sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

August 23, 2007

a bounce in his step, mad rush, and two sides
posted by soe 10:40 am

Three beautiful things from the past week:

1. On our walk home from the farmers’ market this Sunday we passed a bulldog on a leash. He had to have been the happiest bulldog I’ve ever seen, with a jaunty step and and a smile on his face (really!). He buh-dum-buh-dum’ed past us on the sidewalk, delighted at a lovely morning walk.

2. I was showing Mum and Dad the garden plot on Saturday when the community pool opened next door. There was a dash by 30 or so people to the deck chairs lined up on the shallow side of the pool and it sort of felt like a bit of a feeding frenzy.

3. My pillow grows warm very quickly and I am feverish. I flip the pillow over and the second side is refreshingly cool against my head.

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August 21, 2007

my new specialty
posted by soe 11:24 am

A Healthy Summer Treat

I have become something of an expert on yogurt parfaits this summer. My first attempt, pictured above, came back on the Fourth of July, in my attempt to put together a festive mid-week breakfast for Rudi and me.

It all started with a breakfast we had in Salt Lake at a bakery near Rudi’s mom’s house one morning back in June. I commented to Rudi that the granola was possibly the best I’ve ever had and that I ought to buy some to bring home. I forgot, of course, in the flurry that surrounded my MIL’s return from the hospital, recuperation, and my return to D.C., but Rudi didn’t. He arrived home ten days after I did with a pound of the tasty breakfast treat for me.

I didn’t want to waste the granola on the random grazing I tend to do with store-bought boxes of cereal, so instead I decided to combine it with some yogurt and seasonal fruit from our local farmers’ market.

Combining granola with the white yogurt, red cherries, and blueberries made for a tasty way to start the Independence Day holiday.

But I didn’t stop there.

In future iterations, I added raspberries and blackberries. I cut up nectarines, peaches and apricots. When I ran out of the Avenues Bakery’s granola, I bought granola from the farmers’ market. I drizzled honey over the concoction. I threw in macadamia nuts, almonds, and coconut.

In short, I improvised, based on what was seasonal, fresh, and local.

Each concoction was slightly different, but lovely in its own way.

Some Saturdays, I eat this for breakfast with a strong cup of tea. On hot nights, we have it for dessert. This past weekend, I made it my lunch. It’s quick and it’s versatile and eminently customizable.

I can’t wait to try adding stewed apples and walnuts or something else similarly autumnal as the days get cooler. It’s such a fun (and mostly healthy) culinary treat.

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August 18, 2007

it was a witchy lot
posted by soe 12:56 am

I promised photos last month from the pre-release party of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at Politics and Prose, and here they are: (more…)

Category: books,dc life. There is/are 3 Comments.

August 16, 2007

fresh air, atmosphere, and second listen
posted by soe 3:05 pm

It was a rainy morning here in D.C. and I’m totally grateful. It seems like we’ve had so little rain this summer with the storms petering out over the ‘burbs. We could really use a good dousing; we’re experiencing a severe drought and the area is showing the strain. To celebrate the rain, let’s think of Three Beautiful Things from the last week. Here are mine; what are yours?

1. There have been intermittent moments of cooler weather this last week, affording me the opportunity to lunch outside, to leave the window open during the day, to walk home in the evening, and to read at the local Starbucks with a lemonade-passion tea on a weekend afternoon. After an interminably hot July and beginning of August, these blessed moments offer hope that fall will, in fact, arrive someday.

2. As Amani, Sarah, and I left the theater following last evening’s Becoming Jane showing, a lone saxman played a mournful tune. It just seemed an appropriate mood setter following an Austen biopic.

3. Rudi’s and my favorite new act to come out of Falcon Ridge this year were the Lovell Sisters. Saturday evening, they played a free show at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. The event was packed and the girls looked like they were having a terrific time. (I can’t link it directly, but you can see the same show we did by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.)

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August 15, 2007

sushi, restaurant-week-style
posted by soe 1:58 am

Saturday night, our friend John wanted another shot at Restaurant Week and was excited to find one of his favorite sushi joints, Kaz Sushi Bistro, taking part. Knowing Rudi’s love for raw fish, when he heard we’d never been, he promptly made the three of us reservations.

Warm toilettes awaited us as we sat down in this quaint restaurant. The front of the restaurant is filled with tables with the sushi bar set up across the rear of the room. Colorful insets in the wall were covered with branches to create interesting works of art. It felt … homey.

We were presented with menus to cross-reference choices and little sushi order sheets to check off our selections: an appetizer, three nigiri, two rolls, and a dessert. I started off the evening with an order of Ginger Twist tea, a spicy blend of lemongrass, ginger, and other herbal infusions that just got better as the night went on.

I was pleased to find plenty of vegetarian options amongst the nigiri and sushi rolls, but was confounded by the appetizers which lacked even a single one. I told the guys that I intended to ask about substituting a vegetarian appetizer, but if not I’d just pick something that they were welcome to split. The waiter immediately noticed I’d not selected an appetizer and, when I explained my dilemma, offered me veggie tempura without even a pause. I delightfully accepted, having been expecting the more mundane miso soup or side salad. The tempura was light, hot, and crispy without even a hint of being overdrenched in oil. It was fresh and I nearly choked when I discovered the zucchini slice was about a bazillion degrees!

My dinner at Kaz'sI’m pleased to report that everyone really enjoyed their food. John and Rudi split most of their selections so as to be able to better experience the different options. My entree contained a wealth of vegetables. The nigiri were inari (a sweet marinated tofu), nasu (Japanese eggplant), and shiitake mushroom, and the rolls were portobello & sun-dried tomato and roasted red pepper & asparagus. The nasu and the portobello roll were definitely the highlights of the meal, but I couldn’t find a single item that I was disappointed to have chosen. And the homemade wasabi was really a treat!

Dessert had been a choice between two options — espresso tapioca with bourbon ice cream (something that didn’t appeal to me in the least) and lychee panna cotta with mango sorbet. I was surprisingly pleased with the panna cotta, but the guys were blown away by it, finding it far superior to their own dessert.

The night was still young when we returned to Dupont Circle, so we went to the local Starbucks and sat outside to enjoy a rare cool August evening. We chatted until they kicked us out at closing time, a perfect ending to a wonderful evening and to a generally well-received Restaurant Week.

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August 14, 2007

restaurant week, part 2
posted by soe 10:54 am

Thursday night we met up with a group of friends for dinner at Agua Ardiente, a Spanish restaurant, the bar of which some of us used to frequent early in our Dean days. The original plan had called for extra people, a later time, and a different restaurant, so when things changed slightly late in the day, we chose from the options available at the time for a group that still numbered six.

I’m disappointed to say that this was not a stellar Restaurant Week experience. The food was fine, but not stellar. I opted for a Caesar salad for my appetizer (the other choice being shrimp), but was stumped by the entree, where I was offered salmon, chicken, or shrimp. I got by with salmon, but I had to admit to being surprised that not a single vegetarian entree was offered. It’s unusual in a large, liberal city for that to happen these days. There was no choice about dessert — fruit cocktail with vanilla sorbet arrived by default.

As I said, the food was okay, if uninspired. I think everyone felt the portions were a little on the skimpy side, but that could have been overshadowed by spectacular service. Unfortunately, with the exception of a substitution for one member of our party who asked for sorbet without fruit (and was obliged with a tasty brownie to accompany it), the service also failed to stand out. It took a long time for water to be refilled. No one ever asked if I wanted another ($4!) soda (or a refill). We had to ask three times for a second round of bread. The after-dinner drinks they asked if we wanted to accompany our desserts arrived long after most of us had finished eating. The bathrooms were passable, but certainly not someplace you wanted to linger, and the decor just felt a little tired and dingy. Clearly Agua Ardiente was not out to impress anyone as a fine dining experience and likely participated only because “everyone else was doing it.”

But good company can make an unexceptional meal still be an enjoyable evening. It was a fantastic chance for us to gather as a group, and I’m grateful for that opportunity. We practically shut the place down long after our meal was done, a sure sign that we ought not to wait six months for the next excuse to get together.

(To be continued…)

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