Sunday, December 17, 2017

The DMV Cheaters Guide for the Holidays 2017

I love food. A lot. One of the first things I do when going on vacation or visiting a new town is research the top coffee shops and bakeries. There's an itinerary list based on consumption. Yes, I'm that person whose ears perk up and shouts, "oh you're going there? you have to try this spot!" I'm not ashamed of it because it has helped broaden my palette and has inspired dozens of recipes.

With the holidays barreling forward, I thought it might be helpful to share a few choice spots. Some people simply do not have the time (or energy) to bake cinnamon rolls or decorate the perfect sugar cookie. This goes out to you - because "cheating" doesn't have to be a bad thing.

While there are local DMV vendors listed - I have also included a few that ship their delectable treats noted with asterisks*

1. Sub Rosa Bakery (Richmond, VA)

Oh how I wish with all my heart that you were closer - but in the same instance appreciate the distance - for if you were too close, I would be fat. Fat as a hen. Sub Rosa is my enemy and friend. They specialize in breads and pastries, specifically croissants. I have enjoyed every pastry that has come out of their oven. My favorites include the pain au chocolate (chocolate croissant) and sour cherry & pistachio croissant. The magic is their wood-fired oven that creates a crisp, airy pastry with well-defined layers of phyllo dough. I despise a meaty, dense croissant - it's just plain wrong.

To beat the rush as an out-of-towner, I place a special order! This way I can saunter in at 11am and still get all the goods of the morning rush crowd. Special Orders can be made for most pastries and bread 48 hours in advance and for quantities totaling 8 or more (any combination therein).

2. Joey Bats Sweets (New York, NY)*

This is a truly special treat and one that I hold close to my heart because it's a Portuguese tradition! Pasteis de Nata! They are delicious, egg custard tarts. Now I am expert in this area as I have been eating them since I could chew. My husband and I even went to Portugal for our honey moon and ate the original version, Pasteis de Belém. This recipe from Joey Bats is, hands down, the most incredible version that I have eaten in the US. The only one that can even hold a candle are the ones we ate on our honeymoon.

Serve warm with a slight dusting of confectioner sugar and cinnamon - it's complete heaven. For a limited time, they offer shipping for the holidays.

3. Rumalutions (DMV)*

I defy you to find a better Rum Cake than those made by Rumalutions. We met at the Farmers Market hosted in the Mosaic District and it was simply meant to be.  The smell... the heavenly breeze of vanilla lured me like a siren's song. They have an amazing selection of flavors, my favorites being the Amaretto cake and Coconut cake. I am not a big cake person plus I don't care for liquor but rum in a cake? They created Holy Grail of rum cakes.

Follow their Facebook page if you want to catch them at a local event or simply have it shipped to your home! These suckers are vacuumed sealed (talk about quality) and can last up to 3 months unopened in the fridge. You can even specify the amount of rum you want in the cake - from "more" or "less" rum. Awesome!

4. Society Fair (Alexandria, VA)

These guys have a little bit of everything so if you need help in the kitchen, not just the dessert table, they got you covered. Pre-order pick up is available for cakes, pastries, breads, and.... brace yourself... entire meals. You can have your entire Christmas Dinner, Brunch, or New Years Nosh covered. It is not cheap but neither are the ingredients going into these meals. If you don't want the entire meal, they also have individual sides and tons of cool treats in the store.

Items that I recommend include their signature green sausage (made by their in-house butcher) and salted Southern buttermilk biscuits for an awesome holiday morning.

5. Pie Sisters (Georgetown, DC)

We like Pie Sisters so much, we actually had them help cater our wedding! Pie is wonderful because it's not as heavy as cake and is just as diverse in flavors. What I love about Pie sisters are their "pie bites" - miniature pies about the size of a cupcake. You can select an awesome array of flavors so no one is left out. I love their jumble berry pie while the husband is bonkers for their traditional chocolate cream pie. You can pre-order items on the menu but pick-up is required.

6. Baked and Wired (Georgetown, DC)

Behold, the only shop whose eyebrows makes my eyebrow raise. Their cupcakes are bigger than average and come in all sorts of fun flavors. I absolutely love their dirty chai cupcake - it's the perfect balance of sweet and spice.  They have a variety of other confections including biscottis, cinnamon rolls, pies, and cookies. Baked and Wired also specializes in breads. Be sure to check out their sister bakery,  A Baked Joint. You can call ahead for pick-up orders.

7. Little Austria (Sterling, VA)

This shop specializes in traditional Austrian strudel - lots and lots of amazing strudel. They are truly experts in their craft. The flavors are incredible - from plain apple to pear-walnut. The crust is super thin and stuffed to the brim with fresh fruit and spices. You can serve it straight up or with a little vanilla icecream. I love toasting a slice in the oven for a few minutes and going right in. You can find these heavenly strudel at several local farmers markets or call ahead to arrange a pick-up.

8. Red Truck Bakery (Warrenton/Marshall, VA)*

We came across the Red Truck Bakery unintentionally back in 2014. Since then, we've made an annual journey to their Marshall location to pick up some Thanksgiving goodies and visit their neighboring store, Gentle Harvest, to purchase a certified-humane Turkey. This rural bakery offers delivery services so hop on their website and check it out! They have delicious coffee cake and savory scones! We absolutely loved their ice-cream collaboration with Moo Thru!

9. Little Red Fox, Washington DC

Don't let the adorable name fool you - this tiny deli packs a punch! They have an awesome menu that changes on a weekly basis. Their breakfast burrito is excellent and I love browsing through the store while waiting to eat. They offer take-out savory side dishes and sweets a plenty. If you want a pie, pre-orders need to be placed by 12/19! It's a hip joint with a broad menu!

10. Buzz Bakeshop, Alexandria, VA

This bakeshop offers cupcakes, cookies, bars, and savory deli delights like tiny quiches. The highlight of their display case is the gourmet cupcakes! My husband I like to come here on a chill evening to share a cupcake, sip some coffee, and play connect four. They have some monstrous specialty cakes and I love getting their tart-lemon bar. Bring home a box full of treats!

* 11. Swings Coffee (Alexandria, VA)  

This last posting is a bonus round for coffee! Everyone needs a good cup of coffee - especially during the holidays. One of our favorites is the Diplomat Blend in the ol' French Press. Your guests will float into the kitchen when they catch a smell of exquisite caffeine!

Merry Everything and a Happy Always!