Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lunch at Jaleo and Cherry Blossom Festival

Tuesday morning I was in a fabulous mood and looking forward to spending the day with Dan. Since he rarely takes time off of work this was a special treat. Not to mention I loved the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC the last time we were there so I knew it would be a great opportunity to take photographs. We were both planning to stop at Jaleo for a bite to eat which is always great.

Breakfast for both of us was green smoothies. I am adding cooked quinoa to them these days for a little extra protein. The remaining ingredients are the same: frozen banana, raw kale, wheat germ, freshly ground flaxseed, cinnamon, powdered ginger, water (in mine) nut milk (in Dan’s). Dan’s smoothie also gets a tiny bit of stevia which I don’t use in mine.

Dan had to send a few emails for work and make a phone call which meant we were running late. I wasn’t too worried since the days are getting longer now I knew there would be plenty of sunlight for my photographs.

Here is a picture of cherry blossoms in Baltimore as we left town.

When we got to DC we drove around (very slowly) looking for parking for over 45 minutes. To say the area around the tidal basin was mobbed would be an understatement. Since I had not packed any snacks we decided to go to Jaleo for a late lunch and then return to the cherry blossoms later in the day when it would hopefully be less packed.

While Dan was taking care of getting one of those parking slips for the dash of the car I waited in the car. I looked up and who was on the corner? OMG right there in front of me was Jose Andres. I could not believe it. He was talking to someone and then they both got in a cab and drove away. I snapped a few pictures with my cell phone (one is above) to show Dan but none of them were fabulous. Darn it! Oh well, at least I saw him right?

Once we got to the restaurant Dan needed to make another work call which meant I needed to entertain myself for about 20 minutes. Thank goodness for my smart phone. I decided to text a few friends while I waited.

Here is the front of the menu which tells you the meaning of Jaleo. I am sure this has been on the menu for a long time but I just noticed it…probably because I was killing time. Cute huh?

I also took this picture from the table looking outside. We arrived between lunch and dinner and practically had the restaurant to ourselves.

Since Dan was gone so long I had plenty of time to decide what to order because Dan usually leaves that up to me. We started with the gazpacho and Moorish chickpea and spinach soup and both were delicious.

Here is how the olive oil that comes to the table for the bread with fresh crushed garlic and a sprig of rosemary. I used to do this at home but also added hot crushed peppers which I assume is more Southern Italian. Some days I miss olive oil and fresh bread more than others. This was one of those days.

When we finished our soup I looked up and saw Jose over Dan’s shoulder being interviewed by the New York Times at the bar. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He had just left, and it was definitely him since the clothing was identical. Dan told the server we would love to meet him but didn’t want to interrupt. She said she would see what she could do. More on that to come later in this post.

Next we ordered the Brussels sprout with apple, apricot and grapes. Wow this was amazing. I would have never thought of this combination but it was terrific.

We also ordered one of our favorites the mushrooms in lemon and garlic which are always excellent.

The last dish of the day was another old favorite the cauliflower with dates, olives and smoked paprika. Another combination that I would have never thought of but again it was terrific.

Once I noticed Jose at the bar I kept glancing up to see what was going up. Customers seemed to have no problem interrupting him and getting their picture taken with him. Interrupting Jose felt so intrusive to me there was no way I could do that. The picture above is Jose after he graciously stopping his interview to have his picture taken with fans. The New York Times reporter took the photo for the couple. I wondered if this couple knew what was going on before they came to the table?  Jose was so calm about it this must happen to him all the time.

We ordered a couple pots of blood orange tea since Jose was still talking to the reporter. When we noticed a third man join the table we were both certain that we wouldn’t get to meet Jose but it was okay. I am not capable of interrupting his interview so I accepted that it wasn't meant to be. We finished our tea and were wrapping up when Jose headed for the front door. I was so disappointed and then he came around the corner with a big hola (Spanish for hello) and introduced himself, as though that was necessary. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had convinced myself that we wouldn’t get to talk to him and there he was. Luckily Dan was able to speak since I could hardly get a few sentences out, LOL. Jose is very nice, a bit of an introvert and almost shy. I was quite surprised by all of this. But then again I seemed shy in that moment and that is hardly the case either. Jose has the best eyes; they just sparkle as though he is up to something. I have to say lunch was great but meeting Jose was out of this world.

For those of you that don’t know who Jose is let me explain. He is what I would call the superstar chef of DC. He has a number of restaurants in DC, and more in Las Vegas and LA. When he was on Iron Chef America he beat Bobby Flay. Jose has been interviewed by Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes here is the video.  Additionally Jose also has a TV show on PBS "Made in Spain".  Everyone in the restaurant business knows Jose. I am most impressed by his charity work at DC Central Kitchen which I think is terrific. Oh yeah, in the 60 Minutes interview when he called fruits and vegetables sexy and said meat was overrated I couldn’t believe my ears. Yes, I am quite the fan in case you hadn’t noticed. Dan could not stop teasing me after Jose left. In the 20+ years Dan and I have been together he has never seen me speechless. Heck, I even talk in my sleep but somehow I couldn’t string two sentences together with Jose. *ahhhh* What an afternoon. ;-)

We went back to see the cherry blossoms but honestly they were never going to be able to stand up to meeting Jose which was so thrilling for me you have no idea.

Here are a couple of shots of the blossoms that I didn’t post earlier this week.

Next we decided to make a run to the Mediterranean Bakery for a few supplies. Unlike the name implies they are more grocery store than a bakery in my opinion. They do have fresh made flat bread but we went for the unusual spices, dried beans and whole grains. I went in for a few things and came out with over a $100 of stuff. *bats eyes* I lose control when shopping for food apparently.  ;-)

Next we headed back to Baltimore for dinner. We missed seeing Ian but it was late so we expected him to be gone for the day.

I had to tell Emily about meeting Jose and she was very entertained that I couldn’t speak. I am sure anyone that knows me is still laughing at me being speechless since it never, ever happens.

For dinner we ordered a whole wheat pizza with potatoes, zucchini, fennel, onion, tomato, olives and golden raisins. If you are wondering how we can up with this combination that answer is simple. We often ask the kitchen to use vegetable sides to top pizza. By doing that we get the best of both worlds, Ian’s creativity and we don’t bother the kitchen much. This vegetable combination was something he was serving under a fish dish that evening.

We also ordered Tuscan carrots…..

broccoli and garlic ….

and green and hibiscus tea.

It was a very long day but a great one. I can’t imagine what could have made this day any better.

Happy thoughts:

• The highlight of this day had to meeting Jose Andres. It has been days now since we talked to him and I am still over the moon about it. It would be hard to imagine what would have made this a better day.

• Of course the Cherry Blossoms were gorgeous and I got some fantastic pictures of them. It was great to finally make it back to the festival since we talk about it every year and never go. Shame on us. *wags finger*

• I picked up some terrific stuff at the Mediterranean Bakery which I will tell you more about later. This post was entirely too long to go into details today. For those of you that are local to the DC metro area I highly recommend this store they have things that are tough to find elsewhere. In fact this is where I always buy my mastica which I use in Middle Eastern food.

• I am even starting to enjoy Facebook which is a riot since I drug my feet so long on this. Expect more on this soon.

• It was a fabulous day for both of us today. There is no one that I would have rather shared the day with than my hubby.

Signing out:

It turns out I took over 300 pictures on Tuesday and it took me many hours to go through them all. I need to learn to take fewer pictures I think. LOL

Here are the pictures Dan and I took of each other in DC. Sorry for the sunglasses we tried removing them but then we were squinting. In the end the pictures with the glasses were better.

The next post will be of cooking class this week. I am probably going to omit or seriously abbreviate Thursday and Friday so that I can get caught up on my posts. I hope you all have a great start to you weekend. Talk to you again tomorrow.


  1. Gorgeous pictures. And what is that I spy??? A picture of you ;-)

  2. Heather,

    LOL, you are too funny! No that was a random stranger I took a picture of (just kidding, I crack myself up...LOL). ;-)

    The cherry blossoms were gorgeous this year but the highlight of the day for me was meeting Jose.

    I hope you are having a great weekend,

  3. WOW!!! I'm geeking out about YOU meeting Jose! He is amazing! I would also have been speechless (and then later have thought of a million things to ask him).

    Are the cherry blossoms really as romantic as I imagine? Your pictures are beautiful.

  4. Jackie,

    I am never speechless .... but somehow I was that day. Thanks for understanding. ;-) It was definitely the highlight of my week.

    The cherry blossoms are gorgeous but the festival is packed so that does detract a bit from the romanticism. It is fun when the blossoms start to fall and it looks like pink snow. By that time the crowds have died down a little.

    talk to you later,

  5. I also meant to let you know that your skin is absolutely gorgeous! Have you noticed a difference since your lifestyle change?

  6. Jackie,

    That is very sweet of you thank you very much. Yes, I have noticed a diffference in my skin since I cleaned up my diet. At first I thought it was my imagination until people started commenting on my skin. Believe it or not at almost 48 years old I will now go out without foundation or powder and haven't been able to do that since I was in my early 30's. It is amazing the impact that food can have on all facets of health.

    Hope you are having a good Sunday,

  7. Hi Ali! I just got a chance to read your post today and agree that this is a great post-food, beautiful scenery. What more could you want?!

    I also wanted to say that the combinations from lunch (brussels sprouts with grapes and apples, and then cauliflower with dates and paprika)seemed simple and strange, but sounded delicious. Sometimes I overlook these recipes when I'm browsing cookbooks because I think it's so simple that I dont need a recipe. But sometimes, the recipe is more of a reminder to pair these foods together rather than a how-to for new inventions.


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