DC Chobani Dinner

Happy Monday! The start of this week means that Relay Week has officially begun. Come Thursday, I’ll be flying up to Boston to meet up with my rad group of fellow bloggers that make up Team Off Balance for the Reach the Beach Relay! CRAZY!

This weekend ended up being particularly awesome. I didn’t, alas, get in my two-a-day run as I had originally intended (I did still RUN, however, just not twice in one day), but it was pretty great nonetheless. The real star of the weekend was the amazing blogger dinner that I got to attend thanks to my new best friends at Chobani!

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It just so happened that Claire was invited to attend this dinner as well, so the two of us set off from good ol’ Falls Church together.

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The dinner was in a private dining room at The Federalist, which is a really swanky little restaurant in DC. The menu was specially prepared by the restaurant’s chef to feature Chobani greek yogurt! As a self-proclaimed foodie, it was really fun for me to see what creative ways the chef came up with using yogurt for.

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We pulled up to the restaurant and were immediately greeted by Jackie and Emily from Chobani, as well as a few other DC-area bloggers. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a group shot on my camera, but if I can get a hold of one from someone else, you might recognize a few familiar faces. Huzzah for real life and internet-life colliding!

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While we were waiting for the entire group to gather, I started off the night with a glass of my beloved prosecco. What can I say? I love my bubbles.

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After we were seated, we all immediately began gushing over how nice it is to go to dinner with other bloggers, because you’re not the only one playing the role of food paparazzo, hahaha. It’s automatically understood that nobody touches the food until everyone has gotten their photos, haha!

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The menu, as I mentioned, was comprised of dishes that incorporated the use of Chobani greek yogurt. We all got the same starter and dessert, and had a choice between lamb, halibut, and pasta for our entree.

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To start us off, they plopped down two bread baskets — one full of normal rolls, and one with cornbread. I think it’s pretty obvious which one I went for, hehe. It was moist and delicious!

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Shortly thereafter, we were given our starter: a white gazpacho (which I’ve never had before!) with shrimp, grapes, and minted yogurt. It was DELICIOUS. Super creamy (though the waiter said there was no cream in the actual soup — just cucumbers and almonds!) and very flavorful. I could easily have slurped down the whole thing, but I restrained myself because it was a big bowl and I knew we had two more courses to go. The soup was probably my favorite dish of the evening though, and I’m not very well-versed in cold soups so that should say something!

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For my entree I chose the yogurt-poached halibut, which came with small roasted potatoes, artichoke hearts, and lima beans. I thought that all the side accouterments were yummy (which was bound to happen with all the butter that was used, hehe) but unfortunately the fish itself was a little lacking. I think it was mostly a textural thing for me. With a thick cut of fish like that, I was hoping for more of a sear or grill on one side at least, but it really just had the texture of being steamed (I realize the menu said “poached”, but I guess I skipped over that when reading, haha). It was pretty flavorful, so that’s definitely something, but I just didn’t find it to really stand out.

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Now, lucky for me, Claire ordered the lamb and was nice enough to share a little of it with me. After my very first bite, I knew that this is what I should have ordered instead. They served it two-ways, sliced and then also a little loaf of shredded lamb mixed up with spices (including fresh dill!) and both were DIVINE. The yogurt sauce that came with it was also delicious, and it was nice to see lamb + yogurt done up in a non-Mediterranean way, since I think that’s what we all would have expected.

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As side dishes for the entire table to share during our main course, we were given mushrooms and roasted cauliflower. Both Claire and I agreed that the mushrooms were definitely lackluster (not enough salt, perhaps?) but the cauliflower was outstanding. Some of it got really crispy during the roasting process, and it had tons of garlic on it. I may have to try to recreate some sort of garlic roasted cauliflower fish on my own now — I’ve never had any that good before!

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Finally, our last course was served. It was an incredibly, decadent-but-light-tasting panna cotta made with greek yogurt. Let’s just all say it together: NOM. It was served with a fresh strawberry sauce and a shortbread cookie (which I mostly left), and was absolutely heavenly. The texture was really impressive, I wish that the chef had come out to explain if they used cream as well, or if it was really just yogurt (plus the eggs and sugar, and all that other traditional custard stuff). Either way, it was pretty amazing. I completely demolished it, hehe.

So, as you can see, it was a pretty fantastic meal and dining experience. I really loved getting to hear Emily (from Chobani) talk about the company’s origins and founder. She is clearly really passionate about her job and the company, which always makes you fall just a little bit more in love with it. We even got little goodie bags at the end that included a water bottle, tote bag, and little recipe box! I’m not sure if I’ll actually have the patience to hand-write all my recipes onto the cards that came with it, but I do love the idea of having hand-written recipes to pass down to my eventual children’s children’s children, or what have you.

The only unfortunate note to the night was that shortly after we left the dinner, my stomach decided to start stabbing itself with a thousand sharp knives. I had eaten more dairy than I had in probably well over a month that night, and my stomach was NOT happy with me for it. I’m still not 100% used to having to tailor my eating for my lactose intolerance since it’s a relatively recent development, and most of the time I just “happen” to avoid dairy because of my preference for non-dairy milk anyway. (Can I just reiterate my joy that cheese somehow seems to be okay with my digestive system? HALLELUJAH!)

My stomach pains fortunately subsided by the time I got home, but it was kind of touch-and-go there for a while. Poor Claire had to deal with my moans and groans for the entire car ride home, haha. Oh well, all’s well that ends well, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I’ll just try to remember to take a LactAid next time. 😉

Sushi Hour

Since “sushi” is pretty much synonymous with the word “happy” in my eyes, I think this post title totally works. So it’s probably no surprise then that after last night’s third DC blogger monthly meetup I am the sushiest gal around.

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Heaven.

I met up with Jess, Carly, Claire, Catrina, and Amy at Cafe Asia in Rosslyn for happy hour last night!

Cafe Asia

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Claire, Jess, and Carly.

I tried to ration out my eating properly throughout the day since I know I just can’t help myself when it comes to sushi. Turns out that was a very good call…

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Edamame

I had never been there before, but Cafe Asia’s happy hour is pretty fantastic. $2.50 draft beers and $3 apps! The space was really big too, so it was easy to move from the bar to a table when we realized there would be just six of us.

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Showing off my Whasian pride with Catrina.

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Amy & me

After we were seated, we settled in for the main event. I decided that it would be a good idea to eat an entire avocado for dinner, so I started with the following “salad”:

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There’s some shredded cucumber and wakame buried under there too, I promise.

Before moving onto this deliciousness:

NOM.

Claire had the fancy dragon roll on the right as well as the tuna roll, and I demolished the salmon, eel & avocado, and “Cafe Asia” roll on the left. I wasn’t kidding about the amount of avocado I consumed today. Totally counts as a “green”, right?

And as if my day wasn’t sushi-tastic enough, LivingSocial had a deal today for 50% off of sushi at Maneki Neko in Falls Church! I’ve always considered them to be “the other” when it comes to FC sushi (my loyalty lies with Koi Koi now and forever!) but hey, with a deal this good I’m definitely willing to broaden my horizons!

What’s your sushi stance? I find it’s a very polarizing cuisine: people either love it or hate it. It’s clearly no secret that I’m part of the former category, but some of you might be surprised to hear that Steve really doesn’t like it! I’ve finally gotten him to the point where he’s at least willing to take me to sushi restaurants though (where he’ll order the teriyaki chicken, haha), so I guess I can’t really complain. Doesn’t stop me from trying to force him to eat it anyway though. LIKE IT. LIKE IT, I SAY!

DC Blogger Meetup: Ella’s

Ahoy-hoy, friends! Today’s post is coming to you a bit later than usual this morning, but you’ll see why in a bit. Phew! Between sushi, crashing a culinary school class, and last night this week has been a whirlwind! But a superawesomefuntastic whirlwind, of course.

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So last night, I met up with fellow bloggers Kacy, Katie, Allison, and Jess for dinner & drinks at Ella’s Wood Fired Pizza in Chinatown! (Photo purloined from Jess.)

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Ella’s has an amazing happy hour that goes from 4 – 7, and it was PACKED. Katie and Allison arrived there early, so they had staked out a couple seats at the bar. We ended up having to wait a while for a table, but somehow we survived…

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$3.50 glasses of sangria? Don’t mind if I do!

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Thankfully all that time waiting gave us plenty o’ time to peruse the menu, so we ordered pretty much as soon as we were seated. Can’t keep hungry bloggers from their food, after all!

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I got the strawberry & orange salad to start (with spinach, candied slivered nuts, and goat cheese), and the margharita pizza.

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Which I ate 2/3 of, and it was soooo good. There’s nothing quite like melty fresh mozzerella and fresh basil having a party in your mouth, no sirree. Of course, the absolute best part about going to dinner with other bloggers?

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I’m never the only one taking pictures of my food! A big round of applause for the evening’s organizer too, btw: thanks Kacy!

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I know you want to thank me for posting this photo, so I’ll just preemptively say you’re welcome. 😉

It was a fantastic evening, even with the stifling humidity. Unfortunately, the night didn’t end quite as awesomely. Remember at the beginning of the post how I referenced mentioning why I’m posting a little late today? Well, that’s because I was up LATE last night… throwing up. Urk. I don’t know if it was the sangria, the salad, the pizza, or some combination of the three but something just didn’t sit well with me. I started feeling nauseous on the Metro ride home, but thankfully held it together until I walked in the door (thanks again for the ride, Kacy!) So it took me a little longer than usual to pull myself together this morning after the not-so-fun-ness that occurred post-dinner. Whatever, still worth it. The only true tragedy is that I had to throw out my leftover pizza this morning, since I really didn’t want to risk getting sick again. Sad.


Thanks for this pic, Kacy!

We’re going to try to implement a monthly outing like this, so other bloggers/blog readers in the area, mark your calendars! I believe we’re aiming for the next one to be at Graffiato, Top Chef (!!) contestant Mike Isabella’s new restaurant, in August. More details to come, but come one, come all!

Have you ever gotten food poisoning before? Have any thoughts on it, tips for avoidance, home remedies, recovery foods, anything like that?