Wrapping it up in Baltimore

The end of my trip home was great and packed with lots of food and lots of visitors.

Since it had snowed on Tuesday, my Aunt was not able to take the train down from NYC for the day.  We pushed this back to Friday.  With that came a lot of cramming in to those final hours in the States.

After I picked my Aunt up from the train station we headed to do some shopping (Target and Old Navy).  Then we went to meet my mom at the Stone Mill for some lunch.  Remember how I straightened my hair the day before?  Oh well, it rained, and it rained...of course, but I managed to keep my head somewhat dry.

My Aunt and my sister split lunch.  They had a black bean wrap with fruit.
They also had a veggie wrap.
My mom enjoyed some chicken soup, which I bet was perfect for the rainy weather.
Then she had a Caesar salad.
I had the powerhouse, which remains as my fave sandwich of all time.  I love spouts so a sandwich that has sprouts as the main feature is a perfect 10 in my book.
After lunch we headed home so I could pack a little.  I had to be at the airport Saturday morning so early and had late night plans Friday, so I let my Aunt and sister rest a little while I packed my goods up.

My Aunt brought me these from NYC.  This is mung bean fettucine and black bean spaghetti.  My sister has tried them before and my Aunt brought her more and then some for me to try.
I was feeling the pink while shopping at Old Navy.  I am excited about these pink rain boots.  We got these piggy banks so we can all start saving for a trip together in 2012.  So excited for these plans!
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Can you believe I had enough room in my 2 suitcases for almost everything?  I only shipped 2 boxes home this time.

Dinner was at a favorite vegetarian place of ours in the city, across from the Hopkins campus.  This is One World Cafe.  Most things are vegan, but they do have a tuna fish sandwich on the menu I think.  We also chose this place because it is close to the train station.  My friend Carolyn, who was my roommate during my dietetic internship, drove from Philly for dinner (and drinks later) and met us here.
Both my Aunt and my sister had the vegan stuffed shells. 
 The filling was a tofu mix.
I had the meatless meatball sub with soy cheese, so my Aunt could have a taste.
Then Carolyn showed up and ordered this insanely huge open faced portabella mushroom sandwich.
This thing was HUGE!
After dinner I dropped my Aunt off at the train, drove my sister home, and then Carolyn and I headed to meet up with the gang for drinks at Christopher Daniel.

Here are two of my bestest friends.  Actually, Mer and I have known each other for years.  We danced together when we were 6 and then reunited in High School.  Then we went to Muhlenberg College together, which is where she met Matt.  Strangely, Matt was from Baltimore too, which was super cool.  Matt quickly became part of our family.  They were the couple I ate with the night before at Zen West.
Here is my other best friend, Carolyn.  She is super awesome and drove about 2 hours just for dinner and drinks, then drove home (not drunk I will add) at midnight back to Philly.
Somehow food started to be ordered by Jon (not pictured because he disappeared when we were taking pics).  This is the lobster mac and cheese.  I guess if I did not already eat dinner this would have been great to try.
Instead, we stuck with some beer.
Ok, then I got hungry and ordered a PB cookie ice cream sandwich.  It was worth it.  Glad that Carolyn shared it with me.
That pretty much ended my trip.  It was great, but too short.

The next morning I was up ridiculously early for the plane.  I was flying Space A so I had to be there early.  I stopped by the Kosher Dunkin' Donuts by my mom's house on the way to the airport.  I wish this was a better picture because then you could see that this place has veggie sausage and a veggie chicken sandwich.  Because of the kosher dietary rules, they are a dairy facility and therefore no meat.  This is perfect for me because I love the faux meat options.
Once I got signed in at the airport I sat down to enjoy my english muffin with egg, cheese and veggie sausage.
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Here is where my nerves kicked in.  They called all the categories before to get their tickets.  I immediately knew something was wrong.  I sat and waited and then someone came over to let me know that the plane was full.  I knew there was only 6 open Space A seats, but did not think I would not make it on.  They were all higher categories than me.  

They told me (and another person) that there were still 5 people not yet checked in and that if they did not show, we could make it on the flight.  Now, the week before the same thing happened to this guy, but as he was waiting at the gate the other passenger arrived and he got bumped.  So, I think this week they were being extra cautious and kept us there until 10 minutes before the scheduled board time.  None of the passengers showed and we both got on the flight. Boy was I relieved.  I do not mind an extra week in the States, but I had work and other things that needed to be done.

At one point I noticed there were no clouds and just blue ocean below.
Here was what I was served because there was nothing vegetarian on the menu.  I can't reserve a meal in advance because I never know if I actually have a seat on the flight.
I was looking forward to trying this brownie despite this small treat having 250 calories.  I love how they make it look so healthy and report it is all natural and I think organic too, but in the end, it is still "junk food".  
Too bad we hit some major turbulence and this fell on the floor after it was opened.  That was not nearly as bad as the soda that spilled on me.  The kid behind me tossed his cup over the seat when we hit a rough patch and all the ice fell in my lap.  It was so cold and I was also panicked from the shock of the bumps and the drop of the plane.  I can say this was one time I was extra glad that I had a blanket covering me so I did not end up soaked.

Then we went back to a mostly smooth flight.  I tried to get some good shots from the plane, but it was only on my iPhone.  This is the island of Faial below.  You can see the patch of land just below the wing.
Here is a close up and then the regular shot of Pico, or at least the top part which breaks through the clouds.  If you missed my post about the trip there, I will tell you that Pico and the peak here is the highest point in all of Portugal.
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Well, that concludes my trip home to the States.  My next time in the US will be when we move over the summer.  Stay tuned because in the month of March I will be having a giveaway guessing game for our new location.  Yes, we know.  Nope, I am not telling yet!

QUESTIONS:  Do you have a kosher DD near you?  Have you ever seen the black bean pasta or mung bean pasta?  When was the last time you had a bumpy plane ride?

Way too much food…

Every time I come to visit the States I am reminded how much eating is a truly social event and part of life.  When I get together with family members and friends it usually revolves around a meal.  So I wind up booked for lunches each day and dinners…and even second dinners.  Obviously I am having a great time and getting in some good eats at various local Baltimore eateries.  Below are some of those meals shared in great company with great conversations.

Day 4:

I couldn't resist this picture of my sister's oatmeal that she had for breakfast.  I had a chobani and then a few bites of this oatmeal.
My sister and I decided sushi would be great after we went for a mani and pedi.  We wanted something near the house because I had a webinar to attend in the afternoon.  We picked this place called Edo Sushi.  Good thing we did because we were pleasantly surprised. 

Could not resist starting off with edamame.  Not sure how long it has been since I had some, but it has been a while.
My sister started off with a seaweed salad.  So glad I tried it because I thought I hated it, but I was wrong.  It was really good.
I had a shrimp salad to start.
This was really good, and really thick sesame ginger dressing.
The lunch special came with 2 rolls and a miso soup. 

I had the philly roll and spicy scallop roll.  Plus, as a bonus, this place does brown rice sushi.  That was really cool.
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My sister had a California roll and eel roll.
When they brought the check they brought these cute little strawberry rolls.
After running around and doing the ADA webinar, I met up with an awesome blogger, Beth, who is from Baltimore too.  Have you seen her blog before, 990 Square.  She is an awesome cook and baker, plus she is super nice in person too (like I would have expected otherwise!).
After running around a little more I was a little late to dinner with my dad and step mom.  They wanted to take me to a place they like called 7 West Bistro.
We started with bread and oil, but I didn’t want to eat too much because we had an appetizer coming.
My dad and stepmom both had a salad.
Here is a dip platter with many different ones, including some hummus and an eggplant dip.
I had the super giant crab cake.  Hey, this is Baltimore!
My step mom had a chicken gyro.
My dad had a gyro too but with lamb.
Now, here is where things get crazy.  After dinner I went to my friend Marie’s house.  I was having second dinner with Marie at Ocean Pride (check it out, they ship seafood anywhere in the US).
Marie had some soup, and then we split the crab pretzel (one of my fave MD treats) and a piece of PB pie.  Curious about the crab pretzel?  It is a soft pretzel topped with crab dip and then melted cheese on top.
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Ok, I admit to an extreme stuffed feeling by the end of the day, but I am glad I got to see so many people and enjoy such good food with everyone.

Day 5:

We started our day with the hair salon.  Padma Salon is a cute little salon near where my sister lives.  My sister was having her hair cut, but I didn’t need a hair cut just yet, so I decided while I waited that I would have my hair blown straight.  She did a great job.  My hair is usually a crazy mess.
After this we picked up my grandmother and went to a place near her condo for lunch.  This is Mari Luna Latin Grille.
I love this place because not only do they serve my favorite salad, but they give these pop-overs at the start of the meal. 
My sister and I split a shrimp and garlic lime appetizer and a bowl of squash soup.
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Then all of us got the crab salad.  This is the BEST salad ever.  It has lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and a TON of lump crab meat.  It is so good and every time I come home I make sure to come here and get this salad.
The afternoon was spent shopping for, oh yes, food and wine.

I picked up these bottles of wine to take back.  I always bring Portuguese and Azorean wine back to the US and then I bring US wine back with me to the island.
Oh, how cute is this jacket.  I picked it up the other day at Target.
I also got this.  My husband will be happy (assuming it works).
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Here are some of my Trader Joe’s purchases.  Have you tried any of these?
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These I bought the other day at a grocery store.  This is my favorite PB.  I love Crazy Richards!
I also picked up some dog treats and dog food.  Can you tell at this point in my trip I was starting to pack everything up?
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Dinner was at Zen West with my sister and my friends Meredith and Matt.
Mer pointed this fun sign out to me.  Yes, it made for a fun picture.
This place is actually Mexican, so we started with some chips and salsa.
My sister and I were splitting food again.  We ordered a veggie taco and a mahi mahi taco.  The server was kind enough to give us veggies on the side because the red rice was cooked in chicken stock.  They also gave us black beans instead of the refried beans because they had pork.  It is nice when servers take the time to check on food components and then finding substitutions.
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I also got the dairy on the side.  My sister is lactose intolerant, so I kept this far away from her food.
Mer and Matt shared some empanadas.
Mer had an enchilada.
Matt had some crazy burger with some guacamole.  Looks really pretty for a burger.
Now, if you aren’t stuffed just from looking at the pictures, you have a much bigger stomach than I do.  I could barely get this post together and look over all the pictures.  I am STUFFED!  But, I am happy that this time was well went with my friends and family.  I still have one more full day and I am looking forward to all of the fun things that we have planned.

QUESTIONS:  Have you tried any of those TJs products?  What is your favorite TJs product?  Ever had brown rice sushi?