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

 

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

Del Campo

It had been a while since Alex and I enjoyed a night out at a fancy restaurant. Our 4th anniversary was the perfect excuse! We always trust the Washingtonian’s 100 Best Restaurant List for recommendations on where to go if we want a delicious dinner for a special occasion. You might laugh at this, but I always do a thorough investigation of many restaurants before making a reservation. I read through the menus, check locations, etc.. I think it’s fun to do, and we don’t get out as much as we used to, so I want to make sure I choose the perfect place. For our anniversary, we chose to spend the evening at Del Campo in Northwest Washington, DC.

Del Campo is a South American Restaurant specializing in steaks and slow roasted meats. Their mouth watering meats are accompanied by beautiful herb sauces; such as chimichurris and salsas. The chef/owner Victor Albisu, really lets his Peruvian roots shine through, not only on the dinner menu, but in the largely South American wine selection as well. Let me show you what Alex and I enjoyed on our wonderful evening at Del Campo.  

Del Campo

We started by ordering drinks. Alex went with his pretty standard Margarita and I asked the waiter’s recommendation for a cocktail. He suggested the Basil Mule, so that’s what I got. It’s made of basil infused Titos Vodka, raspberry – passion fruit, fresh lime juice, and ginger beer. I love this cocktail and happily sipped on it throughout our meal.

Alex's Margarita and my Basil Mule.

Alex’s Margarita and my Basil Mule.

While we looked over the menu, fresh bread was delivered to our table. This bread was delicious and had a charred smoky flavor. It was served with olive oil for dipping. I will never turn down bread!

Del Campo
 Del Campo

It’s appetizer time! We ordered the King Crab and Shrimp Empanadas and the Provoleta. The Empanadas were served on a curried squash puree and topped with a peanut cabbage slaw. These were delicious and not to mention beautiful. I loved all the different textures on the plate: the crispy empanada dough, the smooth puree, and the slight crunch of the slaw. All of those components together were the perfect bite. 

(more…)

The Great American Food Truck Festival

The first ever Great American Food Truck Festival happened in Carroll County, Maryland this past weekend! I saw this event come up on Facebook a few months back and I knew right away we HAD to attend. I bought the tickets and I had been anxiously awaiting ever since. Sunday was the day! We arrived early and got in line. We could see the food trucks from afar and started devising a plan (yes, we took this very seriously). Also, at this point we were on the verge of hangry (so hungry you get angry) because we had eaten light that morning in preparation (again, yes very serious).

After much debating and menu paroozing (not how you spell it), we picked our first truck! CapMac was our first stop. How could you not want to visit the Capital of Macaroni? I ordered the Local Duck Confit as a pasta and Alex went with the Bolognese. We found a table to sit at and took our first bite…..wow! I am a huge fan of Duck Confit so this pasta was perfect for me. It was packed with duck meat and also had braised greens, squash, gouda cheese, and was topped with bread crumbs and sun dried tomatoes. I’m in love! The Bolognese was also delicious. I am not usually a huge red sauce fan but this one had tons of flavor. With beef from Creekstone Farms, tomatoes, root vegetables, red wine, fresh cream, and parmesan cheese it had be coming back for me. Luckily, Alex didn’t mind sharing 🙂

 Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

The kids also loved CapMac!

Our next stop was The Pretzel Lady. The twins love soft pretzels so we wanted to get them a treat. We got one soft pretzel for them to share (and of course for us to try) and we also got their fresh squeezed lemonade. The pretzel was delicious. Alex thought it rivaled the soft pretzels we always get in Lancaster, PA (that’s a big compliment). The lemonade is the kind I search for but rarely find. The perfect mix of sour and sweet. I could drink that all day long! We came back for two more cups of it later on.

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

While the kids happily ate their pretzel, we moved on to the next truck. At The Broken Fork we ordered the Fish Tacos which came served with cabbage and a slightly spicy sauce. Big pieces of tender white fish were seasoned well and these really took me back to when I discovered fish tacos on our honeymoon almost four years ago.  

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Next stop, Tacos El Rey. When I see authentic Papusas on the menu I have to give them a try. We tried both the Cheese and Pork Papusas. Man, were they good, some of the best I have had. I have only ever had cheese papusas but now I am wondering why I haven’t tried the ones with pork filling before, of course that would be amazing! I still have a dream of making authentic homemade papusas in my kitchen….one day! I was also impressed with their service. They had a very long line but served up our food quickly. Thank you!

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

At this point we are feeling full, very full, but we wanted to make sure we gave the Kommie Pig truck a try. The twins were getting restless, it was now way past naptime, so we went for a walk and left Alex to do the ordering. He chose the Porky Fries. These fries were loaded with shredded pork, bbq sauce, onions, and cheese sauce. If I wasn’t totally stuffed I could have eaten much more of this than I did. Neither of us are huge fans of cheese sauce but that didn’t stop us from putting a dent in it. We almost finished all of it.

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Well hello gigantic sweet tooth! After all that delicious savory food my sweet tooth needed a treat. There were a few trucks to choose from and of course I couldn’t just visit one, I visited two. First up, La Cakerie. I’m sure what initially drove me to this truck was the bright color, oh and the fact that so many people were walking around with delicious looking cupcakes. Once I walked up to the truck I realized La Cakerie has been on many Food Network shows, which is pretty cool! I am a big Food Network fan, so if they like your baking I’m sure I will too. I chose four cupcakes: Pumpkin Cheesecake, Chocolate Fudge, Cake Wars Winner, and Red Velvet. These beauties went home with me where I had a little photo shoot and then tasted (how did I even have self control for that?)

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Time to taste test. The Chocolate Fudge and Cake Wars Winners were my favorite. Super moist and the icing was almost fluffy. Delicious! The Pumpkin Cheesecake…..I wanted to love this one I really did, it is pumpkin season after all, but I thought it was just okay. Maybe the name threw me off and I wanted it to be actual cheesecake. The Red Velvet was also very good. I only got one little bite of it before Alex inhaled it :). Overall, very impressed!

Great American Food Truck Festival

I also paid a visit to IcedGems. I got the kids some adorable little (they weren’t little at all, little meaning cute) Fall sugar cookies. These were the perfect sugar cookies, sweet and crumbly just like I like them. Danny and Mackenzie ate them up in no time.

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

For myself, I chose the Blueberry Pancake Cupcake. This one made it home for a photo shoot as well and I had to laugh when I cut it open. I thought, I’m going to take a picture of the blueberries inside, that will be a nice shot, and there it was. One lone blueberry. But you know what, after tasting it, I didn’t care! This cupcake was amazing! It tasted exactly like a blueberry pancake. It’s like I was eating a stack of pancakes with butter and syrup. I don’t know how they did it and I wish I had bought a few more of these. Yum! 

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

Great American Food Truck Festival

We had such a great time at the Great American Food Truck Festival! We really enjoyed being able to get dishes from multiple food trucks that are very good at what they do. I hope this will be an annual event!

Food Trucks we visited:

CapMac

The Pretzel Lady

The Broken Fork

Tacos El Rey

Kommie Pig

La Cakerie

IcedGems