Kate in front of Don Churro Cafe
Sometimes restaurants in strip malls can surprise you, and this time around Don Churro Cafe in Chantilly, VA was really unexpectedly good. Kate and I solo-ed on this outing because we figured none of our friends would commute out to Chantilly for any reason– except to catch the last airplane from Dulles Airport during the zombie apocalypse. The 20 minute commute aside, Kate and I enjoyed the food, atmosphere, and friendly staff. The only unfortunate thing was we were only able to try two dishes and so did not get a full sampling of the diversity of cuisine in Ecuador.
Kate sipping Incan Cola and nibbling on arepas de caso
We started our meal with some delicious cheese-filled arepas and an Incan cola. The arepas were amazing – especially with slices of perfectly ripened avocado. Arepas are traditionally from Venezuela and Columbia but are also eaten throughout the region. I am not a big cola drinker so the Incan cola to me was…eh. Additionally, Incan cola is from Peru but you can find it throughout Latin America.
Me and my churasco.
I had the churaso which is a medium rare flank stake with a sunny side egg onto and roster plantains and salad on the side. It was delicious! I am not a big meat eater and can’t remember the last time I had a steak. Needless to say is was good tasting but also a little too much meat for me in one sitting. The plantains were also great. I am not sure if the egg adds much to the overall flavor, but it was kind of fun.
Caldo de pollo
Kate went with the caldo de pollo, a very traditional Ecuadorian soup with a thick broth, vegetables, chicken, avocado, and cheese. The soup was definitely the winning dish of the night. It was so flavorful and rich you could almost die and go to heaven.
Me getting ready to eat a churro relleno (filled)
Of course we had to finish out meal with a churro – it’s in the name of the restaurant for heaven sakes! We shared a churro relleno dessert that included two churros – one stuffed with Nutella and the other with cajeta (goat milk caramel). They were amazing!
For our Danish delights, we headed to a fantastic little place in the DC Petworth neighborhood called Domku.
The place is pretty small, but delightful and they have a “eclectic menu of mostly Slavic and Scandinavian fare.” The first person to introduce me to Danish Æbleskivers was actually my mother who has her very own specialized Æbleskiver pan and makes them with all kinds of delightful fillings. Essentially Æbleskivers are wonderful little pancake balls with filling inside.
You have to cook Æbleskivers in a special pan and turn them with small wooden sticks.
Domku Æbleskivers didn’t have any filling.
I also had Mushroom Benedict which was delicious.
Neil, always the adventurous one when it comes to food, opted for a gravad laks sandwich aka raw spiced salmon.
Perhaps reconsidering the wisdom of his choice…
Jen joined us for this delicious trip to Denmark!
Bulgarian tourist brochures and Bulgarian flag bracelet
As hard as we searched we had been unable to find a Bulgarian restaurant in the DC-NY area. Fortunately, our friend Jill invited us to join her and her boyfriend David at an international festival hosted at the NYU Washington, DC campus. We scoured the festival looking for any country we might have missed and just as we were about to give up…we found the Bulgarian booth! The booth was delightful and the lady running the booth was kind enough to share her experiences and love for Bulgaria. Also fortunate, they had free samples of banitsa - a spinach pie similar to Greek spanakopita – and boy did we sample!
Kate sampling banitsa
Now, I realize this might be cheating, but the truth of the matter is we were desperate and still have so many countries to do that I am going to let it slide…just this once.
Kate showing off her brochures and samples
We also tried some other samples from countries on our list but decided not to count them.
Kate with free candy from some other booths in the festival.
Neil and I spent 3 months in Costa Rica in 2011 for a summer internship at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
While there we had lots of tasty food, but NONE of it was Costa Rican. (sorry, but, it’s true!) The national dish of Costa Rica is “gallo pinto” which is literally just rice & beans. Pretty much served plain, or next-day fried. That’s it!! Not exactly fine cuisine. This is an actual line from the Wikipedia entry on the dish: “The dish may contain more rice than beans, or more beans than rice. It could also contain equal amounts of beans and rice.”
But, I guess we should have known what we were getting into when the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, was sitting next to me on the plan ride there and advised us to “get out of San Jose, because it doesn’t have the best to offer.” That is the gospel truth.
Sitting next to the first female president of Costa Rica in first class.
We took Laura’s advice and did go to a lovely cheese festival outside of San Jose that had all kinds of different Costa Rican cheeses.
Santa Cruz Feria Del Queso
But, culinary lackluster aside, this is really what Costa Rica has to offer, and it is sweet:
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Our darling little PIG-lets!
To celebrate the Czech Republic we went to Bistro Bohem in DC.
Continue reading 'Czech, Czech, Czech Republic'»
Kate and I joined the International Club of DC for another great embassy event; this time at the Estonian Embassy. Estonia is a small country in the Baltic sea (across from Finland). They regained independence (this time from Russia) in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. One interesting fact, the Estonians played an important part in bring down the Soviet Union by staging the Singing Revolution (just like the Whos in Whoville). That is right – they helped free the Baltic States from the Iron Curtain by signing traditional freedom songs. There is a documentary about it called (shockingly), The Signing Revolution. To this day they mark the occasion with a signing festival that has 30,000 sings and 80,000 audience members. That is a total of 110,000 people or 10% of Estonia’s population in attendance. Very cool!
Estonian Music Festival in 2009, by ToBreatheAsOne
Continue reading 'Estonian Embassy Gala'»
Me and Lady Liberty
This post has only 2 purposes: to prove I’ve been to the Statue of Liberty and to make a post I can add to my UNESCO World Heritage page. That’s it!
Inside of Cosmopolitan Grill
Who would’ve ever thought you would find a little Croatian restaurant in Alexandria, VA? I certainly didn’t. And so I was pleasantly surprised my web research led us to the Cosmopolitan Grill. And so classy too…wall art!
Continue reading 'A Croatian Sensation'»
For this edition of the PIG Project we had to reaaallllly stretch. We went all the way to Portland, Oregon to find a Belizean restaurant.
We also went to hang out with these fantastic small humans!
The first attempt at eating at Love Belizean was thwarted because they ran out of food before we got there. We, of course, just stomped around in despair shouting, “I can’t Belize it!”
Continue reading 'I can’t Belize it!'»
So we had a hard time finding a Chilean restaurant in DC and so we saved it for a trip to NY. In our internet research we found a place called Puro Chile in SOHO but when we arrived it turned out to be less of a restaurant and more of a wine/olive oil shop. And by “more of” I mean it was exclusively a wine/olive oil shop. So, yea this was kind of a cop-out but anyway, we got some Chilean olive oil and juice.
Continue reading 'Puro Chile in New York'»