Leisurely Pursuits, and Other Timely Travails

Prepare to get assaulted by blog posts. So much useless (and timely) end-of-year content to share, so little time!

So let’s recap. My goal in December was to complete a random assortment of leisurely pursuits of my own devising. Mostly while on a holiday-type vacation in Washington state.

I dug in and really went full half-assed at the task, but like all things of piddling consequence, I amazed myself with a 85% success rate! Parade worthy?

Let’s have a gander at what transpired. (Your cue to bolt.)

Goal for December: Do all 13 items (for luck) on my specially curated To Do List.

 
December 2015 To Do List
  1. Go skiing – Last year I hurt my back, so did not get to ski. This year that situation is rectified. Result: I hit the slopes at Crystal Mountain! I did not slide all the way down a black diamond slope! Where did you hear that rumor?
  2. Attend three Seattle Seahawks games – Boom! One in Baltimore and two in Seattle. Result: Boom! Boom! Boom! They won two and lost one.
  3. Visit Portland, OR – I hear they could really use a force like me. Result: Done. A quick and dirty drive-by for lunch.
  4. Experience Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Maybe even up to five times if it’s good… Result: The Force is with me.
  5. Visit two new breweries – There are so many new ones, so let’s get it on! Result: Yes, I went to 7 Seas Brewery (Gig Harbor, WA) and Fremont Brewery (Seattle, WA). 
  6. Eat a Dick’s Drive-In (Seattle) Deluxe burger – This will go on every future To Do List forever and ever. Result: Eaten deluxedly.
  7. Enter a cabin – Preferably one that we rent, but I’m not adverse to a little B&E if that’s what it takes. Result: True. It was called ‘Sweet Dreams’.
  8. Try 12 new beers – Burp. Result: Of course. I lost count, but I’m sure the final number of beers I tried was impressive.
  9. Hike a hike – I need to get outside! Result: I did a short meander about Clark’s Creek Park in Puyallup.
  10. Eat at one of Seattle’s best restaurants – According to this list here or even this one hereResult: Did not!
  11. See Book of Mormon – Want to. Will try. Result: Nope!
  12. Attend and write-up two concerts – Minimum. Result: Done! I reviewed The Arcs (a side-project of Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys) (read about it here) and Des Ark (read about it here).
  13. Wild Card – Something fun or dumb, that I can’t think of now. Result: One day we decided to drive to Portland, hang for a hot minute, then drive home. Dumb but typical. We used to do that often when there was a Chick-fil-A at the Lloyd Center. But it’s been gone a long time. Yes, this is different from #3 above. No fact checking allowed.
Final Results: 11/13
2015-12-29 11.07.54
Sweet Dreams

 

2015-12-23 17.43.25
Seven Seas Brewery

 

Clark's Creek Park
Clark’s Creek Park

Five Random Photos Shared for December ’15

Let’s just say December involved a lot of football; either watching on TV, attending a game or playing flag football.

Make merry and check out a few examples.
UW Flag Football team
2015-12-06 11.23.24

 

Seahawks at CenturyLink Field
2015-12-20 15.17.04

 

Seahawks at MT&T Stadium in Baltimore
2015-12-13 13.06.29

 

Snowy cabin
2015-12-29 11.07.54

 

Any beer called Reign Man ESB is okay by me (7 Seas Brewery)
2015-12-23 17.43.25

 

Food Bonus!

Ramen in Portland
2015-12-29 13.25.21

 

Seattle dog
2015-12-20 11.16.17

 

More beer
2015-12-28 13.02.47

 

Extra Extra Bonus!

Nick Offerman’s Yule Log is okay by me
2015-12-06 13.27.46

13 for December 2015: To Do List

It is the holiday season once again. Ho ho hum.

And almost time for my annual sojourn to Washington state!

Let’s start a new tradition. Every December, a new To Do List. Okay, I say that now, but check back with me in 3 years.

 

Goal for December: Do all 13 items (for luck) on my specially curated To Do List.

 

December 2015 To Do List

  1. Go skiing – Last year I hurt my back, so did not get to ski. This year that situation is rectified.
  2. Attend three Seattle Seahawks games – Boom! One in Baltimore and two in Seattle.
  3. Visit Portland, OR – I hear they could really use a force like me.
  4. Experience Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Maybe even up to five times if it’s good…
  5. Visit two new breweries – There are so many new ones, so let’s get it on!
  6. Eat a Dick’s Drive-In (Seattle) Deluxe burger – This will go on every future To Do List forever and ever.
  7. Enter a cabin – Preferably one that we rent, but I’m not adverse to a little B&E if that’s what it takes.
  8. Try 12 new beers – Burp.
  9. Hike a hike – I need to get outside!
  10. Eat at one of Seattle’s best restaurants – According to this list here or even this one.
  11. See Book of Mormon – Want to. Will try.
  12. Attend and write-up two concerts – Minimum.
  13. Wild Card – Something fun or dumb, that I can’t think of right now.

Force-this

Five Random Photos Shared in September ’15

A dark beer for a wet day…
Snallygaster 2015

 

Ohhh, orangish!
Malaysian Candles

 

Let’s eat a Walking Taco (slop in a bag) and play with our bobbleheads.
Walking Taco and Bobblehead

 

Something is over there, hope it’s not a bear.
Hiking

 

Nice tombstone.
Nice Tombstone

 

BONUS!!!

Busch Stadium (St. Louis)
2015-09-26 17.05.50

 

Eat it? I did.
Cendol

 

So cute.
So Cute

Five Random Photos Shared in June ’15

Photos get taken. Photos get posted.

I winnowed it down to the least offensive. The least interesting. The least of the least.

That is the least I could do. Quite literally.

 

I’m so flushed. On the plus side, the urinal will electric shock you for a nickel.
Toilet Story

 

When it’s wrong, it’s wrong.
The Wrong Tree

 

Bobbleheads and rain.
Nationals + bobbleheads + rain

 

For the record, I did not die during that 1 minute of panic.
Gimme Shelter

 

The photo is not blurry. You are drunk.
Red, White & Brew

 

I’m hungry. Let’s get an empanada.
Plate of Empanada

Out!

Conundrum of the Day: Are You Not Tempted to Read This Post?

One Day Hike 2015
One Day Hike

I trust you were NOT tempted, but somehow managed to accidentally click the link anyway.

Okay. That’s on you. As long as you’re here…

As some of you may recall, I started writing about life on the edge (okay, living in DC…) on the blog, ParkLife DC.

So far I haven’t been asked to guest on any morning shows or had Jon Stewart lampoon me on The Daily Show.

But the blog about DC is young*.

I’ve written concert reviews and about other interesting ‘topics’ over the last few months.

Shall we have a look at a few of them? That’s okay with you, right?

 

Things I wrote, that I like

My 4th attempt at the annual 50K One Day Hike. How did I do? Should you try it next year?
Excursion: The Sierra Club’s Annual One Day Hike — 4/25/15

Drinking and walking. A robust way to enjoy the breweries of DC.
Excursion: Happy Hour Brewery Hike

 

Concert reviews I wrote

Here I pontificate about Mumford & Sons’ show at Merriweather:
Music Park: Mumford & Sons @ Merriweather Post Pavilion — 6/10/15

Here I look up to The Tallest Man on Earth at Lincoln Theatre:
Music Park: The Tallest Man On Earth @ Lincoln Theatre — 6/1/15

This one gives the impression I liked The Ting Tings’ show at the 9:30 Club:
Music Park: The Ting Tings @ 9:30 Club — 4/11/15

 

Things I wrote about speakeasys and drinking (this is not a theme…)

Harold Black with Jim Beam:
Stars and Bars: Jim Beam Bonded Returns @ Harold Black — 3/23/15

The Speak with cocktails:
Stars and Bars: The Speak, an Underground Cocktail Bar, Opens on K St

 

Clicked through all those already?

How about some other examples of not-made-for-primetime reviews…

The Juan Maclean Band:
Music Park: The Juan MacLean @ U Street Music Hall — 5/1/15

Marrow:
Music Park: Marrow @ Black Cat — 4/23/15

 

That’s all I have for you today. Check back in later. We’ll reminisce.

 

*Only five weeks left to get on Jon Stewart’s radar before he leaves The Daily Show! The pressure is on!

Food Stuffs from the Pacific Northwest to Immediately Cram into Your Piehole

There are certain things you know you should be eating if you grew up in Washington state.

As often as you can.

Non-negotiables.

Print this and carry it with you at all times.

Do not delay.

 

Fair Scone
Where: Washington State Fair (né Puyallup Fair)
Puyallup Fair Scone

Ivar’s Fish and Chips
Where: Ivar’s of course! Multiple locations, but we* like Ivar’s Salmon House on Lake Union.

 

Mocha (16 oz, hot or iced)
Where: Roadside coffee stands (Located everywhere, including the Bikini barista ones if that’s your thing…)

 

Dick’s Deluxe Burger
Where: Dick’s Drive-In (Five locations in Seattle and one in Edmonds)
Dick's Deluxe

Taco Time Soft Taco (Crisp burrito is also acceptable)
Where: Taco Time (Many PNW locations)

 

Salmon (Grilled on a cedar plank)
Where: Any restaurant that serves it or any backyard BBQ that grills it
Salmon BBQ

Jo-Jo’s (From the hot case)
Where: Any convenience store/gas station that has them

 

Cream Cheese Dog (aka a Hadley Dog before a game or at 2am)
Where: Any street hot dog stand that serves it in Seattle
Cream Cheese dog

Mac & Jack’s African Amber
Where: Mac & Jack’s Brewery in Redmond or any local bar or stadium that serves it
Mac & Jack's

Garlic French Fries
Where: Safeco Field or CenturyLink Field

 

Chicken Teriyaki
Where: Teriyaki restaurants (Located everywhere. Yelp lists 1,627 near Seattle and 893 near Tacoma alone…)
http://www.seattleweekly.com/2007-08-15/food/how-teriyaki-became-seattle-s-own-fast-food-phenomenon/
Teriyaki

Apples (Get Honeycrisp. Cramming your face in pie form is also acceptable)
Where: Everywhere, but we like Prey’s Fruit Barn near Leavenworth.

 

What would you add? Thai food? Geoducks? Ewww.

 

*We equals me.

Five Random Photos (x2) Shared in January ’15

Since 2015 has started cold (and I didn’t post one of these in December), you get double the pleasure. Double the bang for your buck! Double bonus!

10 random photos. Don’t thank me.

Okay, thank me. But keep it short.

In honor of the Seattle Seahawks making it to the Super Bowl two years in a row, many of these contain a Seattle theme.

 

Seahawks at Eagles! Victory!
Seahawks at Eagles! Victory!

 

Rams at Seahawks! Victory!
Rams at Seahawks! Victory!

 

True
True

 

Pour extra salad sauce on my Teriyaki
Pour extra salad sauce on my Teriyaki

 

This is the UW Quad on camera. Any questions?
This is the UW Quad on camera. Any questions?

 

Getting busy at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room
Getting busy at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room

 

Book learnings in DC
Book learnings in DC

 

Gimma some Chilaquiles! Now!
Gimma some Chilaquiles! Now!

 

Snow Trek
Snow Trek

 

Frozen Balls
Frozen Balls

 

May nothing work out for you. If you’re a Patriots fan, that is.

New Capitol Hill Restaurants in 2014

Skip the family time and read this post instead. Sorry, I meant vice versa.

Just do both.

One of my ongoing goals is to ingest food stuffs at all eateries on Capitol Hill. It’s a big area. Check out the map here: Capitol Hill and Surrounding Areas.

That doesn’t faze me. But since there is always new places opening, it’s a never ending quest. I can die trying.

I went to 15 restaurants that opened in 2014. I didn’t make it to all the new openings. Most notable one I missed: Rose’s Luxury.

Here is a completely pointless and randomized bracket to declare the winner of the new restaurants I visited.

bracket

Bracket 1

Driftwood Kitchen vs. Impala Cantina y Taqueria – Do have the Brussel sprouts at Driftwood, but I’m more about the tacos. Advances: Impala

Ocopa Peruvian Restaurant vs. Bye. Advances: Ocopa

Driftwood vs. Ocopa – Ocopa’s ceviche is fabulous. No comparison.

Advances to the Final Four: Ocopa

Bracket 2

DC Harvest vs. Shake Shack (Union Station) – I like the idea of Shake Shack when it’s hard to get and I can only go occasionally. Opening one in Union Station ruins that. Advances: DC Harvest

The Spot Deli vs. Bullfrog Bagels – The tacos at The Spot Deli were fine, the space is not. Advances: Bullfrog

DC Harvest vs. Bullfrog – The Rueben bagel is quite nice, but DC Harvest’s food is nicer. One is more of an upscale restaurant, the other is a breakfast/lunch counter. Both are worthy.

Advances to the Final Four: DC Harvest  

Bracket 3

Sona Creamery & Wine Bar vs. Pizza Parts & Service – Not sure why they closed Taylor Charles Steak & Ice, depriving us of Philly cheesesteaks, in favor of another pizza joint on H St. Also, the pizza is nothing special. Advances: Sona

Copycat Co. vs. Micho’s Lebanese Grill – This is a tough one in the first round. That’s what happens when you create a randomized bracket. I’ll visit both again. The dumplings at Copycat are good. But Micho’s gets the edge. Advances: Micho’s

Sona vs. Micho’s – Micho’s has become a standard lunch spot for people at my office. It’s really good, cheap and very close. I go here more than any other place on this list. Having said that, the scones at Sona are amazing. And the owners are from Washington state.

Advances to the Final Four: Sona

Bracket 4

ShopHouse (Union Station) vs. Barrel – Seems like ShopHouses are opening everywhere. Okay. Pass. Advances: Barrel

Medium Rare vs. Po Boy Jim – Medium Rare does one thing and does it well. Steak frites. But the shrimp po boys at Po Boy Jim are not to be missed. Advances: Po Boy Jim

Barrel vs. Po Boy Jim – All the po boys I’ve had at Po Boy Jim deserve your attention and the upstairs space is decent (don’t sit downstairs), but I can’t choose it over the sleek new bar serving ‘brown water’ aka bourbon. And I don’t even drink bourbon.

Advances to the Final Four: Barrel

Semi-final 1

Ocopa vs. DC Harvest – DC Harvest’s S’mores Pot du Crème and friendly bartender are ultimately thwarted by Ocopa’s straight amazing Peruvian food. All of it. In my mouth. Now.

Advances to the Finals: Ocopa

Semi-final 2

Sona vs. Barrel – Sona is a good place for brunch. And someday I’ll try the wine and cheese. But I’m giving Barrel the nod here, because Penn Ave. SE will do well to keep adding good bars. The burger is tasty and the rest of the menu looks intriguing.

Advances to the Finals: Barrel

Finals

Ocopa vs. Barrel – Peruvian food. That is all.

Winner: Ocopa

Peruvian food wins
Peruvian food wins

The Brewery Hike Extravaganza, and Other Middling Yarns

Back in the day, August 30th to be precise, I set about to undertake a fantastical journey through the streets of Washington, DC.

The goal was to hike to six of the seven breweries in DC. Note: An eighth brewery has opened since.

Not only to hike to them, but to enjoy all the splendor of their beer coffers.

See this Tolkienesque, but not random, journey mapped in all its glory.

Map

 

If everything went according to plan, the hike would cover 11 miles and include an undisclosed amount of liquid gold.

Suffice it to say, it did not go according to plan. We skipped the final destination, Bluejacket, and the 4-1/2 miles it would require to hike there, in favor of being extremely drunk.

We went to five of the six breweries, and hiked 6-1/2 miles in total. We also stopped at the newly opened Chuck Brown Memorial Park.

High five! Success. The original plan was merely aspirational.

The journey started with lunch at Right Proper Brewing Company and ended at the beer garden of Bardo.

Burp.

 

Lunch at Right Proper
Lunch at Right Proper
Follow the beer soaked road...
Follow the beer soaked road…

2014-08-30-13.49a

Street people
Street people
Don't touch my ball
Don’t touch my ball
Do it well, or don't do it at all. - Chuck Brown
Do it well, or don’t do it at all. – Chuck Brown
Beats by Drunks
Beats by Drunks

2014-08-30-15.03a

Get some
Get some
Living the dream
Living the dream

2014-08-30-16.30a

Atlas tasting room
Atlas tasting room
In the zone
In the zone
Bardo
Bardo
This is you after the hangover
This is you after the hangover

 

 

 

11 for December 2014: To Do List

December is here.

My annual holiday migration to Washington state is coming soon. Yet, I’ll still be around DC for a couple of weeks.

There are certain things I need to do while in Washington state and before I leave. Let’s squeeze everything we can out of December.

Goal for December: Do all 11 items on my freshly minted To Do List.

December To Do List

  1. Touch snow – I would say go skiing, but my back may not have recovered enough by then.
  2. Attend two Seattle Seahawks games – One in Philadelphia and one in Seattle.
  3. Grace Portland, OR or Vancouver, B.C. with my presence – They both need it!
  4. Watch two Oscar buzz movies in the theater – With extra butter.
  5. Take a hike – I need to find out what bears do in the woods.
  6. Eat a Dick’s Drive-In (Seattle) Deluxe burger – Eat it!
  7. Try 10 new beers – AKA beers I’ve not had the pleasure or displeasure of drinking before.
  8. Eat at Thai Tom (Seattle) – Or any Thai restaurant on this Seattle Times list.
  9. Visit Two Beers Brewing Co. (Seattle) – Or any brewery I haven’t yet visited in Seattle.
  10. Visit one Espresso Vivace coffee shop (Seattle) – Or any coffee shop from this King 5 list around Washington state.
  11. Wild Card – Add something awesome when I think of it.

To Do

 

 

____________________________________________________

Let’s peek at how I fared for my October/November goal.

Goal for October/November: Knock enough things off my 2014 Bold Predictions list and do enough projects so they total 19

Total: 19

Result: Success!

I hurt my back in mid-October, totally messing up my plans for this goal. I wanted to hike and run more races. I couldn’t. Ouch.

So, instead, I did a few ‘projects’ and I watched a mess of movies.

Towards the end, I was able to do a couple short hikes.

Things completed

  1. Science fiction novels read = 1 (Children of Dune)
  2. AFI Top 100 Movies/Oscar Best Pictures9
  3. Projects/chores around the house = 5
  4. Hikes = 3 (12, 5 and 5.5 miles)
  5. Races = 1 (Army 10-miler)

 

peace!

10 for November/December: New Restaurants in D.C.

To end the year, my random goal is to scope out a cornucopia of new restaurants that have thrown open their doors to D.C. eaters.

I also have a never-ending goal to visit all the fooderies on Capitol Hill. With fresh ones always popping, I’m behind. Even more are slated to tempt the D.C. denizens in the next month or so.

The restaurant doesn’t have to be new new, it only has to be somewhere I haven’t eaten at yet. New to me, see?

November/December Goal: Eat at 10 new (to me) restaurants in Washington, D.C.

 

Tasty!

tasty

___________________________________________________________

Now let’s look at how I fared for my September/October goal…

September/October Goal: Watch, play in or attend enough sporting events and run enough miles so they total 75

Final stats:

  • Running = 56.11 miles
  • Sporting Events = 19

Total: 75.11

Result: Success!

I don’t want to say this was easy, running never is for me, but I had a chance to shatter this goal. But.

My back went out mid-October, so it kept me from running the last three weeks. It also prevented me from playing a few more flag football games and volleyball matches.

I didn’t attend as many watch parties as I had hoped, for various reasons including vacation.

Oh well. I did it!

Here’s the list of sporting events:

  1. Flag football games played = 1
  2. Volleyball matches played = 8
  3. Ran the Army 10-miler
  4. University of Washington Football Watch Parties attended = 3 (at Lou’s City Bar)
  5. Seattle Seahawks Watch Parties attended = 2 (at Acre 121)
  6. Seattle Mariners road games attended (in Houston) = 2
  7. Texas Rangers games attended (in Arlington) = 1
  8. Monday Night Football games attended: Seattle Seahawks @ Washington Football Club = 1

 

No peace for the wicked

'Nuff said.
‘Nuff said.

Things About Texas You Probably Already Know, So Don’t Mess With Reading This

I messed with Texas in September. Some of it anyway. Houston, Fort Worth and Arlington.

What random facts can I claim knowledge of?

They have amazing BBQ – We tried Riscky’s in Fort Worth and Rudy’s in Arlington.

Let's eat some BBQ at Riscky's
Let’s eat some BBQ at Riscky’s
Hells ya
Hells ya

Their Major League baseball teams sucked (this year) – Yes, the Houston Astros (70-92) and the Texas Rangers (67-95)  finished 4th and 5th in their division respectively. And the Rangers were the worst team in the American league! We went to two games in Houston and one game in Arlington. More on that in another post.

Houston
Houston
Texas
Texas

They have more tacos then there are stars in the sky* – Tacos are good.

A la The Taco Diner
A la The Taco Diner
Dessert tacos!
Dessert tacos!

They have fairly decent breweries – Saint Arnold Brewing and Karbach Brewing (Houston) and Rahr & Sons (Fort Worth) Brewing all saw their liquid gold pass through my lips and down my throat. Visionary Brew (pumpkin) by Rahr & Sons and Oktoberfest by Saint Arnold were both solid.

Saint Arnold at the ballpark
Saint Arnold at the ballpark

They like turning ‘ice houses’ into beer gardens/bars – and why wouldn’t you after electricity made the ice houses obsolete?

Everything is big, including the portions – At the Old West Cafe in Arlington they have a 5-page breakfast menu separate from the lunch menu! Or at the Embassy Suites, you get free breakfast and can eat like a pig. Or just get the chicken and red velvet waffle at Onion Creek.

Chicken and red velvet waffle!
Chicken and red velvet waffle!

 

They like a bit of art – We went to the Menil Collection museum in Houston and had a bit of wander about the exhibits. No photos! Next door was the Rothko Chapel, which literally had 14 paintings of black. Nothing but black. Look it up. Or don’t. Instead stroll around the Discovery Green in Houston.

Outside The Menil Collection
Outside The Menil Collection
Balling on Discovery Green
Balling on Discovery Green

 

They want you to fear the frog – and you should. The TCU Horned Frog is no joke.

TCU

 

out

* This claim lacks research, and frankly plausibility.

Useless Road Trip Facts, and Other Undertakings

I feel pressure (in my head), to write something about my recent road trip to Texas and back. And I will. You hope.

In the meantime, let’s ooh and aww over some jawdroppingly useless facts:

Start and end point: Washington, D.C.

Miles driven: 3,465 miles

Days traveled: 11 days

States visited: Seven (Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas)

New states: Three (Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas)

Speeding tickets: Two

Times drank coffee: Infinity

Wiener dogs riding shotgun: One

Baseball Stadiums visited: Two (Houston and Texas)

Times ate BBQ: Three (Alabama, Texas x 2)

Photos taken: 197

Museums visited: One and done

Cities stayed in/visited: 6 (Gatlinburg, TN; New Orleans, LA; Houston, TX; Arlington, TX; Fort Worth, TX; Nashville, TN)

Tacos eaten: Confirmed

Free drinks from the hotel’s happy hour open bar: Burp

Texas girls deserving a double take: Hey now!

Local pumpkin beers consumed: Three

Times I wanted to photograph Nolan Ryan’s beef: Everytime

 

What were you thinking I meant?
What were you thinking I meant?

Eat Tokyo

I’m not ゴジラ (aka Godzilla) stomping on buildings and chomping on the chewy denizens fleeing underfoot through the streets of Tokyo.

But I am one to feast on all culinary offerings plucked down in the scant space between my bowl of rice and Yebisu lager. When in Tokyo, feast. I did.

Let’s join hands and skip hungrily among the blurry, uninspired food pornesque photos I display for your indulgence.

Okonomiyaki:  a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. Okonomi, meaning ‘what you like’, and yaki meaning ‘grilled’ or ‘cooked’.

 

Mix up your ingredients and start cooking!
Mix up your ingredients and start cooking!
Looking good...
Looking good…
Oh yeah! Wait, is that mayonnaise over there?
Oh yeah! Wait, is that mayonnaise over there?

 

Okajoki – Izakaya seafood restaurant: a series of small plates served as courses, the last was a delectable fish.

Nice tofu
Nice tofu
Crab legs, eggplant, edamame. Check.
Crab legs, eggplant, edamame. Check.
Final course!
Final course!

 

Sukiyaki: soup you cook at your table and eat directly from the hot pot.

Let's boil these.
Let’s boil these.
Lots of goodness.
Lots of goodness.
It is on!
It is on!

 

Choco Cro: a chocolate bar cooked inside a croissant!

Chocolate in a croissant. Yes, please.
Chocolate in a croissant. Yes, please.

Choco Cro 2

Five Random Photos Shared in July ’14

Just a view on a run
Just a view on a run

 

Yards Park at dusk. Don't go into the light...
Yards Park at dusk. Don’t go into the light…

 

Your wish is my command!
Your wish is my command!

 

Don't worry, I did.
Don’t worry, I did.

 

Last softball game in the shadows of the tallest obelisk.
Last softball game in the shadows of the tallest obelisk.

Choices

My goal to see a game in every Major League Baseball stadium continues…

I have seven stadiums remaining.

I’m debating between two possible road trips this year in September.

What say you? Which should I pick?

Vote Now! Give ideas!

Option #1: Houston Astros/Texas Rangers

What I could do:

  1. See the Seattle Mariners play the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park a couple of times (Sept. 20-21)
  2. See the Texas Rangers play at Globe Life Park
  3. See the Seattle Sounders FC (soccer) play FC Dallas (Sept. 24)
  4. Eat Texas BBQ
  5. Check out some local breweries in Houston and Dallas (e.g. Saint Arnold Brewery)
  6. See the Johnson Space Center in Houston
  7. Spot a cowboy
  8. Stop in Nashville en route?
  9. Stop in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park en route?

 

Option #2: St. Louis Cardinals/Kansas City Royals

What I could do:

  1. See the St. Louis Cardinals play at Busch Stadium
  2. See the Kansas City Royals play at Kauffman Stadium
  3. See the St. Louis Rams (football) play on Sept. 21?
  4. Check out Schlafly Tap Room, Anheuser-Busch and other breweries in St. Louis
  5. Check out Boulevard Brewery and others in Kansas City
  6. Eat Kansas City BBQ
  7. Stop in Louisville en route?

 

Help me decide! Vote!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/baseballproject

baseball

 

Five Random Photos Shared in June ’14

There went June! Later!

Let’s take a moment of silence…

 

My first round of CSA veggies. Bok choy and some random stuff.
My first round of CSA veggies. Bok choy and some random stuff.

 

Having a beer before the Mariners game in Seattle.
Having a beer before the Mariners game in Seattle.

 

Having another beer in Seatle just before...nothing really.
Having another beer in Seattle just before…nothing really.

 

Random purple bike at Firefly Music Festival in Delaware.
Random purple bike at Firefly Music Festival in Delaware.

 

Tailgating before the Sounders game in DC.
Tailgating before the Sounders game in DC.

Speaking of soccer…USA will beat Belgium in the World Cup!

 

 

Five Random Photos Shared in May ’14

May happened. Just think, it was the first and last May 2014. Ever. There will never be another.

Now it’s June’s turn. No need to dwell on the past. Except…take a moment to preuse these photos then start living in the moment.

One sunset in Bangkok.
One sunset in Bangkok.

 

Let's get to Frolfing in the grass.
Let’s get to Frolfing in the grass.

 

Don't mind if I do. Post Sugarloaf Mountain hike sangria.
Don’t mind if I do. Post Sugarloaf Mountain hike sangria.

 

Don't SHOUT, I'm trying to camp.
Don’t SHOUT, I’m trying to camp.

 

Now where is a Wookie to put him back together?
Now where is a Wookie to put him back together?

Since I cannot count to five…

Nope, not a Wookie.
Nope, not a Wookie.

Enjoy June 2014. It will be the last one.

Startlingly Life-Changing Innovations

Allow yourself to bask in the astonishing glory of the following life-changing innovations.

The shelf above the men’s urinals – Great for your beer, your plane tickets, your coffee, or anything in your hands at the time of cozying up to the urinal. Two hands are needed. Resting anything directly on the urinal itself is unacceptable.

Nerf guns – Don’t hide. I want to shoot you.

Clotted cream – Slather it on your scones along with robust amounts of strawberry jam and a spot of tea on the side, and you get Cream Tea. The best food to ever come out of England. Now why don’t they make this in the USA?http://www.365connections.com/assets/cream_tea_los_cristianos_tenerife.jpg

Sappo – A crazy game I played in Colombia that involves throwing metal discs into a metal frog’s mouth. Exciting after two carafes of aguardiente. Because you can’t, you won’t and you don’t stop.

Sappo
Sappo

Sports Illustrated 3D Swimsuit Edition – Eye popping. I assume.

Plastic coffee lids that close – Finally! I won’t have to spill coffee everywhere while walking or driving or sitting still!

http://www.tiphero.com/img/tip_pages/coffee_lid.jpg

Pumpkin beer – Pumpkin pie, life-changing. Beer, life-changing. Pouring it in my mouth, glorious.

Lists – The best way to provide extremely valuable content with the least amount of effort.

Keep up!

Five Random Photos Shared in December

Merry merry and happy happy!

We always take the long way home
We always take the long way home
The jokes just write themselves!
The jokes just write themselves!
Seahawks clinch the NFC West Division and #1 seed
Seahawks clinch the NFC West Division and #1 seed
Tailgating in frigid New Jersey
Tailgating in frigid New Jersey
May all your Bitch IPAs be hoppy and crazy
May all your Bitch IPAs be hoppy and crazy
Merry Christmas! (P.S. This a bonus photo just for you!)
Merry Christmas! (P.S. This a bonus photo just for you!)

Random To Do List 2013: Washington State

Whenever I return to Washington state (usually during the holiday season), there are certain things I must do, drink or eat. These are not possible in Washington, D.C.

(Author’s note: To avoid lyrical confusion, henceforth: Washington = Washington state. D.C. = Washington, D.C.)

Cut out this list for future reference.

  1. Teriyaki – Dear D.C., you don’t do teriyaki. Why? No idea. So I must get my fix in Washington.
  2. Mac & Jack’s African Amber – Only available in the Pacific Northwest via draft (or kegs from their brewery). Must drink.
  3. Dick’s Drive-In burgers – One Deluxe and one Special. I crave them.
  4. Drive-up coffee stands – No such thing exists in the D.C. area (or the East Coast from what I’ve seen), yet you can’t throw a rock without hitting one of these places in Washington.
  5. Seahawks game – I need to use at least one of my season tickets and go to CenturyLink Field to cheer on the SeaGals…errrr Seahawks!
  6. Skiing – Good places to ski are few near D.C., so I always do at least one skiing trip in Washington (sometimes Whistler…). Lately I’ve gone to White Pass.
  7. Pyramid Snow Cap Ale – What, another beer? Yes!

Happy holidays

Contemporary Excursions to Defy a Shutdown

My random goal in October was to explore Washington, D.C. How did I do? You decide.

October Goal: Visit 12 new places in Washington, D.C.

Total: 20 new places

Result: Success! (Actually, I decide)

Analysis: The government shutdown between October 1-16 made this quest a tad difficult at first, but I still invaded most of the places I had on my ‘to go’ list. They ranged from music venues to restaurants to libraries to breweries and more. Let’s dig deep.

Music venues (3)

  • The Hamilton Live – A friend’s band was one of the openers. A nice space to enjoy a show.
  • Kennedy Center Millennium Stage – Every evening at 6pm they do a free performance. Now I’ve finally been to one.
  • Lincoln Theatre – Recently re-opened, I went to see Neko Case on Halloween night. She dressed up as a pirate or something like it.

Restaurants/bars (8)

  • Ninella – A fine, cozy Italian restaurant in the heart of eastern Capital Hill (next to Lincoln Park).
  • Crios Modern Mexican – They offered a special event dedicated to pumpkin beers. Obviously, I went.
  • Mari Vanna – This Russian restaurant looks like your grandmother’s living room, with doilies, bric-a-brac, curtains and chandeliers (of bottles). Have the pumpkin soup. Invite your grandmother.
  • Black Whiskey – A bar on 14th St NW with a monthly 80’s dance party. The Angel will treat you right!
  • Red Rocks Neopolitan Bistro – Now the largest restaurant in the Atlas District (H St NE), overtaking the Biergarten Haus, this has a nice set-up and a roof deck with a bar. The pizza was decent, but I’m more enamored with the place. They have 1/2 price pizza on Tuesdays…could be convinced to go…
  • Mama Chuy DC – Damn good tacos! Damn good. Get the carnitas tacos. Trust me.
  • Neopol Savory Smokery (at Union Market) – Smoked Salmon BLT. Yes and thank you!
  • &pizza (on U St NW) – The second location of this excellent pizza place (the first one is on H St NE) that they make and bake right in front of you.

Food trucks (3)

  • DC Quesadilla and Wraps – No surprises, I had a quesadilla. Not bad.
  • El Fuego – Peruvian food done right. Must go back.
  • Chitti Chitti Grill – Bang. Bang. Tacos and subs.

Breweries/Beerfests (3)

  • Atlas Works Brewery – The 4th and newest production brewery to open in D.C. (after DC Brau, 3 Stars and Chocolate City). They still only have a small number of beers (three when I went, but they’ve since added a fourth), but they have a solid tasting room set-up and I like the art they’ve designed, especially the scorpion logo for their NSFW (Double Black IPA).
  • Bluejacket Brewery – After much anticipation and hype, this well-appointed new brewery and restaurant (called the The Arsenal) \opened near the Nationals Park. I went the second night. 25 beers on draft (that they make on-site or collaborate to make)! It’s a worthy entry to the D.C. beer scene.
  • Snalleygaster Beerfest 2013 (at Union Market parking lot) – A beastly beer jamboree, you pay for entry, a mug and 25 beer/food tickets. Once you ran out of tickets, you better have been prepared to buy more because 200 different beers don’t drink themselves! The main drawback was no all you can drink for a set price…full beers and tasters ranged from $3-$9 each, so it got expensive quick! Seriously, what else are you going to spend your money on?

Other (3)

  • Library of Congress Reading Room – This was #1 on my list when I thought of this random goal. The shut down almost thwarted me, but I prevailed and snuck in to ‘do research’. You actually have to acquire a Library of Congress – Reader ID to enter. And then meander through a maze of hallways and elevators just to find the ‘researcher’ entrance.
  • Folgers Shakespeare Library – Learn about Shakespeare. Did. Watch a play. Didn’t.
  • Banneker Tennis Courts – The lights went out before I could mount my comeback! I ended up losing an unfinished match, 6-4, 4-6, 3-5. And I was leading 40-15 in the game.

Baltimore and Billy Goat Bonus!

These don’t count, because they are not in D.C., but they were still new places for me in October.

  • Heavy Seas Alehouse (Baltimore, MD) – Beer in Baltimore. Okay!
  • The Sound Garden (Baltimore, MD) – Baltimore’s best music store!
  • Billy Goat Trail (Great Falls, MD) – A fine place to hike and get a view of nature on a crisp Autumn day. Check out some photos.
I say now, damn good tacos at Mama Chuy!
I say now, damn good tacos at Mama Chuy!
Library of Congress Reading Room - No photos allowed
Library of Congress Reading Room – No photos allowed
Snalleygaster beer to mouth delivery mechanism
Snalleygaster beer to mouth delivery mechanism
I'm official
I’m official
That's DC
That’s DC

Stay open!

Foolproof Guide to Drinking a Pumpkin Beer

Once in awhile I work for you.

When presented with a microwavable meal, I fear I’ll mess it up. So I follow the cooking instructions on the box with great care, never deviating from its detailed, yet non-condescending, path.

I want you to also have that experience. Here is a foolproof guide that will lead you down the most successful of all paths, where the destination is to drink pumpkin beer.

I know it can get tricky. It may seem overwhelming. Never fear, with this guide you will drink the beer!

You are welcome!

Step 1: Purchase pumpkin beer

Step1

Step 2: Acquire beer appropriate glassware

Step2

Step2a

Step 3: Open beer bottle

Step3

Step 4: Pour contents of beer bottle into glassware

Step4

Step 5: Admire your work

Step5

Step 6: Put glassware to your lips and imbibe

(For legal reasons, photo removed)

Step 7: Repeat steps 3-6 as needed

Enjoy!

Reflections, Ruminations and Results

All you need to know – April was a success. Unfortunately for you, I never end my posts so abruptly or concisely.

April Goal: Do a bunch of random things in multiples of five.

Result: Success!

Things I committed to

  1. Five hikes of over five miles – Yes I did!
  2. Run five times over 5,555 feet – Yes I did!
  3. Attend five concert sets of five songs or more – Yes I did!
  4. Play in five sports games/matches (softball and volleyball) – Yes I did!
  5. Watch five movies (In honor of Roger Ebert) – Yes I did!

Things I added

  1. Unlock five Foursquare badges – Yes I did!
  2. Drink five new beers – Yes I did!

Reflections

None at this time, thanks for asking.

Ruminations

I’m weird.

Results

Five hikes of over five miles – I did hikes of 5, 5, 13, 15 and 31 miles. Total = 5 hikes (69 miles)

Run five times over 5,555 feet – I ran 1.25, 1.50, 1.50, 2 and 1.50. Total = 5 runs (7.75 miles)

Attend five concert sets of five songs or more – Stay tuned for a full report on the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Total = 25 concert sets

Play in five sports games/matches (softball and volleyball) – I played in three volleyball matches and three softball games. Total = 6 matches/games

Watch five movies (In honor of Roger Ebert) – I watched Red Dawn (2012), Swing Time, Girl Rising, Life of Pi and The Dark Knight Rises. Total = 5 movies

Unlock five new Foursquare badges – I unlocked the Fixer Upper, Schmear, AT&T Final Four Fanatic 2013, 4sqDay 2013 and Coachella 2013 badges. Total = 5 badges

Five new beers – I started using the app UNTAPPD to track beers I’ve tried. Total = 15 new beers

peace and merriment and to all a good night

Five for April

The Best Non-Required Christmas Letter 2012 (Robust Edition)

Happy Holidays. I hope you had a (insert hyperbole here) year. Wait, you say, isn’t the time to give season greetings past?!?! It’s well into 2013 and we have better things to do.

To that I say, this letter has been strategically timed to arrive at the exact moment you least want it but most need it. This has nothing to do with procrastination nor laziness on my part. All part of the plan. Enough pleasantries.

Seven years ago (2006) the first Christmas letter snuck under your tree (mistletoe?) and regaled all that would listen with a smug, self-centered yet snarky update of my year. The holiday greeting card equivalent of fruitcake. No one wants it, but everyone keeps looking at it wondering who will be the first to take a bite. The subsequent four years didn’t get any better. If anything, I baked a fruitier cake with each passing year. Last year I took a sabbatical (approved word for lazy). This year will be different. It has to be. Fruitcake goes bad eventually.

Let’s journey together and reminisce about (a robust) 2012. I alphabetized this letter so it would be easier to skip ahead to letter Z and get back to your regularly scheduled program. I added some color to make the blurbs more festive. They need it.

Arch – As in the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. I attended an extravagant wedding in Biehle, Missouri (1-1/2 hours south of St. Louis). The wedding combined both Catholic and Hindu traditions into one unique (but long!) ceremony. Then a bottomless bar and food at the family ‘house’ (with two lakes, woods, a tree fort, a tractor museum, a train for kids and a ‘gazebo’ – read: small house overlooking a lake) made for a fine reception. Oh and I did go to the top of the Gateway Arch on the way to the airport.

Bangkok – I keep finding myself here. What to do? Ascend to the rooftop bars and restaurants (Sirocco, Above 11, Long Table and more) for breathtaking city views, food and drink? Okay. Cruise on the Chao Praya river, gliding past Wat Arun, the Grand Palace and more temples while feasting buffet-style, snapping blurry photos and dancing? Check. A foot massage? Why not. Eat the delicious and spicy food – whether on the street or in a restaurant? Yeah. Hit the Chatuchak Weekend Market and get lost among the 5,000 stalls and shops? Sure. Try a VIP movie experience of Argo? You’re welcome, Ben. Hoist pints of Singha and Chang beers? Done. And done.

Cabins – A cabin needs a name. I gravitated to an assortment of cabins this year. Whether it overlooked the Columbia River Gorge (The Cabin in Mosier), or nestled two miles into the woods of Northern Virginia (Myron Glaser Cabin), or was replete with Christmas tree and decorations only minutes drive from Washington’s White Pass Ski Resort (Mountain Mist Chalet), or kept the Northern California summer nights and frogs at bay (Manzanita Cabin), I was there.

DerechoLike a low blow to the groin, the storm known as a derecho hit Washington, D.C. in June with furious determination. Not even Hurricane Sandy matched its destructive force (I speak only of DC). Crazy winds. Downed trees. Crushed cars. Flying trash cans. That type of day.

Extra Innings – For those in the know (by now…maybe you?), I am questing to see a baseball game in every Major League ballpark. Marlins Park (Miami), Citi Field (New York), O.2 Coliseum (Oakland) and AT&T Park (San Francisco) all claimed my cash and attention this year. Only nine stadiums left.

FireflyDover, Delaware gave us the first annual Firefly Music Festival in July. With headliners like Jack White, The Killers and The Black Keys, this had a fierce cacophony of rock and roll that a seven nation army couldn’t hold back. Three days of bands, beer, food and camping. And after a short respite to the beach to re-charge, more bands and beer.

Goals (Random) – I was bored one day. Hard to imagine, but so. I concocted a plan to do a new ‘random goal’ each month. I went 5-2 (success/failure) in the seven months I did it. Then the ideas dried up and I woke as if from a dream…with a tattoo of a wiener dog on my ankle. Or was that just a real wiener dog nosing my ankle to go outside and stop messing around? See the Goals.

Halloumi – Enter any restaurant in Cyprus and chances are you will find fried cheese (halloumi) on the menu. Order it. That’s the best advice I can give you. Besides gorging on cheese, I explored the beaches of Larnaca and Limassol and wandered the city of Nicosia with the help of a local. I avoided crossing into the Turkish side of the country because I feared there would be no halloumi.

Infiltrator – Let’s call my sister an ‘infiltrator’ after visiting DC for the first time in May. I made her ride the Capital Bikeshare bikes all over the city and tag along to two softball games. We visited many places and other things happened. It ended well. She survived to tell the tale. I hope.

Jazz (All That)A weekend in New York should include a baseball game, a jazz concert, more live music, bar crawling, and a wander about to see such sights as the Empire State Building, the new 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, and Central Park. Also, don’t forget to meander the warrens and streets of Chelsea, Brooklyn, SoHo and Midtown. Eat as much as possible. Maybe some Italian? Or Korean? Or Thai? Doesn’t matter, just eat it and enjoy.

Kayaking – For one week I learned how to white water kayak (in the middle of nowhere Northern California). Our river time was on the Klamath River, but the Otter Bar Lodge Kayak School rested next to the Salmon River. After a long day on the river, there was time to snorkel with the grown and fingerling salmon, cliff jump from dizzying heights, eat amazing food, imbibe homemade margaritas and play Settlers of Catan. Then back on the water. No time to rest.

ListsEvery year I make a bunch of lists to commemorate my best in movies, books, sports and music. They are popular with the ‘me’ set. You can read them too, but it’s better if you just get this letter over and do something fun.

Miami – I hopped down to South Beach in Miami for a weekend. Mission: See a baseball game in the Marlins’ new stadium, eat lots of Cuban food and generally make a nuisance of myself. What happens in South Beach, stays in Vegas…oops, that’s not right…let’s just say, I succeeded.

No more! – Is this never-ending Christmas letter finished yet? Nope. Twelve letters in the alphabet to go…brace yourself.

One Day HikeA minor hike done in a single day. Okay, it’s actually 50 kilometers (or 31.1 miles), but who’s complaining? I finished this mostly flat trek in just over 9 hours. Intact. Yet not without pain.

Paris (Gay) – Cue traditional French music…opening scene: an American (me) climbing the Eiffel Tower. Wandering aimlessly in the maze that is the Louvre. Walking about the city, capturing photographic evidence of the Arc de Triomphe and other famous landmarks. Floating gracefully down the Seine river (boat included).  Nibbling $4 macaroons and chewing cheese and butter baguettes. Taking in the bustle and toy sailboats of the Jardin de Luxembourg. Closing scene: a bewildered American in a wine and cheese infused stupor, slumped at a sidewalk café, never to leave. Music fades…

Quad biking – My work has a hard time avoiding the Lukenya Getaway for meetings. It’s secluded, and far outside of the city limits of Nairobi, Kenya. There are actual wild animals roaming around – giraffes, wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and more – that you can see as you jog or walk down the dirt roads nearby. One day we took some quad bikes for a spin in the bush. At least one person (not me) crashed into a tree…

Running – My favorite use of running is to escape a mother bear protecting its cub. My second favorite use is to not run at all. Sadly, I didn’t get to use it for either purpose this year. I did run the Semper Fi 5K and a number of other 5Ks on my own. I also tried running more in general (to my chagrin), often running along the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial. The beauty of the Mall at night makes it hard to complain. But I will.

Sommelier – I had quite a time gallivanting about for tastings and tours at wineries in California, Washington and Oregon. I toured Napa Valley for the first time, hitting such wineries as: Rutherford Ranch Winery, V. Sattui Winery, Franciscan Oakville Estates and Andretti Winery before hopping on the ferry back to San Francisco. I also hit a few wineries in Washington state near Leavenworth: Wedge Mountain Winery, Cascadia Winery and Icicle Ridge Winery.

Tea (Improper) – In England, I improperly raised my pinky finger while drinking a spot of tea. The Brits gave me a wide berth. Yet when I wasn’t drinking tea, I jaunted about London just before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (celebrating 60 years as the Queen!) started. I also spent some time in the (robust) towns of Northampton and Woking, enjoying such places as the Racecourse and the War of the Worlds statue.

UDub (Alumni) – I played three sports with our University of Washington Alumni – DC chapter in the Capital Alumni Network (CAN). Flag football, volleyball and softball. Our flag football team did well, advancing to the third round of the playoffs. Our volleyball team did okay but with our softball team – let’s just say, we had fun. I was also voted to be the ‘Sports Chair’ on our DC Alumni chapter board. We also played volleyball during spring, summer AND fall with the Metro Sports League. I did not receive any varsity letters…sniff.

Victory (Sweet) – The Seattle Seahawks had quite a year. For the first time since I moved to Washington, D.C., I was able to attend more than one game. I saw three games at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. They won all three, including a terrific beat down of the eventual Super Bowl losers, San Francisco 49ers (42-13). I left hoarse, while riding my high horse. 

Whirlyball – A weekend trip to Toronto to honor the dearly departed from bachelorhood (also known as a stag party in Canadian parlance) saw four rousing rounds of whirlyball (like lacrosse but on bumper cars – look it up), Japanese izakaya and a jovial amount of adult beverages. Back to whirlyball…my team won all four rounds!

XenophileI travel a fair bit (if you skipped to end of this letter, just take my word for it) and mostly I enjoy it. Here are some stats from 2012: Countries visited = 6. US states visited = 9. Flight segments =35. Airports =21. Time away from home – 2-1/2 months (roughly). Cavity searches = 0.

YosemiteCar camping is all the rage. Just don’t do it in Yosemite National Park. The Park Rangers will find you. And shine the bright light of reality in your face. And then boot you from the park. After spending a night in my car (outside the park), I persisted the next morning and hiked the High Sierra Loop Trail, where I took magical photos of Vernal and Nevada falls, as well as Half Dome, Liberty Cap and anything else that got in my way. Magical in the robustest sense of the word. 

ZymurgyI don’t always drink beer, but when I do I prefer…wait a second…I do always drink beer! Except when at a winery. Or in Paris. This year I enjoyed many types of beer at many places. For example, at the first Living Social Beer Fest in DC. All you can drink in three hours from twenty-five breweries (each offering 2-3 selections). I also visited the following breweries: Deschutes (OR), Lost Coast (CA), 21st Amendment (CA), Triple Rock (CA) and Magnolia (CA). Burp.

End transmission.

Bonus: My Favorite Blog Posts of the Year (so you can re-read them, of course)

  1. Paris in Photos and Other Moveable Feasts 
  2. Yosemite National Park Survival Tips
  3. Keep on Food Truckin’
  4. 25 for May: Firsts (In Hindsight)
  5. D.C., Which Photographs Well
  6. Reflections, and Other Reasons Mom Washed Out My Mouth With Soap

2013-03-05_1656

Firefly Music Festival 2012

The first annual Firefly Music Festival took place from July 20-22, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. I was there.

I saw 18 sets in three days. 10 of the artists were for the first time, most notable – Jack White and The Killers. There were four stages that rotated acts, so there were always two shows going on at once.

Here, with minimal restraint, is what went down.

The Good

1) The Killers, Black Keys, Jack White, Walk the Moon, CAKE and Grouplove

2) The Brewery – A beer garden that served Dogfish Head beers for $8, including one made for this festival, the Firefly Ale. I was partial to the 9% ABV Midas Touch.

3) Towers Beach – We needed a break after two days of music, so on Sunday morning we drove just south of Dewey Beach for a swim and a few rounds of cards in the sand. Afterwards we had fish tacos at El Dorado. Tasty.

4) The weather – It was overcast the entire time, but no real rain. Only a misting here and there. I expected to be hot and bothered and get some serious sun on my pale skin. This was perfect.

5) Seven Nation Army – After Jack White’s Friday night performance, everyone hummed the refrain from ‘Seven Nation Army’ as we walked through the woods to the exit. Even better, everyone did it again after The Killers’ show on Saturday.

The Bad

1) The Felice Brothers

2) The phone recharging stations – A good idea, but they didn’t have enough ports to keep up with the demand. The generator feeding the power was seriously overloaded. 45 minutes to get 15% more power? Bah humbug.

3) Camping – The three nights in a tent itself wasn’t so bad. But the campsites were tiny and packed together like monkeys in a barrel. One of the workers was so clueless he almost gave away half of our site to park more cars. Luckily someone with sense came by and told him to stand down.

4) Hammock Hangout – Could be a good idea but way too small. And who knows where the people using the hammocks have been…

The Ugly

1) Glamping – $1000 for 3 nights of pampered camping? We saw no one partaking. It looked like the barracks of a Civil War army. Minus the horses. And the soldiers.

Friday

  1. The Wallflowers – A live version of ‘One Headlight’ to kick us off. ‘She always had a pretty face’.
  2. OK Go – A decent set. They even broke out their treadmills during their hit song ‘Here It Goes Again’.
  3. Walk The Moon – These guys are good. This was the second time I’ve seen them in 2012 and among the top five performances of the festival.
  4. Silversun Pickups – This guys are a bit of Smashing Pumpkins-lite, which I like. Good show.
  5. Jack White – After a bit of sound trouble with the first few songs, they fixed it and Jack crushed us with his guitar riffs. A seven nation army could NOT hold him back. 

Saturday

  1. Imagine Dragons – I had not heard these guys before this, but enjoyed the songs and will definitely check them out.
  2. The Felice Brothers – Ugh. Hated it.
  3. Grouplove – By far and away the most enthusiastic band of the whole festival. ‘Tongue Tied’ really got the crowd pumped up for the rest of the day.
  4. Young the Giant – I was looking forward to seeing these guys at the 9:30 Club earlier in the year – that show was just okay. This show was kind of boring after the energy of Grouplove.
  5. CAKE – In a haze of weed and flower girls dancing, CAKE went the distance. And it was good.
  6. Trampled by Turtles – Was starting to get antsy so probably didn’t give this my full attention. But I was not bowled over.
  7. Modest Mouse – They rocked hard. Not my thing though.
  8. The Killers – The best show of the festival. In addition to the great music, they had the most extensive light show and stage act (with fireworks!).

Sunday

  1. Mariachi El Bronx – Entertaining.
  2. Fitz and the Tantrums – Starting to lose my attention. Too much music. I wasn’t in to it.
  3. Death Cab for Cutie – Good but not the best performance I’ve seen by them.
  4. The Flaming Lips – The most eccentric and biggest spectacle of the festival. Wayne Coyne crowd surfed in a human hamster ball (of course). Stage singers dressed up like the Wizard of Oz characters (hello Dorothy!). Confetti. Beach balls. Although it was entertaining, I’m not a huge fan of the music.
  5. The Black Keys – The second time I saw them in 2012. The first time at Merriweather Post Pavilion was better, but this was definitely among the best sets of the festival and a good way to end.
Welcome to Firefly
Welcome to Firefly
Have a brew
Have a brew
Grouplove
Grouplove
The Lawn Stage
The Lawn Stage
Teeming hordes
Teeming hordes

Crowd

The beach
The beach
No waves today
No waves today
Flaming Lips Exploding
Flaming Lips Exploding
Human hamster ball
Human hamster ball

Human hamster ball 2

The Black Keys
The Black Keys
Group shot
Group shot #

peace

# Photo courtesy of Mike O’Brien

Eat Miami

In South Beach, Miami you can do plenty. Since this is a family friendly blog, let’s not go into details.

Ignore that. If you are overtly sensitive by nature, cover your eyes now, details are about to start flying.

One of the plenty is to eat. One way to eat is to forego the sit down scene and do a walking Miami Culinary Tour with tastings and sippings at multiple places.

Three of us descended on South Beach like an A-named  hurricane. Let’s call these three… Mickey, Carlos and Jeremy.

Mickey discovered and arranged the Tour. We met the tour guide and our group of 15 would-be-eaters in the early evening, blocks from our hotel. Dark clouds loomed. The tour guide strongly suggested we buy an umbrella in order to enjoy the serious amount of walking to come. We ignored her.

What follows is a snapshot of each of the dishes presented to us for our tasting pleasure. My iPhone didn’t take kindly to every location, but I’m posting the blurry and badly lit shots anyway because that’s what I do. Quality has never been an issue with this blog.

Plantain w/chicken and an empanada – samples of two Colombian dishes (Location: Bolivar Miami Beach – an exotic fusion of Colombian, Peruvian and Venezuelan cuisine) Food note: We also came back and eat a regular dinner here another evening.

Refajo – a mix of the soft drink called Colombiana and beer (Location: Bolivar Miami Beach)

Ceviche – raw seafood marinated in citrus juices (like lemon) and spiced with chili peppers (Location: Goyo El Pollo)

Arroz Chaufa – a Peruvian dish inspired by Chinese immigrants (Location: Goyo El Pollo)

Lobster Bisque (Location: Cha Cha Rooster)

Fried plantain chips (Location: David’s Cafe)

Cuban sandwich – ham and cheese and stuff (Location: David’s Cafe)

Cafe Cubano – a type of very strong espresso (Location: David’s Cafe)

Rugelach – a type of traditional Jewish pastry (Location: Jerry’s Famous Deli)

Pisco Sour –  a Peruvian cocktail (Location: Cevichery Restobar)

Causa de Camaron – a Peruvian dish with a big shrimp (Location: Cevichery Restobar)

Gelato – I had the Bacio flavor! Hazelnuts and chocolate! (Location: Milani Gelateria)

The gelato wheel
Bacio flavor

Additional photos (better ones) on the Culinary Tour’s website.

After the tour we nursed a few caipirinhas at Boteco on Espanola Way.

Paris in Photos and Other Moveable Feasts

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway

 

You don’t have to live in Paris to partake in this feast.  Three days will get you started. Grab a wheel of brie and a glass of red wine, A Random Journey is ready to take you on a brief photo interlude. Feel free to pause at any time to book your flight to France. I’ll be here when (if) you return. Unless you think I should go with you? Yes, I think that’s best. Hold on, I’ll grab my passport…

€3.50 each. Step right up!

 

 

Immovable

 

Fromage
Fromage et plus de fromage

 

 

Un baguette, ah ha ha, oh oh oh oh.
Un baguette, ah ha ha, oh oh oh oh.

 

 For those wondering when the feast will end. Proceed.

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe…also known as a really big monument

 

Palais Garnier
Palais Garnier (Opera House)

 

That statue there
That statue there

 

The Louvre (you knew we'd end up here)
The Louvre (you knew we’d end up here)

 

 

 

One thing I noticed about the Louvre, there are a lot of twig and berries in full glory. Case in point…

Stuck in the middle with you
Stuck in the middle with you

 

I'm so bashful
I’m so bashful

 

I could go into more detail, but let’s change topics…

Venus. Venus was her name.
Venus. Venus was her name.

 

Stop looking at me!
Stop looking at me!

 

Notice how I didn’t post a photo of a certain painting? You’re welcome. If you really want to see it, open a new browser and Google ‘enigmatic smile’ and ‘ugly’. Scroll past the top searches of me and you’ll find it!

Eiffel Tower
Ah crap, what’s this one called…it’s on the tip of my tongue!

 

Top of the world
Top of the world

 

Café culture
Café culture

 

Counter culture
Counter culture

 

Nouveau riche culture
Nouveau riche culture

 

Presse de Foie Gras de Ganard au Jamon Serrano. Oui.
Presse de Foie Gras de Ganard au Jamon Serrano. Oui.

 Psssst…above is duck liver pâté with bacon…and some sort of annoying lettuce.

 

Fontaine Saint-Michel
Fontaine Saint-Michel

 

 

Obelisk (not stolen from Egypt FYI)
Obelisk (not stolen from Egypt FYI)

 

Missing a lock?
Missing a lock?
Jardin de Luxembourg
Jardin de Luxembourg
Luxembourg palace
Luxembourg palace

C’est tout ce que.

Capital Hill Restaurants 2011

2011 saw the opening of many new restaurants in the Capital Hill area. Ramen. Burgers. Shawarmas. Cajun. Pho. Pretentious drinks. And much more. Below I rank the new ones I visited throughout the year.

My continuing goal is to eat at all the restaurants on or near Capital Hill. I define this as anything south of H St NE, west of 15th NE/SE, north of I St SE, and east of 1st St NE/SE. This is a big area, and includes such destinations as Barracks Row (8th St SE between D and I Sts), Eastern Market (7th St SE between Pennsylvania Ave and Independence Ave), the Atlas District (H St NE between 9th and 15th Sts) and much more.

Check out the map here: Capital Hill and Surrounding Areas.

Obviously the task doesn’t get easier when new places keep opening left and right. 2012 is already shaping up to be a big year as well. On the horizon: Boundary Road, Sweet Charleston’s, Sol Mexican Grill and much, much more.

Location key: (H) = H St NE, (A) = The Atlas District, (B) = Barrack’s Row, (C) = Capital Hill other, (E) = Eastern Market, (U) = Union Station

19. Khan’s BBQ (H) – The food is fine as a Mongolian BBQ stir-fry, but I don’t like the set-up nor the atmosphere.

18. DC3 (B) – Now serving trendy hot dog concoctions. I probably wouldn’t order the same dog again and I wasn’t enamored with the other options.

17. Inspire Bar-B-Q (H) – Good pulled-pork BBQ and sides courtesy of Groupon. I think the space is too small, even for a walk-up counter, and the staff was friendly but apparently still learning what to do. Will try again.

16. Church & State (A) – I’m not a big fan of pretentious drinks (e.g. those that cost more than $12) and that is about all you can get here. If you want to take a date for a drink before having dinner in the Atlas District, this is your place. It is small and intimate.

15. Red Palace (A) – Combines the old Red & Black and Palace of Wonders into one venue with a decent size concert venue upstairs.

14. Pho Bar & Grille (A) – Really good dumplings and decent pho (based on my limited experience with pho), but they can’t figure out how to serve people. The first time I went, it must certainly rank as one of the most annoying ordering experiences ever.

13. Bojangles (U) – Good fried chicken!

12. Marvelous Pizza (H) – A new late night pizza joint on H St. You can also order egg rolls with your slice.

11. Shawafel (A) – Good shawarmas. Didn’t have the falafel.

10. Impala Tacos (A) – Tacos served in the winter at the Philadelphia Water Ice counter (since it’s closed for the season, why not serve tacos?). I hear they are developing a permanent place for this on H street.

9. Bullfeathers of Capital Hill (C) – This place completely remodeled and is nice space and good food.

8. Tru Orleans (H) –  A New Orleans themed restaurant. Have the catfish reuben and Hurricane slushies.

7. Smith Commons (A) – Three levels with couches and patios. A nice place for a drink upstairs. The one time I ate there, the fish and chips were not what you might expect but still not bad. 

6. Chipotle (U) – The old lunch stand-by. Meat and beans and cheese rolled up in a tortilla. When they have the A team serving, the line zips along.

5. Pound the Hill (E) – A new coffee shop near Eastern Market. They make their mochas with Nutella…mmmm.

4. The Big Board (H) – A small bar a mere two blocks from my house that serves good burgers (try the Chicago Fire) that tries to sell its beers by giving discounts (shown on The Board) to the most popular selling options. Not sure that the concept works yet and they need to get better beer.

3. Senart’s Oyster and Chop House (B) – Didn’t have the oysters. A nice looking building and interior. The menu was a bit pricey, but the Beer Battered Cod Sandwich was the right price.

2. The Queen Vic (A) – Styled as a British pub, it has good, traditional British fare (have the Sunday roast!) and is a fine place to watch a game with a pint of cider in hand.

1. Toki Underground (A) – Excellent ramen noodles and tasty dumplings in a small kitschy space filled with anime figurines and skateboards for footrests. It only seats 20 people at a time, so it seems to always be busy.

Bonus: Biergarten Haus Roof Deck (A) – Though Biergarten Haus is not new in 2011, expanding the capacity of the already largest restaurant in the area by 1/3, it makes for a formidable beer swilling and German food noshing destination.