April 4, 2013 by wedandwanderlust
I can’t believe that we are half way through our contract here! Feels like just yesterday we were planning our trip across the country!
So far we are truly enjoying northern Virginia, or NOVA as they call it here. With all of the places to see, things to do, tasty treats to eat, it’s almost overwhelming! I mean we are officially half way through our contract here, and the hours that we have left aren’t sufficient for the things on our “to-do” list!
Here are the TOP 10 Wed & Wanderlust NOVA Moments that we’ve had thus far:
1. Our first Le Creuset!! We finally used our Williams-Sonoma gift cards from our wedding that have patiently been sitting in my wallet and purchased a much coveted grill pan! (Thanks again family and friends! ;) ) The home that we first rented in California had one and we feel in love with it, so we have missed cooking with one since then. We grilled organic sausages and accompanied them with kale, leeks and garlic. My love made his into “hot dogs” which looked absolutely fantastic! The “Flame” color is so vibrant and makes so happy! Who doesn’t love to cook with items that make them happy?!
2. Being around so many ethnic backgrounds is completely refreshing! Growing up in South Florida, I was used to seeing many colors, races, hearing different languages, eating various foods, and I’ve missed that! Diversity in all aspects of life is to be greatly appreciated and you don’t really realize how much you welcome those differences until they aren’t so evident or easily accessible any more. I love being asked if I’m Ethiopian (I’m Jamaican, but my complexion and eyes apparently resemble someone who is Ethiopian) and can’t wait to enjoy some Indian food that everyone is raving about up here when my mother-in-law comes to visit in a couple of weeks!
3. Truly enjoyed wandering around Old Town Alexandria and visiting their farmer’s market! The mix of historic architecture with modern art and signage is so intriguing. Although it was chilly, we walked all of King Street and had fun perusing the plethora of shops, and taking in the sights, noting which places we need to return to on our next visit. I’m really excited to go back to tour the Torpedo Factory Art Center! I also loved watching this street performer play his water glasses. He was quite incredible!
4. Brabo Tasting Room – After exploring the Alexandria Farmer’s Market, we enjoyed lunch at Brabo’s Tasting Room, and what an amazing meal it was! A farm-to-table, eco-friendly restaurant that specializes in mussels, beer & wine, and charcuterie. We ordered the Five Onion soup and Classic Mussels. The Five Onion soup was delicious! We opted to share a bowl, and our waiter was so kind that he gave us each our own bowl, but only charged us for one(talk about excellent service!) and boy was I thankful for that. I scraped every ounce of that salty sweet nectar out of the bowl! The mussels were equally magnificent! The aroma of the shallot, parsley, white wine garlic sauce that they were cooked in was just as enamoring as the flavor it gave to each intoxicated mussel. They serve the mussels with bread that they get par-baked from a local bakery, and because it’s such a hit, they even sell loaves for you to take home a bake yourself.
5. A rainy night nixed our spontaneous mini golf date night plans, so we ended up indoors for bowling at Alexandria Lanes, which turned out to be so much fun! Can’t tell you the last time that I went bowling, and was very proud to score a strike on my first try! Woot-woot!!! We each won one round and decided to call it a draw…that and they kept playing the same few songs over and over which was getting to be a little old! When we walked outside, the rainy night had turned into a beautiful, delicate snow fall. Such a romantic way to end our evening!
6. Le Pain Quotidien – We have been here a couple of times…okay…maybe three. We saw a few of these on our travels around here, but didn’t give them a chance as we tend to shy away from chains, but upon further review, we were quite surprised! It’s an organic restaurant that is the perfect stop for breakfast, brunch or lunch. (They do serve dinner entrees but we have not indulged in those…yet! ;) ) My favorite things there so far? Vegan Split Pea Soup & Belgian Hot Chocolate…The soup is hearty, flavorful, and transports me back home to my mum’s kitchen where I’d sneak spoonfuls from the soup pot. (Sorry Mom!) I loved being able to make my own hot chocolate! They bring the steamed milk and melted chocolate to the table, and allow you to mix and sweeten it yourself. Absolutely delectable!
7. I am not a girl who loves to shop for clothing or shoes or purses, BUT put me in a craft or grocery store and I am a more than happy camper! My requirements? Grocery stores must first carry the items that I need, and second, be a pleasant, organized place to shop. I got pretty spoiled in California with New Frontiers, so I was truly delighted to find MOM’s Organic Market here …and huge plus – there’s one right around the corner from the house & one near the hospital where my husband works! (Click here to find out more about becoming a travel nurse!) Surprisingly, I find that groceries are a little more expensive here versus California, but the nice thing is that MOM’s prices on certain items are cheaper than Whole Foods Market, and I appreciate their commitment to offering quality, local produts. At the Fairfax location, they even have a little restaurant called Naked Lunch where they provide organic meals and juices on the go.
8. Being so close to family and friends is really fabulous! Just this past weekend I was able to see two of my best friends and what a treat that was, and look forward to seeing more family and friends soon! It’s also nice being on the same side of the country and not have to do math to keep in contact with those that I love so dearly!
9. Exploring the city and awaiting the cherry blossoms! (Due to an extended winter there was only one tree with two blossoms the day we went!) Completely enjoyed every moment of traipsing through The Mall in D.C. with my best friend and her boyfriend this past weekend! We had such a blast catching up and creating new memories. It just so happened to be the Cherry Blossom Kite Festival, so we witnessed beautiful kites flying and even kite dancing, which is two kites flying in choreographed dance to music. We also were able to celebrate Easter together, which meant that I got to plan a fun meal and for me, that’s always a welcomed job! The menu: deviled eggs, honey glazed petite ham, roasted beets and sweet potatoes, rosemary garlic goat cheese mac-n-cheese, and sauteed Swiss chard, mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Big ups to my love who took on the challenge of making the Jamaican Easter Bun, and truly excelled at it!
10. The Burger Joint – The boys were craving burgers after a long day of exploration and thanks to @SuzieRobb’s recommendation, we visited The Burger Joint. Not being a huge fan of beef, so I was thrilled to see they offered a turkey burger option. Now, it’s quite rare that I even order a turkey burger because I’m usually quite disappointed. (Personally, I make a mean turkey burger laden with garlic, onions and buffalo sauce mixed in or rosemary, feta and garlic…yum…so I have tend to have pretty high standards for a turkey burger!) However, this turkey burger did NOT disappoint! It was immensely flavorful, moist and incredibly delicious! I choose to have the Wellington version with cheddar, no bun, and a side of sweet potato fries with roasted garlic. (Can you tell I like garlic? ;) ) Our Pink Floyd inspired table, Cherry Blossom milkshakes, and very friendly staff made this the perfect ending to our eventful day!
The next few weeks are quickly filling up with plans, so I will do my best to keep you posted of our wanderings. Feel free to follow me on Instagram for more frequent updates on our whereabouts!
Have you been to Virginia or D.C. Area and know somewhere scrumptious that we should eat or interesting sight to see? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!