September 12, 2010

DC&U: a 3-day crash course

Sometimes it takes an outsider to really make you appreciate your own backyard.  (Not that we have a backyard.)  When my sister and brother-in-law visited from Austin last weekend, we spent three days seeing our neighborhood and our city through new eyes.  My sister had been to DC a number of times but not in a few years.  Her husband had never been.   Their only request, however, was to do what we normally do.  So that’s what we did—only we crammed into those three days three months’ worth of eating and doing and seeing.   We were lucky that the weather cooperated, bringing us warm sun, cool breezes, and a clear blue sky.  It was so much fun to show our guests some of our favorite spots and experience a few new ones ourselves along the way. 

Friday: We headed over to Duffy’s Irish Pub for wings (DC’s best) and fish & chips—Brian says they’re the best he’s had this side of the Atlantic.  We drank spritz on the roof (one of our favorite pastimes of late), and heard some straight-ahead jazz at Utopia over cocktails, crab cakes, and pan-fried brie with a lovely, warm (and Christmas-y) cinnamon-orange compote.  We always love the crab cakes and the brie was great (although I did find myself wishing that there were some fresh apples to go along with it.)  Be careful how you order the house Manhattan.  For me the Manhattans have been hit or miss, but  they do a great job on Brian’s vodka martini, and the jazz is always just right.

Saturday: We got out to 14&U Farmers’ Market for some local produce and made brunch at home afterwards: duck eggs (scrambled and fried) from Pecan Meadows, bacon from Truck Patch Farms, a fresh baguette, and a (local) French melon.  I highly recommend giving duck eggs a try.  They are about the size of “jumbo” chicken eggs but have larger yolks, so they are very rich and creamy. Yum!

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After an afternoon working on electric guitar wiring and shopping (you can guess who was doing what), we barely made it to Vinoteca in time for happy hour (a number of wines for $5) and managed to get in a few rounds of bocce.  (The guys shouldn’t feel too bad about losing—it’s in our blood, after all.)  For an inexpensive red after happy hour, I’m a fan of the Marchesi di Barolo “Maraia” Barbera.  Also try the ricotta crostini—you won’t be sorry!


Later, we went to the rooftop at Marvin for drinks and (when that got too loud) Bistro La Bonne for more drinks and some French fare.  We’ve been meaning make it to Marvin for a while now.  I’m glad we finally did (although I still haven’t gotten to try the moules frites).   Before Saturday, we hardly knew that the seven-month-old Bistro La Bonne even existed and happened upon it when looking for a laid-back and not-too-crowded place to sit outside.  I thought their paté was good but not the best I’ve ever had (although maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for paté at 11pm), but the cheese plate was outstanding.  I particularly liked the “double cream” cow cheese they served – so buttery and delicious.  We’re looking forward to going back for some French bistro food.  (We expect to be spoiled by Paris in a few weeks(!), so they’ll have to really impress us. :) ) 

It’s not one of our usual stops, but we couldn’t resist the smell of Jumbo Slice Pizza a couple doors down from Bistro La Bonne as we headed home.  (At least we split it four ways.)

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Sunday: We took a (mostly) unintentional walking tour of the city: from our place near 9th and U to L’Enfant Cafe for brunch at 18th and U (as usual, Brian and I shared two of our favorites: crêpe complete and a Nutella and strawberry crêpe);


then south through Dupont Circle to the White House; down to the Mall, past the Washington Monument, and east for a brief rest at the Sculpture Garden fountain; on to the Smithsonian National Museum of Art at 9th and Constitution; north to Gallery Place and the National Portrait Gallery at 7th and G; northwest via fro-zen-yo to the Cathedral of St. Matthew at 18th and M; then homeward via Whole Foods at 14th and P.



According to Google Maps, we walked over 8 miles that day.  We kept saying we were going to get on the metro, but it was such a beautiful day that we thought, “Why waste it underground?”  Plus, we were getting good and hungry for the grass-fed beef burgers we would have that evening on the roof!  The grill was in use, so we cooked the burgers on the  grill pan inside and brought them upstairs to eat. 

Grass-fed Beef Burgers, a quick and easy method
printable recipe

grass-fed ground beef
kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon per pound)
freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Simply season the ground beef with kosher salt and pepper and shape loosely into 4-ounce patties that are thinner in the middle than around the edges.

Grill for about 3 minutes per side.  Add cheddar cheese to the patties about a minute before they are done and cover the grill pan with foil (or close the grill) to melt the cheese. 

Best burgers any of us had had in ages.  With such a simple preparation, I’m sure this was attributable to the fact that the cows were grass-fed.


Around 11:00 pm, I remembered that my sister and I had planned to make a cake and learn/practice making buttercream roses.  Since they were leaving the next afternoon, it was now then or never.  I whipped together 4- and 6-inch layers of white, almond-scented cake (like the birthday cake I made a few weeks ago).  We did the icing and decorating Monday morning.  I passed on what little know-how I had about making buttercream roses, and after laboring over a few pink and purple flowers apiece, we let ourselves get a bit carried away with the extra icing. 

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It looked like the Barbie Dream House we shared as kids had exploded all over that defenseless little cake.  Nonetheless, it made a great breakfast with a cup of coffee—a sort of final fling before the holiday ended and we went back to our everyday lives.
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Autumn Seavey Hicks said...

BEST WEEKEND EVER!! Thanks for sharing :)

efm said...

Thanks, Autumn! It was. :)

Can we please hang out soon?

Anonymous said...

You guys are so "sweet". I need to learn how to do a rose too...Rachel

efm said...

Come on over anytime, Rachel! I'm always up for cake and buttercream frosting.

jmc said...

Such an amazing weekend!! We miss you guys!! Let's do this again soon!!

Maggie said...

What a fun weekend ... we live in the same 'hood (well, roughly)! You know, I still haven't made it to Vinoteca ... there are just too many places to try living where we do. The definition of a luxury problem.

efm said...

I definitely agree about the luxury problem. :) There are still so many places we haven't tried as well. My sister and her husband were so impressed with how close we are to so many things... You should definitely give Vinoteca a try!

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