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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.

Welcome the New Trio

They seem to be settling in quite nicely.....

Millie, Henrietta, Olaf

I was hoping to share our weekend in Cape May before posting about the new bunnies, but the word got out and I was slow.

Meet (Left to Right) Millie, Henrietta, and Olaf.

We’ve had them for three weeks now, and they are starting to settle it. This picture makes them look huge and cranky.  In reality, they are small as cute and sweet.  Olaf is the smallest of the three, and the reason we ended up with this bunch. Just after Derby died, Art showed me a picture of Olaf.  He as still really, really young.  Super tiny and oh, so cute.  It really made me smile.  The adoption listing said he was still too young to adopt, so I figured by the time he was ready — we might me.  Well, it turned out the listing had been up for a bit, and he just needed to be neutered and then he’d be ready.

Art and I decided to go meet Olaf and his siblings.  No commitments, just a go-see.

Yeah.  Right.

The second we laid eyes on Olaf, we knew he’d be coming home with us. Then the question was — which sibling?  His brother Robin was a sweety, but two boys can be difficult.  We had seen a picture of Henrietta online too, so I started to play with her a bit.  Art went outside to see the bunnies that were getting to play in the grass.  Turns out Olaf had another sister, and Art was rather smitten with her.

That’s how we ended up with all three.  I liked Henrietta and Art like Olaf. Since they were about 1.5lbs each, we figured all together they’d make up a really fat version of Derby.  Heck, even if they managed to grow to 2lbs each –they’d still be less than a Paisley.

We’ve never had baby bunnies before.  These guys are nine months old.  I  supposed that’s more like adolescent bunnies, though. All our others were probably at least 2 years old when we adopted them.  We really have no idea how old Paisley, Dora, or Petunia were.

Now we’re adjusting to things like litter box training.  I’m impatient, because Derby had the best litter box manners EVER.  I think they are starting to get the hang of things.  At least they are super affectionate.  It took months (okay maybe a month) for Dora and Paisley to warm up to us fully.

So welcome the new bunnies.  For lots more pictures of their cuteness, check out Flickr.

Goodbye Derby-doo

Derby's Greatest Hits

Derby Recovering

Derby had surgery last week. It was pretty traumatic all around. I’m [Carly] not a big believer in expensive, painful procedures on pets. It’s not fair to them or us. How do you explain what’s happening to a pet? But after talking to the Bunny Doc, Art and I decided that we should go ahead with Derby’s surgery. The choice really was that or put him to sleep in the very near future. The surgery seemed relatively simple, and the vet thought he’d easily have another 3-5 years of very high quality life after. Considering the recovery time was really only about 2 weeks at the most — it seemed like a natural choice.

Well, Derby decided to complicate things. The bladder stone, which they double checked just before the x-ray, disappeared when they opened him up. They had to do a mid-surgery x-ray to find the damn thing.

Derby - Mid-Surgery X-ray

Somehow, it had shrunk just enough to escape into his urethra. According to the Bunny Docs — this just doesn’t happen. They had to perform a rare “marsupialization” procedure, which you really don’t want me to explain. Needless to say this rather complicated his surgery and made everyone nervous about the outcome.

After 2 days at the Vet, Derby came home. You’d barely know he’d had surgery. Art is having to give him several types of drugs every day, and we’re still trying to get some “critical care” into him because he lost a lot of weight in the days before his surgery. But, his appetite is rapidly returning and so far, things are going really well.

That’s good. I’d really disapprove of losing Derby just yet.

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.

Derby and the Blue Fuzzy Bunny

Derby Flopped, Fuzzy Blue Bunny Drooped

Our friend Casey had a little bit of angora left over from a knitting project, so she made us a new bunny out of it.  Derby has been getting to know his new little friend and, as you can see, seem to be getting along rather well.  He won’t share his frozen water bottle with the little blue guy yet — but I think that’s okay.  😉

[tags]rabbits, house rabbits, bunnies, fun[/tags]

Grilled Cheese, anyone?

Lunch

Grilled cheese sandwiches

Homemade Rye bread (this is picture from July – before the 12-pound loaf came into our life) with Woodcock Farm (Vermont) blue cheese.

We visited Woodcock on our cheese tour in ’03 and ’05 and met owners and cheesemakers Mark and Gari Fischer. At the time they were not, as far as I remember, making any blue cheeses or using cow’s milk, so we were excited to spot this cheese at the Brattleboro Co-Op. We were not able to make a visit to Woodcock again, but were glad we could keep up with what Mark and Gari have been doing. The CurdNerds have an excellent post about Woodcock Farm here: www.curdnerd.com/node/168

[tags]artisan cheese, cheese, lunch, rye[/tags]

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