Monday, April 01, 2013

Hunting Cherry Blossoms in Snow: DC Trip

While most people are satisfied with photos from their trip, I like to write about it. This means that after I finally uploading photos, I’m still not done. Taking trip notes helps this blogging process but self-selection and editing renders most of those notes useless. Similar to my IndieCade blog write up (link here), I’ll capture only the highlights. What better to represent highlights than my single sighting of a cherry blossom tree! Since I booked my trip before the cherry blossom forecast, I was in DC too early to see proper peak season around the Tidal Basin. Peak season this year is April 3-6.


Day 1: Monument Walk

J. and I stayed at a place within walking distance from the National Mall which meant we were also quite close to the monuments and main cherry blossom walk around the tidal basin. We passed the Washington Monument (still under construction after last year’s earthquake), World World II Memorial (fountain was off), and Martin Luther King’s Memorial before reaching Jefferson Memorial. Below is a photo from across the Tidal Basin. It was a warm day and we were able to walk around the monuments and memorials without the usual crowd. Mostly likely everyone was more on top of the cherry blossom forecast than I was.


There were also a number of treasures inside the Smithsonian Castle. My favorite item is the cup&saucer set designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Day 2: Catching Up

B. moved closer to the metro recently so of course we had to crash his place. We browsed through the Netflix selection and watched Thor (with snarky commentary of course). Overall it was a decent movie and makes me want to read more about the series and find that children’s book on illustrated Norse Mythology. Prior to this, my only exposure to Thor was through reading Marvel Civil War. His character didn’t really make an impression on me (not going to spoil it for the rest of you). Most of the other highlights of Day 2 were food related so I will leave that for later in the post.

Day 3: Sculpture Garden in the Snow

I’ve been to the National Gallery Sculpture Garden (see my fav sculpture) and the Ice Rink but somehow missed the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden all these years frequenting the National Mall. While I was waiting for the museums and galleries to open at 10:30am, I wandered around the mall and found this sculpture garden. Perfectly timed with light snow falling. Most of the signs indicating artist names were snowed over so I will have to update this next time I get the names.




Food Round-up


We ended up going to eat in Gallery Place / Chinatown several times.

  • Gordon Biersch
    Long wait for dinner but once you get going, great food, drinks, and service. I wasn’t crazy about the Miso Mahi but J’s Märzen burger looked good.
    Märzen: our favorite beer (I found this while my family tried the beer sampler at another location).
  • Crepe on the Walk
    We fought over dessert for a while but really enjoyed this place. I got the strawberry, lemon, and sugar. J. got something with nutella. The real issue with crepes is that I haven’t been to Café Bonaparte [old review] in a while and I miss it. Next time I will need to make a trip over there.


  • Daikaya
    Place is so new that we are now considered the hip kids in DC. While I like the bar style, it was difficult to talk with the music and because we all sitting next to each other and not across.
    B. and I both had Shio Ramen. I got mine with extra bamboo shoots. J. opted for the Vegetable Ramen with extra bamboo shoots. I didn’t have a chance to take a photo of his bowl which was easily the best looking one there. While I enjoyed the ramen, I can never seem to be satisfied with ramen alone for dinner. So we go for our next foodie adventures.
  • Fadó
    Reading my previous blog review, I had to laugh at my lack of beer knowledge. Stella, Smithwicks, and Guinness? Please, I’ve totally over all of them except maybe the occasional Smithwicks. We saw a Boddington special so naturally just went for it. How can you go wrong with $4 a pop for draft?

    We got the best combo you can get: Fries followed by Ice Cream. Just remember that fries are called “chips” there. We tried two sauces for fries: Guinness BBQ and Peppercorn. The best? Still ketchup. So call me old-fashioned. I think the Guinness BBQ may work better on a burger or chicken tenders. After we devoured the fries, we ordered the Brownie with Guinness Ice Cream. If you don’t like this dish, then clearly you need to reevaluate your dessert preferences. I recommend it to everyone, even if you don’t believe in bar/pub desserts. Total junk food victory.

    On an unrelated note, special characters makes searching really annoying, I almost didn’t find my old entry. So I’m also going to write Fado in this entry for easier search in the future.

We also ate in Union Station several times. Makes sense, since that’s where I take the train.

  • Sunrise Caribbean
    Got the oxtail and okra. Flavorful and not impossibly spicy. Would add this to a Union Station favorite (along with the Indian place)
  • Roti
    One of these is actually opening near my apt but I suppose it’s never too early to get a preview from another location.
    The concept is as simple as Chipotle. I ordered the plate with Chicken kabob and Spanish eggplants.
  • New and Old: Le Pain Quotidien (one of my favorite NY cafes) is actually replacing Corner Bakery in Union Station. I guess I will have to see how it goes. Also I saw that the bookstore closed down too, which is a bummer. I don’t know when Fantom Comics opened on the top floor but I was happy to see it. Go support them next time you take the train to/from DC!

One place that’s not in Union Station or Gallery Place is a great café recommended by T. We caught up over good coffee and pastries. I liked the observation T. made about meeting new people and getting inspired by new ideas. I hope my write-up will inspire some new ideas to my readers as well. My trip made me want to read up on poets, sculptures, African art, and more.

Everything Else

We came upon the Portrait Gallery by accident and I remembered that there was an exhibit dedicated to poets. It took us both a while to find that particular exhibit, but it was worth the effort. Included with each portrait of the poet is a brief bio and several lines from famous works. That exhibit is going on until April 28. Another exhibit that we found fun was a small patent model gallery (can’t find the website dedicated to it). The best part was the quiz where people have to guess what a specific model is supposed to be.

Smithsonian Galleries on the Mall – All Three below are connected via underground tunnels. Look at signs. This is good because you don’t need to go through security and locker for every gallery.

  • African Art Gallery
    There was a bulletin which described certain symbolism and technique used by African artists. The info was meant to help people understand what they see while viewing different artworks. Not sure why other cultural galleries don’t do the same. I’m sure Asian art can also be quite intimidating for someone not used to the technique and symbols. I probably need to read up more on it and see more art before I can really comment.
  • Freer Gallery / Sackler Gallery
    I enjoyed exhibits for Persian and Iran. Chinese miniatures from One Man’s Search exhibit was also fascinating. I also took the opportunity to visit the Peacock room for the 100th time. It never gets old, kind of like the Suzhou garden in the Met. Do you have a favorite room in a museum that you have to visit every time you go?

*Bonus Cherry Blossom Link below will show you cherry blossoms in Japan courtesy of Google. Amazing…

1 comment:

st2128 said...

Nice post. I suggest you move up earlier the comment about hoping you inspire your readers. That's like your purpose so it's good to say it sooner.