ImprompTuesDate

After publicly committing to going to Zumba every Tuesday, I skipped.

To be fair, Mr. A had his first whole day off of work in a month, so we decided to do an impromptu date night and check out some new places in DC’s Shaw neighborhood. Apparently, we were actually in the “North End Shaw” area. Everything’s gotta have a new hip name now, it seems!

For dinner, we went to Declaration, a gourmet pizza restaurant with an upcoming Top Chef contestant in the role of Executive Chef.

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Photo courtesy of Declaration Restaurant.

This was a beautiful space, with outdoor seating and a great big bar area, but we chose to sit at a little bar where we can look in on the pizza line. We placed a couple drink orders and decided to try their shortib meatball appetizer.

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Mr. A was all about that tiled pizza oven in the background

We ordered (l-r): a Negroni and the Independence Punch.

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Why feature a classic like a Negroni? Well 1) it was under Declaration’s list of “Classic Cocktail with a Twist.” Rather than the usual gin/vermouth/Campari, this was bmade with Boudier’s Saffron Infused Gin, Aperol, and Dolin Blanc Vermouth. Even though Apreol is also an Italian apertif owned by Campari, the bitter orange and lower alcohol content was indeed a nice twist on the original.

And 2) the last time Mr. A ordered a Negroni (coincidentally, at another pizza restaurant) the server gave him a blank stare then proceeded to walk behind the bar, shake up something, and come back with a drink that had a cherry and an umbrella. Most definitely not a Negroni and not great, but too funny to send back.

I, however, went with the on tap Independence Punch made of La Diablada Pisco, Rhubarb liqueur, Oleo Saccharum, and lavender bitters:

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Unfortunately, that grated nutmeg on top was about the only flavor in this, which was really disappointing. You couldn’t taste the rhubarb and could only smell the lavender. I’m not ready to give two thumbs down to this drink though. I couldn’t quite tell if the blandness was due to the recipe itself, or something off with the batch or line, or if it was just waterlogged. I have a feeling it was that last one, that perhaps it is a concentrate on draft, and it gets diluted for serving.

 

After a giant short rib meatball that was a bit dry, but swimming in a delicious tomato sauce with strips of sweet red pepper and globs of melted mozz, we decided we wanted to try one of their delicious sounding deviled eggs, we chose the Reuben Deviled Egg:

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The presentation left a little to be desired.

Thankfully, these came out right away, because we were starving. It had taken so long to place the order for this and our entree. It wasn’t the prettiest presentation (wet napkin courtesy of Mr. A knocking over one egg), but as long as it tastes good, right?

Billed as “Gruyere, 1000 island, corned beef,” everything sounded good. As you can see below, the eggs were sliced in half widthwise, which made it difficult to bite into, without demolishing that tall pile of filling. As a result, they were popped into our mouths whole, which was really just too much for one mouthful. On top of that, they were really cold (so that is why they came out so fast), and with a full mouthful of cold egg, my cold-sensitive molars were killing me. I don’t know if there’s really

In general, we’d suggest that Declaration slice their eggs lengthwise, either shred/dice the corned beef or put it underneath the yolk, and don’t fill the eggs up so much. There was just so much in one bite, I couldn’t even discern the Gruyere or thousand island in there.

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Declaration celebrates the (obvs) Declaration of Independence, featuring 13 pizzas for the 13 colonies, named after signers of the Declaration from each area. For our main course, we ordered North Carolina’s Joseph Hewes pizza:

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We were too hungry to wait and take a photo before diving in.

Braised pork, dijon, smoked mozzarella, smoked mango, and North Carolina BBQ gastrique. This pizza had a lot of potential, but unfortunately fell a bit flat.

First and most importantly, the crust isn’t tasty, which is a shame, because it was baked very well. Unfortunately, it’s just bland. Also, I don’t know how, but the braised pork was dry.  Dry! How does that even happen?! Braising literally means it will sitting in liquid! Plus, it should’ve been shredded. While the flavor of the pork was all there, there were some huge chunks that made it difficult to bite through. Dijon may as well have been left off the description, because we couldn’t taste that anywhere.

On the bright side, the smoked mozzarella was good. I liked the smoked mango, which I felt offered a nice change of texture and a bright, tart flavor in comparison to the BBQ gastrique. I don’t usually go for BBQ on pizzas, but this one was tomato based and because it used vinegar-based North Carolina BBQ sauce, it wasn’t overly sweet.

In addition to the lackluster food, the service was just. not. good. The hosts were nice, but it took ages to place a food order. Granted, it was Tuesday, so there weren’t too many people on staff and it seemed that the lone bartender was left to not only tend the bar, but act as server to the tables in the main dining room.

That said, he brought out our drinks and appetizer, came back to fill our water and then disappeared before we could turn around and say thank you. It again took some time to get our check and we had to flag down a passing hostess for a box to put in the leftover slices.


Not quite ready to go home and not quite satisfied (though quite full), we left Declaration and went next door to Hazel:

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I wish I took a photo of this place, because it just looked really cool. Large, dark bar, with pin lights over top, the dining area separated by a wall feature made of turned table legs and spindles, and a large, yet intimate feeling outdoor space.

I thought it’d make a great second or third date spot: you and your date have decided you like each other enough to see each other again and want somewhere cool, cozy, and spread out enough so you can get to know someone more. Mr. A said 5th or 6th date. This then led to a whole discussion about the “proper” progression of date spots, on which we totally disagreed. Not that it makes a difference anyway, because when we first started dating five years ago, we didn’t follow either of our progressions one bit.

Since we were just getting drinks, we sat at the bar, where we got fantastic service and conversation with the staff behind the bar. Mr. A wanted wine, and after some back and forth discussion with the bartender, chose an old world red (admittedly, I tuned out for a moment, so don’t recall what). I asked the bartender what his favorite/the best of the “Delicate” section (as opposed to “Complex”) on the cocktail list:

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The bar had PERFECT spotlighting for this shot.

He suggested the Loud as a Whisper. Gran Classico, Hat Trick Barrel Rested Gin, Manzanilla Sherry and lemon juice.

Like all gins, Hat Trick has lots of botanicals, but the balance of botanicals is Hat Trick’s claim to fame. The Barrel Rested version takes the original Hat Trick blend and rests it in virgin barrels for six months, resulting in some vanilla and spice notes on top. All in all, paired with the aromatic herbs of Gran Classico, this drink was smooth with just the right amount of bitterness that can be expected with aperitifs.

Strong, but not overpowering, this was a cocktail. This was the drink I’d been wanting when I got my waterlogged punch. I’m glad it lived up to the expectations that they set with the millions of liqueurs behind the bar. I’ll definitely be back here to try something else and the food.


Across from Declaration and Hazel, in the Atlantic Plumbing Building, sits Haikan. Brought to Shaw by the same team behind Daikaya in Gallery Place, Haikan is a bright and laid back restaurant with an open kitchen. Fun, if the complete opposite of Hazel’s dark, cool atmosphere.

I asked Mr. A to order me a drink while I hit the loo. I don’t know if he chose, or let the bartender pick, but this is what I ended up with:

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Tootsie Roll in a Glass

The Gurutsu-Furutsu, featuring Yokaiichi Shochu, honey, and grapefruit soda to round it off. This was light and sweet, a perfect dessert to round off the night. Something about the honey made me think of a Tootsie Roll.

(Now don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing AT ALL. Mr. A gave me the worst face when I said that. It’s sweet, but not cloyingly so, and honey just has such a distinct taste and mouth feel. Also, I love Tootsie Rolls. Actually, what I really love are the Tootsie flavor rolls. Call me crazy, but I was the kid picking out all the vanilla, lemon, cherry, lime, and orange rolls out of the crappy candy mix. I recently saw a bag of ALL VANILLA flavor rolls at Target and have been regretting not buying it ever since.

Like Daikaya, Haikan is a ramen shop, but also features different takes on classic dishes: a Japanese “deviled” egg, tofu poutine, “pea-sar” salad. I can’t wait to come back and try some of these dishes. Thank goodness the weather finally turned. It’s not only sweater and boots season, it’s soup and ramen season, so stay tuned!

 

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The (Previous) Week in Drinks

MONDAY

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No one can tell it’s not quite right once it goes in my very banged up rose gold cold cup!

I’ve mentioned that I love the Starbucks Secret Pink Drink, right? I’ve been meaning to try and make my own at home, but this was the first time that I actually had all the seemingly right ingredients: strawberries, green tea, açai juice, and coconut milk!

Unfortunately, all the parts did not quite equal the whole that I wanted. Good, but just not the same.

The strawberries were froze rather than freeze-dried, which made the tartness stand out and the drink slushy. I used green tea and açai juice, rather than açai green tea, not sure what difference that makes. Between the açai juice and the coconut milk, it was never as light pink as the Starbucks version. Ah well, now that it’s getting cooler, maybe next year!

TUESDAY

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Milk and Cereal, Milk and Cereal, Cereal and Milk, Cereal in Milk

Do you ever pack yourself a lunch and then once you heat it up, it just kind of wilts and turns out is about 1/4 the serving size you thought it was? I had some pasta salad on Tuesday that I microwaved and I was lucky if it was even 1/4 of what I thought it was.

Luckily, Postmates was running a special for free delivery from certain restaurants. After browsing a bit, I chose a lunch special from Momofuku’s Milk Bar in City Center DC: a bomb (I chose the Ballpark Bomb, which is a mash-up of delicious stadium snacks: honey mustard cream cheese and sliced hot dogs nestled inside soft pretzel dough, topped with kosher salt, sesame seeds and celery seeds), a cookie (confetti, obvs), and cereal milk.

I’ve never been one to just sit and drink milk. As a kid, I could only stand drinking flavored milk, and while I may not have quite the sweet tooth I did as a kid, I still am not super crazy about drinking milk straight. Even if it is cereal milk, I could only take a couple sips at a time, which was just enough to keep me sated. While still delicious, I much prefer cereal milk in the form of soft serve ice cream!

WEDNESDAY

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Sweetgreen Ginger Lime Fresca, with a million salads to go in the background.

Sweetgreen is always a reliable lunch spot (as evident by the  counters laden with pre-ordered salads and the line out the door) and occupies a soft spot in my heart as Mr. A was lured over to work there while they were plotting their expansion. Unfortunately or not, it turns out that fast casual was not quite Mr. A’s jam, so when he was presented the opportunity to go back to full service dining and with a chance to be in charge, he jumped the salad ship.
FRIDAY

Errands brought me out to my old ‘hood, Pentagon City, on Friday, and samples brought me into Teavana. There were a number of autumnal blends available to try, including these two: Caramel Truffle and a Youthberry & Wild Orange Blossom blend. I couldn’t bring myself to try Caramel Truffle, so I went with Youthberry & Wild Orange Blossom. My usual tea order at Starbucks is the Youthberry White Tea and I have Wild Orange Blossom at home, so as expected, ’twas delightful.

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Caramel Truffle just sounds wrong as tea

In lieu of a blend containing one tea that I already have, I instead decided to buy several ounces of Ruby Spice Cider, a blend of their Mulled Pomegranate Cider herbal tea and Spiced Apple Cider rooibos tea. Warm and spiced, this was the perfect blend to enjoy as the weather has finally cooled off here in DC.

While waiting for my tea to be prepared, I did give in and try a dessert tea: the S’mores tea sample on the counter:

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S’mores are meant for campfires, not teas

I’m not big on chocolate to begin with, but s’mores are meant to be enjoyed with actual graham crackers and fire involved.

So then I moved on to getting an iced tea to enjoy while making my way back into the District. I got to take a whiff of the Imperial Açai Blueberry white tea, which was absolutly delightful to smell:

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This smelled sooooooo good

There are some currant and hibiscus undernotes here and I was thisclose to getting it, but then the Teavana employee said that this next one was her favorite:

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This would also work well as a potpourri.

The Strawberry Blush Rosé oolong. It was so pretty to look at, with those tiny pink rosebuds in it. I ended up choosing this one, after noticing that the caffeine level was much lower than the Imperial Açai Blueberry (it was fairly late in the evening). I just wish I had found this earlier in the summer! It really is the tea version of rosé, and I could’ve gone 100% #roseallday.

I’ve been waitin’ all day for Sun, er Monday Night

Monday Night Football! Great when your team is based on the same coast as you are! Terrible otherwise.

Our friends and neighbors, lovingly/collectively called “JoCo,” are luckily (for time reasons) huge Philly fans (Phans? Or is that just for baseball?) and invited us for a very Philadelphia dinner of Korean bulgogi tacos and twice baked potato skins. Our other friends, the Ls, brought over a great cheese and chicken dip, which made me so glad I’m giving up all other dairy so I could enjoy this. They were delicious, but let’s be honest, that’s not the point of this blog, is it?

The evening started off with a new craft beer shop, the Craft Beer Cellar, located at 301 H Street NE, across from Giant:

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Credit: Prince of Petworth

Deceptively small from the outside, rather large on the inside. Beers, ciders, local liquors, large formats, make your own six packs. Loyalty program! Everything wonderful. I’ll review another time, when I can go back when I’m not running late and can enjoy that wonderful room for all its worth.

Mr. A picked up a nice random six pack, but I got this beauty:

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The only thing I can tell you about this is that I picked it out because it was 1) not in the IPA section, and 2) had “glitter” in its name. We bought it, but I haven’t yet opened it, so that’s another review for later, but I already. can’t. wait.


On to the 5/6 beers in Mr. A’s six pack we did open though! [NOTE: I only had sips to try of all these here, so the reviews here are mostly from others that were imbibing! Gotta give the liver a break every so often]

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Anderson Valley Fall Hornin


Anderson Valley
makes some wonderfully fragrant and tasty seasonal beers. Their Fall Hornin’ is no exception.  This deep copper colored beer is super silky, with cinnamon and nutmeg all over it. Perfect fall beer, if a bit sweet. This is a one or two of these beers, but no more. It’s supposed to be a pumpkin beer, but more like “this would go really well with a slice of pumpkin (pie)” beer.

 

Location: Schnitzengiggle.
Style: Pumpkin Beer.
ABV: 6%
IBU: 20


 

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Bell’s Best Brown Ale

Bell’s Brewery is another favorite of ours. If you ever get a chance to go up to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for whatever reason, stop in at the Eccentric Cafe. Get yourself a flight or two and some snacks, and sit outside on the patio and enjoy the sun in Michigan’s cool weather. You won’t regret it.

Bell’s Best Brown Ale is toasty and malta, with some hints of cocoa and toffee here. I said the Fall Hornin’ was the perfect fall beer, but really, this is it. The flavors are all cool weather, but surprisingly, this beer feels really light. There are definitely some hops at work here, but it’s all towards the end, making the entire experience rather refreshing and cozy at the same time.

Location: Schnitzengiggle.
Style: Brown Ale – American.
ABV: 5.8%
IBU: 21


 

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New Holland’s The Poet

With a name like the Poet and a raven on the label, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that New Holland Brewing was based out of Baltimore, but alas, it isn’t. Their Oatmeal Stout, however, is definitely based in Drinkability Town.

Dark. Creamy. Oat-y. Very coffee forward, with some fruit and chocolate coming up right after.

Location: Still Schnitzengiggle.
Style: Oatmeal Stout.
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 40.


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The Jo of JoCo, and his Great Lakes Oktoberfest

Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing makes a fine Oktoberfest beer (points for the cheery label of toasting steins).

The Jo of JoCo’s first reaction was “ooh! This is good!” Always a sign of good things to come. His review? “Classic Octoberfest fest-style with autumn flavors. A little pumpkin-y, a little spice.”

Location: Yup. Still at Schnitzengiggle
Style: Märzen
ABV: 6.5%


 

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Bell’s Octoberfest

Back to Bell’s. This one had a little more alcohol in the flavor, but was still yeasty like biscuits and toffeeish…like toffee and caramel. You’re probably getting sick of the “amber” and “caramel” descriptors, but hey, it’s that time of year. Still very light and would be great to drink among leaves as they turn on the trees. Seriously though, that’s what I felt with this one.

Location: Schnitzengiggle. Fourth quarter.
Style: Märzen
ABV: 5.5%

Of Beers, Babies and Barely Clothed Men

What a packed weekend! The past few days were all about good friends, new jobs, and babies on the way.

Friday began healthily, as I’d been feeling achy and run down since Wednesday, with a green smoothie:


Pretty gross looking, but I promise it was way tastier than it looks.

Location: Eleanor. Our Subaru Forester.
Beverage: Fruity green smoothie (recipe below).
Vessel: Medium Nutribullet To-Go Cup.

Fruity Green Smoothie Recipe

  • 1 cup mango
  • 1 cup cherries
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • some green tea and coconut LaCroix to thin it out for easy sipping.

The weekend was really kicked off with a beer at home: 

Samuel Adams Nitro Coffee Stout. Fun to open the can, meh the rest of the way.

Let me throw in a disclaimer here: Mr. A and I are not Sam Adams fans. Just like we keep trying olives, to see if one day we like them, we keep giving the Boston brewery the old college try, but are, more often than not, left less than impressed.

I didn’t think this one was all that bad, but very sweet. More chocolate, less coffee, but very smooth on the tongue. Dark in color, with a creamy head.

Location: Queens Landing.
Beverage: Samuel Adams Nitro Coffee Stout.
Vessel: Crate and Barrel. Crescent Collection Rocks Glass.


Friday night brought us to Biergarten Haus, to celebrate a friend’s new job. With Oktoberfest just around the corner, the usual Spaten, Hofbrau, Paulaner, and Weihenstephaner taps have been replaced with each brewery’s respective Oktoberfest blend. First up for me, Spaten Oktoberfest:

This märzen pours a nice amber color and is full of caramel. My favorite kind of beer. Malty, with a pinch of hops and low carbonation. Slick is the only word to describe how this ones feels going down.  Good beer, but I was ready to move on.

Location: Biergarten Haus.
Beverage: Spaten Oktoberfest.
Vessel: 1/2 Liter Stein.

Next up was Benediktiner’s Oktoberfest:


Sure, I was filtering all evening due to dim outdoor lighting, but as you can see, Benediktiner Weißbräu’s take on Oktoberfest bier is quite a bit different.

This märzen was more up my alley: still amber with caramel, but with some honey and raisin in there too, balancing out a bit of bitter. Smooth and creamy, all the way.

Location: Biergarten Haus.
Beverage: Benediktiner Oktoberfest.
Vessel: 1/2 Liter Stein.

SATURDAY

Saturday started off strong, with what may as well be the holy trinity of brunch at Union Market:

Buffalo and Bergen. Again.

Coffee (an Americano), water, booze (a mimosa). Something to wake me up, something to hydrate me, and something to get the party started.

Nothing crazy here, so I’ll focus in on that mimosa there: drinkable, but way too much orange juice. I prefer my mimosas with just a hint of OJ for color.

The real focus (consumables-wise) was my breakfast sandwich:


Egg, sausage and provolone on an egg everything bagel from Buffalo and Bergen. We had been talking about egg everythings the night before at Biergarten, so when I saw it on the menu, I had to have it. My bagels of yore seem like mere pieces of dough compared with this egg washed, seed covered goodness.

(If you’ve been reading this blog, you should know by now – I love carbs.)

The party then moved on to a cup of blood orange kombucha, which unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of. I like blood orange, but I definitely prefer Craft Kombucha’s elderflower over their blood orange. This was super tart and a bit flat, though this cup consisted of the last dregs of the keg, so it could’ve been that.  Still need to go back and try the rest of the flavors!


From there, the party was on hiatus too I got out to Del Ray for a friend’s baby shower. This couple who hosted has an amazing house. Almost a hundred years old, tastefully refurbished and decorated,  with a great backyard, but this was my favorite part:


A not so mini fridge, full of LaCroix. It’s like I died and went to well-hydrated heaven.

Okay, so the hostess is pregnant, and sure, if she wasn’t, it probably be full of wine and beer, but she is and that’s okay. I got to go on a journey of flavor:

First up, passion fruit:


Sweet, tart, a little like a starburst, though I can put my finger on which flavor in particular. Still,quite delightful, and would make a great cocktail, I’m sure.

A brief beer break was then had:


Ballast Point Brewing Company’s Pineapple Sculpin. I’ve had the grapefruit sculpin before and figured why not, it’s still summer. It was okay, an IPA, so hop intense, with a bit of fruit. This was definitely more tart pineapple rather than sweet, straight off the  Dole plantation in Hawaii pineapple.

Location: Del Ray.
Beverage: Spaten Oktoberfest.
Vessel: 1/2 Liter Stein.

Back to LaCroix:

There was one Kiwi Sandia LaCroix Curaté left, so yup. I was that person and grabbed it. Had to try it while I could!

This was way more watermelon than it was kiwi, and really, just way too syrupy sweet. Again, like a Starburst, but not nearly as good as the Strawberry Kiwi starburst though! I quite enjoy these Curaté blends, but between this and the ice cream sandwich I had for dessert, i was left craving all the water I could possibly drink to flush out all the sugar in my system.

SUNDAY

Sunday was an (almost) all girls’ day. A few of us started off with some much needed nail work, which for me, included cold brew from A Baked Joint:

As you can see, I went blue. Normally, I go with fairly neutral or reddish shades for my feet, because I feel like my feet just look cold in blues (or moldy in green). I had some nice, autumnal colors picked out, but then looked over at my friend Elizabeth, and decided I should enjoy the last vestiges of summer weather, while it’s still here.

Location: Q West Nails 2.
Beverage: Cold brew iced coffee.
Vessel: Plastic cup to go!
Details are scarce since this one got picked up for me.

One of the other gals picked up some Ruffino to enjoy while we got our nails did, but as my nails were still wet, I didn’t get any pictures of that. I wish, I did however, as the second bottle ended up mostly in my rinsed out coffee cup, so as not to be wasted on our way to brunch.

Brunch.

Oh boy, brunch.

Ha, boy. What I mean is oh man, brunch.

Sax DC has started Sir Sundays, an all male burlesque brunch, that caters to the Magic Mike loving market:

Photography by Drew Xeron

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Photography by Drew Xeron

On top (ahem) of the scantily clad men (including our table “stud”), we also got a plate of bites and bottomless mimosas (those men were not bottomless – speedos count as clothing).

PS – if like me, you get a poorly made flute that comes apart where the stem met the vessel upon placing it down on the table, you are given a plastic replacement flute:

Apologies for the terrible phone photo. It was dark!


Honestly, they should save money on glassware and give all the attendees plastic, and use the money on better seat cushions for people on the sofas.

The food, was meh, at best. Some damn good grilled Brussels sprouts and a nice quinoa salad, but the rest was passable and made me happy that I had made breakfast that morning.

Let’s be honest though – the real reason anyone is going to this is for the men. The dances weren’t bad – there’s a military themed number that is hands down the best part. At the end of the session, guests are led out of the venue through a separate entrance, and can then meet/take photos with the dancers. Kind of took away from the show magic. I think we all had a favorite (or maybe it was just me?) and then seeing him up close. Sad. Not as hot.

Regardless, so. many. abs.

Abs for days.

Grossly sweaty abs.

To be honest, it made me a little afraid of being near them. So. much. sweat. Anyway, the real takeaway from man brunch, as we’d been referring to it, was the aerialist (click the link for some video. I have yet to upgrade this site to be able to host videos. One day…maybe sooner if someone buys me a plan…)

I need to take some aerial classes, stat.

The (Previous) Week In Drinks

One week in, and I’m already behind on posting! Now I know why all past attempts at blogging have failed. Oops.

I’m usually fairly busy throughout the week, so this may have to become a weekly roundup. I’ll aim to get this up on Fridays from now on, promise!

MONDAY

My go to coffee order for a while has been a skim cappuccino. Warm, frothy, low cal. Recently, however, I’ve been trying to cut back on my dairy consumption, as large quantities don’t seem to agree with my innards and if I’m honest with myself, I have zero plans on cutting back on cheese, so I’m trying to be lactose-free whenever else possible and that means ordering americanos over cappuccinos now (or if at the ‘Bucks, ordering with coconut milk froth). Yes, yes, the cap’s milk froth is a teeny tiny amount of dairy, but like I said. I love cheese and refuse to give it up.

…but last Monday was so nice. It was beautiful, sunny and cool – like autumn is almost here! Wrapping myself in a nice milk froth sweater from Maketto seemed like an acceptable indulgence to kick off the week:


Maketto is more known for its take on Taiwanese and Cambodian dishes, but it also houses a great breakfast counter upstairs, featuring Vigilante coffee and Frenchie’s amazing pastries. (It also has a retail boutique, which makes the whole establishment feel very New York. Maketto’s been here for over a year, and I’m still not sure DC is quite cool enough for this place.)

One of these days, I’ll make my way back there for a cocktail and dinner and talk about those drinks too.

Location: 14th & H Street bus stop
Beverage: Cappuccino. Maketto.
Vessel: Small paper cup. The barista capped my cup for me, which made me feel slightly more awkward than usual, as I uncovered it to take a photo.


By Monday afternoon, it had warmed up enough to sip on what has become my summer guilty pleasure this year: the “secret” Starbucks pink drink:

The off-menu drink is comprised of a Strawberry Açai refresher, made with coconut milk instead of water. The result is that lovely light pink delight above. A bit cloyingly sweet, but like I said, guilty pleasure. Those things go down way too quickly.

Unfortunately, the whole experience was a bit tainted by some young people (insert fist shaking and grumbling “not in my backyard” under my breath). My usual ‘Bucks location, due to its proximity to my office, is on the George Washington University campus. If it isn’t overrun with govvies, it’s overrun with students. In all honesty, I don’t mind the students, I remember my college days of ordering white almond mochas at the Richter Library Starbucks, I just wish I knew the actual class schedule, so I could go get coffee while they’re all in class, not lining up to get coffee between classes. (And yes, I know there is mobile order. Yes, I do use it.)

Tangent time: last school year, some dear girl turned around and asked me if I was also going to orientation and knew where X was. Totally made my day and put a smile on my face. This year, I just get ma’am’ed. Mr. A’s been warning me that once I turned 30, everything would go down hill, but I never realized how true that was. I’d love to get a “miss” every once in a while.

Back to our regularly scheduled program: this particular pink drink was ordered at a different Starbucks, while I was killing time before a meeting. Unfortunately, I happened to get in line right behind some young intern ordering 8 drinks plus snacks for her office. I feel for her, I really do, I’ve been the low man on the totem pole, but I’d be a lot more sympathetic if I could’ve gotten my drink a lot faster.

Location: Starbucks at 16th & K Streets NW.
Beverage: Secret “pink drink” aka strawberry açai refresher, made with coconut milk, no water.
Vessel: Grande Starbucks cold cup.

TUESDAY

Craving some bubbly water (I should really mark the Sodastream on our wedding registry “high priority”), I picked up an Aquafina sparkling water from my office’s cafeteria. Flavor: Black Cherry Dragonfruit.


This water was advertised as being made with a “hint of real sugar” and using “fair trade certified sugar.” Remember when sugar was sugar and corn syrup was corn syrup? You advertised your product, not what it was made of. Just goes to show how much crap gets put in our foodstuffs nowadays, that something that should be so basic is so novel that it’s an advertising point.


Anywho, this was a lot better than I was expecting it to be. Not very sweet, but a little tart. Rather refreshing and I’d totally pick one up again.

Location: The office. Like I’m telling you suckers where I work.
Beverage: Aquafina sparkling – black cherry dragonfruit. The Cafeteria.
Vessel: Aluminum can.


The evening called for some Zumba with my old personal trainer, George Cruz (amazing trainer – works you hard, but keeps you in such a good mood, you don’t realize how much you hate everything happening to your body until afterwards). George has been trying to get me to go to Zumba and I’ve been avoiding it like the plague. Zumba is just not my thing. Dancing is just not my thing. I danced and was a cheerleader for years, but I’ve never been able to move my hips and have zero to no rhythm. Give me sharp moves to hit, sure! Give me a salsa? Oy.

It’s true what Sparky Polastri said in the classic film, Bring It On:

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Apologies for the “r” word, but ’tis the quote.

I’ve been in dire need of some cardio but have also been avoiding running for a while, so Zumba it was. Lots of water gulping and confusion ensued.

Afterwards, I figured I’d continue the Zs with some Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand:


This 2015 Marlborough Sauv Blanc is from The Crossings. A light, crisp wine a bit straw-like in color, this was citrusy and a bit floral on the nose, with a bit of tartness on the tongue. Zest comes to mind, and I kind of wish I had had this one earlier in the summer, out on a patio somewhere, rather than in late summer on my couch.

Location: Queens Landing
Beverage: The Crossings 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand.
Vessel: Riedel O Cabernet glass.

WEDNESDAY

If the PSL is the Basic Gal’s drink for the fall, then the Coconut LaCroix sparkling water is her summer drink of choice. I have no qualms about this. Give me yoga leggings and UGGs.  I’ll embrace it all!


Location: Queens Landing.
Beverage: LaCroix coconut flavored sparking water.
Vessel: Straight outta the can, with a purple bendy straw.

THURSDAY

Thursday mornings mean Pilates Reformer with Julie at VIDA. I don’t drink VIDA smoothies as often as I used to, because I no longer have a cup holder on my bike. I didn’t bike in this past Thursday, so my hands were free to hold all the beverages!

In a nice addition to all the other amenities VIDA has to offer (you need a gym recommendation? Talk to me and I’ll talk your ear off about VIDA’s greatness), they’ve recently added pre-ordering your smoothies, so they’re ready at the time you are. I went with a Post-Pilates Pom Power (I do love my alliteration): coconut water, Pom juice, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, bananas and protein:


Nice and frothy, and just the right size to keep me energized until lunch time. I tend to avoid milk/yogurt based smoothies (see: Monday above), but luckily VIDA’s Fuel Bar carries a whole menu of delicious coconut water based smoothies.

Location: VIDA Fitness – Verizon Center.
Beverage: Pom Power smoothie. Vida Fitness Fuel Bar.
Vessel: Plastic cup to go!


Thursday evening was Washington, DC life at its core: networking event overlooking the White House:

A good friend’s firm was celebrating their anniversary at the historic Hay-Adams Hotel, where presidents-elect have been spending the night before inauguration, looking out over their future home for the next four years. Not only were we at the Hay-Adams, but we were in the Top of the Hay, the hotel’s exclusive rooftop event space. A beautifully breezy cool evening overlooking the White House (and its snipers on the roof!). Doesn’t get much more DC than that!

Now, I can’t tell you a thing about that glass of red wine, because it was red, white, or bubbly when it came to the grape stuff and I didn’t take the time during any of the many visits to the bar, so I’ll tell you about the hors d’oeuvres instead. I know, this is a beverage blog and I forgot the beverages. #worthless.

Now, hors d’oeuvres: the Hay-Adams does hors d’oeuvres riiiiiiiiiight. Fig and goat cheese in a puff pastry. Jerk shrimp skewers. Prosciutto wrapped melon. Crostini…with things on top. I forget.  Tuna tartare in a waffle cone (my favorite). My mouth is watering, thinking of it now. So many more good bites, but I’m blanking, so time to go to the next drink:


That was a Maker’s Mark and Fever Tree ginger beer. For whatever reason, they only had ginger beer and no ginger ale, but it was still so good, I forgot to take a photo until I was nearly done. (Fever Tree also makes a great ginger ale, FYI, and some awesome mixers in general.)

There was also some prosecco had, but I was handed it, so I can’t tell you much more than this: bubbly and drinkable.

I suppose, that’s all that really matters, drinkability. On that note, I’ll end this week’s roundup with this:

Getting Prim(us)ed for the week ahead

I’m terrible at keeping in touch with people, which makes a weekend where I get to see people that I rarely ever see all the better.

This weekend, I hung out with a couple of friends I used to live with. One was a sorority sister and former roommate that has since moved out to the ‘burbs with her fiancé. She relatively recently moved to the DMV area and because she was so close, there was never any pressure to see her right away. Mea culpa. We have, however, made plans to do better and at least, get lunch this week. We’re so close to each other now! There are no excuses!

The other, was a friend Mr. A and I used to live with. She and I moved into the house Mr. A and his friend shared some years ago, and aside from sharing a house, we shared a love for rom-coms, 90’s music (though that’s definitely shared among our group of girlfriends), and bad food. Every year, Mr. A and his friends go on a white water rafting trip and one year, the very night the guys left, she and I decided to order ourselves a Pizza Hut dinner box. Unfortunately, the last time I had ordered from Pizza Hut via app (I’m awkward and don’t like to actually talk to people), I had put Mr. A’s phone number in. Thirty minutes later, Mr. A called me to tell me that Pizza Hut was outside the house with our order. Busted.

Anywho. She and I may or may not have made a KFC popcorn chicken run on Friday…and then ordered some Pizza Hut on Sunday, but at least other people initiated that.

One thing she introduced me to was bubbly for any day. Who needs a reason to celebrate when life and being alive is worth celebrating in itself? Enter the Tuesday champagne flute.

Okay, so today wasn’t Tuesday, and we had prosecco instead of champagne, but still, we hung out and that in itself has been way too infrequent, considering we now live about three blocks away from each other. I met up with her and another girlfriend and had a lovely day of bubbly and puppies. First up, Kirkland Prosecco:

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Don’t be snooty. This very budget friendly sparkler is delightful, especially on a nice warm day, when you’re being cooled off by a mister.

Out of Veneto, these bubbles average about $6.95/bottle at your local Costco.

Location: Staples Street.
Beverage: Kirkland Prosecco. Veneto, Italy.
Vessel: Champagne flute.

From there, we decided to switch up to a rosé. Now, I love rosé. Let me say it again: I. Love. Rosé. My phone case even says “Rosé all day.” I’m about as basic as it gets. Actually, except for the PSLs. I preferred the old faux pumpkin that the ‘bucks was shilling, but perhaps this year will surprise me.

I digress.

Next up: La Rosé de Mouton Cadet:

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I mentioned that mister right?

This 2015 rosé out of Bordeaux blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot grapes and pairs well with beef, lamb, and spicy food. We, however, paired it with Spotify’s Soak Up The Sun playlist. Definitely recommend. Though there was a bit of contention over Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way” – that damn song just reminds me of Ice Age. (Yeah, good luck getting it out of your head now.) Anyway, very refreshing on a warm day. A bit of grapefruit, some minerality, a bit tart.

Location: Still Staples Street.
Beverage: Le Rosé de Mouton Cadet. Château Mouton Rothschild.
Vessel: Champagne flute. Yup, didn’t bother to change and the only washing this champagne flute has gotten has been that mister attachment on the garden hose. #lazy.

After that, my friend went to pick her boyfriend up from the airport, and left our other friend and I to watch the pups and continue enjoying the warm weather/sunshine/drinks, so it was time to switch back to the sparkles:

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Mr. A and I had a whole case of these bottles of Ruffino Prosecco intended for mimosas (in case you didn’t already know – DC is Brunch City). D.O.C, dry, drinkability. All things that are pluses in my book. Nice and crisp.

Location: Still Staples Street
Beverage: Ruffino Prosecco. Toscana, Italy.
Vessel: See? There was a reason not to give up on that champagne flute just yet.

Eventually, some hours, an Archer episode, some Pizza Hut, and many waters later, Mr. A and I made it the whole three blocks home and watched the Oscar nominated film Brooklyn. I’ve seen it before, and I’ve read the book, so the story wasn’t any surprise to me, yet somehow, I appreciated the story so much more this time around. Hm. Mr. A, however, was convinced he has seen the kid that played the little Italian kid, Frankie Fiorello, before, to which I was like “nope, he hasn’t been in anything except one Fresh Off the Boat episode that we’ve seen but can’t remember him in.” Of course, he promptly proved me wrong and found the Play 60 commercial he was in with Cam Newton.

Apparently, something about watching a movie about an Irish woman (played by the always wonderful Saiorse Ronan) immigrating to America and falling in love with an Italian in Brooklyn calls for a medium bodied Chilean red blend:

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2013 Primus The Blend, out of Chile’s Colchagua Valley. This red blend is full of blackberries, with a little spice. Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc, if you’re curious. Dry, but not to the point that you’re smacking your lips, looking for any moisture. Fruit forward, but not jammy.  Very, very enjoyable.

Location: Queens Landing.
Beverage: 2013 Primus The Blend. Chile.
Vessel: Riedel O Cabernet Glass.

On the east coast, it’s now Monday, so with visions of flared skirts and Irish brogues in my head, off to bed!

Rise and let other people do the grinding

By no means do I consider myself a coffee connoisseur. I prefer to let other people expertly make the coffee and I partake and praise their existence. Mr. A tends to grab his coffee at work when he opens in the morning, which left me on my own today. My choices were using a K-cup (our machine hates me, I’m convinced), brewing using regular grounds (via pot or French press), or go out.

I went out.

Granted, I went out to go work out, but I chose my workout location based on what would get me to breakfast faster. This morning, I went to Lab 1270 to check out Yoga with Nya. Well, I went to Dock 5 first, and upon arrival, found a bunch of men using leaf blowers inside – not exactly conducive to any sun salutations.

Yoga with Nya is now every Sunday, at 10 am, inside the S3 Active boutique, over at the new LAB 1270 space at 1274 5th Street NE. I’ve been terribly inconsistent with my yoga practice, not to mention out of working out regularly due to foot and knee issues, so a small class setting was a good choice for me. I’ve always had issues just rolling from my up dog to my down dog – my ankles are super flexible and my back is really open so I can get into a posture easily, but not necessarily in the safest way. Nya just adjusted my shoulders and just guided my hips back and up. So simple, but made all the difference. Now, just gotta actually remember to do that over and over, until it’s muscle memory.

But, back to coffee.

We’re at the end of summer here in Washington, DC, and despite a great breeze today, it’s still very warm and fairly humid, which means iced coffee. After yoga, I walked back over to Union Market and joined the line at the Peregrine Espresso counter.

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Today’s cold coffee was a flash brewed Iced Hologram:

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Syrupy, a little fruity, and supposedly milk chocolate notes in there, but I didn’t quite catch that. A quick squeeze of simple syrup, and we’re good to go. Paired quite nicely with my rude girl (bacon and jalapeño cream cheese) on an everything bagel from Buffalo and Bergen:

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One of these days, I’ll go to B&B and get their award winning Lox’d & Loaded Bloody Mary:

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I would insert a photo of one right here, but that glory deserves a post all its own.