Monday, July 19, 2010

Eating Out - Sushi

Oops! Forgot to take the picture until the food was almost all gone.

Chopsticks (Sushi/Japanese)

Kathryn had a craving for sushi while we were out shopping the other day, so we dropped into to Chopsticks in Georgetown. This is one of the few times we've grabbed dinner before I've had the chance to scout online reviews. I was a little nervous, as I should be. We left very disappointed.

  • I'm going to go all art house film and start from the end of the meal and then tell you how we got there.
  • We got up from the table with a horrible taste in our mouths and a significant chunk taken from our checking account. The restaurant is at the corner of M and Wisconsin in the heart of the Georgetown shopping district. I imagine their rent is outrageous. Oh yeah, I still feel a bit hungry (but mostly kind of gross).
  • The last sushi roll finally arrives. The Maryland Roll - fried soft shell crab and eel sauce. This is the worst soft shell crab I've ever had. There is very little meat but tons of that nasty yellow stuff in here. This flavor is probably going to hang in my mouth all day.
  • This baked roll with cheese on it sure is interesting, and I really like this other one with the spicy tuna. This sushi is really good.
  • The waitress brings our nigiri - salmon for Kathryn, omelet for me, and salmon to split. This is all pretty good. Can't wait for the sushi rolls to get here. I bet they're going to be good.
  • We split the dumpling appetizer (gyoza). This stuff is very good. I'm really glad we came here.
  • Glass of ice water and an ice cold Coke. Man I needed this. It sure is hot out there.
  • Me: Yeah, let's do that. I'm starving. Hopefully it's good.
  • Kathryn: Let's grab some sushi. This place looks cute.

Eating Out - Malaysian

Meat on a stick - great food across all cuisines.

Malaysia Kopitiam (Malaysian)

Like most of America, Kathryn and I have recently become obsessed with coupons generally, and the website Groupon more specifically. Malaysia Kopitiam was a Groupon purchase ($30 of food for $15 if I remember right).

Neither of us have ever had Malaysian food before, so we didn't really know what to expect. In fact, neither of us really knew exactly where Malaysia was (I'll admit that I thought it was an island). After a quick Google image search, it makes sense that Malaysian food is very similar to Thai food, with a bit of South Asian/Indian influence.

  • I had no idea what to get, so I ordered what the waitress told me to get. This system usually works.
  • We split the roti canai appetizer - a crepe served with a bowl of chicken and potato curry. We're off to a good start here.
  • I can't remember the name of Kathryn's dish but it was spicy salt shrimp with jicama. She really liked it, but I can't understand why.
  • I had this satay sampler with four kinds of meat. Ranked from best to worst: chicken, lamb, beef, and pork. It was served with coconut rice and achar, a sort of sweet and cold pickled cabbage dish, similar to kimchi. Pretty good, but not great.
  • For desert we split the Malaysian sweet crispy crepe. It was essentially the same crepe from our appetizer except that it was filled with a sweet creamy goo. It was one of the few foods that actually gets better as you eat more.
  • In addition to the paper menu, Malaysia Kopitiam has a binder with photos of all the foods. I've never seen this trick before, and it was very helpful.
  • I left thinking that I don't need to return, but I would be willing if someone else wanted me to go. Kathryn agrees.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Eating Out - Burgers

Pretty decent stuff.

Good Stuff Eatery (Burgers)

Burgers are a big thing in DC. It's the birthplace of the quickly growing chain Five Guys, and there are at least a half a dozen places fighting for the best "gourmet" burger. Last night after our weekly ultimate frisbee game, we headed out for a quick bite to eat with friends at Good Stuff Eatery, a strong contender for DC's best burger.

  • Good Stuff is owned by Chef Spike Mendelsohn. I guess he was on Top Chef. Michelle Obama supposedly loves this place and picks up takeout for her staff sometimes. It's also a popular destination for, as my friend put it last night, Capitol Hill Tools. Oh yeah, and it's becoming a pretty popular tourist destination.
  • Kathryn got a boring bacon cheeseburger, but I got Spike's Sunnyside - cheese, bacon, and an over easy egg. That just happened.
  • We split a small fry, but the best part is all of the different mayos to dip your fries in. My ranking, from worst to first, goes like this chipotle, old bay, schiracha.
  • I also indulged with their best selling shake - toasted marshmallow. For the most part the marshmallow taste was hard to detect, but it was still a good shake.
(Full disclosure: we didn't have our camera so I took that pic from the internets.)

Eating Out - Indian

You better be ready to see lots of sweaty Todd pictures until about October.

Cafe of India (Indian)

When Kathryn and I first started dating she was completely obsessed with avocados and guacamole. That's what she ate, constantly. If something came with avocados, she was going to order it. I didn't know at the time that Kathryn didn't always love avocados, but she was deep in the throes of what we now call an "avocado kick." That's how Kathryn eats. She gets on kicks. Right now, the lady is on an Indian kick. Within the last couple of weeks Kathryn has eaten Indian take out at work and Indian microwave meals at home. The funny part is that until just recently Kathryn didn't like Indian food, but something inside her recently switched. We've had a couple of Indian buffet lunches and appetizer happy hours, but Cafe of India was our first proper Indian dinner.

  • Cafe of India is in Tenleytown, a neighborhood on the NW edge of DC. It has that "suburb but still technically in the the city" feel to it.
  • We went there with a discount certificate thanks to a great heads up from our friend (and reader) Matt. We got a $25 certificate for $2!
  • We had the crunchy spinach appetizer - fried spinach with tamarind chutney, dates, and avocados. Two bites in, Kathryn was saying that she wanted to come back to get this dish again.
  • Our entrees were essentially stewed hunks of chicken served with rice. I had the makhani (seasoned with cloves, green cardamom, and fenugreek), and Kathryn had the pistawal (pistachios and raisins). Both very good.
  • For desert we ventured away from our comfort zone and tried the rose ice cream. It was weird at first, tasting exactly like a rose smells, but after the initial shock, it was pretty good. I still don't think I'll order it again.
  • With this hot spell, I drink an embarrassing amount of water. I had those poor bus boys working over time.

D.C. Sports - Washington Kastles

Hot Time in the City.

As part of my quest to see every pro DC sports team (except the WNBA, obviously), Kathryn and I spent a very hot summer night supporting the Washington Kastles. The Kastles are the reigning champs of World Team Tennis league. I'll assume you've never heard of it. The league is played in a weird format. Each match has five sets of different types of tennis (men's singles, women's doubles, men's doubles, women's singles, mixed doubles). It was a nice introduction to pro tennis, getting to see all the different formats in a relatively relaxed yet competitive environment.
  • This was our first live tennis experience. We're recent fans of the sport, so it was fun to have the chance to see it live. It much faster than I expected!
  • The match against the New York Buzz was sold out because of the two marquee players: Venus Williams (DC) and Martina Hingis (NY).
  • Washington Kastles won the match (and every set!). Venus vs. Hingis was a real battle and the highlight of the night. Most of the crowd didn't stick around for the last set of mixed doubles. (We took advantage and moved down to about the fifth row.)
  • All of the fans got free t-shirts. Size large. The only size that fits neither of the Kuethes.
  • DC mayor Adrian Fenty and tennis legend Billie Jean King (founder of WTT) were on hand to present 2009 championship rings to the team (except Venus, she's new).
  • It was 100 degrees at the start of the match! But cold beers were the same price as most bars!

They construct a stadium for the summer in a downtown parking lot.

The big star of the night - Venus Williams.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Getting Out - Independence Day

Fireworks beyond the Washington Monument.

I grew up watching A Capitol 4th every year on PBS, and with our first year in Washington, we both agreed it would be a good idea to walk down to the mall and take in the show for ourselves. We live near the West side of the mall (the Lincoln side), so we walked all the way to the other side to try to catch the Capitol 4th. We were fairly bummed to learn that the park service didn't set up jumbotrons and speakers around the mall as is customary for major mall events. We were able to sit close enough to see the backside of the stage, but we couldn't hear a thing.

We still had a great time. The fireworks were great. We had a picnic of chicken salad, crackers, and strawberries, and we even smuggled in some Riesling. The large crowd made for an unusually slow walk home, but it was still great to celebrate the occasion right up next to our capitol.

Canons set up for "1812 Overture."

Enjoying a picnic with a few hundred thousand other people.

One of Kathryn's coworkers joined us for the fireworks.

Enjoying a frozen yogurt on the long walk home.

Getting Out - Independence 5000

Less than a mile in, still looking good.

We kicked off our 4th of July weekend by running the Independence 5000 (as in meters). It was a 7:30pm twilight run through the campus of George Mason University. It turned out to be an unseasonably cool evening with a nice breeze. We both shaved off five minutes from our first 5K, finishing at 33:18 for me and 34:13 for Kathryn. At the end of the race they handed out popsicles - genius!

Kathryn on her last hard push to the finish line.

Cooling off after a very fun run.

Smithsonian Museums - National Postal Museum

Entering a dream world of mail.

National Postal Museum

I have a weird fascination with the Postal Museum. When I first read about it in a DC guidebook, like a lot of people, I thought it sounded like the most boring museum in the world, nothing but stamps and old pieces of mail. But then something inside me turned, and I suddenly had a strong desired to get inside this lesser known Smithsonian.

I was relieved to find that stamps are actually only a tiny, tiny fraction of the postal museum. The museum covers the history of the US mail system beginning with colonial post. You can actually learn a lot of interesting bits of American history. For example, there is a great exhibit about the relationship between the mail service and the newspaper industry. It explains why newspapers are often named "post" or "courier" or "dispatch."

It's a thoroughly modern museum with tons of interactive and hands on elements for children. Plus, the great hall has a transportation display with cars, trucks, semi-trucks, horses, airplanes, and a train car. Who doesn't love that stuff?

  • The Postal Museum is located in the old post office across the street from Union Station. This means its (1) a few blocks from the mall and the other museums but (2) easy to get to. As a result, you can visit an interesting museum without huge crowds.
  • Postal is much smaller than the other museums, but this size makes it easy to navigate and the single subject content makes it easier to focus.
  • I was actually emotionally affected by one exhibit. I didn't see that coming. (There's a really great exhibit about V-Mail between soldiers and families during WWII. Tear jerker really.)
  • The RFD in Mayberry RFD stands for Rural Free Delivery. Details inside.
  • The postal service has their own intelligence and law enforcement group, and the postal service was the first government agency to purchase airplanes (from the Wright brothers).

The handcuffs used to arrest the unabomber. He was busted by the mail police. I bet you didn't know that did you?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Eating Out - New American

Going full Ludacris on these chicken and waffles.

Founding Farmers (New American)

Tucked in an outside corner of the IMF, Founding Farmers is one of the hottest restaurants in town. It couldn't be more nouveau yuppie. An LEED certified restaurant offering locally sourced organic and sustainable food items from farm gate to dinner plate with modern updates on traditional Southern favorites blah blah blah. It's about enough to make me sick. Well other than the food is some of the best I've ever had. That part does not make me sick.

We've been dying to try this place for a long time. With foodie friends in town, we dove in one evening, and this is what stands out.

  • In addition to the snobby food, they serve snobby drinks. The drink menu does not have a description of the cocktails' flavor. It describes the history of the drink and uses the word "mixologist" at least twice. This also annoys me.
  • I don't remember what everyone else had to drink, but I had the El Presidente named after Gerardo Machado. Since President Machado and I are both from Cuba, I figured this would be a great drink. It was good, but not fruity enough for me.
  • It took us almost an hour to get in (at 9 on a Monday night!), so we were starving when we hit the table. We had some fried green tomatoes and a plate of homemade chips with various dips. The fried green tomatoes were filled with goat cheese and topped with green goddess dressing (ridiculously good) and the chip dips included more green goddess, spicy pimento cheese spread, and onion dip.
  • There was a lot of passing going on around the table. Here's what the others had: prime rib dip sandwich, blue crab ravioli, and shrimp and grits. Everything I sampled was really good, but my meal was the hit of the table. Which brings us to.......
  • I had the best damn meal of recent memory. Fried chicken, waffles, a-maz-ing mac and cheese and fresh green beans. I've never had chicken and waffles before. It's like eating a chicken with extra extra breading smothered in syrup. The mac and cheese was also about 1000 times better than expected.
  • Deserts: girls split some kind of strawberry shortcake with a modern twist, I had strawberry ice cream
  • We'll go again. Just let us know when you want to go!

Visitors - CatMatt

Enjoying some unintentionally late night eats at Founding Farmers.

One of the nicest elements of living in DC is that we end up getting a lot of visitors who aren't really visiting us. We've already had the chance to spend at least an evening or two with almost half a dozen college friends who are in town for work or visiting family. This last weekend we had the chance to spend a few nights with our SLU by way of Purdue friends Catherine and Matt. Catherine was in town for work, but Matt tagged along to check out the town and hang out with us.
  • Kathryn was working most of the weekend, so she only got to participate in some of the fun. (The whole Catherine and Kathryn thing can be confusing in a conversation, but thankfully the spelling makes for easy blog posting.)
  • Friday night I took Matt for a "dudes' night" on the H St. Corridor in the Atlas District. We checked out recent favorite Biergarten Haus (where I accidentally ordered us $10 pints), old favorite the Country Club, and definitely new favorite the Red and the Black. The Red and the Black is a small punk rock bar with reasonably priced drinks (for DC). It may be the coolest bar in all of town.
  • Matt and I had such a good time that we went back to H with the girls in tow on Saturday night. The night consisted of bar food at the Country Club and a show at the Palace of Wonders.
  • Our late night indulgence was a slice of pie at the new hipster approved Dangerous Pies. I had the pecan (amazing!), and Kathryn had the apple (didn't try it but she thought it was "just OK"). Unfortunately, you can't get them a la mode.
  • Our last night with Matt and Kathryn was a great dinner at Founding Farmers.
  • Side note: we had a frustrating time eating this weekend. With all of the tourists and interns and what not, it was even harder than usual to get a seat at cool places. We were forced to BGR over Churchkey and Country Club over Sticky Rice. We did eat at Founding Farmers but we had to wait almost an hour (at 9 at night on a Monday!!!!!).

Girls enjoying quesadillas at the H St Country Club.

Matt and I after a slice of pie.