Summer in Washington

I travel to Washington DC several times each year.  There are some things I do (nearly) every visit.  I make a pilgrimage to the Lincoln Memorial.  I have dinner with my friend, Holly.  I have lunch at the Atrium Cafe.  Now, I am also trying to see things I don’t always see and appreciate them more.  So here it is:



And I just realized that I don’t remember where I saw this fountain.  I want to say it was behind the Natural History Museum, but it might have been behind one of the buildings in the National Gallery.

Because my office is on the..Jefferson Memorial side of the Mall, that is generally the way that I walk.  But the other night, I walked over to the White House instead and was on Constitution Avenue rather than Independence.  I found myself looking at the street entrances of the museums, rather than those facing the Mall.  And there was the fountain.

And here is the (Instagram filtered) obligatory pic of the White House.

White House - Filtered

Note to my mom:  I didn’t take a pic, and I had seen the statue before, but I just realized that General Sherman and his horse are looking right at the Treasury Building.  I’m not sure that’s where I would have placed him.

On the way back, I took this picture because it looks weird to me to see the monuments from this angle.  It’s like seeing the Sears Tower behind you when you are driving to Midway.  (That is the Jefferson Memorial on the lower right.)



And then I went to the District Chophouse for dinner.  According to Foursquare, I hadn’t been there in over a year.  But I really appreciated that burger.

DC Story I Forgot to Tell

A couple of weeks ago, when I was back in Washington, I did my FourSquare check in at National Airport.  A few minutes later, I received a message from my friend Austin.  He was also in Washington on business.  We went to high school together, but now he lives in San Francisco, and I haven’t seen him in several years.

People, this is what social media is all about.

However, a couple of co-workers invited me to try a different restaurant with them, so I made plans with Austin for the next night and headed over to Founding Farmers Restaurant.  They are all very local and green and stuff.  I didn’t take any pictures, as I generally link to the ones on a restaurant’s website.  So I am sorry to tell you that Founding Farmers is woefully lacking in that respect.

Happily, the food is freakin’ fabulous.

I started with the Popcorn of the Day.  I realize that as a matter of cost, popcorn is always a rip-off, but if a high-end restaurant is going to bother, I am going to try it.   It was a barbecue spice flavor and tasted wonderful.  My more adventurous companions took the advice of some colleagues and has the dates wrapped in blue cheese and bacon.  They were equally pleased.

I ordered the butternut squash ravioli for my entrée, and when I tasted it, discovered that Founding Farmers does not place salt and pepper on the table.  I had an internal eye-roll moment before asking the waiter if the chef would have a problem with my salting my meal.  He replied that the chef didn’t need to know and brought me a shaker.  I have now forgotten what my companions ate, but we were all happy with our choices.  (Note: Founding Farmers also has a Grilled Cheese sandwich on the menu, which I later found on a local list of Best in Town.)

For dessert, we could decide between the Seasonal Fruit Tart and the Red Velvet Cake so we ordered both.  The cake was very tasty, but that tart was worth going back for all by itself.  It came with a scoop of ice cream, so the three of us would have been perfectly satisfied splitting the one dessert.

Overall, an outstanding meal.  I only wish it were walkable from my office.

Lucky for me, Austin had also been eating large “on the road” meals and was happy to meet me at my regular Noodles & Company for something simple.  We spent three hours catching up without running out of things to say.  He later noted on Facebook that with some friends, it doesn’t matter how long it has been, you can pick up right where you left off.  Totally true.  However, I sometimes worry that I take that gift for granted and don’t reach out to people often enough – thinking there will always be time.  But that is a subject for another post.

So thank you to Pat and Kathy, who got me out to try something new.  Thank you Austin, for paying attention to FourSquare and catching me on the spot.  And Holly – I will see you next time!


Dorky Washington Story

Everyone and their dogs knew the President was passing through town to vote early.  And yesterday, my Twitterfeed went insane with sightings of Marine One.  I started to roll my eyes and think, “Seriously?  …..”  The thought didn’t fully form in my head before I smacked it down as being all hipster/bitch and… utter hypocrisy.

When I was in Washington a couple of weeks ago, I stood in C’s office looking out her window because she has a view (albeit obstructed) of the National Mall.  I spotted four helicopters.

Me:                        C – why are there four helicopters flying across the Mall?

C:                           Because the President is in one.

Me:                         (thinking)  Oh, sure.  Decoy ship.

C:                           So be sure to shoot down the right one.

Me:                         (blinking hard)

Then S walked in the room.

Me:                       S, check it out.  The President’s helicopter.

S:                          Be sure to shoot down the right one.

Now, I know for sure that at least one of these ladies is voting to re-elect, so this was not at all hostile.  Must be some weird Washingtonian humor.  But I felt icky.  And all provincial midwestern.  So I will not be mocking anyone that was all jazzed to see Marine One.

Lunchtime Conversation with My Brother

Me:  I was in DC last week and they are still doing construction on the Mall.  I asked what they were doing and Stefphanie said, “drainage and plumbing or something.”  Well, I call BS.  They must be working on the Ark of the Covenant facility.

Scott:  The Ark of the Covenant is not in Washington.

Me:    (thinking)

Scott: It was right at the entrance of the storage..

Me:  Yeah, yeah.  Fourth movie.  (If we stipulate that as part of the canon.)

Me:  That doesn’t mean anything.  It was like, 20 years later – so they moved it!

Scott:  Maybe.  But you are assuming that because Indy was in Washington, the cutaway was also in Washington.

Me:   But there was no Area 51 in the ’30s!

Scott:  Not that you know of!

More Food in DC

I was back in Washington this week and tried two more food trucks:

I was ready to walk right by DC Taco Truck when I saw the sign that said, “Fresh Avocado”, for which I am a total sucker.  They offered chicken, steak, shrimp, vegetable..and I am probably missing one.  Also, there were two types of sour cream.  I ordered two chicken and one steak, with the milder sour cream.  And they also came with a lime wedge:


They look awfully green, but that is because I asked for no pico de gallo.  Luckily, Stefphanie brought back two small containers of hot sauce and I used some of that.  OK.  Five drops.  On each taco.

We agreed that the chicken was better than the steak, and that DC Taco Truck is worth visiting again.  Three tacos were $9 and they take Amex.

Across the street from the taco truck was a cupcake truck I have not tried before – Cupcake Joy.  Lemon was on the menu that day, so I tried it:

The bright frosting made me a bit nervous, but it was very tasty.  Incidentally, the flavor of the day was Sweet Potato, which doesn’t interest me in itself.  However, I am always encouraged when a bakery is doing the southern thing and if I see them again, I will go back.

Finally, we went back to Central Michel, my new favorite place in town.  I remembered that I’d had a fabulous dessert, but didn’t remember what the heck it was, so I ordered the Celebration Cake:

Yeah.  I would have remembered ordered a flaming dessert.  We thought about it while we were eating, and determined there must have been an apple tart of some kind that wasn’t on the menu just then.  (A review of an earlier blog post confirmed.)  But we totally demolished this:

Credit to Stefphanie for the cake pics.  We agreed that it is completely acceptable for us to go to this place and order exactly the same things every time we are in town together.

Another Trip to DC

Back in Washington this week, but everything was goofy.

United Airlines shifted stuff around at DCA, so I was all confused.  I stayed at a different hotel, so I was more confused.  L’Enfant Plaza Hotel is not fancy.  I understand from my meeting planner guy that I was on a not-renovated floor that could use some renovation.  But the location is great, the room was clean, the bed was comfortable and it was much quieter than the Holiday Inn Capitol.

I arrived at the office, thinking I was going to grab Stefphanie and go to our favorite deli for lunch.  But then I saw this:

I seemed to recall my online friend Darth Kittius mentioning it once.  She does DC restaurant reviews on her blog sometimes and has included the food trucks.  I ordered the Mt. Fuji – whole grain bread, brie and fuji apples.  It would have been the best grilled cheese ever except that I ate it with my favorite chips – dill pickle – and the sweet of the sandwich didn’t quite complement.  But I would totally eat there again.

So the meetings all went well and then last night I had an awesome dinner.  I don’t normally do the fine dining thing on the road, but our 401(k) people were in town and Stefphanie made the reservations. She knows that I am a picky eater.  We went to Central Michel Richard, which seems to specialize in upscale comfort food.

My friend Jim agrees with me that if one is at a nice restaurant and Mac & Cheese is on the menu, one must really go for it.  So he ordered the fried chicken, I ordered the Lemon Chicken burger and we split a side of the macaroni.  The Lemon Chicken burger is chicken that is grilled and kind of diced up, then mixed with just enough lemon-y batter to hold it together in a patty and then seared.  Very tasty and not greasy at all and serious points for creating something interesting that even I will order.  I tried Jim’s fried chicken and it was also fabulous.  David ordered the lamb which I did not try, but he was quite pleased.

Happily, I saw the dessert menu early and decided against appetizers.  We ordered the apple tart, Michel’s chocolate bar and the lemon tart for the table.  All three came with ice cream.  I would order all three again.  The apples were positively infused with cinnamon-y goodness, although my standard complaint of Too Much Pastry Not Enough Fruit applies.  The chocolate bar had a wafer-y thing going on and avoided being too heavy or too light.  The lemon tart had just the right tartness and the best merengue I have ever had.

This meal was so good I wish I had taken pictures.  We had reservations at 6pm and got in just ahead of the crowd.  Highly recommended.

Short Week in Washington

Just got back to town.  Let’s start with “things I forgot”:

  1. Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, face cleanser.  Because I left them in the shower in Honolulu.  This led me to spend $20 at the new Lush store in Pentagon City, and I was still using hotel shampoo.
  2. Cash.  I had about $20 on me, and I made it work without shelling out an ATM fee.  Ha.
  3. Plug for the iPhone, so I was required to charge it through my computer.  Unacceptable.  I will have to get another plug and keep it in my suitcase.

So.  The National Federation of the Blind was having a conference in the hotel this time.  I have never seen so many labrador retrievers in my life.  It was awesome.  Their handlers took them to do their business on a grassy patch across the street which was an interesting sight at 7:30 in the morning.  18 dogs trying to pee in the same 8 by 20 piece of urban landscape.

Yes, they all cleaned up the mess.

I have always been impressed by the (seeming) ease with which the blind can navigate the world.  Multiply that by about a thousand for navigating a strange city.  Stefphanie and I were talking about over lunch at McD’s – first Shamrock Shake of the season – and as I was marveling over the blind successfully hailing a taxi, Stef was noted a blind couple finding an empty table during the lunch rush at McDonald’s.  I imagine that many of these folks have some small range of vision, as opposed to total darkness, but still.

In other news, I am sorry to say the weather failed me and I didn’t get out to see Dr. King’s memorial.  Next time, I am sure.

Today, I am hating on those that drag their rolling luggage onto the airplane after the gate agent tells them to gate check it.  You people waste my time and worse than that, someone is going to get hurt.

And finally, I am pretty sure I saw Lisa Madigan boarding my flight.  Which would be the second time I have seen her on the ORD-DCA-ORD commuter flights.  Assuming it was her, I would like to report that she was not dragging a carry on with her and not yammering on a cell phone.  Which pretty much means I will be voting for her in the next election.