Monday, December 12, 2016

Blog-worthy Baltimore Brunch at Blue Moon Cafe

Hello world! I've been M.I.A. lately - same reason, different season. But I'm back today to show some love for a place that was so up my alley in terms of delicious food in unexpected places that it merited a blog post. My husband and I ventured up to the Charm City for the day yesterday for a book signing of one of his favorite web comics.

We'd never been to Baltimore before, so we decided to make a day out of it and do a little exploring whilst there. To me, no exploration of a new city is complete without sampling some of it's best fare. So after a quick Yelp search, I located Blue Moon Cafe in the historic Fell's Point neighborhood and we found ourselves parallel parking down a VERY small cobblestone street and walking in the brisk December air to the cafe.

As soon as we got out of our car, we smelled it: sugary, yeasty yumminess. We literally followed our noses around the corner, where Blue Moon Cafe was piping the addictively sweet smell of cinnamon rolls out onto the street. Once inside, we saw one monster roll and decided - even though it was 2:30 in the afternoon - that whatever we ended up ordering, this would be included.

We were seated at the bar by a no-nonsense server at the home of the "Bad Ass Breakfast", whose walls were adorned with movie quotes and art including none other than Edward Scissorhands himself. Our server suggested Zeke's Coffee, a local favorite. The brew was a tasty medium-bold variety, but not bitter. We were given menus, but didn't even open them because the two specials were exactly what each of us were in the mood for.

Being in Maryland, I had my heart set on something with, of course, crab. So the Sweet Baby Jesus really spoke to me as soon as I laid my eyes on its description. A lover of Eggs Benedict, I was immediately drawn to this unique take on a Crab Cake Benedict, sans English muffin, but served on a bed of cheesy hash browns, with eggs and hollandaise sauce, sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning, and the BEST DAMN crab I've ever had. I wouldn't even say they were crab cakes - more like the freshest, most plump pieces of crab meat, sweet and succulent. Just how it should be.

Even though the cinnamon roll should have been an indication of the portion sizes at Blue Moon, I was still taken aback by the heftiness of this dish. But needless to say, I didn't have any trouble finishing off most of the delicious meal. This was seriously the best version of Crab Cake Benedict I have ever had, that I didn't even mind the cool $20 price tag or miss the bread component.

Sold on the other special - being a fan of all things french toast and sugar cereal-related - my husband went with the Cap'n Crunch French Toast, served with fresh berries.

A regular French toast connoisseur, I didn't hear a peep out of him for the first 10 minutes or so while he was eating this laudable masterpiece. Encrusted with finely crushed Cap'n Crunch cereal, he claimed this French toast was decidedly the very best he's ever had - here's looking at you, Chicago - and after a quick taste, I'd have to agree that the crust, although not as decadent as I would have expected - made this a standout version of a brunch favorite.

Last but not least, our server convinced us that even if we had to take it home in the end, that it was worth ordering one of Blue Moon Cafe's famous cinnamon rolls. A committed fan of Ann Sather's rolls in Chicago, we had no choice but to put the Maryland competition to the test.

Words can't describe the gooey texture, cinnamon-sugar perfection or sweet icing - I'll just have to let the pictures speak for themselves. While we couldn't have possibly eaten the entire thing after consuming such large midday meals, we were happy to take the remainder home with us in a doggy bag to be savored the next morning.

Overall, we felt like we stumbled across one of the best kept secrets in Baltimore, with the Blue Moon Cafe. With a brunch that could rival any of the best Chicago brunches, this is a spot that we'll be visiting with each new visit to the Charm City and it's most equally charming neighborhood of Fell's Point.

Have you ever been to Baltimore, Maryland? What are some of your favorite spots for a blog-worthy meal? Let me know in the comments below, I may just try one out the next time I'm there!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Discovering DC - District Doughnut

Who goes and revamps their blog and then just disappears? Yeah, that would be me. Do I have an excuse? Sort of. Full disclosure guys: I've been utterly homesick for Chicago. I don't remember missing Florida this much when I moved to Virginia the first time, but man, I've been missing the Windy City. And to make matters worse, this is pretty much my favorite time to be in Chicago, e.g., the three weeks of fall. Yes, I'm excited for the extended (more mild) seasons in NoVa and DC, but I've seriously been missing everything about Chicago lately. So to get out of this funk and get on with blogging, I asked myself what was one of the things I was hankering for the most that I could find and make me happy here on the east coast. And what did I come up with? Doughnuts.

You may think of deep dish pizza, fully loaded hot dogs, or craft beer when you think of Chicago, and those things are all fine, but something that Chicago does especially well are doughnuts. From Stan's to Firecakes, Glazed and Infused to Spunky Dunkers in the burbs, Chicago's doughnut scene is one of the most inventive and delicious. After trying a few hit-or-miss shops near my new place, I got down to business and searched Instagram for some comparable contenders. Above the rest, District Doughnut seemed to have the quality, innovativeness, and general drool-worthy factor I was looking for.

District Doughnut has two locations in the DC area, one of which is technically a pop-up and the other a standard brick-and-mortar location in Barracks Row. We chose to visit the pop-up because of its closer proximity to us in the Georgetown neighborhood (just right over the river from Arlington). It was a little tricky finding the storefront, as it was located about halfway down Cady's Alley - the cutest brick paved alley I've ever seen. The storefront is simple and modern, with a bright splash of aqua blue accents situated among clear glass.

Inside the shop, on immediate display, was the half a dozen or so types of freshly baked seasonal doughnuts, still in lined baking trays. It seemed like we were among the first customers of the day, so the fine folks behind the counter kindly walked us through some of their favorites and recommended flavors that were specific to the season. I was bummed for about 2.5 seconds to find out the s'mores flavor - which I had drooled over on Instagram - was a summer specialty, but was soon giddy to try the other flavors in front of me. Between the two of us, my husband and I decided on the Caramel Apple Streusel, Salted Dulce de Leche, and my personal choice - Pumpkin Creme Brûlée.

To my surprise - and utter joy - my Pumpkin Creme Brûlée donut was promptly placed on a pedestal and fired with a blow torch to give it that hard, tappable outer layer that is expected from a decent creme brûlée.

The caramelized sugar created a hard outer shell on the top half of this doughy pumpkin doughnut, creating a heavenly texture combination. But that wasn't all.

In the center of this doughnut was a creamy, pumpkin custard filling that brought the pumpkin flavor to the next level. All in all, this was one incredible doughnut that I could have believed was from any Chicago doughnut shop. But this one was made even better from the blow torch treatment, which made me feel like it was personalized just for my enjoyment.

Next was my husband's Salted Dulce de Leche doughnut. As you can see, this one was topped with a thick layer of creamy caramel and sparingly sprinkled with sea salt.

But once again, what made this pastry was the filling. Together with the caramel topping, the caramel cream center made this doughnut one that any caramel lover would enjoy (and my husband certainly did). I even had a bite of it because the shiny coat was too enticing to resist and have to admit, I could have eaten the whole thing (if I hadn't just had the dessert-like pumpkin).

Last but not least, my husband also ordered (and devoted) the Caramel Apple Streusel. The flavors of this doughnut were more subtle - I thought it tasted similar to fall-flavored coffee cake, if there is such a thing - and he wished there were more apple pieces in the doughnut, instead of just sprinkled on top.

We also enjoyed some simple drip coffee, which helped to counterbalance the sweetness in our sugary breakfast. We're die-hard coffee fanatics and we both really enjoyed this bold brew.

Overall, District Doughnut rivaled some of the best doughnuts in Chicago and made me feel like there's hope that I'll soon find some new favorites that will make me feel less homesick for the Windy City. I also have to say that the staff at the Cady Alley location were so welcoming and friendly, something that wasn't lost on me in my search to find a decent doughnut. This wasn't the first time I've tried a new place since moving to DC, but this was definitely the first time I felt like the experience warranted a review! I'm feeling inspired again and hope to come across more finds like District Doughnut in my quest to make DC feel like home.

Have you tried District Doughnut? What are some of your favorite foodie finds in the DC area? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Monday, September 5, 2016

New City, New Name

A new city, a new name. Welcome to Dishplaced.

Ever since deciding to move from Chicago and start a new life in the DC metro area, I knew I was going to need to change my blog's name if I was going to keep blogging. I actually came up with it on the 20+ hour drive it took to move here, with some help from my husband and brother-in-law. I wanted something that wasn't place-centric, since I realized I've moved around the country quite a bit during the last decade, so what's to say that pattern won't continue (I know you Floridians are holding out hope that we'll be back! ;))? If I wanted to continue to blog, I knew I'd had to have something I could carry with me from place-to-place.

Hence, the "place" in Dishplaced. The other half - dish - comes from my growing love/obsession with food, as can be seen from the past year and a half's worth of blog posts on Windy City Wanderlust. I tried to sprinkle in events and happenings here and there, but when it came down to it, I couldn't deny that the food part of my blog became more prominent than the rest throughout the evolution of WCW.

If you've ever tried to come up with a name for a business or a blog, it's not the easiest thing. It has to be original, unique, and has to be available in a domain and on social media. Windy City Wanderlust just rolls off the tongue, but it took quite some time for me to come up with it and even when I did, the domain name wasn't available. So this time, I spent even more time thinking about a new name, scanning the internet for ideas and tips, and eventually decided that the two central themes that I wanted to incorporate in my blog's new name was food + wanderlust.

I also love a good pun, or play on words. When the three of us were bouncing ideas off of each other in the U-haul, we spent the longest time thinking about potential food-focused names, but it was only when we focused on the whole traveling/wanderlust/vagabond aspect, that we arrived at the serious contender. What sounds like displaced? That's right, dishplaced.

After the move, the name had really started to grow on me, but I felt like I needed to do more than just throw up a new header on my blog or rename my social media accounts in order to fully commit. I spent the last couple of weeks thinking about ways to rebrand Windy City Wanderlust into a new and better blog, one that encompassed all the things I loved about my first blog and all the things I could see the present one growing into. So I've renovated the look and feel of this site and hopefully I'll keep improving it as I become inspired about the exciting new things and places in my life that I'm going to experience.

If you've been following Windy City Wanderlust all along, or if you just came across this blog today, I hope you'll stick around for Dishplaced (even if I keep moving) :). You'll still be able to find all the classic Chicago posts, but there will be all kinds of new content from all around the DMV. I can't wait to be able to explore this amazing area and take you all along with me! If you have any foodie suggestions, please let me know in the comments below and I'll be sure to add them to my growing list!