Santa Monica Farmers Market 

Wowee it’s been a crazy hectic, awesome, fun few weeks exploring California and spending time with family this past weekend for the very first weekend of college football! We took our Los Angeles trip just last week and boy do we have some exciting food and unexpected adventures to talk about. 

  
I wanted to start with our first real California culinary experience – The Santa Monica Farmers Market. This was far from our first California adventure though, from thinking we were going to have to hoof it because they weren’t going to give us a rental car to navigating traffic to get to our hotel in Santa Monica, the adventure started the second we stepped off the plane. More about why that happen later! So this farmers market was like nothing we’ve ever seen before. If you’re used to just going to your home town farmers market or even a big city farmers market, the Santa Monica Farmers Market would have blown your socks off. I mean, the most gorgeous organic, fresh, local produce I’ve ever seen in one place. For those of you following us on Instagram, you got a snapshot of the biggest and no doubt spiciest pile of peppers I’ve ever seen. Your eyes are constantly dancing around from one colorful booth to the next, you just don’t want to miss anything.

   
    
 Because we had just got there, and it was only about 9am their time but well into lunch hour our time, we were so hungry. We found ourselves a little food truck for some breakfast burritos that we will certainly post about soon! But beng in a market where everything was so fresh and perfect looking, we had to buy ourselves some blackberries and strawberries to munch on as we walked through admiring the other booths. When you bit into these huge juicy blacberries, you could just feel the lifetime of sun dancing on each and every one, filling the berries with the sweetest juiciest pop! Yum, now that’s my kind of market! 

   
    
 And of course the king of pastries got himself a chocolate croissant to enjoy as we were walking through too. One really cool thing that we noticed while stopping at different booths was that clearly most of the people there knew each other. And some of the farmers even referred to  a few people as “Chef” at different times, which really makes you feel like you’re among the best. The way that locals came together to support their farmers is something we really admire. So if you’re in LA or visiting, the Santa Monica Farmers Market is a must see!
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Chartreuse Bistro – Norfolk, VA [Review]

August 17th is a very special date for Kait and me. Yes, it’s in the middle of NFL preseason and college football fall camps, but even more important than that, it’s the day we got married. This year, since I’ll actually be home for it, we planned a trip to the West Coast. But because that was in a couple weeks, I decided we obviously needed to do something on the actual day. Unfortunately this year the 17th fell on a Monday and as we have come to realize, a lot of great places are closed on Mondays. So the Saturday before would have to do. 

There are a handful of places in Norfolk we’ve been wanting to try, so I thought it would be fun to surprise her and go to a couple of those places throughout the night. One thing we really love to do is get drinks and/or appetizers at one place and then go to another place for our meal. And if we’re feeling really crazy we’ll go to a third place for dessert. What can I say, must be the foodies in us. But three places is pretty rare and on this particular night we would only be hitting two.
Even though I was already planning this, the restaurant Chartreuse, helped to facilitate because the first reservation wasn’t til 9pm! Have you seen that episode of Modern Family were Cam & Mitch are trying to get reservations at a place called Amelia’s. Mitch tells Cam the only reservation available is 10pm. Cam says “What are we 20!?” And Mitch says “Or 5pm.” Cam: “What are we 80!?” Haha so true and this is exactly what we felt like. Though we are only in our 20’s, we usually like to go with the 7 or 7:30 reservation. It was a good sign though, because it’s pretty obvious that this place was going to be fantastic. 

It’s pretty apparent with a name like Chartreuse, it was going to have a heavy French influence. Both of us having been to France, so we were delighted when we walked in that the look really lived up to its name. Once we got there, it was obvious why the only reservation was at 9 o’clock. There were only 6 tables in the place! And when our meals arrived, we found out the other reason there were no reservations. This food was one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten! 

From the outside it really does look like a French bistro, a couple of floor to ceiling windows looking in on the cute tables, no sign or anything. The only way you’d find the place is if you were really looking or just wandering around downtown. 
To give you an idea of actually how small this place is, the entire restaurant is lit up by one lamp which is at the hostess stand when you first walk in. They also have a tiny tea light candle at each table, but that’s about enough light for a family of mice. So forgive us for the low lit images coming up. The lamp had a reddish pink tinge to it so it actually created a cozy romantic feel that kind of wrapped you in a warm blanket, which we really enjoyed.

After the hostess seated us and gave us our menus, our waitress came out with two champagne glasses in hand and sat down their signature champagne drink, told us “happy anniversary” and that it was on the house. Now I don’t know about you but starting the meal off with free champagne is a great sign AND a great way to get a good review out of Our Foodie Appetite 😉 Long story short, the drink was so good, we ordered another one and paid for it! 

Taking a look over the menu, we both were excited about what we were seeing. It wasn’t very big, but the 4-5 options in each category all sounded delicious. We learned from the waitress that the menu changes every day based on what the chef has AND everything is local and organic. If you’ve been reading us for very long, you know we are obsessed with finding farm to table restaurants and here we just stumbled on one without even trying. 

   
    I always like looking over the menu and seeing that there are only a few options because I know that each one has had a lot of time put into it and it’s going to be delicious. We both chose one item from firs secon and dessert courses, each thing different of course, tha way we could maximize the amount of tasting being done! For Kaits first course she got the local greens salad with peach vinaigrette, beets, pecans and red onion. She is obsessed with that sweet, salty and sour combo, so this salad really hit the spot. It even had small slices of white peaches on the bottom of the salad to bring forward the peach flavor in the vinaigrette. The perfect balance.

I went with the tuna crudo with herb aoli, kaviar, okra and a quail egg. It was the perfect mix of visually stunning and freaking delicious. The texture of the tuna was perfect, so much so that even Kait liked it, which is rare because sometimes raw fish has a bad texture for her. The raw quail egg mixed with the aoli made for the perfect creamy savory sauce that paired well with the somewhat sweet kaviar. The texture was so silky smooth and left me wanting more. It felt like a really classy dish that was also delicious. We’ve found that just because a dish is beautiful, doesn’t mean it tastes good. In this case, it didn’t disappoint.

For our main course, upon recommendation from our waitress, Kait got the pan seared rockfish with polenta, local vegetable ratatouille and thyme hollandaise. She is somewhat of a hollandaise connoisseur and by that I mean if she could have a direct IV of it, she would. Or maybe just spread it all over her body. If she could only drink one liquid for the rest of her life, it would be this. thyme. hollandaise. Maybe an exaggeration, but by how much she enjoyed it, I don’t doubt it’s true! And the ratatouille was wonderful! Many of the vegetables served at Chartreuse are grown right on the chefs local farm. 

I went with the house made potato gnocchi with local chorizo, lemon butter sauce, sorrel, banana peppers and cacio cheese. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. So much so that I really wish I was eating it again right now as I’m writing about it. I’m a big gnocchi fan, which I’ve ordered at a lot of places. You can do it very well, but you can also very easily mess it up. Well chartreuse did it perfectly. It was cooked correctly which brought out the creamy texture I always look for in a good gnocchi. Cooked right up to the point of being too mushy, but just short of that, which gives it that creaminess. A bite with the gnocchi, the peppery chorizo and the lemon butter sauce complimented each other brilliantly. I enjoyed the tang of the banana peppers, however at the end of the dish, I was left with a handful still on my plate, which meant there was just too many to begin with. Overall I would order this dish ten times out of ten. 

Although we were pretty much full at this point, there was no way we weren’t getting dessert. The meal was amazing so far, we couldn’t leave it hanging. And it was our anniversary, so we thought we owed it to one another. There was only one chocolate option on the menu which was the walnut chocolate torte. I already knew we were getting that because, for Kait, it’s not dessert unless it’s chocolate. The torte itself was outstanding, rich, thick and about as chocolatey as you can get without being too much. The bleu cheese mousse added an interesting layer. At first taste it just added a nice salty element, but after it sat on the palate it became very bleu cheesy. This was too much for me, but Kait liked a small bite of the whipped cream with each bite of torte to balance.

You didn’t just think we got one dessert did you? Um NO! Of course we got two! It’s our anniversary folks! The second dessert we got was a genoise cake with tomato jam and mint chantilly, which is a sort of thicker whipped cream. The cake was delicious, but the tomato jam was too tomato forward for me. It was just a bit strange. Kait loved the chantilly cream and thought it brought that fresh pop the dessert desperately needed. Overall the desserts were good, but we’re just dessert traditionalists and Chartreuse seemed to get a bit too out of the box. This was a nice interesting surprise at the end of the meal though, so we would definitely order dessert here again just to see what the chef has come up with. 

Chartreuse is one of those places that you’re not going to order something bad. It’s also a place where you should heavily rely on the waitresses opinion because they know what’s best that day. Even if you think you know what you want, just ask their opinion. 

Kait knows I’m the kind of guy that will ask the wait staff what’s best on the menu. I always ask for recommendations. Are you someone who asks for recommendations? Or when you know what you want do you just go for it? 
Chartreuse is certainly a place we will be back in the future. We can’t wait to see what the chef whips up next! 
   
  
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Family Photos at Fripp Island, SC

Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography

I LOVE the candids she got of us

My mother-in-law has been wanting a new family photo to go above their mantle and it’s so hard to schedule when everyone’s in town. We’re always running here or there and trying to see everyone we want to see and everyone that wants to see us. And unfortunately, we’re only able to be in town for a couple days at a time, so we rarely get to see everyone, leaving us without a moment to spare.

When we were in Fripp Island, SC a couple weeks ago, it was the perfect opportunity. Justin and I wanted to surprise them with a photo shoot and I think they really loved it! It was interesting trying to find a photographer in a city I wasn’t familiar with, but as a photographer myself, I tend to look through at least 6-10 pages of Google before deciding on one that I trust enough to capture us.

I came across Anna Darlak Photography on about the 5th page on Google and I was sold! She had some awesome candids and was familiar with shooting on the beach, which is a totally different game. You’ve really got to know how to play with the sun. Okay, enough of that nerdy photographer stuff 😉 Here are a few of our photos!

Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography

My sister-in-law and I. I always wanted a sister =)

Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography

Oh just being silly with Justin Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography

Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography

Mom & Dad

Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography

haha this is us Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography

Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography     Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography   Family Photos on the Beach Fripp Island by Anna Darlak Photography We are SO happy with how they turned out! This is just a small selection. If you’re in the Charleston, Fripp, Hilton Head, Savannah area, make sure you reach out to Anna Darlak Photography!

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Cafe Stella – Norfolk, VA [Review]

Cafe Stella Coffee Shop Review Ghent Norfolk, VA - Our Foodie Appetite

Cafe Stella is one of the first places that I was really looking forward to going when I came to visit Justin in Norfolk before we were married because he spoke so highly of it. He described it as a cute, vintage, very eclectic coffee shop where he would go and just spend hours reading, relaxing and enjoying the day. Doesn’t that sound lovely? When I first walked in, I knew it was the perfect place to spend a morning sipping a cup of coffee and reading your favorite book. Since that first day, we have been consistently coming to Cafe Stella for over two years!

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Steinhilber’s – Appetizers & Wine Only [Review]

Steinhibler's Appetizers & Dinner Review Virginia Beach Restaurant
I’m sure you all have gathered that this past Monday was our 2nd anniversary. We actually had a nice night in, eating dinner on our couch and watching a movie, on our actual anniversary. Saturday, Justin surprised me with appetizers & drinks at this awesome, very unique restaurant, Steinhilber’s . Later we went to dinner at Chartreuse. He’s going to tell you ALL about that awesome blossom experience soon!

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Caramelized Peach & Brown Butter Pie

Caramelized Peach & Brown Butter Pie There’s nothing like quality time with family spent relaxing together. We had the opportunity to go down to meet my husband’s family in Fripp Island, South Carolina last week for an awesome family vacation. We had so much fun just vegging on the beach and eating delicious foods. My mother-in-law is a great cook too, so we cooked some meals in together and went out to try some local restaurants a couple of times. More about those restaurants soon.

On our way home from South Carolina, we were on the lookout for a little market that would have peaches available since they’re so delicious in season. Peaches are Justin’s favorite, too, so I knew we weren’t making it out of the state without buying some! Thankfully we found a little market on the side of the road, off one of the exits called Abbot Farms. When we walked up, they had bags and bags of peaches. Unfortunately, they weren’t yet ripe, so we knew they wouldn’t be as juicy as we wanted, but we went ahead and bought some. The worker hooked us up too and gave us a few extra peaches in our bag, so we were satisfied.

After thinking hard about what I wanted to make with the peaches, I settled on a delicious peach pie. Then I started thinking about how I could make this pie different and even more delicious, while still sticking with the classics.

Caramelized Peach & Brown Butter Pie

LOVING my macro lens. Look at that peach fuzz!

I LOVE the way it turned out! Justin has already finished the whole pie, so I would say it was a huge success. This pie is more of an “adult” pie including the brown butter and caramelized peach. Kids would, of course, love it too, but it isn’t as sweet as a typical peach pie. Add a dollop of whipped cream or a big scoop of ice cream and you have the perfect balance of sweetness. We hope you love it too!   Caramelized Peach & Brown Butter Pie Caramelized Peach & Brown Butter Pie
Caramelized Peach & Brown Butter Pie Caramelized Peach & Brown Butter Pie I definitely didn’t wait the recommended two hours after baking to slice. IT LOOKED TOO GOOD!
Caramelized Peach & Brown Butter Pie

Caramelized Peach & Brown Butter Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 slices
 
Ingredients
  • 6-8 ripe peaches
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1½ tbsp flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • pinch of clove
  • ⅔ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • 1tbsp water
  • ½ stick of butter (browned in skillet)
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. First, get your pie crust ready by following the directions on the box. Some crusts require you to bake for 10 minutes before inserting the filling. Here's a tip: brush some of your beaten egg on the inside of the pie all around. This will keep the crust from getting soggy
  2. As you're waiting on the crust, start by peeling your peaches with a vegetable peeler. Cut the peaches in half and take out the pits.
  3. Start heating your pan with just a little oil in it because you want the pan to be hot, hot, hot! The goal is to quickly caramelize the inside (flat side) of the peach without cooking the body of the peach.
  4. Once your pan is heated, place your peaches (cut in half), flat side down. Allow the peaches to caramelize for about 30 seconds to a minute, bringing them to a dark golden brown or almost black color. If some of them go too far, it's okay. The flavors will all melt together.
  5. After you've caramelized the peaches, slice them up into a bowl and then add your water, cornstarch, flour, spices and sugar. Mix together well.
  6. Brown your half stick of butter in a skillet by starting on a low heat until all the butter is melted. Then turn the heat up a bit and swirl the butter around occasionally until it takes on a nutty smell and golden color.
  7. Combine your brown butter and your peaches. Fill your pie crust.
  8. Add your top crust and brush the top and edges with the rest of your beaten egg. This will allow for even browning. Make sure you cut several slits in the top crust as to not bubble and explode the top crust.
  9. Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 F for 30-35 minutes.
  10. If you notice your edges browning too quickly, cover them with strips of aluminum foil to keep from burning.
  11. Make sure you let the pie cool for at least 2 hours so you don't end up with a big gooey mess as you serve.

Have you been peach picking this year? What do you do with your fresh peaches?

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Princess Anne Farmer’s Market – Virginia Beach

Princess Anne Farmer's Market - Virginia Beach
Written by Kait.

As you can see, this Farmer’s Market is more like an outdoor grocery store with local produce than it is a true farmer’s market like you’d usually find. The structure stays up all year long and during the summer months, the local farmers bring their fresh produce just like any other market! It’s kind of nice because the show goes on even in the case of rain!

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One Fish Two Fish – Virginia Beach, VA [Review]

I’ll be honest, this was not the original restaurant we wanted to go to on this particular night, but I’m glad we tried something new. There was a private party going on in the dining room at 37 North, so we just made the short walk through the marina to One Fish Two Fish.

I had photographed a ladies dinner here about a year ago and I remember how beautiful the scenery was but never even looked at the food because my brain was in photographer mode. We’ve heard good things about the restaurant and had it recommended to us a couple of times so we were eager to try it! It helps that the dining room is lined with huge windows angled perfectly so you can watch the sunset over the water as you eat. The ambiance in the room is unimpressive aside from the low lights and the view. The very large dining room didn’t give us the intimate dining we would hope for if it was just us on a date night. But in this case, we had our family in town and it was a great environment for that – a little loud with the echoing chitter chatter of neighboring tables and the kitchen open to the dining room. It wasn’t so loud that we couldn’t hear across the table, though, so don’t let the noise level I’m talking about deter you. It’s a great classier family place. One Fish Two Fish - Virginia Beach, VA [Review]

During our meal, some great combinations and some less-than-great combinations came out of the kitchen, but overall it was a very satisfying meal. We started with the lump crab soup, which had a LOT of juicy crab in it. They certainly did not skimp on that! And the flavor was good, very crabby and creamy. Then came all of our meals. We debated whether or not to get the special, which was wasabi crusted rock fish with a kind of Korean style slaw with carrots, book choy and cabbage. Several people at the table ordered and we’re very happy with this. I will say that if you’re hungry, the calamari was a HUGE portion. I didn’t taste it and it appeared to be just a big plate of fried-ness, but it would fill you up!

We both ended up landing on something different though. I got the salmon because it was served with melon risotto and that sounded very interesting to us. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work. The melon was too sweet and the risotto too salty to really play well off of each other like they wanted. This was the only thing we didn’t like. Justin ended up with a fried grouper which had a good ratio of breading to fish, so he was happy. One Fish Two Fish - Virginia Beach, VA [Review]

You can see why we said this meal was just “very satisfying” and not “out of this world.” We enjoyed it but One Fish Two Fish wouldn’t be at the top of our recommendation list. The beautiful scenery is what makes this place, so if you are planning an evening out with friends or family, go during sunset and sit near the windows and you will have a great time.

One Fish Two Fish
Long Bay Pointe Marina
2109 W. Great Neck Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

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Photos taken from the One Fish Two Fish website.

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Belmont House of Smoke – Norfolk, VA [Review]

Belmont House of Smoke - Norfolk, VA Written by Justin.

Belmont House of Smoke is one of the only good options for BBQ in Norfolk. Kait and I have been there several times and it seems like each time we go, the food and service tends to decline. This last time we went was when her family was in town. It ended up being a typical outing with her family in which the restaurant we pick never lives up and isn’t nearly as good as we say it is. It was a Sunday night about 7pm and there weren’t too many other people in the restaurant, so we expected to at least get good service… Our waitress had other plans.

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