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LIVE!!! From Washington D.C.!

Posted Feb 27 2011 12:00am

Saturday, 09:30 AM, Somewhere over Indiana…..

And now for something completely different…..one of those stupid travelogues that I haven’t done in a long time. Good to mix things up, I know the religion stuff gets old…to YOU, I could bottle that angst and survive on it through an apocalypse. Oh, I LIVE for that shit. But here you go…..

                 First of all, I’m offering a full endorsement of Frontier Airlines.  They have comfy seats, it’s easy to upgrade your ticket so that you can check 2 bags for $25 and all that, BUT the thing I love most about Frontier is this: If you are not one of those douchebags who loves to hold up the aisle storing a goddamn carry-on that you have to shoe horn into the overhead bin, you can preboard.  If you are only carrying a personal item that fits under the seat, you can bypass the angry parade of lifting and squeezing and complaining. You can sit and watch it all unfold, which I guess is still almost as annoying.  People are unreal. They act like there is a chance of finding that one magical bin which reveals the rolling plains of Narnia…and that steamer sized trunk will be easily accommodated.  But so far, Frontier is ok by me. At least I can enjoy the remnants of my former favorite Midwest Air.

                So…headed back to DC.  Going for some training that the client asked for someone on the team to attend.  But the training is beside the point…and anyone who has attended these corporate process improvement or software courses that charge about a grand per day understands what I mean- the class is aimed at the dumbest fucker in the room.  The point of the class is to sell your company more classes, and unless you happen to be the dumbest fucker in the room, the actual content is usually very easy and if you were the one footing the bill instead of your employer it would be like setting a few thousand dollars on fire. I’ll get enough stuff to take back to work and give an overview, recommend some best practices….blah blah blah.  And my goal during this live-blog is to have those few sentences be the only ones that even mention training. Unless of course there are some real whackos or shenanigans to discuss.

                With the training being beside the point, the REAL point of this trip, which will not shock anyone who has read more than 2 sentences of my blog….is the motherfucking culinary madness. The last time I did a doozy like this was San Francisco several years ago. And thank you IBM for footing the bill for that trip where I got 2 weeks of training that I never used…meaning, free vacation in the Bay Area. I’m not out to screw my new company, they are pretty cool and I’ll actually use this knowledge.  But basically, I got lucky with DC, it could have been Dallas depending on the scheduling, so with travel and hotel paid for and a $75 per diem, I am taking this dining shit to the next level.  Sure, all per diems combined will cover about 1 ½ meals, but screw it…a trip like this only comes along ever few years.  Plus….NO WINE with my meals…so that makes the actual food practically free. And I love DC. It’s a cool town as far as the ability to get around easily, lots to see, and some top notch dining. The research has already been done, tables are all booked, I’ve done the appropriate amount of schmoozing to guarantee “lone diner VIP” status (it’s a real thing, as I am predicting you will see as the trip unfolds).  I go back home Thursday morning, so between now and then I’ll eat at: Eola, Nuevo Latino Dim Sum Brunch at Café Atlantico, Marcel’s, Restaurant Eve, Komi and Citronelle.  An aggressive schedule even by total addict standards, NOT for amateurs, but I’ll set them up and knock them down with grace.

                Of course it is noteworthy that this will be my first big solo trip to a fun town since I’ve been sober.  Holy shit, I’ve torn DC up in the past. You may have read the details before…..Rocket Bar….boy could I put the hurt on some bourbon. With all that in mind, I’ve got my AA group in Dupont Circle already picked out and plan to attend a noon meeting today after I go and drop off my bags at the hotel. I’m not too worried that I’d actually drink, but if you’re an alcoholic alone in a town like DC, going to various high end restaurants…you’re a dumbass if you don’t get to some meetings. Plus, it’s awesome to check out new groups and meet new people. Shit, already at 750 words and I haven’t even landed…..I’ll get back with you pricks later.

Saturday, 11:30 PM, Back at the Room…..

Oh, HA HA HA!  Most insanely stocked minibar I’ve ever seen in my life!  Oh the irony….but you’d already have to be drunk to dig in to that overpriced crap.  This has nothing to do with the minibar, but I’ve decided that I don’t like old hotels.  All that historical landmark crap aside, when I stay someplace I want more than 2 electrical outlets per room, faster elevators, a bigger shower, thicker walls and less overall creakiness.  And I want a staff that is accountable to some faceless corporation, so that I get some very prompt, fake-nice service. Had a great day after the rookie error of walking down to the Farragut West station and remembering too late it’s closed on the weekend. A ton of walking today, I’m pretty wiped, but some random thoughts…

Dupont Circle has an inordinate number of gay people and yuppies carrying yoga mats.

I am decidedly a warm/butter lobster roll guy after eating the cold/mayo version at Hank’s Oyster Bar.

I don’t know what the most popular degree programs are at GWU, but after wallking back and forth to the GWU Metro station, I yet to see a male student who looks like he could take a punch.

Overheard at dinner tonight- “Have you had foie gras?  It is SOOO French!”.

Speaking of dinner, Eola was fantastic….tempura fried pig ears, chicken fried pork tongue, pig brain tortellini, a bacon cured foie gras “FBLT”, braised beef cheek….that place is no joke. Obviously, I’ll be doing separate restaurant review posts at some point. That would be too much valid information for this post….this is the annoying one.

Tomorrow it’s the 8:30am meeting back up in gay yoga mat country, dim sum brunch at Cafe Atlantico, the Crime Museum, some other museum, and dinner at Marcel’s.

Sunday, 10:30 PM, Recovering from Dinner….

It’s funny how the timing in life can work out.  Today would have been my brother’s birthday. He’s been gone for a long time, and I’ve lived way more of my life without him than I did with him. I always take a couple of times each year to do something a little different…nothing dramatic, usually just something a little unordinary during the course of a day to remember. Today in DC was an unusually good day…on the plane ride out here I started thinking about the trip he and I took to New York the year he died. My perspective on travel, food and culture has changed considerably since I was twenty…back then I was a fledgling minister and we were at an age where we could be friends instead of combatants.  I had been out to New York once during my first year of college, and I don’t remember exactly what it was that prompted me to take him out there….but that was one hell of a trip. We hit all of the spots that Zagat recommended…real high level stuff. So it was funny to think back on some of that today, and honor it in my own quiet way. 

I have a couple of very strict rules that relate directly to that New York trip. First, whenever I go back out there the first place I eat anything, and this is with zero exception, is The Carnegie Deli. Is it touristy? Sure. Is it the BEST deli in New York? Probably not. But it was total magic to us kids, and I’ll never visit NYC without eating my first meal there. Second, whenever I eat dim sum I have to have sesame balls for dessert. Even if they are really horrible and have been sitting around. We had dim sum for the first time out there, and the thing with the sesame balls is that we got an order without knowing what they were like, and they were bad. Really bad. Bad enough to be extremely memorable. So that’s how I roll. I always get them even though I’m not crazy about them at all. 

So today I kind of channeled the New York trip as I went about my lone tourist day in DC.  After the 8:30 AA meeting in Dupont Circle I took the train down to the Crime and Punishment Museum for some out of towner goodness. And as if by divine intervention I was literally only one of maybe ten people in the entire museum. It was glorious, cheesy and fun. I can make it through ANY museum in thirty minutes, I do not like to linger and read all the damn exhibits, and the crime museum is made specifically for people like me with severe ADD.  Then, in a tribute to the first ever dim sum adventure I went over to Café Atlantico for their Nuevo Latino Dim Sum brunch….delicious, and no sesame balls.  Then more tourism over at the American History Museum….which was also really slow compared to the nightmarish toddler holocaust the Smithsonian can be on a beautiful day like today. 

Then a while ago I got back from dinner at Marcel’s.  With this being my brother’s birthday, I had to go one of two ways with dinner….extremely low-end or Zagat-y like Ben’s Chili Bowl, or someplace filled with rich people where I could pretend to be the turd in the punch bowl. When we took our trip we stayed at The Waldorf Astoria.  I have absolutely no idea why…it took all of the money we’d saved doing late night cleaning at a big downtown department store. I can be a little bit of a hoodrat now, but I’m English Bob compared to the level of culture I had at twenty….so there we were, staying at a hotel with people who thought of it like the Holiday Inn. So long story short, given the choice between pizza or Ben’s Chili Bowl….I went with the more delicious option.  Great time too, it’s always like my own personal inside joke whenever I do real high-end dining by myself and listen to people like the lady tonight who described what a horror it was to deal with the disillusionment involved with finding out your nanny was drinking your liquor because she considered it part of her room and board. I always think of my brother at times like that, so tonight it was especially funny. 

So that’s really it. It was a great day and I’m thankful to be at a place in life where I can appreciate it and write about it. Tomorrow I have to start my training class. Yay.   But hey, that’s the reason I’m here, and if my company weren’t footing the bill for airfare and hotel  I would never be able to do this obscene dining adventure.  More on all of the food later in the week or next week….it’s going to take a couple of separate posts to cover all of that. Some insanely good food so far though.

Oh man, the Oscars are on…..and I’m too lazy to cycle through the channels because I’m so used to having an info menu on my remote control….

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