Wow! These last 24 hours have flown past. It seems like just yesterday at this time that I was in Central PA. Oh, right…it WAS just yesterday at this time (or roughly this time) that Jeff and I were leaving for a little jaunt to Washington D.C.
We were not looking forward to driving in the forecasted rain showers, but we got lucky and seemed to miss the worst of it. And after a pretty uneventful car ride; we arrived in D.C. (well, Fairfax, VA) safe and sound.
Our first stop was to check into our home-away-from-home – the Hyatt house in the Mosaic District. We arrived and were greeted warmly by the front desk staff – in fact, upon giving our name we were wished a Happy Anniversary, which we just recently celebrated! The lobby is both funky and welcoming – a difficult mix to achieve if you ask me. Sometimes funky can seem cold and sometimes welcoming can lose the modern edge. But this extended-stay hotel found the right balance.
Our “suite” is well equipped – full-sized fridge, microwave, dishwasher, 2-burner cooktop, bar sink, sitting area, separate bedroom, vanity area and small bathroom. The room is nicely decorated in a soothing way and feels comfortable enough for a long stay. Because I am a stickler for the small details, there are two things I would “fix.”
(1) Most of the lampshades and some of the furniture pieces in the room are crooked. I know Jeff will roll his eyes when he reads this….he always does when I notice these little things; but for me these little things fall under the “attention to detail” heading that many places miss. While I am willing to concede that the lampshades could possibly be off kilter because of the inevitable slamming of the hotel room doors; I doubt the door slamming affects furniture placement!
(2) The television stand in the corner of the sitting area has multiple shelves with nothing on them. It looks like the designer forgot to decorate that area. A simple basket or bowl placed on one of the shelves or some books/magazines would finish if off nicely.
Enough griping……On the plus side, the water pressure in the shower is SOOO good that I think I’ve finally rinsed out every last spec of shampoo & conditioner residue from the last 46 years!!!!!
After we checked into the hotel, we met up with Brian – Jeff’s co-worker and our dining companion for the evening. It’s always fun to share a meal with someone who is willing to be adventurous! Together we went to a Korean BBQ called Honey Pig in Annandale.
Being new to Korean food, we relied on the recommendations of our waitress (well, one of them) and recommendations Jeff and I had received from the owner of a Korean market near our house.
We ordered the Seafood Pancake as an appetizer for the table and it was yummy. Full of veggies and seafood it was crispy, flavorful and comforting. For dinner, Brian and I both ordered Beef Bulgogi and Jeff ordered the Pork Belly.
Bulgogi is the most popular variety of Korean BBQ and falls under the category of marinated gogigui. It is traditionally cooked on gridirons or perforated dome griddles, which look a lot like hubcaps! “Gogigui” is Korean for ‘meat + roasting.’ And it is delicious!!!
Jeff’s pork belly and some tasty veggies/sprouts were also cooked on the dome griddle, which gave the pork belly a nice sear – that yummy crispiness that’s hard to resist.
Also on the table were about 100 small bowls – 3 with rice (one for each of us) and the rest with all kinds of condiments including kimchi (or kimchee) – Korea’s national dish – traditionally made with cabbage and other veggies with a variety of seasonings. It’s spicy and tangy and mmm mmm mmm! There was also a cucumber kimchee, an apple salad, sesame broccoli, steamed egg soufflé, soybean soup, fishcake banchan, and some other unidentified sauces and condiments.
The meal was great – especially the bulgogi, which was so tender it practically melted in your mouth. Now, it’s only fair that I remind you that I don’t have much experience with Korean food so I don’t have much with which to compare Honey Pig. But, given the opportunity, I would definitely return. The funky décor, the communal approach to cooking/serving food, and the hip vibe made it a relaxed meal!
After dinner Jeff and I walked around the Mosaic District to get the lay of the land. While we strolled the streets in the warm summer air, passing funky shops and interesting restaurants (including Andrew Weil’s soon-to-open True Food Kitchen) there was a distinct city feel we just can’t get at home. It’s like the air is electric and the sun never really sets!
To cap off the evening, we each got a small cup of gelato – Jeff’s combination was Virginia Peanut Butter and Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry Jam. My combination was Lemon Ricotta Cardamom (which knocked my socks off) and Sweet Corn & Black Raspberry Jam. The small cups were just enough for a taste, but not so much that we got full after a meal. It was the perfect little sweet treat.
This morning, Jeff headed out to his training session and I enjoyed a light breakfast at the hotel. Then I set out for the McCutcheon Mt. Vernon Farmers Market at the Sherwood Library. Even with GPS I took a few wrong turns, but that was ok with me – I had no place to be. The farmers market was small, but the sky was bright blue, the sun was shining and there was so much beautiful produce to photograph!
After I returned from my marketing adventure, I made a quick stop in the room to change into my bathing suit and made a beeline for the pool. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day….the sun was warm, the breeze was cool and there was no one except the lifeguard at the pool! I read, answered some emails and swam for about an hour and a half – just enough time to get a little bit of color and a whole lot of relaxed!
My final stop before beginning this post – Le Pain Quotidien, which means “the daily bread.” The perfect spot for a quick, nutritious lunch. Although the restaurant/bakery/café is beautiful, I didn’t feel comfortable sitting in the dining room in my swim togs, so I opted to take-out my salad.
Everything on the menu sounded fantastic, so deciding was a chore. But I landed on the Tuscan White Bean & Prosciutto Salad and an Iced Tea. The restaurant’s philosophy is to serve simple, nourishing, delicious food. And they lived up to that philosophy! The salad was FANTASTIC! If manna were like this, the Israelites never would have complained about it! My salad included just the right mix of arugula, parmesan, scallions, white beans, cucumbers (which I could have excluded), fresh croutons and basil vinaigrette. The flavors of every component shone through so that I could enjoy the subtle nuances of flavor and texture. The white beans were creamy, the arugula was crispy, the parmesan salty…….need I say more? It truly was a taste treat…..and I’m almost positive I’ve never referred to a salad as a treat!!!!
Do yourself a favor and check out Le Pain Quotidien’s website – not only will you get a glimpse of the location I visited, but you can also get some yummy recipes they so generously share on the site!
I don’t know what the evening holds…..definitely dinner, probably a movie at the Angelika Film Center, and hopefully some quality time with my love!
I try to remember them EVERY day; but on days like these it’s sooooo incredibly easy to count my blessings!!!