Archive for the 'VA desserts' Category

08
May
12

Maple Avenue’s sweet treats

Sometimes you gotta venture out of your comfort zone to try new things. For a belated birthday brunch, I recently took Mr. X-sXe to Maple Avenue Restaurant in Vienna, VA—that exotic state where you can still get plastic grocery bags for free.

The dining space is tiny, probably less than 10 tables with no separate foyer/entrance area. We went for the brunch tasting menu. The food was consistently good: a gooey mac and cheese with panko, a savory mushroom crepe, cauliflower with Thai sauce and a sprinkling of scallions. But there were a few hints that the menu needed more thought.

The feast launches with a charcuterie plate—something I don’t necessarily have an appetite for first thing in the morning. Also, my stomach was hoping for some respite from the parade of heavy dishes coming out back-to-back. I craved a salad or fruit dish to cut the fat in this meat-and-dairy show. (Mind you, the set menu does change regularly.)

And now we turn to the most important part of the meal: dessert.

Yuzu-lime tart (above photo)

Wow, right? This was beautiful—its marshmallow peaks perfectly torched, blanketing the citrusy filling on a thick graham crust. Perhaps this wasn’t the chef’s intent, but anytime I see “lime” on a dessert menu, I’m hoping for some mouth-puckering action. Here the sweetness of the marshmallow fluff actually overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the yuzu-lime filling. Note: we ordered this separately from the tasting menu.

Waffles with Nutella and vanilla bean ice cream (part of the brunch tasting menu)

Sure, this elevates the waffles you’d get at the breakfast bar of a Comfort Inn. But is it good enough to warrant being on the menu of a nice restaurant? I’m leaning towards no. I was curious whether the Nutella was from the jar or made in-house. The menu didn’t elaborate on this point, but it tasted like the jar stuff (which is NOT health food, despite what the ads claim. Hence the class-action lawsuit. #onlyinAmerica).

17
Nov
11

Last day for Food & Friends buy a pie > feed a DC neighbor

Today’s the last day to order your Thanksgiving pie through Food & Friends. (PS: If you’re on Team Cake, they also have chocolate-covered cheesecake.)

Why it’s a great idea:

1)      Every pie you buy will provide a full day’s worth of meals for a kid or adult in DC, MD, or VA with a life-altering illness.

2)      You need to buy Thanksgiving desserts anyway, and Whole Paycheck/Safeway/Giant doesn’t need any more of your money.

3)      Their pies come from a family-owned bakery. They have no preservatives or any other ingredients you wouldn’t feed a pregnant woman.

You can order online, then pick up your pies at a bunch of convenient CVS locations on Tuesday, November 22. Food & Friends needs to sell another 1,500-2,000 pies by midnight tonight. Do it!

13
Nov
11

Pumpkin things I’ve tasted, including a 1-year-old pie

One of the many great perks about this season is the proliferation of pumpkin sweets everywhere you turn:

  • Pies, traditional and whoopee (the latter being more cake-like, but that’s a debate for another time)
  • Cakes/cheesecakes/cupcakes
  • Cookies
  • Pumpkin bread, which borders on health food
  • Seasonal coffee drinks

This time of year must be a bane for pumpkin-haters. Personally, I’m in heaven. It’s not so much the flavor of pumpkin itself–which on its own doesn’t really taste like much–but more about the spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice (which sounds like something you’d find in a 1970s cupboard, next to the box of lard).

Below, a rundown of a few pumpkin sweets that have crossed my plate lately:

1)      Trader Joe’s pumpkin cheesecake (pictured above w/creme fraiche, also from Trader Joe’s): At $6.99, that’s less than the price of one slice at the Cheesecake Factory. I had high hopes, but they should’ve called this “pumpkin-ish cheesecake.” The flavors are pretty muted, while the all-important crust lies in a purgatory between pastry and graham cracker. Half of this cheesecake is still in the freezer. I’m not anticipating defrosting it anytime soon.


2)      Mrs. Smith’s classic pumpkin pie: Speaking of not defrosting things soon, I got this pie for $2 from Giant during the 2010 holiday season. It’s been taking up precious real estate in the freezer ever since. Given that it’s nearly a year old, I wasn’t sure whether to bake it or toss it. Upon inspection, it had just a tiny layer of freezer burn that scraped off easily. So into the oven it went. The pie actually came out perfectly—the crust even stayed crusty. Not sure what kind of industrial chemicals that takes, but someone who eats a year-old pie probably shouldn’t be quibbling.

3)       Red Velvet pumpkin-sage cupcake (above, right): This is one of the November flavors-of-the-month at Rabbit, a Clarendon salad/grill place that serves Red Velvet cupcakes (same owners). I liked the sugared sage leaf, but the strong sage taste in the frosting threw me off. My brain couldn’t help thinking I was eating stuffing. The cupcake part was decently moist–overall, it’s a good cupcake. I was probably just too full after my amazing meal there to fully appreciate this.

04
Apr
11

Bayou’s beignets

Inhale with caution when eating these beignets from Bayou Bakery, or you’ll wind up choking on the 1/8″ thick coating of powdered sugar and/or end up being the butt of a bad Lindsay Lohan joke.

Even though I’m not a huge beignet fan, I felt obligated to get these last time Mr. x-sXe and I were at Bayou because (1) they’re fried to order, and (2) everyone else had a plate on their table. Yelpers, these may not be Cafe-du-Monde authentic, but it’s fried dough with powdered sugar–you’ll get your get grease and sugar fix regardless. And yes, you can get a mug of chicory coffee to go with it.

08
Oct
10

Pie’s rib-stickin’ shoofly pie recipe in the Runcible Spoon

Need a vegan-friendly shoofly pie recipe? Wondering what the heck shoofly pie is? Find out in the beautiful new issue of The Runcible Spoon. Malaka and Claire have put together a bunch of seasonal recipes that’ll keep you warm like that cozy, pilled-up sweater you unearthed from the closet last week.

Click to read it in all its digital format glory.

09
Jun
10

We try the full dessert menu at Ray’s the Steaks

When a restaurant does their appetizers and mains as well as Ray’s does, expectations are high for dessert.

We ordered the cheesecake (from a NY bakery), key lime pie, dark chocolate mousse, and coconut cream pie.  I relished the rare opportunity to say, “We’ll take one of each!” to the waiter.

Oh dear. We weren’t expecting them to be so…mediocre. There were no standouts (unless you’re talking about standing out in a bad way. That award goes to the bland coconut cream pie.). I’d tried the key lime pie from Ray’s before and loved it. But this time it seemed lackluster. The chocolate mousse could have turned up the volume on the chocolate part. And the cheesecake was boring.

Maybe we were just too stuffed by that point to fully enjoy these. Entirely possible, give how good the rest of the meal was.

We finished out meal with complimentary peanut butter fudge (not pictured). That beat some of the desserts we’d actually paid for.

06
Jun
10

Yogenfruz mall invasion

Yogenfruz has set up shop in both Pentagon City and Tysons Corner malls (as well as downtown DC, near McPherson Square Metro). If you’re looking for something beyond the original tart, they have “Nu mixes,” which are preblended flavors, or you can choose from a case of frozen fruits to blend into their original. The frozen litchis (third from left in the photo) tempted me, but the siren call of the key lime pie Nu mix was stronger.

The flavor of the yogurt reminded me of those key lime pie slices you can buy individually in the Safeway freezer case. Too sweet and artificial tasting. Tangysweet still reigns supreme. But this hasn’t deterred me from trying Yogenfruz again–I’ll hit the litchis next time.