Monday, August 28, 2006

Phenomenal meal

Picture originally uploaded by BarrettJ.
Last week, I celebrated my recent promotion (hurray! Finally!) with B at Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria. We sat in the Chef's tasting room, and enjoyed 5 courses of deliciousness made with local, seasonal ingredients. (See how happy and satiated I am after the meal.) I think they get some of their ingredients from Polyface Farms, so I was extra excited about the meal, as I had just read about that fantastic Virginia farm in the Omnivore's Dilemma. Hell, I've been excited to try this place since it opened, but needed to wait until there was a special occasion since it's quite a $plurge.

I knew this was a top notch place and anticipated a clever and scrumptious meal after reading glowing reviews, including one by Washington Post's Tom Sietsema, who gave the tasting room 3 and a half stars. (He rarely gives such a high rating.) Plus, Chef Cathal Armstrong was recently named one of the best new chefs of 2006 by Food and Wine. Was it hype? I doubted it.

We arrived a little early in order to imbibe one of the creative cocktails I had read about. I had a bloody mary made with tomato water, lemongrass and chili. It was clear and tasty, with a rich tomato flavor. B had a 'yin and tonic' – which included homemade tonic. Oh boy, there was such attention to detail already. Nevermind the fact that so far every staffer we encountered was very courteous (but not in an over-the-top phony way) and professional. Was I really in the DC area?

The food. Before we even received our menus, we were treated to an amuse bouche which included a deviled quail's egg with caviar and a sashimi grade tuna drizzled with incredible olive oil. I knew we were in for a real treat. My first course (aka the 'Creation' course) was a burst of summer in the form of a tomato and puff pastry tart with parmesan shavings and micro mizuna greens. Todd Thrasher, the very dapper sommelier matched this with a delectable sauvignon blanc. So began the wine education portion of the meal. The acidity of the wine did complement the acidity of the tomatoes! I know practically nothing about wine and have tried to keep it that way so I don't develop another pricey hobby. After this meal, I may have to rethink that. B had a diver scallop dish that included chanterelle mushrooms and a mock potato risotto. I almost ordered this, but I knew he'd have it as he's a huge scallop fan. Luckily, the restaurant posted the recipe for this dish on their website. Right. Like I can recreate it. But I may just give it a try...

I think my favorite course was the next "Ocean" course. I had lobster poached in butter with a sauce made with lobster roe and eastern shore corn. Why hadn't I had lobster poached in butter before? I almost had to bite down on my napkin to keep my moans of delight out of earshot. It was heaven. Just as heavenly was the accompanying Talbot?? (damn if I know for sure) white wine that tasted of honey. And for creative and whimsical presentation, I thoroughly enjoyed watching B tackle his selection of corn, which was way more interesting than it read on the menu. The Chef presented the main ingredient in a very imaginative and whimsical way, including a Barbie doll sized skillet that contained a corn fritter, a tiny shot glass of creamy soup and a large spoon with corn succotash.

The next morning, B said "That was some meal last night. It was an epic journey." And I agree. So much so that our journey continued into sleep, as we had similar dreams. Now, that's an inspiring meal!

Friday, August 11, 2006

anger is an energy

I've almost completed day 5 of re-entry to cubemania, and I still don't feel ready to be back from vacation. Wah! But why would I want to stare at the dingy fake walls of my cube when I had been feasting my eyes on the gorgeous Green Mountains from my perch among the tall trees of Calvin Coolidge State Park? Ah, what a relaxing vacation it was. Communed with the chipmunks and trees, did some stargazing, caught up on my reading (highly recommended!), sung along to B's campfire strumming and did a little swimming in a lake and also in a VERY cold stream. Before heading home, we ventured East and hung out w/Bridget and Jake in Lowell, MA. (Good luck with the new home, you two!) We also spent a fun day in Cambridge, where B and I scored some great finds @ Twisted Village.

I've been contemplating why I'm feeling so cranky upon my return. Sure, it's never fun going back to work after vacation, and there are fools @ the office who justify my crankiness, but why the shallow breathing and tension headaches? So soon after being blissed out under the tall pines? I think there is something more to it than just getting annoyed at the morons in DC. I rattle on in this blog about trying to achieve serenity and compassion, but to be honest, I'm not at peace. Not even close. I'm angry! And I can't deny this anger anymore just because I want to be a happy person. I have denied this anger for too long. I have denied that this anger is real. The good news is, I can't deny the gut feeling I have that one day I'll look back and won't be able to recall just how much this emotion stings right now. So, I'm welcoming it -- and will circle back and get reacquainted with the girl who shaved her head and stomped around in her combat boots screaming along to Ministry. Who knows? Maybe I can learn how to overcome my fear of the anger and channel it into something creative.

Speaking of which, I highly recommend Mary Woronov's memoir, Swimming Underground, about her time with the speedfreaks of the Factory. She was one angry woman!
Mary Woronov by Billy Name
John Waters' review on the back of the book says it all: "Mary Woronov's terrifying and wonderfully written amphetamine memoir is a sort of 'Naked Brunch' that knocks all the other Warhol books off the shelf and kicks their asses. It's the scariest, funniest read in a long, long time."

Photo by Billy Name, the man who made the Factory silver.