Your Chef’s Table

A few weeks ago, my sister stumbled upon a farm market close by our house that we never even knew was there…..I love when that happens! Your Chef’s Table has an on farm market in Brookeville, Maryland where they are focused on sustainably growing healthy and delicious foods. At their market, you can find some of their beautiful produce, as well as their pasture raised chickens and their eggs! What really intrigued me about Your Chef’s Table was their Meal Kits. Every Thursday, you can drop by the farm and pickup a meal kit that is ready to take home and cook for your family. Want to see what they have to offer? Lucky for you I went and purchased two meal kits to give them a try!

I don’t know if you all know this about me, but I am a produce snob. For years I worked alongside my Dad at his store in the produce department. He taught me what to look for in different fruits and vegetables, how to tell if something is fresh, and we would never accept produce to the store that wasn’t up to his standards. Having my Dad’s “produce eyes” has made me extremely picky. So when I tell you that Your Chef’s Table has gorgeous produce, I mean it!

I love that on your way to the market you drive by the fields where the produce is grown and you can of course stop and say hello to the chickens!

Every week the chef/owner Russ Testa creates up to three different meal kit options based on what is in season at that time. They offer meat based meals and also vegetarian options! The week I visited, they were featuring a Tarragon Chicken with Couscous with Kale and Collard Confetti and Cucumber, Squash and Tomato Salad AND a Creamy Broccoli and Cabbage Soup with Spring Lettuce Salad.

The meal kit includes all of the raw ingredients you will need as well as step by step instructions on how to create the recipe. We wanted to try both recipes so we purchased one of each meal kit.

Now it’s time to head home and get cooking!

I have never tried a meal kit before and I LOVED this! I kept saying the whole time we were cooking that this is such a great idea! I might have been a little too excited about it ;). Total foodie here remember!?

The recipes were easy to follow and everything being grown right up the road from us made it really special. There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of different meal kit services out there. It has become quite a trend. I would prefer Your Chef’s Table over any other meal kit service for a few reasons. One, it is much more affordable than those other companies. Two, everything is local to me and I get to see where my food is coming from. Three, I love supporting a small business and local farmer! Four, everything was very fresh.

If you live in or around Montgomery County, Maryland I highly recommend you try these meal kits! If you can’t make it out to their farm on Thursdays, you can meet up with them at one of the areas Farmer’s Markets!    

Here is the Cucumber, Squash, and Tomato Salad.

The Tarragon Chicken served with Couscous with Kale and Collard Confetti. So delicious!

The Creamy Broccoli and Cabbage Soup. This soup had such a rich and roasted flavor. We really enjoyed this!

I am so happy that I found out about Your Chef’s Table. I want to thank Russ Testa and his team for creating such a great experience for me and my family. I can’t wait to come back for another meal kit!

Your Chef’s Table

19715 Zion Road

Brookeville, MD 20833

https://yourchefstable.net/

JeannieBird Baking Company

Here I am once again to bring to you a “Tasty Place” that I have been LOVING. Come with me to downtown Westminster, Maryland and let’s visit JeannieBird Baking Company!

Inside a charming brick building, located right on Main Street, is one of the most amazing bakeries I have ever been to. Before I even walked in the front door, I knew I was in for something special. Many people I know have visited JeannieBirds and they all said the same thing, “You have to go there and put it on the blog”. So here we are! Let’s go inside!

Before we drool over all of the delicious food, let me tell you a little bit about how JeannieBird Baking Company came to be. Bernie Vogel met his wife Jeannie while working in the restaurant business many years ago. It was their dream to open up a place of their own one day. After getting married and raising their kids, it was finally time to pursue that lifelong dream. They opened JeannieBird Baking Company and it quickly became a favorite with college kids and locals by baking delicious pastries from scratch every day. Sadly, Jeannie passed away not long after the bakery opened. I never met Jeannie, but one thing is for sure, her spirit lives on inside JeannieBirds.

At JeannieBirds they bake everything the right way…..from scratch. You would be shocked to know how many bakeries out there don’t actually make anything in house. They bring product in frozen and pop it in the oven or just set something out to thaw. When I go to a bakery, I want something delicious that has been made from scratch in that very bakery. Sadly, sometimes that is to much to ask, but at JeannieBirds that is exactly what you will find. They make it a priority to use locally sourced ingredients and will highlight whatever fruits or vegetables are in season at the time. That means no fruit tarts in December people! When I asked Bernie if they truly made everything in house he said “Yes, of course!” and I followed that up with “Even the croissants?”….YES even the croissants! Now this is my kind of place.

If I lived closer to JeannieBirds, I am pretty sure you would find me there almost every morning ordering a freshly brewed cup of coffee and a croissant. Their Ham and Gruyere Croissant is one of my favorites. As I mentioned before they are made from scratch and you can truly taste how much love went into making them. So buttery and flaky! On my last visit, I went with a Chocolate Croissant…..now that’s Heaven.

In January, they brought in a savory pastry chef. You can now find things like Mushroom and Leek Hand Pies, Pizza, Shepherd’s Pie, and Savory Galettes. On one of my visits, they were featuring a galette with prosciutto, dates, and an herbed goat cheese. Wow! I could eat one of those everyday of my life.

If you find yourself there around lunch time, they also have a menu full of homemade sandwiches, soups, and salads. I haven’t actually tried anything from the menu yet…..why? Well, every time I go in I am so in awe over all of the glorious pastries that I completely forget about the made to order items! I do know that the sandwiches come on freshly baked bread and they even make their own English muffins for the perfect bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. I guess I will have to make another trip to try them for myself!

JeannieBird Baking Company truly is a special place. From the moment you walk in you are treated like family and you are sure to have a delicious meal no matter what you choose.

Thank you JeannieBirds for serving such amazing treats and keeping everything from scratch……that keeps this foodie coming back for more! 

JeannieBird Baking Company

42 W Main Street

Wesminster, MD 21157

 

34th Annual Rhubarb Festival at Kitchen Kettle Village

Last weekend, I had the honor of being a judge for the “Best Rhubarb Dessert in Lancaster County Baking Competition” at the 34th Annual Rhubarb Festival! This fun and rhubarb crazy event is held every year at Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, Pennsylvania. I featured Kitchen Kettle Village on the blog during my Lancaster County Foodie Adventure. Make sure you go check out all they have to offer! There are many specialty food shops that I love, and their Jam and Relish Kitchen is quite impressive. When they reached out to me about being a judge for their Rhubarb Festival, I couldn’t have been more excited!  

The baking competition was held outdoors on their main stage and featured three different categories in which people could enter their delicious treats: Pie, Cake, and Dessert. I was lucky enough to be a judge in the dessert category where we had 20 entries! I will never complain about to much dessert!

Before we started tasting, the judges were asked to choose a dessert that they thought had the best appearance for the “Judges Choice Award”. 

Once I casted my vote for the judges choice, it was time to start tasting. For every dessert, I had to give a rating in categories like appearance, taste, presence of rhubarb, etc. I didn’t realize how versatile rhubarb was! We had everything from cupcakes to tarts, Jell-O to bars; there isn’t anything you can’t put rhubarb in. Just look at all of these goodies I got to sample. Some of my favorites were: strawberry rhubarb cupcakes, rhubarb tarts, rhubarb cheesecake, and the rhubarb hand pies.

After the judging is all said and done, and the winners are chosen, all of the desserts are sold to the public to benefit the Lancaster Farmland Trust. What a great way to give back to the community in an area where farming and agriculture is so prevalent.

So how do we end the baking competition at the Rhubarb Festival? With the crowning of the Rhubarb King and Queen of course! Yes, there is a Rhubarb Festival King and Queen!

I can’t wait for the 35th Annual Rhubarb Festival. Who knows….maybe I will bake up some of my own desserts and enter the competition myself!

Lapp Valley Farm

A couple of weekends ago, Alex and I spent a Saturday in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with the kids. It turned out to be such a beautiful day, and I was glad Alex was able to be off work and go with us!

There is one place we always go while in Lancaster County and that is Lapp Valley Farm. Lapp’s is a working Amish farm where they raise Jersey dairy cows and make the most delicious ice cream out of their milk. Every time we have visited this farm, I am impressed with how beautifully maintained it is and I love that the kids can get out of the car and stretch their legs a bit.

Before buying our ice cream, we always head down to the barn to say hello to the bottle fed calves. If you are lucky, you may even be able to watch some cows being milked. We always really enjoy watching this and it’s great for the kids to see where their milk and ice cream comes from. You will also see a couple bulldogs, cats, and even peacocks roaming around the farm.

After all the animals have been greeted, it’s time to head into the Dairy Store. They have sixteen varieties of ice cream that they feature throughout the year, so chances are they will have your favorite. I’m a plain chocolate kind of gal, so that is what I always get. 2 scoops of chocolate ice cream in a homemade fresh waffle cone. Oh did I mention they make fresh waffle cones? Well, they do! They smell amazing and taste even better.

After getting our ice cream, we head out onto the porch to enjoy it in the beautiful weather. This past visit we learned you have to watch out for the cats! They are sneaky little things and will come take a lick of your ice cream cone if you aren’t looking.  

In the Dairy Store you can find more than just ice cream. They also offer butter, milk, and eggs. Did you know that milk from a Jersey Cow is 20% higher in protein and 15% higher in calcium than that of other dairy cows? All of Lapp’s products are hormone free, which means they do not give their cows any unnatural products to increase production. Whatever they are doing is working. Lapp Valley Farm always has us coming back for more. I don’t think we have made a trip to Lancaster County without paying Lapp’s a visit! 

Lapp Valley Farm

244 Mentzer Road

New Holland, PA 17557

Ray’s the Steaks

It’s been a while since I have come to you with a Tasty Place, but here I am! I have been eyeing Ray’s the Steaks for quite a while now and we finally got to eat there! I had seen them on the Washingtonian’s 100 Best Restaurant list in past years but we have also heard how delicious it was from people we know. We even had a waiter at another top steakhouse in Washington DC, tell us that we had to try Ray’s the Steaks next. Well, we finally did and we were very happy with our service and the amazing food.

Ray’s the Steaks is located in Arlington, Virginia and they are known for their mouth watering fire grilled steaks. They butcher and dry age all of their steaks in house and only serve premium quality. They also have some of the best prices, that we have seen, compared to other Washington DC steakhouses. Alex and I have been to four of the ten steakhouses on the Top 10 Best Steakhouses in DC List and we were excited to make Ray’s the Steaks number five!  

We invited my sister Christine and her husband Caleb to come along with us. It was great having a date night out with them! Now, I didn’t photograph their food because I didn’t want to make them wait to eat, but I will tell you what they thought of their dishes!

As is the same with many of my meals, I started by ordering a glass of wine. I chose the Riesling, it’s one of my favorites.

Soon after getting our drinks, our waitress Heather (who was really knowledgeable and helpful) delivered freshly baked Focaccia bread to the table. I think we ate three plates of this bread. Yum!

Our first starter was the Devilishly Good Eggs: steak tartare served deviled egg style. You know a foodie like me was completely intrigued by this and I knew before we even got there, I was going to order them. Yes, I read the menu thoroughly before arriving, it’s what I do. I loved this dish. Something very familiar like a deviled egg but with a major twist. The flavors were great and I really enjoyed the red onions and capers served with them. The red onions added some texture to the plate while the capers added that pop of tangy, lemony flavor they are known for.   

We also ordered the Jumbo Sea Scallops wrapped in bacon and served with an apricot mango horseradish chutney for a starter. Let me start by saying these tasted great. The scallops were cooked perfectly and wrapping them in bacon never hurts. The chutney had a very strong horseradish flavor which overpowered the apricot and mango, but I love horseradish, so I didn’t mind. The only bad thing I would say about this dish (and the entire meal) is that the scallops weren’t what I would consider “jumbo” and they only gave us three of them. For the price of the appetizer, I would have loved just one more scallop. I know they are pricey but just one more would have been nice. Like I said, my only bad thought on our entire meal.  

Christine ordered the Sherried Crab Bisque, which I didn’t get a photo of. I was able to sneak a taste and I really enjoyed it. I liked the hint of sherry, and there were  big chunks of crab in it, which is always great in a crab bisque.

Here come the steaks! I decided on the Filet Mignon Au Poivre. This tender filet came with a seared peppercorn crust and was sitting on top of a port wine peppercorn sauce. Usually, I like my steaks simply prepared but this steak changed my mind! I feel like I have so many good things to say about it. First, it was cooked at a perfect medium, just like I asked for. Second, that peppercorn crust added so much texture and flavor. Every bite I took came with a peppery kick…so good! Third, it was so tender that I cut a piece with my fork. Lastly, that sauce, that sauce, that sauce. There was not one drop of it left when I finished my plate. Every bite I took was dragged through that creamy sauce. I’m wanting more now just thinking about it.  

Another thing I loved about Ray’s the Steaks, was that they served family style creamed spinach and mashed potatoes to the table to go along with our steaks. Most steakhouses would of course charge extra for this but at Ray’s it comes with your meal. Awesome!

We ordered the Lobster Macaroni and Cheese as an extra side to share. Now I have had a lot of lobster mac and cheese in my life but this one was the best. Sometimes when you order this dish it comes out way to greasy and way to cheesy (yes, that’s a thing) and you just can’t eat much of it, which is a shame because it’s usually not cheap. This Lobster Macaroni and Cheese was perfect. Big chunks of lobster meat and there was just enough cheese to make the point without everything drowning in cheese sauce. Take a look at that broiled golden brown topping….heaven!    

Alex ordered one of the specials they had for the evening. (I should have taken a picture of the specials board so I could remember exactly what it was). I hope I am not getting this wrong, but I think this was the Côte de boeuf. Look at the char on that steak. It was absolutely delicious! It came out a perfect medium rare and was finished with butter. I don’t think steak gets any better than this.

Caleb ordered the Hanger Steak, which he said was the best steak he’s ever eaten! He is still talking about it! Christine had the Filet Mignon with a brandy mushroom cream and she really enjoyed hers as well.

Overall, we had a wonderful evening at Ray’s the Steaks. I love that it is one of the best steakhouses in the DC area but it isn’t very formal or fancy. A lot of the other steakhouses we have been to can feel stuffy. At Ray’s the Steaks the atmosphere is more relaxed and welcoming in my opinion. We liked that!

I highly recommend going to Ray’s the Steaks for your next special occasion. You are sure to have a delicious meal with excellent service!

Ray’s the Steaks

2300 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA, 22201

http://www.raysthesteaks.com/home.html