Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Stars and Stripes Cafe @ The Smithsonian

I would go to the museum often if they have food like this!! Since we were up early and did not have a single bite to eat, we decided to head to the Stars and Stripes Cafe at the American History Museum at the Smithsonian for brunch/lunch.

I was glad we decided to eat there. There were a good selection of different kind of food (and desserts). The dining area is spacious, contemporary and has a great view; I think it was the Washington monument.

I ordered the Cherry Blossom special which was chicken salad on Cranberry Walnut bread. It was one of the best chicken salad sandwich I’ve had. The contributing factor was definitely that slightly sweet, slightly tangy cranberry walnut bread. The mayo dressing in the chicken salad was just nice. The bread was soft enough to hold the chicken salad. It however cost quite a bit since it did not come with any sides. $9 for my chicken sandwich. The cup of crème brulee you in the picture was not part of my sandwich. That little baby cost me about $4.50. While the crème was nice and smooth, it was missing that caramelized crystal crust on top. It was funny how Qi, my brother’s gf and I took the exact same thing.

MuseumCafe1 Both the husband and my brother went for the fried stuff. The husband ordered a chicken sandwich, onion rings and my all time favorite cheese curd (YOU GOTTA TRY IT!!). My brother ordered a hot dog and onion rings. Fried Cheese Curds are most likely a Midwestern thing and I was ecstatic to see it in DC. I miss my fried cheese curds and the husband surely know what I like!! It wasn’t cheap for the amount of cheese curds we were given. The husband chicken sandwich was normal, nothing too shot about. The onion rings on the other hand were good, crunchy and fresh off the fryer! =). And cheese curds……Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


We spent close to $70 for 4 people at the Stars and Stripes cafe at the American History Museum. Considering that we did not pay to get into the museum, I guess the price is not that bad. Although, I did hear many patrons cringing at the price of the food there. At least, the cafe is serving good quality food. =)


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sightseeing Washington DC – April 3, 2010 (Part Two)

This is one ambitious short trip to the capital of the United States. We squeeze in a walk around the Tidal Basin and to the Jefferson Memorial to enjoy the scenery of the Cherry Blossoms. From there, we walked towards the Smithsonian and spent the rest of our days in 3 different museums. We pick and choose the sections we wanted to see most in the museums spent more time in one section and less or none in some others.

Smithsonian Institution (according to Wikipedia) is an educational and research institute and associated museum complexes, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities and magazines. Most of its facilities are located in Washington, D.C., but its 19 museums, zoo, and nine research centers include sites in New York City, Virginia, Panama, and elsewhere. The museum is perfect for family fun and definitely every educational. Best part..FREE! No entrance fee! Eating at the museum does however cost you, i.e, we spent about $70 for lunch for 4.

Here are the pictures from our maiden tour into the Smithsonian. First stop was the American History Musuem. I wasn’t too keen to go to this one, but I was glad I did at the end of it!

Something old and something new. Top Hat from Abraham Lincoln (Bottom Left) which is at least 140 years old and Michele Obama’s Inaugural Ball evening dress (Bottom Right). The first lady had just recently donated this dress to the museum. See Michele Obama in the dress HERE.

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And the renown Julia Child’s kitchen (bottom), donated by the chef herself in 2001. I don’t need to own 20 frying pans, I nor do I want her kitchen…I just want to be able to cook like her. Boeuf bourguignon, perhaps? Or the duck dish, Pate de canard en croute?


After spending a couple hours at the American History museum, we walked to the Natural History museum. I did not see much that captured my attention, perhaps the exhibition was almost like the Field Museum in Chicago?

We were greeted by this huge 14 foot tall African elephant  (Bottom Left) in the lobby area. Don’t worry, it wasn’t live and kicking. It was just a statue. (I think) that comes alive at night. =)

We walked around and stumbled the evolution of man area. I found one of the display interesting (Bottom Right). Click to see more clearly. Are we seriously 60% genetically similar to banana trees??

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We were eager to catch a glimpse of the Hope Diamond at the Natural History Musuem (Bottom Left). There were many people surrounding all those precious stones on display taking pictures and wishing they could own just one. I was one of them =) The Hope Diamond weighs at 42.52 carat and is believed to be cursed. The Smithsonian houses this huge rock which is removed from its original setting as it is apparently getting a new upgraded setting in the future.

There were also some other interesting natural minerals (Bottom Left) that were so colorful and pretty.

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After the Natural History Museum, we walked towards the Smithsonian Castle (Bottom Left) which is mainly an information center and perhaps an event hall. The garden (Bottom Right) at the back was nice with nicely trimmed plants and rows of tulips.

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Our final stop was the Air & Space Museum. Just tons of air craft and the history of it. I spotted Amelia Earheart’s airplane (Bottom Left). She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. We then realized, this wasn’t the air and space museum we wanted to see. We wanted to see the Air and Space Museum @ Udvar-Hazy Center which was a couple minutes’ drive away and not in the National Mall area.

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Overall, the visit to the museums were quite educational. it would have been better if they had better air conditioning inside. It was hot and stuffy sometimes and I’m not sure if it was because of the large crowd on a Easter weekend? Or was it always like that. Well, can’t complain much since did not pay the entrance fees…but I think part of our tax dollar probably made its way here…right?


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Taco Dinner

 TacoDinner I’m not a Taco expert so I wouldn’t necessary know the difference between a good, great or bad Taco. I enjoy eating Tacos but do not eat it often as I can be quite picky about my beef. I bought this Casa Fiesta Taco Seasoning Mix from the grocer for about a dollar as part of my quick week night meal plan. Instead of the regular ground beef, I use ground pork. The mix was easy to use. All I did was brown the meat, add the seasoning and water and cook it for about 20 minutes or less overall. In no time, the husband and I was having a little “Taco Party” in front of the telly.


I bought some tortillas, shredded some lettuce, cut up some tomato, brought out the cheese (Mexican blend) and salsa! I prepped the stuff while I was cooking the ground meat and dinner was ready in no time! it was a perfect quick and delicious meal for 2-3 people. I thought the taco seasoning was good and the taco meat was better than Taco Bell’s. I did however added twice as much water as instructed on the back of the packaging, =)

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This won’t be the end of my Taco dinner! I will perhaps stock up a couple packets of this seasoning on my next grocery run! Spare lots of napkins to eat the tacos as it does get a little messy. A couple bottles of icy cold beer to wash the tacos down would be good too!


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peach Panna Cotta


After I had this wicked good panna cotta @ L’andana Grill, I’ve been wanting to attempt them myself. I googled for recipes and soon found out that panna cotta does not contain egg. Panna Cotta is cooked Italian cream. It is gelatinous and a basic panna cotta contains milk, cream, sugar and of course gelatin.

I wanted something different  other than plain panna cotta and decided to make use of the canned peaches I have in my pantry. Peach Panna Cotta it is! It was quite easy to make since it was basically boiling the cream (and pureeing the fruit) and waiting for it to cool and set.

As much as I would love to post the recipe from my attempt in making the peach panna cotta, I would like to make it one more time and perfect the method first. My cream firmed up but it was not as smooth as I liked it to be. I either had a lil’ too much of agar-agar powder, did not dissolve it entirely or should have stuck with gelatin powder. Agar-agar is a gelatinous substance derived from red alage and is widely used in Asian desserts. Gelatin on the other hand is derived from the collagen inside animal’s skins and bones. Other than the not-so-right texture, I really liked the hint of Peach in the cream and the top layer of “Peach Sauce” enhanced the cream more. =)


Friday, April 23, 2010

Food & Wine Pairing

food and wine pairing

As much as I love my food and my wine, I’ve never really had a proper food and wine pairing meal. I just usually order or drink whatever I was in the mood for; most likely a sweet wine.

Tomorrow, a friend of ours is generous to organize a food and wine pairing luncheon at his home. The friend being a wine collector/connoisseur and a frequent traveler has put up a delectable 3-4 course menu, each with a wine pairing or two. Looking at what he’s planned for us made me feel like I’m actually going to be dining at a fine restaurant! I can’t wait to taste them and learn a thing or two from Steve! I will most likely shamelessly take pictures of my experience. =)


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sightseeing Washington DC – April 3, 2010 (Part One)

After spending one night in Baltimore, we started the day early and drove to Washington DC. When I said we started the day early…we did..we check out between 7am – 7.30am. After loading stuff into the car, filling up the tank we finally made it into DC slightly close to 9 I think. Finding parking was quite tough but we managed to park in a shopping mall and walked to the main attractions. The walk wasn’t that bad. Weather was quite decent, although it was a bit chilly early in the morning.

We did not really visit all the historical monuments and memorials this trip as we’ve seen it a couple times..minus the cherry blossoms. I’ve done all the monuments and memorials twice or thrice, the last was last year when I brought my parents and my brother here. I don’t think I’ve poasted pictures from that trip. Maybe I will well….when I’m not that lazy to go through my archives =).

So, here are pictures from the main reason we took the trip…Cherry Blossoms!!! All of these Cherry Blossoms are taken around the Tidal Basin as we walked towards the Jefferson Memorial.

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The cherry blossoms are definitely pretty. They are not as huge as the ones in Japan though. These Cherry Blossoms were actually gifts from the people of Japan to the people of the United States in 1912.

Since we’ve had enough of monuments and memorials, we took the opportunity to visit some Smithsonian museums. I’ll post pictures from our trip to the museum next! =)


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Been a Lil’ Lazy…

Sorry I’ve not been updating this blog as frequently as I used to. The only excuse I have is I’ve been a lil’ lazy especially after a long day at work. I spend most of my days at work now, and I don’t have the luxury to be cooking fancy stuff on weekdays anymore. Fret not, I’m still cooking.. just a lil lazy to update my blog…..

My week night meals are now usually quick and easy meals. That does not mean I’m eating instant noodles, frozen food, canned food or sandwiches with deli meat……It’s hot cooked food…mostly from scratch!. On some days, I do however go all out, if I get home early from work, not too tired or is in the zone to cook something a lil’ fancy…..These days too, I try to bake sweet treats on weekdays and bring it to work to bribe the people I work with.. =)

Look out for posting on my first attempt at making Panna Cotta (Italian custard/cooked cream).


Monday, April 19, 2010

Pitango Gelato (Fells Point) @ Baltimore, MD


When we were looking for our hotel (Admiral Fell’s Inn) and a place to park, we drove by this Gelato place and I just knew where I would be getting my dessert / ice cream fix there that day! Being pampered with so many yummy gelati in Italy (this reminds me that I’ve yet to post my gastronomic indulgence in Rome), I was excited to see this place.

So, after out seafood dinner at Shuckers, we got ourselves some gelato. Not before we walked back to the hotel for our sweater. =) Pitango Gelato is just a few steps away from our hotel. How strategic! There was a line at the store and while waiting in line, we were occupied with looking at the flavors and description hung on the wall. I forgot how many flavors were there; 16? 24? different flavors of gelato and sorbet.

Unlike many other gelato places, all their gelato were hidden in covered  and lowered bins behind the counter. No bright rows of yummy gelato can be seen here!


I picked cardamom and mojito. The husband picked cafe espresso and green tea. Both small @ $4.85 per cup. Large was at $6.50. The highlight of Pitango’s Gelato was that they use all-organic local dairy products, eggs, sugar and chocolate. They also use fresh local seasonal fruits, depending on availability.

While I could taste the “mintyness” of my mojito sorbet, it was lacking something…perhaps rum (since it was rum-free). The cardamom gelato has a nice subtle aromatic flavor. Not creamy to my preference and the flavors could be a little more intense. We agreed that hubby’s cafe espresso was the best choice. A taste of it will just wake you up. The green tea gelato however was lost under the strong flavors of the espresso. Overall, it’s not bad although the texture unfortunately weren’t as creamy or smooth as I liked it to be. Beggars can’t be choosers. I will go back there again…but if you fly me to Rome, I’ll go in a heart beat!


Want a frozen treat? Head to Pitango Gelato @ Fells Point:

802 South Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21231
(410) 702-5828


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Shuckers (Fells Point) @ Baltimore, MD

I just realized I seldom take time to research for places to eat when I travel. When I mean research, I meant taking days/weeks in advance before the trip to compile a list of places to try out when I’m on a vacation, etc. The only time I actually research is the night before or the hours leading to meal time. Thankfully, internet is readily available and online reviews are some times quite reliable. =)

On our trip to Baltimore, the husband and I only researched for places to eat well… a couple hours before dinner time. We found a few choices and in fact stumble upon a restaurant with very good reviews; Kali’s Court. Menu looked good, ambiance(from the pictures) looked nice but we were not in the mood to pay too much for dinner. And there weren’t any price on the menu. This usually mean it’s gonna cost quite a bit. =)

So, we picked Shuckers which was just across the street from our hotel in historic Fells Point. It’s a more casual and laid back kinda restaurant perfect for us to just kick back and rest our my sore feet. The service at first were quite iffy. We got in through the back entrance not knowing what we did, and stood in the restaurant waiting for somebody to sit us. There were plenty of tables and wait staff walking around. It felt as if we were invisible as no one directed us to the right spot or spoke to us. All of them just walked by these 2 “lost souls”. Getting tired of being ignored, the husband asked the bar tender and we finally managed to find our way to the right spot and put our names down. With the many empty tables around, we still had to wait about 15 minutes. I guess they did not have enough wait staff for all the tables? Or do they just wanna make you wait so that it seems like they are very busy? =)

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We requested to be seated outside, since this restaurant is located next to the harbor. We wanted to enjoy being near the water. It was rather chilly out but we put on a brave front and sat through dinner, 2 glasses of beer and each other’s company. Here’s what we ordered:

1) Cream of Crab (Crab Bisque?) @ $4.49 (Bottom Left). I initially ordered a bowl of it, but the wait staff brought me a cup instead. This was a blessing in disguise! Even though the soup was yummy, thick, creamy, flavorful and filled with chunks of crab meat… was SOOOO SALTY!! I’m glad I was brought a cup of soup instead of a bowl of soup!

2) Petite Crab Cakes - Three of our homemade jumbo lump petite crab cakes broiled golden brown & served with tartar sauce @ $12.99 (Bottom Right). Somehow I just had to have crab cakes when I’m in Baltimore…after all there should be a reason why there is the famous “Maryland Crabcakes” on restaurant menus right? =) About 3 golf ball size petite crab cakes came with the order. Crab cakes although indeed very petite, they were very delicious. Unlike many other crab cakes I’ve had in the past, there were hardly any fillers in the crab cakes. It was seriously just crab business. Fresh lumps of crab meat, minimal seasoning. I could eat more of it if it wasn’t $12.99 per order. =)


3) Seafood Quesadilla - gulf shrimp, lump crab & bay scallops, onion, pepper & tomato lightly seasoned and grilled in a flour tortilla, served with salsa & sour cream @ $8.99 (Bottom Left). This was my first time having a seafood quesadilla and it was pretty good. I don’t know what gulf shrimp is, but I do know the shrimp in the quesadilla where tiny weeny ones. =) I did taste the bay scallops and lump crab though. For $8.99, it’s quite a reasonable price to pay for a quesadilla..I think.

4) Basil Lump Tuna - Blackened Ahi Tuna, grilled to your desired temperature and topped with lump crab & basil garlic butter served on a bed of fresh field greens  @ $19.99 (Bottom Right). The husband ordered this dish and it was a great choice. The large chunk of tuna was cooked rare (to our preference) and was topped with a good amount of lump crab. Yums!! The tuna was perfect (you can’t go wrong when it’s cooked rare or sashimi style, lol) and the buttery crab basil topping were different and refreshing.  I did not care for the side that hubby ordered; snap peas. It looked a tad overcooked.


The overall service was good. There is plenty of metered parking near the harbor, if you’re not within walking distance to the restaurant. Depending on your luck and the time of day, you may have difficulties finding street parking. There are many bars and restaurants in the area. There are 2 hour, 4 hour and also garage parking. The 4 hour ($1 per hour) metered street parking would be the ones nearest to the restaurant.

If you’re visiting Baltimore and / or happen to be in the historic Fells Point area, check out Shuckers :

1629 Thames Street
Baltimore, MD 21231-3449
(410) 522-5820


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