everybody’s waiting for the man with the bag…of booze

I never understood the phrase “drown your sorrows.” It sounds like something a sad, morose person does by themselves at a seedy bar in low light.

I am a social drinker. Don’t get me wrong, I will come home a drink a bottle of wine with dinner. But that same bottle just tastes better with company. Drinking is a lot like smoking, I think- there are a few dedicated souls who will do it no matter what, but for many, it’s about camaraderie. So I don’t drown my sorrows. I prefer to be a darkly humorous cynic of a drunk in bad times, and a happy and gregarious one in better times. I am also a social drinker because around Christmas, the general public (and occasionally my family) force me to seek refuge in cocktails to make it through.

Moving on to the point of this post- holiday booze recommendations. I like cheap plonk. There, I said it. Franzia, Boone’s farm, Andre, bathtub Tenley vodka- I’ve had it all. That being said, if ever there were a time of year to go all out, this is it. Festivus, Christmas, Hanukah, whatever- the last half of December is made for champagne and gold stilettos, fitted silk dresses and dangly earrings, elbow length gloves and purple belted coats.

Or, maybe that’s just me.

Here’s what I find myself drinking this time of year:

Paringa Sparkling Shiraz: little on the sweet side, but I love it anyway. Available at the Whole Foods on 14th and P.

Moet White Star or Taittinger Brut: Classic. Taittinger makes me feel like I’m in one of their old posters. As for the White Star, I drank it on my birthday, I will drink it at my nonexistent wedding, and I will request that people drink it at my funeral.

1+1=3 Cava: Cheap, bubbly, dry and delicious.

Zardetto Prosecco: Even cheaper, available EVERYWHERE, and delicious in morning cocktails. Speaking of which…

Pointsetta: I hate mimosas, because I don’t like fresh orange juice. So I have them with cranberry instead. I also skip on the GM, because I developed an aversion to it working in a restaurant.

Yellowtail Shiraz: in this recipe for cranberry mulled wine. Chuck everything in a CrockPot and let it simmer. Trust me, buy the 1.5 L magnum and make a double batch.

Sam Adams Winter Lager: readily available almost everywhere. I hate the Boston Lager, but I love the Sam Seasonals.

Maudite and La Chouffe: not exactly seasonal, but I find myself drinking them more than normal

Lindemans Lambic Framboise: Because every year, my little sister insists on drinking far too much, with disastrous hilarious results.

Hangar One Kaffir Lime vodka: because gimlets are appropriate year round.

Anything from the Gibson: if you haven’t been, go. Now. (Just make sure you’re not there when I want to go, so I can have a table.)

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General Tso to the rescue!

Yesterday, I left work promptly at five in search of a new pair of jeans. For whatever reason, it is all but impossible for me to find jeans. Bring on your Seven for All Mankind, your Paper Denim and Cloth. Rock and republic, Blue Cult, Levi’s….doesn’t matter. Seems that my ass will defeat them all. Usually when this happens, I get pissed and end up buying shoes. That didn’t work either yesterday. So I found myself in one of my happy places, buying clothes for M&S.

I mention all of this because by the time my shopping debacle was over, I was a little grumpy. Fortunately, between my laziness and VT’s couch, the perfect remedy was at hand- Chinese food , crappy white wine, and baseball!

What?

Yup. Baseball. We’ll get to that. Chinese food first.

There are no pictures, as you might have noticed, because VT and I (mostly me) inhaled our food. Mr Chen’s is my favorite Chinese place in the entire city, aside from the place in Chinatown that serves beer after hours (for obvious reasons). It’s a holdover from my AU days, when I had Chinese food at least once a week. We usually ordered from some place called Taiwan Cafe, I think. It was decent, but…Mr. Chen’s was a revelation! And it probably extended my lifespan by about 6 years, thanks to the generally healthy and oftentimes organic ingredients.

Our order? General Tso’s Chicken, Lemon Chicken, and a double order of vegetarian spring rolls (mmmmmm.)

As for the baseball, I think my conversion into a slightly-more-than-casual fan is complete. It just feels weird not to have some sort of sports obsession. I mean, am I supposed to be twiddling my thumbs for the next five months? Can’t deal. Our entire meal, I peppered VT with questions:

“I know what ERA stands for, but what does it mean?”
“What about RBI?”
“Why is RBI such a biased stat?”
“Why does Big Papi spit on his gloves?”
“Why do you need a starter, a reliever, and a closer?”
“How many times can you switch pitchers?”
“Who the hell is THAT?”

And on and on.

Check back. I’m also in the process of selecting an English Premier League team. It’s looking good for the Spurs.

you say vino, i say teca

Note: I wrote this back at the end of February, and have been holding onto it for some reason. Since Tom wrote about Vinoteca today, I figured I’d go ahead and throw it up:

I had been wanting to do a round up of the three new-ish wine bars in my ‘hood- Vinoteca, Veritas, and Cork.

So much for that. I went to Cork opening night, haven’t been back since, and didn’t really sample enough for a definitive conclusion. Plus, I was sitting next to the architect, who was so rude to my friends that the whole ordeal (the place was PACKED) left a bad taste in my mouth.

Vinoteca, however, is awesome. For starters, it’s next door to Solly’s, my favorite place on U street to knock back PBR cans and end my night out (just before hitting Ben’s Chili Bowl). I made a reservation there a few weeks ago, myself, my mom, OtherFemaleHousemate, and her mom.

The space was dark and the tables a little crowded, but not enough that it became a problem. We had a lovely table in the front and immediately commenced to the eating of pork-y platter of deliciously cured meats- in this case, a charcuterie with Rosette De Lyon, Sopressatta, duck Proscuitto, and Lomo, capped off with a bottle of Chilean Carmenère (2004 Alcance de Vina Calina). Clearly, since hedonism of the meat and red wine variety was the order of the day, we also had some lamb and feta sliders with the reddest tomatoes I’ve ever seen in February. As you may or may not know, I hate raw tomatoes, but I was completely transfixed by these.


Moving on to the main course, we had another bottle of the same wine, plus a grilled kalamari salad (marinated in olive oil and lemon, with mesclun and pine nuts), sweet potato ravioli, rockfish with lentils, and a roasted rack of lamb with roasted potatoes and red peppers that left my mother with the most satisfied look I have ever seen on her face, except for possibly when I graduated from college.

Sadly, i don’t remember what we had for dessert, only that we devoured it. I looked through my notes (yes, I am a dork, I take notes) and I didn’t write down anything


Sure was good though. I think the left was some sort of cake, and the right was the first bread pudding I’ve ever enjoyed. I think it was the caramel sauce….or maybe all the wine. (Photographic evidence confirms that I substituted my usual cappuccino with dessert for a glass of Prosecco. Oops.)

Either way, now I feel bad. Vinoteca is a slightly classier place than Solly’s and walking past Solly’s to go in sort of makes me feel like I’m cheating.

Good thing I can use those lamb sliders to get over it…

why didn’t you call me: german edition

Okay, so this isn’t really “why didn’t you call me?” Mainly because (being the good friend he is) VT actually invited me over for dinner.

A bit of background- his mom is from Germany, (Berlin, I believe) and as such, he’s fluent in German, and has a distinct love (read: obsession) with German food, German soccer, German/German-speaking girls, etc. In another bit of trivia, as it turns out, my mom, aunt, and uncle grew up in Germany, a result of my grandfather’s army post there. As a result, I grew up noshing on German food, thanks to my mom and grandmother. In fact, I distinctly remember a 2 week period of my life where I came home from AM kindergarten and my grandmother made me schnitzel every day for lunch. After 2 weeks of that, she rebelled, not that I blame her.

Back to the story. I showed up at VT’s condo (blessedly only a few blocks from my abode) with a bottle of Riesling and some Russian black rye bread in tow. Not that we needed wine. I got a Hefeweizen out of the fridge, plopped on the couch, and let him go to work.

The results? DELICIOUS
We had the bread, and some half pork-half veal sausages known colloquially in Berlin as currywurst. Traditionally, the sausages are served with some sort of cumin/chili spiked ketchup, which VT attempted to recreate. I was not impressed, but only because I loathe ketchup. He really came through on the spicy horseradish mustard though…

(Apologies for the poor photo quality, all I had was my camera phone.) When that says “extra hot,” Inglehoffer is NOT lying. I think we were both coughing and possibly tearing a little through dinner. (Although in my case, it might have had something to do with the fact that Duke lost to Miami and the game was NOWHERE to be found, because we had to watch a vomiting VA Tech team beat the Terps instead. But I digress)

Clearly we’re going to have to break out the schnitzel-pounding mallet for the next round.

dispatches from the field: atlanta

in short…

Things I ate while in Atlanta
– Burger that made me vomit
– 2 vats of spinach artichoke dip
– granola
– no grits
– rabbit with swiss chard and smoked bacon ravioli
– lots of bagels
– not a single biscuit
– cold Olive Garden lasagna

Things I drank while in Atlanta
– club soda and lime
– Stella
– shitty merlot that came in a magnum at reception
– even shittier white zin that also came in a magnum at reception
– miller lite with a lime after reception ran out of shitty merlot
– Willamette Valley pinot noir
– Charles Krug cab
– shitty hotel bar savignon blanc (superior to shitty hotel bar chardonnay)
– lots of Diet Coke (NOT diet pepsi)
– the worst margarita I’ve ever had in my life
– Killian’s Red at the MillerLiteVictoryLane “restaurant” while in the seventh layer of hell
– not enough water

Number of nights in ATL: 3
Number of nights at least one meal or drink consumed in hotel bar: 3
Number of nights I closed down the hotel bar: 1
Number of nights I slept with the door to my balcony open in the hotel because it was so warm: 1
Number of hours to fly to Atlanta and back: 3.75
Number of hours spent in DCA or ATL waiting on delayed plane: 3.5
Number of children crawling around on the floor of the bathroom in the airport while Mom tries to wash out the car seat said child has relieved himself in: 1
Number of giant puddles of small child pee and water on floor while aforementioned child was crawling around: 3

Happy Valentine’s Day

Urbana

I used to work on the corner of 22nd and P (no, NOT at the Fireplace). As such, I wandered around that bit of Dupont quite often- Alberto’s for lunch, Soho Tea and Coffee, Naan and Beyond (although the L Street location, close to my office now, is much better- apparently we can’t relocate unless it’s within a one block distance of Naan and Beyond.) I made it a point to hit the happy hour at Urbana, the restaurant attached to the Hotel Palomar.

I remember Palomar and Urbana when they were the Hotel Radisson and Gabriel, respectively. This came up in conversation with VT and LB over dinner at Urbana last night. After an absolutely HORRID day at work (although, it’s taken me six monthes to have my first truly bad day, so I suppose I ought not complain) I went over to PS7 for several glasses of champagne. (Worth noting- PS7 has happy hour from 5 until 7 with a couple of $4 wines along with discounted prices on the signature cocktails and bar snacks, including the first and only hot dog I’ve eaten since I was about 6 years old) While I made friends at the bar, LB, who has also been having a terrible time at work, made her way in from Virgina to meet me, and we ended up at Urbana with VT. Several years ago, I dragged LB and a few of my other friends to Gabriel for dinner. I think they were ready to kill me by the time it was over- The food was TERRIBLE and overpriced, although I very much enjoyed my “Mexican pizza.”

Thankfully, Urbana has none of these problems. They have a lovely happy hour that I used to hit quite often with Ace after work- cheap wines by the the glass, pizza and cocktails at the bar. Last night, I settled on swiss chard and ricotta ravioli with bacon and a glass of one of my favorite wines, a Costamolina Vermentino. VT and LB both opted for a pizza with Pecorino Romano, prosciutto, and arugula (most of which i picked of VT’s pizza and ate.) I tend to forget about Urbana, because it’s kind of tucked in on a part of P street I don’t frequent too often. I’m glad I did last night. We skipped dessert, and after I beat MP# at a game of rock paper scissors (the best way to make all decisions in life) we went to the Big Hunt for some beer.

In other news, I’ll be here on January 29th, if you’re looking for me. I might even take my mom.

bar news

It seems that Gina Chersevani, the bartender behind the cocktail list at Rasika, has been fired. Fritz Hahn covers it here. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I worked at one of Ashok Bajaj’s restaurants for a little over a year, and count Gina among my friends as a result of the time I spent there. Back to the story though- Bajaj gave Fritz some incorrect info – Anne Marie Dick didn’t design the original cocktail menu. The original menu was devised by the original bartenders- Gina & Sal (now at CityZen,) and sommelier Sebastian Zutant (now at Proof), who were the original bar team when the restaurant opened in December 2005.

More on Gina from the Washington Post, Washingtonian, Washingtonian After Hours Blog, The Liquid Muse, and A Mighty Appetite.

News worth noting, don’t you think?