Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DC love {Where We Stayed/Ate}

from Meghann:

Just got back home late last night from a long weekend in Geneva, Switzerland with my favorite veteran! Before I get to that trip though, I want to finish up with our time in DC by sharing some details of where we stayed and more most importantly, what/where we ate. You'll notice that this post is a mix of DSLR (big camera) pics and iPhone snaps. During the day, when I was playing tourist while Graham was in training, I used my Nikon, but I tried to not drive Graham crazy tone it down when we were out to eat or just didn't want to dedicate my focus to shooting pictures. (As much as I love taking photographs, sometimes it's better to just stop and smell the roses. Or the mac and cheese.) So, please forgive some of the less than perfect photos - I didn't even use any instagram magic.

First things first, I want to talk about food trucks. I know that I am way behind the times, especially in blog land, but cut me a little slack. It's not that I didn't know they existed (I keep up with food fashion as much as the next chica) it's just that I haven't had any access to them. When we left Norfolk over a year ago, I was starting to hear about them, but the only food truck in that area was for cupcakes and I already had "my" cupcake place in the neighborhood (Carolina Cupcakery, for any Ghentites). And if there are any food trucks in España, they certainly aren't here in our little corner of the country. 

So, imagine my excitement when Graham told me that there were a bunch of food trucks parked outside of the building where he was doing his professional training every day during lunch. I met him a couple times during his break and each time we walked by all the trucks, just to check out what was up for grabs.

There were so many options! And some trucks had super long lines. We went for whatever looked good and didn't require waiting for a half hour.

Really tasty sandwiches - pulled pork for Graham, roasted eggplant and red pepper for me.

A truck dedicated to mac and cheese?! I had the mushroom marsala mac. I can't stop thinking about it and want to try to re-create it.

And another pulled pork sandwich for Graham. You can take the boy out of North Carolina...

It was great to share a casual lunch, sitting outside, people watching and enjoying the fall weather. I even got to break out a new pair of boots!

During most of our time in DC, we stayed at The Madison. Such a lovely hotel and the location was good for Graham to get to his training in the mornings, just a quick metro ride away.

The room was a perfect mix of classic and modern. Loved the traditional wallpaper and the white tufted chair with nailhead trim. 

One night we ate in the hotel's main restaurant, The Federalist. We started with cocktails at the bar.

Then moved to the dining room for dinner.

The food was a farm-to-table concept, with a mix of classic ingredients and modern preparations. Like the hotel, the restaurant design was an eclectic twist on traditional American. 

I had salmon over long grain rice and Graham had venison with roasted beets.

The next night we had booked reservations Rasika, which had come highly recommended by a bunch of local amigos. We had heard that it can be difficult to get a table, but being used to eating dinner at "Spanish time" meant we didn't even hesitate to take the 9:45 reservation.

Rasika is upscale Indian food in a gorgeous modern setting with excellent service. I love all of those words. And I loved this place. Not your average Indian takeout joint (although I love those too) and I can see why it's so popular. 

Our last night in DC, we treated ourselves by switching over to the Park Hyatt (not that The Madison was shabby, we just couldn't pass up a good deal).

The lobby has these giant, transparent cubes with cherry blossoms on them. I'm doing a horrible job of explaining them (and the pictures aren't doing them any justice either) but they were really unique and were perfectly DC. There was also this wall of red burlap strips behind the reception desk - the texture was amazing and I could see this being a great accent wall in someone's home. (Someone that is not renting, please do this.)

The rooms were simple-Asian-aesthetic-meets- custom-modern-American-Shaker. (Didn't go to lib arts school for nothing.) 

Although it's not really my personal style, the combination really worked. Such a peaceful and warm feeling. The amazing bathroom didn't hurt the eyes either.

One of the reasons we switched over to the Park Hyatt was because we had booked reservations at their restaurant, the Blue Duck Tavern. We had a few hours between check-in and dinner, so to kill some time before dinner we went out for happy hour drinks in Dupont.

What looks like a normal happy hour special to you is a frosty mug of margarita magic to someone who has been living in Spain and cannot get a decent marg. On the rocks, salt - that is a magical phrase. Oh, and we had some pre-dinner snacks, too. No judging! Fried green tomatoes and grilled calamari couldn't be resisted.

After pre-dinner, it was time for dinner, of course. The Blue Duck is an open kitchen concept (from the hotel you actually walk through part of the prep area to the restaurant). We were seated close to the action - the cooking is done on a giant, custom built French stove.

Fresh, seasonal ingredients are prepared to showcase American cuisine.

My squash soup was dished out table-side from a kettle.

Mains and sides were presented in stainless serving dishes and are perfect for sharing family style.

The lively dining room/kitchen and perfectly prepared food made a great last night in DC. But that wasn't our final meal before heading to MD for my sister's wedding weekend. We also had breakfast at the Blue Duck.

We started by splitting a fresh fruit plate. This is random, but I will completely judge a place on its fruit plate. Even though there's no cooking involved, I think it says a lot about the overall quality of the food. This fruit plate was legit. And that juice next to it - pineapple mint. Don't think I've ever had that combination before, but I need to make it happen again.

Some sort of diabolical brioche bread pudding French toast with vanilla whipped cream, fresh berries, and maple syrup for Graham. Equally ridiculous (but healthy?) dish of egg whites with Maryland crab, tomatoes, herbs, and avocado over wheat toast for me.

Side note: Gorgeous custom-made Shaker bench that ran the length of this part of the dining room.

Oh, and one more random thing before I wrap up DC so I can move on to Geneva - Starbucks! It's not something we really miss having in Puerto (the closest one is over an hour away in Sevilla). But it was really nice to walk Graham to the metro in the morning and grab a coffee. Or a chai tea latte if you are a freakish Americana living in España that doesn't like coffee. 

 DC - we love your museums, monuments, restaurants, food trucks, hotels, metro, and your overall style. Let's make it hasta luego instead of adios!

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