What a Wonderful Washington Weekend!

It is a great weekend to live in Washington…

Stanley Cup Celebrations Continue — From bars in Arlington to today’s game at National Park to the Georgetown Waterfront, the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals are having a great time celebrating the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship with the hometown fans.  While I was across the country when they clinched on Thursday evening, I could hear the city explode from Phoenix. We’re ALL CAPS here in D.C. It was an especially satisfying run, given 1) that they weren’t expected to go very deep due to losses of players to the expansion draft, and 2) that they got through a couple of perennial stumbling blocks:  John (Torts) Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets and—most significantly—the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Too bad Martin St. Louis—who was always a playoff pest—no longer plays for Tampa Bay.

If you want another thrill, watch the highlights from the cup-clinching game.

Pride 2018 Celebration — Thousands have descended on DC this weekend for the annual Pride celebration.  Andrew almost always makes it to Pride, but because of singing commitments out-of-town, he’s only able to attend Sunday’s festival.  (Work can be such a bummer sometimes!)  I have a number of friends and colleagues who are enjoying this celebration of diversity in the DC capital, and I suspect the good times are rolling.

Politics and Prose Member Sale — Several times a year, our wonderful independent bookstore, Politics and Prose , holds a big members sale…and it just happened to be this weekend.  So after our traditional Saturday morning farmers’ market visit and pastries at Tout de Sweet, we headed into town for the sale.

Candice was much more methodical in her research than I had been.  Nevertheless, I had a few titles in mind, and planned to trust my instincts when faced with a decision.

Books from Politics and Prose

Today’s purchases at the Politics & Prose members sale – what a treasure trove!

The books from Educated to the top are Candice’s choices.  Mine go down from there to the recent Pauli Murray biography Jane Crow.  Our summer reading bags are full once again!

And Did I Mention That the Nationals Won — Once the Nats were finished with the pre-game celebrations with the Caps on Saturday, they turned around to beat the San Francisco Giants 7-5, holding on to first place in the National League East.  Adam Eaton returned from the Disabled List and Bryce hit another home run.  Go Nats!

Have a great weekend…wherever you live (but this weekend, it is hard to top D.C.)

More to come…


P.S. — Oh, and not everyone stayed in Washington this weekend…that’s not a bad thing.

The Tastes of Vacation: Farmer’s Market Edition

Farmers Market

Evensong Farm’s stand – our first stop every week at the Silver Spring Farmers Market

Vacations in the Brown family are wonderful times to try new foods and restaurants – even when staying at home for two weeks.

As yesterday’s post noted, I jumped out of the “vacation mode” gate early. The wonderful food and drink at Biga on the Banks in San Antonio simply whetted my appetite – literally – for the week ahead.  Last evening, Candice, Andrew and I spent a delightful evening at the tapas restaurant Barcelona in Cathedral Heights.  Candice and Andrew highly recommend the white sangria with the spring seasonings of lavender, sage, and rosemary.  We had a wide array of tapas, and all were tasty.  Some of my favorites included the mussels al diablo, the shrimp with a gazpacho dipping sauce, and the lamb chops.

But my vacation didn’t officially begin until today. So in the spirit of yesterday’s post, I’m going to report – as frequently as possible – about the meals and other foodie treats we’re going to enjoy these next two weeks.

It is a terrific time to sample what the city has to offer, as the annual DC Restaurant Week begins on Monday and runs through the following Sunday. The three of us sat down together this afternoon and made reservations for virtually every night of restaurant week (and then some).  More on that in a bit.

Today’s food adventure began where it does every Saturday we are in town – at the Silver Spring Farmers Market.  We bought our food from the regulars – eggs and meats from Julie at Evensong Farm, bread and pasties (including Rhubarb turnovers when they are in season) from Shana at Talking Breads, milk and cream from Clare at Clear Spring Creamery, corn on the cob and peaches from Winn and Fredi at Quaker Valley Orchards, mushrooms from North Cove Mushrooms, and cheese, butter, lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, blueberries and on and on…whatever is in season.

In the new movie That Sugar Film, we’re all instructed to “turn right upon entering the supermarket and head to the produce department, bypassing everything in the middle.”  We do that one better.  We simply bypass the supermarket for most of our food.

Before we put those wonderful ingredients to use for dinner tonight, Andrew and I took an “urban studies” stroll around Silver Spring to stretch our legs and talk about how the city is changing.  And as we walked up one block full of development and (actually) good architecture, we came upon the side wall of the restaurant Urban Butcher (another regular at the market) and this scene:

Urban Butcher restaurant

The indoor/outdoor bar is open at Urban Butcher

Ahhhh!  The “garage doors” were raised and the bar was serving customers both inside and outside – simply by having the bartender turn around.  We decided it was such a lovely day that we’d take a break from our walk and sample an Urban Butcher gin and tonic (DJB – made with the DC-distilled Green Hat Gin and Urban Butcher’s tasty homemade tonic water), and an Urban Derby (Andrew – Bulleit bourbon and grapefruit juice).

Suitably fortified, we headed home where Candice was putting the finishing touches on our meal – with all ingredients straight from the farmers market or our window boxes.  Sitting on our back deck, we had a wonderful mixed green salad and Zucchini Flan courtesy of a recipe that Candice found in the New York Times.  Eggs, milk, cheese, and zucchini – delicious, healthy, and all from the Silver Spring Farmers Market!

To whet your appetite, here’s our list of restaurants we’ve lined up to visit during DC Restaurant Week:

  • MXDC
  • New Heights
  • SEI
  • DC Coast
  • Jackie’s
  • Fig & Olive
  • Iron Gate
  • Mix

So check back in and see what we’ve found.  We’ll be sure to toast all our regular readers.  And in the meantime, you can get in the spirit with a little bit of Good in the Kitchen, by Bearfoot.

More to come…


Just Another Beautiful Day in Silver Spring

Silver Spring Farmers Market 07 19 14Have I mentioned recently how much we love our local farmers market?

Candice and I were downtown bright and early at 9 a.m. to do our weekly shopping at the Silver Spring FreshFarm Farmers Market. (Julie at Evensong Farm sells out of her eggs quickly, so the early bird gets the worm…or, more appropriately, the best eggs in the Washington area!) We now buy more than half of our weekly groceries at the Silver Spring Farmers Market, and today was no exception. As I was waiting for Candice to pick through the ears of corn at the Spring Valley Farm stand, I looked up and saw this beehive of activity around food, flowers, and community – and couldn’t resist the shot.

After making our stops at Talking Breads (the scone this week was especially tasty with my eggs at breakfast), North Cove Mushrooms (for our usual pound of shiitake and oyster mushrooms), Blue Ridge Dairy (love the butter and Greek Yogurt) and many more stands too numerous to mention, Candice commented on how the sights at this week’s market made her reflect on the bounty of the earth. We eat so well because these wonderful people work so hard to provide us with tasty and healthy food.  Thank you all!

My Silver Spring day actually began even earlier, as I jumped on my bike shortly after 7 this morning for an hour’s ride along Sligo Creek.  We have this little gem of a park that provides numerous places to walk, ride, and just enjoy some of the prettiest scenery anywhere.  The humidity was low this morning and the temperature was very mild – the perfect conditions for one of my favorite activities.

After the bike ride and the market, it was time to get a haircut at the United Nations of barber shops:  Raphael’s Barber Shop just a block-and-a-half from our house.  Tamara is the owner and she cuts my hair, while we catch up on kids, travel, and stories of Georgia (the country) – her native home.  Ebrahim has been there the longest of the other barbers, and his son now works in the shop as well.  So besides the Republic of Georgia, other parts of the world represented among the barbers include a couple of countries in the Middle East and Asia. It is great – many of the folks there are regulars and everyone is treated like an old friend.  I told Tamara today that I’d come every Saturday to get my hair cut if I could afford it – and she encouraged that thought, saying she needed to build her retirement fund!

Afterwards, I went one block from Raphael’s to one of the great craft beer shops in the region:  Fenwick Beer and Wine.  (Don’t just believe me, as they were voted “Best Place to Buy Beer” in the DC area by the readers of City Paper two years in a row in 2013 and 2014.)  Claire has developed a taste for I.P.A.s, so with her home for a couple of weeks I stopped by to pick up a few offerings.  Of course, I decided to try the Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale from Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City with my lunch today…so it wasn’t all for Claire’s benefit!

Tonight we’ll actually have to get in the car and leave Silver Spring – but our trip still has a connection to home.  Andrew is part of the National Symphony Orchestra Chorus singing at Wolf Trap tonight to accompany the epic 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey The music is very challenging (three singers per part, with some sections having measures in 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 beats to the measure all at the same time!)  Andrew says he has seldom had to concentrate so hard to make sure he doesn’t get lost.  We’ll take a picnic to the park – and enjoy some of the great food we bought this morning.

So Andrew will help wrap up our beautiful day in Silver Spring…even if we are down in Virginia at the time.

More to come…


Summer Saturdays are the Best

The joyful photograph at the top of the post – which comes from the wonderful photo/blog Real People Eat Local (check it out for their delicious pictures) – is a perfect encapsulation of our day.  Summer Saturdays really are the best!

Today started relatively early (by Saturday standards) as Andrew had to be at the Cathedral for a choral practice at 8 a.m.  Our car is in the shop this weekend waiting for a leaky fuel pump to be repaired (one never wants to smell gasoline in your home garage), so Candice, Andrew and I had to juggle our schedules around the availability of Zipcars – the wonderful car sharing service we swear by.  Because we have some 25 Zipcars within about 3 blocks of our house, we picked one up (a little Honda) and were on our way by 7:30.  Urban living is great!

Swim team meets the past six weeks have their own charm, but they have disrupted the Saturday morning ritual Candice and I established this year.  So we were pleased to get back to the gym for a morning workout, followed by our stroll shopping through the Silver Spring Farmers Market.  Our farmers market isn’t as large as some (we’re talking about you, Dupont Circle) but we love our high quality and growing group of area farmers and other local food sellers.  We bought our usual pastry treat from Praline Bakery and picked up some wonderful bread from Atwater’s Bakery.  We stopped and chatted with our new friend Julie Gray Stinar at Evensong Farms (pictured in the photo at the top), where we picked up some eggs (they have THE BEST!) and a chicken.  Julie and her dad Tom Gray (yes, bluegrass fans, the original bass player with the Seldom Scene) told us about the next Bluegrass in the Barn show at Evensong on October 10, 2010 (10/10/10 as Julie noted).  We attended the last one and had a blast.

The Evensong Farms connection is too strange to be anything but true.  Julie and her husband Brent actually found their farm through the historic house ads in Preservation magazine (the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where I work).   And their hosting of a semi-regular bluegrass series just cements our admiration for what they are doing.

The farmers market is also a great place to run into friends, and this morning we were lucky enough to see a dear friend and her daughter, who was in town for a visit.  Twenty minutes later we had caught up on the family news and had also gotten a hot tip to try out 8407 kitchen bar – a new local restaurant with a chef we’d admired at his earlier job.

I mentioned that Andrew had a rehearsal this morning.  He’s come full circle, from singing as a young treble in the National Cathedral Choir to now being “one of the men” as a tenor singing with the trebles who were in town this week for the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) program at the cathedral.  This afternoon we all headed out to St. Francis Church in Potomac to hear a concert by the choir, under the direction of English composer David Ogden.  It was a glorious hour of  music and I was reminded again that “singing really is praying twice.”

Andrew had to work his desk job at the pool this evening (and we had to return our Mini-Cooper – Zipcar #2 for the day), so Candice and I decided to act on our friend’s tip and try out 8407 kitchen bar.  It was – in a word – wonderful.  Silver Spring has an over-abundance of chain restaurants, but not enough top quality independent eateries.  This one, located one block from us across from the Metro station, quickly jumped near the top of our list and will, no doubt, become a favorite local spot.  Check it out Washington-area food fans.

And then to top off the day as I’m headed to bed, Ryan Zimmerman hits a 3-run walk-off home run for the Nationals and the Nats beat the Phillies 7-5 for their second straight win against the boys from just up I-95!

Summer Saturdays are the best!!

More to come…