Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Foodie Weekend

Summer is over. There. I said it. 

Though I can appreciate long and lazy days, as August comes to an end, I am ready for the fall. Ready for new notebooks and light sweaters. Ready for crisp mornings and caramel apples. Bring it on.

The summer does have many redeeming qualities, and I certainly had a great one. 

I traveled to New Jersey and Texas and Maine and Boston and Pennsylvania and Ohio.

I saw my Dad retire. 

I went out to great dinners in DC, Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax. 

I baked up a storm for my friends and family.

I’m exhausted! Aren’t you supposed to be well rested at the end of the summer?

Yesterday marked the first day of my last year in grad school. 

It also marked the first day that full time job meets full time school. 

My social life is going to struggle, but my friends will understand. As loyal readers I regret to inform you that my blogging life (oxymoron?) may suffer too, but I will try my darndest to update as much as possible. I hope you’ll forgive me.

Please, say you will!

To cap off my wonderful summer was this weekend. It was chock full of food, friends and fun. Cliché as that may sound, it’s true. From Friday to Sunday, I was in a constant whirl of girlfriends, awesome food, and uh, wine.

With the end of summer in DC comes one magical thing: restaurant week. I’m talking deals. Big deals. Big expensive dinners for not big expensive dollars. In other words, complete bliss for a foodie. Along with DC restaurant week comes Old Town Alexandria’s, and it is just as exciting.

Think DC, but a little quainter and a little quieter. On Friday, Amie and I ventured downtown to a restaurant called Southside 815. It’s not on Old Town’s King Street, which is definitely the most hoppin', but it was still busy and bustling so it met the needs of two twenty-something gals looking for a good night. 

Southside definitively has its roots in southern country cooking. The menu has classics like meatloaf, fried chicken and biscuits with gravy. It also had paintings of large women, which Amie seemed to appreciate. She’s weird.

The deal was $35.00 for one appetizer, two entrees and a dessert. Um, awesome? Especially considering that our entire bill should have been $80.00. Not a bad deal. 
To start, we went with spinach and artichoke dip. Look at the size of those chips. 

Damn. It was pretty good which made it hard to save room for my entrée.
Good thing I did because I decided to order the huge strip steak marinated in Jack Daniels and topped with a gouda and crab gratin. What a boy I am. It was ginormous. I think 14 ounces. And it came with green beans and taters. It was delightful and definitely a treat. But this whole weekend was, just keep reading.
Amie got a fried chicken pasta with sun dried tomatoes and asparagus in a cream sauce. The sun dried matos and asparagus make it healthy, right? Oh, it was good. 
Lastly, we split the brownie sundae dessert. I’d be lying if I said I loved it. Definitely not as exciting as the meal but hey! It was still edible. I mean, I ate my half…

After dinner we loosened our metaphorical belts and rolled home, literally—so full.
After an hour or two of Say Yes to the Dress, it was time to go home and prepare for Saturday’s festivities. 

On Saturday night, a big group of girls got together for my kind of party- appetizer, dessert and wine only. There were 9 of us, which yes, you guessed it, meant 9 bottles of wine and 9 different dishes. Needless to say, we were well taken care of.
I’ll give you a run-down of all the bites.

Amie brought two dishes. The first was a crispy phyllo shell filled with feta, cucumber, onion and tomato. This was certainly one of the healthier choices, you’ll see.
She also brought a shrimp dip recipe which combines everyone’s favorites: cream cheese, sour cream, baby shrimp and some spice mixture. So good on Fritos, and I hate Fritos. 
 Rachel brought a dish I’d never tried before. There were three major ingredients: wonder bread, cream cheese and bacon. We’re definitely watching our waistlines in this group! Hello delicious. The bacon was baked, to be fair!
Laura (our hostess) made a really nice cracker dip that had cream cheese, chutney and pecans (I think). It was a little sweet, a little savory, and perfect on a Triscut, of which I had many.
Kelly made this awesome salsa with a bunch of chopped veggies. I’m a salsa fiend, especially when it contains black beans, so you can imagine I had several scoopfuls.
 Dabba, the new little housewife (just kidding) brought my favorite: a bruchetta-type munchie. She had little pieces of sliced bread topped with tomato, basil and mozzarella. TBM to me. Love TBM. Love love.
 Hayley brought yummy yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Can you go wrong with this? The answer is no.
 Liz brought these self-proclaimed “cups of frosting.” They were actually more like a rich mousse; she didn’t give herself enough credit!

 Melanie brought chocolate covered strawberries. Fruit covered in chocolate. Sweet, awesome fruit. Chocolate. Do the math.

 Last but not least, I brought chocolate cake balls! I’ve wanted to make these forever. I’ve seen them so many places! The recipe is coming tomorrow, promise! I made one bath of red velvet and one batch of yellow cake with chocolate frosting. They were awesome, if you have good taste.
Lastly, we all brought wine. Look at it! This isn’t even all of it. Guess which one is mine? Yep, the only white one. Well, Amie’s was too, but was already gone by this point. Oops.
We wined, dined, and then hit the town. Love me some girls’ nights! 

Well, all the appetizers and desserts must have not done the trick, because when I got home late at night, I scarfed down some Papa John’s pizza. Or. I mean. Okay, it’s out there.

Sunday morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn. I hate that considering I never get to sleep in. What a drag. O took the day off of exercise and just mosied around the house, killing time, you know.

Killing time for what, you ask? Oh I’ll tell you.

My friend Melanie loves me sooo much that she bought a Groupon for me! Well, for us. And she got it as an early birthday gift. For me! Woo! And do you know what that Groupon was?

A mega deal from The Melting Pot, my favorite restaurant to date. 

Have you been there? If you have, what’s your favorite dish?

If you haven’t: go. Right now. Get off your chair and go. Well, maybe get a light jog in first, because you are bound to eat your face off… in the classiest way, of course.

The Melting Pot is a fondue restaurant. This translates to good food made better by dipping it in cheese and chocolate. Can you believe it? 

Melanie and I have been going to The Melting Pot since we got our driver’s licenses. 

It’s always been our little thing. It’s definitely a treat because it can get very expensive, but like I said, we had a Groupon, so it kind of felt like we were eating for free!

 We both got salads.
 Justttt kidding. Well sort of. We got salads but we also got the Wisconsin Trio, a blend of fontina, butterkase and buttermilk bleu cheese with white wine, scallions and sherry. 
 Wow. It comes with some crudités and fresh bread for dipping. It’s basically God’s gift to man. 
 We filled up on cheese, but there is always, always room for dessert here. We were convinced by our smooth talkin’ (well, not really) waiter to get the Cookies and Cream chocolate fondue. 
 You read this correctly. Dark chocolate with marshmallows and Oreo cookies flambéed tableside. 
 It comes with dippers like strawberries, bananas, pound cake, cookie covered and graham covered marshmallows, cheesecake, and brownie bites. We had two plates. I’m not exaggerating. We killed them. 

 And once again, I rolled out of the restaurant. It was so fantastic. It’s not like I was gorging on McDonalds. The Melting Pot is worth it, for sure. Whether it’s a special occasion or just a great deal, you need to try it. 

Oh and guess what? We only had to put down $8.00. Thanks Groupon!

And that was my weekend. Full of (almost) all my favorite things.

What’s your favorite way to spend the weekends?


Rick said...

I went to the melting pot for the first time a couple of weeks ago! Nearly burned down the place. No joke. And you have to admit, Jersey was the best travel destination you've been to all year.

The cups of frosting would be my choice too.

Anonymous said...

I love restaurant week deals, weekend full of wine and your cake balls! You had one awesome weekend :)

Monet said...

So many great eats...it is hard to know where to begin! I'm all about good desserts and wine...and I've been to the Melting Pot a few times (bread and cheese make me smile every time!)

Evan @swEEts said...

So bummed I missed DC's restaurant week! All my friends went this year and of course I'm coming home THIS weekend so I missed it :( Looks like you had a great time though! The melting pot is one of my faves, although I'm Swiss so I make a mean fondue myself! Good luck with your last year of grad school!

Sara said...

What a post! I'd eat everything you mentioned here. You and your girlfriends remind me a little bit of mine. We love dip parties :)

Christina said...

what a great weekend! look at all those dishes. i like your cake balls the best. hehee. NICE WINE TOO!! i've heard that bitch wine is actually pretty good.

Unknown said...

You look like you had entirely too much fun! I want to celebrate the end of summer that way. The best I'll do is a happy dance as soon as preschool is back in session. :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like my kind of weekend! All activities with my friends tend to be food-and-wine-centric, too. Love those cake balls!