A beautiful man at Barcelona Wine Bar

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Tinder has been kind of dull in the past few months. When I first downloaded Tinder, I liked the swiping. But that gets old quickly, and I realized that 90% of my Tinder dates do not go anywhere because there chemistry just is not there. Also, most of the messages from guys either fizzle out really quickly and never lead to anything, or they just get weird which also of course leads to nothing. At the end of January, I matched with an incredible looking guy, lets call him Larry (no, I did not get matched with a 50 year old man in the suburbs but I don’t want to use his real name, which begins with “L” and I cannot think of another male name that begins with an “L” right now). He sent me a message immediately after we matched (yay!), and I responded… but then just got radio silence from him for the two days. He only had one picture on his Tinder account, which made me think it might be a sign of a catfish. He finally messaged me back and then disappeared again after I responded. It pretty much went like this for the next three weeks. I would respond almost immediately to his messages, then check constantly to see if he had responded for the next two days, convince myself that he was probably fake, only to hear from him three days later. After a few weeks of this, I did not think I would ever meet this guy in person. Then, he finally asked me out 24 days after he first messaged me, which is the Tinder equivalent of like a 7 year engagement. We made plans to meet one Sunday, and this happened to fall on the Sunday after an extremely crazy Saturday night (for me). Crazy Saturday nights at this age definitely do not mean the same thing as a “crazy Saturday night” when I was in my younger twenties. However, this particular Saturday night consisted of a few shots, and some age-inappropriate behavior on the dance floor of the Saint Ex basement. The Sunday of my date with Larry was therefore extremely painful. I did not actually get out of bed until 3:30pm, and needed a long, hot shower as well as several greasy pupusas from the restaurant next door in order to feel slightly human again. Larry suggested meeting at Barcelona Wine Bar at 5:30pm that afternoon.

Barcelona Wine Bar comes from the Connecticut-based Barteca Restaurant Group. It first opened in the fall of 2014 during the 14th street explosion of new spots. It has a beautiful outdoor patio with fire pits, and a large bar area full of wood and beautiful stone work, which immediately made the restaurant a big hit. I actually do not think the tapas are that amazing (I would probably prefer Jaleo or Estadio for the food), but the atmosphere at Barcelona makes it appealing enough to keep returning to.

By 5pm on the day of my date with Larry, I was still hurting from the previous night’s bad decisions, so I decided I should head to the restaurant first in order to regroup and get some caffeine in me. Also, I was still not sure Larry was real. I mean, his picture was just so incredibly good. And again, there was only one picture which could definitely be a sign that someone just used a picture off of Google. Also, he was so sporadic with his messaging that there was a small part of me that wondered if someone completely different looking was going to show up. Or maybe no one would show up at all. I got to Barcelona and managed to find a spot at the relatively crowded bar, ordered a coffee and chugged a few glasses of water before Larry arrived, looking even better than his Tinder picture. I mean, this guy is gorgeous. In my opinion, and I realize beauty can be subjective, he is not just good-looking or handsome, he is actually BEAUTIFUL. I consciously told myself to stop staring at him with my mouth open, and moved my purse from the bar stool next to me so that he could sit down.

We immediately went through the whole first date generic questions as we looked at the drink menu. I decided to go with wine because that seemed like the least painful option in terms of putting alcohol back into my system, so he ordered us both a glass of malbec. Quick summary of Larry: he moved to Eastern Market back in August for a one year fellowship at Georgetown Law School after working as an attorney in LA for the previous six years. He was successful, put together, and most importantly, funny. I kept thinking to myself: how was this real? For the past month, I was doubtful that he even truly existed. Now, he was sitting right next to me looking even better than his incredible picture, he had his shit together, was hilariously snarky… and then…. wait for it…..  also asked me if I wanted to order food. Uh, should I take my pants off now or later?

We ordered the Hamachi Crudo, Chorizo with Sweet & Sour Figs, and the Brussels Sprouts with Warm Chorizo Vinaigrette. The Hamachi was light, fresh and slightly sweet. The chorizo, which I have ordered several times before, is one of favorite dishes at Barcelona. The thick slices of chorizo are salty and meld well with the sweet, chewy chunks of figs. They definitely are a little heavy handed with the salt and oil when it comes to the brussels sprouts, and I prefer my sprouts on the crispier side, so this was my least favorite of the three dishes. After finishing up these plates, we ordered another glass of wine and stayed at Barcelona talking until around 10pm. The time had flown by quickly, and I appreciated how he had not looked at his watch or phone at all during this time. He settled the bill, and offered to walk me the half mile home. As we walked along 14th street, he asked me when I would be free next and I told him I would actually be leaving for California in the next week. Like I had previously mentioned, it is a little hard when you leave for a trip right after meeting someone. So I was pleasantly surprised when he suggested squeezing in another date before I left. We made tentative plans for the following Thursday, and he left me standing outside my building with what I think may have been butterflies in my stomach. I tried not to read too much into it, especially after the last few promising great first dates that fizzled out because of lack of any real connection. If nothing else, at least this had been a delicious meal with a gorgeous guy on a Sunday afternoon. Not a bad way to treat a hangover at all.

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Another race, another reason to eat carbs

The Cherry Blossom 10-miler is coming up in a few weeks (three weeks to be exact), and SM and I are already excited about our pre-race meal. We have a few friends from college in town for the event as well, so last night we decided to need to start brainstorming a list of potential pasta or pizza spots to load up on carbs the evening before the race. So far, we have come up with the following list:

Pasta Mia: a family-owned DC institution in Adams Morgan. This restaurant strictly operates on a cash-only, first-come, first-serve basis and a line usually forms outside the restaurant about a half hour before it opens. There is only one cook, Roberto Broglia, and there are only 44 seats, so if you are 45th in line, you end up waiting for about an hour to eat. The giant plates of perfectly cooked pasta are unbelievably inexpensive, and usually last me about 3 meals.

Red Hen: since opening up in Bloomingdale 2 years ago, the Red Hen has received non-stop praise for its rustic menu and friendly neighborhood vibe. The fennel sausage sagu is one of my favorite pasta dishes in recent memory. The house-made pork sausage is so hearty and satisfying, and the pecorino cheese sprinkled on makes the perfect topping.

Osteria Morini: located in Navy Yard, this might be a little bit more of a trek for us but the reviews have been so positive that it will probably be worth venturing out of the neighborhood. This is the first DC restaurant for Michael White, the famed NYC chef behind Marea, and he has not disappointed . The Washingtonian review assures that pastas are “the surest bets” here, and make it sound like this is a great place to gorge ourselves.

Alphonse: This U Street casual Italian restaurant and market opened in the summer of 2014. What makes this spot stand out in my mind, is that my extremely picky, slightly pretentious (I mean that in the most loving way possible) has heaped a lot of praise on Alphonse. And by praise, I mean he says in a monotone voice that it is “pretty good.” And every time I walk by this little restaurant, I am charmed by it’s old school vibe and checkered table clothes. Plus, the Washington Post praises their cannolis, something that makes my heart flutter.

A few of my favorite things (pizza, sashami, dessert)

Lately I have been intensely craving two things: pizza and sushi. The day of my half marathon, after the recovery brunch at Satellite Room, I had a serious craving for some sushi rolls and ended up ordering dinner from Wok & Roll. All I wanted for lunch and dinner was sushi the following day so I went to Trader Joe’s for some salmon rolls. While running errands along 14th street, I was texting with B, the bartender from Pilar. We made plans to hang out the next day since the weather forecast called for sunny skies and near 70 degree weather. The past two times we have gone on dates, he has picked the places (Fainting Goat, Pop’s Seabar/Mintwood/Bedrock Billiards), but this time he suggested that I make the plans. This made me slightly anxious, since I know he is very particular in his tastes. Like most other industry folks, he has a strong dislike for happy hours and brunches (two things that I love), and he has said he does not like going on dates where he will have to run into people that he knows. Well, we planned to meet around 6:30pm, which is prime happy hour time at almost every bar in DC. And I have no idea where he might know people, or where he might run into people he knows. I assume the regular bartender hang out spots are no good options (Solly’s, All Souls, 2Birds 1Stone). I suggested Dickson Wine Bar, since it has a back patio and tends to be more low key, and he agreed so I assumed I had not made a terrible choice.

It turned out to be a beautiful day, and the patio was pretty empty at Dickson. We started off with some drinks (Four Roses for him, red wine for me), and some funny stories. What I really like about B is how chill and relaxed I feel around him. I can be my goofy, weird self without feeling self conscious and just babble away while he jumps in and plays off of what I said. He mentioned how he finds me extremely polite, and that I always send a Thank You text the morning following a date, but that he wonders if it is a template I use. For example, “Hi insert man’s name here! Thank you for food item that we consumed, drink I drank, and joke related to something we discussed!” Okay, obviously it is more funny when he says it with his commentary, but I spend a lot of the time laughing until my stomach and my sides hurt when I am around B. I find a sense of human one of the most important qualities when building new relationships, whether that is romantic relationship or a friendship. Not just any sense of humor, but the same sense of humor, because not everyone laughs at the same stuff (take my mother who only likes incredibly corny jokes and puns). I feel like the conversation between B and I is fast-paced, and we are telling joke after joke, just inserting humor wherever it fits.

After I mentioned I had been craving sushi and pizza lately, he suggested heading over to Izakaya Seki for dinner. But first, he said, we should order a flatbread from Dickson to incorporate my other craving. We settled on the pancetta flatbread with smoked gouda, which came out fairly quickly. The flatbread was fine, nothing memorable, but it definitely hit the spot since I was both starving by this point and slightly buzzed from the glass of wine. Obviously it does not compare to Etto pizza, but it satisfied my craving enough to make it to the three blocks over to Seki.

Izakaya Seki did not have a wait, so we sat down at the downstairs bar. B ordered some sake for us (good thing about hanging out with a bartender is that most of the time I can just stare blankly at a wine/cocktail/beer list and he can pick out something decent) to start, and we told the waitress to just pick out a couple of things for us based on her recommendations. We started off with the Tuna Tataki. These thin, deep magenta squares tasted so clean and sweet. The second dish was the ankimo (monkfish liver). While I do appreciate good liver, I do not go out of my way to seek this food out. However, once I put a small piece of ankimo into my mouth, I immediately wanted more. It was so incredibly buttery and smooth. The creaminess resembles almost a gelato-like taste, and I just wanted to keep each chunk in my mouth for as long as possible. Then, the absolutely beautiful Omakase Sashimi arrived, which was a big plate of raw cuttlefish, octopus, seabream, tuna, salmon, shrimp. This was my first time trying cuttlefish sashimi, and I found it extremely interesting. It had an intriguingly chewy, slippery texture. The thick slices of seabream were slightly sweet, and the octopus was perfectly chewy. Every piece of seafood on that plate just tasted impeccably fresh. We also ordered the Tako Wasa (raw octopus and fresh wasabi), , and beef intestine skewers. The diced octopus was extremely slippery, so we both laughed as we tried to pick up the pieces using chopsticks. I liked the light spiciness of it, and could have probably slurped down a few orders of the small dish. My favorite thing was the beef intestine skewers. The full, fatty, rich flavor of the intestine just melted into my mouth and the roasted peppers added the perfect hot kick. Overall, everything that we ordered was fantastic. I really like the casual, simple atmosphere at Seki. In addition, eating and drinking our way through the menu makes it a fun date spot, especially since the small plates work best when you’re sharing them willing to try weird stuff.

As we finished up the last few bites, B turned to me and said, “And I know you have a sweet tooth. So let’s go somewhere else for dessert.” I know that sounds simple, but I found it incredibly sweet (no pun intended). First of all, I love dessert. I feel like a meal is incomplete if it does not end with at least something sweet. That does not mean every meal needs to end with a pot-de-creme, but I like at least a few sourpatch kids, or a Mickey D’s vanilla soft serve cone after I finish dinner and I had mentioned this to B before. It is just thoughtful when a guy thinks about what you like, and tries incorporate it into your time together. We decided to stop by Busboys and Poet’s on 14th street to end the night, and ordered the apple pie and the cheesecake (that’s right, TWO desserts). Neither of the desserts was spectacular, but both were decent and just what I wanted after a pretty spectacular meal at Seki. We sipped on some beers as well, and closed out around 11:30pm. The weather was still nice at this time, so B walked me home. We kept talking as we headed down 11th street (definitely noticed that he did not try to walk down 14th street past Pilar…), and at one point… somewhere between Q street and Rhode Island, he grabbed my waist, spun me around to face him and kissed me. While I love a great first kiss, I love a great second kiss even more. Second kisses mean that there was enough electricity in that first kiss to warrant another kiss. After a good first kiss, you know that they may want to kiss you… so you do it eagerly but there is still just a twinge of nervousness that they might pull away from you. But they don’t, when they put both of their hands on your face, through your hair, around your waist, it is excruciatingly amazing. I felt like I could have kept kissing forever. Obviously we stopped kissing at some point since I now typing this blog post out without someone’s face attached to my mouth, but it definitely felt like we were just making out on the street corner for a decent amount of time. We eventually made our way back to the front of my apartment building. We made out again, and after I pulled away, that thing happened where I have no idea what to do right afterwards. So I just blurted out in an extremely loud voice, “OKAY SO WHEN DO I SEE YOU AGAIN??!” Dude, chill girlI have no idea why I cannot just be cool after a kiss. He seemed to not be too alarmed by my yelling and suggested that we meet up towards the end of the week. That gives me at least a few days to figure out how not be awkward after someone’s tongue has been inside of my mouth…

 

 

 

Recovery brunch at Satellite Room

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The Rock n Roll half marathon in DC turned out to be a wet, rainy affair. When my alarm woke me up at 5:45am that Saturday morning, the first thing that popped into my head was the sound of the rain outside the window. I looked out and saw that there was steady precipitation coming down. After shoving two slices of leftover pizza into my mouth, I threw on my running clothes, and an old sweatshirt (I keep all of my exes sweatshirts and use them as pre-road race gear because I don’t care about discarding the clothing before the start line) and headed down to Constitution Ave with SM, who was gearing up for her first half marathon (!!). The rain at the start of the race was light, but really started to pick up by the second half of the race. I ended up being surprisingly satisfied with my time, despite the lack of training and fact that I completely forget to wear a watch to the race. I finished with an average pace of 8:25 minutes/mile, which was faster than the last half marathon I had actively trained for, as well as a faster pace than the ten miler I had completed after Thanksgiving. I guess the California sun really does do a body good. The endorphins after finishing quickly disappeared once I was aware that I was completely drenched and freezing cold. The thin foil they provide after finishing did absolutely nothing to warm me up, and I felt soaked in cold rain down to my very core. Due to a miscommunication, N, who had a back pack with my dry clothes inside, had her phone on silent and I could not reach her so after 45 minutes of standing in my wet clothes I gave up and headed home. Once I got home, I realized that my hands were so cold, I could not move my fingers enough to turn the key to my apartment. My roommate was not home, and after trying unsuccessfully to force my fingers to cooperate, I gave up. I then wandered down the hall of my building trying to listen for people in their apartment. I knocked on the door of an apartment around the corner, and when the guy opened it, blurted out “CAN YOU HELP ME GET INTO MY APARTMENT?” Now I realize I must have been a terrifying sight. I was wrapped up in bright silver and red foil, my hair had been a wet, crazy mess that at one point been braided. After a 30 minute scalding hot shower and some layers, I felt a little bit more human again.

After the shower, I also realized I was absolutely starving. SM and N were back to their place as well, and we decided to needed to replenish our bodies quickly with some nourishment. I actually suggested pizza again, but they wanted something more on the breakfast side so we settled on Satellite Room, located behind the 9:30 club. Satellite Room has super chill vibe, and is designed like an old school diner vibe with neon signage, and dark red leather booths. We settled into a booth, and quickly looked over the menu (quickly because I was completely ravenous by this point). We decided to order loaded tots to start. These were absolutely delicious, and topped with a sweet bacon syrup. We demolished these in a number of seconds.

They also offer boozy milkshakes, which I have tremendously enjoyed before, but I could not imagine consuming any booze before a long, long nap so we all passed. For my brunch order, I went with the steak and eggs, with my two eggs sunny side up. The thin steak came out perfectly grilled. The eggs were done just the way I like them, runny with crispy brown edges, and I used the toast to pick up every last drop of yolk.

After this, I was craving something sweet to the end the meal but the waiter told me that unfortunately there were no desserts on the brunch menu. He did offer us a sweet shot of alcohol but the thought of that made me shudder so we declined. Since I could not fulfill my body’s craving for sugar, I did the next best thing: ubered home and crashed into my bed for a long recovery nap. The heavy food in my belly definitely helped me snooze for a few hours, and I appreciated the filling meal at Satellite Room. Definitely a good option for relatively inexpensive, classic breakfast food.

Carb loading at Etto

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Way back when it was still warm outside (remember those days, guys?), I decided it would be a great idea to sign up for the Rock n Roll Half Marathon because it would help motivate me to run outside this winter. During the winter, I have a hard time convincing myself to run outside because 1) I hate the cold with a deep passion, 2) The sun disappears before I get home from work and 3) The gym is warm, and the personal TV’s on the treadmills and ellipticals allow me to catch up on bad reality television. Unfortunately, my plan for half marathon training this winter did not go quite the way I had envisioned last summer when the sun was setting at 8pm, and running in a tank top was a given. Suddenly, it was mid-February and I realized I had done exactly 1 long run in preparation. Thankfully, I knew I had a trip to SoCal coming up, and I tried to plan some decent training runs. During that week and a half, I somehow managed to squeeze in four long runs without my legs completely falling apart and I felt fairly confident I could at least finish the half without crying. Now, my favorite part of long races is the carb loading that takes place beforehand, and the recovery meal that takes place afterwards. Basically, I like to sandwich the race between two indulgent meals.

The Friday before the Rock n Roll half, SM (who was also preparing for the half), N and SBS and I decided to head to Etto for some pizza. We got there around 6:15pm and got a seat on the heated patio. We decided to start with the cauliflower with pine nuts and saffron salad, and a egg quiche with sausage (that day’s chalkboard special). The cauliflower salad was a little on the oily side, but perfect for dipping their soft, crusty bread in. The egg quiche had a wonderfully sweet crust, and we all agreed we could have eaten a pizza-sized serving of this.

Then it was on to the main attraction: Etto’s amazing Neapolitan style pizza. As usual, I debated trying a new pizza but at the last second decided to go with my all-time favorite, the roasted cauliflower with capers, pine nuts, breadcrumbs and anchovies. I could write a love letter to the Etto pizzas. The pizzas are a little soft in the center, and the crust is quite thin with a lighter texture than the other Neapolitan spots like Ghibellina or 2 Amy’s. I would describe the pies here as “floppy,” But I do not mean that in a flabby, sad way. I mean “floppy” in that the pies are light and almost airy. The toppings on this cauliflower pizza sync together in perfect harmony. The bread crumbs and pine nuts add a crunch to each bite, the chopped up anchovies add a subtle salty funk. I absolutely love anchovies, and the anchovies at Etto are

I could have housed the entire pie, but the waitress warned us at the beginning of the meal that “these pizzas are big, so you guys are definitely going to have leftovers!” Crap, does this mean people never eat a whole pie? I thought about this as I munched away and decided once there were two slices remaining that maybe I should save something for leftovers since apparently every “definitely” leaves food on their place. The waitress actually took a while to box up our remainders and bring us the check so I just stared longingly at those two beautiful charred pieces while we waited. I actually had these two slices the next morning as a pre-race breakfast and they tasted just as delicious cold. Etto really was the ideal place to load up on carbohydrates. I love the low-key, warm atmosphere of this small restaurant, and the outside patio has nearly doubled the number of seats so the wait time has reduced significantly on nicer days. And I just cannot get enough of the pizza here. I thought about the cauliflower pizza during my rainy half marathon the next morning, and debated returning to Etto right afterwards for yet another pizza (SB and N decided on Satellite Room instead). I better sign up for another half marathon soon so I have an excuse to inhale some more of their chewy, charred, sweet, PERFECT crust.

Rainy night date: Pop’s Seabar and Mintwood Place

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To start off, I should say that this is very untypical of me: I went on dates with two guys I am interested in the week before I left for California. First of all, I feel like I have not had a real connection with anyone since my last break up in October. So the fact that I am now hanging out with not just one, but two guys who I feel a spark with, is a little crazy to me. Also, the timing is a little awkward because I felt like the dates went great with both people, but wasn’t sure how being away for almost two weeks would affect the momentum. Would their interest in me totally fade if I was not around? It was still too early to assume we would be staying in contact while I was away, and it also seemed presumptuous to be making plans after the dates to get together after I got back. I tried not to think too much about it as I left the ridiculously frigid DC weather for beautiful, sunny Southern California and figured if they wanted to keep in touch with me, they would.

While one guy (let’s call him LZ) surprisingly kept up the texting the whole time I was out of town, wishing me a happy birthday, checking up on how the hikes were going in Death Valley, and locking down the next date. The bartender (see last week’s post on Fainting Goat) checked up on me a couple times, mostly to update me on the never-ending winter weather I had escaped from. I was not sure how if he was actually interested in seeing me again, especially after our first date where he explained his attitude towards dating. Basically, he emphasized that he does not date a lot and does not want to waste his time going to on a date trying to figure out if he likes them, he would just rather go out on a date with someone he already knows that he likes (of course this made me nervous because I had pretty much demanded that he take me out on a date while drunk at his bar). Since I had been slightly aggressive about the first date, I figured that I should back off and let him take the initiative from here. Well, he finally asked me out again after I got back from the West coast!

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I warned him that I would be keeping the drinking down to a minimum because of my upcoming half marathon a few days later, so we made plans to meet up at Pop’s Seabar for snacks as a start to the night. Pop’s Seabar is a relatively new addition to Adams Morgan, replacing the ramen spot Taan. This casual “Jersey shore” beach bar comes from the guys of Cashion’s Eat Place and has a raw bar and seafood-focused menu.  The evening of the date was a wet, rainy one, and I had to stop by Friendship Heights for a quick haircut so traffic was horrendous by the time I made my way back to DC and I ended up running 20 minutes late. I found B sitting at the bar, and was relieved he was so chill about my delay. We started off with fried smelts and fried calamari (you know, diet food), and I ordered a Jonny Mac Highball (bourbon, tea, lemon, mint, soda water). The Jonny Mac Highball was not good at all. I mean, I love bourbon and I normally love bourbon drinks but this drink was too heavy on the soda water and lemon so it tasted like a super watery, acidic Arnold Palmer. On the other hand, the fried food was pretty good. The batter on the both the calamari and the smelts was light, and fried well without being too oily. Both of these were topped with spicy pickled peppers for a little kick, and tartar sauce.

After we polished these off, B suggested heading next door to Mintwood, especially after he realized I was not a big fan of my cocktail. It was still raining, so I did not mind not having to travel far. We found seats at the bar, and B picked out a glass of wine for me (since I know nothing about wine, except that I like heavier body wines that veer on the sweet side). We decided to get the escargots hush puppies and the chicken liver tartine to snack on (major points for any guy who will eat snails with me) The fried escargots were serviced with a remoulade sauce, which is perfect for dipping these earthy, fried balls of deliciousness. The creamy, slightly sweet chicken liver tartine is served on thin, crunchy crackers. This was probably my favorite snack of the night. I also liked the vibe at Mintwood more than Pop’s, which was relatively empty. I feel slightly self conscious when a bar is so quiet the bartender can hear what I am saying. This is mostly because I occasionally tell weirdly awkward stories on dates (like how I once got my entire head cornrowed on vacation in Jamaica, or how I once ate so many chicken wings I vomited on the lawn of a neighboring fraternity house) and I do not want some stranger judging me. Mintwood was buzzing with people, and the warm ambiance made it a good date atmosphere. It was also a good date because I find B pretty hilarious (something that is a necessary quality in a guy for me). He’s very sarcastic, and will go along with most of the silly/strange things that come out of my mouth. There are also little things that I’ve noticed and appreciate about B. He seems to remember things that I have told him about myself and my family and references these facts, even if they seemed like unimportant details in my own mind. He also seems to convey a genuine, sincere interest in me when asking questions. This stands out to me, because I am the kind of person who is always talking, and will fire off a dozen questions, so sometimes during a date I find that I am putting in a lot more effort to keep the conversation going. With B, I do not feel like I am putting in any effort. The conversation and the jokes just keep flowing.

B then suggested heading a few doors down to Bedrock Billiards for pool. My date phone alarm had not rung yet (I set it for 11:45pm and it was 10pm at this point), so I agreed after warning him that I am terrible at pool. I actually really am terrible at pool. Well, I am terrible at anything at involves hand-eye coordination, so this includes table tennis, pool, mini golf, or just walking on the sidewalk while texting. I am especially bad at pool, so bad that I have never, in 28 years of existence on this earth, successfully executed a break shot. B assured me that this was not a dealbreaker for him, so we walked to the basement bar and ordered a beer (at this point I had stopped drinking). Apparently, there is such thing as “pool leagues” and Tuesday nights happen to the pool league night at Bedrock Billiards. B suggested playing shuffleboard instead, and was shocked when I told him I had never played shuffleboard. He explained the rules, we did a practice round where my discs either went flying off the board or did not even slide past the foul line (there was no happy medium) so now I know that I can add shuffleboard to the long list of things that I am not good at. We played a game, and I noticed that throughout the rounds, B got increasingly more touchy. He was never inappropriate, but he would grab my waist as we walked from one side of the board to the other, or wrap his arm around me while we were talking. And surprisingly, it felt really nice. I have felt a lack of physical chemistry with almost everyone I have come across ever since the end of my last relationship in October. Even while dating C (the second guy I met through Tinder) casually for two months, I found him attractive but I did not feel any physical sparks between us when he touched me. I mean, it was pleasant but completely void of fireworks. Well, when B’s hand grazed my skin, I felt a little butterfly flip in my stomach.

After our one shuffleboard game and one beer, I told B that it was almost time for me to turn into a pumpkin. He did not live too far away, so we decided to walk to his place where I would order an uber. He mentioned hanging out again and we made tentative plans to see each other at the beginning of the week, since I have a half marathon coming up this weekend, and he works on Sundays. As we said our good-byes, he pulled me in for a hug and I looked up at him and suddenly, we were kissing each other. Maybe it is because it was so unexpected, or maybe it was because I had such a fun time on the date, but my mind went completely blank, in a good way, as soon as we kissed. For the first time, in a really long time, my brain did not go crazy. I did not even think about how to meld my mouth into his, I did not try to analyze if it was a good kiss or not, I did not wonder what was going to happen next, I just kept kissing him. And when I pulled away, I felt that immediate giddy feeling that overcomes your limbs and brain after a good kiss. Which brings up something else: I never know what to say after a kiss. I definitely do not know what to do after a goooood kiss (I mean, it has been awhile since I have experienced that). I feel like I just end up staring at the other person with a super goofy/awkward look on my face. In this case, I saw that the uber had arrived so I just made some weird giggling noise before hopping in. Hopefully that did not totally ruin the moment because I’m not trying to find another neighborhood bar right now.

Out of town report: The Shabu (Simi Valley)

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While DC was going through a ridiculous snow storm the first week of March, it was almost 80 degrees in southern California. This trip made me realize how much of a more pleasant person I am when the weather is nice. I would wake up at 6:30am for a run, and just knowing that it was sunny and warm enough to go out in shorts and a tee shirt was enough for me to want to throw up my arms and sing out “Gooooooooooood morning!!!” like Amy Adams in Enchanted. After a particularly beautiful day in Malibu, my dad and I headed back on the Pacific Coast Highway right into traffic to Simi Valley. Seriously though, what is up with traffic around Los Angeles? What I have realized after spending just over a week there is that you basically just need to avoid roads at all times except between 11am-3pm. This traffic makes rush hour traffic in DC seem as pleasant as a leisurely brunch at Ted’s Bulletin on a Sunday afternoon. I took the screenshot below at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon of traffic around LA.

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What is that mess? That looks like a sick joke. Props to all the people out there dealing with that five times a week. Handling the roads around DC during the week days is enough to make me want to sign up for anger management classes, I cannot even imagine what my mental state would be like on the other coast. Luckily, the drive back to Simi Valley was not too horrific, and the scenic route we took made the trip much more pleasant. For dinner, we stopped by a Japanese spot recommended to us by my cousin: The Shabu.

The Shabu, a small restaurant located in a strip mall, serves traditional Japanese cuisine like ramen, sushi, and shabu-shabu. Shabu-shabu is the Japanese style of hot pot: meat and veggies are cooked in a boiling broth in front of you. In Japanese, “shabu shabu” literally translates to “swish swish.” This refers to the technique used to prepare the dish: you use your chopsticks move/”swish” your food around in the broth to cook it. We decided to get a spicy tuna roll to start, and an order of seafood shabu-shabu to split. The waitress set up our burner, and added some pepper sauce to broth after we assured her we would prefer to have a spicier broth. The shabu-shabu is served with a heaping plate of vegetables and noodles, which we threw into the pot first once the water started to boil. After a few minutes, we dumped all of the seafood in, which consisted of shrimp, mussels, scallops, squid, chunks of white fish and fish balls.

The broth base was delicious, and the flavor intensified as the meat continued to cook. The food is served with two dipping sauces: a citrusy ponzu and a creamy goma (sesame) sauce. While the hot pot was delicious on its own, I liked that we could dip the ingredients into the different sauces to change up the flavor profile, which adds a whole new dimension to the meal. I loved the creamy sesame sauce and ended up pouring it straight into my bowl to mix with everything. After finishing up the shabu, we decided we still had room for dessert and ordered the green tea ice cream to share. The ice cream was refreshing, and a wonderful sweet note to end our meal.

Overall, Shabu is a fun spot for a casual dinner. It is clean, affordable, with a number of appealing options to fill your stomach. I left feeling satisfied, and not overly stuffed which is an accomplishment because sometimes on vacation I get into a “calories don’t count mode” and shovel food into my mouth like the apocalypse is coming.  In this case, I ate enough to fill me up but did not feel the need to lay down immediately afterwards.