Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bargain of the Week: Dooney & Bourke

I meant to buy this bag before we left for our trip to Europe in October.  It's the Large Kristen Tote by Dooney & Bourke (color: Saddle).  Alas, I hesitated too much and when I went to buy it at the outlet store in Orlando, they didn't have the color that I wanted.  Boo for me.

Fast forward to December 7th.  Momma and Poppa J were visiting us for the week and one of them wanted to head to the outlets (take a guess which one).  I jumped at the chance and off we went.  Sure enough, this beauty was waiting for me near the front of the store the moment I walked in.  I almost squealed in delight when the sales lady told me that the bag was on sale, 30% off the outlet price tag plus an additional 20% off on top of that.  Needless to say, I swooned when I paid for the bag and the grand total, including taxes, was $116.00.  The retail price on the Dooney website is $245!!!!!

I LOVE large bags and this one is perfect for me:

Have you scored any good deals lately?

$3 Movies

My mom lives in Raleigh, NC and that city is one of only few places I know that have the massive discounted movie theaters.  They play movies that just left the regular theaters but before the DVDs are released.  Instead of having to shell out $10, you pay $2 or $3.  It's freaking amazing!

Britton 8 is my newest discovery in town.  Who knew that this movie theater actually played decent movies for so cheap?  It's hidden deep within the recesses of your typical retail plaza in Florida.  The inside is nothing grand.  As a matter of fact, the theater we were in was so small it almost felt like an in-home movie theater.  lol.

Was it worth our $3 / ticket?  Heck yes!  They even have a special on Tuesdays.  Any movie is only $1! Be warned, it's a cash only place.  Love it!

*Side note*  Once again, I apologize for the lack of pictures.  I am so behind on my blogging and alas, the photos that go with this post were on the old laptop.  I will update once I go back to Britton 8.


Before I even delve into our dining experience at Dukem, I want to apologize for the lack of pictures.  I did take plenty that evening but I lost the photos when our laptop was stolen during our trip in Europe.  That should teach me to always back up our data, right?  Right.  ::le sigh::  Anyway, I hope you find our meal selections still somewhat helpful despite the lack of images.

I first tried Ethiopian cuisine when I was in college.  One of my friends was just wrapping up her freshman year at Yale and she took me to one in New Haven.  It was amazing but I didn't have much of a chance to try it again until a decade later.  Since DC has a ton of great Ethiopian restaurants, I convinced Mr. J and the rest of the family to try out Dukem over 4th of July weekend.  It's one of the more popular ones in town based on authenticity and taste.

As soon as we were seated, everyone made a request to have the nontraditional set-up of having separate plates for the table.  Typically, you share one large plate filled with the sponge bread and rice and everyone digs in with bare hands.  The family was not having that at all lol.

For appetizer, I ordered the sambusa with meat.  In a nutshell, it's a yummy pastry filled with ground beef and pepper.  Everyone's first reaction was to call it the Ethiopian version of an empanada.  It arrived steaming hot on a plate and I pretty much devoured it in a few minutes. 

I decided to go all out for dinner and ordered the Dukem Combo, which included lamb wot, doro wot, and minchet abesh.  Basically, it's a meat combo that has lamb, chicken, and ground beef in it.  Each meat is cooked in its separate stew or sauce and you eat it with the injera (aka sponge bread).  I enjoyed the meal more when I took some of Mr. J's rice and added it to my banquet.  Injera was good to me but was a bit tough to wrap around my meat since it kept breaking.  After a few minutes of making an attempt to eat with my hands, I asked for a knife and fork. 

Mr. J ordered a vegetarian combination since he wanted lighter fare.  He also knew that he had plenty of meat options with my order.  lol.  His veggie combo came with lentils, yellow peas, greens, and salad with fish.  However, I don't recall him actually eating the fish.  He said that the injera was just ok but could do without the next time.  The lentils and yellow peas mix was great in his book.

Big Sis and Momma J ordered lamb tibs, which are cubed chunks of meat with spicy awaze sauce served with injera and a salad.  Their plates smelled wonderful.  The sauce was definitely spicy, so be warned.

The family consensus was that the food was good and that they enjoyed the experience.  However, it won't be their first or second stop the next time they are back in the area.  lol.  At least they tried, right?  I am more than happy to go back as long as someone dines with me. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

4th of July in DC

Mr. J and I spent 4th of July weekend in DC to visit Big Sis.  Since Momma and Poppa J were retired by then, they also decided to drive down from CT and meet up with us.  It was a blast to act like a tourist in the nation's capital.  So many things to do (i.e. free museums), so little time.  Mr. J and I absolutely love the DC metro area and would move there in a heartbeat.  Too bad our industry doesn't really have a big presence there.  

We checked out the Natural History Museum but didn't spend too much time there.  For some odd reason, we didn't eat breakfast before we left the hotel so we got hungry shortly after arriving.  I was able to wave a quick hello to this guy before leaving though.

Once we had food in our bellies, we ventured towards the White House and did the usual picture taking session in front.

We walked around the National Mall.  I'm glad we this a few days before the actual 4th of July since the place was already getting prepped for fireworks.

WWII Memorial:

One of Mr. J's cousins was able to give us some free tickets to the Nationals game that weekend.  We got a great view of everything and was even able to catch one of their famous pitchers in action.

I convinced the family to try an Ethiopian restaurant since DC has some great ones.  That will be for another post, but so glad people gave it a shot.  It was so yummy!

Besides Ethiopian, Big Sis and Momma J and I went to a Drag Queen Brunch that Sunday.  We had a blast and the food was actually good too.  

Back again!

So I took an unintended long break from my short blogging stint and now I'm back.  It was nice to discuss my life online and I missed it.   I will be honest and say that my hiatus began because I started a search for a much easier to remember blog address.  Alas, I am far from creative and I couldn't come up with anything.  Then, life just took off and all of a sudden, it's October.

Here's a quick recap:

July: Mr. J and I went to visit Big Sis in DC over 4th of July weekend.

August: I took the GMAT for the second time and did worse.  It was awful and now I have to regroup and push back my b school plans another year.  This also made me decide that I need to sign up for the CFA Level I exam in June.  I can't be out of the game this long without something to show for it, right?  Fun, fun, fun!

September: We went to TX for our friends' wedding.  Mr. J was the Best Man and I was a bridesmaid.  It was beautiful and thankfully, drama free.

October: Finally headed to Europe for a vacation we've been talking about for years.  We went to London, Amsterdam, and Paris for 10 nights and it was amazing.  So much to blog about, so please stay tuned!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Yummy House

If you haven't figured it out by now, we love to eat.  It wasn't hard to find great restaurants when we lived in NYC, but here in Florida we have to do some work to find them.  If it wasn't for our dear friends Janet and David, we would have never found this Chinese restaurant called Yummy House.  We searched for months and this is the only place that's worth the wait.  There are absolutely no frills, but the food is to die for and it's also BYOB :-)

Don't you love the signage above?  Hehe.  If you plan on coming here on a Saturday night, you better make reservations a week beforehand.  Otherwise, it can be quite a lengthy wait.  I've watched people wait an hour, so save yourself the frustration.  Besides, you end up waiting outside in the heat and that's just not going to help you.  Yummy House also does takeout, if that suits your fancy more than the dining area below.

We started off with some spring rolls and salt and pepper calamari.  Sooo crispy!

Be warned, folks, the calamari is pretty spicy.  I eat it quickly and always forget to brace myself :-)

I was craving General Tso's chicken for months and thought this was the time to order it.  Man, the sauce was perfect.  Check out the veggies and the peppers!

The mongolian beef was a crowd pleaser as well, but it put my taste buds into spicy overload.

Mr. J was craving noodles, so he ordered some.  Tastes so fresh and far from the oily hot messes that we've had in order establishments.

Seriously folks, I highly recommend this restaurant.  Yummy House is a true gem of Tampa!

Lunch at Hula Bay

When Momma and Poppa J were here in June, I wanted to take them to a new seafood spot for lunch.  They love shrimp and I thought I had the best place in mind.  Unfortunately, I kept missing the exit on the highway and I gave up and headed to Hula Bay instead.  lol.

I've been to Hula Bay many times, but always for happy hour on Thursday nights (aka Ladies night).  However, I haven't been in over 6 months and am happy to report that my favorite app is still as delish as I remember.  This is the molten shrimp, which was nice and spicy and crispy.  I love the fact that it was served in a an over-sized martini glass.

Wings were nice and seasoned and crispy enough.

These pork sliders were so good and I loved the onion strings that were mixed in with the meat.

I believe these were beer battered chicken tenders, which are always a steady favorite.

I think the most memorable part of this restaurant is the gorgeous view during sunset.  I highly recommend stopping by for a quick drink!

Datz a Sandwich!

Mr. J and I had no idea what we wanted to eat today so we randomly chose Datz Deli.  The brunch at Datz is infamous around town and we decided early enough to try and beat the crowds.  Alas, we weren't that early since we still had to wait 20 minutes to get a table.  That was fine since I took a look around their little market and bought a few things.  I also discovered that there is a coffee roaster in St. Petersburg and the coffee taste great.

This is what I see as soon as I walk in the door: Squeee!!!!!!!!!!

The first thing I noticed in the case of chocolates below is the bacon and chocolate toffee.  Who sees that standout among the yummy macarons besides me?  I was drooling all over the case BEFORE brunch, so I decided to buy a piece to savor at home.  Mr. J said it was just ok and I agree.  One day I will create something of my own, with crispy bacon.  It shouldn't be too hard, right? 

Of course, I also bought a chocolate and vanilla macaron to accompany my bacon treat :-)

We initially ordered the Datz Hash (corned beef hash with a bunch of sides) and some turkey sandwich that Mr. J wanted to try.  Alas, they ran out of the Hash so I chose the beef brisket instead.  The sandwich came w/ cole slaw and potato chips and a blue cheese aoili dip.  Yummy!

Mr. J loved the turkey sandwich.  I tasted a piece and it was actual fresh turkey slices, not slimy cold cuts.  Love!

I can't wait to go back and try the actual brunch menu.  There was also a short and sweet happy hour menu that Iw ould love to try as well.  'Til next time, Datz!

On a totally unrelated note, I am going to redesign the blog with a new and easier to remember web address.  Please stay tuned and I hope you will follow me at the new address.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Soul Food Sundays

One of our best discoveries in town is Ella's Folk Art Cafe.  I found it online while conducting a random Google search for brunch spots in Tampa.  Ella's brunch menu is called Soul Food Sundays.  I was in heaven!

Here's the outdoor patio, which is impressive. 

 This is the view of the bar when you first walk into the restaurant. 

There's some great decor throughout the restaurant, which adds to the venue's atmosphere.  The space is large and it even has a stage for performances. They sat us on the second floor the two times we've been there.

Like any other brunch, I always start off with a mimosa.  This one had some pomegranate flavor added to it.  Cheers!

Fried pickles, anyone?  It doesn't sound that good, but oh em gee they are addicting. 

Aptly named "The Itis," this entree was massive.  Our friend who ordered it said that the brisket was very good but the ribs were just ok.  Yes, those are fried green tomatoes on the side.  Everyone at the table loved them.

Here's the beef brisket with sweet potato fries on the side.  The gal who ordered it said it was good.  She cleaned off the fries portion in a heartbeat.

Another person ordered the biscuits and gravy meal.  My father-in-law prefers to call this the SOS (s--- on a shingle).  lol.  Who knew slop could taste sooo good?  It's spicy sausage in the gravy and the biscuits are surprisingly flaky and light despite the gravy on top.

Mr. J opted for the lighter fare both times we've been to this restaurant.  It's the hummus veggie wrap with a side of red beans and rice.

This is for all you bacon lovers out there: chocolate covered bacon.  It was a little saltier than I expected, but I am glad I tried it.  I think the bacon could have been crispier though.  The chocolate they used was amazing.

Mr. J and I are firm believers that no one can beat The Columbia Restaurant's bread pudding in Tampa, but this one comes close.

This iron horse sits on the front lawn of the restaurant.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Big Win in Washington, DC

Photo credit: Marriott Crystal Gateway website

We spent 5 nights in the Washington, DC area over 4th of July weekend.  Naturally, I turned to Priceline and to help me figure out where we would stay.  I was actually pretty nervous since I had no idea how hard it would be to get a hotel room for under $100/night in our nation's capital during one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year.  

After several low bids, I was shocked to win the Crystal Gateway Marriott for a whopping $70 / night.  Not bad! 

Our room was decent sized and Mr. J loved the larger flat screen. 

We rarely use the free products that the hotel provides.  However, I want to point out that I did like the Bath & Body Works soap that they had here.  The body lotion smelled funny to me, but Mr. J said he liked it.  It was something like Orange Ginger.  Meh.
I think our Marriott Rewards membership earned us a fairly high floor (14th), but I am not 100% sure about that.  Too bad we didn't have much of a view outside.  Pretty pic of the early night sky though, right? 

Food in the lobby bar as well as the restaurant The Mez was decent.  Actually, we ate brunch at The Mez and the buffet was typical Marriott fare.  Fine with me.  During our first night there, I had nachos and some champagne.  It tasted so good at the time, but the combination isn't the best in the world.

This Marriott was perfect for us in every way.  We were only 10 minutes away from where Big Sis lived and the hotel had an attached entrance to the Crystal City Metro station.  Even by cab, the hotel was a $20 + tip cab ride away from Tenleytown, in the heart of the city.  In addition to the great location, the hotel had a Starbucks in the lobby :-)