Monday, March 13, 2006

Summer in the City

Okay, not quite summer—but it was darn nice. All the high spirits and sunshine with none of the humidity.

This weekend we headed to the St. Gregory hotel in Dupont Circle (M St, between 20th and 21st), a hotel I chose largely because it has a life-size statue of Marilyn Monroe in the lobby (think famous grate scene from The Seven Year Itch). Okay, that’s not really why, but I like Dupont Circle and there are a lot of great restaurants near the hotel. The idea was to have a nice weekend during which we wouldn’t have to make the bed, do laundry, or cook. And we didn’t do any of those things!

Oh yeah-- until we went home on Sunday afternoon. Then I did all of the above, plus caulk the tub. But let’s focus on the wonderfulness that happened before the drudgery, shall we?

It was such a gorgeous day on Saturday. We abandoned any plans of structured activity and simply wandered around and people-watched for hours. We took an outside table at Foodbar DC and eavesdropped on the conversations around us while we ate salads. I ordered a tomato mozzarella salad even though I knew better.

“How are the tomatoes?” I asked the waiter. “Red and juicy, or hard and pink?” (yes, I know) The waiter had a good giggle and then assured me, “The tomatoes are great!" Even so, I wasn’t surprised by the anemic slices that arrived on my plate. What can I say? Something about the warm weather made me go a little insane. Everyone around us seemed happy with the gift of a gorgeous, t-shirtable, early March day.

For dinner that night we went to Al Tiramisu, a little Italian place on P St. When we walked in I told the hostess that we had a reservation for 8:00. “Wait!” M said, “I want to tell her in Italian!” He repeated my statement in Italian and the hostess beamed. As she led us to our table we laughed about our first hotel experience in Italy. We walked in with our luggage, M all excited to use the Italian he had learned over the past year. As we approached the front desk he puffed out his chest with pride and in perfect Italian declared, “I am lost and I need directions!”

Ah, well.

Dinner was great. Al Tiramisu is small and cozy. It’s been billed as a “romantic” destination, but I’m not so sure. The décor could use some work, and it’s noisy. But the service was excellent, as was the food. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We had a Verduzzo/Pinot Grigio wine that was aromatic and delicious (and marked up to about four times what it would cost to buy it in a store… ouch).

On Sunday we walked to Firefly for brunch. I really wanted French fries but felt juvenile ordering them with my mushroom omelet. The waitress assured me that “everyone does it” (the French fries are really good there, served in a paper cone). As we were eating I noticed that almost every table had a cone of French fries perched in the middle. Everyone does do it!

And then… back to life, back to reality.

But that's okay. Reality is pretty darn good, too… just with more dog hair and less fat.

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Blogger Bearette24 said...

how nice! it's funny, there is actually a store in nyc with a window display featuring several mannequins. one of them is always wearing a marilyn-style dress with air rustling underneath to create the grate effect.

12:46 PM  
Blogger His suzy said...

Sounds like such a fun weekend! I haven't always been a big fan of tomatoes, but after that description... (hee hee!)

2:20 PM  
Blogger verniciousknids said...

M's Italian hotel experience reminded me of my faux pas with a cute Japanese baby and his mum. It was soon after I first arrived here and I was out for a walk. I saw the baby and told the mum how cute it was...only I said that he was really scary! The two words being quite similar in Japanese. Oops :p

9:03 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

Hee...what did the mother say?

9:39 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Firefly for brunch? Good? I'm always looking for a good brunch place.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

V- that's funny. :) Once in Italy I thought I was asking a waitress where the bathroom was, but judging by the look on her face I must have said the wrong thing. I have no idea what it could have been.

Kim- Firefly was good for brunch, but I think I like eating dinner there better. At night you get the full effect of the lanterns and all. :) Have you tried Majestic Cafe in Old Town Alexandria (king st)? They have a good brunch- definitely try the garlic-cheese grits and hush puppies.

9:09 AM  
Blogger verniciousknids said...

B: she looked at me totally shocked, and repeated my faux pas, which is when I realised I had "faux pas-ed" so I began apologising profusely and explained that actually I thought her bub was adorable. We parted on friendly terms...but I don't confuse those two words anymore!

L: sorry to betray my lack of American roots...but what are garlic-cheese grits and hush puppies? (In Australia, "Hush Puppies" are a brand of shoe mainly worn by senior cits - I believe you call them "silver sneakers" - and grit is dirt that gets in your shoe - but I'm guessing that's not what you ate?!)

11:19 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Hehe... V, those are southern delicacies.

From the food dictionary (because I'm a good librarian!):

Though it's now commonly used to mean "HOMINY grits," the term "grits" actually refers to any coarsely ground grain such as corn, oats or rice. Most grits come in a choice of grinds — coarse, medium and fine. Grits can be cooked with water or milk — usually by boiling or baking — and eaten as hot cereal or served as a side dish.

hushpuppy; hush puppy
This Southern specialty is a small cornmeal DUMPLING, flavored with chopped scallions, deep-fried and served hot. Hushpuppies are a traditional accompaniment for fried catfish. Their name is said to have come from the fact that, to keep hungry dogs from begging for food while the rest of the dinner was being prepared, cooks used to toss scraps of the fried batter to the pets with the admonition, "Hush, puppy!"

Or as my brother called them when he was little: "shush dogs".

At the Majestic they serve the hush puppies with a delicious rémoulade sauce... mmmmm...

12:31 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

And in case anyone is wondering:

This classic French sauce is made by combining MAYONNAISE (usually homemade) with mustard, CAPERS and chopped GHERKINS, herbs and ANCHOVIES. It's served chilled as an accompaniment to cold meat, fish and shellfish.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

hee...liz, you are a good librarian! i will consult you for all my reference needs :)

hush puppies are really yummy, by the way. i had them in north or south carolina about 10 yrs ago.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

i just had an image of a scary baby with fangs...


2:42 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

The scary baby image relates to V's first comment, not the rémoulade, right?


2:45 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Okay, so now I'm craving catfish and hushpuppies. And there's a good place to get both right down the street from me. I might have to go there this week.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

Now I'm craving scary babies (just kidding).

Yeah, it related to V's first comment.

7:43 PM  
Blogger verniciousknids said...

B: Fang babies are definitely scary but eating them...? - I'll take the grits and puppies thanks - either version!

L: Thanks for the lesson in southern food - they sound a lot more appetising than what I was imagining! I like the idea of "shush dogs" too!

My turn to be librarianish: kowai = scary / kawaii = cute. See how easy they are to confuse :p

8:33 PM  

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