Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Trip To D.C. And A Week's Worth Of Meals

A second mini-vacation to D.C. last week left us feeling like it might have been the easiest traveling experience we've ever had.

People say you should always travel to a new place, see new things. That's bunk. Some of the most superlative joys we've had traveling have been returning to a place we loved and expanding on the familiarity of it all. It makes the place feel like a tiny chunk of Home.

Some D.C. Notes: It's getting expensive. Things are inching up. ... Komi, the main reason we returned, continues to sit among the four places on our Mt. Rushmore of food (Extebarri, Ubuntu, El Trujal del Abuelo ???). Such friendly staff and spectacular food. Swapped out goat for lamb just for funsies this time. Very good lamb. Goat's better. ... DC is hot. God, it gets hot there. ... Red Hen does it right. Great wine program with oodles of natural wine and very good food to match. It's what Chicago wants, but blows it in the execution and price. ... The woman I sat next to on the flight there was pregnant. Do you know how I know? She told everyone around us 48 times. ... A return to 2 Amy's made for a great lunch, without the ass-sweatingly hot walk we made last time. The pizza quality is leaps and bounds better, with a near-perfect chewiness and lift. Sad not to see the Hipster Cuvée on the wine menu. That was delicious barbera. And the salty albariño is gone as well. Sad. But the Vesuvio (sparkling aspirinio and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice) is "super-super-super." Sammy, the child next to us was rather annoying. Do you know how I know his name? His mom said it 48 times. "Sammy. Sammy. Come here, Sammy." ...

On the one non-hot day of our stay, we weren't waiting in the hour (probably two-hour, because it was non-hot) line at Rose's Luxury. So more pizza, this time at Pizzeria Paradiso (from the Obelisk people), which made for a quality, cheap pizza dinner with cheap Lambrusco. Happy stuff. ... We haven't experienced much Uber surge pricing in Chicago. In DC, if there's a darkish cloud in the sky, it seems that 5X is rational and proper. ... On the new "sharing economy" or whatever the heck my 42-going-on-82-year-old brain won't ever call it, we had an entirely pleasant first AirBnB experience. Not too shabby. ... Amsterdam Falafel is our new favorite chain. What more does anyone need? Falafel, 12,000 topping options, and a crapload of fries with various sauces for dipping. It's perfect! ... If you're going to DC, why would anyone fly into Dulles? I'm asking. National (I won't call it Reagan) is right there and it's linked to the Metro. Everything is 20 minutes away! ... The town is getting so trendy that everyone is moving there, making for patently absurd traffic. ... The 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is quite a sight. Rather unforgettable, really. ... There's flights every hour or so from DCA ---> ORD during the day. Do you know how you get bumped up an hour if you arrive early to the airport? You ask. And it was free. ... Uber, I like you. But can you create a button that lets me opt out of hearing the driver's life story? ... Our TV in the condo we stayed at only had a few TV channels, so we knew every detail of the quadruple homicide investigation as it unfolded. Terrible. But the reporter on the scene changing his fedora to a new one every report was a bit much. And funny. ... Champagne on the roof with chips and guacamole left for us by the AirBnB owner (I hope)? Nice. ... Cava and dessert at Jaleo after a quick stop at the Arcteryx store (because I like nice things sometimes)? Also nice. ... Realizing that you can wake up on the coast, go to the airport, fly home, and be on your couch by noon is a little weird in the grand scheme of things...and VERY NICE.

Some Food Notes: Coming home to chicken panzanella and 2013 Berger Grüner Veltliner ($14 - Vin Chicago) is the Way. To. Go. ... And this Spanish salad of watercress and arugula with quince paste, manchego and almonds, served with cheap LaGranja Cava Brut ($8 - Trader Joe's) makes for an easy, Old School Spanish lunch that's quite friendly. ... But the two big winners of the week were Sean Brock burgers for Memorial Day and a Greek white wine. ... From Mr. Brock's Heritage, page 131, these are burgers with nostalgia woven through every freakin' bite. Tastes like Tasty-Freeze or Dairy Sweet burgers from my childhood. Double stack burgers with onions in between and cheese everywhere, zippy burger sauce and potato buns to round their perfection. Huge winners here. A bottle of 2010 Owen Roe Ex Umbris ($30 - Binny's), while solid and a favorite for backyard BBQ-y type stuff, didn't match the level of joy the burgers brought. Almost too savory (can't believe I just said that). Marietta Old Vine was the play. And half the price. ...

But big food-wine winner with the next dinner. Fried haloumi, skordalia, pita, and tomato-fennel salad with 2014 Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini ($22 - Binny's). House staple when it comes to the food. This meal has everything. Fried cheese, char, creamy potato goodness, cleanse and refresh from the salad. It's always good. And this 2014 from Sigalas is ALL minerals and acid in the best possible way. We loved the snot out of it. Great meal. ... You can't go wrong with Asian beef and some sort of fresh salad doused with chile peppers, lime juice and fish sauce. Ever. So Asian hanger steak (marinade) with carrot and red onion with spicy fish-sauce sauce (from this month's Lucky Peach, page 68) and rice. Halve the carrot and red onion in the recipe if for two people, but keep the same amount of herbs. Because herbs are good. And if you make crappy rice (which I did), just mix some extra herbs in and you're good to go. This was a hearty Asian beef meal that still was oddly clean and light. And all of it without rice vinegar or ginger, which was strange. To drink, rosé-watermelon-gin-triple sec-lemongrass-serrano-mint sangria. Just dump stuff in a container and see what happens. This was delicious.

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