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A few years ago, Bub and I spent a night in New York City to have dinner at Morimoto for my birthday. I had the chirashi and Bub had the Wagyu Steak, which he still talks about to this day. Since Wagyu steak isn’t so easy to come by in Northern Virginia, I decided to order a few filet mignons from a Wagyu cattle raising ranch in New Mexico for Bub’s birthday  this past weekend. Since Morimoto’s recipe for the steak isn’t online – I decided to just recreate one of his similar sauces and broil the steak on a skillet the same way he did.

What is Wagyu Steak?

Wagyu steak is considered the “caviar of cattle” (CNN) in the world of beef. Wagyu refers to a breed of Japanese cows that are famous for their high levels of marbling and tenderness. Pure wagyu contains mostly monounstautrated fatty acids, rich in omega-3′s, giving it its soft, sweet, buttery flavor. Read more here: Ultimate Japan Wagyu Beef Guide

What to look for in Wagyu

Each Wagyu cow comes with a birth certificate – check to see whether the cow is a 100% fullblood wagyu, or has diluted bloodlines. In additon, the Japanese Meat Grading Association gives each carcass a score based on its yield (A through C) and level of marbling, firmness, color and quality (1 through 5), with A5 being the highest possible mark. Most Japanese Wagyu beef is in the A4-A5 range. {Continue reading…}

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{ Brine’s Interior }

The Rappahannock River Oyster Company’s latest endeavor, Brine is celebrating their grand opening today at the Mosaic District. Occupying one of the corner spots of an up and coming neighborhood behind the Angelika Theatre – the new oyster bar is full of light with three corners of wall to wall windows, and features a bar with an ice station displaying their three signature oysters – The “Sting Rays”, “Rapphannocks” and my personal favorite – the “Olde Salts”.

{ The Honey Hole }

The honey hole consists of a mango shrimp ceviche, 12 Carolina shrimps, 12 raw clams and of course – 12 oysters of your choice (in addition to the 3 mentioned above – they also carry oysters from outside of the state, like “Wiannos” and “Wellfleetas” from Massachusetts, and “Blue Pocks” from Washington).

{ House Cured Ham }

If you’re dining in, you’ll notice that right outside of the kitchen is a little wooden table with a large hunk of ham. Considered as “Virginia’s answer to proscuitto and serrano”, the Berkshire Surryano Ham is dry-cured, and hickory smoked from spotted Berkshire Hogs in Surrey, Virginia. It’s considered America’s best ham (HuffPo) for its rich, savory flavor. For me, it’s a thicker, saltier version of proscuitto that is dangerously easy to snack on.

{ Oyster Croquettes }

I really should have taken a picture of the inside, because a photo of just its crunchy exterior doesn’t do this justice. Skimming the menu, the croquettes had me at black truffles. Inside, there’s a healthy portion of oysters and a creamy black truffle sauce. On the side – lemon aioli for dipping.

{ Plankton Bucatini }

House made bucatini (an italian hollowed pasta, imagine a long strand of uncut macaroni) made from plankton, with clams, preserved lime, chili threads and brown butter. You’ll want to get an extra order of house rolls to use as a sponge for dipping.

{ Poke }

I was pregnant during my last trip to Hawaii and couldn’t have any raw fish, so I was excited to see that they had this Hawaiian-style ceviche on the menu. The “poke” (pronounced poh-kee) is a seafood salad with japanese hijiki seaweed, soy sauce, cubes of raw tuna, ginger, pickled onion and cucumbers.

{ Bouillbaisse }

When I think of bouillbaisse, I think of a soggy stew of fish and soft vegetables – so I was pleasantly surprised when Chef Critchley’s version started off with a crunch. On top of a few portions of seared eel, rockfish and perch (all from the Chesapeake) is a deep-fried soft shell blue crab in a bath of dark tomato sauce.

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{ Dessert }

Do not forget about dessert here. We ordered all three of the available desserts to share, and it was so worth it. The pineapple cheesecake comes with crunchy, chewy meringues (similar to macaron shells), mango sauce and lemon cream. The smoky goat cheese panna cotta (second) is like a cross between greek yogurt and creme brulee, comes with two purple tubes of sweet rhubarb and tangy sorbet. And last but not least – the chocolate cake is topped with caramel toffee and house made vanilla bean ice cream. We split the three of these desserts between four people, and when I left to feed Colt for a few minutes – it was pretty much gone by the time I came back. Do not skip dessert here.

P.S. If you dine in tonight during their grand opening – enjoy a free glass of prosecco to celebrate! Another drink to try – their “Spring Fling” (while it lasts) made with strawberry-infused Macchu Pisco, black pepper rhubarb syrup, fresh lime juice, egg white, and aged balsamic vinegar.

Brine Restaurant
2985 District Ave Suite 120
Fairfax, VA


Baby Colt’s Nursery

by Jennie Tai on April 20, 2015


{ Night Light Alternative }
We had just finished putting together Colt’s crib the weekend before my water broke, and most of the room was still empty when I left for the hospital. After four days of bed rest and labor, Colt was born about eleven weeks early and was sent straight to the NICU. I was sent home a few days after, and got to put the rest of his nursery together while I waited for him to come home. I was pretty down about not being able to take him home, so putting together his nursery was my way of pouring all of my love for him into a positive project during the days we were apart. Needless to say,  I went a little overboard and it’s now the most decorated room in our entire house.  Most of the pieces of his nursery were handmade and put together either by me, Bub, my parents or an artist from Etsy. I’m so happy with how Colt’s nursery came together, and I hope he enjoys it as much as we do. Below are some of my design choices and resources.

Hedgehog Nighlights: Bubblewish


{Grey & White Details }
New mamas know how important it is to have a comfortable place to sit and relax with your baby during feeding time, and having a soft rocking chair with an ottoman was key for me. Paired with a soft blanket and pillow – it makes 3 am feedings go by a lot faster when I can feed Colt in my arms comfortably and catch up on hulu with my iPad on the ottoman.

Rocking Chair: Dorel Asia
Ottoman: Safavieh Sahara
Curtains: Anthropologie
Dog & Cat Curtain Holders: Anthropologie


{ From Colt’s Baby Shower }
Instead of keeping every single card from Colt’s Baby Shower, I decided to keep a heart shaped piece of each card and created a frame full of them by using a heart-shaped hole punch.

Heart Punch: Martha Stewart





{ Above Colt’s Changing Table }
Colt was born on the first day of the year of the Goat, so I decided to add a pretty little ceramic plaque above the changing table, along with a place for fresh flowers, a frame for his arm band from the NICU and some colorful artwork with words of inspiration. The wooden swing was made from a long tree branch that Bub found from our neighborhood while we were walking Winnie. We brought it to my dad, who sawed it into its current form, then tied some string to each end to create a little swing for the baby hedgehogs we bought from the hospital where Colt was born.

Ceramic Goat Head: Overstock
ID Bracelet Frame: Target
Woodland Prints: Sunshine Prints


{ Mom & Dad’s Childhood Buddies }
One of the sweetest gifts that Colt’s grandparents gave him, was a special little bear his dad loved when he was younger, named “care bear”. Bub petted this bear so much when he was younger, that the fur on the back of the bear (middle) is literally matted down flat.

To the right is a little lamb I begged my mom to buy me from FAO Schwartz when I was little. I remember being so happy when she finally said OK, that I hugged that lamb all the time and brought it with me everywhere. I held the lamb so tightly in the middle that all of its stuffing dispersed to the top and bottom, causing it to have a giant bum.


{ Colt’s Scrapbook }
One of the most thoughtful gifts we received at Colt’s baby shower was a scrapbook filled entirely with pages put together by Colt’s talented Aunt Amy. I always thought I was creative… but the pages Amy came up with in Colt’s scrap book were pages I could have never thought to put together on my own. You can tell she paid very close attention to detail and dedicated much time to Colt’s scrapbook, and I can’t wait to show it to him when he’s older and let him know how much his Aunt Amy loves him.

Colt’s Scrapbook Pages: ALH Scrapbook Nook



{ Colt’s Crib }
During the day, Colt loves to be propped up in his boppy, watching his musical mobile twirl above. I couldn’t find his mobile online (sorry!), but below are a few shops I love for mobiles and boppy covers.

Mobile: Sunshine & Vodka
Boppy Covers: ModFox


{ Colt’s Dreamcatchers }
Colt’s very first gift came just a few months after I found out I was pregnant. His Auntie Karen was the first person I told when I learned I was pregnant (after Bub of course), and when she came home from her trip to Morrocco – she brought home a beautiful mobile with colorful camels and gold trimmed details. It now dangles above Colt’s little dream catchers that his daddy bought for him – pop figures of our favorite TV heroes.

Pop Figures: Michonne, Baby Groot, Daryl, Daenerys.

Putting together a nursery isn’t an easy task, but you can find a lot of inspiration and ideas on pinterest. Once you pin your favorite ideas, you can decide on a theme to start your project. This is the board I put together that inspired Colt’s nursery. Enjoy!

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{ Dining Room }

Tysons Corner Center’s gorgeous new high rise, Tysons Tower opened its first restaurant in the building last Friday, April 8th. One of Capital Grille’s sister restaurants – Eddie V’s Prime Seafood & Steak sits on the plaza level of Tysons Corner’s beautiful new office building in a space once occupied by a circuit city (remember that, McLeaners?). The windows in the dining room (pictured above), along with the entire floor of the building glows an electric blue at night.


{ Moscow Mule }
Though the primary ingredient in this drink is considered “Russian standard vodka”, the Moscow Mule is surprisingly light, refreshing and easy to drink (you’ve been warned!). Cleverly served in a chilled copper mug, you can smell the fragrance of the squeezed lime segments, and taste the bubbles of ginger beer with each sip. From 4PM-7PM, the Moscow Mule is one of four cocktails that are $10 each.


{ Seafood Tower }
The Seafood Tower is not for the shellfish-shy. It’s the ultimate seafood sampler that covers the most popular bases–lobster, oysters, jumbo lump crab, and jumbo shrimp.

Each part of the tower could be its own main event. First, you have poached Maine lobster that’s been pre-cracked and taken apart for your convenience, and it isn’t just the massive tail – it’s the whole nine yards with both claws and even the head. Second, you have giant white medallions of shrimp straight from the Gulf of Mexico, popular for its pure taste in low salinity and zero iodine. Third – deliciously salty oysters that are either flown or driven down from Boston (so fresh that we ignored the cups of cocktail sauce and mignonette). Finally – in the center of it all – a little surprise bowl of jumbo lump crab meat (the size of fat blueberries) fresh from the Atlantic Coast.

{ Yellowtail Hamachi }
In a pool of ponzu, soft hamachi caught from Hawaii is sliced thin and topped with sweet red peppers. We had quite a few dishes (and a tower!) to get through, but this was one dish I kept going back to. I have a weak spot for sashimi, and love when a restaurant has enough confidence in their quality of fish to serve it in large slices instead of chopping it up for a ceviche or tartar.

{ Jumbo Lump Crab Cake }
With a touch of mayo, light crust and no batter in sight – Eddie V’s has the apex of all crab cakes. Every bite is a mouthful of sweet unbroken bulbs with all the meat and zero filler.

{ Filet Mignon & South African Lobster Tail }
There’s something special about this surf and turf, and it isn’t just that the filet mignon (and all other steaks at Eddie V’s) is hand-cut and specially aged for a full 28 days for supreme flavor – it’s that the lobster isn’t just any little lobster you’d find at Red Lobster or Legal Seafoods – it’s internationally sourced from the waters of South Africa. One of the most expensive options on the market, South African lobster is known for its tender and buttery flavor when broiled or roasted. At Eddie V’s, it’s broiled with drawn butter and lemon.

{ Florida Grouper }
In a bath of lemon and white wine butter with ribbons of scallions and thin discs of garlic – the Florida grouper is delicately roasted to a light crisp and topped with microgreens. It’s light, yet decadent, and probably something I’ll be attempting to recreate at home soon. This is one dish that could seduce a meat eater out of their comfort zones.

{ Smores }
Eddie V’s take on the campfire classic involves a thick golden-toasted marshmallow square, dark chocolate, crumbled toffee and powdered sugar. By the way – this is BEFORE it was drizzled in molten hot chocolate fudge. Tip: If you’re as crazy about chocolate as I am – ask the waiter if you can keep the ladle of hot chocolate at the table even after it’s poured, so you can eat the rest by the spoonful! … Kidding. If you actually do this though, tweet a photo at me and I’ll send you a little gift. ;)


{ Bananas Foster }
One of Eddie V’s specialties, the bananas foster is one of their sweetest, most addicting treats. A chunk of cake is topped with caramelized bananas on a river of even more caramel, two scoops of butter pecan ice cream – then set on fire with a flaming blue ladle of 151. If there’s one thing I’d go back for just to have again – it’d be this with a glass of milk.

For the full menu, click here.

Eddie V’s
7900 Tysons One Place
Mclean, VA 22102


Being a new mama, much of my day (and night) is spent either feeding my little one, cleaning after him, or playing with him – so I don’t have as much time or energy  to tackle complicated recipes. However – that doesn’t mean I have to settle for take out, microwaved meals or ramen – there are simple recipes like this one that take little effort, but taste amazing. All you do is prepare the meat, put it in the oven and forget about it for a few hours. Even if you aren’t a new mama – this is one recipe that all carnivores can enjoy. Buttery pork belly with a crispy, spicy and sweet rind. Pair it with a clementine chile dipping sauce, some wild rice and a fried egg – and you’ve got yourself a meal.


  • 2 lbs of pork belly (I got mine from whole foods. If you live in Northern Virginia – Maple Ave Market cuts it fresh if you pre-order it a few days ahead of time)
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 2 tbsp of cajun seasoning (I used David’s Spicy Rub from Maple Ave Market in Vienna)


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F
  2. Get a shallow dish and line with foil.
  3. Sit the pork on with the skin side up.
  4. Score the skin with a sharp knife.
  5. Rub the sugar and seasoning all over hte skin.
  6. Bake it uncovered for 2 hours at 300 degrees F.
  7. After 2 hours, increase the heat to 450 degrees F and bake for another 15 minutes to let the skin crisp.


That’s it! For a deeper flavor – marinate the pork belly overnight with a 4:1 mixture of soy sauce and lemon juice (in addition to the dry ingredients listed above).

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{ Inside Merroir }
Topping is home to one of Virginia’s largest oyster estuaries and my favorite “virginica” – the “Olde Salt”. The Rappahannock River Oyster company currently owns three different restaurants on the East Coast, with two in Virginia, one in D.C. and another under construction at the Mosaic District (slated to open later this month).

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{ Merroir’s Pebbled Patio }
I visited the oyster estuaries a year ago to see where oysters were bred, and to taste them at their freshest state. Their tasting room, Merroir is a small hut with a bar and a few tables inside, overlooking the patch of river where their oysters are harvested. The name, Merroir, is a play on words with “Mer” meaning “the sea” in French, and the wine term, “Terroir” that describes how the taste of wine reflects the part of land its grapes were grown in, just as the way an oyster’s taste reflects part of the ocean it was plucked from.

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{ The menu for the day}
The belief that oysters are seasonal is myth. You may have heard the saying that oysters are only “in season” during the months with the letter “R”, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t edible during this time. It means they aren’t palatable, because during this period of the year – oysters are repopulating and just beginning to spawn, meaning they aren’t as plump and full-formed yet. So in short – it’s not that they are harmful to eat outside of the months without the letter “R”, but that they probably won’t taste as good.


{ White Wine & A Dozen of Mixed RR Oysters}
What was supposed to just be an overnight trip to Topping, VA ended up taking the entire weekend. Bub and I sat in the tasting room our first visit to Merroir, finishing the first round of oysters when we looked up at each other, and both agreed we’d need to stay another night and have another round of oysters the next day. We didn’t want to leave!


{ Clam Chowder }
Topping is a quiet part of the Rappahannock River, where the “downtown” area is small and speckled with very few restaurants, and a handful of vineyards (one being my favorite place in the world) leading into it.

{ Rockfish & Mussels}
Before leaving Topping, we took home with us a box of 100 mixed oysters to enjoy with my mom, who is just as crazy about oysters as we are.

Tip: Shucked oysters can be refrigerated for up to 4-7 days. Freeze them for up to 4-6 months.


{ Crab Cake | Grilled Broccolini | The Smores Donut }
The grilled smores donut was the best surprise to end with at the end of our meal. It’s literally a grilled donut smothered in chocolate, and topped with melted marshmallow and crumbled graham crackers. Both times we visited Merroir that weekend – we ended the meal with that same dessert.


{ Views by the patio }
If you walk up to the river from the patio and look down, you’ll notice hundreds of oysters so close to the edge, you could literally lean over and pluck them from the water.


{ Pier at Tide’s Inn }
If you venture down to Merroir, or Topping VA – I recommend staying at the award-winning Tide’s Inn, situated right by the river with beautiful views of the water and wildlife, a massive golf course and luxurious spa. Also – every night, they roast smores by the river!

Next weekend, from April 8-12 – they’ll be celebrating “Taste of Spring: Brews, Buds & Bites“, where local brewers of craft beer and hard cider will be serving their best with charcuterie, oysters (of course), mixed seafood and other bites with live music and lovely views of the blue ridge mountains.


{ Lionel! }
P.S. Meet Lionel! I was chasing this handsome little guy two days for a photo before I spotted him Sunday morning across the river and nearly broke an ankle climbing down a muddy hill to snap this photo. They’re probably all over Topping, but I had never seen a black and white duck with a scarlet red face before. Isn’t he pretty?

Merroir: 784 Locklies Creek Rd, Topping, VA 23169

Tide’s Inn: 480 King Carter Drive · Irvington, VA 22480

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Lazy Girl Recipes: Cake in a mug

by Jennie Tai April 2, 2015
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I was craving cake one night, but didn’t want to bake an entire cake, or wait an hour, so I decided to try a recipe I saw on pinterest a few months ago. I’ve heard horror stories of it exploding in the microwave, so I was fully prepared to clean cake mix from all corners [...]

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Four Things (Since My Last Post)

by Jennie Tai April 2, 2015
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I can’t believe it’s been over a year since my last entry, but I’m excited to start writing again for the first time in a while. Much has happened since 2013, and I can’t wait to share everything with you–including a handful of travel guides from Asheville, to L.A. and a few other entries I [...]

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Recipe Box: Roasted Brussel Sprouts With Pancetta, Mushrooms & Garlic Aioli

by Jennie Tai December 11, 2013
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This probably isn’t the healthiest thing to do to brussel sprouts, but I guarantee it’s delicious. This is probably one of the most addicting side dishes I’ve ever made, and it’s perfect to bring to a holiday potluck. Check out the video above to see how quick and easy it is! For the brussel sprouts: [...]

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5 Ways To Step Up Your Turkey Game

by Jennie Tai November 27, 2013
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