Tuesday, January 28, 2014

DC Recap Part II

We left off on Saturday afternoon after our looooong day of sightseeing. We weren’t necessarily starving, even after all the walking, because lunch was so filling (stuffed from Good Stuff?), but we still made an early dinner reservation at Graffiato, an Italian-inspired small plates restaurant. We ordered way too much food but loved every bite:
  • Hangar steak
  • Rocky Balboa pizza—steak, feta, arugula, deliciousness
  • Gnocchi—so incredibly delicious
  • Brussels sprouts—my favorite part of the meal
  • Lamb ragout
  • Charred octopus (yes, this one was Terry’s vote, but we actually all enjoyed it)

After dinner, we walked down the street to Red Velvet, a cupcake place. There are approximately 83 million cupcake eateries in America now, and this one didn’t look particularly special, but I discovered later that these were, in fact, the best cupcakes I’ve ever had! Terry and I ordered two to go: Devil’s food (all chocolate, super thick frosting) and “Summertime” something, which was a lemon cupcake with whipped cream frosting and coconut on top. We were too full that night to eat them, and Terry wasn’t feeling great, so we saved them for later in the trip, but when we finally did eat them we were both blown away at the flavor and texture. Moist, not too much frosting, not too sweet, and absolutely delicious. My uncle will be happy to hear me say that I actually enjoyed a cupcake (I’m normally a cake person all the way—they are NOT the same thing).

And then we called it a night. We were all exhausted—at 8:30. Call us old, but all that walking just did us in. Terry and I retreated to our hotel and got about nine hours of sleep. It was lovely.

On Sunday morning, Terry and I debated getting up early to check out a few more sights, but sleep won. We finally got into gear and met Fay and David in their neighborhood for brunch at 10:15. The day was chilly again, but at least we had some sun!

Brunch was at Belga Café, a Belgian restaurant, and thankfully we were able to make a reservation. Without a reservation, there can be a bit of a wait, and it was way too cold to stand outside. But Open Table hooked us up, and we chose a lovely table near the window. I think this meal was my favorite of the trip, not only for what we all ordered but for all the amazing options on the menu. I saw about six different meals I would have liked to try, and I have no doubt they all would have been incredible. I chose the cinnamon apple Belgian waffle with homemade whipped cream, a bit of fresh fruit, and scrambled eggs on the side.

Funny story: As I debated about whether to go sweet or savory (ah, the ever-enduring brunch debate), Fay happened to read my mind and said that it’s a good idea to order something sweet and then just order eggs on the side. Her words were, “Yeah, just order the two eggs on the side; they whip ‘em up really nice!” I was sold. But when the waiter took my order, for some reason I felt like ordering “scrambled eggs” wouldn’t suffice; no, I had to quote Fay’s suggestion. So I said to the waiter, “My friend here says that you guys can do some fancy whipped eggs?” He looked at me like I was crazy. “Um…scrambled eggs?” he asked. The entire table echoed him. “Yeah, scrambled eggs,” Fay said. Wow. But seriously, they were delicious scrambled eggs, and they deserve some sort of fancy name. I stand by my insane ordering.

Terry ordered the mussels with Chimay broth; David went with a simple Belgian waffle, more of those fancy scrambled eggs, and sausage, and Fay chose the spinach green eggs.

 Everyone gushed about their food! I very seriously considered coming back to Begla on Monday morning, but I would have for sure if we’d stayed any longer. My second choice would have been the cornbread waffle with pulled pork. Yes. That was on the menu.

After brunch, Fay won the Most Random Question of the Weekend award when she asked, “Do you guys like Pop Tarts?” What? We just ate a gigantic meal, Fay. Do you have extra Pop Tarts you need to pawn off on us? But Fay explained that a nearby restaurant/bakery makes homemade Pop Tarts and that people go crazy for them. Terry and I ordered a brown sugar “Pop Tart”—and it really was delicious, but extremely different from a Pop Tart (except in shape and concept, I suppose). The crust was flaky, the icing wasn’t too sweet, and the filling was lightly brown sugary without being too much. YUM.

We walked around Eastern Market a bit, checked out the local vendors, stopped into a baby store (Terry and I are trying to resist buying our child little souvenirs from every place we visit), and then headed out for more sightseeing (David stayed home to make us all dinner!). Fay drove, which was a lovely relief from the cold.

Our first stop was Arlington National Cemetery, just across from DC in Virginia. Despite the almost unbearable cold, we still managed to enjoy the visit and felt incredibly humbled by the cemetery. First we walked up to the Kennedy grave sites and read Kennedy’s most famous quotes. I had no idea that the Kennedys had struggled so much with a miscarriage and a child who passed away only two days after he was born, but that news hit hard for obvious reasons. Still, it was a beautiful site. We also happened to arrive at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in time to watch the Changing of the Guard. The ceremony was really neat to see, and the small exhibit just inside the building at the site was interesting. Terry said the visit to the cemetery was his favorite part of the whole trip! The snow really added to the beauty and serenity of the site, too.

Next up, Fay dropped off Terry and me at the Lincoln Memorial, which quickly became my favorite of all the monuments in DC. I got a little teary a little at the top of the steps! The massiveness of the memorial really hit me, but mostly I enjoyed reflecting on what Lincoln stood for and how strong of an impact he had on our country.

Our next stop was to check out the National Archives. Fay found parking and joined us to see the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution, all housed in this one building, along with an exhibit on the history of attaining rights in this country. I found the entire visit fascinating. We stopped on the way back to the car at Teaism for a cup of tea, and Terry and I split a crab cake sandwich to hold us over until dinner. Man, East Coast crab is amazing! And then we headed back to Fay and David’s for the evening.

Honestly, I enjoyed this part of the trip just as much as all the sightseeing and restaurant hopping. Fay and David live in a cozy apartment in a super charming neighborhood, and Terry and I gladly curled up on the couch to watch some TV, chat with our friends, and smell David’s lasagna cooking away in the oven. He used Jamie Oliver’s recipe, and I highly recommend it! I felt incredibly stuffed but still wanted more. Fay also whipped up a spinach salad, and my body was grateful for a well-rounded, homemade meal to end the weekend. Plus, we (all Bruins!) watched the Bruins win a big game against Cal! Hooray! And Fay and David generously drove us back to our hotel that night, so we even avoided one more trek into the cold.

Monday morning, I seriously struggled to get up. I assume I can blame the pregnancy, but I just did not have the same stamina I usually have on these sightseeing trips! I finally dragged myself out of bed around 8 for breakfast, and we ended our trip in DC with a lovely walk around the perimeter of the White House. Thankfully, it was much warmer than it had been the rest of the weekend, and we were even peeling off jackets by the end of our walk!

Our journey home worked out perfectly. The layover in Denver wouldn’t have allowed us enough time to make our second flight, so when they announced a 30-minute delay we breathed a sigh of relief. An order of Fresh Brothers pizza and some cuddling on the couch with our favorite kitten rounded out an awesome weekend!

We had an incredible trip to DC. I wish it could have been longer, but I’m so grateful for the time with Fay and David, another vacation with my favorite travel buddy, and an opportunity to see our nation’s capital! And even in the cold, I really loved DC, so I look forward to going back someday in warmer weather and seeing what else we missed. Plus I need to go back to Belga and Good Stuff, because my taste buds want more of that deliciousness. 

Here's the first recap in case you missed it! DC Recap Part I


  1. I really love the west coast but theres nothing like the east and DC for this Pa. woman.

  2. Can't lie, this is probably by third time re-reading your DC entries and re-living the weekend!! Thanks so much for documenting all of the fun AND for making the journey here! Hope you are soaking up the warmth and sunshine-miss you :)

  3. Finally, a little respect for the cupcake. Maybe this whole pregnacy thing is opening up eyes to great things...