Le Pain Best Friend

So get this. A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting around for my best friend Naseem to FaceTime me from Vanuatu, where she’s been a Peace Corps volunteer for the past year. All of a sudden there’s a knock on my door, and who should it be but Naseem?!! I was totally shocked! She’s home for a short break and conspired with my mom and my boyfriend to surprise me. Naturally, we had to go shop. And eat.

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We headed up to wonderland, aka Tysons Corner, and decided to forgo Panera and such for a  little place called Le Pain Quotidien (“The Daily Bread”). You go through Bloomingdale’s to get there, and we were delighted to find that the entrance was just through the shoe boutique.

I decided to order something a little fancier than a soda for this meal – when in France, you know?!

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This is a mint lemonade.  But, like, with ACTUAL MINT.  No artificial flavors here, no sir!  I must say – it was divine!  Lemons and mint are summery and refreshing on their own.  Together – magic!   It makes me want to replant some mint (since the basil is the only thing that survived my apartment gardening venture).

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And now for the main event: Parisian Ham and Gruyere.  An open-faced sandwich with fresh greens, olives, adorable little pickles, three kinds of mustard (sweet to spicy!), radishes, cucumbers, and a perfectly cut slice of cantaloupe.  And it was served on a cutting board!  It was all absolutely delicious.  I’m not normally a fan of pickles or olives, but these were flavorful without being overbearing.

The whole experience of the restaurant was great – a relaxing environment, great service, and great, unique food!  But the most memorable detail of the experience had to be the postcards.  There were postcards throughout the restaurant with simple French recipes on them that you could mail (for free!) in the restaurant’s very own post office box.  Food + letters = my new favorite place.

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The day was absolutely wonderful – but how could a surprise visit from your best friend who is supposed to be on the other side of the world not be?!  We got into a little Vera Bradley shopping afterward, and then had dinner with Steve at Firebirds.  Le Pain Quotidien was a great start to the day – a perfect spot to lunch.  I strongly recommend trying it out if you have one nearby – a delightful experience all around!

Before I sign off for the night, I have to share another fun surprise – look what Steve got me as part of my birthday present:

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Present perfection!  I love Michael Pollan, and with my new love of cooking, this is the perfect time for this book.  Has anyone read him?  Anyone read this?  He was a pretty strong influence in my choice to start trying to eat clean.  Let me know what you think if you’ve read this – or tried Le Pain Quotidien!

Till next time!

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