I ended my last post (er, several days ago) with a mention that I’d be going to a certain famous building, courtesy of a few invitations sent to the food bank where I work.
This building, it’s on Pennsylvania Avenue? Important people tend to visit it when they go to DC?
Three security checkpoints (none of which, I’d like to mention, involved removing my shoes; TSA, if it’s safe enough for the President’s house, it should be safe enough for you!), I peeked through the fence at a big… white… house!
With the sounds of the day’s protest wafting through the breeze…
(see the yellow signs above the fence?)
We made our way in.
Welcome! There it is! Welcome to ME (and all my wonderful Food Bank coworkers who won the lottery for the invites!) to the WHITE HOUSE!
Were I to sort the holiday decor into motifs, they would be the following.
Bo the dog. Aww. There were lots of cute little spots like this.
(Sidebar: my mom had a meeting with some scientists who’d won a presidential award for mentoring. They’d toured the White House earlier the same day I did, and they saw the REAL BO! The PRESIDENTIAL DOG went bounding through during their tour. So cool.)
2. Classy dames alongside Christmas trees.
The room with the big portrait of Jackie O lookin’ gorgeous was my favorite.
Confession: don’t know who that was in the East Room.
Hillary Clinton… and a gingerbread house! (The only one there… Weird.) Anyway, I like both gingerbread and Hillary Clinton, so I enjoyed, while simultaneously felt confused by, this.
I did not know that there were multiple oval shaped rooms in the White House, not just the eponymous Office.
And that chandelier I just thought was friggin’ gorgeous.
Throughout the tour were dozens of Secret Service agents, who were very helpful if you had any questions about White House decor or history (fact: if a president wants to redecorate any of the historic rooms, they have to consult the committee!). The agents could also kill you with a plastic spoon, I am sure.
Michelle Obama’s signature things were on display: to honor military families, there was the “official’ tree (there were seriously at least ten Christmas trees on display in various places) and it was decorated with letters written from and to soldiers overseas.
You also, upon entering, had the opportunity to write a postcard to a service member, which I did. Hope they all get to come home for Christmas…
Perhaps less devoted to Michelle O’s typical push for healthy food was the solid white chocolate White House and huge dessert display :D
I wish I could adequately convey how cool the chocolate building was: there were lights inside! How did it not melt?!
We got to peek out back to the Rose Garden, which looked beautiful.
Soon enough the (brief) tour was through, but we got our photo op in front of a VERRRRY famous white facade :D
Here I am with my coworker Adrienne, beaming away!
Way cool opportunity.
Thanks for the invite, Obamas!
Since I was Metro’ing back to my car and was already in DC on a relatively mild day, I took the opportunity to take a walk.
Went by the Occupy guys…
Felt bad since I knew I was walking by the guys who are currently on a hunger strike…
… But I got myself a delicious snack! (Yes, this is a food blog :D)
Firehook is a local chain of bakeries (I thought there were just a couple, but then I saw two just on my walk!).
I was EXTREMELY impressed with the fillingness and deliciousness of this bar. And impressively wholesome ingredients!
Now, the White House is where the President hangs out now, but Old Town Alexandria is where George Washington used to chill. It was where he went to church, and where the Masonic Temple now memorializes him (and if you want to hear anything else about George Washington and Masons my boyfriend will talk to you for a very long time about it :D)
Old Town is an absolute delight to visit this time of year.
Every place you look, from the boats in the harbor to the trees on King Street, there are twinkling Christmas lights. Plus on the night Steve and I went there were planes taking off, a full moon, lights reflecting on the water… so nice!
We didn’t have any plan to stay there, since this time of year has for both of us meant spending crazy amounts of money, but then we went by the Hotel Monaco and I said “oh, that’s a great place to get a drink” and then Steve desssssssssssperately wanted to get a table by the window looking out at the lights and eat dinner.
So we did :D
Started at the bar, where they said we could get a drink, then go sit by the Christmas tree in the hotel lobby and they’d come get us when they had a window-side table for us. Their customer service was GREAT (though I think it helped that the maitre d’ was from Chicago and Steve was wearing his Cubs hat :D)
I was sooooooooo intrigued by the cocktail menu but was kind of indulge’d out from the Ugly Sweater party the night before.
And Steve could’ve enjoyed a wonderful PBR!
But we ended up just waiting for our table sipping fizzy drinks.
Anyway, we ended up in a very cool space with a very cool view.
I looooooooooooove open kitchens! Watching all the ACTION!
So the restaurant in the hotel, Jackson 20, has a vibe that I really dig. They have kind of an old-timey, down-home, tin plates, down South aesthetic, and are also super into pig. The napkin holders being a prime example :D
The bread basket was BOSS.
Oh my GOD everything in it was so good.
Behold, mini corn muffins and biscuits with maple butter.
The butter which Steve, naturally, used in great profusion.
Whereas I decided the perfectly flaky biscuits didn’t need any extra accoutrements!
I loved the whole rustic style; the biscuits weren’t perfect looking and varied in size (you know I was all over the baby biscuit :D)
I also love that we got a free bread refill! Good service!
For dinner, I knew I was set when I saw this on the menu:
Caramelized Figs, Radicchio, Tatsoi, Cherry Glen Goat Cheese, Candied Walnuts, Honey-Thyme Vinaigrette
CARAMELIZED FIGS?! Boom. Done.
I knew a salad would be sufficient based on the aforementioned double bread basket and the fact that all the portions we’d seen on our way in had been garantuan.
Sure, the salad arrived looking rather small and self contained on a big plate…
But then I smooshed it to spread it out and it was MAMMOTH!
Oh. my. word.
Obviously it was amazing. Like, caramelized figs. Goat cheese. Awesome bitter greens with sweet vinaigrette. Duh it was amazing.
Steve was similarly overjoyed with his order: a veritable BUCKET of macaroni and cheese with bacon and ham hocks.
He’d been planning on getting some vegetarian thing and I was like “Steve, see all the things on the menu that have pigs next to them? They have bacon. Please order one and be happy.”
First of all, there was such a large quantity (and, er, hefty fat content) that it actually left my bottomless pit boyfriend FULL.
But it was also CRAZY tasty. The top was crusted in these buttery panko crumbs that were SO crisp. Divine!