Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cafe Atlantico, Dan's b'day and General Catching Up

It feels as though this post is all about us going out to eat. We haven’t been home much over the last 36 hours which is why you weren’t hearing much from me. This post is a catch up on what you have missed recently. I hope you all have been having a good week too. :-)

Tuesday night:

Our friend Phil was in town a few days this week and this time he brought his oldest son Jeff who just recently joined his firm. Like always we had to have dinner with Phil. Since Phil lives in Springfield, Missouri we don’t get to see him as often as we would like to. Phil loves Ian’s food as much as we do so you know who made dinner Tuesday night.

We were able to give Ian a few days notice so he made four special appetizers for the table to share. Ian always finds it difficult to think of vegan items for us he thinks are “good enough” so he likes to have lots of advance notice that we are coming in so that he can do something special. *shakes head* I really wish he wouldn’t go to any trouble for us but it is very sweet that he wants to. Sorry I forgot to photograph one of the special vegan appetizers Ian made just for us. I was too busy talking. You can’t imagine me doing that I am sure, LOL.

Appetizer One: roasted Brussels sprouts with wild mushrooms & balsamic glaze. This combination had a ton of flavor and was eaten on crispy crackers. Even though the Brussels sprout is a much maligned vegetable it was the first dish we all dove into, much to Dan’s chagrin as he loves sprouts. ;-)

Appetizer Two: mango, sweet potato, avocado and jalapeno salad. The flavor of this salad was sweet and savory combination with a hint of heat in the background. The photo does not do this justice. I think this was my favorite of the four appetizers. I will be making my own version of this at some point.

Appetizer Three: Mediterranean salad with roasted red peppers, grilled red onions, artichokes, at least two types of olives, and fresh dill. The flavors of this were so intense that we decided it would make a great pizza topping.

Appetizer Four (which I forgot to photograph, sorry): very thinly shaved fennel salad dusted with sumac. This made a very refreshing palate cleanser for the end of the round of appetizers.

Entrée: Whole wheat pizza topped with hummus and some to the Mediterranean salad listed above,

Our friend Walid was supposed to join us for dinner but he ended up needing to work late. However he did stop by the restaurant to pick up carry out to take home since Ian had made a special dish for the meat eaters that isn’t on the regular menu. It was a red wine and garam masala braised dish that is extremely tasty. Dan would love me to make a vegan version of it so that may have to go on my to-do list for dinner on Friday.


We needed to be out the door somewhat early on Wednesday morning. To speed things up we had green smoothies for breakfast.

My green smoothie that contained: 1 frozen banana, 3 kale leaves and stems, 6 walnut halves, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger, water to process (add stevia if you think it needs sweetener). I love getting vegetables into my breakfast. It always makes me feel as though I have started the day off right.

Dan gets a similar version but his has 2 bananas and more walnuts. We both like the green smoothies for breakfast. When you aren’t sure what your food day will bring it is good to get a few veggies into your breakfast. ;-)


Dan, Phil and Jeff needed to perform a site inspection in DC on Wednesday and then they had a warm up meeting with the construction team (architect, general contract, landscape architect, etc). Since they were going to be about 10 minutes from Café Atlántico you know where lunch was going to be. ;-) Both Dan and I are huge fans of Jose Andres so any chance we get to visit one of his restaurants we are right on it. It did not take much arm twisting to convince me to join this party. Especially given that today was also Dan’s birthday. How could I possibly not join the guys in DC? It just wasn’t going to happen.

This is the entrance to Café Atlántico.

Here is the birthday boy contemplating what to order for lunch. Doesn’t he look so deadly serious about what to order? Food is not for the timid in this crowd, it is serious business. ;-)

For the table we ordered the guacamole, which is always a treat. I like that they make it order at the table mild, medium or hot depending on how you like it.

The guacamole comes with a mountain of chips that we polished off a bowl of and part of a second bowl. How they are fried but not the tiniest bit greasy is completely fascinating.

Dan and I also ordered our own pots of green tea. I love the little one person tea pots. You know I am going to have to try to find a few of those because they are just too darn cute.

For an appetizer we ordered a tomato and beet salad. The salad contained beefsteak tomatoes (which looked as though they were painted with beet juice for color), cherry tomatoes, thinly julienned ruby beet, and thinly sliced golden beet. The greens were mesclun and there was a swirl of beet dressing on the plate. This was to be served with yogurt but having that one item left off made it vegan. The salad was very light and refreshing. Phil ordered the same thing (no yogurt) and really enjoyed it as well.

For lunch Dan and I both ordered a bowl of carrot soup with passion fruit. Again this was supposed to have a yogurt swirl on top but the base was vegan so we went for it. The plate came with micro greens and a few passion fruit seeds in the bottom and the soup was poured over the garnish. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to get a shot of the bowl before of while the soup was being poured. The texture of the soup was like velvet. It was so light yet with a touch of thickness. I think it was fresh carrot juice that was thickened with passion fruit puree. The taste was mostly carrot but with a background of passion fruit. Both Dan and I really enjoyed this. You can expect to see a variation of this out of my kitchen at some point.

Since I know not everyone has been to Café Atlántico I wanted to include a shot of the interior from the first floor looking to the third floor. There is a big open area where you can see the various stair cases. The building interior is quite unique and having lunch with two architects made it even more enjoyable.  It is a gorgeous light filled space.

Overall it was very easy to stay vegan today for lunch. The options were limited but they were delicious so we didn’t mind a bit. We may have to try Jaleo next time to see what things we can get vegan from Jose’s tapas bar. ;-)

While the guys had their construction meeting I stayed in the car so that I could get started on the post leaving more time to spend with Dan after we dropped the guys at the airport early tonight.

Phil and Jeff made it to BWI with plenty of time to catch their flights to Memphis and Atlanta. Since we were close to Costco we made a quite stop for a few necessities (TP and cat litter). Of course I had to pick up a few things while I was in there. Is it even possible to stop at Costco and stick to your list?

They had two exercise items a DVD and a Wii game that somehow jumped into my cart. They were cheap so I picked them up. I have added them to my list of things to review. That list is getting really long, just so you know. LOL

Since we were so close to cooking class and it was the right night I suggested that we stop to see everyone and disrupt productivity before class started. That turned out to be such a great idea. I really missed everyone from class and it was incredibly good to see them all. We really wanted to stay but since Dan was scheduled to leave BWI on the red eye this morning at 6:50am it wasn’t an option.

I snapped a couple of pictures of Baltimore with my phone on the way home.

This one is the entrance to the old train station (Penn Station). It looked nice at dusk with the light on so I thought you would enjoy it.

Here are two pictures of old row houses on Charles Street. This type of architecture is very common in the heart of downtown Baltimore.

Once we got home I made a quick salad for us for dinner while Dan was printing board passes for tomorrow. We each had a head of shredded romaine, thinly sliced cucumber, and thinly sliced carrot. I topped this with the leftover Ian salads from last night, a dollop of cheezy white bean dip and a few sliced tomatoes. This was an easy yet tasty meal. It was also Dan’s first taste of the cheezy white bean dip and he enjoyed it. Woo hoo! As you can tell the fact that Dan liked it made me happy. My buddy Courtney mentioned that she also makes a mozzarella version of the white bean dip so I will play around with that concept soon too. ;-)

After the salad Dan was certain he had not had enough calories today, and this time I actually agreed with him. I made him a batch of strawberry and banana soft serve for dessert (no oats). He suffered through the entire recipe, except for two spoons I had.

We had to turn in early since the alarm was set for 4:45am so that he would make his flight. There is nothing like flying to Florida and back for a few meetings in one day. *shakes head* Whenever possible Dan tries to be home to sleep so Thursday is going to be a very long day for him.


No one should get up when it is still going to be dark for another 2 hours. *ugh* I am not a morning person and seeing it at 4:45 in the morning does not help that fact.

While Dan was getting a shower I put together a green smoothie for him that contained: 2 frozen bananas, 2 kale leaves/stems, 2 collard leaves, 1 handful of walnuts, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ginger and green tea to blend. Since I had made cold processed green tea last night before bed I also sent him out the door with a travel mug of iced green tea and two Mareblu Naturals nut bars in case he got hungry while traveling.

I am going to try to go back to bed now. I have to say that I am looking forward to being home today to get a few things accomplished here. I also hope to have time to spend in the kitchen today. Not cooking at all yesterday has me a little antsy. ;-) Talk to you all again soon. Wish me luck getting back to sleep.


  1. I'll take apps 1, 3, 4 please. Thanks. ;-) Sounds like you guys had a lovely time. And happy bday to Dan! Love all the pictures. The only one! ;-)

  2. Heather,

    You are too cute! ;-)

    We did have a great time and have been out of the house a lot except for sleeping.

    Poor Dan had to work on his b'day but we will celebrate this weekend when we have time. He is already in Florida this morning.

    I was the one with the camera, hence no pictures. Dan is not the best photographer. I have many pics of me with fingertip in them, LOL. But I will see if we can get one soon sans fingers. ;-)


  3. I love the photos of Baltimore. I have a neat shot of row houses I should send to you from when I visited last year.

  4. Brigid,

    I love the old row houses too. We see them everyday so sometimes we don't really "see" them if that makes any sense. I would love to see the pic you took. Do you remember where you were when you took it?

    talk to you later,

  5. Happy Birthday to Dan! I hope he had a great day :-)

    What cooking class?!? Did you used to take a class with Dan? What fun!

    I hope you got back to sleep and got some rest, or at least that you take it a little easy sounds like you have had some long days!


  6. Good Morning Courtney,

    Dan did have a good b'day though we will officially celebrate this weekend. Anytime we can stop at Cafe Atlantico we are both very happy. ;-)

    Dan and I went to cooking class together every Wednesday for years. The classes weren't vegetarian let alone vegan so we had to stop going. However we loved all the regulars and the instructor and got to know them very well. It was nice to see them again, it felt like old home week.

    I wasn't able to fall back asleep darn it. But I am going to take your advice and take it easy today. I just tried a hot bath to see if that would help and I feel a bit more awake now.

    talk to you later,

  7. Oh, good to see that there will be more birthday celebrations this weekend, although that meal looks stellar.

    That is an early morning - hope you have a good Thursday nonetheless.

  8. Jessica,

    It feels like all I have done is eat for the last day and a half. I am looking forward to a big salad today for lunch, LOL.

    Jose is a culinary genius! Can you tell I am a bit smitten? LOL! It was a lovely birthday lunch and both Dan and I loved it. We are trying to coordinate dinner with friends on Saturday for more b'day celebrating.

    Being up since 4:45 I can not believe it isn't 10am yet. I wasn't able to fall back asleep darn it. ;-) I am definitely going to spend some time in the kitchen today though. Cooking always energizes me.

    hope you have a good Thursday too,

  9. Great pics as always. I love the flowering tea at the restaurant! That is my favorite. I honestly don't think I have ever had brussel sprouts, nor do I know how to cook them. Suggestions?

  10. Carissa,

    I love flowering tea as well. Dan bought he a huge supply I need to make some today.

    Brussels sprouts are more nutritious when lightly cooked. I like mine still crunchy. You can roast them, steam, or saute them. There are a few recipes for them on my blog. I think the one with citrus (I think it was orange) and poppy seeds is my favorite. I hope that helps.


  11. The food looks delicious! :) And thanks for the pics of Baltimore. I love to travel and see new places and you allowed me to do that from my living room today! :)

  12. I do believe that I would have to skip all the appetizers and go straight for the pizza. :o) Looks like you had some tasty food.
    I love the bowl that the guacamole is in!
    Happy Birthday to Dan!
    I want to take some cooking classes, but there's nothing around here vegetarian or vegan, and I sure don't want to learn how to cook Even though I guess I should for my husband. :o) Hope you have a good Thursday!

  13. Michelle,

    Ian knows we try to eat mostly veggies which is why he made the salads for us. I was so full on salad I had a hard time eating one slice of pizza.

    I will share your b'day wishes with Dan. Thank you very much for them!

    If I could find vegan cooking lessons I would go. However they don't exist around here either. *rolls eyes* I have friends that tell me I need to give the classes since there isn't anyone else doing it. ;-)

    I had a very lazy Thursday since I was so tired. However I did get my wish to stay home today. ;-)

    hope you had a good Thursday too,

  14. Angel,

    It seems like all we have done is eat out lately. But you are right, it was delicious.

    Glad you like the pics of Baltimore. I try to toss those in when I can.


  15. Happy belated birthday to Dan! Looks like quite the feast. I think the avocado, mango, jalapeno would be my favorite, too. And I love those photos of Baltimore--looks like such a beautiful place!

  16. Ricki,

    Thanks so much for the b'day wishes, I just told him. We celebrate b'day week or month around here so you had plenty of time to get the b'day wish in.

    They flavor of the avocado, mango, sweet potato, and jalapeno was really good. I am fairly sure there was lime and cilantro in there too. If you are interested I will get the specifics out of the chef in the next few days.

    Glad you like the pics of Baltimore. It is lovely old east coast seaport town. I need to spend more time photographing it and sharing that with everyone.

    hope you are having a good evening,


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