Wednesday, June 24, 2009

La Tasca- Rockville, MD

Hi everyone, another Iphone post! For my bf's birthday he wanted to try Paella since he's seen and heard so much about it on the Travel Channel and Food Network. We decided to go to La Tasca in Rockville to try it out because of their paella and sangria selections.  

It is located in Rockville Town Square underneath the public library and across from Five Guys. There is free garage parking and random street parking. However it can be limited, so there are some parking lots near the movie theater that cost $1 to park in. The closest metro stop would be Rockville on the Red Line.

Sorry I don't have a pic of the outside! I think we were running late and trying to make our reservation. The story of my life, haha.

The interior features Spanish decor from the chandeliers, wooden beams, iron rails, and hand-painted tiles. There are a good number of tables in this restaurant as well as seating outdoors.

I've been to this restaurant before and was in love with their sangria menu. They offer 11 different types of sangria by either the glass ($6-7.50) or pitcher ($22-28). We ordered 4 different glasses throughout our meal to taste different ones.

Cadillac White Sangria- This top-shelf sangria has the same character as our “Blanca” but is made with premium Sangre De Toro white wine ($7.50). This was a bit strong, but the bf liked it.

Cava Sangria- The clear staff favorite: a bubbly sangria made with sparkling wine,
triple sec, and brandy -- blended with grape juice and blueberries ($6).
This was my favorite! It's very fruity and sweet.

Agua de Sevilla- Another sparkling wine sangria, this concoction is unique
because it is prepared with pineapple juice and whipped cream ($6).
This was a bit strange, but better once you mix in the whipped cream.

Sangria Blanca- A refreshing blend of peaches, white wine, triple sec, brandy and
cinnamon sticks ($6).
The peaches were really strong, but also good.

We placed our Paella order 1st, since it takes around 35 minutes to make. We then decided to order some tapas. We ordered the 'Empanadas de Carne- beef empanadas' for $6. They are really good and flavorful. The pair came with a spicy mayo-type sauce.

We also ordered the 'Croquetas de Pollo- A classic Spanish dish of pureed chicken and potatoes, lightly battered and then deep fried' for $6.50. It's such a tapas staple that I like ordering it when I'm eating Spanish food. It was delicious and came with a more mild-green mayo-type sauce.

Oddly we received bread and olive oil after all of our tapas because we noticed other tables had bread, but we did not. They gave it to us when we asked, but of course it was 2 minutes before our paella arrived.

We decided to try the 'Paella Valenciana- The traditional Valencian paella with grilled chicken and mixed seafood' for $38. It had squid, mussels, chicken and vegetables in the rice. It was tasty, however we were so full we took most of it home. It does have a very "seafoody" taste, which I love, but the bf wasn't too keen on it. We'll probably try the 'Paella de Carne- A meat paella of chicken and Spanish sausage' next time. It's a huge portion that is made to be shared between 2-3 people.

I thought our meal was good, but nothing special.  We ordered very popular tapas, so they turned out well. I have eaten there before and ordered some tapas that weren't as good. Sorry I forgot which ones! The paella was huge, so it was nice to have food for the next day. It does reheat well in the microwave too, haha.
Our server was nice. I'm not sure why we didn't get bread, but I guess that's ok since we were already full.
The outdoor seating looked nice and the sangria selections are awesome. Tapas in general are expensive. You pay between $6-12 and they're small plates. It can add up especially with the drinks. They do have a large variety of meats, seafood and vegetable options.
They offer a live band on Saturday nights from 10pm-12am, so it's a nice place to come with friends to try lots of different dishes and drink.

141 Gibbs Street #305
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 279-7011

Brunch: Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am - 3:00pm
Lunch: Monday - Friday: 11:00am - 5:00pm
Dinner: Monday - Friday: 5:00pm - 12:00am, Saturday: 3:00pm - 12:00am, Sunday: 3:00pm - 10:00pm

La Tasca - Rockville on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Big Saigon- Rockville, MD (CLOSED)

Edit: 5/19/10- I drove by and it's not there anymore!! Maybe it was in a bad location (close to Ba Le, Pho 75 and Pho 95), but times are hard now, and unfortunate to see a business go under in less than a year.

Hey Everyone! This will be one of 3 posts that have been shot by my Iphone due to my doggie destroying my camera. My new camera came in the mail this week, so I can't wait to test it out!

The other week the bf and my younger cousin were craving Vietnamese food and decided to try out a new place called Big Saigon. It's located on Rockville Pike across the street from Wintergreen Plaza . The closest metro stop is Rockville on the Red line, and there are some free parking spaces around the restaurant.

It is actually really nice and new on the inside. I remember seeing a sign for their grand opening around December 2008. There are a good number of individual tables with linens and place mats which makes it look classier.

There are large plants scattered around and the mirrors on the wall makes the place appear larger. There weren't many people in there at the time so it was really quiet but I'm assuming its because no one knows this place is there.

I ALWAYS order a Vietnamese Iced Coffee with Condensed Milk when I eat pho. The caffeine helps counter act the food coma =) I got this drink for $2.50. Usually a coffee dripper is brought to you so you can pour it over the ice yourself, however this place does all of that for you before it reaches your table.

I was in the mood for pho, so I ordered a large bowl of #A9, which is slices of raw meat for $6.99. Unfortunately they only offer one size, which is large. I was really full afterwards, but I was able to finish it. It was good pho, clean tasting broth...maybe too clean for my taste. I like a lot of flavor.

One time I ate 1/2 my bowl of pho without putting in the basil and lime and it was definitely missing the right flavor. These are essential ingredients to make your pho taste good!

Boys will be boys and order a lot of food. On top of their large bowls of pho they ordered the '#24- Rice Vermicelli with Charcoal Lemon Chicken' for $7.99. The chicken was very juicy, tender and flavorful. A little greasy for my taste, but the boys loved it.

The restaurant was average to me. I almost wished we all ordered something different to get a full range of their menu. It's difficult for a Vietnamese restaurant that serves more than just pho to make it taste right because that isn't their only focus.
What is nice is they have a very large menu with around 100 items all priced under $12.95. Beat that! They also offer pre-fixed menus for large groups, and a weekly lunch special. They are also opened 2 hrs later than all of the pho places I know in Rockville, so its helpful late at night when you want something quick.
It's a new space, and the server was SUPER nice, helpful and friendly. That is rare to see at the Vietnamese restaurants because it's usually all about speed.
Even though the place wasn't crowded, there were a good number of people that came in for carry out orders. It's located 2 stores down from a well established Vietnamese restaurant called Ba Le, so competition might be rough. I hope they do well.

838 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20850

Open 7 days a week: 11am-10pm

Big Saigon on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ketchup - National Harbor, MD

For my friend Stray Cat's birthday, around 18 of us went to Ketchup in the National Harbor to celebrate. The National Harbor is a new development with restaurants, shops, hotels, etc, and is located around Oxen Hill, MD right on the water. It's really beautiful to see as you're driving on I-495 towards it.
There is street meter parking as well as a large parking garage.
The outside of the place looks really trendy, and so is the inside.

Here is the entrance, and to your left is the bar and the cool waiting area on the right.

The bar is super cool because it's lit up red! The decor is mostly red, black, white and silver.

The interior has a graphic novel/Andy Warhol kind-of feel with the colors and the splotches of 'ketchup' on the floor and walls and the face.

This was the section that we took over!

The menu is a twist on American classics with their signature item being their ketchup. As an appetizer we ordered their 'Threesome - Garlic Parmesan, sweet potato and old bay fries, served with all five ketchups for $8. They were really good, and dipping them into the unique ketchups was really cool because it created new flavors.

Ketchup flavors from the left to the right are: Maple Syrup, Ranch, Regular, Raspberry, and Chipotle.
Ranch seemed to be the least popular at our table, with Chipotle being the favorite. I actually liked dipping the sweet potato fries into the maple syrup one, mmmmm.

My friend Bat ordered the 'Chicken Wings - tossed in buffalo sauce and served with blue cheese dressing' for $12. He ate the entire thing and said they were good.

I was trying to take pictures of my friends' food that were sitting around me so you guys could get a better feel for the dishes they offer even if I didn't get a chance to taste them.

My buddy Punisher ordered the 'Filet- Flame grilled, Parmesan cheese butter, wild brandy mushrooms and cheddar mashed potatoes' for $24. He said he it wasn't bad, however the portion was small.

Stray Cat's gf ordered the ' American Comfort - Rich tomato soup with grilled cheese, fried green tomato and jalapeno bacon sliders' for $12.
She said the food was really good, however the portion size was a too small.

My friend Marley ordered the 'Over Stuffed Lasagna- Pasta stuffed and rolled with four cheeses and fresh spinach, tomato basil marinara sauce and Parmesan crisps' for $16. Sorry the pic is blurry but he was kind of far away. Anyway, I over heard him say "this is lasagna?" so just for future reference if you order the lasagna, you get this.

I was trying to be healthy and order a salad, but that was a bad idea. I ordered the 'Apple Walnut salad- Baby spinach, apples, dry cranberries, walnuts and goat cheese with raspberry walnut vinaigrette' for $14. I thought for $14 it'd be huge, like salads from The Cheesecake Factory, but sadly it wasn't. It was actually quite small, and either didn't have enough dressing or something, but it wasn't special or worth $14 at all. Sorry.

All desserts cost $8, and my friend next to me got the some sort of Mud Pie thing (can't find the dessert menu online and I don't remember the name). He said it was good but rich.

I got the Banana Nut Bread Pudding with Rum Raisin Ice Cream, and the ice cream tasted like straight rum. It was so strong that no one at the table wanted to eat it.

I wanted to love the place since it just opened and had a cool concept, but the portions were overpriced , and the food wasn't anything memorable. The service was very impressive though, and the manager came to help us a lot with our wine selections, etc. Our server was a really nice and helpful girl, so that made the night fun and easy-going. I would recommend coming here to try the fries since the ketchup is something special. They also offer a lunch and breakfast menu, and the items are cheaper, so that would be a better time to try their cuisine.

152 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, MD 20745
(301) 749-7099

Ketchup on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 5, 2009

Camera + Puppy = BAD

Just wanted to share some news about my beloved Canon has been crushed by my doggie. I've been using it to take all the pics for this blog, and unfortunately this crazy (yet lovable) pup hopped onto the kitchen counter and turned it into a new chew toy. Look at those teeth!

She's been destroying my house, so its off to obedience classes next week!

The bf has been sweet enough to buy me a replacement camera off of Amazon last night, so I can continue have pics for y'alls enjoyment and mine.

She's so cute, I can't be mad at her for long, but geeez...haha.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Disney World Recap

Hi Everyone! I got back from Disney World last week and felt like I needed a vacation to recover! 5 days of waking up at 7:30am, sleeping at 12:30am, and walking all day in either the hot sun or during a thunderstorm can tire a girl out. I had a great time with the bf's family, testing out the rides, and of course, EATING.

Our group of 8 (which included a 6 year old and 3 year old) stayed at Disney's Port Orleans - Riverside. It was much less 'cartoony' and had beautiful vegetation and water everywhere. It was very peaceful and didn't even feel like we were at a Disney resort at all. The free shuttles to the parks took about 15 minutes from the resort.

The main lobby had a cafeteria, which is where we ate if we weren't at a park. They served items like pizza, burgers, ice cream, cakes, chicken strips, pasta, fries, etc. They also offered waffles, pancakes, bacon, etc for breakfast. One night I had one of their apple pies a la mode, and it was so good. It stays opened until midnight everyday.

On our 1st full day we went to the Magic Kingdom. This was the park the kids loved the best. It is the most classic park with mostly kid-friendly rides. They had the most beautiful fire works show and light parade at night.

For lunch we went to Starlight Cafe in Tomorrow Land (looks more like 1980's land but that's ok, haha) and ate hot dogs, fries, and burgers. The cafe has 3 different 'Bays' (sections) for you to purchase certain foods. For example, Sandwiches at Bay 3, Burgers at Bay 1, etc. The hot dogs are actually really good after using their toppings bar.

For dinner we stopped by Casey's, which is a baseball themed eatery. It was raining cats and dogs so we were in there for a while eating hot dogs, corn dog nuggets, fries, and drinking sodas. They have mini bleachers to sit on and eat instead of tables. The corn dog nuggets were really addictive.

Next day was a trip to Animal Kingdom! It is the newest Disney park and is really quite stunning. My favorite ride was where you're inside a truck and are driving past all of the animals while on Safari. Oh yeah, and the Everest Mountain roller coaster was really cool with the Yeti theme.

For lunch the bf's bro got us food (sorry don't know where from, but I think it's Flame Tree BBQ). Anyway, it was in the Mickey's Campground section of the park. It was really delicious and it wasn't just hot dogs and burgers this time! We had orzo pasta, mac & cheese, rotisserie chicken and green beans with a brownie for dessert.

The day after that we went to Epcot, which happens to be my favorite park. There's a beautiful lake in the middle and really nice recreations of different countries. Throughout the day there are street shows for each of the countries like Chinese Acrobats, Japanese drummers or Belly dancers in Morocco.

For lunch we ate at Yakitori House in Japan. It was quite refreshing to eat something other than ball park food for every meal. I ordered the Japanese Curry, which was spicy and delicious.

I bought some treats in Epcot too. I got these Cola flavored hard candies that fizzle in your mouth in Japan, and Maple Syrup flavored chocolate in Canada.

I'm such a glutton while on vacation. Right before dinner the bf and I got 3 scoops of gelato in Italy, and funnel cake and fried ice cream in the US. It was all really good and well worth the money!

For dinner we ate at a real restaurant in China called Nine Dragons. It was to celebrate the bf's June birthday and his dad's May birthday. The restaurant was the most expensive out of all of the places we've eaten during the whole trip. It was like $17-25 per entree, where as all the other places were under $10 per item. The food was good, and they brought out some Ginger Cake with candles for their birthdays.

Our last day we went to Hollywood Studios. I think this used to be called MGM Studios. It had my ultimate favorite ride there- Tower of Terror! It is also the smallest of the parks, but they had fun rides and lots of shows to watch.

For lunch we bought some pulled pork sandwiches, pizza and chicken ceasar salad. The pulled pork was awesome and it was right across from the Beauty and the Beast show.

I got a lot of snacks here too including the best popcorn I've ever had! Probably because it was covered in butter. Then I shared a Fanta slurpee in Banana with the bf.

On one of the rainy nights we took a ferry over to Downtown Disney to check it out. It was really beautiful from the water with all of the colorful lights on the shops. They have a ton of restaurants, stores and some bars. We didn't really get to enjoy it that much since it was thunder storming, but it was fun while we were there.

My favorite store was the candy store where I had the option of personalizing a rice crispy treat! It was a Mickey head on a stick, dipped in white chocolate and covered in Oreo pieces. Heavenly!

Disney World was a good time despite the weather. Food was expensive, but that's expected. The lines for certain rides were around an hour long, but they have a Fast Pass where you retrieve a ticket that tells you when to come back and hop into a special line. It prevents you from wasting time in line. Great idea!
There is food tempting you everywhere with smells, pictures, and just seeing everyone else eating. It's hard to get away from, so I didn't and enjoyed myself!