August 24, 2010

After Work in New York

Last time I wrote about New York I discussed the vibe of the city, the energy on the streets. This week I went to New York for work. Unlike my recent trips to this city where I spent the majority of my time out experiencing the city, this week I spent my days in the depths of a convention center in Midtown. I was in the heart of Manhattan, but inside I had no connection to the street. Large indoor spaces – like convention centers – have an eery sense of being distant from the world just outside the door.

Luckily, I was able to go out in the evenings and enjoy the city. As soon as my work obligations were completed every day I would head onto the streets and enjoy the vibe of New York. I would hop on the subway and go downtown. I visited my favorite clothing store – a small shop called Rosebud on Thompson Street in SoHo. This is a small shop has wonderful clothing for women. I went to the Village and walked along the streets window shopping, having fun in the city.

And, of course, I had to eat. I read about Grom Gelato in the New York Times. On the corner of Bleeker and Carmine Streets in the West Village it is the perfect location to sit at one of their sidewalk tables and enjoy a frozen treat. And the gelato and sorbet at Grom is excellent! I got a small cup with pistachio gelato and dark chocolate sorbet. The pistachio was perfect creamy and nutty flavor – very much like gelato I ate in Rome several years ago. And the chocolate sorbet was amazing! It was creamiest sorbet I have ever had.

At dinnertime one evening I found myself by Cornelia Street and decided to try . I walked in and was offered a seat at the tiny bar inside the door. The restaurant is cozy with white table cloth clad tables packed into the narrow dining room. It is inviting atmosphere – a great place to relax, enjoy a meal, and spend time with family and friends.

But, the cozy cafe atmosphere is only part of the story. The more important chapter is about the food. The menu is simple Italian – and everything was fantastic! First I had white bean bruschetta. This is served complimentary to each guest. For my meal, I ordered a mixed green salad and gnocchi. The salad was very good, then the pasta was fantastic! The gnocchi was perfect – fresh and soft with a simple tomato and basil sauce and fresh mozzarella. For dessert I had fresh strawberries marinaded in balsamic vinegar with black pepper. An unexpected and excellent combination of flavors!

The food at was simple. Uncomplicated and delicious. A perfect meal. And a great way to end a visit to New York!

August 22, 2010

Looking Up

View from a Sidewalk Cafe
14th Street Northwest
Washington, District of Columbia

August 15, 2010

August 10, 2010

Beyond the Capitol Building

Many tourists visiting Washington DC go to Capitol Hill. They walk past the House and Senate office buildings and take pictures of the US Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress. But, that is normally where their tour of this neighborhood ends and they turn back towards the grassy expanse of the National Mall.

A few blocks past the political beehive there is a different side of Capitol Hill. It is a vibrant and upcoming area of the city which has seen a great deal of transformation in recent. Nestled along Pennsylvania Avenue, 8th Street SE, and Massachusetts Avenue this is part of Capitol Hill is home to Eastern Market and many other shops and cafes.

For those unfamiliar Eastern Market, it is a home to several permanent food shops and spills out onto the sidewalks and surrounding streets on weekends when farmers and artists come to sell their wares. It is a fun place to wonder around on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. After visiting the market, branch out and explore the other side of Capitol Hill. The block just south of Eastern Market is lined with cafes and shops – a quaint French restaurant, a gourmet pizza place, a cute children’s shop, a coffee shop and other establishments.

Peregrine Espresso is a small and quirky coffee shop that serves excellent coffee and tea. To accompany your beverage they sell a variety of pastries. I tried a chocolate sandwich cookie and it was perfect with my plum tea. This cute shop has a small brick patio in front for use during pleasant weather. It is a great place to sit on weekends and watch people walking to and from Eastern Market.

Crossing Pennsylvania Avenue is 8th Street SE and Barracks Row. Shops, cafes, and restaurants line the street from Pennsylvania down past the barracks to the Southeast Freeway. Two of the restaurants along 8th Street are Belga Cafe and Cava Mezze. Belga Cafe serves excellent waffles and other Belgian specialities. The savory waffles are tasty and a pleasant departure from the American expectation of this dish. Across the street is Cava Mezze, a Mediterranean tapas restaurant. The food is classic eastern Mediterranean style small plates – salads and vegetable dishes, hummus, grilled cheese, and meats and seafood dishes. On warm evenings the sidewalk patio is a great place to sit, enjoy your food, and watch the people strolling by.

If you want to see the neighborhood that lives in the shadow of history and current events, take a photograph of the US Capitol Building and then visit the other side of Capitol Hill.

August 6, 2010

Red Hot Dusk

Sunset from my rooftop
Columbia Heights
Washington, DC

Racing with the DC First Ladies

How often do we get to truly challenge ourselves? Test our limits, push ourselves to the edge and beyond? How often do we get to be part of a team where the whole is truly much greater than the sum of the parts?

This past weekend I had that opportunity. I competed in the US National Dragon Boat Racing Competition with a group of strong, passionate women.

This year's USDBF Club Crew National Championship Competition took place in Chattanooga, Tennessee. For me this adventure began in April when Jonathan and I joined the DC Dragon Boat Club. Throughout the spring and summer we have practiced and raced with Club DC. It has been a fun experience during which I have become stronger - both physically and mentally.

The more recent part of my adventure began at Washington National Airport where I spent some quality time waiting for Delta Airlines to resolve a maintenance issue and launch my – slightly delayed – flight. This time was a personal reminder for me of a former chapter in my professional life. A time to appreciate my current career, quality of life, and opportunities.

I finally arrived in Chattanooga late. Tired and exhausted I made my way to the hotel and went to sleep. The next day I met up with my team for practice. We spent about a half an hour in the damp 100 degree Tennessee heat getting used to the water and boats at Chickamunga Lake, the race site.

The next morning we arrived at the lake early and had the first opportunity to meet our competition. This race was our team's inaugural race as a women's team and we were excited to experience the festival and get out on the water.

Then we were there, at the start line, waiting for the horn to blow. I sat there, at the edge of my seat my eyes fixed on the two women in front of me – ready to race. Then the horn and we were off. We started our first race strong and within the first few seconds our boat glided forward inching towards the lead. However, soon the greater experience and will of the other teams became apparent and our boat slide to a trailing position. We finished the race last.

Several of our team members, myself included, are very competitive. Finishing last in our first race was a humbling experience. Our nerves became unraveled and our spirits sank. We are a new team – and this reminded us we had a lot to learn.

But, over the next few days we focused, watched, and learned from the other teams. And we continued to race. During the weekend we had the opportunity to paddle in five races and we fought to stay in the game every time. Sometimes we came together as a team, other times we did not.

For me, it was a great experience – and it was also a time to learn. I was challenged both physically and mentally. My emotions ranged from excitement to frustration to joy. I paddled hard, focusing to leave every ounce of energy on the water. I fought to stay positive and confident following defeat. And then after our last race – the 1000 meter race – I felt exhilaration of just having paddled a great race!

Regardless of how we placed, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to attend and participate in a US National Dragon Boat competition. I look forward to future races with the Club DC First Ladies and Club DC mixed teams!