A fake 3 year anniversary at Sally’s Middle Name

Three years ago, I made the adult move of transitioning out of Arlington into DC. I found a wonderful spot in a two bedroom apartment by Logan Circle, but the only issue was that my roommate was going to be a (fantastic) man. My parents are what you might refer to as….. conservative and would have strongly disapproved of my cohabitation with a person of the opposite sex, even if we have a 100% platonic relationship. So I did the completely rational thing: I completely panicked and told them I was living with my good (female) friend A. Three years later, my parents still believe I live with A and I have to frantically hide certain items (his jackets, shoes and giant whiskey collection). Yes yes yes, I am aware that I have put myself into this complicated situation, but it is pretty funny and makes a fantastic date story.

For most of September, A was travelling. After a wedding in Italy, another wedding in NYC, and a work trip to India, she was back just in time for us to celebrate our fake three year roommate anniversary! Basically, give me a reason to eat out and I will take it. We decided to try Sally’s Middle Name on H st NE, which has gotten great reviews from both food critics/bloggers and friends. Sally’s opened in June, and is named in honor of chef and co-owner Sam Adkin’s sister. While he has an impressive middle name, Ulysses, Sally was given no middle name and he promised her that he would name his first restaurant after her (okay everyone in unison now: awwwwww).

I headed to H street straight from work, and got there shortly after 6pm. The restaurant does not take reservations and I was surprised to see it completely empty of diners. It is an extremely clean space with white tile, and simple, uncomplicated decor. I decided to sit at the bar, which looks into the open kitchen, and wait for A. While I sat, I went through the roster of seasonal small plates listed on the blackboard, instead of on paper menus.

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Sally’s states they are sourcing from local farms, and the constantly changing menu reflects that they are focusing on seasonal ingredients. Everything sounded delicious, and I made a mental list of my favorite options while I waited for A. Unfortunately, due to the inability of DMV drivers to function in the rain, A’s cab barely inched through downtown DC for an hour and she could not get to H street until almost 6:40pm. I am pretty sure as I sat in the empty restaurant by myself, the staff was convinced I was being stood up as I kept repeating to the bartender, “I’ll just wait a few more minutes until my friend gets here!”

Thankfully, A was still in good spirits when she arrived and, more importantly, starving and ready to eat. She quickly glanced over at the menu, and we put in an order of the the Crab and Corn Imperial and the Sautéed Scallops with brown butter and parsley. The creamy crab and corn dish was buttery and comforting, perfect for a windy, fall evening and the sweet scallops were perfectly cooked in a warm butter sauce with herb undertones. Both of these dishes were delicious. But I did think the $15 price tag for the three relatively small scallops seemed a little too high.

Next came the Roasted Amish Pumpkin, which was covered in buttermilk dressing and topped with pickled rhubard. The two slices of pumpkin were creamy (made even creamier by the buttermilk sauce), slightly smokey, and very interesting.

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The Braised Rabbit Leg with madeira cream sauce arrived a few minutes later. The tender meat pretty much feel off of the bone, making it easier to share. Again, this was overall a great dish, but $13 for one leg seemed overpriced. At this point, we decided we definitely need to order a couple more dishes to fill us up adequately. This gave us the chance to try the Cavatelli with Rabbit Ragu. The pasta was al dente (the way I prefer it), with a rich, comforting sauce made of shredded rabbit. Our final savory order of the night was the Marinated Ember Roasted Eggplant with sea salt and cilantro. We were surprised (not in a bad way) that this was a cold dish, but liked the delightfully oily and salty vegetables.

For dessert, since we were still that full, we ordered both options: the Beignets with blackberry jelly, and the Chocolate semi-fredo. The  light beignets were fantastic, but I found the semi-fredo a little too icy/watery and not very flavorful.

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When the bill came, we realized that (as the blackboard specifies), an 18 percent “service charge” will be automatically added to every check. This money will be split evenly between front and back of the house employees. It was a little strange not adding more money before signing my name, but took away the added complication of doing any math and splitting the check.

While I appreciate that Sally’s serves very good, straightforward comfort food, it definitely was over-priced. You are served what appears like small fistfuls of food. Yes, it is thoughtful, interesting food, but it is hard to appreciate when you’re literally paying $5 per scallop and you leave dinner still feeling unsatisfied despite paying almost $60 (without drinks) per person. Despite that complaint, I enjoyed the relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere and of course, the company.

Thip Khao: a lot of heat for a Friday night

It was a beautiful Friday night in the District, and I was at my friend/ex bf’s place on 14th street when we realized we truly had a #firstworldproblem. We were hungry, it was time for dinner, but it seemed like every good restaurant within walking distance would probably have a wait because our neighborhoods are just too damn popular. Room 11 is the only place on 11th in Columbia Heights Ben was willing to eat at but we knew there would be a wait, going south on 14th street during the weekend just means battling crowds of yuppies, and we were not in the mood for cheap Mexican food in Mount Pleasant. Then I remembered Thip Khao! This Laotioan restaurant opened at the end of last year on the first floor of the Allegro apartment building in Columbia Heights, and is Chef Seng Luangrath’s second restaurant in the DMV. While I had yet to visit either spot, my parents have consistently praised Bangkok Golden in Falls Church, and Bon Appetit just named Thip Khao one of the best new restaurants of 2015. The Washington City Paper had a wonderful write-up explaining Chef Seng’s background and I have been excited to have another authentic Southeast Asian restaurant in my city!

When we arrived around 8:30pm, it was crowded and the hostess let us know it would be about a 45 minute for a table for two. We decided to hang out at the bar while we waited, and it gave me a few minutes to look around and appreciate the warm atmosphere and beautiful decor. About 10 minutes later, a couple got up from the corner of the bar so we quickly snagged those seats. Once we sat down, we took a look at the menu, which is separated into a regular menu and a traditional Lao menu titled “Let’s Go to the Jungle!!” I suppose “traditional” also could mean “exotic” since alligator, snakehead fish, and blood sausage were some of the listed ingredients, but the word “exotic” just always reminds of some weird compliment a white guy tries to give Asian girls without realizing he’s being racist (wow, Tinder has really made me cynical).

To start, we ordered the raved-about the crispy rice salad (Naem Khao), which A (fake roomie) has insisted I have to try, as well as every single restaurant review I have read. This appetizer came out quickly (or as Tom Sietsema says, “speed date fast”), and served with fresh, crispy lettuce leaves to make wraps. The crunchy rice, pickled pork ham and peanuts were flavored with coconut, lime scallions, hot peppers, and cilantro, Ben’s worst enemy. After two and a half years of dating, I have realized that just the sight of these green leaves is enough to change my hilarious friend into a whiny, pouty man-child. However, he did not seem to mind the cilantro here, since the other ingredients have such powerful flavors. This dish was perfect mix of sweet, slightly sour (from the ham), and savory. The crunchy texture of the rice and peanuts was amazing.

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For our main courses, I had my heart set on the Laab Pah Kaw (minced crispy snakehead fish), but the bartender let me know they were completely out of snakehead fish. Now it was my turn to turn into a pouty child, but then I saw that they had a crispy minced alligator dish (Laab E’Kae) listed on the “Let’s Go to the Jungle!!” menu. We also ordered the Muu Som, a braised cured pork belly dish. These two entrees arrived with balls of sticky rice, delivered to the table in adorable bamboo baskets. It was not until I was googling about Lao food that I realized the restaurant is named after these baskets. From the Thip Khao website:

“Sticky rice is an integral part of daily life in Laos.  One batch is steamed in the morning and another at night, typically, is eaten intermittently as  snacked upon or used in accompanying meals throughout the day. After sticky rice is cooked, it’s placed on a flat surface and a wooden paddle is used to press the steam out. Then, it is placed in a large woven bamboo basket called a “thip khao.” The thip khao is regarded as a communal vessel. Family and guests are welcome to remove its lid,and help themselves. In Lao culture sticky rice is the staple to every meal that complements the main dishes. In order to eat the sticky rice, traditionally you form it into a ball, and pair that with a bite from the other dishes.”

The laab e’kae was extremely spicy, the kind of make-you-sweat, deep heat. Ben, due to his health issues, cannot no longer stomach super spicy food, and I felt bad that he could only handle a couple of bites of this dish because this was my absolutely favorite thing that we ordered that evening. The salty meat, green mango, toasted rice, mint made every bite bursting with sensational flavors. Luckily, Ben loved the pork belly, which was cooked with red bell peppers, shimeji mushrooms, onions, ginger and kaffir lime leaves. The meat was a little too fatty for my taste, but I loved the sauce and the vegetables. Of course, our dishes was eaten with the slightly sweet sticky rice. What I loved about the food here is the intensity of the flavors. I can clearly taste the pungency, the heat, the sweetness, the saltiness of every single bite. The boldness in the cooking here is the kind of cooking that hits your senses, wakes up your taste buds and makes you sit up a little straighter.

To cool down after our amazing meal, we decided to skip out on the traditional Lao desserts and opted for frozen yogurt on our walk back down 14th street instead. Understandably, I definitely had a small stomachache by the time I got back to my apartment, but that has not deterred me from declaring that I absolutely have to return to Thip Khao to make my way through more of their incredible “exotic” dishes.

 

A rainy Monday at Lupo Verde

In college, I quit the University’s cross country and track team my sophomore year. Then I went and joined a sorority, which horrified my parents who could not believe their hard-working first generation Asian-American daughter would now be a sorority girl. In their minds, it was almost the equivalent of dropping out of college and becoming one of those women selling their bodies on K street at 6am (note: these are very friendly ladies who wave to me during my morning runs now). Shockingly, I managed to make it through three years of Greek life just fine, and left with a group of the most wonderful friends. One of these friends is my incredible big sister, Kerry. She is one of the sweetest, kindest and smartest people I have ever encountered, and I sincerely hope she is a friend I will be privileged enough to have throughout my whole life. After living in Arlington for years, then heading to North Carolina for business school, Kerry and her boyfriend finally moved to the District over the summer which has just made my life 100x better. For her 29th birthday, since her boyfriend was going to be out of town for work, her sister and I decided to take her out to dinner.

I suggested Lupo Verde, a Southern Italian restaurant located on 14th street that neither Kerry nor Kristine had tried yet. I first tried Lupo Verde when it opened last year, and while I thought it was decent, did not find it memorable enough to compete with the other Italian restaurants on 14th (Etto, Ghibellina). But when I returned in May with TBM for dinner on their outdoor patio, we both thought the meal was fantastic. I was excited to go back and see if it lived up to the high standards set by my second dinner there.

It ended up being a slightly cold (first one of the fall), rainy Monday evening, perfect for a night of wine and comforting carbs. I arrived before Kerry and her sister, so I sat at the bar and ordered a Lupo Alberto (rye, fennel liquer, fennel bitters, tonic). It was a light whiskey drink, slightly watery but easy to go down. While reading yelp reviews earlier that day, I laughed because several people specifically made a point of mentioning the hot bartenders. Ruth C said, “The bartender was so fine that I blushed and nearly tripped over a barstool, so it’s a good thing we opted to dine on the patio where I could retain some semblance of wit.” Kimberly S noted in her review, “There have been whisperings that Lupo Verde is home to the hottest bartenders in town. Being the skeptic I am, I had to check it out for myself and I would like to happily report that yes,the barkeeps here do look like they all walked out of a Ferrari ad.” First of all, “whisperings?” Who is whispering? What else are they whispering about??? I want in on the DC whispers! Is there a newsletter I can sign up for? Second, this was now my third time to Lupo Verde, and while I have no complaints about the bar staff, I either have different taste than the whisperers, or I have not been lucky enough to be in the presence of these “hottest bartenders in town.” I failed to trip over any barstools, and this is coming from the most uncoordinated, graceless runner you will ever encounter.

The birthday girl and sister got there a few minutes later, and the hostess seated us at a communal table by the front of the restaurant. While I do like the cozy atmosphere of Lupo Verde, I need to remember that in the future I should note or request a non-communal table because they are pretty small and it can feel extremely tight if you end up at a table with a couple trying to make it a romantic evening. This time we were lucky enough to be at a table with two other women who ended their meal shortly after we sat down.

Our wonderful (and authentically Italian) server started us off with the incredible focaccia bread, which we dipped into their smooth olive oil. We decided to get a meat and cheese board, and left it up to our waiter to put together our selection of two cheeses and one meat. I love the selection here, which is not surprising since the restaurant has its own cheese shop on the first floor. The presentation of the platter is incredible. These trays are labeled (greatly appreciated), and served with fresh figs, apricots, grapes, nuts, thick slices of bread and crispy bread sticks. Jam and honey are included, and it is easy to go crazy before your first appetizer even arrives.

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I always get the Carciofi alla Giudea as an appetizer, and after pushing my rave reviews on Kerry and Kristine, this time was no different. These artichokes are fried to perfection, and served with a tangy green sauce that tastes faintly like anchovies (so I am obviously a fan). The crispy vegetables and the tart sauce are a great combination. We also ordered the Capasante Scottate. The seared scallops were perfectly cooked, and the artichoke cream sauce was brightened by the lemon zest.

We were starting to fill up after these dishes, but I was looking forward to our two shared entrees, especially the Agnello Stufato Non Stufato. As soon as I saw that they had pulled seared lamb, my heart fluttered. Kerry and Kristine were also eager to try this dish, and luckily it did not disappoint. The lamb was so incredibly tender, and fell apart as soon as the fork pierced it. The white asparagus was sliced so that it resembled al dente noodles and the grilled, slightly smokey, cherry tomatoes seemed impossibly plump and juicy. We also ordered the Orichiette (small round pasta) dish, which included their housemade pasta, along with housemade sausage, tomatoes and Barilotto di Bufala (buffalo milk ricotta). The hearty pasta dish was rich, warm, flavorful (although my heart was definitely rolling around the plate with the seared lamb). We all agreed that every thing we had ordered was a hit.

Our friendly and knowledgeable waiter returned to our table with a beautiful tiramisu, topped with a candle for Kerry. It was an incredibly thoughtful touch, and even though we were stuffed, we dug into the creamy and delicious dessert. This definitely was a perfectly sweet note to end a fantastic birthday dinner. Such a wonderful friend deserves to be celebrated, and I’m glad we picked Lupo Verde for such an impressive meal.

 

Finally, first date at Ghibellina

Right after TBM and I ended things, I was at El Rey with some friends, pretending to be interested in women’s soccer, when I saw an old acquintance of mine who had recently moved to NYC, out of the corner of my eye. Z, who went to law school with my ex-bf, came over to say hello to our group and as we chatted, I saw that he was sitting with a tall, stunning guy who I had met briefly during a party over a year ago. We both were in relationships at the time, and had bonded over our respective partners being in law school (and actually in the same classes). He happened to be sitting without his equally stunning blonde girlfriend, so I asked Z where the other half of the gorgeous couple was. Z turned to me, and then said those magic words that make you feel both happy and guilty for being happy at the same time: “They broke up.”

There is a small part of me that wanted to break into a song and dance because that meant this foiiiiine man was on the market, but of course did not want to seem smug so had to make some fake cooing noise and respond with an insincere, “awwwwww that is so sad.” I jokingly (except by jokingly I mean, totally seriously) told Z to set us up, but Z just said, “he does not really go for non-blondes.” Well, dagger. Straight to the point, Z. After this get shut down quicker than a girl at a gay gym, I munched on a couple (okay so a platter. I ate a frickin platter of nachos) of chips, I decided I could not fake my interest in soccer for much longer and headed home. I pretty much forgot about that encounter until over a month later when I ran into the supposedly blonde-obsessed stud at my friend’s pool party in mid-August. I thought it was a little strange when we seem to hit it off and my spider sense was telling me that there was a hint of chemistry between us. Then, my jaw hit the floor when Daniel (had to stop just referring to him as “the stud” at some point) asked me, “So Z told me that you started seeing Shay… how long have you guys been dating?”

Excuse me? EXCUSE ME? I had to quickly correct him and let him know that I have never dated Shay, or have ever considered dating Shay, we are obviously just friends and that I am single. I put as much emphasis on the word “single” as I could without actually screaming. What a little dick, Z. He’s like the bad guy everyone roots against in some rom com, darting in and out and trying to mess up what is clearly the beginning of a magical moment between this tall, tanned, stud (yeah he’s so hot I just had to go back to referring to him as “stud” instead of by his actual name) and me. I guess I managed to fully establish my single status, and we exchanged numbers before I headed home. Take that, Z.

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After a couple of chatty texts during the following week, I eagerly waited for Daniel to ask me out. You know what I am talking about. I would jump every time my phone buzzed and frantically try to get my thumbprint correct on the first try so I would be able to see the text ASAP. So I was very confused when he kind of asked me out…. but not really:

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He did not bother to follow up about hanging out once I said I would be out of town, and I was perplexed by his refusal to schedule anything during the work week. I assumed this half-hearted attempt to go on a date just meant he was not that enthusiastic about spending time together and I let the idea of “the stud & me” (great name for a rom com right? Z would obviously play the role of the villain) go.

Until.

Until.

Until the second weekend of September when he invited me to his birthday party. I figured I had nothing to lose, and convinced my wonderful friend Allie to be my wingwoman on that Friday evening. After a couple glasses of wine, I told her we would just pop in to say hi and then could rejoin our other friends at another bar on 14th street. When we arrived, Daniel enthusiastically greeted us and threw his arms around me, but I could tell he was dahhh-runk. He disappeared from the roof into the dark dance floor a few minutes later, and Allie told me not to hope for too much attention on someone’s birthday. I agreed, and decided not to put too much pressure on this situation, especially when he had yet to really express interest in hanging out one-on-one. So I told Allie we could meet up with our other friends and popped inside to say good-bye and wish him a happy birthday. The next couple of minutes were definitely not what I was expecting: he pulled me into him and kissed me. And maybe it was because the pitch-black, crowded floor made me feel like some carefree 22 year old, or because this was the last thing I was anticipating, or because he is….. just….. so….. damn…. fine, but I went with it and there we were, just two kids making out on the dance floor while Demi Lovato played in the background. I finally pulled away, and he looked down at me, smiled and said, “So dinner next weekend?” I knew it wasn’t my birthday, but I certainly felt like celebrating in that moment.

The next day, I knew I should not get my hopes too high because well, I once was a 22 year old making out on dance floors and I remembered that the chance of a post-make-out-follow-up is slim. Also, the chances of him actually recalling the make out could also be slim. And then there’s also the fact that our favorite rom com antagonist had to make a reappearance with the following texts:

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But then, against all drunken make-out odds, the stud’s name appeared on my phone the following day:

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He suggested having dinner at Ghibellina the following Sunday. That also happened to be the day of my second half marathon, and I had already made plans with a group of my girlfriends for brunch, but I did not want to spook him (what if he just never asks me out again????), and agreed to dinner. After an especially boozy, indulgent bottomless brunch and some more hydration (errrr, okay, wine) at El Centro, I made my way home, re-showered, re-applied my make-up, and told myself that I needed to seriously calm down. The combination of exhaustion from the half marathon, my buzz from the afternoon of drinks, and the added of anticipation of actually, finally going on a date with someone you have been crushing on for a month made me a complete nervous mess. It had been awhile since I was this anxious before a date.

Daniel was already sitting at the bar when I arrived, looking absolutely delectable in a long-sleeve, plaid button up and fitted jeans. I ordered a manhattan, and we chatted for a little bit before the hostess seated us, which helped calm down my nerves a little. While I have been to Ghibellina for many pizza happy hours and a couple of brunches, I have never been for a sit-down dinner, and I took a moment to appreciate the warm, cozy dining room and the perfect date lighting (uh, this just means it was pretty dark and I did not feel self-conscious). As we perused the menu, he suggested splitting a starter, which I am always down for since I love sharing food. I asked him if he had any food preferences, and he then told me something that made me pause. He said, “I don’t eat red meat, or pork.” Oh shit. Then he followed that statement up with, “And I try not to eat cheese.” Oh god. This was serious stuff he had just shared, serious stuff that required a lot of processing. And this is coming from me, someone whose last two boyfriends let me know about previous marriages, and I still kept dating them. This coming from me, someone who once had a boyfriend reveal to her he had owed a quarter million dollars in debt. I also kept dating that dude. But here I have a man who eats no red meat? No cheese? I looked down at the menu and sadly realized we would not be sharing the burrata.

He suggested the Insalata Di Farro, a farro salad with roasted beets, shaved fennel, hazelnuts and ricotta (apparently just a sprinkling of cheese is okay in his book). He went with the brick chicken, and while I had originally debated ordering the lamb chops, I decided I did not want him to be staring at me tearing away at some baby sheep, so I went with that evening’s special, seared tuna over white cannellini beans. The farro salad actually turned out to be delicious, despite its major flaw: that it was not a giant ball of burrata. The roasted beets and hazelnuts added some sweetness while the sherry vinegar dressing balanced everything out by adding some tangy acidity.

After a bottomless brunch, I was feeling slightly full after our shared app, but the tuna arrived in front of me and looked stunning. It was perfect seared the way I like it: very rare. I could cut into the sweet, tender meat with a butter knife and knew I would be powering through my fullness because this was a dish that was worth it. Daniel enjoyed his non-redmeat, cheese-free dish, guilt-free dish as we continued to talk, and I of course had to ask him about his break-up. He had dated his ex for four years, moving to the east coast when she transferred to GWU, and living with her and their dog for the last three of those years. That is some heavy stuff, especially when you consider that they just broke up in the spring, and I know he went to go visit her in San Francisco just eight weeks before our first date (thanks open social media accounts!). I’m not actually sure if he’s ready to be dating again, or even interested in really dating again, but that is not my decision to make so I am fine just seeing where it goes and how he feels.

For dessert, Daniel dropped another bomb on me: he does not like ice cream. I tried not to act offended when he told me, since there’s no real reason why disliking ice cream hurts me personally, but I was just in shock. Luckily, he voiced no dislike for hazelnut or chocolate, so we got a hazelnut chocolate cake. It was a little on the dry side, which was a blessing in disguise since I could easily resist eating more than two bites. Afterwards, Daniel asked if we could walk me home, and I invited him upstairs to the rooftop for drinks (water). We hung out for a little bit more but the race and the day drinking finally caught up to me and I struggled to stay engaged. I’m still not sure how much we have in common, or if he’s actually interested in me, or if I could ever spent significant time with someone who does not salivate at the idea of steak frites or bathing in gelato… but maybe that does not matter that much when the guy looks so. damn. good.

Post-half marathon rehydration at Agora

 

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My second half marathon was, as expected, extremely painful. But it was over before 9am, and after a long bubble bath, quick nap, and two thick slices of my (real) roommate’s homemade sourdough bread, I was ready for Sunday Funday. My friend Lisa was in town from Chicago, and we made plans for a big girls’ brunch at Agora.

Agora is located on 17th street by Dupont, and offers a brunch consisting of Mediterranean mezze plates. They have a bottomless brunch option for $32.99, which includes all-you-can-drink bloodies, mimosas and champagne. After 13 painful miles of running, there was nothing I wanted to do more than get a little buzzed with six of my most wonderful girlfriends. We were seated upstairs, and after taking our drink orders, the server brought out all of the spreads, plus piping hot, fluffy pita bread for us to start with.

I began my rehydration process with a bloody mary, but it was a little too heavy on the Old Bay and slightly more watery than I usually prefer, so I switched to straight champagne after one. Out of the spreads, the hummus was my least favorite (too oily), and the baba ghanouj was my favorite. We ordered two orders of each of the flatbreads next, along with the bacon. The sujuklu pide, with the Turkish sausage and pesto, was good .

For my main dish, I went with the Pastrima eggs benedict, which had cured beef loin instead of the Canadian bacon found in traditional eggs benefit. The eggs were perfectly runny and overall it was a pretty good dish, although I left the english muffins untouched to get more food into my belly. Instead, for my carbs, I inhaled the grilled cheese, which was served with a big bowl of tomato soup. I loved this dish, which was came out crunchy, with a generous spread of Swiss cheese between the slices of sourdough bread (no one wants a poor cheese to bread ratio).

Although the food service was off to a slow start because there was only one waitress for the entire upstairs dining room, there was server who specifically focused just on refilling drinks so we literally never did get to the bottom of our glasses. So my thoughts on the later half of the meal is definitely influenced by alcohol. I took a few bites of Lisa’s dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, tomatoes, parsley) but they were slightly too salty for my taste. Since I figured I needed some form of vegetables, I finished the food portion of brunch with the arugula salad and beet & orange salad. Even though my stomach was definitely hitting its limit, the beet & orange salad was the best dish of the meal so I do not regret trying to squeeze a few more bites of food into my mouth.

We spent the rest of our two hours at Agora drinking champagne and laughing hysterically over the most cringe-worthy stories. It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon when your body is total pain, but your stomach hurts from laughing so much. I have give shout-out to my group of wonderful female friends. Having a supportive and wonderful group of girlfriends who have similar values to you is the most important thing a woman can find in this fucked up world. The feeling of comfort with my girlfriends who truly want the best for each other makes all the difference. With this group, time always seems to fly impossibly fast and suddenly hours have passed but there was nothing else I would have rather been doing.

In the [edited] words of Jay-Z, “All I need in in this life of sin, is me and my girlfriend[s].”

Taco Bar work day craving

The week between the two half marathons earlier this month was rough. Well, rough in a #firstworldproblem kind of way. My body was sore, but I was still trying to push myself to go on a few runs to maintain my stamina, I could not seem to get a good night of sleep because my joins ached every time I turned over in my bed, and despite having a crazy load of work, I had scheduled something every night of the week.

By Thursday, I was feeling pretty worn out but had my first Bumble (the dating app where females have to initiate contact with males first) date that evening so I knew it would be awhile before I was reunited with my bed and comforter. I decided that I needed Taco Bar to get me through the afternoon. Taco Bar is the little taco/mexican spot located in a gas station outside of the Washingtonian shopping center in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Since my office is located in the heart of surburbia, I don’t get the food truck options and power lunch spots that all of my friends working in DC have. So I usually pack my lunch and eat a sad desk meal around noon. But occasionally, when I have the time or I need something different than my usual stir-fried vegetables and tofu, I make the drive to the raved-about Taco Bar for lunch. While they offer quesadillas, burritos, and taquitos, I have actually only ordered the tacos. But they are just so satisfying that I have not been tempted to eat anything else, plus the toppings bar for these tacos is so incredible.

I drove over to the gas station during my lunch break and ordered 1 taco de suadero (grilled rib meat) and 1 taco de pastor (pork marinated with pineapple), then went over to the taco bar and completely loaded up on the pico de gallo, pickled onions, raw onions, and hot green salsa. When I say load up, I mean I completely pile on these toppings until I can barely see the meat underneath all of the vegetables. My goal is to just make a taco salad out of everything.

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When I got back to the office, I removed the tortillas and mixed everything together. The generous servings of both meats, the light and bright toppings made an incredibly juicy and flavorful combination that both filled me but also did not make me feel heavy or gross despite the massive quantity of food in my stomach. It was the perfect thing to get me through the day and to the evening date.