Kiwi Cafe

Wait. Obligatory “how is already October” moment.  Ok. Thanks for that.  The best part about living in the DC area is that there are PLENTY of international restaurants from countries that are slightly under-appreciated on the foodie scene.  In Arlington, there is a New Zealand restaurant called Cassat’s, the Kiwi Cafe.  That means and authentic Flat White!  I don’t care what Starbucks says, that is not a flat white. We also got to try a Pavlova for the first time.  It is so light and airy and delectable and definitely worth the wait!  The rest of the food we got (breakfast) was pretty run of the mill, but perhaps dinner in the future will be nice!


Duck Donuts

Y’all, an OBX favorite has landed right on my door step.  That is correct, Duck Donuts is now in Fairfax.  I can’t even.  Ok, so Duck Donuts has actually been in the area for a while, just not in a location that is particularly convenient to me.  Now that it is not more than 10 minutes away from the house, we find ourselves there ALL THE TIME.  Also, I keep finding a dozen lying around the office since some coworkers have also discovered its deliciousness and its proximity. All donuts are made to order.  So you don’t really run out. It’s all the same base and you choose the glaze and the topping.  Basically, you can always get your favorite donut.  One really yucky morning, this maple glaze and bacon bit donut REALLY hit the spot.

The other glaze flavors area also bomb dot come.  My favorite is the orange, plain, and the lemon with coconut shavings.  The BF enjoys just plain, regular glaze, and cinnamon sugar.  Literally so good when you pop them in the microwave.  It tastes like it just came out of the fryer!

Disney Conference

Towards the end of July, I attended a convention for my Pharmacy Fraternity.  I have been to two other ones before, but this one was particularly exhausting.  This was my first convention serving on Grand Council, so I was busy running around all crazy and making sure the entire convention ran smoothly.  If there ever were a time I needed sedatives, it would be at convention.  Spoiler alert: I was re-elected to serve on Grand Council once again.  It was great fun seeing collegiate members from all over the country, so all the stress and work was well worth it.  Just wanted to share some snaps from my trip: After a rather painful flight and another painful two hours waiting for some other council members to arrive so we can share a cab, this little set up from our host hotel was pretty fantastic: wine and all my favorite little snacks
We went out to dinner at Portabello’s in Downtown Disney.  On the way there, we ran into some Alumni and Past Presidents.  It’s always good to see some familiar faces when you’re out and about and exploring.     Before our kick-off session, I had to get myself some sparkly Mouse Ears.  Of course I had to be known as the fun council member!  We were in Disney, after all!We had a fantastic view from of Downtown Disney from our hotel, the Buena Vista Palace, but I just wish there was not so much construction going on. High hopes…
  When you gather a bunch of pharmacists and student pharmacists together…the Mortar and Pestles are plenty.  Hence, the namesake of this blog. We had an AMAZING talk from T.J. Sullivan about managing the middle and motivating people in your organizations.  What can you say? I’m a top-third.  I even have a monogrammed binder to prove it.  He’s actually an amazing campus speaker.
  We also hosted a dessert social at Epcot and to watch fireworks.  This is actually the first time I had ever been to Epcot.  My family are more Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios types.   Just taking in the sights at the “Italy” portion of Epcot. This is definitely the adult-friendly portion of Disney and as an adult, I am ever so thankful!
I stopped into a little shop to get a lovely glass of peach prosecco–it was so delicious and I am kicking myself for not bringing it home!     Grand Illumination at Epcot was a pretty unique experience.  Getting a patio all to ourselves in front of the fireworks was pretty cute and we had tons of desserts including Mickey-shaped rice crispies that I may or may not have stuffed into my purse.
    Yes. Mickey everything.  I loved the guy walking around handing out the Mickey ice cream bars.  I am actually a huge fan of all the things they can turn into Mickey.
The banquet is always one of my favorite things about our convention.  Also, because the banquet dinner is always banging.   As you an tell, I literally ate half my food before I could remember to take a picture. Absolutely exhausted, but the end of the banquet means the end of convention.  Pinned with a boutonniere to symbolize new Grand Council member, and ready to go to bed!  It sure didn’t seem like I was there for a week, but man was I ready to go home by the end of this!
 Just kidding, we headed back to Downtown Disney for one more goodbye treat: a Ghiradelli fudge brownie sundae.  Absolutely worth all the hype.

I hope you enjoyed my snaps! I feel like I’ve been to Disney like a million times in the past year, but really it was just twice.  I hope that, soon, I can finally go and enjoy the parks rather than staying in a meeting room.  Of course, the BF is down for Disney any time!

New York Minute 

Oh Hai, remember that time I went to New York for 4th of July weekend and never showed y’all the pictures? Yes.  I finally get to share these snaps with you.  By get, I mean I finally got off my lazy bum to load the pictures and caption them.  Warning: TONS OF EATING ahead.  When I go on any trip with my sister, you can get that it will be chock-full-of-eating. 

We arrived around 3pm on July 3rd and our hotel was ALLLLL location.  Yes, we stayed right in the middle of Time Square at the DoubleTree.   Funny story…ran into one of my Pharmacy School friends here, as she and her family were also staying here.

Let me tell you something about DoubleTree Hotels.  They give you warm yummy cookies before you even finish checking in.  Kevin and I once went to a wedding in Maryland and stayed a DoubleTree and it was basically the best experience of our lives.  We will only be staying in DoubleTrees from now on, for this reason.   Let me tell you something else about New York.  Everything is really freakin tall.  New York has got this vertical stacking thing down pat.  We were on like, the 23rd floor, and had an amazing view.
Our first stop was the most-talked-about stop.  Ippudo Westside is classic New York Ramen.  Even though we couldn’t go to Momofuku, this was an excellent choice for our first dinner in town.  PS check out my *flawless* make up.   SPICY PORK BUNS! These are the classic appetizer to Ramen.  And they were as delectable as ever.I got, what I *think* is a Karaka-men.  Unfortunately, Ippudo does not allow you to switch up the noodles.  I am a thick-and-curly ramen girl, and I had to settle for these thin straight noodles. Pro Tip: ALWAYS GET PORK BELLY. We had a little time to stop by the M&Ms store, as it was right next to the hotel.  That place is WAY too much stimulation with the people and the colors.  But these little organized pots of M&Ms calmed me right back down.
When we got back to the hotel, we finally got to dive into these AMAZING cream puffs.  We had passed it walking to dinner, however I told my sister this was her chance to get them.  Lemme tell you….SO WORTH THE CALORIES.  These were from Bibble & Sip, known for their Green Tea cream puffs.  Unfortunately they were out, but we forgot all about them once we bit into the the Chocolate cream puff.  I mean, WOW.   We meandered our way back through Times Square to find where our theater was located.  Then we passed Guy’s American.  This place smells like what I think Guy Fieri’s sweat would smell like.  Burgers and steak.
We found the theater SUPER quick, and right around the corner from it was Junior’s Cheesecake.  As one Yelper said, “it’s like a dope cloud in my mouth”.  I could not find a more accurate description of this place.   When they say World’s Best Cheesecake, they are being humble. Sooo we scarfed down the cheesecake much sooner than we had expected.  We popped into the Toys R Us store.  Surprisingly, not as over-stimulating as the M&Ms store.  Although very impressed that there is a functioning Ferris Wheel in this joint.  Not pictured: the Peeps section of the store.  IN LOVE FOREVER.
Alright… show time, and we are seeing Matilda!  We did plan on seeing other shows, however we had a kid with us and this was wildly appropriate.   OMG Let me tell you about this show!!  The set design was absolutely fantastic.  They made use of every inch of the stage and the songs were catchy.  It was a great experience!
Well, good night New York, and goodnight to these dudes checking out these fancy cars outside of the gentlemen’s club outside of our hotel.  Oh yeah, there was a gentlemen’s club next door to the Double Tree.   GOOD MORNING NEW YORK!  It’s absolutely no surprise our first stop in the morning is Dominique Ansel’s Bakery for a Cronut–and holy jeez it was worth all the hype.   Downside: they only had the flavor of the month available, which was banana.  Bright side: it didn’t even freaking matter, it was delicious.  Best Parts: the deep-friedness, the layers, the custard. Basically, everything.
And how adorable are these additional pastries!   Laduree in SoHo was next, of course.  You can’t go to NYC without going to Laduree!   Next places we trekked to are China Town and Little Italy, not pictured.
We followed the lovely scents of the Fresh store to escape that odd “city” smell that New York is known for.  Bestill my apothecary heart, this little custom scent bar is darling.   The guy in the Fresh store is judging me hard.  My sister and I geeked out over this sink because it was exactly like the one we had in our elementary school.  Theres a little lever you step on at the bottom and it kinda comes out in this weird flowing fountain.
In my quest to find the ELF Studio store, we ran into Eataly, and I had to see what it was all about!   I read about it before and have just been overwhelmed by the rave reviews.  It’s kinda like a really clean market and all Italian food. The. Nutella. Bar. is all I have to say.
I was really more here for the cannolis and the espresso.  It was a delightful afternoon snack.   After a little afternoon nap and hiding from a rain shower, we cabbed it back down to China Town for Joe’s Shanghai soup dumplings. OMG they are amazing!  My sister has been talking about this for years and now I finally get to have this little burst of heaven in my mouth.

Dinner before fireworks was in the Williamsburg area.  Traif is was bomb dot com.  We did the tasting menu, so the chef just brought out whatever he damn near felt like.  Everything complemented each other and the desserts completed our meal perfectly. 

Being the good Catholics that we are, we went to mass Sunday morning knowing full well that we were not going to make it home in time for the evening mass.  I heard about St. Patrick’s Cathedral in so many movies and shows (It Takes Two, Ugly Betty, etc) and the church really is a magnificent building in the heart of Manhattan.

Breakfast was at Bouchon, the bakery that is always in the back drop of the Today Show.  We missed the live broadcast, as it wraps up pretty early on Sunday mornings.   

We then got in some last minute shopping at this enormous H&M.  Did you know they have housewares??? Everything is so adorable and I am so mad they don’t sell it in their normal stores!

Our little buddy loves Legos, so why would we not stop in the Lego store? They had a mini Lego version of all things New York, and especially every huge landmark in Rockefeller.   

Will never tire of seeing iconic New York symbols.  Something about Rockefeller just draws me.  Could be the Today Show and my odd obsession with everything NBC.  Or the Christmas Tree.

Last spontaneous stop was the Magnolia Bakery, where it is rumored that all this cupcake craze has started.  Tastes like it too.

I am still trying to work off the savory foods and the sweet treats we had in New York.  I can’t wait for our next adventure!

Barrel and Bushel

 K and I love trying out new foods.  Just kidding, I love eating at new places, and I love dragging him along and calming him down when he gets angry about having to break out of his normal routine.  This is exactly what happened when we went to try Bushel and Barrel.  As you’ll see, his mind changed as soon as the food came out.  Their standard “rolls” are cheesy biscuits.  Like Red Lobster, but better!
Our appetizer included the same biscuits with some fried chicken and buttered pickles.  I usually hate pickles but they were so delicious.  Chick fil who?    I was in a light mood, so I ordered cheesy tater tots and a crab soup.  I didn’t quite realize that the tater tots would be drenched in the queso-like sauce.
I expected my soup to be a cream-based soup a la chowder, however seeing it as a broth soup was such a pleasant surprise.  It had a hint of Old Bay in it and the crustini just topped it off.  It was actually a huge portion as well!

We personally really enjoyed our experience.  My sister and cousins went on separate occasions, and said that the service stunk.  Hopefully this place gets an attitude adjustment before their rating starts to plummet.  Oh mighty Yelp, the power we hold.

Ramen Town

So huge news broke in DC last week. Like people went crazy. Chef David Chang is opening one of his restuarants, Momofuku, in DC. People are losing their minds.  Me? I am just excited there is a real possibility of another real Ramen House opening in town. In the mean time, I am enjoying the delicious broths of Sakuramen in Adam’s Morgan and Tanpopo in Annandale.

I first discovered the wonders and genius of David Chang on Season 1 of Mind of a Chef. It is all sorts of weird and unique ideologies of cooking. He’s known for making tradition untraditional.  I can’t wait to sit in an extraordinarily long queue when this place opens! 

Meet Peet


I take my coffee habit very seriously. Before Advocare, I was a solid barista crafted coffee cup kinda girl.  I was also a Caribou> Starbucks believer.  In March, I was fraught with disappointment when I learned that Caribou was bought out and were closing all its stores.  Farewell, my delicious-non-burnt coffee friends.

I was only slightly feeling better when I also learned that Peets, the company that bought out The Bou, was planning on opening in the former locations.  After a few short months of generic remodeling, my local Peet’s has finally opened and the taste test has occurred.



+1 for the Harry Potter-like font



The test: Caramel Macchiato and a delicious pastry (Apple Tart). The coffee is a midway taste between the burned taste of Starbucks and the Over-sugared taste of Caribou. The Apple Tart? HEAVEN on earth.  It is everything a pie should be, in mini form.

Con: no hot breakfast sandwiches. What is with these West-Coasters thinking they can change everything in DC?

Sisters Who Brunch

Very rarely do I get to have the weekend off.  Ah, life of a health care worker…Weekends are times when I get to spend with my sister and cousin.  This usually consists of me waking up at 7am (sleeping in) and jumping on their beds to ask what we are doing today.  They usually only get up if I entice them with brunch.  Lately, it’s been our thing to go out on Saturday mornings, as Sundays are strictly for mass with my parents.


Le Pain Quotedien in Tyson’s Corner



Cafe Deluxe in Tyson’s Corner



Joe’s Diner in Downtown Blacksburg



Cafe Deluxe (again…)



Matchbox in Mosaic District



Original Pancake House in Falls Church



Best Buns in Shirlington

Of course, no brunch is complete without some mimosas to sip on while enjoying what used to be tremendous weather outdoors. Cafe Delux and Matchbox have great outdoor seating and perfect for people watching.






Oh and this monster mimosa is from Artie’s

Pie Sisters

Move over, Georgetown Cupcake, there is a new family in town–and they’re better than you! Pie Sisters on the famous M Street is taking desserts to school.  No longer is there a battle of the cupcakes, pies are taking over!

Whether you want a whole pie, a pie slice, or itty bitty cupcake-sized pies, you’ll find a favorite here.  I first discovered Pie Sisters at a baby shower.  My sister, I believe, went to high school with one of the Pie Sisters, and boy am I sad they were not better friends.  I had a Smore’s pie, a Lemon Merengue, and a Pecan Pie from the shop and they were amazing.



Glad I found a spot to find perfect pies before Thanksgiving!

Ted’s Bulletin

I rarely venture into DC.  For someone who has lived in Fairfax County all her life, I loathe going into the city.  Something about the weird traffic patterns and the rude hustle and bustle throws me off about it.  Oh and the people who are obsessed with themselves because they live and work in DC–I’m talking to you, Emilie.

One day, work did bring me into DC and I really wanted to hang out with Emilie.  We were going to try out some Restaurant Week places until we heard that Ted’s Bulletin opened up near her apartment.  There are several other locations, but we REALLY wanted to check out the new one.

When you walk in, it is so 20’s theme-y that it is adorable.  There is a little bakery with all the treats you can imagine–especially their home made pop tarts!20130913-101126.jpg



We had called ahead, so we were seated rather quickly–lightning fast! At the envy of everyone who came in before us.  I kinda felt bad, but if you don’t know to call ahead for some places, you gotta learn now!



Reading a newspaper? Oh. No. No no no, dear that is the menu! How adorable! Yes that is the waitress laughing at me behind me. I see you. I am not ashamed.



They have a great selection of adult milkshakes, which my stomach unfortunately did not take well–but my tastebuds LOVED each drop. Get the dirty girl scout.  A boozie thin mint cookie. YUM!



They show old movies on their big screen and at little retro TVs at the counter.  I was lucky enough to walk in on Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  How perfect.




I ordered the seafood gumbo, which came with the most amazing piece of cornbread I had EVER had! And a side of mac and cheese–both were so amazing.  I really did have eyes bigger than my stomach because I was full after just a few bites.  They reheated well the next morning–worth it to bring home!



There’s always room for dessert, even if I had to bring it home.  The coconut poptart was amazing.  This was a summer seasonal one and cannot wait to try other flavors.  Fingers crossed for pumpkin!

Best part of the evening? Learning that one will open in Mosaic District.  I am STOKED!