Some relationships are difficult from the get-go. You get started on the wrong foot and you're never confident you're on solid ground. Sometimes you take a long break, then a brief encounter seduces you into thinking, "this could work." It rarely does.
But not all relationships are created equal. Do they all need to be "the one"? Can't they be an occasional dalliance and can't we celebrate that? Be in the moment when we're in it and not expect more?
I'm speaking, of course, of my relationship with our Capitol city. I'm speaking of Washington, D.C.
First, I have to acknowledge that my initial introduction to this complex city was as a young teen, living in a suburb, chafing at the last hold of my parents' authority. I spent probably a good 50% of my entire time there calculating my escape in one way or another. I was like a prisoner with a life sentence and an elaborate escape plan. I tried once or twice at age 14. I needed bigger spoons. And an accomplice.
At 17 I made my final escape. The accomplice, like so many inmates, was predictably untrustworthy, but we got me out. I escaped to college in New York and I never looked back.
As an adult, I've gone back to visit family once or twice a year. Usually, I'm struck by the suffocating humidity and I return North to Boston, assured that I will never move South again.
Then, once in a great while, something magical happens. You're surrounded by art and history, a fluttering shower of Cherry Blossoms and you're enchanted.
A recent visit had the odds stacked in D.C.'s favor, like catching someone right after they've walked out of the hair salon, a massage, or a really good session of therapy, or sex. D.C. was at her best even with unseasonably warm springtime weather. But D.C. had Catherine in her favor. She benefitted from the reflected glow of this force of nature en route from Dhaka to Kyiv and I was smitten all over again. As we talked and walked and drank and ate - trying to make up for too few such stretches of uninterrupted solo time, we noticed how green D.C. is. Trees everywhere. We noticed that the cross walk lights give you a civilized 30-something seconds to cross the street. (Boston starts blinking stop 10 seconds after it gives you the walk sign, drivers are revving their engines by the time you're mid-crosswalk.)
People are nice in D.C. They say "please" and "thank you" and they smile. They chat and they don't look at you like you're an escapee from the local looney bin when you initiate a conversation. There's a Southern gentility about the way people interact.
There's poverty, yes. But there's also a ton of money. Which means a ton of good dining options for those of us lucky enough. I guess it's partially due to all those lobbyists with expense accounts.
Well, we enjoyed the best of city that weekend. We popped in to see our friend Hope (the diamond, yes THAT one), took in some fabulous Asian art, and enjoyed some very good meals. Lots of laughs. Gratitude. Book stores, shoe stores, jewelry, parks. Did I mention drinks? And Food?
I called on Twitter pals in D.C. for reco's on where to eat. This was one of my friend Shulie's choices and what a great time it was. Discretion does not allow me to show off some jewels that bedazzled, but let's just say "over the top" might come to mind. (As all good Asians know, markets can be volatile, jewelry is an asset you can hold on to.) We started with craft cocktails; a Marilyn Monroe (Hibiscus Infused High West Vodka, Royal Combier, Lime, Cranberry & Orange bitters) for La Cecil and a Woodrow Wilson (Boomsma Jonge Genever, Hum Liquor, Elderflower, Cava) for me.
As MINTWOOD Place emphasizes local, farm-to-table seasonal foods, I could not help myself. We ordered from every part of the menu, even when only one of us was interested in a dish (calf's heart for me, eye-catching dessert for her. Saved again by the dairy allergy.) L to R: Woodrow Wilson cocktail; Blistered Shishito Peppers and Maple Pork Cracklins; Whole Boneless Royal Dorade with braised fennel and Picholine olives; Wood-grilled confit calf's heart salad over baby collards. Every bite was fantastic.
I highly recommend MINTWOOD place and I'll go back any chance I get.
1813 Columbia Rd. NW, WDC 20009
Tuesday - Thursday 5:30pm - 10:30pm
Friday & Saturday 5:30pm - 11:30pm
Saturday & Sunday Brunch 10:30am - 2:30pm
Sunday 5:30pm - 9:30pm
I'm tickled by Ripple. It's possible they intend a clever play on the association with cheap wine. It's also possible I'm the only one that thinks that it's just a reminder of the ripples on the water . Dip a toe in, I promise you they've got a fantastic wine list. But then, why take my word for it when Wine Enthusiast picks it as among the Top 100. More on the wine in a moment. The ripples spread out first course, entrees, cheeses, desserts...
Don't you love these tiles?
Decor is usually not the first thing I talk about, and readers know I'd eat in a hole-in-the-wall with good food. However, it's a good sign when the first thing you do walking into a place is to begin imagining how this or that would look great in your own place. It's plush, elegant, like your very cool, better paid, imaginary older sister's place. You think "those cushions for my sofa" "those tiles for my kitchen backsplash...Oh wait!~"
That is the moment you spy the cheese cart. And a fromagier who is happy to tell you precisely which of the cheeses is peaking - just today.
This is going to be a good meal.
And it was good, much better than good.
Local, sustainable, all that I love can sometimes be wonderfully rustic. Here, it is decidedly elegant. Sophisticated - did I say that already? - there's a skilled and thoughtful chef at work here.
And a young female sommelier who knew exactly what we would enjoy when we described what we were leaning towards.
I'd had this once before and forgotten about it. A winemaker who took over her family's winery, Elisabetta Foradori produces the most elegant wines, beautiful mineral backbone, courtesy of the Dolomites, biodynamic since 2009.
The fruit and earth are beautifully balanced with Syrah-like tannins opening over mid-palate. It worked well with our food and I'd love to be drinking a glass right now.
Somehow I missed the pig on the way in, but snapped a pic on the way out.
I'd return here any time and highly recommend it.
Open Daily at 5pm
Sunday Brunch 11:00am-2:30pm
3417 Connecticut Ave NW, DC