Grace’s Mandarin If You Love Chinese Food

I stopped eating Chinese food 10 years ago, after my vacation in China. Not because I had a bad experience, but because I had such a great food experience, that after that eating  broccoli and pieces of something that might have been chicken, beef or a shoe sole, covered in soy sauce, didn’t seem appetizing at all. And unfortunately this is what most of the Chinese food outside of China tastes like.

One of my memorable dinners in Changchun was at one of the city’s top 3 restaurants, where you could pick the lobster or the fish from the aquarium and they would cook it for you right away. Yeah, this type of restaurant, with marble tables and chairs looking like emperor’s throne. It was also where I first tried glass noodles, frogs’ legs and some of the cuisine’s finest sauces. My other memorable dinner was in Beijing, where we found a hall-in-the-wall type of place, with sticky tables and personnel wearing stained aprons and not speaking a word of English. Up to the day I remember how delicious their Beijing duck and sweet aubergines were.beijing_modern_city_920x500

However, yesterday I finally broke my 10 years long Chinese food fast and didn’t regret it one bit. Before seeing Sting at MGM National Harbor last night we had a dinner date with my husband at Grace’s Mandarin. I can say with absolute confidence that it was the best Chinese food I ever have had outside of China. Continue reading

The Boardwalk Empire VS MGM National Harbor

I first entered a casino in 2010. My then-not-even-a -boyfriend took me to Atlantic City and  the place wowed me to the point that it has now almost become our family legend how I was waking around the Caesar’s Casino with my eyes wide open and jaw dropped.  Since then I went to AC at least 8 times and each time the wow-factor was there less and less, until last weekend it came to the point when I wanted to dry-clean all of my clothes and shoes after just spending a night there.download-1

Sure, the ocean is always beautiful, but the famous Boardwalk is not what it used to be. From closed hotels and casinos to shops selling tacky t-shirts, from mediocre restaurants to scary-looking crowds, from loud commercials on repeat to all-penetrating cigarette smoke, this was definitely not the place I remembered from my first visits in 2010.

This past weekend we finally drove to National Harbor to check on the new MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino, which opened just last December. Casinos in the US are very strictly regulated, so having one just half an hour drive from home seemed an exciting thing.

And this time the WOW factor was present all right. Continue reading

Aside

Bluemont Vineyards Or 951 Feet Above The Sea Level

By now I have almost surrendered to the fact that this winter won’t be white in Virginia.

Since we cannot enjoy winter activities this year, we decided to completely ignore the fact that it is still February and it’s still quite chilly outside, and headed to one of our favorite wineries just an hour drive from home.

Before I moved to Virginia, I had no idea the state is so big on wine, but soon I learned that there are over 280 wineries in the area, which means there is always a new place for you to go if you are love wine touring. I’m not a big wine connoisseur, and I pick wineries to go based on the scenery and food they serve,  and my husband, who knows a lot about wine and can tell zinfandel from cabernet-franc without looking at the bottle, puts a further filter on it Continue reading