So apparently a good amount of "green commons" does exist in DC that is beleaguered by coin-ravenous homeless people or hampered by food-truck foodies lieing about diving into their corn quesadillas or kabobs. Of course to get there, one must run about 7 miles, take a few slippery, unlevel trails that do untold harm on one's adductor muscle, and make some informed decisions on which way you think the sun is shining on a rainy day because you a lost out of your mind. Rock Creek State Park afforded me all of those. Apparently the city of DC or Bethesda saw all the trees down on the cliff-hanging trails and said, "Well they can definitely get over that, or they may die...eh they're athletic they can jump." No local bureaucrats, I cannot jump, and hate having to climb and duck my way under tress that are both huge, prickly, and wet. Unfortunately, I run "naked," meaning only a key to get in my apartment and my anti-ipod Zune....or and I guess shorts. But what a beautiful run, the trails run along a white water, rocky creek (go figure) and are mostly dirt. But the best part is that all the roads are completely shut down, just you, black pavement that has never seen a tire, and the wet mossy undergrowth of the park. For about 2 hours I was there, I was completely at peace, and so very happy to be out in the wilderness with other crazy ass runners and bikers......"On your LEFT!"
Obviously, running a ton and hurting yourself merits food. In fact, it merits a ton of food. To start your day, you eat breakfast, so after a morning run, you eat just that, so that is the order I'll go in for this post. Firehook, which has many locations all over DC (though the nicest is in Dupont, where they play classical music and the owner works there and is always quite chipper). This, as I have had to do since Amsterdam, is my place for bread. The sweet potato is quite excellent, it is a subtle yeasty-ness to start and then goes into a light sweetness that when turned into crazy grilled cheese (lets just say some fancy swiss brie and red-wine goat cheese) can make for one hell of a dinner. But C'mon its not just about bread, well actually it is, because I am highly addicted to their different reconstitutions of bread, like their orange-currant-chocolate scones, "good morning muffins" (with orange peel, raisins, coconut, cinnamon, and I think carrot), chocolate granola which just melts into a pile of gooey, chocolatey braniness, and their penchant for costing very little. Does this supplant my hometown addiction of Oakmont Bakery, well they may not have as many cupcakes or normal cakes, but their scones, petit foures, and bread blow OB out of the water. Wow, I never thought I'd type that...
(that nasty banana belongs to me, not M.E. Swing) So what better to follow-up breakfast with more sugary bread? No really, the coffee here is what pulls me in...though the face-sized fritter doesn't hurt. Its been around for over 100 years, and imports coffee from everywhere, Indonesia, Coast Rica, Ivory Coast, you name it, they've got it. And, whenever I go here, there is no one there ,but as soon as I check out, there is a huge line. I guess either I am a freakin genius, or people stalk me. Either or I suppose it can be a good thing. Only 2 blocks from the White House, it feels authentically DC, old-school bins, barstools, and wood panels where you can sip your cup of joe and pick apart croissants that are probably breaking size and butter rules by the department right done Pennsylvania Avenue. A good, and I mean more that just an overly glazed piece of fried dough is hard to come by. But the behemoth below is, well, what you get at M.E. Swing. They certainly are swinging for the fences here because not only is it not overly glazed (like those mysterious things you find next to the cigarettes and powerade at gas stations) but properly cinnamoned. Yes cinnamoned, a verb, the act of cinnamoning something to the point where it could be growing mold and still be delicious. This thing was cinnamoned, glazed, and unfortunately, eaten far to fast.
Never before have I advocated for someone to use a restaurants bathroom. Never before have I walked in and seen a lady in a mirror, turn around, and say to me "you overwhelmed too?" Mie n Yu, a fancy, Georgetown Asian-Indian establishment provides just that. Its Asian, its Indian, its bathrooms are a Buddhists dream, and the food is fabulous.
Now, I have never eaten at a spot that could also double as a torture chamber. Encaged booths, holey trimmed seats, and way too expensive statues laying about, that is what this place is. It looks, as though you are either in a travelling Persian circus, or are in a really cool boat.
Yep, those are rocks, movable rocks, if you so choose, in the copper sink that is hooked up to a piece of wood. And yes, those are petrified wood seats on the right there. And yes, my phone's camera hates multiple source of lights in the middle one. Marking the third day in a row of eating hummus, I had a nice big glob here (probably to the detriment of my lower intestine) a small lamb kabob, and a traditional stripped-beef dish with a nice fat egg on top. Of course, after using the bathroom, there was not much more that could excite me. I mean, I moved rocks in a public sink that I didn't own and were meant to be there, how awesome is that? Tell me the last time you did such a thing!
So, at the end of any good meal, you need to have a nice slice of mafia..oops I mean cake. What drew me in to a Georgetown establishment was the lady to the left. It was at 930 at night, and I was craving a cake after being delighted at the 1970s, bureaucratically decorated French Embassy. Old Mama Mia here was holding a conversation with some Italian tourists while making noodles. No old Mama Mia should be up that late making the staple of one-quarter of my heritage. But, I sure as hell brought me in.
So, you descend down a narrow staircase into what can best be described as if purgatory only imported goods from Naples. White statues, fancy pots, golden-gaudy decor, and pure Italian men flipping around corkscrews like candy. After sitting down and ordering only wine and only a hazelnut-mouse cake, I felt as though at any moment I may witness a Godfather reenactment. Someone just coming out of the bathroom with a .38 special and poping two slugs right into someone's forehead. For our transgressions of skipping the "noodles and sauce" menu, I thought it'd be us. The cake has hazelly, moussey, and the chocolate ganache was so thick it was hard to chew (a positive thing for sure)and the red wine (which I don't normally ingest, but when in Rome, literally) went together very well. Of course I was getting ready to get black bagged, pulled out into a car, driven to a highway collection station and shot up, but luckily, I made it out just fine.
I can honestly say I have eaten my way through DC. I don't splurge on much, the occasional third beer, a fancier oatmeal at Whole Foods, or experimenting with cooking with wine, but I've made great progress in eating this city (not in the Godzilla sense). Only 4 days to go, and oh how I wish I could stay...