Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Antithesis of Anticipatory Nostalgia

I was in D.C. over the weekend, in part to celebrate Mom’s birthday. D.C. has a reputation for being a city full of transients with no institutional memory — a way station for 20-something interns and congressional staffers. I was reminded of this very real dynamic about 10 minutes into my trip. Happily sitting at a bar drinking a Troubadour Belgian IPA, and blathering on about how Jever isn’t, in fact, considered a very good beer in its native Germany or among beer snobs, I asked the bartender about the history of DC Brau, one of the good local breweries. “Oh,” he said, “it was one of the first breweries; it opened up about 6 years ago.”

Well, dating the beer revolution to 2008 sure was a 40-something moment. “Listen, you little %$#@,” I wanted to say but didn’t, “back in my day, at the turn of the century, we had beer, too, some of it even local, and some of it even hoppy. You need to honor your revolutionary ancestors!” (The moment also reminded me of the classic 1999 Onion piece about an undergraduate spotting his TA at a bar, which is worth clicking ... You know, we had the interweb back then too. True, it is funny that the excellent beer the student is surprised the TA is drinking is a Sam Adams, but still, he was at a brewpub.) ... The next night, determined to test my theory, I had a Starr Hill Northern Lights, a classic American IPA that dates at least to the turn of the century … but I digress.)

Put in my elder place by this whippersnapper, I settled in for long weekend of anything-but-anticipatory nostalgia. This was the real deal. One of the highlights was breakfast at the Steak and Egg kitchen, a 10-seat diner devoid of irony that has no logical reason to still exist in such an expensive real estate area, and that still uses Sysco hashbrowns from a box. I mean, it’s pretty hard to still get away with that, but they pull it off, mostly because of the awesome sign they’ve had since before I could read.

To celebrate Mom’s birthday, Lydia and Mom and I had dinner at the decidedly un-ironic Le Vieux Logis. This kind of French place could have been in DC in 1960. Who needs Korean chicken wings and offal when one can have classic duck à l'Orange? The place not only has puns on its menu but insisted on using up its holiday placemats. This is the third picture of me and my sister in existence.

Of course, we did see the new Cohen Brothers movie — the pretty fun but also dark Llewyn Davis — so we got our irony fix that way.

By chance, Cedar and Rachel were also in town. Shockingly, the Four Provinces (4 Ps) on Connecticut just closed after being in business since 1976, so we ended up at Nanny O'Brien's, another old-school staple. I’m not sure what Cedar was protesting with the beard, but apparently not paying $7.50 for a Peppercorn Saison from Three Star Brewery. I spend too much time in KS, I guess; Cedar says that’s a fair price for a local saison, even one in a half glass.

BTW, Three Star Brewery may be pretty new, but it bought up the 90s brew Olivers Ale.
Super Bowl Sunday Dad and I went to a Capitals game — my first game, Capitals or Wizards — since the teams moved downtown, to Chinatown, in 1997. I miss the Capital Centre, a true ode to 1970s suburban arena construction. 

Of course, one never saw a Chinese New Year festival walking to the Cap Centre.

Our tickets may have been more expensive than in the 1980s, and the guys in the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union jackets we used to sit behind seem to have been replaced by yuppies, but some things never change: the Caps just aren’t very good on defense. Still, in overtime, Alex Ovechkin (a three-time league MVP and the best player the Capitals have ever had, for the non-hockey fans out there) scored the game-winning goal of a ridiculously entertaining game. (Seeing Ovechkin win a game in overtime is an iconic local sports moment on par with seeing Eddie Murray hit one out of Memorial Stadium or John Riggins break off a long touchdown run at RFK.) Our seats were so high above the ice that the camera balked.

It's always great to see my aunt and uncle, Ellen and Paul, even apart from the pleasure of politically outnumbering Dad. And you can’t go to DC without getting some crabcakes. Not as good as Mom's, but still damn good ...

Finally, I had a chance to have a deeply discounted lunch at Fiola, a Pennsylvania Avenue restaurant that one of my friends named Chris has invested in (thanks Chris). Fiola doesn’t need a plug here, as the space is great, the food is better, it's already ensconced in the Washingtonian Top 20, and it was plenty full of lobbyists, even on a Monday when rain was turning to snow. But still a couple more food photos never hurt.

On the way home I flew through Chicago ...

And then ended up on the same flight home with Stines and Bonnie. Of course, you always run into someone you know flying to MHK. But for the record, that does not make us Flyover Country. Here's the view on the way home.


  1. Contrary to how it appears, I had a great time. I'm surprised the fries at Cleveland Park Bar and Grille didn't make the cut.

  2. um, you were in DC and didn't let us know????? I feel like the red headed step child in you're family now ;-) lol