I’m jealous

Totally jealous.

One of my dear darling friends is starting a website that I totally wish I had done myself!

http://drinkfxbg.blogspot.com/  – The plan is to review Fredericksburg, VA’s great watering holes. A sort of where’s where of downtown Fred, with thoughts from several contributors who will consider the merits of the locale’s atmosphere, beerosphere, and general sphereosphere.

It’s probably going to be mostly brew-focused, which may leave poor Perky out. Unless I can suddenly muster an enthusiasm for beer? Unlikely. Extremely unlikely.

But I do hope to be a family-friendliness critic! So keep an eye out, follow the page. Drink FXBG is also on Facebook – follow them! I just might pop up with my best tips for diaper changes during happy hour!

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Restaurant Week – La Rosetta

Hurray, Restaurant Week has returned to Fredericksburg!

Last night, I joined a few great ladies downtown at La Rosetta. None of us had been here before, so we thought it’d be a great place to try.

La Rosetta (Street Caroline)

La Rosetta is right across the street from the Marriot, so a few of us met up at the Marriot for a drink first. The lobby is huge, open, and contemporary. Definitely appealing for the 20-30 crowd, businesspeople, or events. The bartender was quick, and my cosmo was delicious. They also serve very full glasses of wine!

We marched over to La Rosetta for our 6:30 reservation. Our table of 6 was seated upstairs. The restaurant is in an old home, which is a neat vibe. The restaurant was pretty full – appaently Restaurant Week is setting records!

The food was good, overall. The butternut squash bisque came with a goat cheese ‘mousse’, which was essentially just a layer of melted foam on top. It was smooth, light, and delicious. For an entree, I had the pollo alla genovese: a nicely portioned chicken breast topped with eggplant, a slice of tomato, and a slice of mozzarella. The chicken was bathed in a light, tasty pesto cream sauce. I could have had another plate! It was accompanied with slices of zuchinni and carrots, which were also good. For dessert, I had a canneloni – I’m not a big fan, usually, but this was airy, flavorful, and just plain good.

Unfortunately….the service was incredibly slow.

As I mentioned, our reservation was at 6:30. I texted M at 7:30 checking in on the baby…we still hadn’t gotten our appetizers yet. When we finally got our bills, the waitress took our credit cards and disappeared for 20 minutes. I asked the waterboy to find out the status, and she came back quickly after that.

I noticed other tables upstairs with us also had similar waits – there were quite a few unhappy campers at tables of two waiting for their next courses or checks.

The waterboy, by the way, is probably the busiest person in the place! He was very attentive, polite, and unobtrusive. He must be exhausted at the end of the night!

Overall, I would go back to La Rosetta. Hopefully on a quieter night, the service is much faster!

Good times, good friends….poor Tigers!

I know, I know. I am failing at this 365 posts thing. Moving right along…

Last night we met up with friends at Home Team Grill to watch the Auburn-Florida bowl game. A good chunk of my extended family was actually in CA for the game, all of us Auburn supporters. Most of my family is going / went / will go to Auburn, except for me, my brother, and one other cousin. It was a good game, with a great first half…but then we lost it in the end. Super sad!

Anyhoo, Home Team Grill is a sports pub nestled in Eagle Village, right across (or I guess part of) University of Mary Washington. Jerseys from different teams, including UMW’s rugby team, and paintings decorate the walls. The menu is pretty standard sports fare – burgers, wings, wraps, and a fairly impressive salad list. HTG also does Happy Hour and food specials – Tuesdays are half off burgers, Wednesdays are wing nights, and Happy Hour drinks usually run until 7:00, with wine specials!

More memorable is the sheer amount of fun M and I have with our buddies. JC recently popped back into my life – we were friends in college and hung out for a couple of years before drifting apart. He and his wife are friends of friends, so they have been part of the group for a couple of years now. JC is absolutely hilarious, and anytime we spend time with him and his wife, we are always hysterically laughing over the most absurdly stupid things. Old friends, mixed with new friends, equals fun.

Tasty Thai

Last night, M and I went to one of our favorite restaurants, Tarntip Thai.

Located on Route 1, Tarntip is close to UMW, nestled in the midst of a few other shops. M and I have been here probably 4 times now, and we have not been disappointed a single time.

I always start with the Curry Puffs. Two crispy pastries filled with curry paste, chicken, peas, and potatoes. These are served hot, with a cucumber raita, and carrot garnish. They are always delicious. I do occasionally wish there was a dipping sauce to match them, but they are good on their own. 

I usually get the Beef Kapow – a medium spicy dish where you choose your protein, and it is served with basil, red and green peppers, and cooked in a delicious broth. It also comes with white rice.

M varies his choices – he enjoyed the won ton soup last night and a deep fried seafood special: crab, shrimp, and squid. It was served with a thick garlicky sauce, and he (no surprise) cleaned his plate. He has also had Tom Yum, extra spicy please, and Lad Na.

Overall, Tarntip is a great place for a quick, consistently delicious meal. The service is always good, and the food comes out quickly. Unfortunately Tarntip never has a crowd there, but hopefully they continue to serve Fredericksburg for many more years!

Castiglia’s – finally a hit!

We have been to Castiglia’s several times in the last couple of years, and have had some up-and-down culinary experiences.

I really like their pesto gnocchi – the gnocchi is made well, light, fluffy and pillow. The pesto, however, is somewhat hit-and-miss. My first time ordering it was summer 2012. It was beyond delicious – refreshing, salty, creamy, lovely. I had it again in November, and it was somewhat disappointing. The sauce was uneven, with large unpleasant chunks of garlic. 

M has ordered a few dishes, mostly seafood-focused, and hasn’t been impressed with any. The insalata di mare was a big disappointment, and he also tried a seafood pizza that was just underwhelming. 

However! We went the first week of December with M’s parents. I ordered Bruschetta, a side salad, and a New York slice. All of it was..wonderful! The bread for bruschetta was lightly crisped, a nice balance of crispy crust and soft middle that supported the topping well and had nice mouth feel. The topping was diced tomatoes and mozzarella, some basil, and a little garlic with a twee bit of balsamic. It was light, fresh, and delicious. The side salad was fresh, no wilted or browning lettuce, and comes topped with a generous amount of croutons, onions, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers. And the NY slice was….oh my yum. A large slice, fresh from the oven, with a thin bread, crispy bottom, and oozing cheese. The light marinara is perfect. I could go for another one right now!

M and his dad ordered the Veal Marsala, and both cleaned their plates. It was lightly breaded, tender, and well-seasoned. The veal was accompanied by a nice portion of penne pasta, and the marsala sauce had a pleasant amount of mushrooms present. They also split some fried mushrooms for an appetizer, which comes with your choice of dip, and is a generous helping that easily serves four.

So….I really recommend their pizza and bruschetta. I intend to try their calzone next time! But avoid the seafood options…

Blue & Grey Brewery

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Fredericksburg is (fortunately for us!) in a great spot for people who like wine, bourbon, and brews. We have many nearby wineries, distilleries, and breweries.

Last night, M and I went to Blue & Grey for dinner. M had a coupon from Restaurants.com, and it was Happy Yappy hour. Dogs were welcome – we did not bring ours because Pickles skews more towards tazmanian devil clown dog than well-behaved quiet dog, and Chutney would be terrified at the number of inanimate objects, much less people.

Blue & Grey is a little out-of-the-way, but it has a nice outdoor eating area and a decent-sized interior space. The weather was phenomenal Thursday, so we ate outside.

 

M got Blue & Grey’s Stonewall Stout and Falmouth American Pale Ale. He prefers the APA, which is more of a refreshing summer beer. I had Reisling (I forgot which one!).

M ordered the Black & Blue steak, which is smothered in a creamy gorgonzola portabello mushroom cream sauce, and served with a side of delicious creamy mashed new potatoes. His steak was good, and he cleaned his plate. Which he always does, but still. This dish is also recommended to pair with Stonewall Stout.

 I had the Shepherd’s pie, which was essentially a deconstructed shepherd’s pie with a tiny lamb chop on top. The sauce for the meat was really good, and the potatoes were phenomenal. We both agreed, however, the chef seemed to be a corn-fanatic. The sheer quantity of corn kernels was a bit overwhelming.

Overall, we enjoyed our food. We liked seeing (well-behaved) dogs, and speculated Pickles will be society-friendly when he’s approximately 12. Chutney will need massive quantities of doggie anxiety meds.

Capital Ale House

Last night, I was itching to go out for dinner. I had absolutely no preference – really, my suggestions were Chipotle, Ruby Tuesday, Chinese, Indian, Thai, noveau American…. all over the place.

We wound up going to Capital Ale House, located on the main happening street downtown. On Mondays, CAH does Burger Night! We both opted to do the special. M got a beer, I got a glass of wine, both slightly discounted due to Happy Hour. We also ordered a side of fries.

The burgers themselves were delicious! Smothered with cheddar, and sandwiched in a pillowy golden delicious bun. M also opted for jalapenos on his, and made a nice festive sandwich. Image

I love randomly going downtown, just the two of us, and especially when it is still light out We were in and out in about an hour, and had plenty of time to come home and keep enjoying the daylight!

Boys don’t have cooties.

I have always considered myself a guys’ girl.

I suppose it’s to be expected. I have an older brother (3 years, 2 grade levels). We grew up constantly bickering, physically fighting, those obnoxious kids on a roadtrip going “he’s on myyy side.”  God bless my parents for surviving us.

They never diminished or tried to alter our relationship, though. My dad would frequently say “Fight back” when I whined that Bro had kicked/hit/pushed me. We all had black belts. It seemed logical. The only downside, I think, is I tended to continue that physical aggressiveness into my adult life. Guys in college don’t really like being hurt by girls in college.

Our relationship, however, produced a lot of positive advantages. I have always felt comfortable with boys, particularly those who weren’t “popular”. I remember being in 5th grade, talking to the nerdy, pale, white-haired guy instead of my ‘cool boyfriend’. In middle school, I had a quasi-fan club: a bunch of really nice, quiet, B & C student guys who liked me primarily because I talked to them. They were funny, they were nice, and there was no pressure. In high school, I liked the popular boys, but I hung out with the social misfits, and I embraced the younger, awkward guys who were trying to fit in. They were fun, I had fun with them, and it was innocent.

Except when they developed crushes. I never knew how to deal with that. I’d find myself hanging out with one of them, and then realize at some awkward moment that he thought this was a date, not a casual movie or tennis ‘hang out’ situation. I never appreciated those guys at those moments. I usually just panicked and told them some variation of the truth: We’re good friends, this isn’t going to happen, I’m not into this.

Over the years, now that I’m a ripe old lady, I appreciate the advantages of all those friendships and relationships. I really enjoy being with a group of guys, sitting around a table, trading dirty jokes and crazy stories and laughter. I like the casual exchange, so much less entwining and ensnaring than girls’ conversations can be. The guys usually aren’t negative, aren’t criticizing, aren’t gossiping. It’s purely about enjoyment, humor, and being in the moment. That, in my opinion, is priceless.

Oh my Yum…

I skipped lunch today and purposely drove home after work starving, tummy-growling hungry. Why? Because I knew my dinner of left-overs was going to be amazing.

Last night, M & I went to Peter Chang‘s, a restaurant that opened in Fredericksburg a couple of weeks ago.  First, I’d like to roll my eyes at M’s failure to communicate: I was fully expecting another Chinese buffet or Hibachi: Fredericksburg clearly needs more of those.

Our server’s name was Susie, and she was great. She was attentive, pleasant, and gave us some background on the dishes (served in clay pots the same way they are served in the markets in China).  She also mentioned, unfortunately, that most people are asking for the General Tso’s chicken. This is NOT a Gen. Tso’s kind of place. If that’s what you want….head to Fortune’s or order some takeout.

The restaurant is wide and open, and had a steady flow of diners. The me

nu is pretty substantial, broken down by appetizers, soups, types of meat, noodles & rice.   And….it has puffed pancakes.

Puffed Pancakes!The size of his head!

 

A puffed pancake is kind of like Roti on crack. It’s basically thin layers of dough pressed together, then dropped into super-high heat, and the end result is a hollow, magical balloon of deliciousness. You pop it, tear it into pieces, and dip it into a nice yellow curry sauce (not spicy). The dish comes with two puffs, and probably should be split between 3-4 people. M & I managed to kill ours, of course.

This puff was the perfect way to start off: it reminded me of traipsing around Malaysia on a hot muggy night with M’s Grannie yelling directions in Hokkien to find the best late-night Roti spot. It’s a fun, happy, inclusive type of food.

M ordered a cilantro-fish springroll. Another dish meant to share (seeing a theme?), these were thing, cigar-shaped eggrolls stuffed with cilantro and seafood. M enjoyed them, but they could use a sauce for dipping/moisture. Cilantro-fish Egg Roll

For our entrees, we knew the dishes are meant to be shared, but we both wanted different things. M got a clay pot of mixed seafood in spicy black

Seafood

bean sauce. It was one Pepper on the menu and was a pleasingly tingly spice level. The seafood included shrimp, squid, fish, and scallops, as well as garlic cloves, mushrooms, and red peppers. A warm, soupy family.

 

I got a two-Pepper dish – Chicken with Onion and Chili served in a strainer-type basket over a flame. You stir every 2 minutes until the flame goes out, keeping it hot and making it fun! This dish had a nice burn that sticks to your lips, but is slightly addictive. That “but it hurts so good!” kind of deal. Spicy Chicken

We both had fried rice for our sides – well made, a nice blend of soy, veggies, and well-cooked rice. And Diet Pepsis. We were being boring on the drinks.

Friends, be warned: I am going to demand this place for my birthday dinner in October.

April – a Whirlwind of Wheeeee

M and I spent a lot of time out and about this April.

We went to Happy Hours almost every week, dinners together, and lots of time with friends.

Much of that time involves Kybecca – we met our new favorite bartender, Eugene, on a slow Friday night.

 

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He shakes drinks faster than your eyes can follow, and is personable and pleasant.

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He mixed up an amazing whiskey and elderflower drink for M,

Orange Fizzand a creamy orange fizz for me.

 

 

We also went to Mussel Mondays at Kybecca. Each Monday, mussels are all you can eat and come cooked in two different broths.  The broths change every week from a spicy chorizo tomato broth to a creamy buerre blanc. M managed to eat 72 mussels in one evening, an astounding and disgusting gastronomical feat!

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We are moving on to May, and it is already off to a great start!