Sunday, July 27, 2008

Folger's Shakespeare Library

The other weekend my friend Steph and I got our butts up on a Saturday morning, and went to the Folger's Shakespeare Library. A few times in the summer they have a tour of their garden. I'm pretty sure the tours are over for this summer, but you should investigate them for future summers because the tour guide is amazing! She is going to remind you of that English teacher you had in high school who knew her shit but still managed to make class interesting and not just an endless lecture on how you're just not getting the finer points of Beowulf. When really who did understand the finer point of Beowulf? It was written in archaic old English. It was hard enough just to understand the overarching plot line, much less the finer points. So there was no need to roll your eyes at my comments in class because you thought they were trite. I was only 16! Ooops. Got a bit off topic there, traveling down memory lane to high school English class. Anywhozzle... this tour guide is awesome. She takes a tiny and rather plain garden which would otherwise have amused me for approximately 5 minutes and turns it into an hour long tour full of audience participation that I found completely fascinating. In my usual style, I have forgotten most of what I learned that day (I really should cut back on the drinking for the sake of my poor brain cells), but I do remember these little tid bits. In the Elizabethan era...
  • they didn't use herbs to flavor foods
  • they believed if you put an ivy leaf under your pillow that you would dream of your husband (I tried it and dreamed of a kid I went to grade school with who has been in a serious relationship for a good 6 years and a bunch of robots. So it didn't work out so well for me, but try it and tell me what you dream of!)
  • they believed that yellow flowers kept witches away from your house because they represented the sun
How interesting, right? Plus I learned what a Shakespeare garden is (a garden which only contains the plants mentioned in Shakespeare's works) and what an Elizabethan garden is (same idea but with any plant that were found in Elizabthen England). You really owe it to yourself to check it out next summer. I think I might be back too. So I can re-learn all those interesting facts that I've already forgotten!

This was the Great Hall which had an armor exhibit. It was neat but small. (Also I got yelled at for taking this picture. Can you see the security guard starting to run out of the door all the way in the back? Everyone seems so anti-photo these days which is somewhat annoying and perhaps over-protective. It makes it hard to capture an experience without any pictures, and are those pictures really hurting the walls and the armor? If it's light exposure that's a big deal, why not just forbid flash photography? Huuuuuuuuuuuff! I guess I will either have to learn to deal with it or learn to be more sly about taking photos!)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Who's ready for the weekend?

I know Erin and I are! Rough weeks all around. I need a few days of rest and some fun stuff to get my mind off work. Fortunately there's Jazz in the Garden tonight and a Listopad sale on Saturday! That should make me feel better. Plus Erin and I've got big things planned for our next Monday Play Day! I also promise I will catch you all up on some awesome things I've come across recently that you all should check out too.

(Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All Tired out by the Dark Knight

So I have a couple of things I've been meaning to write about, but tonight is just no going to be the night because I've just gotten home from the movies (after midnight! on a school night! Mom, I'm going to bed immediately, promise!). Erin, my other fabulous Asian friend (Lynne), some dude Erin hangs out with for his money, and I went to go see The Dark Knight. Now I wouldn't say its the best movie I've ever seen, but it was pretty damn good. I am usually hard to amuse when a movie is running over 2 hours, but I was entirely entertained through out the whole thing. In fact there's one point where you think the movie might wrap. So I glanced at my cell to see what time it is, and I was actually relieved to realize there was still another hour of the movie left! I don't think I have ever felt that way about a movie before.*

There were some aspects of the movie that I didn't think were as amazing as everyone said (cough Maggie Gyllenhaal cough). Not that these aspects were bad, but they weren't quite what I was hoping considering the buzz. There were a few other nit picky things here and there that I saw in the movie, but Christian Bale (and his few, glorious, shirtless scenes) makes up for any shortcomings I could point out. For all of you who are not really dying to see Christian Bale's ripped pecs, maybe those scenes would at least motivate you to hit the gym some more. You should definitely take something positive away from the sight of his bare chest.

In conclusion go see it, if you haven't yet. Although according to the numbers this movie is pulling in, you probably already have. So if you have seen it, maybe you get over to the gym now. Nobody's saying you have to be the next Batman, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to bring some more ripped pecs into the world.

*Except for when I got to the end of the first Lord of the Rings, and my brother explained that there were 2 more movies coming. God that trilogy just sucks you right in! I couldn't get enough of the little Frodo and his friend Samwise!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Crepes at Cafe Bonaparte

So as I was saying, Erin and I set out on our Monday Play Day yesterday to grab some sushi at Sushi-Ko which is of course open for lunch every day except Monday. So that didn't really work out, but since we had already rode the bus a good 45 minutes up into the Glover Park area, we decided to take advantage of the circumstances and have lunch at Cafè Bonaparte. Erin and I are huge fans of their sister restaurant, Napoleon, and their uber classy website. So we'd always wanted to make it up to the original joint at some point.

Well service is pretty much just like service at Napoleon. The waitress was vaguely foreign and unfriendly but not bad. She wasn't going to go the extra mile (or inch), but if you asked for something, she was responsive. I usually like more personable servers, but at a French cafè the cold edge seems to fit. Also just like Napoleon, the food more than makes up for whatever snobby French vibe you read into your experience. The crêpes come 2 to an order and don't skimp on stuffing. So unlike some schmancy restaurant where you shell out $15 for a 3 bite appetizer, you can get a $10 crêpe at Bonaparte and not be able to move afterwards, which is definitely what happened to me. I had a few bites of Erin's French onion soup (sooooo cheesy), my Florentine crêpe (sooooo many pine nuts) and a nibble of her Verona crêpe (sooooo meaty) and had to pass on dessert. It was kind of disappointing! I had it all planned out. I was going to go with a Viennese theme and get the Viennese Waltz (honey yogurt and pistachios) with the Viennese espresso (cinnamon and vanilla). O well. I settled for a double espresso instead to help me digest my meal. Hopefully one day I will once again find myself wandering Glover Park and can make room for dessert! Or if there is a tall, dark, and handsome French man out there who'd like to wine and dine me, I wouldn't be opposed...

(Erin obviously thoroughly enjoyed her food! And look how much good stuff comes in those crêpes!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Last Froyo Post. I swear! (At least for awhile...)

So the roomie and are are continuing our new Monday-Play Day tradition. Except for today didn't go quite as planned. First we tried to go to Sushi-Ko for lunch, but because someone in the apartment lacks attention to detail (that someone being me), we didn't realize that Sushi-Ko is open for lunch every day of the work week except for Mondays. Which was such a bummer because we took a the metro and bus to get up there! I mean this was a bit of a trek for 2 girls with no car who are too cheap to take a cab. Lunch was saved because Cafè Bonaparte (review to come shortly) was right down the street. Erin and I adore Napoleon, and have always wanted to check out Cafè Bonaparte. It being is Glover Park had deterred us up until now, but since we were already in the neighborhood, it worked out well.

Well after lunch we had planned to check out the new Jim Henson exhibit at the Smithsonian which just opened last weekend. (You should all try to go!) Unfortunately Erin's uber flakey boss, who promised to take care of submitting payroll so Erin could have the day off, went missing. Not really surprising knowing her boss, but disappointing nonetheless. So instead of going down to the mall we had to make our way over to Erin's work so she could take care of payroll.

So after this we were both a little bummed about how the day didn't turn out quite as expected, and so we decided we needed some froyo to pick us up. If you remember, last Monday I had introduced Erin to TangySweet. Naturally this Monday it was time to check out Mr. Yogato. Now I know I just posted abut how Mr. Yogato had all these different flavors, but none of them really had a ton of flavor. Weeeeeeeeeeell I think they read Search for J Street because both of the flavors today (peach and mojito) were awesome. They managed to actually taste like their namesake and still be refreshing in the tangy yogurt sort of way. The mojito yogurt I tried today tasted nothing like the one I had the other week. So keep up the good work Mr. Yogato! I am glad I came back for seconds. My opinion of your kitschy yogurt shop has been elevated from satisfactory to faaaaabulous! (Side note: that is also a picture of me with the cute froyo cup that I couldn't get a picture of before because that couple had to be all lovey dovey right in front of it. But good things come to those who wait, and this time I got to hog the smiley frozen yogurt cartoon!)

Also, on our brief shopping excursion in Georgetown (Mom I already got your Christmas gift! Aren't you so proud of me for not waiting until the last minute?) I discovered that yet another Pinkberry knock off is coming to town! There will be an Ice Berry opening on the east end of M street at some point. So keep your eyes open for that. I will of course be on top of reviewing it as soon as possible. For the reader's sake of course. I eat all this frozen yogurt so you can be informed about your best options. It's totally selfless. Really, I mean that...

(Doesn't this cartoon lemon from Mr. Yogato look just like Stewie from Family Guys? Erin thought it looked more like Arnold from Hey Arnold.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

More Reports of Frozen Yogurt, This Time from Mr. Yogato!

I got over to Mr. Yogato recently. I mean, of course I did. Have you ever met anyone more obsessed with this frozen yogurt trend? Probably not, and if you have, you should introduce us. We'd be froyo bff's! Then I would always have someone willing to go to extreme lengths for froyo with me.

So about Mr. Yogato: the decor is not nearly as swanky as TangySweet. Mr. Yogato went kitchsy route instead, and decorated their walls in cartoon versions of their yogurt and toppings. My favorite was the little cartoon mochi (their Japanese version of a marshmallow) because when else are you going to see that? There was also a super cute cartoon smiley froyo cup but some stupid, happy couple that was being all lovey dovey and enjoying each others presence was blocking it, and so I couldn't snap a picture. Outside they have these funny, colorful bird heads sprouting out of their garden boxes. Sounds weird but is actually adorable. But basically the whole gist of the place is happy, silly. Which works because its no fun if all your frozen yogurt places are the same and TangySweet has already cornered the upscale-almost-club-like-neon -explosion look.

The yogurt itself is just like TangySweet (same taste and consistency) except for they have different flavors that rotate in and out, and they have an extra tangy flavor in addition to the usual plain yogurt flavor. The flavor that I tried (mojito) was pretty mild though, probably even a little more mild than the flavors at TangySweet. Mostly it just tasted like to original flavor, maybe a little sweeter? So I'm hoping in future trips, I find some flavors that actually have a little more flavor. Or maybe the whole froyo thing is like wine, and I just need to train my palette or something. In any case, my final verdict would be that they both Mr. Yogato and TangySweet satisfy my yogurty cravings, and in the future I will likely just go to whichever one is closest.*

*Except for that 30 days when I only go to Mr. Yogato so I can win the 30 day challenge! Then I'll have them create a Search for J Street Flavor! Although, I'm not really sure what I'd want a Search for J Street flavor to taste like. Hmmm. Thoughts on flavor possibilities?

What's the deal with these old mailboxes?

We were walking around the other day and stumbled upon a very old mailbox right next to a nice new mailbox. It was such a funny contrast that I had to snap a picture of it.

When we went up to investigate the old mailbox, it turned out to be quite the little mystery. There's no slot for mail only a door in the front that is locked. There's not identifying information on the mailbox either, just the words "Relay Mail" on the locked door. Then we began to notice that these old mailboxes are all over. I can't believe I never noticed them before, but I guess they just blended into the background. Now that I've noticed them, I can't stop thinking about what they are used for. Obviously you could only put mail in them if you had a key, but who has a key? Can I get a key? Anyone who can shed some light on this would be my hero. I have to know if they are just old mailboxes that were never removed or if they are some secret system or communication between spies!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Drinks at Acadiana

I have an obsession with Passion Food's restaurants (Ten Penh, Ceiba, Acadiana, and DC Coast). Not because of their food (although that is often delish) or because of the drinks (often even more delish than the food) or because of their atmosphere (pretty fabulous in its own right). What actually made me originally fall in love with these places are their drink decorations! Ten Penh's got monkeys. Ceiba's got little bulls. DC Coast has mermaids. They are all so colorful and fabulous. I collect them whenever I go out to any of these places for drinks! (Then I decorate my pathetic little cubicle with them to remind me of my fun exploits).

Anyways this is a long way of saying that I had collected all the little drink characters from everywhere accept Acadiana which I had sadly never visited despite it being a 5 minutes walk from my work. So recently several girlfriends and I found ourselves on the way from the Portrait Gallery to Cork for dinner when one of those sudden summer rainstorms hit. (Doesn't it seem like we're having an awful lot of those this summer? Is this a global warming thing? Well if this sort of thing is going to keep up, I hope we can at least start growing mangoes up here.) Anyways being the resourceful ladies we are, we ducked into Acadiana for a few drinks to help us wait out the storm. I was sooooo excited to finally make it there! I couldn't wait to see what their drink decorations would be. And you know what it was?!?!

Nothing. They have drink stirrers with fleur de lis's on top of them. Clear drink stirrers at that. They don't even have multiple colors! So freaking disappointing. As soon as I saw this, I was totally ready to write Acadiana off as my least favorite of the restaurant group, but then, o but then I tasted my drink (and my friends' drinks too). WOW! No really! They were amaaaaaaaaaaazing. It should be illegal for booze to taste that good. I have a hard enough time resisting happy hour as is. All their specialty cocktails have 20 bajillion ingredients and require a decent amount of creation time, but all of the work put into them really does make them a level above any other drink I've ever had in Washington DC. I am not exaggerating. I am willing to go on record saying Acadiana makes the best drinks inside the District. You must go. Immediately. What are you doing now? Well stop it, and get over there. Ok wait, first put on pants. It's kind of a classy place. (See giant Grecian vase in background for indication of class level.) So you'll probably need pants.

(My Ramos Fizz. Sooooo yummy!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tips for Screen on the Green (bit of a rant, watch out!)

So this past Monday was the beginning of Screen on the Green, the free, outdoor film festival on the mall. I hope you all went. If you didn't, tisk tisk. You're missing out on an awesome time! However... I have to say Screen on the Green could be awesomer. There were a few things that irked me a bit. So if you do go next Monday (and you absolutely should), please try not to do one of the following in consideration of all the people around you:

1) Show up after the movie has started and cram into the middle of the mall somewhere on the pretense of sitting near your friends. Party foul! The movie doesn't start until 9 at night! It's not like you are rushing out of work to make it on time. If you can't make it by 9, sit towards the side/back. Really this advice is for your sake because everyone you step on/over or sit in front of/on top of is probably planning on how best extract their revenge.

2) Smoke. I know we're outdoors. Therefore, I don't think I can technically make you stop, but please be considerate. You smell. And then you make me smell. And maybe I was trying to flirt with the cute boy next to me. Now you've ruined my chances because he thinks I'm smelly. No one likes the smelly girl.

3) Sprawl out and sleep. If you were tired, you should have stayed home. Now you are taking up twice as much room as a normal sitting person, and you're not even conscious! Don't be surprised when you wake up next time with crude pictures drawn on your face. I'm not saying it'll be me. I'm just saying don't be surprised.

4) Bring a lawn chair unless you want to sit in the back. This shouldn't even need to be said, but if you bring a lawn chairs that is 18 inches off the ground, you are killing the viewing area behind you. SOTG is already packed. So try not to make the situation worse by effectively blocking a good couple of square feet immediately behind you.

Ok I'm done being snarky. I'm sorry; I just have very strong feelings on appropriate outdoor movie viewing behavior. Hopefully next Monday, we can all just get along.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mondays are Play Days!

So my job is beginning to wear on me a bit, and to keep from going absolutely insane, I decided to take off all of the Mondays of Screen on the Green. Everyone keeps saying: "wouldn't it be more sensible if you took off on Tuesdays?" But no silly people, it wouldn't be because then I wouldn't have a 3 day weekend. Duh! So this was my first Monday off. I couldn't really enjoy it to its utmost because I was coming back from Delaware that morning, but Erin and I were able to catch some schmancy lunch with a friend. Then I introduced them both to TangySweet (new converts! yes!). Then we picked up lots of delish cheeses for a Screen on the Green picnic, and we closed the night out nibbling on brie and gouda while listening to James Bond seduce 3 women in under 2 hours.

But back track to the schmancy lunch... Erin and I decided these Monday Play Days would be a great time to try out nice restaurants we wanted to go to during lunch when the meal would be (theoretically) cheaper. So this Monday we hit up Circle Bistro in the Washington Circle Hotel. I have been to a few other hotel restaurants in DC, and I have to say I liked the atmosphere at the Circle Bistro the best. The decor was still a bit hotel-y, but the color palette really opened the whole place up. It was all fun oranges and yellows. The bright, warm colors were the perfect balance to the feeling of being underground and closed in.

Ok now down to more important things: food and service. Let's start with the service. It was exactly what I would have expected from a classy hotel joint, completely professional and a bit uptight. Our waitress wasn't making any small talk, but all dishes were served at perfect pace, all together, and to the right person without the food runner having to "auction off" anything. ("Auctioning off" = when they say "who got the chicken with the pasta type stuff on the side?" FYI from a former waitress, auctioning off is considered tacky in the world of formal restaurants. So I always note it at restaurants I feel should know better.) Service bonus: our waitress had some unidentifiable European accent and was built like a model, making her seem that much classier.

The surprisingly pleasant atmosphere and classy service was nothing, however, compared to the food. It was freaking awesome. We started off with the duck confit and a corn and pepper soup. The duck literally melted off the bone. It was cooked to absolute perfection. Seriously it was like Moses parting the Red Sea. The meat just glided away (and into my mouth) like there was some divine intervention. No joke. Don't believe me? Not sure if you believe in divine intervention? Try to the duck confit, Judas, and then get back to me. Food bonus: the portion was not small! In fact nothing that came out at Circle Bistro was teeny tiny in that snooty way some kitchens try to make their food seem cooler by putting less of it on a plate. Portion size alone would have won them a decent review. Erin also loved her soup. I tried it and liked it a lot, but I was glad I got the duck! Then the main dishes came out. I got the soft shell sandwich. Great job on the crab, but the bun was a bit to big for the whole thing. Erin got the salmon. She didn't say much about it, but there wasn't anything left on her plate at the end of the meal. So I am assuming it wasn't too terrible. Our friend who was dining with us got the burger. It always seems odd to me to go to a really nice restaurant and get the burger, but he could not shut up about how good it was. So I think in this instance, he probably got the best meal out of all of us. The bill came, and it was actually not horrendous. It wasn't cheap either, but I do think our attempt at eating a less expensive meal at a classy joint was successful for the most part. Everything was so good that I was tempted to see what they had for dessert, but TangySweet was calling! So off we went to the rest of the days adventures.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

J Street Attempts to Thoroughly Review Cork

BUT ALAS! Is thwarted by evil co-owner! The plot thickens (insert dramatic organ music and castle thunder here).

Ok so I finally got to eat at Cork. I've tried a couple of times, but it's always been packed out the wazoo. This time we went on a rainy Sunday which apparently is enough in this city to thin the crowd at even the trendiest restaurants. This time we get there, and half the tables are empty. I'm thinking 'Sweet! We can sit down right away and can get something to munch on.' Um nope. Even though our reserved table was open (in addition to a handful of other tables) and 4 out of 5 people in our party were there, we couldn't be seated until everyone was there. Great lady. Thanks. So instead we had to stand at the bar for awhile since all the bar seats were taken while the hostess just stared at us standing and looking at our nice empty seats (see below). Major -1.

(Us standing.)

(Our empty table.)

Finally the hostess got off her high horse and let us sit down. Our waitress came up to tell us about the specials, but she couldn't really remember them. (According to her the stuffed quail was stuffed with stuffing. Yeaaaaa. Thanks, Shakespeare. You've got quite the way with words. -1 again.) Fortunately she did remember our orders correctly. All our food came out pretty fast, it was all correct, and it was freaking awesome. I loved everything I tried, especially the avocado bruschetta with pistachios. Aaaaaaaaaaaaa. So yummy. But the cold English pea soup was a really close second. Actually no the perfectly seasoned fries were the close second. They had some lemon zest or something. I don't even know. You just need to go and try them. Immediately. So I guess the soup was third, but really everything was second to the wine. The menu has great descriptions, and we all got wines we liked! (+5)

So I'm busy snapping pictures of all the pretty and delicious food which the co-owner is running to table until he says 'Um you can't do that.' Excuse, me I can't do what? 'You are not allowed to take pictures of the food.' What?! You're kidding me right? He wasn't. Apparently people could take pictures of the food and misrepresent it. Although I feel like a photo is actually a pretty accurate representation, Mr. Co-owner Man. I mean that's why they invented them, to capture reality. Aaaaanyways he could definitely tell that his no photo policy threw me for a loop because I made a half wtf face and a half you're breaking my heart here face. At this point I was about the write off the service at Cork as effing horrible, but the Mr. Co-owner dude managed to save the whole situation by bringing me a free glass of champagne (+ a million!!!!) So of course I forgave him for his silly photo rule. Plus, don't tell him, but I snapped a few pictures before he came over to chastise me!

(The delicious fries)

(The delicious soup)

So I guess long story short, Cork is a pretty great place to eat and drink, but just show up with your whole party to begin with. For your sake. And don't take pictures. And order the avocado bruschetta. And even if you don't understand you're meal (stuffed stuffing?), I promise it will be suuuuper good anyways. Just go. Ok?

More Fro-Yo Places?!?! There is a god!

So not too long ago I was complaining about how in New York there was a Pinkberry or Pinkberry rip off on every corner and they were all delish and all healthy and why the f*#@ hadn't this trend hit DC yet? Then TangySweet opened! I finally got over there to test them out and was totally satisfied that there was somewhere in my relative vicinity where I could get the yogurty desserts I craved. But behold! I new frozen yogurt place has hit the scene! How could I not know about this?! Apparently on the otherside of Dupont, one Mr. Yogato shop has opened up. Now Mr. Yogato seems to have broken from the Pinkberry trend of only offering a few flavors and appears to be following more along the lines of the Tasti D-Lite franchise which offers a bunch of choices. Yogato flavors apparently also change every week. (Which is just another excuse for me to check back even more often than I was already planning!) Check out the menu on their website for updates. Of this week's flavors, I am kinda feeling the orange. Anyone want to play hookie from work and go try Mr. Yogato with me?!

Side Note: Mr. Yogato also has all these odd rules that can earn you discounts on their yogurt. rule number 5, however, says that if you order a yogurt for 30 consecutive days, they will name a flavor after you!!! I'm going to shoot for a Search for J Street flavor by the end of September!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Well I know the fireworks have come and gone...

...but having been back at the office for 3 days now, I can't resist reminiscing about how awesome 4th of July weekend was! Before this year, I had missed fireworks 3 out of the last 4 years. I am totally a kid at heart. So missing fireworks always makes me super sad. When it started to rain before the display was set to go off, I started to get really worried that they would cancel them, but thank goodness most of the rain clouds cleared away! Amy, Steph, and I got to enjoy the full display from the 12th floor balcony of my tourist-free office building. Our favorites were the new fireworks that explode into little stars instead of the normal color blobs. For all of you who love fireworks as much as I do, here are some of the pictures to help you reminisce about the night!

This is the picture Amy took:

Enjoy the pictures! Til next year!