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More Ways to Savor the Season at Mimi’s Cafe

Posted by / Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Serving Suggestion – Mimi’s Cafe Holiday Feast To-Go

We all know how hectic the holidays can be. With all the holiday buzz, family gatherings, travel and stress, sometimes it’s not easy to get a hot meal on the table.

Until now.

For a limited time, Mimi’s Cafe is offering guests more ways to enjoy a complete holiday meal that’s not only delicious – it’s a tremendous value. With convenient in-restaurant and carryout options, guests can spend more time with family and friends and share a savory Mimi’s meal in the comforts of home or in Mimi’s cozy neighborhood bistros.

“The holidays are a special time at Mimi’s,” says Mark Mears, Mimi’s President and Chief Concept Officer. “It’s a time for thanks, warm gatherings, and celebrations with family and friends. Our Holiday Feast To-Go is a Mimi’s tradition that offers a meal full of flavor and free of fuss, so that families can spend more time together and less time in the kitchen.”

Available now through January 1, Mimi’s spectacular Holiday Feast To-Go serves six to eight guests for only $79.99. But does it feature the holiday staples we all know, love and expect each year?

Whole roasted turkey? Check.

Cranberry relish? Check.

Whipped sweet potatoes? Check.

Even dessert?? Pumpkin pie? Check.

Now get this: If all you need to round out your own holiday feast is a memorable side dish or dessert, Mimi’s has the answer; they are offering a la carte options as well, for those items not included in the package so that everyone can have exactly what they know and love for holiday dinner.

Mimi’s is also open on Thanksgiving Day! Their Turkey Dinner comes with all the traditional fixings for only $14.99 for adults and $6.99 for children under 12.  Thanksgiving Day hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Reservations are recommended.

“Come on in and celebrate with Mimi’s for the holidays,” says Mears. “With our special in-restaurant Thanksgiving Day menu families can savor a complete, home-cooked holiday meal without sacrificing hours of preparation or clean up.”

Visit MimisCafe.com for information, or find Mimi’s on Facebook and on Twitter.

Mimi’s Cafe has several locations throughout Virginia, so click here to find the store nearest you!

The holidays made easy. What more could you ask for?

– Jennie Whistler


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MasterChef Auditions This Saturday!

Posted by / Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

NoVA’ers, ever thought about bringing your culinary skills to the reality TV table? MasterChef is holding an open casting call this Saturday, November 12 (and yes, Gordon Ramsay himself will be there!).

In MasterChef’s upcoming third season, the legendary Gordon Ramsay and judges Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot are, again, giving skilled chefs the chance to win a huge cash prize with the title of “MasterChef” through a series of crazy culinary challenges.

Past winners were Jennifer Behm, who’s now writing a cookbook and runs a successful private catering company, and Whitney Miller, who has already released her first cookbook. You could be the next!

All you have to do is go to the open casting in at Trinity Washington University in D.C. on Saturday, November 12, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. with one of your best homemade culinary creations to serve to the food judges.

The open casting call in D.C. is the only city where Gordon Ramsay will be there in person– so even if you’re not brave enough to audition, it might be a fun cheflebrity sight-seeing trip!

To audition, you must print out and bring an application with you and your food. For more details, visit the MasterChef casting website.

Good luck!

-Julia Harbo

 


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MICHEL Dinner with Benefits for Best Buddies in November

Posted by / Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Best Buddies International

Give the gift of friendship and growth this November!

Each Tuesday and Wednesday MICHEL by Michel Richard in Tysons Corner supports a worthy nonprofit organization with their nightly $60 four-course prix fixe dinner menu. The entire month of November, MICHEL will donate a percentage of the proceeds from every Dinner with Benefits meal to Best Buddies.

Michel Richard has worked with Best Buddies for more than six years and is a Best Buddy to 23 year-old Jenny Holden.  “This program is very dear to my heart because it is in honor of my Best Buddy, Jenny Holden.  Jenny does not like chocolate, so this month we’ve designed the menu with Jenny in mind,” says Michel Richard.

Items on the prix-fixe menu may include corn soup, salmon tartare with capers and eggs, scallops with heirloom carrots, baby squash and fava beans, flat iron steak with onion carbonara and for dessert, crème brulee napoleon. The Dinner with Benefits menu is available Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. As a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships.

MICHEL at the Ritz-Carlton

For more information about how you can get involved with the Best Buddies program, please visit www.bestbuddies.org or www.bestbuddieschallenge.org.

Dinner with Benefits: Best Buddies is every Tuesday and Wednesday from November 1 -30, 2011. Dinner hours are 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. For further information or to make a reservation call (703)744.3999 or visit www.michelrichardva.com.

Michel at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, 1700 Tysons Boulevard, McLean.

–Jennie Whistler


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MICHEL Dinner with Benefits for Best Buddies in November

Posted by / Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Best Buddies International

Give the gift of friendship and growth this November!

Each Tuesday and Wednesday MICHEL by Michel Richard in Tysons Corner supports a worthy nonprofit organization with their nightly $60 four-course prix fixe dinner menu. The entire month of November, MICHEL will donate a percentage of the proceeds from every Dinner with Benefits meal to Best Buddies.

Michel Richard has worked with Best Buddies for more than six years and is a Best Buddy to 23 year-old Jenny Holden.  “This program is very dear to my heart because it is in honor of my Best Buddy, Jenny Holden.  Jenny does not like chocolate, so this month we’ve designed the menu with Jenny in mind,” says Michel Richard.

Items on the prix-fixe menu may include corn soup, salmon tartare with capers and eggs, scallops with heirloom carrots, baby squash and fava beans, flat iron steak with onion carbonara and for dessert, crème brulee napoleon. The Dinner with Benefits menu is available Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. As a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships.

MICHEL at the Ritz-Carlton

For more information about how you can get involved with the Best Buddies program, please visit www.bestbuddies.org orwww.bestbuddieschallenge.org.

Dinner with Benefits: Best Buddies is every Tuesday and Wednesday from November 1 -30, 2011. Dinner hours are 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. For further information or to make a reservation call (703)744.3999 or visit www.michelrichardva.com.

Michel at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, 1700 Tysons Boulevard, McLean.

–Jennie Whistler


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Pizzeria Paradiso’s 20th Anniversary Specials, from 20 Cents to 20 Dollars

Posted by / Monday, November 7th, 2011

Happy 20th birthday, Pizzeria Paradiso!

Image: Pizzeria Paradiso

This week, the locally famous Pizzeria Paradiso is sharing its 20th anniversary celebration with customers in Alexandria and D.C.

The restaurant originally opened in Dupont Circle in D.C. on November 8, 1991, and since then has grown to become one of the most popular pizzerias in the area, now with three locations.

“When Pizzeria Paradiso was created, the things motivating it were community, laughter and tasty food,” said Chef and Owner Ruth Gresser. “We were all so excited when our first customers entered the restaurant a few minutes after we unlocked the front door. And now, we’re so happy to reach our ’20 something’ anniversary so we can celebrate by eating and laughing with our family of customers and staff.”

Chef Gresser has won numerous awards and has served as a chef demonstrater, contributor and panelist for the Smithsonian and FreshFarm Markets.

Pizzeria Paradiso will be celebrating their big 20 with special deals all week long:

Monday, November 7–one large pizza and one small take-out pizza for $20
Tuesday, November 8–free 20th anniversary beer glass with any beer purchase
Wednesday, November 9–all-you-can-eat-and-drink pizza and beer for $20
Thursday, November 10–small special pizza with anniversary beer for $20
Friday, November 11–20 cents for your first beer
Saturday, November 12–20 cent toppings
Sunday, November 13–Kids’ Make Your Own Pizza demonstration with Chef Ruth Gresser; first 20 kids get free pizzas

Read the details here.

Pizzeria Paradiso is located at 124 King St. in Alexandria (703-837-1245). For more locations, visit their website.

-Julia Harbo


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Indian Cuisine Cures Food Frustration

Posted by / Monday, November 7th, 2011

I was in a food rut.

This past weekend found me with no food in the house (aside from a wide selection of Ramen Noodles) and a general food malaise. I felt as if I had exhausted all of my normal go-to food resources and didn’t know where to turn next: the sameness of sandwiches; the pedestrian pizzas. I wanted something new and exciting; something that would awaken my tired taste buds in a frenzy of flavor.

Not to mention I was too lazy to go buy food and make something myself.

Much contemplation and soul-searching eventually led me toward the scent of cardamom, spices and the spicy, earthy smell of curry. I found myself in front of Minerva in Fairfax, an Indian restaurant I had passed many times but never entered.

This time, I was glad I did.

Upon entering, I was immediately greeted by the toasty and fragrant scent of Indian spices: cardamom and cloves, cinnamon and coriander; a smell that made me feel instantly relaxed, welcome and HUNGRY.

Not being a big expert on Indian food, I decided to get a few familiar items, combined with some bolder choices. I settled on the Paneer Pakora, a soft cheese fried in a light golden batter (think mozzarella sticks, but better) and vegetable samosas, little golden pillows of fried happiness, stuffed with potato, peas and spices.

Paneer and samosas. Happiness.

For the main event, I wanted to order something I had heard about but never had the courage to try: curry vindaloo.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Indian food, allow me to explain; Vindaloo is a style of Indian curry that has a reputation for being unforgivingly spicy. Made in a rich, terracotta red sauce, with potatoes, chunks of meat and fresh-ground spices, it is as complex as it is frightening. At least, that’s what I always thought.

I believe there is a misapprehension surrounding Indian food that I’d like to clear up right now. A lot of people believe that most everything they serve is just so gosh-darn hot that they don’t even want to attempt it. And while it is true that the use of chilies is prominent throughout the cuisine, the misconception lies in the flavor.  As hot as a vindaloo is, when done right, the spiciness will not overpower the other flavors in the mix. It merely leaves a pleasant heat that creeps slowly down your legs and up through the top of your head.

My lamb vindaloo was delicious. The meat was tender, the sauce was slightly sour and sweet, and it left a lingering heat that perfectly complemented the coolness of the evening.

Lamb vindaloo (bottom) and butter chicken (top) served with fresh naan

Autumn + Indian food = perfection.

Not only that, but the owners of the restaurant were extremely hospitable and friendly. Our meal was capped off by a complementary dessert sampling because, “No Indian meal is complete with the sweet,” according to our gracious host.

One was called gulab jamoon, a small ball of dough consisting mainly of milk solids, rolled together with some flour and then deep fried. It is then put into in a sugar syrup flavored with cardamom seeds and saffron. The other was a small taste of a fried cake called jalebi, similar to a funnel cake, and soaked in a sugary sweet syrup.

It certainly sated my sweet tooth.

Gulab jamoon and jalebi for dessert!

My experience at Minerva  completely cured my food-inflicted turmoil. I came out of the restaurant my faith restored in humanity, my belly full of delicious, authentic Indian cuisine, and my head still tingling from the vindaloo. A fantastic food experience overall and one I shall return to whenever I feel food monotony knocking at my door.

Minerva has several different locations throughout Northern Virginia, so visit their website to find the one nearest you!

– Jennie Whistler


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How Do You Like Them Apples?

Posted by / Friday, November 4th, 2011

Image: Raffalo/Shutterstock

 No, really…that isn’t a disparaging phrase, it’s an honest question.

You can bite them, slice them, peel them, cook them, coat them in caramel, dip them in peanut butter…oh, yes, the list is endless.

The sun is shining (hopefully), the sky is blue, the air is getting crisp but not too cold, grocery stores are more stocked with apples than they’ve ever been, and all the local farmers markets and orchards are up and running. So go out there and get yourself some apples!

This week’s recipe:

Hot Apple-Rum Cider

This week’s recipe is for the adults. As it’s officially November and the weather is getting colder, how does a mug of hot apple-rum cider sound? Just about perfect, yeah? Mmm, I want one now.

 

 

This hot cider is the perfect way to imbibe your alcohol on a chilly night. It’s ridiculously easy to make, too, and smells oh-so good as you’re cooking it over the stove.

All you need is apple cider (store bought in one of those plastic jugs works just fine), spiced rum such as Captain Morgan’s or Bacardi Gold, chopped apples, and cinnamon, and you will be in a rum-soaked hot and spicy heaven.

I love drinking warmed alcohol because it goes down so smoothly and warms your whole body instantly. This drink does the trick.

(Makes about 8-10 servings)

-2 chopped apples (any variety of your liking!)
-3/4 tablespoon cinnamon
-2 quarts apple cider
-1 cup spiced rum

Combine all ingredients except the rum in a big saucepot on the stove. Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes. Once the apple cider mixture is heated and the apples are cooked tender enough for your liking, lastly, add the rum, as you don’t want the alcohol to cook off. Let heat for one more minute, ladle into a mug and enjoy! Keep the rest on low heat to keep warm and enjoy throughout the night.

Northern Virginia Apple Orchards (in alphabetical order):

Crooked Run Orchard (37883 East Main St., Purcellville; 540-338-6642)
Hartland Orchard (3064 Hartland Lane, Markham; 540-364-2316)
High Places Orchards (121 Winesap Lane, Flint Hill; 540-635-5537)
Hill High Farms (933 Barley Lane, Winchester; 540-667-7377)
Hollin Farms (11324 Pearlstone Lane, Delaplane; 540-592-3574)
Great Country Farms (18780 Foggy Bottom Road, Bluemont; 20135)
Graves Mountain (Graves Mountain Lodge, Route 670, Syria; 540-923-4231)
Mackintosh Fruit Farm (1608 Russell Road, Berryville; 540-955-2161)
Marker-Miller Orchards Farm (3035 Cedar Creek Grade, Winchester; 540-662-1980)
Nichols Farm (1832 Chapel Road, Middletown; 540-869-1258)
Richard’s Fruit Market (6410 Middle Road, Middletown; 540-869-1455)
Rinker Orchards (1156 Marlboro Road, Stephens City; 540-869-1499)
Stribling Orchard (11587 Poverty Hollow Lane, Markham; 540-364-3040)
Virginia Farm Market (1881 North Frederick Pike, Winchester; 540-665-8000)

-Julia Harbo


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Fredericksburg Area Food Bank’s 8th Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive

Posted by / Friday, November 4th, 2011

The season of giving is upon us – and the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank is gearing up!

Image: La Fleur Magique/Shutterstock

This year, nearly 15,000 people across the Fredericksburg region are receiving food each month through the food bank’s network of 74 food pantries and food assistance organizations. The need has remained steady.

5,000 turkeys, in addition to other food, will be needed to make sure that the area’s hungry do not go without this Thanksgiving.  The Fredericksburg Area Food Bank is asking the community to step forward and donate turkeys as well as the fixings for Thanksgiving dinner. A wish list is available on the web site.

This year’s Thanksgiving food and fund drive will kick off tomorrow, November 5th, with a “Turkey Drive By” event at Spotsylvania Towne Centre from 9 a.m.- noon.  For the past 5 years, the food bank has been working alongside former football greats; that means everyone who makes a donation on Saturday will be entered to win an autographed Mike Nelms jersey. Also, this year, Pat Fischer, former Washington Redskins cornerback, has agreed to step in as the guest of honor. Pat will be available to sign autographs for anyone making a donation on Saturday.

“Thanksgiving is just around the corner”, states Oya Oliver, Executive Director of the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.   “Please remember our neighbors in need this year.”

The Fredericksburg Area Food Bank secures and distributes more than 3.6 million pounds of donated food and grocery products annually! They also lend their support to approximately 74 local charitable agencies, operating more than 190 programs including emergency shelters, food pantries, Club Kids after school snack programs, Food for Life senior feeding programs, Food 4 Kidz weekend feeding sites, and soup kitchens.

Donations of turkeys or other food can also be delivered to the food bank’s warehouse located at 3631 Lee Hill Drive, Fredericksburg.  The food bank is open to accept donations Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on Wednesday until 6 p.m. Monetary donations are also accepted and may be utilized to purchase additional turkeys.

After all, this is what Thanksgiving is all about- helping your fellow man! What will you be thankful for this season?

For more information on the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank, please visit their website.

Fredericksburg Area Food Bank - 3631 Lee Hill Drive, Fredericksburg
P: (540)371.7666
E: info@fredfood.org

Turkey Drive By Event - 137 Spotsylvania Mall, Fredericksburg
P: (540)786.6660

– Jennie Whistler


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Real Food for Kids Food Day Event Brings Color and Life to a Long-Overdue Issue: Real Food in Schools

Posted by / Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Good day, Gut Checkers!

Great news to share: last week’s National Food Day/Real Food for Kids event at Wolftrap Elementary School Fairfax was a rainbow of success! Unfortunately, I wasn’t there to experience it first-hand, but today I’m gladly sharing a wonderful report on behalf of Kathryn Luwis of Real Food for Kids. (Photographs by Laura Goyer)

Real food makes happy children!

“We are a nation of increasingly overweight people with unhealthy diets that lead to serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.  We don’t eat enough of nature’s colorful fruits and vegetables.  The good news?   It turns out that somewhere over the rainbow, there are schoolchildren actually excited to learn about and enjoy ‘real’ food.

On national Food Day, October 24, 250 children were running around in rainbow colored t-shirts that said: ‘Get Real!’ The t-shirts were handed out by Real Food For Kids, a grass-roots organization of concerned Fairfax County parents and community members, who hosted the countywide event in an effort to highlight the need for change in school food.  The day was a huge success, with upwards of 400 people in attendance, including parents, members of the school board, school board candidates and the press.  The community pulled together to send a message regarding school food and to educate children by providing them with wholesome food and fun.

Renegade Lunch Lady Ann Cooper talks to Wolftrap kids

Nationally-known chefs Ann Cooper, a.k.a. The Renegade Lunch Lady, and David Guas, of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar and Eatery, led an interactive food demonstration, with both chefs engaging the schoolchildren with questions about seasonal fruits and vegetables. The fun demonstration culminated in the making of enormous salads, tossed in kiddy-sized pools using child-sized rakes and shovels. The produce had been harvested by many of the children present just the day before at Maple Avenue Farm, a local organic farm run by Chris Guerre, who donated all of the produce. Many of the children had never seen a radish and were delighted to see the many colors they come in. For some children, it was the first salad they’d ever eaten. This exposure to whole, real foods is exactly what Real Food For Kids set out to offer.

The enormous salad

After the demonstration, the children quickly made their way to the psychedelic M.A.X. (Maple Avenue Express) food truck, manned by chef and owner Tim Ma, of Maple Avenue Restaurant.  Beef sliders, made with 100 percent grass fed beef, were served on whole wheat buns and dressed with local, organic ketchup sweetened with agave–instead of high-fructose corn syrup.  Just for fun, the chefs also made an enormous burger to be shared by many.  In support of the cause, Whole Foods Market  provided crocks of butternut squash soup along with bushels of honey-crisp apples that were quickly devoured.  Children climbed aboard a 1957 farm tractor and, ironically, ate as children in 1957 did–whole foods rather than the highly processed, preserved and high sugar diet of today.

Kids and the giant burger

For Real Food For Kids organizers it was an idyllic fall day: hundreds of children clad in rainbow-colored shirts moving through space eating apples, greens and grass-fed beef.  Ready to continue full-steam ahead with their initiative, the group is bolstered and encouraged by the response to their event.  ‘It’s amazing how many parents have called and e-mailed me to find out how they can help,’ says Hammermaster.   At the close of the day as chefs, farmers and volunteers packed up their wares, a light sun shower sprayed the grounds of the event.  ‘Look up in the sky!  There’s a rainbow!’  Perhaps their goal is a lofty one, but seemingly divinely inspired.”

A successful rainbow!

Great thanks to Kathryn Luwis and Laura Goyer for sharing about such an inspiring day. Though National Food Day has passed, Real Food for Kids continues to move closer toward its goal to improve children’s health in Fairfax County schools.

-Julia Harbo


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DC Metropolitan Cooking and Entertainment Show This Weekend!

Posted by / Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

The Washington D.C Metropolitan Cooking and Entertainment Show will be going on this Saturday and Sunday, November 5 and 6, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. This is the premiere cooking & entertaining event complete with celebrities, local vendors, demos and more!

Featured among the 300+ exhibitors will be local vendor Alicita*Salsa®, developed by Suzanne Fields in Great Falls, Virginia.

Alicita* Salsa!

Named after her mother Alice, who now resides in Maryland, Alicita®Salsa will be exhibiting all five flavors of their tangy, not–too–hot staple at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertainment Show this weekend!

I’m always on the lookout for flavorful, healthy new ways to spice up my meals and these people do it right! With no preservatives, all natural ingredients and sugar-free salsas, Alicita*Salsa® can accommodate even the most picky eaters.

In addition, they deliberately avoid as many “top nine” allergens as possible and proudly list the ingredients and nutritional value on their products page.

“We’ve had great success with each new flavor we release,” stated Alicita’s founder and owner, Suzanne Fields, “I am confident in Alicita’s ability to continue producing salsa that is neither too hot for children, nor too bland for adults. We want the entire family to enjoy our product.”

Alicita*Salsa® is now available at ALL Giant Foods in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware, local Walmarts, select Bed Bath and Beyonds as well as the new TODOS store in Woodbridge.

Tastings at the event will be available at booth T-16.

Alicita*Salsa® is a privately held company that donates part of its proceeds to over 20 Children’s Charities, such as Feed The Children, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, FoodAllergy Network, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and others.

This event is going to be huge- with more to do than you could ever think to fit into two days. Buy your tickets now, support your local vendors and check out some of the best food that DC and Virginia have to offer!

For more information about the DC Metropolitan Cooking and Entertainment Show, visit the website.

For more information about Alicita*Salsa®, visit their website here, “Like” them on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter!

– Jennie Whistler


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