I was just at Target at DCUSA picking up some aluminum foil and some other stuff so we (read: the wife) can cook stuff to freeze for quick post-baby dining. And also so I could cook some soy-free seitan (Note: URL is not safe for work. At least, if your work doesn't like profanity. It's probably safe, but I just like to warn people just in case).
Anyway, school is clearly back in session. The escalator into Target was mobbed, and there were literally thousands of kids running around buying up dorm supplies. Well, maybe not thousands. But a lot. And I love that the vast majority seemed to be coming up the escalators, meaning that they walked or took the Metro rather than driving. Maybe that's more a function of not owning cars than green city living, but I'll take what I can get.
If you're looking for a unique and interesting dinner in DC on a Thursday night, look no further. You have to make reservations in advance (Which requires a form. A form to fax in to get a dinner reservation. I feel so important.), and it books up (Although not last night), but the "To Market/To Market" dinner at Poste at Gallery Place is a fantastic way to spend a Thursday evening. We were supposed to go last week for our anniversary (My surprise for the wife, thanks to my coworker for the recommendation), but they were already booked. So we went tonight, and were the only ones doing the special dinner.
The evening begins with greetings from the chef and your server. Then you're whisked off to the farmers market across the street. We got a tour from the guy who runs it, and got to hear about all the different farmers who sell things there, and a little about what they sell. It's a very warm and inviting atmosphere. And there's a good chance you've eaten food from there even if you didn't go yourself - many DC chefs show up there at opening with huge carts to take back to their respective restaurants.
After the tour, we got a tour of the garden at Poste, which is inside their charming little courtyard, just past people drinking fruity martinis and glasses of wine. They grow all sorts of stuff to supplement what they buy. We got to taste their spinach leaves, which the chef picked while we were standing there.
And then dinner. It's a little pricey, and the organic wine pairing is also not cheap, but it's a ton of food, and it's delicious.
We started with amuse-bouche. There was a salmon tartar with dijon mustard in a funny sweetish cone that was really good. My favorite was the yellowtail with fruit. They had fried squash blossom with cheese, and a very salty oyster.
The second course was a gazpacho that I didn't like very much. But the wife thought it was great, so I conclude that I just don't like gazpacho.
Next was a tomato salad, which was great. Different kinds of tomatoes, prepared different ways, with some fresh cheese from the market.
And then fish with a mushroom sauce for me, and a pistou (Apparently French pesto - who knew?). Which brings me to another point - I mentioned when making the reservation that the wife eats seafood but no other meat, and that she can't stand mushrooms, and they made sure not to serve her either one.
That was followed by the "main course". All the courses were small, but it ended up being plenty of food. I suppose that's what happens when you have so many courses.
Anyway, my main course was rabbit, which was delicious. I would never have ordered rabbit if I were choosing from a menu, but it was good. A little more meaty than chicken, I thought. The wife had ravioli with cheese and nettles from the garden, which was also delicious. That's the hidden benefit of a partner who doesn't eat meat - if your dinner has meat in it, you can taste hers and not share yours. Marry a vegetarian who can cook, kids - you won't regret it.
And finally the dessert course. There was a cheesecake with blackberries and sweet corn ice cream (Yes, I know that's weird. Yes, it was good). There was a chocolate mousse, and olive oil cake with rosemary, dates, and creme fraiche ice cream.
Just when we thought we were done, they brought out peaches, poached in paper, with a honey cheese sauce. They were fantastic, as well.
And on the way out, they gave us little mason jars, one with pickled heirloom tomatoes, and one with apricot jam.
If I did it again, I might skip the wine pairing. They were all good - I was especially surprised by the muscat that they served first, because I don't generally like sweet wine, but it was very light and pleasant. But the wines were all white or rose. I would have liked a nice dry red. I suppose it doesn't pair with summer vegetables, but they could make up an excuse and no one would call them on it. Except maybe super food snobs, and no one cares what they think, anyway. I wish I'd written down the wines we had (Well, I had, and the wife tried. It's funny - the tables are high enough that you can't really see that she's pregnant), but I didn't think to bring a notepad.
The service was great. We got a lot of attention from a number of different people, and never had to wait long when we needed a server. The atmosphere in the restaurant was good, although the bathroom is quite a hike (Through the hotel lobby, around the corner, up the stairs, down the hall). The bar had a very Happy Hour crowd, although it wasn't unpleasant.
At the end of the night, we were quite happy with our evening. It was a lot of money, but it was also a lot of food, all of it delicious (Unless you don't like gazpacho). If you love white wines and some sweetish light reds, go for the wine pairing, but if you're more of a dry red person, you're probably better off ordering your own wine.
But we would definitely go back. And I think we'll be visiting the farmers market sometimes, too - it's nice to know about a market during the week, since so many are open only on a weekend day.
The wife having dinner with a coworker down on U Street is a perfect reason to venture over to everyone's favorite greasy bag of french fries, Five Guys. I'm not sure how Columbia Heights survived without them.
Of course, Five Guys isn't really helping my waistline. And the months of relative inactivity since I stopped running due to the bunion help even less.
But soon that will be no more! I wore shoes yesterday, and today my flip-flops were nearly comfortable. I'll give shoes another try tomorrow as I actually have to go into the office.
And that means I can get back to running soon. I have a 10K in six weeks that I'm woefully unprepared for, so that should help a lot. It would certainly be embarrassing if it turned out that I've gained more weight than the wife in the last nine months.
In the Post today, via my mom, there are improvements coming to the strip of 14th Street north of Park. For some of you, that may just be "the area around the Red Derby". But keep an eye out for some new stuff.
[the Mid-14th Street Business Association], in conjunction with a District-based nonprofit organization, the Latino Economic Development Corp., has begun an effort to add fresh layers of paint and new signs to many of the businesses. The business association also plans to launch seminars catered to the shop owners starting in September. Rosemarie Salguero, executive director of the association, said one of the goals is to brand the area as a hub of Central American culture.
If I'm lucky, maybe a Costa Rican restaurant will open up and serve some nice casados and gallo pinto.
There's been a big discussion over at the Columbia Heights Forum about the relative merits of Giant vs Harris Teeter, the two major grocery stores serving Columbia Heights. I would argue that the Whole Foods on P does, too, but whatever.
The argument boils down the fact that Giant is union, but the service is awful. Harris Teeter is not unionized, but they have shorter lines and friendlier staff. I won't really get into the argument, because I've had quite enough of it at the forum, but I thought I'd relate my experience at Giant this morning.
I went out to get milk for coffee and a lemon for delicious lemon-cornmeal pancakes. I would have gone to Hi Market, except they often don't have fat-free milk, and I didn't have any cash.
So I walked to Giant. It wasn't terribly crowded, although another checkout lane might have been nice. Still, at 9AM Saturday, it was acceptable. And I moved through the line pretty quickly. The cashier was pleasant if not outgoing.
The problem I had was with another customer. I passed her on my way to the milk, and she was talking to someone, and while I didn't hear what they were saying, the dynamic of the conversation seemed strange. It appeared that the guy she was talking to didn't really want to be talking to her, but was too polite to walk away.
I didn't think much of it. I grabbed the milk and turned around to pass her again. I was walking on the wrong side of the aisle, as that's where the milk is, and she was coming towards me with her cart in the middle of the aisle.
She actually jerked her cart abruptly to the side so she was coming straight for me! "Excuse me," she said sweetly.
Excuse you? You intentionally moved across the aisle to try and run me down with your cart! I have an injured foot! Well, it's not all that injured any more, but I still can't wear a regular shoe because my foot swells during the day. But it hampers my mobility.
So, everyone employed by Giant was just fine this morning, but I could do without the crazy customers.
Originally uploaded by thetejon
A friend and I met our wives at Commonwealth last night. It had been girls night - they met up in Arlington and had dinner. So the guys went to the Nationals game to watch the Rockies pummel the Nationals, I still haven't seen a Nationals win in the new stadium.
Anyway, since the wife is 37 weeks pregnant now, she got to choose the location, and she chose one near us. It was a beautiful night, so we sat outside. This means I didn't really get a feel for the inside, but maybe we can do that next time.
They were serving from their pub menu since it was late. We got an order of fries, which I didn't actually try, but the table consensus was positive. They are large chunks of potato, so if that's the way you like your fries, you're in luck.
And we tried the Scotch eggs, which were very good.
And the service was good. I think my only complaint was the lack of any sort of description on the menu. We thought at first it was just the pub menu that didn't have descriptions, but they brought us what I assumed was the regular menu, as well, because it had the drinks, and it didn't have descriptions, either. Since there is a ton of stuff on the menu that's a bit out of the ordinary, at least for this side of the pond, it seems that maybe descriptions on the menu would be nice.
But if that's the biggest complaint from a self-proclaimed complainer, I think the trip was a resounding success. I'm sure we'll be back - my father-in-law has already been informed that there is a bar with outdoor seating and bubble and squeak on the menu, so it would take the intervention of the health department or some equally powerful entity to keep us from revisiting Commonwealth next time he comes down to visit.
Before my foot surgery (And again as soon as it's healed enough, which should be soon), I walked to work with the wife every day. We had a few "incidents" at 16th and U, where cars like to turn onto New Hampshire without yielding to pedestrians.
I understand that the traffic pattern is a little confusing, but it's still a problem.
So I emailed my councilmember, the often-helpful Jim Graham, and asked him to do something about it.
I didn't hear much for a while, until yesterday when I got an email from a member of his staff.
I apologize for the delay. I misfiled your email.
I am forwarding this to the pedestrian safety coordinator so that he can evaluate options for increased enforcement here.
Councilmember Graham reported a new law out of his committee that will increase fines to $250 for drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians. The bill also requires that signs be posted to warn motorists. This law will come before the Council for final vote on September 16. Obviously, increased enforcement is also necessary as part of this effort. Councilmember Graham has been working to get the Department of Transportation involved in issuing moving violations to improve pedestrian safety.
Finally, in a few years, DDOT plans to redesign this intersection to make it much safer. I’ve attached an image of the proposed changes.
Committee on Public Works and the Environment
Office of Councilmember Jim Graham
So that's pretty awesome. Below is the picture he sent me. I've never used Photobucket before, and it has a very "We built this site for AOLers in 1997 and just slapped a Web 2.0 facelift on it" feel to it, but theoretically if you click the picture you can see a bigger version.
And that's your DC government at work. They may be slow sometimes, but they do listen when you voice your concerns.
The plans look pretty decent to my untrained eye. It looks like they're widening the sidewalk on the northwest corner, which is good. And the goofy traffic pattern on the northeast corner will be gone.
Of course, it will be a few years before this happens. And I imagine that intersection will be a bit of a disaster during construction. But in the end, it'll be safer and better. I hope.
I've long thought that a large congestion tax on cars entering DC would be great. Charge $10 to enter the city. Take most of that cash and spend it on expanding Metro and putting giant parking garages out at the end of the Metro lines. Make those garages FREE. It would make public transportation a heck of a lot more attractive.
They've tried it in London with mixed results:
At first, the new fees did seem to ease the traffic moving through the congestion zone. Now, studies are finding that the measure has actually managed to somehow slow down the pace of traffic through central London.
The problem here is the reason it hasn't helped - construction and new pedestrian walkways have caused more traffic jams than before. It got rid of 100,000 cars each day, so it sounds like it made a huge difference. I don't think it's fair to blame London's mismanagement of construction and pedestrians on the congestion tax.
I posted a little while ago about my attempts to optimize my blog for search engines. I think it's working.
Now, PoP is a near-deity in the greater Columbia Heights/Petworth/Logan/Shaw area. It's a good blog. I read it regularly.
I, on the other hand, am a relative unknown who complains too much.
PoP went to an early preview at CommonWealth and took pictures, then wrote an article about the experience.
I linked to the article, and offered very limited commentary.
Now, go do a little Google search for commonwealth dc gastropub. you will notice that item seven is my post.
The first item from PoP is item 23, and it's not even a link to the most recent article.
So, on one hand, you have a good blog that did some real journalism. On the other, you have a blog, where half the readership was at the author's wedding, that just linked to the real journalism. But I show up first on Google.
Even with all the craziness it had a very warm and open feel. I was excited to see checkers and chess tables, an open bar area and some very comfortable seats. I am super stoked to try the place.
I hate it when restaurants don't update their website. But I guess I'll forgive them if the place ends up being as cool as people say it will be. I haven't been past it yet - with the bum foot and pregnant wife, I haven't been doing as much walking around as I might otherwise. But PoP's pictures of the place look great, and this thread at realbeer.com suggests the beer selection will be good.
This is also a great option for me next time I work from home and the wife admonishes me, "No PotBelly or Five Guys for lunch today!". Although I don't suppose obeying the letter and ignoring the spirit will win me many brownie points.