Monday, October 20, 2008

Exquisite Fabrics Closing!

But only temporarily! (I know. Huge sigh of relief. They are just closing down the Dupont shop and moving to Georgetown.) I may not get around to sewing a ton, but when I do, Exquisite Fabrics is my go to place. Unlike chain fabric stores which are best for cotton quilting fabrics, this store really specializes in very nice fabrics. Fabrics you would actual kill to have clothes made out of, but this also means they usually specialize in very expensive fabrics. I would normally not be able to afford the vast majority of selection in the shop, but thank God for liquidation sales. This weekend I got 3 beautiful wools to make skirts out of. (One is DKNY and another is Burberry! I got them both for 50% off!!) Then I got 2 silk blends for pillow cases.

I still ended up spending a bit too much money, but it is hard to resist when I know I am getting fabrics that are normally totally out of my reach. (You can even see in the picture that the wools are handmade in Scotland!) Plus when I make a skirt that would have cost me hundreds in the store, I feel like it will all be worth it. Below is one of the pillow cases I made tonight. It is silky smooth. I love it when I get around to being crafty! Everyone who has been thinking about even maybe sewing something needs to do themself a favor and go take advantage of this sale. You will rarely have another chance to get such amazing stuff for such good prices!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Last Flowers of Fall

This past weekend Erin had a friend in town. We all went out to brunch, and then after we stuffed ourselves silly, we walked around town for a bit to digest and enjoy the weather. Walking down 10th street is one of my favorite routes to take visitors because it just so damn adorable. There are always wholesome looking families out with their pets and or children, both or which usually have touchably curly hair and twinkles of hope in their eyes.

On this particular trip some wholesome family's crazy bush/tree thing was still blooming, and we had to stop and admire the enormous flowers that hung from its limbs. It is probably one of the last weekends for flowers. The weather is suppose to turn cold again, and, although giant, exotic flowers are cool, I am really excited for fallen leaves and excuses to wear sweaters.

If I do start to miss all the flowers later in the season, though, a little farther down 10th street is the giant parking lot with the weird astroturf walkway. It always has changing artwork, and one of the pieces now is this awesome, kind of floral scribble piece. I am normally never impressed with the art they put up in this space. The whole venue seems tacky and makes even normal art tacky by association, but I thought this scribbly thing stood out. If it is still up in the winter, I am sure I will walk by every so often and remind myself of a more vibrant season.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Last week I had a packed schedule of making mountains of binders and pushing to meet Fedex deadlines. It was generally exhausting and miserable, but fortunately I had 2 concerts mixed in to keep me sane and give me an excuse to drink my miseries into the back of mind.

On Tuesday Erin, Amy and I went and saw Matt Nathanson at the 6th and I synagogue. I know I mentioned him once before awhile ago, but having now seen him in concert, I want to re-stress that every girl needs to acquaint herself with Matt because 1) he's a boy who plays the guitar really well 2) his love songs will make your knees weak 3) he has the most adorable dimples and rumpled brown hair and 4) he is absolutely, pee your pants, hysterically funny. He's the ultimate package. Totally swoon worthy. At the concert we laughed, we cried, we experienced the whole gamut of human emotion. Ladies, do yourselves a favor and click on all of those links and prepare to fall in love.

Then on Wednesday I went and saw Ted Leo and the Pharmacists at the Black Cat. I have seen him at the 9:30 club (which was by far the best show I've ever seen at the 9:30 club - a double encore, the second one being Timorous Me a cappella because he had broken his guitar during the first encore, it doesn't get any better!!!). The Black Cat performance was short as Ted Leo were only 1 of 3 acts, but it was really high energy as always. I could bounce around to his music forever. It's great for the elliptical or parties or a pick me up on a rough day. So although Ted Leo is not quite as classically swoon worthy, he rocks it in his own way.

So if you are bored at work today check out both of these guys (I tried to find some good YouTube clips but there are way more out there). They definitely saved me last week!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Taste of Bethesda

In a rare Search for J Street sojourn outside of the District, I went to the Taste of Bethesda last weekend. For a gal who turns her nose at most reasons to venture into the suburbs, I was overwhelmingly impressed with Bethesda's food festival.

$20 bought me 16 tickets, which at first didn't seem like nearly enough as there were over 50 stands stretched across 4 blocks from which to choose. The choices seemed completely overwhelming at first. After some serious studying of the guide, I was able to eliminate about 10 or so options because they were chains, and I wasn't about to go all the way out to Bethesda to try something I could get in the District. Fortunately, I also had a Bethesda native to help guide me through the remaining 40 some choices. So in the end, I think I got some of the best of what the Taste of Bethesda had to offer.

I started off with some veal ravioli from Bice Ristorante (which I guess is technically a chain, but since the only one in the area is in Bethesda, it seemed worth my ticket). The veal was shredded, as opposed to mashed into a paste like the veal rav at Tosca, and I think I liked the texture better. It just seemed more meaty. Plus the flavor of the veal was great and made up for the average cream sause topping it.

Then we moved onto Divino Lounge. They were grilling a massive amount of meat and making little steak and sausage sandwiches, which were sooooo good. The bread was cheap and too thick, but we threw that away after a few bites and just ate the insides. I got the sausage (perfect spiciness) and tried my friend's steak (amazingly tender). I'm not even sure if they serve this at their restaurant normally, but I was impressed enough that I'd be willing to try the rest of their menu in hopes that it is as good as these tastes.

Around the corner, we found a place called Visions that was serving a chicken mac and cheese. As juvenile and not epicurian as it makes me seem, I freakin' love mac and cheese in pretty much all it's forms and am becoming quite the expert on the best of the cheesy noodle offerings in the city. So of course when I saw Vision's chicken mac and cheese, I had to try it. It was pretty good. Good baked crusty topping, chickeny texture. Good creaminess. But definitely lacking a little in the cheesiness department. I'm undecided if the restaurant is worth trying overall after my moderately satisfying experience. Has anyone else been and have any opinions?

My friend then pointed out La Miche, which is apparently a schmancy French joint out there. They were serving up escargot. So I jumped in line immediately. The escargot was the perfect garlicy, buttery deliciousness I was hoping it would be. I didn't try their crab cake option, but it also looked great. Plus their regular dinner menu looks phenomenal. (Baked mussels... mmmm...) I've made a mental note to actually get out of the District again to try this place.

The final dish I got was a chicken korma from Passage to India. I was holding out room for Passage of India during the whole festival because it was the one restaurant I knew about beforehand and I had always heard really positive things. Their chicken dish did not disappoint. The salad and rice were just bland fillers to round out the plate, but the chicken was so tender and flavorful that the sides didn't matter. This was another winner that would definitely motivate me to get out to Bethesda again.

We had a few tickets left which got us some sugar cookies decorated by forced child labor to round out the meal (they taste so much better when tiny fingers are forced to decorate them), and then I slipped into a utterly satisfied food coma for awhile. I suppose the lesson of the day was that I should have a more open mind about what the suburbs have to offer, seeing as the Taste of Bethesda may have actually been better than the Penn Quarter festival. We'll see if that lesson sticks in the long run, but for at least the immediate future I'll try to be more open to the stuff these suburbs kids are always raving about.


As I have yet to meet my absurdly wealthy and extremely classy new boyfriend who will whisk me off to fabulous events all over the world, I'm always looking for a good reason to all dressed up here in my own backyard. Last weekend some girlfriends and I decided that the new, trendy French restaurant in the U St. neighborhood, 1905, was as good a reason as any to curl our hair and dawn some cocktail dresses.

Once we finally got seated, the ambiance did not disappoint. The restaurant is a tiny, tucked away haven. It is close quarters. Everyone is leaning in and moving closer to one another but in a way that made it seem like the room was full of intimate conversations. The eclectic lights gave the whole place a muted glow, not dark enough so that you couldn't read the menus, but dim enough to enhance the feeling of secrets. Beforewarned, though. 1905 is not a place for those of you who need personal space or like to stretch out, and before we were sat, we were acutely aware of this, as there is nowhere to wait for a table. I really enjoyed the cozy feel of the table, but I did not enjoy being squished between the bar and a wall only a foot away as bus boys and waiters tried to rush past.

Everything on the 1905 menu looked amazing, and all of our food came out fairly quickly. So plus 1 for that, but minus was for presentation. This is a French restaurant. I feel like they should know that making the food look good is half the battle in making sure the customer likes their dish. When it came to how everything actually tasted, there was a lot variety in people's opinions. The stand outs were the merguez appetizer, the croque monsieur sandwich, and the gnocchi. These dishes were all rich and flavorful. I snuck a bite of the croque monsieur next to me and was definitely impressed.

My friend, Amy, got the burger. She said it was close, but not quite there. The meat was tender, cooked how she ordered. The toppings offered a lot of flavor, but the roll sort of ruined it. It seemed as if they just threw a bland, white bun on top of a well designed, well prepared burger. Plus her fries came out late.
In the meh category, I would have placed both my dishes. They had good concepts, and parts of the dishes were executed well. However, there was definitely room for improvement. The shrimp appetizer was advertised with capers and chorizo. While the shrimp were well cooked and the flavor of everything was nice, I would have loved to have more than 4 capers and a tiny pile of diced chorizo to go with them.
For an entree I got the fried oysters with ratatouille and tomato butter. The oysters were really small and not particularly memorable. Hands down what saved this dish was that the ratatouille was amazing. I'd become a vegetarian if I could have that every day. I really hope they find a different dish to incorporate their ratatouille into because I feel like it is being wasted on the oysters.
Unfortunately my friend Steph got the short end of the stick. She went from a great appetizer to the panzanella salad, which looks great on paper but turned out to taste overwhelmingly of onions. Now I love onions, and when I tried a bite of her salad, even I thought it was too much.
Overall, I'd probably go back, mostly for the atmosphere and the croque monsieur. I think 1905 is just one of those places that is not going to be perfect, but if you know what's good (and if you can get a seat without being squished into waiting at the bar), then it will be worth your time, especially in the coming winter months when a warm, cozy restaurant with a good ham and cheese sandwich is exactly what I crave.

Pumpkin Spice Beer Taste Off

My affinity for all things pumpkin spice is well known to all my friends. So even though I am not normally the kind of girl who is going to sit down after a long day at work and crack open a beer, I can make an exception when said beer is of the p.spice persuasion. So last Thursday, while watching Joe Biden tear up the VP debate, Erin and I tried the three pumpkin spice beers Whole Foods had to offer.

Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale (apparently America's original pumpkin ale, according to the label). This was the cheapest, so I took a somewhat snobby approach and assumed it would probably also be the worst. Erin and I cracked open one of these first thinking we'd start at the bottom and work our way up. Maybe the low expectations worked for this beer, though, because we were both pleasantly surprised. Not particularly pumpkiny but there was good overall spice. If it wasn't seasonal, I could actually see myself drinking this beer on a regular basis and mixing up my usual routine of drinking whatever cheap red wine I find at our local quik-e-mart.

Brooklyn Brewery's Post Road Pumpkin Ale. I recognized Brooklyn Brewery from my dad's tendency to keep beers on tap at his restaurant that he personally enjoys drinking after a shift in the kitchen. Seeing how much he enjoyed their product, I had higher expectations for this beer. It turns out my dad and I probably don't have the same taste in beer. It was alright. I mean, I drank it, but it too lacked any real hint of pumpkin. On top of that, the spice in the beer was very heavy, and the beer lacked a sweetness that helped balance the Buffalo Bill pumpkin ale. I'm sure we will eventually finish this 6 pack, but I wouldn't recommend the Post Road Pumpkin Ale if you are actually looking for a pumpkin ale.

Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale. I was most excited to try this beer based on the DC Foodies recommendation. It is definitely the only pumpkin ale that I have tried which really has any hint of squashy flavor in it. Dogfish Head definitely tries to make this beer more about the pumpkin and less about the spice. The overall effect is a much milder beer, and it is definitely a beer I can see myself enjoying in the falls to come. It just fits with the weather and the flavors of the season. Unlike the Buffalo Bill's ale, though, I don't know if I'd be drawn to this beer, say, in April, but in the middle of October this will be go to choice.
*Update. This weekend I tried the Wild Goose Pumpkin Patch Ale (sorry no picture), and I wasn't really a fan. I had the same problems with it that I had with the Brooklyn Brewery beer. Too spicy and too heavy. I suppose if you really liked heavy, spicy beers though (like my dad) this would be a good choice for you.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Asia Nine

In honor of the VP debates tonight, I am going to write a semi-political post. No, not really. I am going to write a post about eating and drinking (but it's semi-political eating and drinking). So if you're in the mood to celebrate the potential VP's with something yummy, get over to Asia Nine. They have special election rolls. I had the Biden the other day, and it was amazing. I generally heart all things Biden because he's my boy from Delaware, but this roll was so good I would have liked it even if it was called the Mitt Romney. Also, to give Palin credit where she's due, she apparently inspires a damn good sushi roll herself.

The only other thing that could make me love both VP candidates more than giving me an excuse to eat delicious sushi is giving me an excuse to drink pumpkin spice ales. So tonight my roommate and I will be playing the debate drinking game and enjoying some of the recommendations of DC Foodies. It may get messy (I mean, Palin #3 "If Palin uses the phrase, 'hockey mom', drink until she takes the self-satisfied smirk off her face"... that's a whole night of drinking right there. And then Biden #1 "Every time Biden chuckles condescendingly at Sarah Palin, take 1 drink. Every time Biden chuckles condescendingly at moderator Gwen Ifill, take 2 drinks"... I might not make it into work tomorrow), but Erin and I are determined to persist for the sake of our country. We are just doing our patriotic duty and watching the debates so we can be well-informed citizens*.

*Obviously by well informed, I mean tipsy**.

**And by tipsy, I may mean straight up drunk. It all depends on how many times, they bring up 9/11.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Complete lust!

I'm sure you are sick of hearing about knee socks, but indulge me! Last night my roommate discovered my newest knee sock obsession:

Duck socks! So cute, right? I am probably pushing the knee sock limits now, but I don't care. I can't resist those adorable little duckies! If ducks aren't your thing, Anthropologie has a ton of other fantastic options. Check them out. Buy some. Rock them.