31 August 2013

Billy Goat Gruff

After our hike in the Smoky Mountains, I decided that we should make hiking a monthly adventure even on really hot and humid days.  I'm hoping this ambition will last beyond a few months.  There are a lot of hikes in this area which I'm excited to explore.

We went on a pretty famous hike in the Great Falls Park called the Billy Goat Trail which involves lots of jumping from rock to rock.  It was crowded being the weekend it is but we still managed to have some lovely hiking time and I was able to spend time with friends I don't see often enough.

I didn't take any photos of the rocks because I was more concerned with staying vertical and not getting crowded from behind by the not too polite hikers.  But I took these on the walk back.

Anne and I were a little behind the others.

I'm so excited for hiking in the Autumn.

20 August 2013

DC Restaurant Week 2013: Del Campo

Restaurant Week in August is all about trying to fill up the restaurants with business while Congress and most of the residents are on vacation.  The idea is to eat at the most expensive restaurants because it is a set price but also try to eat where the most expansive menu is available. 

There have been years where I ate somewhere every single day and I came out of the week feeling bloated and over-salted.  I will never do that again.  I now choose one or maybe two places where I truly want to eat. 

I chose two this week and the first is Del Campo which opened only a few months ago and specializes in South American food. It's meat-driven and everything is smokey. 

I met Phor at the restaurant and we decided to sit outside since it was one of those cool and comfortable days that don't belong in DC in August. 

The bread was served with smokey olive oil and salt.  The bread was delicious and I also loved the presentation.

The menu selection was only three choices per course but the appetizers and entrees completely delivered.

We split the appetizers to try two of them.  My favorite was the Grilled Ñoquis with smoked tomatoes, grilled corn and sage (above). The noquis (gnocchi) melted in my mouth and I can't eat enough corn in the summer.  We also tried the Beef Empanadas with Wagyu skirt steak, caramelized onions, and romesco. These were the real thing with eggs and potatoes.  Very good.

We both ordered Peruvian Chicken with yuca fries, aji amarillo alioli and green chili purée because I read up on it and people love it.

It's half a chicken and I was happy to eat the leftovers tonight.

And the disappointment was the dessert course.  I was so unimpressed by both of our desserts.  It's really deflating to finish a meal that way.  Hopefully there are better options on their full menu.

18 August 2013

Strawberry Shortcake with Lemon-Pepper Syrup

My cake may not be as pretty as the original but I'm pretty sure it tastes just as good though.  I loved the addition of the lemon-pepper syrup because it gives it a little savory bite which I like in most of my sweet desserts.

I embrace the opportunity in the summer to make fruit-based desserts.  This was a different kind of shortcake in that it uses one layer of a sponge cake that you cut in half once it's cooled.  The filling was a combination of the lemon-pepper sauce, sugar, strawberries, lemon and whipped cream.

It really isn't the prettiest, most balanced cake but it was delicious.

I made it in honor of game night and friends brought other treats like those delicious fancy quiches.

We dug out Cranium which I'm always in favor of because it gives me an opportunity to take photos of my friends in odd positions.

A Field Trip to Anacostia

I think today was my first ever trip to Anacostia.  It's only because I've never had a reason to go before.  I found out about the Frederick Douglass home from Brigham's blog on a trip he took with Jeff a few years ago.  I'm disappointed that it's not better advertised because it's an amazing site dedicated to a true hero.

I'm sad to say that I did not know very much about him before today.  I knew that he was once a slave and that he was a famous orator.  I did not know about his work with the women's suffrage movement or that his second wife was white.  That latter fact may not sound like a big deal but he really lived a life of color-blindness and there was a difference between believing in abolition and racial equality.

Frederick Douglass moved here with his family when he served as marshall of DC.  This home was previously built by a man who created a deed insisting that it never be sold to the Irish or the African-Americans.  He went into debt, the bank took it and sold it to Douglass not caring about any previous deeds.  The house cost over a million dollars in today's money.  It's a gorgeous home on a hill with a view of the Washington Monument in the distance.

Most of the possessions in the home were owned by Frederick Douglass.

This painting could only been seen with the aid of the mirror.  He was the most photographed man of the 19th century.

His trunks still reside upstairs.  He traveled the world and even climbed the pyramids.  I think of his life beginning in slavery and ending with the world literally at his feet.  I wish there were more of his ilk in the world today or maybe they aren't very well advertised.  I wish someone like him were the most photographed of our age.

16 August 2013

Jazz in the Sculpture Garden

This is another one of those activities that should not have taken years for it to be my first time.  Every Friday at 5 pm in the summer the Sculpture Garden fills up with masses of people to listen to music.  We could barely hear any of it which was disappointing to me but it's really about socializing and having an excuse to picnic.

I really wanted to listen to Doc Scantlin's Palmettos because they play 1920's and 30's big band music.  I heard a little of it and it reminded me of the old Hollywood classics that I love.

I finally found Phor under the tree sculpture but I was shocked how crowded it was and it's not a small garden.

Alexander Calder's Red Horse in the background.

Phor wrestled with what to get for the picnic.  She looked at Cork Market but they fry their chicken once a week and I know it's won awards but that just didn't sound very appetizing.  She scored though with the the chicken dinner from Pearl Dive.  So very good.

The chicken was perfect.  Crispy and tasty.

The jalapeno corn bread was the best but they forgot to give us our 4th muffin.  They may get a letter because it was that much of a loss.

Sides of greens and coleslaw.

My view looking up at the sky.  Graft by Roxy Paine.

13 August 2013

French Love

I don't remember what experience I had, what film I saw, what book I read, or what photo I saw that convinced me that I wanted to be French.  It could have been seeing "Delicatessen" in a little theater in San Francisco with my sister Kathy and loving how far it took me away from my hometown.  I still don't understand why I thought learning French was not worth the struggle and instead turned to German.  There is no logic in that decision considering what I love in my life.

I bought "Entre Nous - A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl" years ago with the true intent of finding my inner French girl.  I didn't find her much to my dismay but I still try to emulate the idea of her in certain ways. There is a lot of stuff in my life that is from or inspired by France.

My current role model is Francoise Hardy - at least the way she looks.  I can't pull off the gorgeous straight hair with the current humidity but I love her style.

Other current French loves  -

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo - as Debbie questioned, why in the world did Disney make a cartoon out of this book.
Isabel Marant (coats and jewelry)
Daft Punk
Rust and Bone (finally saw it on DVD)
Christian Dior sunglasses
Maison Kayser

12 August 2013

Jerusalem: A Cookbook

I stumbled across Jerusalem: A Cookbook in Anthropologie in March.  I previously read an article in the New Yorker about the chef and writer Yotam Ottolenghi and I couldn't wait to eat at one of his restaurants the next time I was in London.  I opened the book and fell for the photos of all the beautiful dishes.  I used my birthday discount to buy the book and then I knew that my first recipe had to be the Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Fresh Figs.  Unfortunately, I had to wait until August for the figs to ripen.  I checked the markets obsessively for a few weeks and kept asking my friends with fig trees if they were ripe yet.  I finally found figs this last Saturday and knew exactly what I would be eating on Sunday.

For some reason, figs remind me of my Dad.  We had so much fruit growing up in the central valley but these stand out.  I specifically remember him coming home from the farmer's market with a basket and sharing them with me every summer.  I thought they were such a delicious fruit and that it was cool that my Dad liked them also.

I became excited about mixing this fruit with one of my other favorite foods, sweet potatoes. The photo in the book showed a dish of beautiful colors and that is what I wanted to eat.

The actual food lived up to my expectations and you can find the recipe here.  It's very easy to make.  And I loved the kick of the pepper with the sweet figs and potatoes.

There has been a lot of love shared for the cookbook recently in the NY Times.  This article spurred a desire in me to start my own cookbook club.  I've gathered a few interested friends and I'm looking forward to explore this book and other recipe resources starting next month.

11 August 2013

The International Language of Soccer

I love seeing professional teams travel to DC for friendly matches because it's usually some of the best players in the world.  That being said, I had no favorites in the Chelsea v. Roma game last night.  I was surprised at how many Chelsea supporters there are in the DC area and then there were people there like the girls sitting behind us who thought that the team names were the actual names of the players. 

Regardless, it was a good game where neither team dominated the other.  Chelsea won 2-1 but Roma held their own for the majority of the game.

Chelsea handed out flags for free in front of the entrance.  They were the same flags being sold at the metro exit.

I wish for the best camera available at events like these.  

This was right after Chelsea's first goal to tie up the game.  It came late in the second half and the crowd went crazy.  There wasn't any chanting at the game which I missed.

09 August 2013

My Valuable Stuff

Remember this wall of photos that I kept adding to when I was living in NYC?  These are some of my favorite memories in my home.

I found grimm on etsy who made me these albums. Still my favorite memories but in a different location.

My dad was an incredible letter writer.  He wrote me over 200 letters in a 6 year period.  I'm pretty sure that these are not all of them as I am losing large gaps of time and he was a faithful letter writer.  He did this for all five of his kids.  These letters have always meant so much to me but they mean even more since he died.  I continue to hear his voice in my life especially when he writes that he loves me.  I still cry when I read through them but they aren't tears of grief. I'm just really grateful he did this for me without possibly realizing how much I would rely on them.

I found moleskin binders and organized them chronologically.  This is what I would save in case of a fire.

06 August 2013

The Tallest Man in Tennis

I don't know if John Isner really is the tallest man in tennis but I wouldn't be surprised if he is.  He's 6'9'' and currently the best ranked USA male tennis player.  We saw him play at the Citi Open tennis tournament over the weekend in between bouts of rain.  It reminded me of being at Wimbeldon way back in the day where we barely saw an entire game because of the rain.  We still were able to eat our strawberries and cream though so it wasn't a complete loss.

We went to the Saturday afternoon session and started off by watching the women's doubles final.  I had not heard of any of the players but it was fun to watch my first doubles match.  I had no idea how much strategizing occurred between the players.  Lots of whispering.  We sat in the front row by Townsend's family so were in the midst of a lot of cheering.

The players were Aoyama & Dushevina (winners) against Townsend & Bouchard.

We saw far too much activity with these blowers because of the rain.  It was like watching the zamboni when all you want to do is skate.

We moved to the Stadium Court later in the afternoon to watch John Isner play Tursunov.  I admit I left before the match ended because I didn't believe the rain would let up.  It did and Isner won.  He later lost to Del Potro in the finals.