Category Archives: Uncategorized

Operation Chile – Day Two “Borago”

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One of the top 50 restaurants in the world Borago is a very forward thinking restaurant. They are foragers, seeking local ingredients as a way of life. They say “as one forages the other cooks”. The chef although cooking in a modern way uses only ingredients from Chile and has tremendous respect for the Mapuche, who are the original inhabitants of the area, using the foods they would have lived on as a major inspiration for his cooking. If you are any where near Santiago, Chile this is a must go!  Although you will need a open mind and be ready for a true Chilean experience.

Upon arrival the restaurant is modern, very busy, the aroma, very appealing of food but not always recognizable. We are greeted warmly and offered a small snack before being seated.  What ever they said the snack was, I have no idea, but it was good.

We had a choice of a six course or a nine course “Endemica” Which is a journey across Chile. What was to follow was about nine courses not including what they call “snacks” which appear randomly in between courses, seemingly at the whim of the kitchen.

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Berlin De Pate’

Fermented and Raw Pewen, Pebre of Toasted Flower Marraqueta

Sea Urchin, Green Salsa of Chia Seeds

This was a bit of a first course. The sea urchin was very fresh and the most surprising part of the dish was the green chia seed salsa. Slightly chilled and served underneath the sea urchin which was perched on a unique gray cracker, the chia seed salsa was incredibly fresh with just the right acidity. A bit of the chia salsa on the sea urchin was a great balance. Were we supposed to combine the two? No idea, but I’m glad I did!

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Crudo of Deer from Valdivia, Locos Mayo

Again very fresh and flavorful. Not only a unique presentation but the venison had a great “pop” of lemon.  Pictured in the back of the photo is the restaurants take on the famous Chilean drink “Pisco Sour”.

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Cold Pulmay, Jevia from Central Coast and Apples

Tasty and again very fresh, but a bit too tart.  I think this was a cold cuttlefish stew with apples.

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Chupe of Mushrooms from Quintay and Salad of Plants from the Shore

The stand out dish of the night! Served in a bowl that is wrapped like a package in what appeared to be a burlap type of blanket “infused with the essence of the earth”. Cooks deliver the dish and unfold the package, Immediately an olfactory explosion which does indeed completely smell of the earth, like being in a cave of dirt and mushrooms. Sounds questionable? It’s not. Tasting the Foraged Mushroom Chupe and salad while being surrounded by the aroma of the earth made for one of the best courses I have had, here or anywhere else. A very forward thinking take Chupe, a warm seafood dish often served here in the winter.

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Skins of Piure and Skins of Tangerines

Piure is a native seafood which lives in the rocks, it is not beloved by the Chileans. In this case the skin of the Piure, raw I believe, is stuffed with tangerine skins. . . The Piure is not beloved by me either. A very interesting dish to be sure, however it’s a challenge to love this. One thing to note this dish was the first of the “Sequence of Rocks”

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Rock Puree served with Rock Broth (Rock Broth poured tableside and not pictured)

I truly have no idea what this was, tasted a bit like a flavorful black bean puree in a “soy type broth” with some pickles. The unique thing the bean like substance was baked around a rock which you had to scrape off with a spoon. Very earthy and had a good feeling of umami. Enjoyable! Always nice while visiting another country to scrape a delicious but unidentified substance off a hot rock. Earthy broth. . . bonus!

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Conger Eel on the first Sea Stars of the Season

Perfectly cooked conger eel seemed to be brushed with a local honey and seasoned well. Then baked, the honey formed a crust which was perfect to adhere a lot of sea stars. Sea stars being little flowers that are around once a year for a few weeks. The cook delivering this dish was very excited about the flowers, and I mean excited. He had been waiting all year. The flowers were very good and being locally foraged by the cooks, even cooler. I must say however the conge eel stole the show. I would say this dish ended the “sequence of the rocks”.

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Free Range Veal and Flower from Trees of Early Spring

Very tender veal cooked in local cow’s milk. The flowers were foraged, again by the cooks, from around the city of Santiago. Also a surprise on this dish, they were able to make yogurt from 100% almond milk, simply by introducing the bacteria and keeping it at the proper temperature.

 

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This was a off menu treat!  A ice cream treat that tasted just like chocolate but was made from a local nut our seed.  There is also a dehydrated carrot preparation hanging from the branches, if you look closely.  This was not only fascination but really full of flavor

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Ulpo of Espino and Mushroom Ice Cream

Inside the pod, the Ulpo,  a unique sweet make with toasted flour and milk, a traditional dish prepared for children, it’s salty and toasty. We are told to pair it with the mushroom ice cream but not before being quizzed by the waiter on the flavor of the ice cream. It was tough to come up with the flavor but once we got it! The combination of the toasty and salty flour with the beautifully rustic flavor of the ice cream was perfect. One of the best dishes of the night.

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Tres Leches: Sheeps Milk, Goats Milk and Cows Milk

A sheeps milk ice cream encased in a local berry gel, goats milk stuffed berries and cows milk powder

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Salad of Rica Rica, Cenizo, and Cucumber

Explosion of unidentified flavors at first bite. It’s a salad of local leaves and cucumber. Here is the part that will make your mind explode. The salad is all foraged near or on a specific tree. The ice cream is made from a parasite which grows on that tree! In summary “Parasite Ice Cream Salad” is a must have!

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Liquid Nitrogen Meringues – A perfect way to end a meal! A minty – eucalyptus attack on the senses!

The Chef in his upstairs lab / think tank!

It was a great end of the evening to be able to see the upstairs area where the chefs seem to brainstorm, work on dishes, theorize, and I would imagine, regroup after a long service.

Hearing Chef Rodolfo Junto’s passion about the restaurant,  Chile, and his philosophy about food made a fantastic meal, service experience and evening even better.

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Operation Chile – Day one “The Afternoon”

Grand Vinos De San Pedro
Located at the foot hill of the Andes, the landscape was breath taking, weather was chili and the hospitality was warm!
Here are the picture from the tasting, tour and awesome dinner.  The wine maker here also spoke with passion about Terror, representing the land and taking care of the varietals.

Try the Altair when you can, the wines here were great, the Altair. . .  Fantastic!

Thyme to hit some Vineyards!

 

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Operation Chile – Day One in the Chilean Wine Adventure

Having never been to South America I was looking forward to arriving in Chile very enthusiastically. Having long been a wine lover I was looking forward to arriving in Chile even more enthusiastically!

Chile is a long thin country in South America. It is about stretching 2,670 miles long but only 217 miles across.  Chile is a land of extremes. Bordered by the Andes Mountains, the Patagonian Ice Fields, and or course the Pacific Ocean cooled year round by the Humbold Current. A goliath border between the Chile and Argentina the snowcapped Andes tower above Chile shrouded in fog. Seasons change, snow and glaciers melt and as the winter passes they create rivers which travel all the way to the sea.  Some rivers still flow, others stopped hundreds or even thousands  of years ago creating fertile growing areas for a variety of grapes. Some grapes grow well in the volcanic soil of the Andes, others in the granite of the coastal areas or the alluvial soil in in between. Chilean wine makers are pushing the limits and trying to grow grapes in other non-traditional areas, working there soil, learning and focusing on the grape and the terroir.

Lunch Day one has brought us to an awesome winery in Isla De Maipo, the De Martino Winery.  Martino has a slogan, reinventing Chile.  After hearing the wine maker talk he is all about having the variety of grape speak for its self, allowing the flavor of the land and the grape shine through.  There wines were very good and really showcase where they are grown.  Truly appreciate there hospitality, wine and knowledge here at De Martino.

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A really nice first course prepared for us by the winery.  A traditional Chilean dish made with local fish and cheese.

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Local Beef and Potatoes with naturally with a red wine reduction!

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This is a  unique and a very old fashioned and traditional way to make wine.  They make two types of wine using this very natural technique.  The wine is fermented in these clay vessels called tinajas.  The tinajas are sealed with adobo.  The wine is natural and sulfate free and have a very unique flavor.  A picture of the bottle is below.  Cinsault is a traditional Chilean grape.  They also use Muscat.

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Barrels aging on a rainy day at the De Martino Winery

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Traditional oak barrels aging at the winery

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Many wine makers are going to a larger oak cask to limit the exposure to the wood.  Let the true flavors shine through.

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Table set to go!

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A job well done, by the time the afternoon was over we tasted 12 wines and have a full afternoon to go.  Not to mention the four more days of visiting wineries.  Its a tough life.  More on the rest of day, and week in posts to come soon.

Thyme for some wine

Jason

 

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Easy and Spicy Pork Vindaloo

One thing I love about the cuisine of India is the fact that it is so full of flavor.  There is a reason it’s one of the most popular cuisines in the world. . .  It’s awesome.  I have always had a special place in my heart for Vindaloo.  Pork Vindallo, epic dish from the region of Goa.  Tangy, spicy, full of spices and flavor.  A stick to your ribs dish that will really remind you why you love food!

This is a relatively easy dish to make, not completely traditional but very close.  It takes a bit of time on the stove to get done if you use the pork shoulder, which I recommend if you have the time. Nothing compares to the depth of flavor achieved during long slow cooking!  The pork shoulder will take 4 or so hours to get tender.  Time well spent!

A even quicker option would be to make the base and keep in in the cooler.  If you are in a hurry for dinner take some of the sauce out and start reducing it.  Get a few pork chops out (or chicken breasts) of the refrigerator dice them up and add them to the sauce once it is 1/3 of the way reduced.  Cook the meat in the sauce until done and the sauce coats the meat.

Cooking the pork shoulder is a simple process stir it every so often the closer to when its done you will have to stir it more often as the sauce gets reduced.  If the pork is not tender when the sauce it getting too thick you just add a bit of water and continue cooking.

You want to have the meat beautifully tender but not shredded.  If you take your eye off it too long and it does shred, don’t worry, life is still good.  You can make tacos!  Put some of this on a tortilla with cheese, lettuce, tomato and some salsa.  You will be a believer!  Tacos are a great way to use leftovers of Vindaloo.  Another awesome way to use up some left overs is on eggs in the morning with a bit of naan bread or tortilla.

One last note.  Do not skimp on the quality of your spices.  Make sure they are not old.  If you do one thing make sure to buy powdered Kashmir chili only!  Do not even think of using a American style chili powder blend.  Kashmiri chili have a beautiful color and flavor.  They are a must, use 100% Kashmiri chili powder.

Serve with a nice toasted bread or some basmati rice.  I like this with a nice cold IPA or even a pilsner.

Ingredients

Base

2 onions, rough chop

1 inch of ginger (about 1/2 to 3/4 ounce), peeled and rough chopped

1 large can of diced tomatoes (28 ounces)

5 teaspoons ground cumin (10 grams)

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

10 teaspoons garam masala (20 grams)

6 to 8 teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder (100% ground Kashmiri chili), 8 if you like it spicy

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

7 FL ounces  red wine vinegar (200ml)

Main

3 pounds pork shoulder, diced to 3/4 inch cubes

3 curry leaves

Water as necessary

Salt, red wine vinegar, pepper, and  cardamom as necessary

1.  Put all base ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.

2.  While the main ingredients are being puréed heat a thick bottomed pot, big enough to hold the entire recipe.  When hot add 1/4 cup ghee (or olive oil) and begin browning the pork shoulder, if the pork cools the pan down and it doesn’t brown well don’t worry, just continue with the recipe.

3. Once the pork is browned off add the curry leaves and stir.  Add the entire base to the pork, stir and turn down to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for 3 to 4 hours, stirring every 20 min or so.  The closer to being done it gets more reduced the sauce will be and you will need to stir more often.  Also depending on the size of your pot and the heat you may find the sauce is too reduced and the pork is not tender.  If this happens add 1/2 cup of water, sir and continue cooking.  You can do this as many times as necessary.  You want the pork tender but not shredded so you wild have to watch at the end! (if it shreds make tacos!)

4.  Before removing from the stove adjust seasoning with Salt, red wine vinegar, pepper and cardamom as necessary.  This dish gets even better the 2nd day.

Thyme in,

Jason

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Blueberry – Butterscotch Dump Cake

Once you have Dump Cake on the brain it’s tough to abandon the thought. Such a simple dessert and so many possible variations. I had to get lunch together today and had only an hour to do it. A quick trip to the store produced some nice fresh corn, some turkey burgers, jalapeño, and avocado. . . sounds good so far right?  Got a lot better.

When I was passing the baking isle I thought of Dump Cake, as I am prone to do! I went with a classic made with crushed pineapple, blueberry pie filling and yellow cake. However some butterscotch chips caught my eye so in the cart they went.

Once I got home this was ready to go in the oven in less time than it took to preheat.

Ingredients

1 can crushed pineapple (about 20 ounces), not drained

1 can blueberry pie filling (about 21 ounces)

6 ounces butterscotch chips

1 stick unsalted butter (1/4 pound)

1 box yellow cake mix (about 16 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350f

1.  In a 9 by 13 pan put the pie filling and the crushed pineapple.

2.  Spread 1/2 of the butterscotch chips evenly over the pie filling.

3.  Top with  the dry cake mix, scatter the remaining butterscotch chips evenly over the cake mix.

4.  Slice the butter in 1/8th inch slices evenly top the Dump Cake.

5.  Bake at 350f until golden brown on top.  Typically about 40 minutes.

6.  I prefer to serve dump cake cold or room temperature.  Top with a bit of whipped cream.

Thyme for More Dump Cake,

Jason

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Strawberry – Pineapple Dump Cake

One of the simplest and best things in life. . . dump cake!

I was first introduced to dump cake several years ago.  I was just married and  relatively fresh from the Marine Corps.  My Wife introduced me to a amazing classic American dessert, Dump Cake!  Any time we had to go to a pot luck or when I  would have my friends to the house to play Dungeons and Dragons (not a dork), she would always make dump cake and have fresh whipped cream.  It was awesome.

Dump cake is simple easy and quick to put together.  Don’t feel any pressure to buy a expensive cake mix.  It has been my experience that the cheaper mixes work great. I suppose there are those that have figured out how to do this from scratch, with out the box cake.  I personally have never walked that path, perhaps some day, for now Its too good and easy the way it is.     One thing to always remember is to buy unsalted butter.  Then again, Its always good to use unsalted butter. . . One of life’s simple truths.

One of these days I will include her “original Dump Cake” recipe but for today I decided to make a slight variation.  Here in Texas we have had so many days of rain and storms it seemed like when we had a day of sun something with strawberries, or at very least strawberry flavor,  seemed like the natural thing to make.  Funny how once in a while something from a can or box hits the spot.  Dorito Topped Chili Dog Enchiladas come to mind. . .  ahh another day perhaps.  Today there is Strawberry Pineapple Dump Cake.

Ingredients

1 can strawberry pie filing (about 21 ounces)

1 can crushed pineapple, not drained (about 20 ounces)

1 box strawberry cake mix (15.25 ounces), I used Pillsbury Moist Supreme

1/4 pound butter (1 stick)

Preheat oven to 350f

1.  In a 9 by 13 pan spread both the pie filling and the crushed pineapple.

2.  Dump the cake mix on top, trying to keep it fairly even.  Cut the butter in 1/8th inch slices and place evenly over the cake mix.

3.  Bake at 350f for about 40 to 50 minutes depending on your oven.

4.  Remove when golden brown.  Your kitchen will smell amazing, you will crave dump cake.

5.  Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream or even just plain.  I prefer to serve this either room temperature or cold.

Thyme for dessert,

Jason

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Cauliflower Hummus

Is Cauliflower  a misunderstood and underappreciated vegetable? You bet!  It’s often regarded as a peasant vegetable, not elegant or full of flavor, and that’s just wrong!  Cauliflower has many wonderful uses – not the least of which is this awesome low carb, paleo friendly, healthy “hummus”. It also happens to taste great!

I  love all things hummus but once in a while I find myself looking for something just a little bit healthier (not that hummus isn’t good for you), something with just a few more veggies and less carbs.  This is it!  Healthy and fantastic.

In this recipe the cauliflower is grated then cooked in the microwave with a bit of water.  This can take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes depending on the microwave.  Its very important to cook  completely or it will be impossible to get the smoothness you will want.

Cauliflower Hummus

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

1/8th cup of water

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

2 ounces of tahini (Lebanese)

1.5 ounces lemon juice

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1.  Separate the head of cauliflower into flowerets that are a good size to grate.  Grate the cauliflower and put into a microwave save container.

2,  Add the water to the cauliflower and microwave on high for five minutes.  Cover and microwave at lest 3 more minutes (but up to 10 minutes depending on the microwave).  The important thing is its complete cooked.

3.  When the cauliflower is completely cooked put all remaining ingredients, including the cauliflower into a food processor and puree very well.  This could take 5 to 8 minutes.  Scrape down every minute or so with a rubber spatula.  This needs to be very smooth!

4.  Chill and serve with a drizzle of avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy and be healthy!

Thyme for a snack,

Jason IMG_2864 IMG_2849 IMG_2852 IMG_2859

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Quick, Easy and Delicious Hummus

Greetings all. I was recently enjoying a glass of wine (bottle actually) reflecting on things, life and hummus. Thinking of the old times when I lived in Dearborn, Michigan. Some if the best hummus in the world was a 5 minute drive away, to a restaurant called La Shish. In my post “Chasing the Hummus Ghost” I shared my experiences on trying to replicate the famed hummus of La Shish (complete with 15 years of failure).  I still hold to the belief that the recipe in that post gets really close to the magic of “la Shish”, however, I do realize not everyone wants to wait two full days to satisfy a hummus craving.

For years at work we have been making a “quick hummus” which has Greek yogurt in it. The yogurt adds creaminess and a tang to the hummus. Short of making the recipe from scratch with dried chickpeas this quick hummus is one of the best recipes you can find. It takes about 10 minutes to make, 5 to 8 of which is watching it puree in the food processor.

I can’t stress enough the importance of taking the time to make the hummus as smooth as possible. Put everything in a food processor and puree!! Every so often stop the food processor, grab a rubber spatula and scrape it the bowl down in case some chickpeas get stuck on the side or on the bottom. The cumin is optional. Some people are chickpea purists and would not want it, others like the extra spice. I fall directly in the middle and use it about half the time.

When I serve this I like to drizzle with some avocado oil (or extra virgin olive).  Use some nice warm flat bread or some nice crisp lettuce to scoop.

Thyme In,

Jason

Simple Quick Hummus

Ingredients

2 each 15 ounce cans of chickpeas (drained reserving ¼ cup of the liquid)

4 ounces Lebanese tahini

1 teaspoon of kosher salt (heaping)

4 teaspoons lemon juice

6 ounces Greek yogurt (2/3 cup)

1/4th cup of the drained chickpea liquid (optional)

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

  1. Drain the chickpeas, reserve ¼ cup of the liquid (adding the liquid is optional depending on the texture you like in a hummus)
  2. Place everything in a food processor except he reserved liquid.
  3. Puree very well. In my experience this can take 5 to 8 minutes. Occasionally stop the machine and scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula. While pureeing you can decide if you want the liquid in. It will help with the pureeing but will also make the final hummus a bit lighter than without. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
  4. Puree until ultra-smooth!

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Founding Farmers and a Long Absence

Greetings Friends,

Wow, It has been too long!  I apologize for my long absence from Thymelife, but life has been a bit of a whirlwind for the last few months and I let some things slide.  Not ok!

One of the main catalysts to this “sliding” was my accepting a promotion to Food and Beverage Director.  Having been a Chef for 20 years I have had to adjust to this new responsibility and for the lack of a better explanation . . .  I had to “figure this thing out”!   In short I have shouldered the extra load and am ready to get back to it!

To complete my last post about Washington DC.  A little about dinner at Founding Farmers.

Founding Farmers is a well known farm to table restaurant in Washington DC.  I had first heard of Founding Farmers while in the process of opening up Texas Spice (a farm to table restaurant in the Omni Dallas). Founding Farmers had a great reputation and a solid menu. Naturally when I had the chance to visit DC, Founding Farmers was on my radar!    I will say that due to my delinquency to post, the menu has changed.  I do believe they are holding on to many of the classics though.

Nice welcome experience, host stand was alert and receptive.  I really like the fact that they had reading material to look at while we waited (although we did not wait long).

Once seated service was crisp and on point.  We did not wait for drinks or food, which is great as this is something I am very sensitive to.  Quick service Is a plus!  The restaurant was busy and had a great buzz to it, a popular spot..

Savory courses were very strong.  I think the concept of a popcorn of the day is cool and hard to resist.  The deviled eggs were well seasoned and rustic, lots of flavor.  Fried green tomatoes were crisp and the sauces were balanced and tasty.  The farm bread was one of the stand outs, warm griddle chiabatta with a tangy sauce and perfectly smoked salmon.  The lobster mac & cheese was also a favorite.

If you make it to Washington DC I strongly suggest you head over to Founding Farmers, really great food and service!

Thyme Back

Jason

 

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Popcorn of the day

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Deviled Eggs

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Farm Bread with Smoked Salmon

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Dogs & Rolls

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Fried Green Tomatoes,  Remoulade and Green Goddess

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Chicken Pot Pie

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Lobster Mac & Cheese

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Cookie Platter

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Red Velvet Cake

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Cheesecake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Washington DC in Black and White

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Botanical Gardens

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Library of Congress

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Sculpture Gardens

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Capital Building

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World War 2 Memorial

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A seat inside the Supreme Court

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Elevator to the Highest Court in the land

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Outside the Supreme Court

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Justice! Outside the Supreme Court

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The beautiful Washington National Cathedral

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Washington National Cathedral

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Where I sat for lunch at Chipotle!

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In my next post I will show some photos from our awesome dinner at Founding Farmers!

Thyme out!

Jason