Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Restaurants in DC - Oyamel

It seems that even though I love to eat my way through DC, I rarely ever actually post about it. I think it's because most of the time, I am just so excited by the food that I start eating it before I actually take photos.  Food blogger faux pas, I know......

Except I'm hoping to make a fresh start and start blogging my food adventures.  Although I try not to eat out too often,  there are days when I just want to try something completely different that I know I have no ability to make.   And when the occasion to go to an Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull concert came around, I knew that it was one of those times I wanted to go out of my way to try a new restaurant I've always wanted to try that isn't just a neighborhood favorite.

Enter Oyamel.

I had heard about Oyamel from so many people, along with the other restaurants that the Chef, Chef José Andrés owns.  Although we had originally planned on going to Proof, we changed our minds at the last minute and decided on something a little more whimsical and Spanish/Central/South American themed to get us in the spirit of the concert.  Cue me looking through Open Table to find a restaurant within the Penn Quarter area near the Verizon Center that wouldn't be completely packed..and I stumbled upon Oyamel.

A little side note here, OpenTable has been pretty useful for me in trying to figure out what restaurant to go to, especially when I just search for a time that I can go to and the area that I'm going to be in.  It takes the trouble of calling around different restaurants trying to find one that will work for me.  And by going through OpenTable, I have compiled a verrrry long list of more restaurants that I want to try out.  This is a pretty well known tip by now, but still, I'm realizing more and more how useful they are.

Right from the front door, it is easy to see that a lot of thought went into the design of the restaurant.  There are monarch butterfly designs scattered throughout the restaurant, and the orange/red paint gives off a great vibe.  According to their website, Oyamel is named for the fig trees that monarch butterflies take refuge in during their migration. I have to admit, the butterflies weren't something I expected out of a Mexican restaurant, but after being in there for awhile, I can tell that it definitely fits with the whimsical theme of the restaurant.

Oyamel kind of uses a tapas style, antitjitos, small plates philosophy, which is always fun for me.  It gives me the opportunity to try out multiple things at once.  They have all sorts of dishes, as well as a great selection of tacos.    But, does anyone else get overwhelmed by menus whenever they go to a restaurant?  I love eating, but I am also so indecisive. Thankfully, Oyamel has a large menu, but I was able to pick out the top things that I wanted to try pretty quickly.  

While we waited for our orders, we munched on chips and salsa and  enjoyed some drinks.  I'm usually a beer person, but they have quite an impressive list of cocktails that I would love to try out.  

One quick note in here, and probably important for many of you - I was really impressed with their service.  We had made a note before we started ordering that we had to make it to a concert later that night so we made sure that all the food we ordered would come out fairly quickly.  Everything came out quickly, even when our waiter said it would probably take about 10 minutes, and all the servers were so friendly to us.  The chicken mole we ordered came out just a few minutes after receiving our chips, which worked just fine for me because I was starving by that point.

Chicken Mole, by the way, is one of those dishes I always order whenever I'm in a Mexican restaurant.  The complexity of the sauce means that I haven't even attempted making it myself yet, but the mix of poblano, chile, and chocolate is the most amazing combination of spicy, bitter, and sweet.It came with a generous side of herbed rice, which was also incredible. It was flagrant and flavorful, but not too strong to compete with the mole sauce.  I could probably eat this everyday....

To keep with the "quick and light" theme, we ordered two tacos each.  Again, I think they might just be a tad expensive, but I think the flavors made it worth it.  I ordered the "Tinga poblana con puerco" - Pork with chorizo, lettuce, and avocado.  Anything with chorizo, pork, and avocado is a win in my book, but the real standout was the "Pancita de puerco al pasto," or also known as pork belly, with some pineapples thrown in there as well.  Pork belly is one of my favorite foods to eat, no matter how decadent it is, and the pineapple was a really great addition to cut through the fat of the pork belly.

Total satisfaction in the form of tacos.

Although we didn't have the time to eat through a full meal,  the little samplings we ordered left me wanting more. While I've eaten at quite a few restaurants in DC, not too many of them will stand out enough to have me thinking about it for days after.  DC is certainly in no shortage of restaurants, but I think what ultimately sold me was the overall environment of the restaurant.  I just felt relaxed, and like I could have fun.  This time around, the decor played a pretty role in my experience in the restaurant.  That along with the easy going servers who were attentive to our requests, and the great food that came out makes me want to go back...and soon.  I think next time I'm there, some "must eats" are their tacos with grasshopper, the "Chapulines," and their Papas al mole - potato fries with mole sauce...although I honestly would happily eat anything on their menu!

Who can resist a picture in front of some butterflies?

Next time you're in the mood for some fun Mexican, and you're not looking for a restaurant to overstuff you with food, check out Oyamel.

And make reservations with OpenTable because they get pretty busy.

Oyamel Website
Make a reservation with OpenTable 

401 7th Street NW, Washington DC  
(Penn Quarter; Gallery Place)

Got any other favorite restaurants in DC?  Let me know because I'm always up for eating....and make sure you stay tuned for more restaurant reviews in the future!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Empties: Summer Edition compiled

Every time I tried to write this post, it seems that I've gotten distracted and quickly moved on to more exciting posts.  Not that talking about empties isn't exciting, but when I'm running around to different countries and have shiny new products to play with...well, THAT's exciting.

Because I kept delaying this, the empties that I had started to slowly pile up.  And instead of slowly surrounding myself with empty products, I took pictures of them in installments.  All of this comprises empties from about April through August....and there's a lot so let's get started!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Exploring Art Deco: Eyeshadows, Blush, and FOTD

I first heard about Art Deco a few years ago before I knew anything about German makeup and have been trying to get my hands on it ever since.  For some reason, I really love the idea of being able to build my own palette, and Art Deco has plenty of options for doing so with their assortment of blushes and eyeshadows.

The first time I was in Germany, I picked up a couple of eyeshadows, which I love dearly, but I've found some real winners this time in the collection as well.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

August 2014 Favorites

While I'm sitting over here slightly depressed that the end of August marks the unofficial end of summer for me, I am at least excited about the amount of new products I have been able to play with ever since coming back home.  Although I love the simplicity of having just a few products to choose from when I put on my makeup,  being back with my normal selection is exciting all the same.

But even though I switched it up almost every day, there were still a few products that I tended to reach for often, and products that I just completely fell in love with.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Quinoa salad - the lemon chickpea edition (Gluten-free, vegan possible)

I told you all that this summer would be the summer of quinoa salads, and although there was a little bit of a hiatus with all my traveling, I'm not quite done with them yet.  With corn coming in season, it's all I can think about eating.  There's nothing like the taste of fresh sweet corn mixed in with...well, just about anything I have in my fridge.

For the latest installment in my quinoa salad saga, I wanted to make a fresh, minty salad that would be filling and easy to eat.  This is another one of those salads that I make for the week and come home and eat after a busy day when the last thing I want to do is cook.

What I like about this salad is that I can eat it hot or cold, and it mixes well with so many things.  You could throw in some spinach in here for more greens, or some chicken for even more protein.  

My inspiration for this recipe came from, but as usual, I added my own twists to it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Catrice Metallure Luminizing Bronzer - Rosy Gold Gallore

Although I'm in no short supply of highlighters, I can't seem to resist a good highlighter when I see one.  During a little foray through the aisles in the German drugstore, I stopped in my tracks at the new Catrice display with some beautiful metallic eyeshadows, nail polishes, lipsticks....and this beauty.

Rose Gold Perfection.

This was one of those products that I knew was going to be mine, even as I tried to convince myself out of buying it.  I was able to pass on the rest of the collection, but a "luminizing bronzer" light enough as a highlighter on my skin is actually something new to my collection.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Berlin: the cafe edition

As I’m sitting reunited with my favorite café in DC, it seems fitting to reminisce and talk about my favorite cafés in Berlin.  There is no shortage of cafes in Berlin, that much should be obvious.  Whether you are looking for a cozy cafe to curl up in and read a book or a busy cafe to get you working, Berlin has it.  I have to say, there are far too many cafes for me to visit...I mean there are too many cafes on my street for me to even visit in just a few weeks.

When I visit cafes, I have to admit that I make a lot of my judgments based off the atmosphere and not necessarily just the coffee.  Don't get me wrong, I will not enjoy my time if I receive a lukewarm coffee or badly made espresso, but I'm not claiming to be a coffee connoisseur. I want my coffee to be strong, but I'm not at the level of being able to detect different notes in my coffee...yet.  But if you want that anyway, Berlin is also the place to go for good coffee.

However, the places I'm including in this post are the cafes I have frequented; they are tried and true favorites for me to get my coffee fix and also sit down to do a little bit of work. There are some famous coffee places in Berlin, including The Barn, Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Double Eye, and Sankt Oberholz among many many others, but some of these a little more unknown.  It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the abundance of cafes and restaurants in Berlin, so I hope this helps some of you out who are looking for some different options.

The first café was essentially right around the corner from my apartment, making it easy for me to pop over and grab some coffee and catch up on my emails.  It had the qualities of an ideal café for me – good coffee, nice people, a cozy environment, and fast Wi-fi…which unfortunately can be harder to find in Berlin than most people think.  It was also in my favorite district of the city Schöneberg, a quiet historical area in the center of Berlin.  By historical area, I mean that it was the cultural center of Berlin during the Weimar Period, aka one of my favorite historical periods.

Leberstraße 21, 10829 Berlin
S-bahn Julius Leber Brücke or S-bahn Südkreuz 
The first time I visited Mokalola was through the recommendation of someone I knew.  She encouraged us to find out what the name of the café meant.  It turns out that it was named as a nod to its location in Schöneberg, and especially after Marlene Dietrich, born near the cafe in Schöneberg and ultimate femme fatale. One of her most famous roles was as Lola in The Blue Angel, making Mokalola an adorable name for the café.

photo from flickr because I forget to take pictures....