Spring Day at the Beach

This past weekend, we headed down to the beach for a weekend away.  Dont get me wrong, I love the city, but there is something incredibly relaxing about being near water.  

We got down around 9pm Friday night and met my parents at BJs on the Water to listen to a local band, Mood Swingers w/ Lauren Glick, and have a couple drinks.  Lauren Glick had an incredible voice.

Saturday morning, we woke up and got ready for a run.  Kevin and I ran an out and back for a total of a 5.4 miles.  My legs were tired from the legs & back P90x workout Friday, so that was plenty for me.

We hit the grocery store and then put together a hearty breakfast.

Breakfast tacos!  Corn tortillas, eggs, sautéed peppers, onions & spinach, cheddar cheese & hot sauce. Turkey bacon on the side.

After the first nap of the day, we ventured out for some shopping and eventually stopped for a late lunch.
We sat outside on the picnic tables and soaked up the sun.  It felt great.  Kevin and I started with an order of Conch Fritters.
I am not really sure if I tasted conch or not?  I guess it could be because I don't know what conch should taste like.  But fried dough, savory or sweet, always tastes good to me.  ;)
I ordered the blackened tuna wrap and really enjoyed it.  A soft, fresh tortilla wrap was filled with blackened tuna, cool veggies, and a spicy blue cheese sauce on the side.  
After we rested and napped for the second time of the day, we decided to take a walk up to the beach.  Oscar had a blast rolling around in the cold sand.
The wind had picked up and my feet were freezing, so we didn't stay out very long.  
We headed back to the bayside to watch the sunset.  
Great day.



Volt Restaurant in Frederick, MD

This past Saturday, I had lunch at Volt in Frederick, MD.  Wait a second, I needed about a hundred exclamation points after that sentence!!!!!!!!  I ate at VOLT!!!!! Bryan Voltaggio from Top Chef is the chef/owner there! I was SO excited.  Ok, there, I got it all out.

I had been studying the lunch menu for days before our arrival and knew exactly what I was getting.  Of course, we arrived and it was all different.  But, this was actually a very good thing for us.  

There was a five course tasting menu on the left side of the menu and on the right side was the restaurant week menu.  Wait - its restaurant week in Frederick?  3 courses for $20.10 and add $15 for a 3 course wine pairing?  I couldn't believe our luck.  

House-made bread sticks were immediately brought to our table.  I tried one and they were crisp and salty.  Reminded me of a pretzel.  They also served warm rolls and butter, but my camera decided to die at this point.  Good thing I brought two cameras.  I wasn't going to miss documenting this dining experience for anything.
Shortly after we ordered, the first wine pairing arrived.  The type you received was dependent on the course you had ordered, so we were each having different things.  I was impressed with the server's knowledge of each of the wines and the generous pour.
My first wine course was Graham Beck Brut Rose 2007.  From South Africa, it is "made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, this blend offers big bubbles, strawberry/cranberry flavors with a bit a of crisp apple zing on the back."  I enjoyed the light, sweetness of the wine. (source)
My first course was the tuscarora farm organic beets cherry glen farm goat cheese, upland cress.  The most interesting thing about this dish was the beet meringue.  The goat cheese was softer than I had ever had, but I thought all the flavors worked well and this meal was off to a great start.
My mom chose the potato-leek chowder w/ applewood smoked bacon, sea scallop, leek transparency and I was jealous as soon as I saw the perfectly seared scallop and the way the soup was poured into the bowl.
My sister had the cherry glen farm goat cheese ravioli celeriac, sage brown butter, hedgehog mushrooms.  She got the fancy foam stuff on her dish!  ;)  The bite I had of her ravioli was delicious.
My next wine course was Damilano Nebbiolo d'Alba 2007.  "This red wine is a big, bold wine packed with ripe fruit, sweet spices, licorice and leather."   (source)
This red wine was just my speed.  Fruity and light.    
My second course was the pork tenderloin, braised savoy cabbage, caraway potato.  The server mentioned that it usually came out medium-rare, so I requested it be more medium.  This pork was absolutely delicious and went well with the cabbage and potato.  I would order this again in a second.
My mom ordered the wellington farms chicken, forest mushroom risotto, arugula, chioggia beets as her second course.  We like to share bites, so everyone can try everything.  The chicken was moist and the risotto flavorful.  I feel like I am running out of nice things to say, but the food was really this good. 
My sister went with the sturgeon, beluga lentils, cauliflower variations, verjus.  The fish was flaky and I thought the entire plate was a unique, colorful display.  Three colors of cauliflower - white, purple and green!  I had to use wikipedia to figure out just what verjus was: Grape seeds preserved in salts were also called verjus during the Middle Ages.  So cool!
My final wine pairing was this "sticky chardonnary", The Stump Jump.  Love the name.  "The nose is packed with rich flavors of marmalade, cumquat, ripe peach and orange butter. The cumquat character follows through on the palate with layers of yellow peach, butterscotch and a hint of green apple. "  (source)
The color was so bright and it was extremely sweet.  Not really my thing, but I enjoyed getting to try this wine.
My dessert was coconut passion fruit, pineapple, coconut ice cream, caramel crumble, homemade marshmellow.  The waiter informed me that the pineapple had been Sous-vide. This dish reminded me of a de-constructed pie.  I had to hold myself back from licking the plate.  Great way to end my meal.
Another artistic dessert was my sister's textures of chocolate: white chocolate ganache, chocolate caramel, raw organic cocoa.  I enjoyed my bite, but it was very rich.  Would be perfect for a chocolate lover.
My mom had the Cheese cake, kumquats, ginger ice cream, cardamom.  This de-constructed cheesecake was another winner.  Enough said.
From left to right: Moi, my mom, Jen, Marcia, Kristin & my sister.

What a great lunch!  Definitely something I will not forget.  It will be hard to top this place in my book.  The service, food and atmosphere was top notch.  Thanks SO much to Marcia for getting us a reservation during restaurant week! 
Just when we thought things could not get any better, we were presented with these goodies to take home with us.  What a great touch.
The ladies room was directly across from the kitchen and after a closer look - Bryan was back there!
Or at least we think that was him!  He never turned around.  Probably because some crazy person was taking pictures. 

Volt on Urbanspoon



In Need of Cardio

After two indulgent dinners Friday and Saturday night, I was in desperate need of some cardio.  Saturday, Kevin and I completed Core Synergistics, which is a great workout, but I really just needed a longer run.  

Sunday morning was a great weather day for running.  Completed a 10k (6.2 miles) loop in Patapsco State Park.  I don't enjoy wearing a watch because I become obsessed with it, so it was about an hour of running.  There is a great paved path right along the river in the Orange Grove area and you even get to cross two swinging bridges.
The other day, I updated my Race Schedule page with the list of 2010 races I plan to run/bike.  I don't have many running races planned this spring, and it feels pretty relaxing to not have to run a certain amount each week.  

I want to see this P90x program all the way through since last night we took our "day 30" pictures and I actually noticed some differences between them and the pictures from 30 days ago.  If I get really ripped, maybe I will even get the courage to post them here.

On May 8th, I am planning to bike the 100k (62 mile) course of the Tour de Cure bike ride.  I need to dust off my road bike and start training for that.  Spin class is there, I just need to attend more regularly.
Last night, I finally experimented with the Quinoa that I bought a few weeks ago.  I threw together some random items and ended up with a pretty tasty vegetarian feast.
This was my first time tasting Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Bisque and I loved the sweetness of this soup.
It went nicely with the spicy Veggie Masala Burger.
Once the quinoa was done, I seasoned it with Coriander, Turmeric, Cumin, and Red Pepper.  Basically my own version of curry powder.
All together and topped with a spoonful of 0% Plain Greek Yogurt.  I treated the soup like a sauce and mixed everything together before eating.  I was surprised how the quinoa soaked up all of the soup.  I was also surprised how much Kevin and I enjoyed this meal.  I will definitely be making this again.
We also munched on edamame for the "green factor".  Although I never can get it to taste like it does at a restaurant.  Anyone know how they do that?

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday.  



Engagement Dinner - Salt Tavern, Baltimore, MD

Saturday night, we had dinner at Salt Tavern in the Butcher's Hill neighborhood of Baltimore.   Salt is a special place for Kevin and I because almost 3 years ago, it is where we had our first date.  There are so many memories from that night:
  • having a "calm my nerves" drink before he came to pick me up.
  • him ordering the whole fish for his entree...by mistake.  
  • my first taste of port.
  • really, really easy conversation
  • learning about our shared love for all things food and athletic
  • duck fat fries as an appetizer and a trio of ice cream cones for dessert. 
It still makes me smile and my stomach get that excited feeling just thinking about it.  We hadn't been back since that first date, so it seemed like the perfect place to celebrate our engagement with my family.
I decided to have a pre-dinner drink at the house for old times sake.  Cranberry vodka, mango nectar, sparking water, fresh blueberries (that sunk to the bottom), and a lime.  
This drink was sweet and tasted like there was no alcohol at all.  Dangerous.  
We had to start with the Duck Fat Fries and they were just as I remember.  Although, I think I ate 10 times more than I did on our first date.
The fries were served with a trio of aioli: black truffle, chipotle, and malt vinegar.  I kept going back to the Black Truffle one, but they were all great.
I helped polish off a bottle of Panther Creek Pinot Grigio.  This wine was smooth and light, so I am hoping to find it in a store nearby.
Kevin ordered the Roasted Beet Salad to start and I had a few bites.  Baby spinach, goat cheese, kumquats, lemon vinaigrette.  I don't think I had ever tried a kumquat, but I enjoyed it.  The tartness went nicely with the creamy goat cheese. 
I went with the Porchini Dusted Day Boat Sea Scallops as my main meal.  Served over a baby vegetable ratatouille and lobster butter.  Oh. my. goodness.  This was the best I have ever had.  I loved absolutely everything about this dish.  Just seeing this picture again is making my mouth water.  It was seared scallop, ratatouille perfection.  
Kevin ordered the Coriander and Pepper Crusted Tuna served over seaweed salad with spicy tuna pot stickers and ginger soy glaze.  The tuna steak was humongous and had delicious flavor, but was slightly undercooked for his taste.  He changed his order to medium-rare at the last minute, but should have stuck with medium.  

I am disappointed that I didn't snag a photo of my sister's dish because as much as I loved my dish, hers was just as good.  Hoisin Glazed Roasted Alaskan Black Cod served in a spicy miso broth with steamed wontons, and sriracha stir fried vegetables.  I tried a bite and the fish literally melted in my mouth.  I will definitely order that next time we go.
You know we had to order the trio of ice cream in chocolate lined waffle cones.  The nightly homemade ice cream flavors were butter pecan, chocolate cherry, and one other that I cant remember!
We also had to try the bread pudding which was made with brioche, chocolate, a hint of orange served with orange marmalade and vanilla ice cream.  This was very dense with a rich flavor.  Kevin declared that it was the best he's ever had.
Last, but certainly not least, were the Goat Cheese Donuts topped with a lavender honey, sea salt and served with a side of coffee ice cream.  I loved these, although, I was secretly hoping there would be a pocket of melted goat cheese in the middle.
(From Left to Right:  Brother-in-law, sister, mom, Kevin, Me & Dad) 

Every single one of us enjoyed this experience and I have nothing but high praise for Salt Tavern.  We had impeccable service and I would highly recommend asking for Terese as your waitress if you decide to dine here.  She knows exactly how to describe all of the food to make it sound like it is going to be the best thing you ever ate.  And you what?  It was.  

Salt Tavern on Urbanspoon


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