Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Eating our way around town

Just a few food porn pics I've been saving up from some of the AMAZING meals that were photo-worthy. Interesting enough, they're all from the west side of the Potomac in Arlington and Alexandria Virginia. Lucky us, we're just trying to assimilate into the Eastern, well, the DC culture of eating out all the time.

Enjera Restuarant, Arlington VA,
A friend of ours grew up in the Ethiopian Foreign Service since his Dad was an Ethiopian Diplomat. He invited a big group of folks out to dinner at his favorite Ethiopian place so of course we went! The food was amazing. Much fresher flavors at this place than at other places where the curries can taste a little dusty and unimaginative sometimes. The food at Enjera had a nice fresh zing to it, and of course being Ethiopian there were some awesome vegetarian options. The food is always family style and it comes out on a huge pancake of Enjera bread, a chewy, spongy, sourdough crepe made from teff flour. All the little curries are piled on the enjera. No silverware allowed, to eat it you tear off a bite-sized piece of Enjera and pinch up a bite of the curry.

 Pupatella, Arlington VA,
Only about 2 miles and an easy bike ride on the bike path from our place, Pupatella makes Neapolitan style pizza in a big wood fired oven. Prices are reasonable, pizza is amazing, and so are the salads and deep fried brussels sprouts with apples. Here you can drool over the pizza with mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula and parm; the pizza with mozzarella, anchovies, olives and basil; and the special of the day the pesto pizza with smoked mozzarella, and pine nuts.

Caphe Banh Mi, Old Town Alexandria, VA,
A tiny little Vietnamese cafe with a very normal menu but extra delicious food. Including plenty of veggie options like the vegetarian Pho with fried tofu, chunks of fake chicken and fresh mushrooms that Big H got, and the Banh Mi sandwich for me. We rode our bikes down to Alexandria one afternoon and stopped here for a late lunch before riding back home.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Old Dead White Men and LL Cool J

The National Portrait Gallery in DC used to be the old Patent Office. Now the building houses the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. Needing a break from the Spanish studying on Sunday I rode the Metro into town and took a little highlights tour of the museum. I was thoroughly impressed and was sorry I hadn't visited it before. The art was great, it was well curated with lots of interesting info, the building itself is gorgeous with a huge air-conditioned atrium in the middle with little walk-through "scrim" fountains in the middle. And of course as a tribute to its roots, it had a super neat-o exhibition of tiny models of antique inventions that used to be housed in the Patent office.

I though the Portrait Gallery would just be a bunch of oil paintings of old dead white men. It did not disappoint in this regard so I was glad to have a tour guide to distill it down to her favorites there. This classic portrait of GW was hanging in the white house when the Brits tried to burn it down in 1812. Dolly Madison, the first lady at the time, de-framed it, rolled it up in some curtains, and stuffed it in a wagon headed out of town to save it. Thanks Dolly!

The Portrait Gallery used to have a rule that it wouldn't display any portraits of living people, you had to have been dead for 10 years in order to get your portrait in there. Not any more, which makes it a great deal more interesting and modern!

Here's Bill, he's still alive...

And here's a nice one of "Ladies Love Cool James" also known as LL Cool J. He's striking a pose imitating one that JD Rockefeller made in one of his portraits indicating he's "made it". And thanks to the crazy vibrating contrast of red and green pattern in the background LL is loaning it to the Smithsonian right now since his wife doesn't want it in her house.

They were setting up for some ultra fancy fundraising event in the main hall on the 3rd floor so that was interesting to see.

Now that our time in DC is starting to wind down, my bucket list is still looking rather long so I've been inspired to get out and be a tourist again. Yay!

PS. One good thing about the east is all the flowers all summer long. For example, these pink flowering trees are all over town and all around our hotel. Anyone have any idea what they are? I think it's a Crepe Myrtle.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fun. Times

Epic show on Saturday night.

They all start small and then go big, and Fun. is no different. This indie-pop band started as a small project in the New York area and played a few smaller shows around DC before they hit the big time with a couple radio hits and a Grammy in 2013.

What can I say, I love Fun. You may have heard "We Are Young" "Some Nights" and "Carry On", and you are most likely tired of hearing them on the radio all the time. I got their album Some Nights before it reached overplayed status and I fell fast in love with their music. These guys remind me of Queen with their hard-rocking, musical anthems, I can bounce to the melodies and slow dance to the slower songs, and what can I say, I have shed a few tears while belting out the lyrics in my car on solo road trips. Fun. writes with some heavy messages but manages to end on a positive note and makes my heart sing with happiness. I love Fun.

This 3-person, melody-loving band rocked the Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday night with an epic outdoor show. Hubster and I attended and thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor concert scene since it had been a while since our last show.

The opening act was a great new find for me. Tegan and Sara, a Canadian indie-rock duo of twin sisters. Lighthearted lyrics and catchy tunes with amazing, genetically-enhanced harmonies that sometimes only siblings can produce. We lounged on our woobie, munched some overpriced slices of cheese pizza, and soaked up the happy vibe.

And then came the thunderstorms. Crazy lightning-fest-2013 landed right on top of our heads as we waited for Fun. to go on stage. We ran for cover, out of the wide open exposed amphitheater, across the street, and into the parking garage to wait out the electrical storm and the accompanying downpour and microbursts. We could hear Fun.'s first few songs from under our cover where we waited with a hundred or so other storm-dodgers. We stayed alive and dry, and when the storm passed we ran back over to the concert and rocked out for the last hour and a half.

Nobody got struck by lightning that night luckily and apparently it was the biggest show they had ever played with 50,000 soggy happy people who knew all the words to all the songs and sang along with abandon until the 11pm sound curfew shut it down.