Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back From DC

I'm just back from my second trip to DC in three weeks.  The grantee meeting on SBIRT that I attended was okay - not great.  Not nearly as good as the one I attend last month on Recovery Oriented Systems of Care however there are always benefits.  The best session was one on the Practice of Adaptive Leadership which is the practice of mobilizing people to tackle tough challenges and thrive. I'll defiantly use this information and have already began to read the book they provided.

The other benefit to attending with a group is spending time together during and between sessions problem solving and creating solutions to the challenges of implementing a new grant.  The work of this five year project is just getting started.  My new employee who will ultimately be responsible for the actual implementation starts on Monday. 

The final thing that's interesting is meeting the other grantees from across the country and learning about their projects.  I meet one person in particular from the NC site that was particularly interesting.  By happenstance we had lunch together - I had wondered off to find lunch away from the humdrum food at the hotel and found a Thai place and ran into one of the clinical team members from NC doing the same thing so we had lunch together.   Turns out that is was a very interesting conversation both about the work of the NC site but more interesting was his hobbies.  Not sure how the topic came up but it turns out he has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail!  Kent and I have that on our bucket list and have read a couple of books on the subject.  It's not everyday that you meet someone who has thru-hiked the Appalachian trail let alone have lunch so I took full advantage to "interview" him - something he obviously did not mind given the opportunity to talk about such an awesome experience.  Turns out he also writes for Backpacking Magazine contributing trail and product reviews.  Here is a link to one of his articles.  He also shared his blog - Peterhikes.  Check it out.  So Peter if you see this post, know that I'll be in touch and take you up on the offer of advice as the time comes that Kent and I take on the adventure of hiking the trail.  Turns out he's an alum of Wake Forest and has season tickets to both football and basketball so yet another thing to talk about!  When I discovered he had two and until recently three dogs and a flock of chickens, I knew knew he was a good guy!  Finally he mentioned his girlfriend hated the Oregon Ducks right down to their uniforms - these are good people!

The last time I was here I really did not venture out too much for local eats but this time for whatever reason I ventured out for interesting eats as much as possible.  Other than one meal in the conference hotel to dine with the team, I ate my dinners alone in the Old Town Alexandra neighborhood near the Kimpton where I stayed.  I used Local Eats (foodie app on my iPhone) to select the  best places.  Turns out that eating in the neighborhood was a great choice.  I ate at three places that are worth mentioning and going back to with Kent.  BTW - I already know my next trip to DC is in April of next year. 

I have really had to learn to be comfortable dining alone.  That's one of the reasons why it's sometimes simply easier to eat at Chipotle or a less formal option but I found that it was okay.   I already mentioned the Majestic Cafe - I'd have to say this was my best "local find".  It seemed like the kind of place that locals would come back to time and time again. In terms of seating this was the most awkward - I was sitting alone at a table for two with my back to a wall facing the rest of the patrons who could stare at me thinking - poor friendless guy!  Thankfully this did not last long, before I knew it there were two other single guys all sitting at separate tables for two with their back to the wall facing everyone - all three of us were lined up three in a row.  It was kinda funny actually.  I wish I were more forthright at times because one guy in particular seemed interesting from what I could over hear in his conversation with the waitress he was from Hungry visiting for the first time.  You can just see him to the right in the photo below.

Like me he  took photographs of his food.  I had a delicious caesar salad made from scratch right down to the egg yokes!  I had them include everything from the anchovy paste to the whole anchovies in the salad which I often skip since sometimes it's too fishy but I had a feeling this was going to be an exception and it was delicious! Dinner was Chesapeake Bay Stew - mussels, clams, crab, fish and shrimp - twice I had to let staff know that I was not yet done as I tried to eat every drop - it was so good.  I even got extra bread to do a little "sopping".  Their specialty was a hearty meatloaf meal which I did not try but the guy from Hungry sure seemed to like it. 

Another evening I passed a place called Red Rock Pizza Napoletana.  I was kind of in the mood for a less formal place and pizza sounded good and that place looked warm and cozy.  Turns out not only was the food terrific this gets the award for "most fun bartender"!  I've actually always known this but it was officially confirmed that Jim Vollendroff and lipstick lesbians are a dangerous (but fun) combination!  This was my one night of perhaps having one too many - of course it was the lesbians fault!   So after my eating against the wall incident I was looking for a little less conspicuous seating arrangements this time around.  I walked in and sure enough a perfect seat at the bar against the wall and it was the last one in a very hopping place.  There were two attractive young ladies siting next to the empty seat so I headed over and asked if they mined if I joined them.  I could tell right away by their reception that I would like them.  Turns out and you could tell right away that they were friends of the bartender.  While she was not busy she would hang out at our end of the bar and chat with the girls who quickly adopted me into their self disclosing and often hilarious conversation!  I ended up staying here much longer than anticipated and was treated to my first shot of something that tasted like german chocolate cake! I could tell these could be dangerous and limited myself to one.  I did get the recipe however!

My final meal was at Restaurant Eve.  It gets the "best fine dining" meal.  I found this on Local Eats as well. 

I walked by and the place looked a bit stuffy and I thought I might be under dressed.  I saw a lady gettingready to enter and she convinced me I had to give it a try!  Turns out she and her husband were visiting from out of town and she had eaten lunch there that same day and loved it so much she was back for dinner! She told me "people travel just to eat here"!  This was an exceptional meal (it had the price tag to go with it!) They had two types of seating options - one in the bistro with individual menu ordering or sampler seating whereby for prepriced seating that started at $120 you could sample several dishes.  Turns out that there were no opening but they offered the full bistro menu in the open seating bar.  Turns out that the bar was perfect.  Just busy enough but not overly crowded and a mixture of people eating dinner in the bar and other having drinks while waiting to be seated.  I decided to order a drink from their specialty menu.  Turns out it was anything but subtle!  I posted a picture on my Facebook account that said -" it takes a secure gay man to order a drink like this"!  It was kinda embarrassing and a real challenge to drink!  It was however a  real icebreaker with everyone at the bar! Another evening but for different reasons to limit myself to one! 

The meal here really was one of those "this is an exceptional meal" experience that I would highly recommend but be prepared to drop a few bucks.  I had an appetizer of lobster with fresh herbs that was crazy good.  Before I knew it two other groups at the bar who had enjoyed my cocktail choice had asked me about them and put in orders!  For the main dish I had an Atlantic white fish over polenta and greens that was out of this world!  The sauce served with it was incredible!  It was like this ingredient whose purpose was to perfectly bring together the individual components of the meal and it worked perfectly! I'm salivating just writing about it!  Finally though I did not order it - the couple next to me let me taste their appetizer of home made pork belly - yummmm!

It's a good thing I was able to get a couple of runs in while I was there!

One last plug in for the Kimpton Hotels!  I love their pet friendly policy.  Great place to stay.  I have already found one to stay at near the April 2012 meeting in Dupont Circle.

Glad to be getting home - I begin to get a bit homesick on day two.  Poor Kent has been on dog duty alone and during this time of training with Harry it's a challenge to saw the least and I've had two business trips since we added a third pup.  I have a few weeks before I have to fly out again - Kansas City at the end of the month - then the rest of our trips for this year will include Kent, including our trip to NY in December to see the Huskies play in Madison Square Garden.  We will likely go to whichever bowl game the huskies go to just after Christmas and that should wrap up 2011 travel! 

Just in time to plan travel to Miami in January for Kent and I to run in the Miami marathon! 

Have a good one -


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