Thursday, April 21, 2016

Jimmy John's $1 subs Nationwide - TODAY ONLY


Thursday, April 21
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Jimmy John's Sandwiches is thanking its fans by hosting a Nationwide Customer Appreciation Day.

For more about Jimmy John's check out our 2013 blog post here 

Offer applies to sandwiches #1 through #6, JJBLT and Slims only (see below)

$1 subs are limited to one per person at check out….BUT you can go through the line as many times as you want. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Seasons 52 - Columbia, Maryland

Seasons 52 prides itself on using farm-fresh food items that change each season. I was invited to Seasons 52 to sample some dishes from their new core spring menu, which debuted this week. Since I was able to bring a guest, I brought my mom.  I loved that the menu displayed the calories next to each dish. 

Seasons 52 has a unique ambience with dim lighting, wood paneled high ceilings, a piano placed inside a circular bar area, and a colossal water fountain at the entrance.  There are also giant trees with uplighting that created a natural and back-to-nature aesthetic that yet again emphasizes the theme.

Here's the menu of all the foods we sampled (most are new menu items for the spring but some are always on the menu)
Fresh fruit and vegetable display highlighting the seasonal menu choices (in the Napa room)

 The Napa room, one of the two private rooms (the other being the Sonoma room), can seat approximately 30 people - both rooms have a built in television screen.  There are no room rental fees for these rooms.   
Lobster and fresh mozzarella flatbread (left) and crispy prosciutto asparagus flatbread (right)
We were introduced to the new spring crispy prosciutto asparagus flatbread and the classic standard lobster and fresh mozzarella flatbread.  My favorite was the latter. While I liked camembert cheese, I wasn't crazy about the crispy prosciutto on the asparagus flatbread. However, my mother loved it. For her, the combination of these flavors was the clear winner. 

The chef's spring amuse bouche was presented to us in a garnish-filled spoon.   The taste was earthy and fresh for this cold vegetable soup (think leafy greens like asparagus and spinach) with chantly cream. We prefer hot soup, so it's not our kind of soup. That being said, if you like cold soup, you will really enjoy it.
Spinach salad 

The spinach salad, consisting of spring strawberries, pea tendrils, toasted pine nuts, gorgonzola cheese, and 15-year aged balsamic drizzles - was a home run for both my mom and me.  This is a massive salad with the freshest of ingredients. The incredibly sweet balsamic drizzle really made the entree stand out.  The balsamic sauce enhanced the saccharine strawberries and gorgonzola cheese in a perfectly complementary way.

Caramelized grilled sea scallops with lemon risotto
Meyer lemon ricotta ravioli 
For our third course, we were served the caramelized grilled sea scallops with lemon risotto. The scallops were nicely seared and fork tender. The pairing with the slightly sweet lemon risotto with fresh spring vegetables was phenomenal. This dish personified the flavors of spring.

We tried the Meyer lemon ricotta ravioli with brown butter, roasted peppers, and English peas as our fourth dish. I learned that this particular lemon is a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon.  I didn't necessarily like the greens on top, as they brought out a sharp taste.   My mother would have preferred a little less dough on the ravioli (then again, we are Italian ravioli connosseiurs - check out our homemade ravioli blog post ).

Asian-glazed Chilean sea bass
The Asian-glazed Chilean sea bass was my favorite meal. Organic black rice, snow peas, and shiitake mushrooms (my favorite mushrooms) are displayed beneath the sea bass in the picture. What makes this dish is the glaze, which tastes like teriyaki and plum sauce. The glaze adds a new depth of flavor to such a unique entree. Not to mention that the dish was just so aesthetically pleasing even before I tasted its untapped glory.

Wood-grilled rack of lambs complete with spring vegetables, yukon gold mash, and shallot jus
What I love about this dish is that the lamb had a secret rub and was cooked in a wood oven. I had a great lamb dish in Greece a few years ago. This dish reminded me of it. The char and seasoning was heaven. Coupled with the tender, spring vegetables and shallot jus... a winner for sure. 

For dessert we had the opportunity to sample six of their "mini indulgences". The presentation of each of the small deserts was eye candy and I couldn't wait to dig into it!

The amaretto soaked vanilla cake "mini indulgence" was my mother's favorite dessert. It even came with a small pipette of amaretto. We both thought it was so clever and innovative.
The cannoli creme, chocolate, and raspberry sauce "mini indulgence" was my favorites dessert. It was filled to the brim with thick cannoli creme and evened out with the raspberry sauce. I especially liked how there was a mini cannoli on top.  I dunked it into the glass to fill it with creme.
Seasons 52 has a beautiful outside that is great for the spring

My mother loved that she was offered a different type of wine to accompany every dish. Seasons 52 has over 100 bottles of wine to choose from. So, if there are any wine connoisseurs out there, they got you covered. 

For Easter,  Seasons 52 will debut a special Easter brunch. Stay tuned, they may even continue the weekend brunch after the holiday.

Our experience at Seasons 52 - the farm fresh food, attentive staff, the unique atmosphere - was really terrific. I was so impressed that I plan to go back for my birthday in May. 

-Thomas Regnante

Seasons 52 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cafe Bonaparte - Georgetown, Washington D.C.

Cafe Bonaparte is a quaint cafe located on Wisconsion Avenue in Georgetown. It is known for its fabulous french items such as crepes, french toast and croque monsieurs. Click here to check out their menus for brunch (on weekends), breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
Georgetown D.C.
This place offers high-quality food at reasonable prices. For brunch, I ordered the Belvedere, 2 eggs (any style) and french toast. This was a phenomenal dish all-around. The eggs were fluffy and delectable with a little bit of herbs added on top. Meanwhile, the french toast amazed me with its moist, soft, sugary goodness. It was a match made in heaven which only costed $12 (which is pretty reasonable for food in D.C.)

Cafe Bonaparte was so incredible for brunch that I had to go back for dinner. This time, I ordered the Marseille Crepe. Usually when I hear the word, crepe, I think of something sweet and jam-packed with nutella or strawberries. However, this dish reminded me that crepes can be savory too and equally delicious. Tender chicken, crispy red peppers, luscious sour cream and extra thick red peppers sauce on top created a lethal combination of flavor. Had I not been a financially struggling college student, I would've definelty ordered a second round of this dish.

(Above left) At night, they have a lighted eiffel tower sculpture in front of the window. For all you young people out there, this just shows you that Cafe Bonaparte is always lit. French food + friends + dining out = fun = Cafe Bonaparte.

Make sure you wake your way out to Cafe Bonaparte for fantastic crepes, french toast, sandwiches, and much more!

- Charles

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Happy Hour - Chef Geoff's New Mexico Ave, DC

Did you know about Chef Geoff's happy hour special menu available all day Monday and Tuesday and from 3pm-7pm Wednesday thru Sunday?  You should because it is the happy hour deal of a lifetime. Also, for those attending American University, it's only 2 blocks from SIS!

School of International Service, AU

On the happy hour menu, Chef Geoff's serves up a great deal on appetizers, burgers, pizza, and beer (for those of you over 21). It really is a great buy considering many of these dishes are half off, around the $5-$8 range, or more. However, you have to sit in the bar area to receive the special. Click here for their happy hour menu. (FYI it is really hard to find a table or a spot at the bar with more than 3 people. Thus, I recommend going with 3 people or less for happy hour)

Below is a picture of my utmost favorite happy hour special: the Chef Geoff's Burger

This burger is topped with cheddar, bacon, pickles, tomato, and red onion all inside of a soft bun. It comes with a choice of fries or balsamic greens as a side. But let's focus on the burger, shall we? I appreciated the luscious cheddar cheese melted on top of the meat and the soft yet not too crunchy delectable bacon. I also appreciated the tenderness and the heavenly taste of the meat itself. With this said, this is one of the best burgers I've ever had. 

I asked if I could take a picture of someone
else's beer just for show. 

So make you way out to Chef Geoff's for great deals on delicous pizza, BURGERS, appetizers, small plates, beer, and more!


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Guest Writer - Superintendent's Corner Blog

This week, I had a great honor I wanted to share with you. 

Superintendent Dr. Renee Foose of the Howard County Public School System, invited me to be a guest writer on her blog, the Superintendent's Corner. She read my recent 2 Dudes blog post about  Petit Louis (the restaurant hosted 200 students from my high school's French classes for a culinary adventure -read it here) and asked me to write about it on her blog. 

Here's a sneak peak below but you can check out the entire blog post here

Big shout out and thank you to my French teacher Madame Doff for taking us students on the Petit Louis field trip and Superintendent Foose for inviting me to be a guest writer. 

- Thomas 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Insomnia Cookies - Johns Hopkins University Baltimore

             Insomnia Cookies is a cool store that offers warm cookies and desserts - eat-in or delivered - until 3 a.m. Their locatation right outside the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore makes it a very popular place with students.

In fact, the company was founded in 2003 by University of Pennsylvania student Seth Berkowitz. When baking cookies out of his dorm room and delivering them to students late at night turned into a very successful endeavor, he knew that he was onto something.

In 2004, Seth took the cookie delivery idea and opened his first Insomnia Cookies retail store in Syracuse, New York. Fast forward to today and the cookie store has expanded to 80 stores nationwide with big expansion plans. The Baltimore manager told me that more IC locations will be coming soon to Fells Point and Towson. 

The Insomnia Cookie selection varies from traditional favorites such as Chocolate Chunk, Sugar, Double Chocolate Mint, M & M, Oatmeal Raisin, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, to deluxe flavors like Triple Chocolate Chunk and S'mores and limited addition cookies. 

I was invited to try their limited time only red velvet cookies just in time for Valentine's Day. This newest addition to the Insomnia Cookies lineup offers the flavors of traditional red velvet cake with bits of soft cream cheese.

Soft and warm on the inside with a little crunch on the exterior, it was a beautiful thing. The cookie really did taste like a red velvet cake with cream cheese  frosting. I washed it down with a cold container of Cloverland Farms Dairy milk complete with its very own insomnia cookies cold sleeve protector. Yum. 

Insomnia also offers Cookie Cakes that can be personalized with messages such as Congrats and Happy Birthday and eight ice cream scoop flavors available in cups or larger to-go containers.

Two things I really liked about this cookie shop:
 whether it's only 1 cookie or a dozen cookies (which was on special for $12 when I visited) - you can get it delivered for only $2. 

Baltimore supervisor Chanelle, me and long-time delivery man Terry
Second, every time an email or delivery request comes in through the computer, the store's speaker system blares Cookie Monster's voice over the speakers saying "Coooookie, num, num, num [...]".

Cookie Monster is right, who doesn't love a warm buttery and sugary delight - especially late at night? And it seems he's not the only one screaming for cookies. I think insomnia cookies will continue to be popular with both the college crowd and late nighters.

If you go to the Baltimore location, tell Chanelle and Terry I sent you. They were both very nice.

- Thomas

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

E.A.T - New York City, NY

E.A.T is a quaint eatery on Madison Avenue, only a few steps from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and several blocks from the Guggenheim in New York City's Upper East Side.

E.A.T is owned by Eli Zabar Incorporated. If that name sounds familiar to you, it should. Eli Zabar is the brother of Saul Zabar, the current president of Zabar's. Zabar's is a famous speciality food store in Manhattan, frequently referenced in the media on shows like Seinfeld, The Nanny, Friends, etc...  If E.A.T is anything like Zabar's, it has a lot of potential.

Right as you walk into E.A.T, you enter the "eat-to-go" section (take out). After you stroll past all the various succulent take out items, you arrive at the back of the restaurant. This is where you can sit down and dine in (pictured on the left and right).

All orders come with Eli's complementary bread. The bread basket was phenomenal, a huge slab of butter with a diverse group of bread to choose from.

Our orders came out in what seemed like a "New York minute".

E.A.T. has its own logo on napkins!

Charles selected the chicken vegetable soup. The flavor wasn't as potent as he would have liked it to be, leaning more to the dull side. Charles also said that the soup consisted mostly of broth and commented how there weren't as many vegetables as he would have liked. He would have enjoyed the dish if it was more hearty.

My father ordered the vegetable chili. As well as having a spicy kick, the soup was very substantial and filled to the brim with flavor. The small amount of sour cream on the top was a nice touch to this incredible dish. He would definitely choose this entree again.

 My mother decided to have the vegetable frittata with fresh salad greens. My mom thought the dish was a tremendous blend of asparagus, eggplant, and an assortment of other vegetables. In addition, the skinny layer of gruyere cheese that rests on top of the thin crispy crust really tied the delicious meal together. While the frittata defied my mother's expectations, the fresh salad greens was a different story. When the meal arrived, the fresh salad greens came without dressing. So, we had to ask for it. When the waiter came with the salad dressing, we were served a mustard vinaigrette that was heavy on the mustard.

I selected the turkey club with cole slaw. This sandwich consisted of bread, lettuce, tomato, turkey, prosciutto, gruyere cheese, and mayo. I will say that lettuce took up about half of this sandwich, but I love lettuce so I'm not complaining. I would have liked to have a bit more mayo with my sandwich because I thought the turkey was somewhat dry. However, the sweet and delicate prosciutto makes up for it.

 Although we didn't try any desserts, they do look like they had a nice arrangement.
How cool is this?

We talked to the waiter and he stated that the grilled cheese on sourdough and the tuscan peasant soup are a popular choice among customers (Food Network even gave this combination a great review).

Since my family and I only touched upon the tip of the iceberg of food here, I would definitely come back for another meal.

One last note - the restaurant is located in an upscale Upper East Side neighborhood and the restaurants in this area cater to this crowd. Even though this is a cool little eatery, the food prices are more expensive than the normal elevated NYC prices.

- Thomas Regnante

E.A.T. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato