The food. The Museum Marathon.
Jack returned with us to D.C. from Ann Arbor, and also stayed with us in our apartment. He had officially graduated in December and had been interning at a D.C. think tank for the last semester; and flew to Ann Arbor to share commencement with his friends (and with us!). In a surprise motion his think tank offered him a permanent, salaried position before he departed, so there was indeed much to celebrate on this trip!
First day of salaried employment for the policy wonk.
Old Ebbitt Grill‘s oysters (Maine, Rhode Island, and Wellfleet) took us back to our summer holidays on Cape Cod with their briny, slurpy goodness. Crab cakes and Catfish Po’Boys rounded out the seafood love fest. The wine, an Italian white, a perfectly suggested pairing. The wait staff, discreet. Our evening in D.C.’s oldest saloon was oh-so civilized.
The Sculpture Garden Café. An unexpected delight! Tony and I had walked across the National Mall from the Sackler/Freer galleries with fingers crossed for a table and the fires of “hanger” flickering. Success. While I claimed a shaded table, he queued for our Asian Chicken and Southwest Chicken Salads, plus an entire pitcher of Sangria. Such decadence on a Monday afternoon!
Nationals Park Hot Dogs. $47 for five hot dogs and one box of Nachos was extreme. Don’t ask what the beers cost. Then again, we had great first baseline seats; our friends were with us; and the Nats won!
Oyamel, The First Lunch. Wow. Wow. Wow. There is good Mexican food in Vienna, but nothing like Oyamel. On a whim another friend and I were passing by en route to the National Portrait Gallery when the restaurant door opened and we caught a sniff…before we had even settled into our seats, a basket of warm chips and fresh, cold salsa appeared before us. The Almverzo Rapido was the lunch ticket: Morelia “Gaspacho,” a salad of jicama, cucumbers and spicy goodness! Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce! Swordfish Ceviche Verde! Pulled Pork Tacos! In between catching up on our lives we stuffed our faces with unadulterated bliss.
Oyamel, The Second Lunch. Tony’s meetings ended early, so we were able to enjoy a partial day of sightseeing and lunch. Still swooning over my love affair with Oyamel, I proposed that we meet here for lunch, fingers crossed that we could get a table. We did! This time we ordered the housemade Guacamole, chunky and spiced to our liking, to begin. For lunch, the pork belly tacos and the chicken enchiladas. Oy, Oyamel.
Rasika. Saving the best for last. Hedging my bet that a reservation would not be needed, yet another friend and her husband joined me for an early dinner in Penn Quarter. Tony, sigh, was suffering through some sad supper whilst talking with colleagues and missed the epicurean adventure. My friend and I are Indian food fangirls, and Rasika delivered. Truly memorable meals, in presentation and in taste, so much so that photos were not taken. My slight grouse? Our wait staff kept referring to my glass of Austrian wine as, “Grüner.” “How is your Grüner?” and “Would you like another Grüner?” He didn’t get it when I replied, “Another Veltliner, please.”
The Museum Marathon
National Museum of Women in the Arts. The space is beautiful; the two current exhibits, though, were a mixed bag for me. The exhibit “Women House” was supposed to “challenge conventional ideas about gender and domestic space.” Mostly it was art by women who had a serious grudge against anything they decided was “domestic” that, rather interestingly featured several works by an Austrian artist. The second exhibit, “Hung Liu in Print,” was a stunning series of pieces by an artist who lived through Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution before immigrating to California in the 1980’s. Her works utilized painting, collage-making, and weaving, and this exhibit alone was worth my time spent.
National Museum of American History. A first stop at my fangirl crush exhibits (Julia Child’s kitchen and Melania Trump’s Inauguration Dress in the First Ladies Gallery). A moving exhibit on the Poor People’s Campaign begun in 1968, including a photo taken moments after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination; followed by the equally moving exhibit, Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and WWII. And always, a visit to see the original Star Spangled Banner.
The Freer/Sackler Galleries have always been favorites: peace and quiet to ooh and aah over Iranian luxury art and the entire Peacock Room. Stunning.
The Renwick Gallery. A Smithsonian outpost that is probably only busy when exhibits like No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man are on display. The entire museum has been turned over for room-size displays and displays various objects from the “playa,” the whole of which is pretty “out there” for stuffy D.C.
Speaking of Bohemia, I recall the unveiling of former President Obama’s official portrait at the National Portrait Gallery being met with mixed reaction. All I will write is that it is better than the filmy, watercolor of JFK; and definitely easier on the eyes relative to the amoebas-in-a-kaleidoscope print that is of former President Clinton.
I did also drop in on the “Celebrities in America” Gallery, where I was duly impressed more with the portrait of the Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver than I was with the pop art of “Michele LaVaughn Robinson Obama.”
National Postal Museum. I wondered why it seemed unusually crowded when I was waiting outside to meet a friend. It turned out that we were crashing the unveiling ceremony for the new “Forever” Airmail Stamp! Good for us. The exhibit of interest was “The Beautification of America” through a stamp series that began under First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson. This museum is an overlooked gem, and I thank James Smithson for his $508,318 bequest in 1826 to help create the Smithsonian.
Auf Wiedersehen, America. Until next time.