Last Friday, my wife and I got in the car after dinner and drove down to Gaithersburg, MD. Unfortunately, we got nailed by a strong line of thunderstorms somewhere around Frederick and had to pull off the road for 20 minutes - otherwise we made fairly good time. We checked into the Comfort Inn off Shady Grove, a decent place for the money but which was extremely convenient to the Metro.
After a light breakfast at the hotel on Saturday morning, we drove the half-mile over to the Shady Grove metro stop - last on the RED LINE. Once nice thing about DC is the Metro system - an all-day pass is just under $8 - very convenient. We started our day with the ~30 minute ride into town to the Gallery Place-Chinatown stop, putting us only a few block from our first visit: the International Spy Museum.
We spent about 2 hours touring the place. It was interesting, and almost too much information to take in, but at the same time it left you feeling like you didn't really learn too much. Cool gift shop (no purchases). There are a lot more places to see in DC before I'm ready to go back to this place.
From here, we took the Metro up to Dupont Circle, and had lunch at Pizzeria Paradiso. Great wood-fired oven pizzas, fresh ingredients. The beer list was small here compared to the Georgetown location, but I enjoyed a Flag Porter 1825 Original with my Bottarga pizza.
After lunch, Dana wanted dessert, so we strolled over a couple blocks - past several embassies - to Teaism, a tea house and restaurant. We'd been there several times before, and usually picked up some interesting teas to bring home. Today we settled for a cool drink and split a jasmine creme brulee for dessert.
After our refueling, we got back on the Metro (that all day pass comes in handy!) and went down to Judiciary Square so that we could get close to our next stop: the National Gallery of Art (west). Dana wanted to be sure to get in some art while we were here, so we checked out some Monet, Degas, Cassatt, and others.
Since the weather was so cooperative today (sunny, in the 70s with a few passing showers), we hoped to see some remnants of the cherry blossoms. Took the Metro over to the Smithsonian stop, then walked down past the Washington monument to the Tidal Basin. Most of the blossoms were gone, but there were still festival tents up and people everywhere. We enjoyed the sunshine and people watching for a while, and got some nice pics of the Jefferson Memorial.
By this time, it was getting close to 5 - we'd been walking and on our feet most of the day and were ready for an early dinner, a beer, and a rest. So, back on the - yep, Metro - up to Metro Center. A few blocks up the street, and we found ourselves at Brasserie Beck.
Wow. First, I guess we were lucky in that we walked in the door at a hair past 5pm and were shown right to a table - without a reservation. Apparently the waiting list for reservations is fairly long. I hadn't really researched the place beforehand, and thought we'd just get a beer and some small supper (frites and salad, or something). Well - Joe M., our waiter and beer sommelier - introduced us to the beer menu, which was exclusively Belgian beer. Nice tap selection and an impressive bottle selection ~ 140 beers total. The list gets changed 2x daily. Joe also described several dishes on the menu with such precision and eloquence, that I could actually taste the dish from his descriptions. That was a first, and a real treat.
I enjoyed a St. Louis Gueuze on tap and Dana had a Tripel Karmeliet from a bottle. The gueuze was not top notch, as gueuzes go, but I was in the mood for it and it went really well with my choucroute en croute (Napa cabbage and a selection of different different pork products wrapped in a crust). Dana's halibut was, without a doubt, the best fish dish either of us has ever tried. Ever. Had we more time, appetite (and budget!), we would have loved to try some dessert and another round of beer. As it was, we were stuffed and ready to walk again. But final word on Brasserie Beck: if you can visit this place, do it!! (check out the staff section of their website - their beer specialist was knighted in Belgium)
Our last stop was for me to grab a Capitol City Fuel. From here, we grabbed the Metro and rode back out to Gaithersburg - exhausted, sated, and happy with our one-day DC trip.
The real reason for the trip in the first place was the business portion on Sunday. We drove to Woodbridge, VA on Sunday morning to my aunt's condo to meet my cousin. My aunt passed away in March, and since my cousin lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Richmond, could not take possession of the china closet that my aunt inherited from my grandmother. Hence, we now are the proud owners of a 100-year old china closet that my great-grandparents bought in 1908 for $20 in East Brady, PA.
DC this weekend, New Orleans last weekend ... I'm ready for a sit-on-my-butt or work-in-the-yard weekend, but it looks like we may be seeing the Pittsburgh Zoo with my nephews (5 yr old and 9 mo old) at some point. That's relaxing, right? A zoo trip with small children ;)