Sunday, October 23, 2011

happy places

Yesterday I had my first encounter with mal de mer. I went sailing (!) with my aunt and uncle and that will deservedly be its own post cause omg so pretty and fun.

However. Though the boat was cozy and any slight seasickness I felt when actually on the water was mitigated with crystallized ginger and Diet Coke, fast forward to later in the evening; dinnertime. The setting: Steve’s apartment, typically a happy place for me.

I sat down to a wonderful dinner made with Steve of stuffed poblano peppers, his thick and hearty homemade butternut soup, and pico de gallo…


[it featured the best stuffed pepper filling in the world, of which Steve requested an encore because it was so good last time. Chayote squash, mushrooms, rice, and QUESO!]



The poblanos, like all the effing poblanos I have consumed this year in what I can only assume is some sort of fiery-poblano epidemic, was on first bite just a little elevated on the spice front; a notch up from what is supposed to be a mildly-flavored pepper. A few more bites, however, and it HURT. My lips HURT, my stomach HURT; I had to stop.

And then, suddenly, and I don’t know if it was the spice attack, a delayed reaction from the rocking waves earlier in the afternoon, an adverse response to the speed walk/jog I’d taken after returning from the boat, a sudden onset food poisoning situation…


Totally totally DIZZY. Lightheaded, nauseous, dazed, headachey mess. Just… don’t want to talk, don’t want to eat, don’t want to do anything except LIE DOWN and nurse a glass of ginger ale.

Totally, totally useless wreck.

And this is where that great boyfriend of mine comes in: he proceeds to tuck me in, run (literally) to CVS to buy me TWO LITERS of ginger ale:


And proceeds to take excellent care of me, treat me so nicely, abandon his plans for the evening (well, postponed- pumpkin carving is HAPPENING). And then it ended up being a wonderful cozy idle night sort of just… appreciating each other (<< cheeseball). I’m getting sappy cause on November 6th it’ll be a year together ofish, so that is AWESOME :D

Just… I am not that good at letting people take care of me. And letting him take care of me was pretty great. Thanks, Stove! (<< if any of you saw Bridesmaids, that is now my sister’s exclusive name for my boyfriend. I think it’s great :D)

After departing from sleep in a rather reluctant, slow, and gradual way that didn’t really happen until 10:30, I was delighted to be feeling good enough to take a walk from Steve’s to a major happy place for me lately: Cafe Sazon!

I’ve posted about that heavenly place before, but though I’ve been drinking this stuff like it’s my job, I haven’t had a camera handy til today.

Ladies. And gentlemen.

Api morado.


According to literally seconds of research, the Internet informs me that api morado is a corn-based beverage, common in Bolivia and other places near the heights of the Andes where a warm and comforting morning pre-work drink is advantageous. It’s made of purple corn and cooked with sugar, cinnamon and…? Some kind of fruit that makes it taste like apple cider. Steve’s friend Jeff compared it to “drinking applesauce”, which is not that far off. But warm and delicious :D

I. love. it.

Also had some cafe, cause I was feeling better but by no means awake.


I actually had sort of planned on letting the thick and hearty api morado tide me over til I got home and cooked myself something, but Steve was doing no such thing.

Pastries. Boom.


First was a phyllo-reminiscent stacked concoction with a sort of unbelievably rich buttercream filling.


The other, which we’ve been lucky enough to have before, was a dazzlingly great cheese empanada. (They’d just pulled it out of the oven). I don’t know what they do to make that unbelievably delicious crust, but it makes me glad to be alive.

Obviously, I had a few bites :D Oh and of his second one too.


And then they put up on the specials sign “Sopa de mani” (peanut soup) and I was just SO EXCITED. I had heard about sopa de mani from all the Hispanic kids in our afterschool program last year and cmon, fellow nut lovers; how can you not be excited?

So we ordered one to split.

Which is good, since they sent us a BUCKET!


Massive, garnished with fresh parsley and FRENCH FRIES!


Okay, let’s start with the fact that this soup had everything. Huge slab of beef (which Steve ate and said tasted like prime rib), penne pasta and carrots…


… MASSIVE SLABS of potato.


But the taste was just unbelievable. Un. believable. To describe the flavor of the broth in terms of ingredients would be a challenge for me (though I’m surely going to be researching how to make this for myself), but describing it in terms of flavor? COMFORT. PURE, RICH, CARBY, FATTY, COMFORT.

I felt so unbelievably nourished by this soup. It is so wholesome and hearty and… nourishing. You just feel well for having eaten it.

And though it was in no danger of being bland, dang it was good with the hot sauce.


Obviously, we hated it.


Also fun about Cafe Sazon- it was all set for Halloween and Dia de los muertos. There were special order pastries for dia de los muertos- could we call that a corpse cookie?


And the whole cafe was amusingly/alarmingly decorated.


Another happy place- The National Arboretum.

It’s the craziest thing- you drive through Northeast DC (whose drivers I want to give credit: all DC drivers are aggressive lunatics but the drivers in Northeast you literally think are going to kill you, and then continue driving. Insanely.), and then you pass by a gate (well, you get lost a few times and then pass by a gate), and step inside into this unbelievably gorgeously put together garden.


Fun fact: those columns were initially part of the Capitol. When they expanded the Capitol (apparently they expanded the Capitol…?) they relocated these guys to the middle of a hill, basically, which I thought made for the coolest landscape.

There’s a series of gardens, actually.

My nose immediately drew us to the herb and vegetable garden, which featured these adorable mini peppers.


Steve wanted to check out the bonsais, some of which were over a century old.


And we hit up the adorable children’s garden, where people were harvesting veggies. Steve and I both obviously had to hug a tree when it was so encouraged.


A delightful interlude. Locals, check it out!

Being in Northeast DC, we then decided to go to H Street. H Street has become painfully cool lately. I totally get why! It’s got all these cool new restaurants/venues, but it still retains a neighborhood feel (not being particularly Metro accessible helps). It’s definitely got a more diverse feel than many of the other hipster areas of DC.

We saw a deck at the Liberty Tree, so obviously we had to sit on it. Great, chill vibe.


And it was five o’clock… in Jamaica. So we got some drinks!

Steve got a pumpkin ale, which he thoroughly enjoyed.


And I got an end of summer cocktail special of the grapetini, which featured their own infused citrus and ginger vodka, pressed concord grapes, prosecco, and lemon juice.


I was SO EXCITED about this drink… like, can you read that description again? Ginger? Concord grapes? Prosecco? But I’d call it good, not great.

Steve also ordered a salad (I’m so suspicious when the man eater does things like this and suspect they are for my benefit). It featured spinach, pecans, grilled butternut squash (!) and fig vinaigrette (!!!). Again, though, sounded dazzling on paper and was just for some reason less exciting in reality.


Still, it’s hard to go wrong hanging out outside in a cool neighborhood. Ingesting vodka… which for me, always leads to ridiculously clingy behavior. Oh, alcohol.

Then we went home and Steve made me awesome fajitas. They featured rice ‘n beans, a delicious variety of vegetables and aji amarillo, absurdly delicious hot pepper sauce left behind by Steve’s old Peruvian roommate, David. I have to go to Peru and just eat aji amarillo tasting things all day.


Wanting to be productive and contribute to the meal, I used some kale I’d brought over earlier in the week and taught Steve about roasting beets (key) and then combining them with goat cheese (SUPER key!)


He decided Malbec was important (which picture is better? Blurred label but focused wine or plain ol’ bottle?)

DSC07365 DSC07366

Either way, great glass o’ wine. Man, I just never go wrong with Malbec.

And we sat down to a scrumptious dinner. Steve makes the BEST fajitas.


I declined to make his decision to combine EVERYTHING on one tortilla, however. It seemed… gross.


He didn’t seem too keen to repeat it either :D

So today I feel perhaps a little light headed, perhaps a little out of whack… but I mostly feel happy. It’s good to let people take care of us, and it’s mighty good to have a happy place. Or person!

1 comment:

Steven Alexander Heathcliff Basil Bert said...

Sometimes the onset of dizziness sparks moments of clarity in other avenues of everyday living. I'm glad you were able to enjoy yourself despite feeling a bit tide up in turbulence.

Also, it was nice to get to take care of you for once. It was a rare and special moment which says a lot about how wonderful you are.

And about your sentiment as we near one year, it's been a Cubs win the World Series, Bacon Carbonara falling from helicopters, Bilbo Baggins inaugurated as president, and English Ivy transforming urban city scapes kind of year. You energize me so much, Ileana. I can't believe how fast the time has flown.

P.S. The picture with the focused wine glass is better.