June 20, 2017

June 9, 2017

May 19, 2017

When Work Is Travel- College Park, Md.

Last week I traveled to College Park, MD to complete a training class. I should mention, the word ‘travel’ is used lightly here although it was an hour and a half commute each way. On a good day, College Park is roughly 35-40 minutes away, so it isn’t the first place that I travel to for ‘good eats’. However, since this training was coming up, I mapped out almost every place I wanted to eat and an honorable mention that I wasn’t able to try. When I say I ate horrible out for lunch every day, it was every single day, no Bueno for my waistline. Take a look below and get into my foodie adventure.

Monday: Blaze Pizza
You may remember me mentioning Blaze last year when I was mystery shopper. It’s been almost a year since I had that delicious pizza. I was happy to be only 5 minutes away and I knew that it wouldn’t disappoint. I was a bit wrong, not totally disappointed but semi. On that particular day, they didn’t have any chicken… how sway. Usually I HATE chicken on a pizza because it tends to be overly dry, but not Blazes’ chicken. Although I wasn’t able to add chicken, I was able to get their tasty Blood Orange Lemonade. That lemonade definitely comes in second place to Chik Fil A’s which is usually hit or miss.

I LOVE Arugula

Tuesday: Unforgettable Flavors
It is very, very hard to find good Jamaica food in VA. Of course I had to put this on my list. At the time we ordered, we were the only people inside so we were able to meet the chef prior to eating. Usually my go to at almost any Jamaican restaurant is Ox Tails, and that day was no different. If you know me well you know my order: Ox Tails, Rice & Peas, and Plantains. The oxtails were good but it wasn’t as meaty as they could have been. I also tasted my friends Jerk Chicken and it tasted a bit too sweet and lacked that kick of spice that I’m use to. Since the restaurant makes their own ginger drink and I LOVE anything ginger I had to get that. This particular ginger drink tastes exactly like the drink I get at the African Restaurants.

Ye 'Mon

Wednesday: Milk & Honey

This spot has been on my radar for some time and I thought I’d make it over for brunch one weekend although I hear the wait time is ridic. Luckily for me, they were less than 5 minutes away from the hotel. My friend ordered the Strawberry Shortcake for us to share and it was pretty tasty. I opted for the $10 special in an attempt to save some coins. The special was Cajun Shrimp and Chicken Pasta, which I later found out was pick one or the other *eye roll*. This was very flavorful, but I needed it to have a bit more of a kick to it. Sidenote- when I think Cajun, I think of a spicy heavy cream based dish and this was lemon olive oil based. My friend got the Grilled Salmon BLT which came on a croissant, and of course I regretted my order. Everyone’s food around me looked really tasty but I’m not sure I could go on an empty stomach and have to wait #JustSayn. For those of you that plan on visiting because it is ‘the spot’ at the moment; they also have a ‘wait dish’ that you can order to curb your hunger. We asked what it was for the day but because there wasn’t a wait, nothing was prepared. As I was about to head out, I noticed cupcakes and of course I had to grab one. The employees recommended the snicker doodle cupcake and it was delish!!!

I wish I would have ordered this...

Thursday: Fishnet
I actually tried this spot back in 2013, because President Obama visited, literally, that was the only reason. I ordered the fried catfish sandwich and the slaw. My catfish was good, but needed a bit more seasoning. The slaw was horrible, it was vinegar based but had cilantro added and I HATE cilantro can you tell I’m a critic . Unfortunately, I was starving that day and forgot to take a picture. My friend ordered catfish as well so I quickly snapped hers before she bit into it. During this lunch is when I checked yelp and saw that there was a new and hot restaurant in the area so we decided to visit as our last hooray.

Sooo good

Friday: Gus’s Fried Chicken
As if I couldn’t get any unhealthier lol. I thought the chicken would have some type of wet spicy batter but it didn’t. I’m not a person that can take extreme heat but this wasn’t even spicy at all. I got the two piece with a wing and breast with a jalapeno on the side, and I had okra and baked beans. The baked beans were really good and the okra was bomb. I can eat fried okra anytime of the day if only there was a Church’s Chicken around yes I’m that type of country lol. The chicken was always served with white bread, my friend asked for wheat bread and I thought that was hilarious. I liked the Nashville decor with all of the blues memorabilia.  

My honorable mention goes to: Milkbar Arthouse
I thought for sure we’d end the training with Happy Hour here but unfortunately that didn’t happen. The vibe looks really cool not sure when I’ll be back in the ae to check it out though.

As you can see I gained about 20 pounds, just kidding. I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch adventures in College Park, Md. Are there any places that wasn’t on my list that I need to travel and try?

March 26, 2017

Influenster- Fierce Voxbox

I was super ecstatic when the Influenster Fierce Voxbox arrived at my doorstep. Who doesn’t like free products? I know I do. This box was sooo on point because it had a few brands that I currently use as well as a few products that I’ve been dying to try but not buy.     

Here’s what I got in my Fierce Box…
·        Shea Moisture Argan Oil & Almond Milk Shampoo & Blow Out Crème
·        Vaseline Jelly
·        Sinful Colors Nail Polish in Kiss Goodnight
·        Carefree Act- Fresh Regular Liners
·        Madam C.J. Walker Softening & Silkening Brassica Seed Oil

As much as I wanted to enjoy the Shea Moisture hair products, I decided not to use it, as the package wasn’t enough to cover my entire head of hair. Nonetheless, the smell was great. If you’ve never used Vaseline Jelly, where have you been? This standout product is good for sooo many things and the main is to combat ash bye ashey. I used this on the heels of my feet because you know how heels can get and topped it off with comfy socks for soft feet the next morning.

I’m a fan of Sinful Colors Nail Polish because of the value as well as the quality. This is one inexpensive product that has a range of shades, goes on easily, and has minimal chips. Plus the color I received works on ALL skin complexions. The Carefree Act liners went in to use immediately. I’m a daily liner girl TMI and I love the fact that this particular brand is sooo breatheable.

Lastly, the G.O.A.T Madam C.J. Walker, who happened to be THE FIRST melaninated millionaire. Ever since her release of products at Sephora I’ve been wanting to test them out. I like that the packaging of this oil resembled something that would come from an apothecary. The consistency was light and smelled amazing. Although my hair is in its natural poufy state, I’d like to see how this works when my hair is straightened.

 *This product was sent to me complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own*

March 14, 2017

NoVa Supper Club: Hanks Pasta Bar

Last week I had an opportunity to meet for dinner with some of my fellow Yelpers. I was ecstatic that Alexandria my hood was chosen and I wouldn't have to battle traffic to make it out. Also, I'd been dying to try Hank's Pasta Bar ever since it opened and this was the perfect excuse to dine out.

I love the Industrial feel

Cute Decor for the win

I arrived a few minutes late but I was still able to find free, yes free street parking. I will say if you decide to visit after reading this post go a few minutes early to find free parking, lol. The restaurant is on the corner lot and a bit small. However, upon entering, you can tell that it's filled with so much personality. This Italian restaurant bypasses the traditional uppity vibe and has a trendy down to earth vibe.

Luckily the good peeps from Yelp as well as fellow Yelpers already had a table reserved. We had an awesome waiter that was very familiar with the menu and offered several recommendations when asked. The complimentary seasoned oyster crackers were sooo good; kinda reminded me of the Goldfish they give at their "sister restaurant" Hank's Oyster Bar. We started off with a few appetizers which consisted of Grilled Baby Octopus, Burrata, and Mussels.  This was my first time having grilled baby octopus and although it was seasoned well I wasn't a fan of the texture. But I'm really happy that I tried it.

For my entree, I thought I'd get the Carbonara that I saw in the pics I'd stalked earlier, however it was no longer on the menu. I asked the waiter for his opinion and I went with the Beef Bolognese Lasagna which was such a great choice. There was also a lot of it on the plate. I made sure to eat only half so I could have leftovers for work smart girl as well as make room for dessert. For the dessert I went with the Key Lime Pie because I'd had it at their other restaurant and it tasted just as I remembered. If I wan't trying to get fine for the Summer I definitely would have got another slice!!!

If you're in Alexandria, definitely give Hank's Oyster Bar a try and let me know what you think.

March 8, 2017

Shots Fired

Last night I had an opportunity to see a special screening of Shots Fired. #ShotsFired is a 10-part event mystery that examines the dangerous aftermath of two racially charged shootings by law enforcement in a small southern town. With amazing music, and an all-star cast led by Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Mack Wilds and Helen Hunt, "Shots Fired" will entertain and challenge perspectives. 

The people behind the scenes of this screening laid it out for us. There were hors d'oeuvres and wine were served, as well as two open bars. I’d never been to the Newseum but they did an awesome job accommodating everyone and having the #ShotsFired picture plastered all over.
Right from the beginning to the end of the show there was an emotional connection. A connection to the characters as well as the story line. Everything was so relateable. And at the end we were left in the dark and wanted more.

Gave up alcohol for Lent

These were amazing

Afterwards, we were treated to Q&A session hosted by April Ryan shes fab who brought out the actual cast in the series; Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Mack Wilds, and Richard Dreyfuss as well as one of the directors, Reggie Rock Bythewood (who also did New York Undercover that was my show in high-school).   

via Mike James

This is definitely a series that you won’t want to miss.The series premieres March 22 at 8/7c on FOX, prior to the spring return of "Empire" at 9/8c. 

February 28, 2017

When Work Is Travel- New Orleans

First off, Happy Fat Tuesday. Yes I held this post back just to commemorate this day as well as my time in New Orleans. A month ago my job sent me to New Orleans for a Tap Root Analysis Training. Now I've really been dying to get to the West Coast for the free-free and I've been suggesting that non-stop to my boss; but he settled on New Orleans and I was fine with that. The kicker was… I’d get to be there for an entire week. Which meant, free food, free hotel, and free rental car, all checks in my book. Aside from the training this would be a mini vacay for me, especially since I don’t actually earn vacation time until my 1 year Anniversary but that’s another story.
Louisiana has a really special place in my heart. I remember spending Summers with my Aunt and thinking that I’d ONLY attend Southern University in Baton, Rouge but my momma cut that short and made me apply to other colleges. But New Orleans, is such a unique vibe in and of itself. Nawlins how I love thee… let me count the ways.

1. Music
During my visit I was able to venture out and visit places that were away from the usual tourist trap such as the Maple Leaf Bar. I am a huge fan of live music and it really doesn't matter the genre. This nice gentleman sitting next to me at happy hour recommended I go and see one of the best bands in the city, Rebirth Band. I am sooo glad that he put me on. As I was getting out of my car I noticed a guy heading in the same direction who happened to be a member of the band and he took me in family for the free-free. Rebirth Band is a brass band that combines traditional New Orleans second line, with funk, jazz, soul and hip hop. If you are ever in the area definitely look them up to experience what the locals love. This had to be my lucky week because while I was visiting it was also the birthday of Big Freedia. Like I literally got a chance to attend Big Freedia's birthday concert and it was beyond lit. Honestly, if you don't know Big Freedia, we probably can't be friends. Now is the time to pause and go to Google, Apple Music, or Fuse type in the name and get you whole entire life while twerking in front of a mirror. Yes she's kinda a big deal especially in  those Nawlins streets.  For the party to be sooo live, there was n fighting or any type of commotion; it was all love. And to top that off, they were also doing filming for the show. I was front and center so if you see ya girl, know that its me lol. This party sooo much fun that it actually made it to my memory jar. If I'm having a bad day I just re-play one of the clips that I filmed from that night to instantly perk me up and put me in a good mood.

2. Food
Being the foodie that I am, I probably should have started here first. I actually worked out pretty hard before going to New Orleans because I knew that it'd be a serious matter in regard to food. Talk about spicey, creamy, fried, grilled, sweet... you name it. Whatever  flavor you crave just know that its there and it is prepared to the highest level of excellence. I. Did. Not. Have. One Bad. Meal. At. All. Those are facts. I started my food journey with the most succulent oysters from Drago's Seafood Restaurant. I honestly think of them weekly, they were char broiled to perfection and the bread that they served besides it was light yet crispy outside and soft inside. The bread was perfect for sopping up the leftover butter. This wasn't last time having oysters while I was there, but this was by far the best oysters I've ever had in my life. Because I LOVE coffee and prefer local coffee shops to large chains, I was able to visit two. Out of the two one was clearly my fav, so much so that I went back the next day and the owner recognized me. Since carnival season was right around the corner they had their King Cake Latte available. And just typing this is making me think of all the flavors that was in that cup of joe. New Orleans is King Cake Country, I've never seen sooo many King Cake flavored items ever. Even at the Walmart, they were selling King Cake flavored vodka. During my stay, I was also introduced to a new type of cake: Doberge. I saw this business on trusty Yelp and new I had to visit because I thought it was genius to combine a bar and a bakery so to speak. This cake literally melted in your mouth. This is how you know its good... you can only order two slices maximum. I mean it ain't no fun if the homies can't have none!!! I had the strawberry and savored every single moment of it. I will seriously be considering a Doberge cake whenever someone asks for this hand in marriage. I am saving the best meal for last, that honorable mention goes to the shrimp and collard green po-boy. If you are like me, you're thinking, who decided to put shrimp and collards on a po boy. I don't know who made the decision but it was the best thing that I decided on the day that I ordered it. Again, the bread was sooo light yet crispy outside and soft inside (my manager said that it has something to do with the water in that area) I'm not sure if there was a sauce added or if the actual flavor of the shrimp and collard greens produced its own unique hybrid flavor but it was a culinary marriage of the two. If I had to choose one thing to get in New Orleans don't make me choose Lawd I would certainly choose this... over and over and over again.

3. Culture

I'm from the South and the South has a way of welcoming you and making you feel at home. This is exactly the vibe that you get from New Orleans. I remember moving to VA and thinking it was weird that folks never spoke to one another in passing, just a simple hello. Everyone in New Orleans I encountered seem warm and welcoming. Even, the Uber drivers talked to me as if I'd known them forever. I mean everyone was happy, and getting along... as people. Not people of this ethnicity/race or religion. It was like everyone was there to soak up the goodness of New Orleans. Even the guy who owns the mansion that American Horror Story was filmed in was nice and allowed us to go up and take a few pictures. That feeling is the reason why I wanted to attend college in Louisiana as a teenager and its the feeling that I wish I could have bottled up to bring back here. Did I mention that I saw Solanges' husband and son in H&M near Bourbon St. I did not want to fan girl over someone's child and hubby that have actually been in the presence of the Queen but I almost did!!!

If you ever get the chance to go to New Orleans, go. It's not Miami, nor is it Vegas , but it is definitely worth multiple visits.