Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited to The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner to participate in their Stay, Play and Write campaign. My mom and her girlfriends were already planning a trip to Tysons Corner Galleria to do some holiday shopping - so I figured it'd be the perfect time to coordinate with them and have a girls getaway. My mom and her friends arrived from Richmond early to get their shop on, so I wasn't surprised when she called to tell me that they had already checked into the room. I was surprised, however, when she said that we had THE RITZ-CARLTON SUITE... like... all 1800+ square feet!
All I could think is that I might be sleeping in the same bed that Harry Styles
The suite greeted us with double doors, a foyer, three bathrooms, king bed, formal dining room with seating for 8, kitchen, and a spacious living room with fireplace. Also -- the suite offers club access to the concierge lounge with 5 food and beverage presentations each day.
I was treated to a seat at the last class in the Fall Epicurean Series on Saturday with the Executive Pastry Chef, Fred. I posted this before, but each Saturday in October, The Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner offered opportunities to cook with their team. I actually ran into a nice lady at the cooking lesson who said she was there because she read it on my blog... pretty cool! If they start this series up again in the future, I'll be sure to post the schedule. For now, you can check their calendar of events
for more happenings.
Anyways, the class was 3-4:30... and I probably would have a lot more to say, but they paired three of the four desserts with cocktails in those 90 minutes and I was just happy I didn't fall off of my bar stool. Chef Fred was pretty amazing and he made everything look SO easy. I am inspired enough to try to make creme brulee at home - his tip was to go straight to home depot and get a blow torch. I think I can handle that! Check out the sweet potato bread pudding, milk chocolate and caramel rounds, sweet potato pie, and pumpkin spice creme brulee:
Aside from enjoying the complimentary food and beverages in the club lounge, we also dined in ENTYSE Wine Bar & Bistro. Since there were 5 of us, we went ahead and made a reservation for 8pm. Good thing we did because it got packed. There was an awesome Latin trio performing - and I've been told that it's one of the only upscale places in the area with live music on the weekends.
For dinner, everyone in our party ordered surf and turf or the filet... you can't go wrong with either option. For breakfast at ENTYSE Bistro on Sunday morning, I had their famous eggs benedict with jumbo lump crab cakes. It was supposed to be a "shopping weekend" in Tysons... but I think we did way more dining then shopping.
The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway - so close to home, but so far removed from the busy hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia.
I was provided with a complimentary stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Pisco Sour: Pisco, lime, and egg whites.
Saturday night we made plans to have a dinner date at Don Churro Cafe in Chantilly
. I had heard really great things about this little Peruvian/Ecuadorian/Bolivian-inspired spot, so I was thrilled when the Don Churro team invited me out to sample the menu.
When I think of food from Latin-American countries, I automatically assume that everything will be covered in enchilada sauce and cheese - served with a dish of sour cream, pico de gallo, and guac on the side... was I ever wrong. I didn't actually order anything off of the menu because I wasn't sure what to try first. I let the chef send out some items that best represented the menu. Good thing I did, because I doubt that I would have tried any of the items outside of my comfort zone. Check out some of our dishes in the pictures below.
There is obviously a reason this family-run restaurant was named 2013 Diner's Choice by OpenTable.com
- the food was outstanding and the presentation was beautiful. And the drinks... YUM. Definitely go for the Pisco Sour and let your mouth be happy.
Ceviche de Pescado Preuano: white fish marinated in lime juice. served with sweet potato, corn and red onions.
Empanada Chilena: filled with seasoned ground beef mixed with olives, raisins, onions, and eggs.
Causa de Pollo: Peruvian appetizers made with layers of mashed potatoes mixed with aji amarillo, chicken mixed with mayo, and avacado.
Silpancho: Breaded steak served over white rice and french fries with two eggs over easy. Topped with fresh diced onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos.
Maracuya Sour: perfect blend of Pisco, passion fruit and egg whites.
Churros Rellenos: Churros filled with Dulce de Leche.
*Thank you to the Don Churro team for inviting me out for a complimentary sampling of the menu!
The 38th Annual Virginia Wine Festival
returns to Great Meadow Event Center in The Plains, Virginia September 14th and 15th. The Commonwealth's original celebration of Virginia wine, the Virginia Wine Festival will feature more than 50 Virginia wineries and offer free wine tastings and educational viticulture seminars to festival-goers during the two-day event. The Virginia Wine Festival will also play host to a variety of local musical talents and vendors, allowing guests the opportunity to experience a little of everything Virginia has to offer.
Confirmed wineries for the 2013 Virginia Wine Festival include: Barboursville Vineyards, Davis Valley Winery, Old House Vineyards, Potomac Point Vineyard & Winery, Veritas Vineyard & Winery, the Williamsburg Winery
Festival musicians include: Inner Rhythm Quartet, Johnny and the Headhunters, Glory on the Floor and Jr. Cline and the Recliners.
A van shuttle to and from the Vienna Metro stop is also available to guests coming from across the Washington, DC metro area. This and food pairing options are accessible to all festival guests through the variety of ticket options.
Tickets for the Virginia Wine Festival are on sale now at virginiawinefest.com
or by calling 888-VA-FESTS. For more information about the Virginia Wine Festival, including a schedule of events and full list of participating wineries, visit virginiawinefest.com
1. Enjoy a Brewery Beer Tasting: Capitol City Brewing Company
, Mad Fox Brewing Company
, Sweetwater Tavern
, Dogfish Head Alehouse
, Lost Rhino Brewery
, Gordon Biersch
2. A macho guy's dream date: Blue Ridge Arsenal
followed by a steakhouse with Guinness on tap.
3. Grab charcuterie/cheeses to go from Red Apron Butcher
and relax in Strawberry Park
while watching the Epic Mosaic concert of the week
– you could even cap it off with a unique movie experience in Angelika
4. Split the mussels and an entree at Cock & Bowl
& try a new Belgian beer. Then have a Belgian waffle for dessert.
5. Let him be a pilot for a day and arrange a flight lesson at Freeway Aviation
. Pack a picnic to share afterwards. (We did this for Father’s Day – it was awesome!)
6. Monuments by Moonlight Tour
7. From Old Town Alexandria, take a boat ride across the river to catch a Nationals Game.
8. Walk through Clifton and read the historical markers along Main St. Have dinner at the Clifton General Store
followed by drinks at Trummer’s on Main
9. Dinner at J&G Steakhouse
at the W Hotel in DC followed by dancing and drinks at the rooftop POV Lounge and Terrace
10. Join the weekly New Balance run together
on Thursday night or hike Great Falls National Park
11. Taste and tour the first legal distillery in Loudoun County since before Prohibition: Catocin Creek Distillers
12. Get your swing on at Top Golf
13. Comedy club and then Czech pilsner and sandwiches at Lost Dog in McLean
14. Dinner at Iron Bridge Wine Company
in Old Town Warrenton. Afterwards, walk over to Molly's Irish Pub
for beer and listen to the band play. And then walk down to Claire's at the Depot
for coffee and dessert.
15. Visit Old Town Alexandria for a walk along the river followed by cocktails at Chart House
16. Arlington Drafthouse
for dinner, drinks, and a movie.
17. Adult Go Karting
– no kids allowed!
18. Take a short trip over to Shepherdstown, WV. Stay the night and have dinner at the Bavarian Inn
where the meals are hearty and the wine and beer list robust!
19. Dinner at District Chophouse and Brewery
...then a midnight tour at the Crime and Punishment Museum
in DC. The best way to experience a museum with your date: handcuffs!
20. Metro down to the Verizon Center to catch a sports game. Afterwards, take a quiet walk to either Fogo de Chao
21. Take a trip over to The Organic Butcher
in McLean and then prepare a meal at home together.
22. Pack a picnic and walking shoes, and head to the base of Reagan National Airport to Gravelly Point Park
. Lay on a blanket by the Potomac River and watch the planes take off/land right above you.
23. Atlas Arcade in DC
: Old school arcade games, 80s music and movies playing, and a bar.
24. One word: Chima
25. Nosh on the Fried Chicken while enjoying the art and poetry at Busboys and Poets
26. Hop on his motorcycle and take a ride through the countryside to Middleburg, VA. Enjoy drinks outside at the Red Horse Tavern
or a fancy meal at Red Fox Inn
27. Cozy up at the Illy Espresso Bar
or at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. Or, stop by on Thursdays for the fresh sushi bar at Entyse Wine Bar and Lounge
28. Take a CulinAerie
cooking class together.
29. If he’s the outdoor type, surprise him with a daytrip to Bass Pro Shop
in Ashland, VA. Have lunch at Islamorada Fishing Company
. For dessert, enjoy a treat from the fudge shop.
30. Go fishing at Riverbend Park
. You can rent a fishing pole and a row boat right at the park. All you have to do is show up!This list was compiled with the help of some of my lovely readers. If you have a date night idea for him that's not on this list, please share in the comments below!
We woke up early Saturday morning and headed out to Mosaic District
to check out the boutiques, noshables, and specialty stores that I've been seeing all over my news feed. I had a Visa gift card to spend (compliments of Mosaic) - and I'm giving away a $100 gift card so that you can #DiscoverMosaic
I was ready to get my shop on, but upon pulling into the parking garage, I caught a glimpse of a Jumbotron on the side of the Angelika Film Center
playing Scooby Doo cartoons. B, my four year old, immediately insisted that we go check it out - and I agreed. There were families planted in Strawberry Park laid out with blankets, picnic breakfasts and coffee while the kids ran through the fountain/sprayground area. Each Saturday morning at 9:00am, Mosaic District hosts this fabulous kid and family-friend event: Cartoons and Coffee
. I happily put my shopping trip on the back burner for B & Scooby.
My first stop after Cartoons and Coffee was to Alex and Ani
. I had heard great things about this store from my friend, Jenn, who had been desperately awaiting their opening at Mosaic District earlier this year. Once inside, I loved the vibe and fell in love with their stackable bracelets! Think charm bracelets, but instead of adding beads to a single bracelet, you can stack bracelets that have cute (or meaningful) charms, colors, birthstones, symbols, etc. To top it off, Alex and Ani is an eco-friendly company with their products made in the USA. Alex and Ani
Next stop was Ah Love Oil and Vinegar
. The Italian in me could hardly wait until 11am for their doors to open.
Two perfectly aligned rows of polished metal dispensers filled with specialty oilve oils and vinegars lined the entire length of the store. After sampling the selection, two of my favorites were the oils infused with Bacon and then a hot hot hot habanero. In addition to their namesake, they also carry pastas, cook books, and even a line of olive oil-based skin care products that smoothly glazed my hands. Ah Love Oil and Vinegar
B had been such a sweet helper at the first two stops (he even sampled the Habanero olive oil!) that when we walked past Dawn Price Baby
, there was no way I could say "no". Everything inside the store looked like it could be made into a board on Pinterest
. If I had a daughter, this store would bankrupt me with theirTea Collection
summer dresses. They carry everything you need for kids - from strollers to name blocks. This will be my new go-to spot for baby shower gifts. We may have grown out of the baby stages - but toys are always a hit! B picked up a fancy airplane to carry around for the next 2 hours. Dawn Price Baby
You may know that I have a fancy for South Moon Under
. I've worked with them on a few events
in the past and absolutely love their summer beach style. At the last event
, I was so busy playing host that I only had a few minutes at the end to shop. With B and his new airplane to keep him busy, I had a chance to check out their shoes (boots for the fall are now coming out) and chat with the store manager, Marie, about the new fall arrivals and trends. Marie also shared that she's just recently started ablog about bikini fashion
- perfectly fitting for her! South Moon Under
Our last stop was lunch. With lots of options, I chose our destination after spotting one familiar word on some marketing collateral beyond the glass window: HOAGIE. I'm from Central Pennsylvania where hoagies run wild - and it's rare to see an eatery "down here" with a hoagie on the menu. Our lunch at Taylor Gourmet
was fresh, minimally processed, and worth every calorie.
Afterwards, we zipped around the corner for some artisanal Italian gelato at Dolcezza
. We both picked out Lemon Ricotta Cardamom and people-watched while customers in the store actually spoke Italian. Buono!
| Twitter Taylor Gourmet
If you want a chance to #DiscoverMosaic - Enter below to win a $100 Visa Gift Card!
About Mosaic District: Mosaic is elevating the community experience to a new standard by creating a vibrant,sophisticated environment that connects families and friends together. The unique experience is created through a hand-selected mix of retailers & restaurants, intelligent urban-design and our passion for enabling authentic community engagement.
Mosaic brings all of these together to create Washington DC’s most innovative retail & entertainment community.
**Giveaway sponsored by Mosaic Distrcit. I was compensated with a Visa Gift Card for this promotion. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
On July 4th, I woke up at 9:15am and went in and asked B if he wanted to go to a parade. Little did he know that by saying "yes" he would be rushed into the car and would be eating his Lucky Charms from a red solo cup with a plastic spoon on the short ride into Old Town Fairfax.
Parking was easy and by 9:40 we were walking through the closed-down streets trying to find the perfect spot to watch from. Luckily for us, I heard someone calling my name and my good friend Micaela
had staked out some prime seating right in a shady area under a tree. SCORE! We didn't plan it at all - but sometimes it's funny how things just work out perfectly :) Her boys are close to B's age and they all sat together while the adults stood behind and watched.
I was truly surprised how legit the parade actually was - floats and all. It was the first time I've stayed in town for Independence Day rather than heading south to my parents' house -- could be a new family tradition!
After scoring a pretty good deal through Certifikid
, my neighbor and I took our kids to check out Atlantis Waterpark
and see what all the fuss was about. I couldn't believe that I live SO close and had never been before. The kids absolutely loved it. I felt very comfortable (aka safe) letting B play in the sprayground area and kids pool. He was not tall enough to ride the large slides (I think 48inches) - maybe next year.
When we got in the large activity pool -- the lifeguard immediately asked me to put a life jacket on B. They offer life jackets to everyone who enters and they don't mess around -- for good reason. Within an hour of being there, the life guards had to pull two kids from the pool who had snuck out of the spray ground and into the large activity pool. On a positive note, there are several smaller slides in the activity pools that kids can play on if they don't meet the height requirement for the large water slides.
I would definitely go back. There is a snack bar, sand play area fenced in with the baby pool, picnic tables, and tons of great shade! Note: It gets very busy - not a place for mommy to bring a magazine while the kids play. Insider tip: Visit after 4pm any weekday (non-holiday) for $5 per person!
For more information, visit http://www.atlantisbullrun.com/.
Enjoying a glass of Barboursville Reisling at the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival.
We spent our time at a picnic table next to the moon bounce and sipped while B jumped endlessly. Quite a perfect Sunday afternoon!
Saturday June 1st and Sunday June 2nd, 2013 is the 32nd Vintage Virginia, featuring the Commonwealth’s best wine, food and music each year during a fun-filled festival at Bull Run Park Special Events Center.
This year’s Vintage promises to be the best in decades, with an emphasis on Virginian cuisine, showcased by free daily cooking demonstrations by TOP CHEFS
from across the country! Additionally, a line-up of nearly two dozen of the Washington, DC-area’s favorite FOOD TRUCKS
will be on hand, making for a perfectly balanced weekend of wine, food, friends and music. Vintage Virginia 2013 - The Best Vintage Yet! Buy tickets online now or enter to win TWO tickets below!
Check out our pics from last year's event