DC vs. NYC Round 3: Mo’ skeeters

October 30, 2010 at 6:31 am (new york city, washington dc)

The summer months were pretty bad for mosquitoes, with a handful of bites every week from just walking around the city.  I thought that was bad enough.  But it’s now the end of October and I got two mosquito bites this last week.  Who gets mosquito bites in October?  Apparently me when I’m living in DC.

NYC: 2

DC: 1

This one factor could even trump everything…  In future posts, DC’s score may continue to get penalized because of these little buggers.


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DC vs. NYC Round 2: Getting to the Airport

October 30, 2010 at 6:26 am (new york city, travel, washington dc)

I’m back in California, where the weather is unexpectedly gloomier than the beautiful fall weather that I left in DC.  But to get here, it was so easy.  No transfers from one line to another, no transfer to an airport line, no need to leave an hour to get to the airport.  I just hopped on the metro and it takes you right to National Airport.  Dulles is another story and more complicated than NYC airports and Bay Area airports, but it was so easy to get to National.

NYC: 1

DC: 1

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DC vs. NYC Round 1: Street/Subway musicians

September 19, 2010 at 9:37 am (music, new york city, washington dc)

When we moved from SF to NYC, I had a few posts on my thoughts about how the two stacked up against each other.   Now that we’ve moved to DC, I figured it’s time to start those comparisons again.

I don’t think any city will have performers that match the ones in NYC.  Like this guy who looked like Roger Federer, played electric violin, and danced like Gene Kelly AND Michael Jackson.

But since moving to DC, I have enjoyed the guys who are always drumming on plastic bins in Chinatown.  Not a lot of variety, but I’m glad that I can count on them being there all the time.  And I did run into two guys who were playing trombones while walking down the street.    Sorry, there’s no photo.

The two guys playing trombones, even if I never see them again, bump DC considerably higher, but the Federer look-alike who played electric violin while dancing, plus all the other amazing musicians in NYC, can’t be beat.

NYC: 1

DC: 0

SF vs. NYC, Subway musicians

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My predictions

September 19, 2010 at 9:14 am (dessert, restaurants, washington dc)

Two and a half years ago, I posted about how they should have a pastry version of Top Chef.  The Top Chef folks have finally decided implement my idea.

I was also looking at an old post about cupcakes in DC.  Since we’re living here now, I wanted to refresh my memory about what I have already learned about the dessert scene here.  At the end of the post, I predicted that macarons would be the next “big thing.”  And I think I have been proven correct.

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The next stop in our East Coast tour…

May 24, 2010 at 10:50 am (washington dc)

…Washington, DC.  We’ll be heading there next year as AAAS fellows.  I’ll be here, working with Dr. Secretary Steven Chu et al. on renewable energy and sustainability:

And Mark’ll be at the USAID (Agency for International Development).

We’re both really excited about the fall and living in DC and hanging out with siblings, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, baby cousins once removed, old friends, and new AAAS friends!

We’re also both really excited about our fun summer.  6 weeks until I add a peg to my Game of Life car!  And then we’re off to see the world.  I hope that little plastic car will be sturdy enough.

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DC Gelato Discovery – Dolcezza

October 5, 2008 at 6:00 am (dessert, food, ice cream, restaurants, review, washington dc)

This is the best gelato that I’ve had in my life.  Dolcezza.  We went to the one in Georgetown, but apparently they have some other locations and are available at some of the local farmers’ markets.

The gelato is so smooth – it must be nano-sized particles in it.  It tastes rich, but not because it’s high in fat.  In fact, it doesn’t taste that fatty.  It’s the high intensity flavors and the smoothness, I think.  They appear to try to use local and in-season ingredients.  The fruit flavors were all bright and intense, and just like the fresh fruit, but more intense.  It was glorious gelato.

It’s quite expensive (approx $4.50 for a small cup), but I thought it was really worth it because it’s so much better than other gelato places that I’ve tried.

Mark had pineapple honey lime and mocha.  Odd combination but they were both very good.  I had white peach prosecco and concord grape.  Pow!  So flavored!  And so smooth!

Menu appears to change according to what raw ingredients are available.  They have “This week’s menu” on their website, but not all the flavors listed were available.

Here’s an image from another the Ethicurean:

And the associated article.

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My new favorite building: Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC

October 3, 2008 at 5:40 am (architecture, review, san francisco, travel, washington dc)

The curves and textures and colors are so beautiful.  Yum.  And they’re going for a natural/organic look, but it doesn’t look overdone.  The interior is also breathtaking:

These photos aren’t mine.  Click on the photos to link to the original sources.  But pictures don’t do it justice.  This is the sort of thing you have to experience in person.  Fortunately, once you get yourself to DC, entrance into the museum is free!

As you can see, the interior is mostly a vast open space.  So there are very few exhibits and they’re quite small.  All the exhibits are displayed beautifully, but it’s not really done in a way for you to learn much.  I think the idea is for you to look at the forms and colors and textures and shapes and walk away with an appreciation of their beauty.  There was one exhibit on living native peoples that had more “educational” content, but that was done in the exact opposite way – too much information!  The gallery on the 1st floor has a lot of amazing pieces of pottery.  I was drooling.

Here are other previous favorite buildings (again, click on photos to get to original source):

San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, especially at night –

Interior of the SF MOMA

Getty Museum in LA –

I’ve only seen the outside of the new California Academy of Sciences building.  I left SF before it opened to the public.  But I’m sure I’ll love that too –

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DC Cupcakes

September 26, 2008 at 7:08 am (dessert, food, review, travel, washington dc)

To break up the monotony of museum-going, I’ve been sampling cupcakes around DC.

Caveat – I’m not a big fan of cupcakes.  No, that’s not true.  I’m not a big fan of cupcakes as they are sold in cupcake stores.  They’re usually too sweet and have way too much frosting.  So, of course, I prefer the way that I make cupcakes:

Hello Cupcake – I tried one with chocolate cake and peanut butter frosting, and one with lemon cake and raspberry frosting.  The cakes were flavorful, moist and tender.  That’s good.  They were a little too dense, in my opinion.  And slightly too sweet.  The flavor of the frosting was good, but I’m not a fan of the texture, which was too crystally and not smooth enough.

I also tried Georgetown Cupcakes.  Mark and I tasted 4 different kinds – Key Lime, Caramel Apple, Red Velvet, and Chocolate (cake) Mint (frosting).  The cake texture was more bready, a little less tender than the Hello Cupcakes.  But still pretty moist.  Like the Hello Cupcakes, I thought these were too dense.  The sweetness level (not too sweet) of the cake was pretty good (but still not unsweet enough!).  The frosting was smoother, lighter and fluffier, which I prefer, but it also wound up being kind of crusty on the surface of the frosting, which was not appetizing.  You can see this crustiness in the photos below where the frosting has shifted around and the crust has cracked.

I don’t prefer either place.  I think I’d want to combine features of both – the GC had a sweetness level that I liked, but the flavors were a brighter and stronger at HC.  I prefer the cake texture of HC, but I prefer the frosting texture of GC, despite the crustiness.  The only things that really distinguished one from the other were that GC was $0.25 cheaper, and the cupcake display was much lovelier.

Am I alone in preferring cupcakes that are more fluffy and less dense?  Or in preferring less frosting?  Or in preferring less sweetness all around?  Is there a market for such cupcakes?  If I didn’t think the cupcake market was saturated and the cupcake trend on the tail end, and if I thought that there’d be a market for cupcakes like these, I’d consider opening a cupcake place.  But since both of these conditions are probably not met, I’ll stick to my day job.

Here’s my prediction for the next dessert trend – macarons.  These are merenguey cookies made from almond paste, egg whites, and sugar.  And they have filling sandwiched between two of these cookies.  They’re already getting some attention, and their popularity is going to explode.  My friend Hamutal introduced me to them in Paris back in 2002, and it was nice to think of these as our secret treat.  And you had to be “in the know” to know where to get them.  They are more available now in the US, but the tradeoff is that it’s no longer our secret treat.

Eating macarons in Paris

Eating macarons in Paris

The macarons are from Laduree

The macarons are from Laduree

Macaron from Miette in SF, after I took a bite out of it

Macaron from Miette in SF, after I took a bite out of it

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