We Left our <3 in San Fran!

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Yes, I chose this weird shot...

We actually took a little vacation in February!  Check out the photos from our awesome trip to San Francisco!

Happy 2012

Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret

Besides of course, seeing our wonderful families, this reddish egret was one of the highlights of our holiday trip south. Along with getting to see Carly’s Dad and stepmother and THE BOAT, we also swung by Greenville, SC to see Art’s sister and her family.

We stopped at a nature preserve near Cape Canaveral, which is where we caught this Reddish Egret and a flock of flying Roseate Spoonbills — which made Carly so happy she happy danced! We also made quick stops in Savannah, GA and Ashville, NC. All in all a pretty fun trip to start the new year!

We approve of DC Brau


It’s really exciting to see so how awesome the food scene in DC has gotten in the past few years. Now we even have our first true distribution brewery in DC! We’ve had brewpubs that sell the beer they make, but never one that was planning on retail distribution.

We hit DC Brau’s first open house yesterday. They were giving tastings, tours, and filling growlers.

In the true sign of what a small town DC really is, we walked in and saw Lauren, one of the managers from Birch & Barley / Churchkey, helping out behind the “bar” at DC Brau.

So far our favorite beer is the “Citizen.” It’s a lovely Belgian Pale Ale. They were out of “Corruption,” which is just not something you hear about DC usually. 😉


We came across these two red fox who appeared to be stuck together. Our first thought was that they were mating. But they were facing in opposite directions. Having not read the Kanine Sutra we were unaware if this position was even possible for coitus. The predicament went on for a few minutes and they remained entangled. We wondered if there was some glue or piece of trash or something which was keeping them together. The classic Washington dilemma then popped up: Which Agency Do I call?

311 is the city’s catch-all number; from there we could get animal control. BUT we were on Federal property managed by the National Park Service; Do we backtrack to the Park Police substation?
Thankfully they freed themselves before we became entangled in the overlapping jurisdictions. The two animals were hurting, but licked their wounds, stretched, and trotted off.
Hain’s Point Golf Course, Washington, DC

Art 40th in NOLA

Obligatory Jackson Square Photograph

I whisked Art away to New Orleans for a 40th birthday weekend extravaganza.  Needless to say there was lots of birding, beer, and eating!

Back to the Gibson

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The Gibson

The Gibson - It's a speakeasy style bar. No sign on the door, no info on the website. Do make a reservation if you can.

In our efforts to spread the love around DC a bit more, I headed to The Gibson with a couple of girlfriends for happy hour Friday night.  Of course, Art and I go into withdrawal if we don’t hit ChurchKey on an incredibly frequency — so he headed over there while I was off with the girls.  We didn’t have a reservation, but thankfully they had space in the outside area.

I’ve been to The Gibson once before.  It always seems like a place that I should be spending more time at, but Art’s not really into cocktails — which is why we don’t go there much.

I have to say the cocktails didn’t disappoint on my return visit.  They are still incredibly expensive, but totally worth it.  I will never understand why a bar can charge $15 for a vodka martini, which takes no effort to make.  At the Gibson, you know why your cocktail is costing $15.  They are complicated, use amazing ingredients, and flawless.  The favorite drink of the night was the Tidal Basin Picnic, which featured Creme de Violette and lemonade (and a bunch of other liquors).  I’ve been wanting to try Creme de Violette for a while, but haven’t a chance to.  I totally jumped at this one.

It was so good, that for our third, and final round — we all ordered it.

The only flaw with The Gibson, which I was hoping they’d remedied was the food — or lack there of.  We were there for 3 hours, drinking very, very, very strong drinks.  There’s just not enough food.  The menu said they had “small plates” and to ask the waitress for the plates o’the day, and I was happy to see that.  Sadly the waitress said the 3 things on the menu were it, and they mostly involved meats that I really don’t eat.  We did have the gnocchi, which was brilliant (I picked around the salami).

Meridian Pint: Beer is Proof that God Loves Us

Art and I have been fairly loyal customers of Churchkey and Birch and Barley since they opened.  Honestly, it’s the first place that we’ve wanted to go to on a regular basis (and frequently) in years.  The last time we had a “home” like that, we lived on the Hill and hung out at Hawk and Dove.  Our Hawk and Dove days are long behind us, and really no other bars or restaurants had that “third place” vibe for us until Churchkey came along.

We’re big craft beer people, and we love good food.  That’s the magic mix that Churchkey/Birch and Barley have.  The staff there is also awesome and super friendly, which really helps too.  These days a lot of the staff knows us on sight, and by name.  It makes it really fun to be there.  Personally, I love the overall vibe of the place too.  It just feels right.

But with all the great places popping up around DC,  we thought we’d venture out.  So last night, we hit the very recently opened Meridan Pint (good pics on Lagerheads Facebook Page).  The first thing we noticed was the staff.  It’s clearly staffed with Churchkey alumni, so the place felt kind of homey right away.  The beer menu was respectable (24ish taps) of good craft brew.  They focus on American craft beer, so it was kind of sad/disappointing to see Miller Light and PBR on the menu.  Guess they decided to cater to the groundlings a bit.  We had a few brews, my favorite being the Summer Solstice cream ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company.

The most impressive thing about the menu was the real selection of vegetarian food.  I’m not a vegetarian, but my relationship with meat is complicated and I very infrequently order it at a restaurant. Most places do a passing nod to vegetarian food, especially beer places.  That’s why I was so impressed with the menu.  Art had  the seasonal chilled pea soup, which was freaking awesome and I wish I had ordered it, and the grilled polenta with wilted arugula.  The polenta was also awesome, but the arugula was bit too old and bitter for him.  (no comments about the wife, please).

I had the fried tofu with chili sauce, which was amazing — but gave me this rapid fire sudden heartburn.  Seriously.  It was crazy.  I ordered the seitan kabobs for dinner, but the heartburn kind of killed my appetite.  The kabobs were good, but not great.  I’m not a huge seitan fan, and I think it was just a little too much for me.  The grilled tomatoes on the kabobs were good, but there were too few of them and too many onions.  A mushroom or two would have balanced it better.

We still had home made sour cherry pie at home, so we skipped dessert.   We did take a quick peek at the downstairs bar, which we’d heard about.  Yes — there are a couple of tables with taps built in.  It had a couple of pool tables and some cozy little seating areas.

All in all, a good meal with great service and great beer.  We’ll definitely be back.

The Forest of Ghosts

At first we thought that this was just an oddly-sited piece of public art. From the fort i tried to line up a picture of a cannon on the circle as if it were a target.
When we got closer we could see that many names and thoughts had been recorded on the pieces of driftwood. Then we saw the explanation. It is a place for remembrance; a place to publicly share one’s loss. You can write on the wood that is there, or add another piece of wood if you like.
It is built around a steel armature with a concrete foundation. A practical consideration for art in a hurricane zone, but one which reinforces the intent of the piece. When the inevitable storm comes and scatters the branches it can be started again. It is much like the nature of loss and recovery; an ebb and flow of feelings and memories where an absence may not be felt or noticed every day or even every year

Live Oak Farms

I had cured and smoked a ham for Christmas dinner, but Ken had become concerned that it might not be enough for everyone. I disagreed at first (he had planned on getting a turducken to go with the ham), but decided after I got to SC that a second entree might be a good idea after all.

Christmas Eve dinner was going to be wild sockeye salmon, so I needed something besides fish or pork. After poking around a bit on localharvest, I found Live Oak Farms in Woodruff. Wednesday morning i drove to Charlotte to pick up Carly. Woodruff is an easy detour on the way back to Greenville and taking the wife on a food-related excursion is always a good way to start a trip!

It was an easy farm to find, and we were soon at their store. The only poultry they has was whole chickens and turkeys, so I picked up two 2.5 – 3 pound sirloin tip roasts. They also had farmstead butter and cheeses as well as raw milk. We were really curious about the latter, but they only had it in gallons the day we were there. At a different time of year (one where the refrigerator was not already packed) we would have bought some; maybe next time.

The Parmesan was wonderful – nutty and fresh. The butter was great as well (I used it to saute the green beans Christmas Eve). We also picked up a goat feta that worked well in Friday’s salad; moist without being soggy and with an appropriate amount of salt.

The beef, from Red Devon cattle, was high grade, flavorful and tender. As it should be. I browned it on the stove top, then moved it to the oven and roasted until it hit 125 degrees minimum. While resting it continued to cook and finished at 130. Because of the may things worked out, the oven wound up being pretty well stuffed. This resulted in some uneven cooking, but that fact was actually to our advantage. At least half of the meat-eating adults were the sort who were just unwilling to eat any beef with the slightest bit of color to it; there ended up being enough “medium” meat to satisfy their palates.

Souvenirs from our Trip to NYC

Souvenirs from NYC

Much tastier than postcards.

Local Honey from the Rockefeller Center Farmer’s Market

Alcyone Tannat Dessert Wine; from Uruguay. A port-like wine we had with dessert Thursday night

Vinedo de los Vientos Brooklyn Buzz Mead made from NYC honey

Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey another small batch distiller, I thought about picking up a bottle of this when we were in Denver, but I did not want to have to check a bottle of whiskey and/or let the TSA drink it.  Much easier to bring it on a train from New York than a plane from Colorado.

Bagpiper’s Scottish Ale; a fine example of the style from Pennichuck Brewing Company of Milford, NH.. Not too bitter, low carbonation, and it came in a 1 liter swing-top bottle!

Greylock Gin from Berkshire Mountain Distillers; sawe it in a liquor store on Madison Ave; one of my vendors had called to tell me that there was a problem with the credit card I gave him. I decided to test this assertion by buying some booze for my wife. (there was no problem).

And, lastly, the twelve-pound loaf of Lithuanian Rye bread from Silver Bell Bakery in Queens.

[tags]food, travels, nyc, small batch,  artisinal[/tags]

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