Archive forApril, 2013

Brookland Cafe, bluebells, babies (of the raccoon variety), and a trophy for Smark

Although we live nearby, Mark and I rarely venture to DC, which frankly, I do not like. If I need or want to do something in a city, I’ll usually drive up to Baltimore, where I am from, where I know people, where the streets make sense (They are a grid! They don’t look like someone threw a bowl of noodles on the floor and turned it into a map!), and where one is able to park their car. Mark and I lived in DC near Georgetown for a year, and more than once Mark drove home to our neighborhood, couldn’t find parking, and had to drive back to his office and sleep there because there wasn’t anywhere to put his car. Since we moved to Virginia, my forays into DC have been mostly limited to meetings for work, shows at the 9:30 Club (which I love), and occasional trips to the Smithsonian.

This is part of the reason you rarely see restaurant reviews on this blog; DC has plenty of options for vegans, but I’m barely familiar with them because I avoid the place (and I usually insist on Ethiopian when I am there!). But Mark was in a chess tournament near the Mall last Saturday, so after helping raccoons in the morning, I met him out there. After his tournament, we went out to dinner at a new vegan-friendly restaurant, so I thought I’d do a little review. And blab about my life, because you miss that, right?

I’ll go in chronological order, more or less. Mark, brave soul, drove downtown in the morning to register for the tournament, and I did my regular raccoon routine. We have 15 babies right now, but I think it was about 8 last weekend. This is Vinegar, and like Bender, he can’t roll off his back to right himself. (Most raccoons can – Vinegar is too fat!)

Once all the babies were fed and all the cages clean, I took the metro into the city and found Mark, who was doing well in the tournament. I didn’t hang around the chess place, though. I crossed Pennsylvania Ave…

…and headed towards the Mall.

I was hoping to see the rocket Antares during its takeoff, but the takeoff got scrubbed, for the second time, at the last minute. (It finally took off the next day.) I was disappointed, but I did think the Washington Monument looked a bit like a rocket prepared for liftoff with the scaffolding currently surrounding it. (It’s under repairs due to the earthquake we had in 2011.)

Did you know that the Smithsonian owns one of the original Paris metro signs that I loooooooooooove? (Oh, Paris; you pull off crazy streets and a lack of parking with so much more class than DC.)

I wandered around a couple of the Smithsonian’s gardens for a while…

… then headed back towards Mark. I witnessed a duck walking down the sidewalk outside the Natural History Museum. Why??? I guess she walked up from the Tidal Basin, but that seems rather dangerous. In retrospect, I wonder if I shouldn’t have tried to relocate her, although she seemed to know what she was doing.

Mark was outside waiting for me…with a trophy!!! He won every game of the tournament!

We went to Brookland Cafe for dinner because I had read online that they had a vegan menu and I wanted to check out their selection of vegan bar food. And I REALLY wanted a beer (it was hot!). It’s about 3 blocks from the Brookland CUA station. I had insisted we take the metro even though many stops were closed and we therefore had to take a shuttle for part of the way because I’d never been to Brookland and my base assumption for DC is there is no parking, but actually there was plenty of parking. That was around 6:30 on a Saturday; not sure if that makes a difference. The interior:

Mark was starved after his mental exertions, so we ordered an appetizer of jerk “chicken” tenders. These ended up being a veggie burger cut into strips and covered in a jerk sauce. I wasn’t expecting a veggie burger, but the sauce was tasty.

For his main, Mark ordered the mock fish sandwich. The “fish” looked and tasted like the fish filets I sometimes order from May Wah…which is good because we love those things.

I got the BBQ sandwich. This one was Gardein, I think even the sauce.

For our sides, we both ordered the “explosion” fries, which is a mixture of all four fries they have: regular, sweet potato, lemon pepper, and red pepper. Those were fun. Neither of us could finish our sandwiches, so we took the leftovers home. Because they were based on frozen products, it would have been fairly easy to make any of these dishes at home (except maybe the fries), and I prefer go to restaurants for things I can’t easily make at home, however, everything was also very delicious, the service was extremely attentive and friendly, and I like supporting places that have vegan menus, so I would definitely return. If we lived nearby, I could see Mark and I going there regularly for a beer on nights I didn’t feel like cooking. I would very much prefer it if they got rid of the television, though, and used real china and silverware instead of disposable plastic. I’m kind of hoping the latter is just a temporary measure for some reason.

Before I go, can we talk briefly about how much I love spring? One of the highlights around here is the Virginia bluebells. A couple of weekends ago I went to Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area to check them out.

That was extremely pleasant, although I think Bull Run Regional Park is still my favorite place to see them. I missed them there at their peak, but I did head down there one night after work this week.

Although the blanket of blue wasn’t as heavy as it would have been a couple of weeks ago, it was still beautiful.

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Hello, here is an eagle

I HAVE BEEN SO BUSY. I’ve been working a lot of hours over the last month or so; food has unfortunately taken a backseat. I should be able to relax after a big software release in the next week or two, just in time for wildlife baby season to really get started and take up all my free time. Fortunately the farmers market will be opening in a few weeks, which is certain to be inspiring. In the meantime, I don’t have a recipe tonight, but I did get some eagle and osprey pictures yesterday so I thought I’d share.

Saturday night I asked Mark what he wanted to do the following day and he said, “see an eagle.” As far as I know, the best chances of seeing a bald eagle in this area are Mason Neck State Park, so I suggested we go there, although on the drive there the next day, I encouraged Mark not to get his hopes up, because that’s how it is with wildlife. He insisted he was keeping his hopes up because we WOULD see an eagle. So we got to the park and headed for the lookout point where we saw an eagle about this time last year. At first we saw only omnipresent turkey vultures, but within three minutes of our arrival, Mark’s eagle arrived.

I guess there’d been no need for the “don’t get your hopes up” speech.

Although I see them with some regularity these days, eagles never fail to instill a sense of awe in me. I know that as a product of the ’80s I abuse the word “awesome” but bald eagles truly are awesome in every sense of the word.

After landing (on the exact same branch we saw him or a friend last year), he sat there for a good long time and preened. He’s all convoluted in this shot!

After watching the eagle for a while we decided to head to the other side of Belmont Bay to see if they’d cleaned up Occoquan Bay NWR of all the accumulated trash the day before as their website had promised. (They had, thankfully!) This time of year you are guaranteed to see a lot of nesting ospreys at Occoquan; no worries about dashed hoped there. This one is returning to the nest with half of a fish plucked from the bay.

And this one is working on his nest.

We also saw tons of painted turtles sunning on one of the first truly nice days of the year.

Ordinarily I’d have tried to look this bird up in one of my books, but I just didn’t have time, so I’m not sure what it is, but I thought it was cute.

In non-wildlife news, we went to see the physicist Brian Greene speak in McLean a couple of weekends ago. Which is relevant to this blog because he’s a long-time vegan!

I had him sign one of my books, and Pig got himself involved. Brian said it was very nice meeting me and my pig!

Finally, Torticia.

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