, we popped in to taste the mini, and I mean mini, cupcakes they were selling. Apparently, each cupcake is less than 50 calories. They weren’t anything to write home about. The concept appeals to me, since I often need something sweet to cleanse my palate after a meal, but am not looking for anything filling. The frosting was good, but something about the cake itself was off, but we couldn’t put our finger on it.

With lots of reasons for frequent NYC visits and it being in close proximity to Philadelphia, there will plenty more Manhattan posts. Lucky for us, the city has boundless gastronomic options!

One last thing I would like to mention – while watching the marathon runners pass by us with less than a mile to cross the finish line, we saw a few amputees and individuals in wheelchairs. I believe completing a marathon when you are healthy is inspirational on its own, but this just blew me out of the water. Here is a picture of a female amputee close to finishing the race:

Dave found out more about her today. Her name is Melissa Stockwell and here is her Web site. The quote on the home page is “All of our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” I couldn’t agree more! I have decided to pursue my own dream and start culinary school part-time this week! Wish me luck!

Halloween: A trick and two treats

I know Halloween is over and everyone is already starting to think about Thanksgiving, so why am I post-blogging about Halloween desserts?  It’s because you can make these desserts for Turkey Day or any other occasion during the winter……pumpkin cupcakes!

I offered to make cupcakes (and peanut butter candy eyeballs, which I’ll get to shortly) for a Halloween party.  Of course, I couldn’t bring just one type of pumpkin cupcake; I HAD to test two different recipes.  This is my reference to “two treats”.  The first recipe was Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Brown Butter Buttercream from foodnetwork.com.  The second was Ina’s (are you shocked?!) with cream cheese frosting that I adapted from housebeautiful.com. Besides the frostings, the main differences were the spices. Although both had cinnamon, Food Network’s had pumpkin pie spice and cloves, and Ina’s had nutmeg and ginger.  Another difference was FN’s also had applesauce, which helped make it extra moist.

Those peanut butter eyeballs “tricked” me half way through the recipe, so I decided to bag them all together.  I refuse to embarrass myself by presenting an incomplete sweet.  It was really the white chocolate chips that “tricked” me, as they wouldn’t melt properly to achieve the correct consistency for coating the peanut butter balls.  I promised you the “ugly” too, so here they are:

If you want to see what they are supposed to look like or try them yourself, here is a sample recipe.

More importantly, back to the cupcakes….

Here is FN’s

And BC’s

The final verdict handed down by Dave, myself and another party goer, was that the best cupcake would have been FN’s cake, with BC’s frosting.   I’ve included both recipes for you to come to your own conclusion.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Brown Butter Buttercream
Makes 24 cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups canned pumpkin
4 large eggs
Brown Butter Buttercream (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 regular size cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt. Set the bowl aside. In a large bowl using an electric mixer on low speed, combine the sugar, oil, applesauce, vanilla extract, and pumpkin. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Mix on low until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.

3. Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full with batter and bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched with your finger, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pans for a few minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the buttercream:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
4 cups powdered sugar (about 2 pounds)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 to 6 tablespoons buttermilk

In a saucepan, heat ½ cup butter over medium-low heat until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Cool.  In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the remaining ½ cup butter for 30 seconds.  Add the cooled brown butter and beat until combined.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat in the buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until spreadable. 

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 10 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (8 ounces), not pie filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush or spray the top of 10 muffin tins with vegetable oil and line them with 10 paper liners.

2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.

3. Divide the batter among the prepared tins (I use a level 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.

4. Spread the cupcakes with the Maple Frosting and sprinkle with the chopped toffee bits.

For the frosting:
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
A few dashes of pumpkin pie spice
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Travels: Heading South to Richmond, Virginia

My close friend Jen recently moved to Richmond, VA with her boyfriend, Iain.  After picking a good weekend, Dave and I made the four hour trek (on a good traffic day) for a visit.  They live in Carytown, a cute little neighborhood outside of downtown Richmond.  Here are some edible highlights…..

Friday night for dinner they took us to ACACIA mid-town; one of the nicer restaurants in the area and around the corner from their place.  ACACIA certainly could have been plucked out of Philadelphia as both the food and décor rivaled restaurants of those in a more urban environment.  On a Philly-related note, the chef, Dale Reitzer, was named Best New Chef by Food and Wine Magazine the same year as Marc Vetri (Holla!).

As I mentioned, I love to taste, so Dave and I have developed a dining routine that consists of sharing 2 or 3 appetizers and then one entrée.  With Jen and Iain added in the mix, we ordered a few extra appetizers of crispy risotto balls, fried oysters, tuna ceviche, and a charcuterie plate.  The charcuterie plate included a foie gras mousse and beef tongue.  Being a member of the tribe, I’ve seen tongue in a lot of delis but have never actually tried it.  I didn’t think it was that bad, but my dining companions were not fans.  If I see foie gras on the menu, I’m ordering it!  I love the texture.  Ironically though, I don’t like duck meat.  I digress……….on recommendation from Jen and Iain, we got the crab cakes with cheesy grits and green beans.  As a born and bred Marylander, I have to say I know my crab cakes.  It should be all meat and hardly any filling.  And this crab cake was exactly that!  Broiled to perfection, lumpy, and the most interesting part was the cake included the mustard from the shell of the crab.  If you have ever sampled the mustard, it’s a very distinct taste.  I like it, plus it’s my mom’s favorite part of the crab.  However, others might say it is an “acquired” taste.

My Favorite Dish of the meal was the Crab Cakes

With an Honorable Mention to the Butternut Squash Risotto Balls

We then went to McCormack’s Whiskey Grill, a cool whiskey bar with a tremendous amount of liquor bottles behind the bar.  They even had one of those rolling library ladders to aid in reaching for all those bottles.

Dave is a whiskey/scotch/bourbon drinker, thanks to both his grandfathers, so this was a treat for him.  As hard as I try when I taste whiskey, I can’t help but associate it with rubbing alcohol and/or conjure up bad memories of drinking Southern Comfort in high school.  Both give me that “I’m disgusted” face, and the chills.  I asked the bartender for an “introductory” whiskey and he gave me Jameson.  It certainly didn’t go down any easier, but he described it with notes of caramel, and at least this time, I could actually SMELL the caramel, and not pure alcohol.

On a walk through Carytown, one of the coffee shops was advertising a Nutella Latte.

Um, yes please!  I made sure we stopped there on our way to Kings Dominion (my favorite theme park EVER!) for my daily coffee fix.  As I watched the barista put Nutella in the bottom of the coffee cup, I thought “This is going to be awesome!”  But my first sip tasted like a regular latte.  Even by the time I drained the cup, there wasn’t much hazelnut flavor.  Disappointment set in; I should have known better than to have had such high expectations.

So, if you are ever in the Richmond area, Carytown particularly, I would highly recommend ACACIA mid-town and McCormack’s Whiskey Grill, but you can skip the Nutella Latte. However, a visit to Kings Dominion is a must!