Saturday, March 18, 2006

WEEKEND: Spring Peeks Through

ALTHOUGH IT IS A LITTLE BIT COLD AND BREEZY, Saturday's been quite beautiful thus far. The skies are very clear which has made taking photos great. Here is Jefferson Place, looking out toward the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and 18th Street NW. Note the budding trees. St. Patrick's Day was a pretty low profile evening for me. No need to battle crowds, the nonsense and the various shades of green out and about on the sidewalks of the capital.

But I did overhear some classic conversation on the 98 bus Friday evening. Rounding the corner at 18th and U streets NW, a woman told what I assumed to be her significant other to look out at the northeast corner of the intersection. The old convenience store that had been there has been reshaped this winter as a new wine store ... De Vinos.

"Look! I wonder what happened to the party store. There's a lot of wine in there."

"Yeah," her companion replied.

"I wonder who owns the place. I bet the Argenteeneans own it," she said.

"Yeah," her mate muttered, not seeming to be too interested.

"Yeah, this city is filled with Argenteeneans."

I then looked back at the two, in bewilderment. I think she meant Salvadoran. Or who knows, maybe even Eritrean or Ethiopian. They're all at lower latitudes anyway.

I wanted to refer her to Wednesday's Ask Tom chat on
Alexandria, Va.: Tom,

I've asked a few weeks in a row about possible Argentinean restaurants. Are you not answering because you don't know of any or are you just not getting to my question?

(I will be trying the gelato from today's food section).


Tom Sietsema: I know of no good Argentine restaurants in the Washington area. Does anyone here recall the very good Las Pampas in Georgetown? I used to save up my tips to eat there with dates. I can still taste that wonderful steak...
Maybe I'm wrong though. There could be a lot of Argentines in the Adams Morgan/U Street area. It's just that they don't open restaurants like the Salvadorans, Ethiopians or Eritreans do.

AND IN UNRELATED NEWS, look how Jessica Cutler responded to my post from last week about the artillery barrage exchanged between Wonkette and the former Washingtonienne. Quite clever if you ask me:
Date: March 17, 2006 3:16:36 PM EST

"Never! Never, Marge! I can't live the button-down life like you. I want it all: the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles. Sure, I might offend a few of the bluenoses with my cocky stride and musky odors. Oh, I'll never be the darling of the so-called city fathers, who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk about what's to be done with this Homer Simpson?!"
Simpsons references never go stale. Does this mean I'm a "so-called city father" ... ? I'll add that to my resume.

Friday, March 17, 2006

DUPONT CIRCLE: Flowers for Tomas Masaryk

ONE OF MY FAVORITE TRIANGLE PARKS in Washington is the one on Massachusetts Avenue that's dedicated to Czechoslovakia's first president, Tomas Masaryk. The statue stands where Massachusetts Avenue crosses Q and 22nd streets NW. When I used to live in Glover Park and would ride the D2 bus to Dupont Circle everyday, it always marked that the end of the line was coming up soon.

Mr. Masaryk used to stand in the triangle park all alone, but back in 2003 (I think) is when the park got an upgrade and its beautiful marble plaza.

If case you have no idea who Tomas Masaryk is, here's a backgrounder.

I also snapped some photos today of Ivan Mestrovic's statue of St. Jerome, which stands outside the Croatian embassy, and the statue to Irish patriot Robert Emmet.

Photos here:
- St. Jerome
- Robert Emmet

GROCERIES: Trader Joe's Opens on 14th St.

THIS MORNING, the long-awaited Trader Joe's opened near Union Square on 14th Street in Manhattan. As you can see from Curbed, there is some saddness: "this momentous day in the history of our fair city will be celebrated without $3 wine."

That's right, New Yorkers are being denied immediate access to what was once known as 2 Buck Chuck. The opening of the wine store is being delayed. Although Washingtonians have for years been able to get their Trader Joe's goodness at a number of suburban locations, the District is supposed to get it's own Trader Joe's location in Foggy Bottom/West End, in the redeveloped former Columbia Hospital site at L and 24 streets NW. That is, I believe, supposed to open by the end of the year. (I can't find any easily accessible news pinpointing an opening date, but construction on The Columbia has been moving along rapidly.)

Yes, there is even a Trader Joe's blog, but it is unaffiliated with Trader Joe's. That's some deep love there.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

RANDOM LINKS: A Tasty Assortment

FIRST OFF, wonderful news about the Heurich House.


- I had a wonderful time at the blogger happy hour last night at Yuca. Social chair KathrynOn has a roundup.
- Diplodocus has arrived safe and sound in Islamabad.
- And I Am Not Lying for Real has a great post about the Florida Avenue Grill.
- From Cole Slaw Blog, I learn that Ann Arbor icon Faz Husain of A Hello Faz! Pizza has died. I can't say I ever liked his pizza, but his passing is sad nonetheless. This made me dig up my old Daily article detailing the first-ever Michigan Daily Pizza Challenge:
At 7:59 p.m., A Hello Faz's pizza arrived. Then came the pie from Anthony's 11 minutes later. While Faz was the first in a series of mediocre and average pizzas to make its way past the jury, Anthony's was more distinct. A good crust and sauce, it appropriately fell under its self-proclaimed category of gourmet.
- Gawker's playing with fire.
- This is cool.
- Via Londonist, this photo of the Lancaster Gate tube station is cool. (pictured above)
- Speaking of photos ... Kyle says:
In another 45 minutes I'll be strapping my Burton Custom on for some night skiing action and then I'll finish the night with some sushi from the 10th floor sushi bar. Oh, and we got seven inches of fresh powder this morning. Yes, I am trying to make you jealous. Is it working?
Yes, Kyle, it is. Another blogger I know is leaving next week for Buenos Aires. Lucky bastards.

... And a non-link: DJE, if you're reading this from Irbil or greater environs, safe travels into the hornet's nest. Go do some great reporting. Be well my friend.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

BLOGGING: A Smoldering Fire Flares Up

OH WHAT ARE WE TO DO WITH JESSICA CUTLER? The antics of the former staff assistant (she's the on the right, with Ana Marie Cox during happier times) for Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine-turned-Washingtonienne sex blogger-turned-“Washingtonienne” author are all quite entertaining. But this being the Ides of March and all, there must be something looming on the horizon. And that would be HBO’s planned Washingtonienne-inspired series, produced by Sarah Jessica Parker and also, today’s cat fight between Wonkette (the website that launched Cutler’s career) and Cutler.

Wonkette, fires the first volley at Washingtonienne’s television future in a conversation with an “operative” via AIM:
operative: hey, if it keeps her off the streets….
wonkette: obviously, i just wanted someone else to share my pain
operative: also: America needs to know that lobbyists are not, in fact, the lowest form of Washington life
wonkette: clearly. if they were, there would be sitcoms about them.
operative: also: as if flyover country needed more proof that DC is an amoral wasteland
Cutler returns fire, targeting Wonkette’s editor emeritus, Ana Marie Cox, and her novel “Dog Days,” in a similar fashion:
operative: you should write that dog days is going to be made into a tv show
operative: "this makes 2 series about jessica cutler"
Jessica: hee
operative: ooh let's go subtle
operative: have an interview with ana marie cox
operative: and have the normal questions
operative: and then slip in "was it hard for you, as a married woman, to write a character who is single and seeking a relationship with a tv anchor?"
I love a good blog war. And the animosity here runs deep.
>>Oh, Look, It’s the Ides of March: Jessica Cutler’s TV Show” [Wonkette]
>>A Girl After Our Own Wonkette” [Jessica Cutler Online]

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

MEDIA: Mike Wallace Retires

AS YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY HEARD, Mike Wallace is retiring from CBS' "60 Minutes." If you look at the photo above, you'll see me in the background. Wallace is looking at The Michigan Daily's editorial page, which I edited when I was at the University of Michigan.

You may remember this photo from a few weeks back in black and white and grainy. (That's because I took a photo of a black and white print out of the photo.) Somehow, Rob Goodspeed had the image on file, so he posted it to his Flickr account, where I have stolen it from. Thanks Rob.

Monday, March 13, 2006

HALIBUT: An Easy Recipe

MY DEAR GREAT AUNT had some minor surgery last week, so she's been stuck at home since returning from Sibley Memorial Hospital. Friday, I prepared dinner for her since she had been complaining to no end about the cuisine served up by Sibley's kitchen crew, including cream of wheat that "had the consistency of chicken broth." I thought my meal turned out so well (and it's easy to prepare), so I thought I'd share it with you all. Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of the preparation and finished product, but that's OK.

As my great aunt says: "Halibut is a bland fish, so you have to dress it up." Here's my attempt to do just that ...

Halibut (2 filets)
Mushrooms (sliced)
Romano cheese (grated)

Take the halibut filets, and place them in a pan coated in olive oil. Layer the sliced mushrooms on top of the filets, filling the remaining areas of the pan with the mushrooms. Take 3-5 generous spoon-fulls of capers and distribute them evenly throughout the pan. There's no need to go overboard with the capers. Take grated Romano cheese (parmesan would work as well) and cover the mushrooms and halibut with a generous dusting of cheese.

Put in a preheated oven (350 degrees) uncovered for a half hour or so. Use your best judgment. The mushrooms and capers should get a nice, but not overbearing Romano crust.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

CHAIN BRIDGE: Arlington, Don't Blame Me

I SWEAR, I SWEAR, I was at the office this afternoon when the main water line serving Arlington County burst underneath Chain Bridge, certainly annoying thousands of people who didn't have water on both sides of the Potomac. My co-workers can tell you I was at the office. But if you look at my Flickr account, you might see a slideshow of the area near Chain Bridge with photos taken today. At the crack of dawn, I went hiking in the rock-strewn bog adjacent to Chain Bridge in the Potomac River gorge. I haven’t been sleeping well lately (woke up around 5:30 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep), so I decided to go hiking in one of my favorite spots in the District.

Now this area doesn’t look like it’s in the city, but indeed, Chain Bridge is in the District, but it’s nearly in Maryland. But you might as well be in some remote place in the mountains. It is at Chain Bridge where the Potomac hits its first cataract, Little Falls. When the water runs high -- and it isn’t right now -- the bogs, rivulets and streams between the Potomac River and the C&O Canal can become littered with debris from upstream. It’s been like this for millions and millions of years as the Potomac carved its way to what’s now the Chesapeake Bay.

Like along other stretches of the Potomac -- like Great Falls -- the National Park Service warns of the dangers of hiking on the rocks. While this area is somewhat tame and a short trail leads from the canal towpath, it is still pretty rough traveling. I made a Wayfaring map if you should ever find yourself in the area. Random fishermen head down there -- and leave their remains. (This morning, I found some Tecate cans.) It’s a natural wonder. But it takes some vigilance to get there if you don’t have a car. Fortunately, I had a borrowed car and parked in the parking area off Clara Barton Parkway, just west of Chain Bridge.

While the bridge’s superstructure is indeed of a more modern time, the bridge piers date back to the 19th century. Chain Bridge has a fascinating history. Before there was a bridge, there was a small gristmill at Pimmit Run on the Virginia side of the river. When the British burned Washington in 1814, it was at this mill where the Declaration of Independence was stashed away in sacks of flour for safekeeping. When the bridge was built, it was part of the road linking Georgetown to Fairfax (today’s Route 123/Chain Bridge Road). During the Civil War, forts protected the bridge on either side of the river, including some artillery batteries up on the Palisades, one just down the way from my great aunt’s house. Last fall when I was hiking down near the bridge, I found graffiti dating to the late 1880s, which I think is pretty cool. Newer graffiti (closer to the site of the burst pipe) I found this morning says “Save the Children.” I don’t think Borf ever made his way down here, however.

>> Photos of the rock-strewn bog near Chain Bridge from last fall.
>> This morning's photos

MCLEAN GARDENS: Philosophers vs. Comics

THE SIDEWALK PATIO at the Starbucks on Wisconsin Avenue near Idaho Avenue in McLean Gardens isn't that bad of a place to enjoy a cup of coffee and read the Sunday paper. I was doing that this morning when I observed the following interaction. It's not quite verbatim, but pretty close.

Man A (Man on Sidewalk): "Oh, that's a great dog."
Man B (Dog Owner on Sidewalk Patio): "Yeah, he's a good dog."
Man A: "What's his name?"
Man B: "Oh, Hobbes."
Man A (petting dog): "Oh philosophers, they make great pet names!"
Man B (somewhat offended): "You think that I would name my dog after a philosopher?"
Man A: "Ahhh ..."
Man B: "He's named for the greated comic strip ever, Calvin and Hobbes!"

Man A makes some joke about philosophy that didn't make sense, but Man B laughed and calmed down and became more friendly.

Man A: "What's your next dog's name? Immanuel Kant?"
Man B: "No, Hagel!"

Man A and B laugh together. All is good, sidewalk relations are back in balance. Man A makes his way into Starbucks.