Adventure Travel. Libations. Epicurean Experiences.
Adventure Travel. Libations. Epicurean Experiences.
No visit to southern Germany (particularly Bavaria) is complete without eating a Schweinshaxe. This is a slow roasted pork knuckle, basted with its own drippings, and sometimes hard fried at the end to perfect the crispy, crusty skin. It is traditionally served with a bread or bacon dumpling (semmel oder speck knödel).
This Chinese restaurant located in a strip mall in Falls Church, Virginia produces some of the best picking duck in the region. Former ambassador to China, director of the CIA, Vice President and President of United States, George Bush 41, frequented this spot regularly. Today, just about every general or high-level government official has their autographed 8x10 on the wall. Novelty aside, the food is plain delicious.
Meat and cheese go well with wine. So do berries. Here, we enjoyed a Spanish soft cheese made from a mixture of cow, goat, and sheep milk, as well as Bûcheron (a loire valley goat cheese). Dried and aged salamis came from Italy and Spain. Berries came from Whole Foods (where the added expense makes them taste sweeter ... BS).
The best things are simply made with great ingredients. This one: 1 onion, sliced thin and cooked on med/low heat for 1 hour until crispy and aromatic; dough: flour, eggs, milk, salt, stirred until incorporated. Press the dough through a potato ricer (or spätzle press, if you're so lucky) into boiling chicken stock. Noodles rise to top, cook a bit more, remove to cold water. Fry up the noodles in a pan with mountain cheese, bacon bits, and top with crispy onions. Boom.
"Flat bread" doesn't sound as good as flammkuchen, or tarte flambée, as it is ordered in Alsace. When prepared well, it blows the mind. This example was served at The Sovereign in Georgetown (Washington, DC). We ordered a twist on the traditional classic; entitled "Gratine", it is composed of crème fraîche, gruyere, bacon lardon, and onions. Spectacular.
Cheese rounds out a great meal. These delicious hunks of melting love were served at Convivial in Washington, DC. I especially enjoyed the coupole (middle - goat) and douceur du jura (2d from front - cow).
Cliché pairing? Maybe, but it just works. We enjoyed these slippery mouthfuls at Lyon Hall in Arlington, Virginia (dollar oysters all day every Monday!). The pairing recommended by Jake, the bartender, was superb (and was a great value).
Discovered in Connecticut's Milford Harbor by Christopher Columbus, the lobster roll was deconstructed by Ina Garten and later invented by Al Gore. This enormous roll required both fists and was served at Sam's Chowder House near Half Moon Bay.
Schwäbisch (Southwest German) comfort food. Basically, beef broth with thinly sliced strips of crêpe. On a cold, grey, drizzly day, this bowl makes everything better.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Virginia wines seem to be improving every year. As the vines planted 5, 10, 15 years ago reach full maturity and as the vintners hone their craft, it is hard to not be impressed. Bull Run Winery is a 30-45 minute drive from DC (barring I-66 traffic). They offer several easy drinking wines, from Norton and Cabernet Franc and from Riesling to Chardonnay (and yes, there is a Viognier too).
Featuring Citadelle Gin, Cocchi Rouge, Aperol, and Orange Fire. This classy presentation from Lyon Hall provides the excess pour in an attractive sidecar ice bath. Perfect for warmer weather.
Interesting fact: delirium tremens is actually a health condition (confusion, shakes, nightmares, hallucinations) caused by withdrawal from alcohol. It is also a delicious beer from Belgium. A final fact: so long as you keep drinking the beer, you are less likely to suffer withdrawal symptoms. And the large goblet adorned with pink elephants looks cool.
Julius Meinl has only three coffee shops in the USA, all of which are on the north side of Chicago. Fortunately, Café Leopold in Georgetown (Washington, DC) carries their coffee, along with amazing pastries. #1 place in DC for "kaffee-kuchen."
The Negroni is a refreshing (and strong) cocktail that I prefer in hot weather. A good Italian friend bought me my first Negroni, and it's been love ever since. This American-sized cocktail was served in Paris at Moscow prices.
Champaign made its first appearance on canvas in 1735 (see Le Déjeuner d'Huîtres - The Oyster Luncheon), which is proof that this beautiful bubbly beverage has been dispensing hangovers for at least 300 years.
I had a great time hosting my second wine tasting on Friday, June 10, 2016. The format was "Bring a favorite bottle". We sampled both Old and New World wines, including a Cleebronn & Güglingen dry Riesling, a San Pietro (Alto Adige) Lagrein, a stunning Hardscrabble Chardonnay from Linden, Virginia, and a delicious Cool Woods Shiraz from the Barossa Valley, Australia. At the next event, we will take a break to focus on Whisk(e)y. See you in July!
Nothing says 'Merica more like double-fisted games of skill. In fact, science has proven that one must balances their beanbag hand with a beer in order to succeed at cornhole. This spread was sponsored by Port City Brewing of Alexandria, VA. Unlike most DC events that offer unlimited beer and food, this event was neither oversubscribed nor skimpy. Hats off to Port City.
Few things say "springtime" more clearly than meat in tube form, $10 beers, and heckling the visiting team. Baseball is a social game that encourages fans to pay attention only 10% of the time - like cricket but with slightly less class and more commercialism.
In college basketball, anything can happen, especially in March. I loved watching my grad school alma mater, Syracuse University (#10 seed), outscore the #1 seed University of Virginia 25-6 in the final 10 minutes, overcoming a 15-point deficit, to secure Jim Boeheim's fourth Final Four appearance. If you've never experienced March Madness first hand, I highly recommend it.
So there I was ... watching the NCAA tournament on a Friday night, expecting my team to lose to the #1 seed, drinking too much wine, chatting with old friends. Then my team won, and my friend offered to buy me a ticket for the next game in Chicago. Why not?! A quick Hipmunk search, a few hours sleep, and I was on my way.
Every spring DC goes pink, thanks to a gift from the mayor of Tokyo in 1912. The National Cherry Blossom Festival spans several weeks, with peak bloom arriving between late March and early April. It's a great place to picnic, if you can find a quiet spot.
A dream for 40 years, the ski village of Warth is now connected with Lech-Zurs-St. Anton. The new gondola, open since 2013, extends the area to 340km (211 miles) of groomed pistes and 94 lifts. Not bad for a EUR 37 ($40)/day lift ticket.
Nature's tanning bed ... at 2,800 meters. With amazing panorama views. Val d'Isere is one of France's best ski resorts, which offers extreme beauty and peace in Le Fornet and hard core aprés ski parties at La Folie Deuce.