Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

The Sahara Date Company: Importing Date Culture from Saudi Arabia

Posted by Evan Milberg / Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Photo by Evan Milberg

“I didn’t know what they were,” says Maile Ramzi, on the first time she saw dates. Growing up in Maryland, she wasn’t familiar with the ancient fruit and was surprised when her now-husband brought them with him to their tennis date. “They didn’t look that appealing to me. Then he explained to me that there were 300 different types of dates.” With one bite, Ramzi  joined what she refers to as “date culture”: A commitment to healthy eating that centers on the daily consumption of dates. “Once you’ve tasted them, they become something you just have to have,” Ramzi says.

Three months ago, dates officially became Ramzi’s life. Previously a lobbyist on K Street, she moved to Saudi Arabia with her Egyptian husband in 2007 and started eating dates daily. When Ramzi moved back to the area in 2012, she remembers asking her husband, “How am I going to keep myself supplied with dates?” She decided to open The Sahara Date Company, importing dates from Saudi Arabia. I can’t say I missed the hot weather,” says Ramzi. “But I definitely missed the dates,” which she says are are a sign of hospitality in the country and play an important part in the culture: Date shops are as ubiquitous as Starbucks, says Ramzi, and new mothers often receive gift of dates.  

The Sahara Date Company sells eight types of dates. After tasting six—my first time eating dates—my favorites are sukkary, ajwa and safawi. Ramzi says the sukkary is the most popular date in Saudi Arabia and is rich in fiber; I found it sweet and chewy. The ajwa is the most expensive and the rarest of the Saudi dates. It tasted nutty with a creamy aftertaste. Safawi can be used as a chocolate substitute for desserts: Ramzi once fooled her husband into thinking a safawi date cake was made from chocolate.

Ultimately, Ramzi’s goal is encourage date-eating in this country, especially children in Fairfax County. “That’s real food and it kind of connects you to the natural world,” Ramzi says.  “This is how food is supposed to be eaten.  Not opening a box, not fried. My dream is to see it in vending machines in Fairfax County public schools.  I mean, it would be so easy, because they have a two-year shelf life. All these little things that have been processed out of our diet. Surprisingly, they’re just little powerhouses of nutrition.  They’re totally cool.” / The Sahara Date Company, 8456 Tyco Road, Vienna. 

*This post has been updated



13 Restaurant No-Nos That Shouldn’t Exist After 2013

Posted by Editorial / Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Photo courtesy of Snvv/Shutterstock.com

 

- The repeated use of “housemade” on menus

- Hard, cold butter

- Vibrating discs or texting to let you know when your table is available

- Sriracha squiggles

- You can have a fall menu without pumpkin spice

- Salted caramel everything

- Deconstructed anything. It’s a restaurant, not Legoland

- Sushi in non-sushi restaurants

- Foie gras with anything but foie gras (don’t need it on a  burger or mac n cheese)

- Charging for the bread basket

- Doughnuts for the sake of having a trendy treat

- The small plate trend … with each small plate costing the same as an entree

- Out of season fruit as dessert garnish (no one eats that strawberry next to the chocolate lava cake)

- Chocolate lava cake

 

Contributors:  @chrisjbukowski @cityshopgirl, @EpicureanDC, @ frijolita, @gansie, @jamechamberlin, @KitchenBuey, @kstreetkate, @nevinmartell,
@onioncloute, @russellwarnick, @WARojas

(December 2013)



Sacrificial Fruit

Illustration | By Ashleigh Carter

"Sacrifical Fruit"

 

 ”Up next, banana-flavored moonshine! You ready?”
“I thought we were just making moonshine…”

 

(August 2013)



May Musts: Mother’s Day + Farmers Markets + Outdoor Festivals

Posted by Carten Cordell / Friday, May 10th, 2013

Shestakoff/shutterstock.com

If you missed the local Cinco de Mayo parties, don’t worry—NoVA restaurants, farms and wineries have a lot more to celebrate this May. It’s not too late to get out, enjoy the changing weather and chow down on fresh, spring-inspired meals and deals, and most importantly, try something new. 

If you want to become the “favorite” in the family:
Take your Mom out to a proper Mother’s Day brunch this Sunday. We’ve made a list of NoVA restaurants with Mother’s Day deals and special menus

If you’ve never gone to a farmers market:
Well, then, shame on you! There is no better place to get great produce and home-made goods while supporting local businesses. With multiple farmers markets in the NoVA area, you have no excuse not to give it a try. We have a farmers market guide for all you first-timers. Pick a county and clear your Saturday morning.

If you’ve never watched a movie outdoors (before it starts to get really humid):
Drive out to Paradise Springs Winery for Movie Nights on the Lawn
May 11 and May 18, 8 p.m. After a wine tasting, throw a blanket out, cuddle up and watch a movie on a giant screen…outdoors. Bonuses: No kids are allowed, which means no babies crying at pivotal moments and you can bring your own wine– which you definitely can’t do at a movie theater. / Paradise Springs Winery, 13219 Yates Ford Road, Clifton.

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Say Goodbye to Chiquita: Fresh Bananas…from Purcellville?!

Posted by Tim Regan / Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Purcellville Bananas

Bananas from Nick Donnangelo's greenhouse in Purcellville/Photo courtesy of Nick Donnangelo

Deep in Purcellville lies an 18th century Quaker farm with a vibrant commercial greenhouse full of herbs, flowers and clusters of bananas. But it’s not run by a big companyevery plant, every patch of soil is tended to by one man. And grower Nick Donnangelo is a man on a mission: to supply his family with farm-fresh produce grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides or carcinogenic chemicals. Each of his 20 banana trees produces 30-40 pounds of fruit per harvest, meaning he has a lot left overa family can only eat so many bananas. Where do the rest go? Donnangelo has recently begun supplying Market Table Bistro with the main ingredient in their house-made banana pudding. 

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Ten Things To Do Each Day Before Spring

By Meredith Minix

Maridav /shutterstock.com

The winter slump is here. New Year’s resolutions have run their course, flu and cold season is in full swing, and your gym membership has become nothing but a line item on your credit card statement. How do you stay on top of your wellness over the next few weeks until bathing suit season gets close enough to get you motivated again?

Well, here’s my recommended daily routine for the next 4-6 weeks. Print this out and keep it where you will see it: on your fridge, your bathroom mirror, or anywhere it will catch your eye. Every day you should:

-Add 1 serving of fresh veggies to your regular daily diet.

-Drink a glass of water every morning as soon as you wake.

-Add an extra 1/2 hour of sleep to the front end of your bedtime.

-Keep dental floss in the car and floss at the stop light.

-Pretend elevators/escalators were never invented and use the stairs.

-Eat breakfast every morning; include a fruit, a whole grain and a  lean protein.

-Listen to something funny each morning as you start your day.

-Stand and do your favorite stretch every 20 minutes while on the computer.

-Sit on the floor, not on the couch–pretend you’re a kid again.

-Have a glass of wine, or a beer, or a nice piece of dark chocolate (but not all three at once!).

A few simple steps, done on a daily basis, can be the difference between a healthy happy person come spring and someone who has to lie on the bed to get their jeans zipped up–and we all know what that looks and feels like both physically and mentally. So take care of yourself. Put yourself first on your list and practice these ten steps. Before you know it spring will be here, and so will a better, healthier, happier you!

 

Meredith Minix is the owner of Fitness Together studios in Fairfax and Tysons. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Leisure with an emphasis in Sports Fitness and Management. A married mother of three young children, Meredith excels at helping her clients juggle family, career and exercise –the balancing act of the 21st century!  Find Meredith and her local Fitness Together colleagues at www.ftcustomfitness.com, follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FTCustomFitness) and on Twitter (@FTCustomFitness) to get their health tips and fitness news.

 

(February 2013)



Apple Pie Chart

With help from Bill Mackintosh of Mackintosh Fruit Farm in Berryville, we cooked up an apple pie graph to help you bake, can, simmer, press and enjoy some of Virginia’s best fruit.

By Katerina Patin

1. CIDER

Honey Crisp: This top-selling apple has been reeling in a whole new slew of apple lovers with its sought-after taste. But it’s also making waves for other reasons; the fruit’s pinkish-red blush makes a great light-colored cider and its acid and sugar combination means you don’t need a blend of apples for a great tasting, balanced cider.

2. CAN

York: Whether you’re canning or pickling apples, York will keep its shape even in the jammiest preserve

3. SAUCE

Ida Red: Its flaming-red color makes a delightfully pink-colored sauce.

Stayman: The fruit’s sweet-tart balance makes a tasty sauce that’s naturally low on sugar.

4. BAKE

Rome: A snappy-tart tasting apple, the Rome is low in sugar and the perfect ingredient for a (less) guilt-free pie.

Nittany: This cross between a Golden Delicious and a York is the best of both worlds for a sweet-tangy taste that bakes well and keeps the apple’s creamy yellow color so fillings look best. Feeling thirsty after your pie? This apple makes some great juice too.

Granny Smith: This cross between a Golden Delicious and a York is the best of both worlds for a sweet-tangy taste that bakes well and keeps the apple’s creamy yellow color so fillings look best. Feeling thirsty after your pie? This apple makes some With its signature tart taste, the Granny Smith is a perfect complement to balance out a sweet pie.

5. SNACK

Fuji: With a 3-plus inch diameter and a juicy sweet taste, the Fuji makes a satisfying snack that gives you an alternative source for a sugar-rush.

Winesap: This green apple has a faint red blush and a flavor that only gets better with age. Acidic apples, like this one, tend to mellow off-branch; It will be even better next March than it was this October.

Mutsu: This apple not only has two names, its alias is “Crispin,” but is also the father of a rather large and sugary-sweet apple named Golden Delicious. Not to be outshone by its progeny, the Mutsu may not be as sweet, but its sharper tastes makes it a more interesting, and more healthy, snacking favorite.

Cameo: A newer apple on the scene, this `80s child is a great tasty fall replacement for the popular snacking Gala apple which is, unfortunately, only an early bloomer.

 

(October 2012)

 

margouillat photo/Shutterstock.com (Crust); rgotstar/Shutterstock.com (Apples); anatema/Shutterstock.com (Pie); Margaret I. Wallace/Shutterstock.com (Apple Sauce); Graham Taylor Photography/Shutterstock.com (Canned Apples); Yero Photo studio/Shutterstock.com (Cider)

 



How Do You Like Them (Roasted) Apples?

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Friday, October 21st, 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.

My personal favorite way to eat an apple is plain, fresh and raw—there’s nothing better than first crunchy bite through the tough and bitter skin, making way to the sweet, juicy, slightly yellow inside. Some people eat the entire apple raw, core and seeds included (I know, but you’ll grow an apple tree in your belly!).

I’m not that extreme of an apple purist, but I do love apples, and all the things you can do with them. And what better time to enjoy apples than in the fall? That’s why I’m putting together a blog chain that will glorify the apple and all the things you can do with them, with one apple recipe per week.

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:

I got this week’s recipe idea from Mark Bittman’s bit (hehehe) on cooking apples. As I said before, I love apples just plain raw, but Bittman got me thinking about the endless possibilities of cooking them. So today we’re trying oven roasted apples with goat cheese, nuts and dried fruit. (Plus, I had to think of something to do with my leftover cheese from Monday night’s dinner.)

A lot of these cooked apple recipes go hand-in-hand with a good amount of melted butter, but I’m making it a bit healthier and simpler by eliminating the butter.

Roasted Apples with Goat Cheese, Nuts, and Dried Fruit

1 apple of any variety (I used Fuji)
1 tablespoon goat cheese at room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped almonds, walnuts, and raisins
Cinnamon to taste
Water (about 1/2 cup)

Start with coring your apple, but leave the bottom solid. You should be left with your whole apple, with a deep hole for the goat cheese, nuts and fruit. Put the cored apple upright in a small pan with a layer of water about halfway up the apple (about 1/2 cup of water or so). Dust the apple in a little cinnamon (I also threw a little ginger from my spice rack in) and you can sprinkle some in the water, too. Cover the pan with tinfoil and bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. While this is baking, you can chop your nuts and fruit and stir with the goat cheese in a small bowl.

Cooking in the pot

Remove the apple from the oven and insert the goat cheese mixture in the apple’s core. If you accidently punctured through to the bottom of the apple with your knife (like I did, oops!) and the hole in your apple has filled with water, just pour some of the water out. Cover again and bake for about 10 more minutes or until soft.

Let cool for a minute and enjoy!

Soft and tender, warm and sweet.

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



Fig Out

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

By the end of summer each and every year, I find myself, sadly, having to say farewell again to a number of my favorite fruits: peaches, nectarines, plums, watermelon. Of course, there are some great things to look forward to in the fall, such as apples and pumpkins.

But I’m going to take a couple of minutes to honor one of my other favorite types of fruits—dried fruits. Dried fruits are great because they’re accessible and delicious at any time of the year, duh, because they’re dried. Though the most popular dried fruit varieties are arguably raisins, cranberries, apricots, or on rare mention, maybe mango or pineapple—which, in my opinion, are all undoubtedly delicious—I’m going to pay tribute to the dried fig.

Image: Madlen/Shutterstock

Fresh figs are common in the Mediterranean, and you can find them in your average supermarket here during the summer into September, but you can find dried figs much more easily, anytime, year-round. And, of course, there’s no shortage of Fig Newtons in any store, at any point of the year.

Image: bogdan ionescu/Shutterstock

 

 

Dried figs are one of my favorite healthy sweet treats, either to chop up and add to baked goods, toss in salads, or just eat plain. The tiny seeds inside figs when they’re dried have a very unique texture, beyond crunchy, and I find myself enjoying the almost popping sensation in my mouth as I chew them. Plus, figs are great because they’re super rich in fiber and potassium (but, as are any other dried fruits, very high in sugar).

 

Image: Drozdowski/Shutterstock

So, in honor of the fig, I’m really excited to be able to blog about an event coming up: this weekend, Ticonderoga Farms is hosting none other than a Fig Lovers Feast! This event will reap the benefits of fresh figs before they go out of season and you have to start resorting to dried figs from the supermarket. The day-long event is honoring the farm’s freshly harvested figs with tastings, drink pairings and recipes, including fig sorbet, fig preserves and their “figalicious pizza,” which sounds and looks incredible and is making me drool already. Aside from tasting all of these delicious fig-related things, they will also offer a hayride visit down to their fig grows, where you can see and learn about the harvest of our beloved figs.

I’m definitely going to try to make it to what sounds like fig heaven to me—I hope you will too!

Ticonderoga Farms’ Fig Lovers Feast will take place from 12:30-5:00 p.m., Saturday, September 24 at 26469 Ticonderoga Road in Chantilly. Tickets are $35. RSVP by calling 703-327-4424 or emailing osimpson@ticonderoga.com. Rain date (as already used once for Irene): Sunday, September 25.

Go on, get figgy with it.

-Julia Harbo



How Do You Like Them Apples?

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Friday, September 16th, 2011

Image: Raffalo/Shutterstock

So, how do you like them apples? 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.

My personal favorite way to eat an apple is plain, fresh and raw—there’s nothing better than first crunchy bite through the tough and bitter skin, making way to the sweet, juicy, slightly yellow inside.

Some people eat the entire apple raw, core and seeds included (I know, but you’ll grow an apple tree in your belly!).

I’m not that extreme of an apple purist, but I do love apples and all the things you can do with them. And what better time to enjoy apples than in the fall? That’s why I’m putting together a chain of posts that will glorify the apple and all the things you can do with them, with one apple recipe per week.

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…how do you like them apples?!

This week’s recipe:

Toasted Walnut and Apple Salad

This is an easy recipe for a quick salad that is quite versatile and can be changed around depending on your salad intentions.

-2 cups fresh arugula (any other type of lettuce would work, too, of course, but I prefer the bitterness of fresh arugula)
-1 cup largely diced apples (I recommend Granny Smith for this salad because of their slight sourness, but any variety would work)
-¼ cup shredded or chopped carrots (approximately 2 medium sized carrots)
-¼ cup diced red pepper
-¼ cup goat cheese
-½ cup toasted walnuts to sprinkle on top—see my previous recipe
-1 tbsp. oil
-1 tbsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar
-Salt and pepper to taste

Start with toasting the walnuts. Spread them on the sheet of your toaster oven and cook for about 5 minutes at 300 degrees. While those are toasting, rinse your arugula and throw it in a big salad bowl. Add the apples, carrots, and pepper, and then the oil and vinegar; toss together. Finally, add the goat cheese and warm toasted walnuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Eat immediately while the walnuts are still warm and enjoy!

 

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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