Instacart is a food delivery app and service. I’ve used it about ten times, and I highly recommend it. Basically, you pick a store near you from their list, shop online, and in a few hours, instacart will deliver your groceries. I hate shopping, but love having fresh food at home, so instacart is super convenient for me. I generally order from whole foods, but for the BBQ the other weekend, I was able to order from Costco (without my own membership), and saved a ton. Its also great for figuring out what to make for dinner. They have recipes, or you can just browse online like you would in the store. On friday, I was browsing the meat counter (online), and decided on some lamb.
I’m not a chef, and I really only grill and fry. I end up with some pretty good food (if I do say so myself). The way I do it, is using high quality ingredients and keeping things simple. I love the complex foodie style dishes served over several courses at fancy restaurants, but for the amateur, a handful of high quality ingredients is the way to go. I salted the meat, and then rubbed some herbs de provence on too. I pan fried the lamb to get a nice crust on the meat. Then I grilled it, using some food to get a nice smokey flavor.
While the meat was on the grill, I threw some brussel sprouts in the pan and fried them. Then I covered them with some parmesan in a grill pan, and grilled them to melt the cheese.
When I pulled it off, it was about medium. I was shooting for medium-rare, but with the pregnant wife, safe is better than sorry. I topped the lamb with some fresh herbs, added the brussel sprouts and salad, and we were in business.
Pro Tip: If you get some whole foods on instacart, the dark chocolate sea salt caramels won’t show up, but if you describe them for your shopper, they should have no trouble finding them for you.by rsiv with
On Saturday, Marteen came over for some fancy beers. We started with some bourbon barrel aged ale from Brooklyn Brewery (a gracious gift from my sister’s boyfriend). Then we headed over to Spacebar. They had some great local Oktoberfest on tap, but the stouts were the standouts to me.
I’m not sure this is possible, but Marteen, you should post that pic you took to the comments and put my photos to shame (Marteen is literally a pro).
The grilled cheeses at Spacebar used to be too greasy for my taste (which is saying a lot, because I love greasy food), but they finally got it together. The bbq sandwich is on point. The totchos have always been delicious. “This dog’ll hunt.”
I like to think Tommy Sietsema is really going around tagging the restaurants he reviews, but I doubt it. Thanks again Marteen for generously picking up the tab. After a couple strong beers, Marteen and I thought it was a great idea to taste almost the entire Buffalo Trace Mashbill #2 line. We started at Ancient Age and worked our way up to Blanton’s. Then I threw on some hipstery tunes, and we bro’d out.by rsiv with
On Saturday the wife and I decided to go out for a nice brunch. Our social calendar keeps us busy most weekends, and with the baby due in less than two months, we’ve been even busier than usual. We had a rare weekend off so we figured we should take advantage of it. I posted the goofy picture of me above because I get more compliments on that sweater than you could possibly imagine. The South, and ribbing pretentious Ivy Leaguers is quite popular. I must have been stopped five times while we were out. People especially love that not only did I not go to Yale, but I barely got into my in-State safety school. For brunch, we drove over to Merrifield, and went to Gypsy Soul. This was not our first time at Gypsy Soul (see the brief but succinct review of our visit for dinner HERE), but it was the first time we’d tried it for brunch. We showed up a little early, but they graciously seated us anyway, as my wife is too pregnant to stand around in the sun for too long. Chef RJ came over and chatted with us about the baby. He was a great host, and as a father of twin girls, he had some interesting antidotes, advice, and jokes. I ordered a bourbon lancer (sparkling wine, bourbon, and bitters if I recall), which was amazing. It was less acidic than a mimosa, and lighter than a bloody. If it was more common, or easily crafted, I’d say I’ve found my new brunch drink go-to. Unfortunately, the bourbon lancer at Gypsy Soul had the kind of polish that isn’t easy to replicate. The sparking wine and bourbon choices paired very well (I didn’t notice what brand either were), and the orange twist in the glass was surprisingly present on the palate. It reminds me of the Todd Thrasher cocktails I’ve had that, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t quite recreate at home. But oh well, its a good excuse to go back.
Not that I need any more excuses, the chicken skin cracklins with snake oil and roof top honey is just bananas. I saw Chef RJ’s girls enjoying a plate of them over at the bar. I was a little jealous of how well they must eat on a regular basis. As if the cracklins aren’t good enough as is, the roof top honey (from bees that live away from predators on rooftops) is delicious, and the snake oil hot sauce is so good that Chef RJ was waxing poetic about it. He’s not wrong, put all together its an undeniably delicious treat.
The chicken fried chicken livers with waffles, onions, and black pepper gravy. Insane. Chef RJ asked if I wanted an egg thrown on top, which was key. This was about the most rich, decadent, and delicious meal I’d had in a long, long time. A true standout in a field of strong competition (see my Greenbrier trip, or recent visit to the Inn at Little Washington for instance)(Also, WinnDixie, your breakfast skills have been challenged). That said, you really can’t go wrong. The wife had buttermilk blueberry flapjacks with gypsy granola and path valley maple syrup. The blueberries were as juicy as I’ve ever seen, and even though my syrup taste is fairly pedestrian (as I prefer good ‘ol Aunt Jemima or Hungry Jack), I was really digging the maple. I don’t know if this is a regular occurrence or not, but Gypsy Soul was playing some really great bluegrass. I picked out some Carolina Chocolate Drops, but I was mostly unfamiliar as there seemed to be a lot of contemporary bluegrass. I’d love to have the playlist. It really made a great brunch even better.
The portions were so generous that we had plenty leftover for breakfast on Sunday.
I enjoyed some cold brew and king of the hill, while the wife (barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen) heated up our leftovers, and fried up some bacon and eggs.
In summation, if you like southern style food done up a little fancy, and with just enough of a twist (but still true to its roots) to get you intrigued, you’ll love Gypsy Soul. I can’t wait to stop by again.
by rsiv with
The other day I had a very odd but enjoyable lunch. My mom mentioned some babyshower leftovers at her house, and that I should stop by if I had time. I finished up a meeting and work and headed over. As it turned out, my sister and dad were both over there too, so we had lunch together as a family. It was probably the first lunch we’d all had together for years. The food was great and the company was better.
Zeiby Baby was in town, and treated us to free (per diem) Hooters. The only thing better than Hooters wings and domestic big beers is free Hooters wings and domestic big beers. We also hit the fox since they have some new fall beers out. The bourbon barrel stout on cask is definitely worth your time.
On Thursday, my Mom’s company got a suite at the Nats. I watched the end of the first game at home, and then we headed over for the second game of the double header.
Last year I waited until everyone else ate, and didn’t get a hot dog. This time, we ordered bottomless hot dogs.
Everyone had a great time. We won, and I got to catch up with a lot of folks. Can’t beat a night of baseball with family and friends.
Then this weekend, I finally got around to working on the OGF shirt for this year’s pig roast. Once HW approves it, I’ll put it up for sale.
by rsiv with
This past weekend my wife decided to have her baby shower. I got out of dodge. My dad told me that my parents had a joint shower, and something about watching Georgetown beat Kentucky during the party. I decided to be less progressive. On Friday, we took the day off for a Father-Son Dove hunt up in Remington VA. A year or so back we had a lot of success hunting this section of power line that the birds use as a flyway. We shot a round of clays, and then went over by the lines to find some dove.
We saw a few doves when we arrived, which we thought was a good sign. We were a little rusty on the clay course, but we shook it off.
Its an optical illusion.
We didn’t see a ton of dove, but there were enough to bring a few down. Everyone managed to bring one down, but RP dropped his over the fence of a power plant and into a retaining moat.
After the round of clays, a successful hunt, a little father-son bonding, cleaning a few doves, and the enjoyment of a beautiful fall evening in the great state of Virginia, we headed home. The next morning, WinnDixie made us a delicious breakfast.
We got some provisions, and headed down the long road to Richmond.
The next morning we grabbed some much needed Wawa and hit the course.
I had the opportunity to play with The Commodore.
A lot going on in the pic above, below, the official beer of Fall in ‘Merica.
After golf, we had some Plaza Time.
I had an amazing weekend with the best friends you could ask for (brothers really). Its the kind of weekend that really makes one feel lucky and blessed. I can’t wait to get together again soon.by rsiv with
I recently gambled at The Greenbrier, and while in Aruba. The wife and I had a great time. I couldn’t help but notice that many people hung around the craps table, but didn’t know how to play. I thought I’d share my insight, as its my opinion that Craps is easy to learn, the most fun game at the casino, and has just about the best odds you’ll find. Let’s start by watching a quick cheezy video. Pause it when they get to the come bets, as the rest is really beyond the scope of this post.
As described in the video, in order to play basic craps, and enjoy the social aspect of winning together, all you really need to learn to do is bet the pass line, and then to get good odds, bet the pass line odds. The casino employees will be happy to help you, but you more you know going into the casino, the better. Its really better to learn before money is on the line, so once you’ve watched the above video and done a little research, try out this craps simulator:
Once you’ve played a few times and get the gist of the game, you’re ready for the casino. The best advice I can give you is to start with a table with a low minimum bet. In Vegas, you can find a $3 table minimum (or perhaps less). A table with a $5 table minimum is more common. If you’re able to find a $5 table, a $100 bank roll (the total you wager, or the total amount you buy in chips) should be sufficient for an evening of fun (and if you’re lucky, a little profit). This is especially true if you bet twice your pass line bet, on pass line odds. For example, you bet $5 on the pass line, and then $10 on the odds, for a total bet of $15 per roller. This is pretty easy to learn, and you can have a really fun time doing so. Once you learn a little more, play the way that suits you best.
One last thing. I never put down money I’m uncomfortable losing. In fact, if I would mind leaving without the money, I don’t wager it. If you expect to leave with nothing, you’ll be happy to leave with something. Think of the money you wager as the cost of having a good time in the casino. If you can’t think this way, gambling probably isn’t for you. Gambling is definitely not a way to earn money. Its a pastime and recreation, and it has a cost. Every once in a while, you may make a little profit, but overall, you will likely end up down. If that doesn’t appeal to you, don’t gamble.by rsiv with
I just got back from Aruba (feel free to check my post out here with more info and pictures), and I thought I’d do a quick post for all of you looking to buy cigars in Aruba. As a quick preface: There are many fake Cuban cigars everywhere. Aruba is no different. Be aware. I would only recommend buying from the vendors I’ve outlined below.
My first suggestion will require a quick (15 minute, $10 taxi ride) trip out of Oranjestad. Aruhiba Cigars is located next to the old Dutch windmill, near The Westin Resort. Our cab driver was aware of it, and got us there no problem (also, Aruhiba will call a cab for you when you’re ready to leave). Aruhiba grows tobacco on Aruba, and then rolls that tobacco into some very impressive cigars. Are they as good as top tier Cubans? Perhaps not, but while in Aruba, you’d be crazy not to try one. I did, and found it to be a very good cigar. Aruhiba does tours, but I was not able to go while in Aruba. Aruhiba has many offerings. I bought a few, but so far I’ve only tried the Aruhiba that comes in the blue tube. I highly recommend it. Aruhiba also sells Cubans, and they had a limited selection, but the best prices for authentic Cubans that I found while on Aruba. I bought a great Behike 56 from them. The store is perfectly humidified and temperature controlled. I had no problems with any of the sticks I bought at Aruhiba.
In you’re in Orangestad, you have two good options. The first is Casa Del Habano. If you’re unaware, Casa is the official retailer of Habanos S.A. You will only find well cared for authentic Cuban cigars at Casa, but the price will reflect this. The manager of the Aruba CDH was very friendly, and help steer me to some new sticks, as well as some old favorites. All the cigars I bought at CDH Aruba were excellent.
La Casa del Habano
Address: Oranjestad, Aruba
Phone:+297 583 8509
Finally, I also recommend Cigar Emporium. Cigar Emporium is in the Renaissance Mall, only about a 5 minute walk from Casa Del Habanos. The selection at Cigar Emporium is similar to CDH, but a few of the sticks I bought did not seem to be properly humidified. That said, I found a Trinidad Fundadores at Cigar Emporium that was one of the best cigars I’ve ever smoked. Since CE and CDH are so close, you’d be crazy not to visit both. At CE, I’d double check the condition of any cigars you purchase, and if possible, keep them in your own humidor a while before smoking them.
Address: Renaissance Mall, L.G. Smith Blvd 82, Oranjestad, Aruba
Phone:+297 582 5479
Hope you enjoyed my post. Please check out the rest of my blog, and if you’re in Aruba, how about some beach reads?by rsiv with
Last week the wife and I went to Aruba. This was just about the last week my wife’s doctor cleared her to travel, so we picked Aruba for our last hurrah. We were looking for somewhere good this time of year (no hurricanes), all-inclusive (the wife isn’t as mobile now that shes in the third trimester), with great weather and beaches. Our travel agent steered us to Aruba.
Is there any better breakfast at 4:45 am?
Our first glimpse of Aruba, then below, the view from our room. We stayed at the Tamarijn in Aruba, an all-inclusive that only has oceanfront rooms.
First taste of Balashi, Aruba’s local brew.
After some ceviche for lunch, we went over to the Alhambra Casino area (read my gambling post/craps how to here). We stopped at Fusion, a cigar bar, which had great live music. I got a Partagas Serie P No. 2. Unfortunately, it wasn’t well humidified, so I had to keep fighting a pretty bad run in the Aruban wind. The wind is Aruba is constant. I lost a cigar cherry or two to it, but during the heat of the day, its a lifesaver.
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast by the ocean.
After drinking, eating, swiming, and relaxing all day (which is pretty much all we did all day everyday), we went to the Italian restaurant for dinner.
The pistachio gelato was very good.
After dinner, I lit an Aruhiba cigar. Its one of the only domestically made products on the island (Aruba is very small), and since Aruhiba is produced on such a small scale, I was pretty skeptical. (The two daytime pictures below are just to show the tube. This is the only Aruhiba I had, so its the only one I can really recommend.)
I was very pleasantly surprised. The Aruhiba had excellent draw and great flavor. I’d definitely recommend trying one out.
On the second day, we headed into Oranjestad (only about a 10 minute cab ride) to get some provisions. First, we stopped by the Cigar Emporium, and then headed to Casa Del Habano. Check out my review of cigar retailers in Aruba here.
After loading up on cigars, we stopped at a The Paddock on the water for some lunch. Then we headed back.
Back at the room, I picked out a Trinidad Reyes, and we hit the beach. It might be the perfect beach cigar. Great flavor, and a nice small size. Perfect for enjoying a drink or two.
After some more beach time, we went to the Asian restaurant.
After dinner, I had an H Upmann Connoisseur No. 1. I was a really big fan. I can’t say I’ve had an H Upmann I haven’t enjoyed.
The next day we tried the pizza place for lunch. It was really good, and the pizza with jalapenos I enjoyed was very spicy.
I pride myself on being able to enjoy just about any food, drink, etc. I like to think I’m pretty open minded, but I’ve never been able to enjoy Campari. I used to have a similar distaste for port, but that was eventually overcome. I decided to give Campari another shot, so I ordered a Negroni. It wasn’t my favorite cocktail of all time, but it was enjoyable.
After a great dinner at the Caribbean restaurant we went back to the casino, and I tried my first Juan López Selección No. 1. Again, it was a very nice cigar. So far, all the new cigars I’d tried this trip had been excellent. After winning some money at the casino, we walked around some, and then headed back to the lobby pool. A wedding had occurred that day, and the reception after-party was in full effect. I pressed my luck and ordered a Campari on the rocks, while the DJ (successfully) urged the wedding guests to jump in the pool fully clothed. We saw a cell phone drown, and it probably wasn’t the only casualty.
I realize this probably isn’t the most exciting vacation post, as all we did was chill. Hopefully the beauty of Aruba makes up for the lack of subject matter. The next day was more of the same, breakfast, lunch at the pizza place, delicious cigars, etc.
I think this was the night our luck finally ran out at the casino. After a four day streak, we left down for the first time. The good news is that I had an incredible cigar. The Trinidad Fundadores was easily one of the best cigars I’ve ever smoked. The start was unremarkable, but a delicious mix of cedar, vanilla, floral, and earthy flavors quickly started to build. I must have remarked to my wife how amazing the cigar was ten times. We lost at the tables that night, but had a great day.
The fifth day saw our first and only break in the beautiful weather. As soon as we got to breakfast the sky opened up. We got a brief window to walk back to the room, and then another downpour started. I made the most of the weather with a R&J short churchill (the managers’ fav at Casa Del Habanos), poured some HC7, and enjoyed some Ian Fleming on the kindle.
I enjoyed the cigar, but it wasn’t as good as the others on the trip. The rain was holding steady, so I went for a swim in the rain, and then the wife and I took an adventurous walk in the rain to the bar.
I tried to take a G&T roady when we left the bar, but it was pretty watered down during the rainy walk home. Just a few minutes later, the weather lifted, I lit a Trini Reyes, and we hit the beach.
Despite losing the night before, we went back to the casino. I lit up a Behike 56. Simply outstanding. If you haven’t tried a Behike, you haven’t lived. I believe this was my third ever, and it really does just blow you away. I couldn’t really say if it was better than the Trinidad Fundadores I enjoyed on the trip, but they were both exceptional among some really good sticks.
Since I might have spent more time that usual at the bars during the storms, I was feeling good, and decided that taking pictures of the Behike in the casino was a good idea. Fortunately, nobody noticed, and our luck returned. The wife with her double luck (baby in her belly) rolled her way into just about doubling our money from, at one point, being down to about 30% of that night’s bankroll.
I waved goodbye to the casino, thinking how crazy it was that I just had such an amazing cigar, and how great our luck had been.
The next morning, I poured some rum on a beautiful day, and lit up an H Upmann Mag 46. I love the draw on these, and the flavor is superb.
We decided to spend our last night at the Casino. Despite being up, we had had a lot of fun at the craps table, so figured, why not? Unfortnately, my cigar luck had run out. I lit up a Hoyo Epicure Especial, which just had an off flavor the whole time. It was a slightly sour note that just never left. Despite the disappointing cigar, the somehow pulled off another win at the tables.
On the day of our flight home, we got up early to get a little more beach time in.
Since it was our last day in Aruba, I lit my last cigar, and tried to finish the last of my rum.
While packing to leave, I discovered a cigar I had missed, so I lit it up. Notice my buddy in the background?
How about now?
We ordered some pizza for lunch, and saw that our favorite bartender, Edwin, was working. Without ordering, he made my wife some virgin banana daiquiris (her usual), and poured a balashi for me. After a couple refills, we told him we were leaving. He said we’d have to come back, and then fixed me a double Dewar’s on the rocks. This was definitely going to be the most tipsy I’d ever checked into a flight. After lunch, we got to the airport, and headed home. It was a fun and relaxing trip. If you’re looking to get away, enjoy some great weather, and just relax, definitely consider Aruba.by rsiv with
The wife and I are off to Aruba. I won’t be posting from the beach, but you can follow my exploits in real time on twitter.
I’m about to go out of town for a week, and its the end of summer, so I decided to harvest some tobacco. I grabbed my favorite tobacco knife, and took the first cut.
I left some leaves for a second cut (and perhaps third). Hopefully, the weather will cooperate, and I can get to it when I get back from vacation. I got the leaves I did cut undergoing initial fermentation, and then hopefully, they’ll get fully fermented when I get back. The plants I put in the ground also did surprisingly well considering I didn’t tend them much, they don’t get much sun, and went totally organic this year (generally, they’ll get eaten up by bugs).
Once I get back, I’ll collect the seeds for next year, and see what I can do with this year’s crop.by rsiv with