Those who know us know that no trip would be complete without some food adventures. We made sure to get some recommendations from our friend, foodie, and local expert Shannon before hitting Amtrak, so we were armed from the outset with good recommendations. Let's dig in--pun intended.
Upon arrival we were starving, so we immediately hit Chercher Ethiopian, one of the top reccs we received. We got lamb, beef, and kitfo, a traditional raw minced beef dish, and rolls and rolls of injera bread to eat it with. The lamb and beef were delicious, the kitfo was not as tasty as we'd hoped. In retrospect, some veggies might have been a good idea. However we were so hungry and our hands were so messy that we unfortunately didn't take pictures. This was pretty representative, however:
That night, after a full day of sightseeing, we got Pho at the local Asian strip mall. Jen's verdict: "it's ok" (Which is not an uncommon rating).
Food Adventures continued the next day with a special trip out to Alexandria, VA for Yunnan by Potomac, a trendy spot in the Old Town. With offerings like two-tea egg buns, garlic butter crab dumplings, and citrus pu'er iced tea, Yunnan by Potomac is not messing around. They cater to the young, hipster, "bourgeoise" crowd now endemic to Alexandria and pretty much hit all the right notes.
For starters we had fried chicken bao buns--basically a trendy asian take on Mexican tacos, substituting the taco shell/tortilla for a flat piece of 馒头 (mantou) bread. The chicken? Juicy. The sauce? Very nice. Pickled red onions provided the finishing touch. We also "supplemented" with two fried rice dishes, one of which featured a childhood favorite of mine: pork sausage (lap cheong).
For the main course, we had noodles, Jen's favorite carbohydrate in the world. The "Little Pot" noodles had pork broth and minced pork, which took Jen straight back to her mother's kitchen. The Braised Beef Lu was a hearty, savory dish with thick medallions of beef which we devoured down.
Dessert was the most unique: an heirloom tomato cheesecake made with tomato jam and minced tomatoes. It was still sweet, but almost hearty in the way that tomatoes can be. (Plus we got it on the house!)
Later that night, the Food Adventures continued at home, with Jen's friend Cannie teaching her how to use a KitchenAid standing mixer to make white chocolate matcha cookies... Dex made sure to benefit from this lesson as well.
The next day, we wandered over to Georgetown. The day was windy and cold, despite the sun out, so instead of standing in line outside for Baked and Wired, a recommended bakery, we sought refuge inside at Ching Ching Cha 请请茶, a throwback-style no-apologies teahouse where you sip $20 pots of tea buried amongst bins of delicious-smelling exotic tea leaves with names like Dragon Well, Monkey King, and Yunnan Gold Needle. There's elaborate glassware to let your tea steep, then pour it into your glass without using a bag or ball strainer. It was all very old-world and refined, the perfect place to yum cha (drink tea) on a cold day.
Last but not least, we had one final mission to complete: get some crabs!!! Maryland in particular in famous for its blue crabs, and have-at-it style of dining where the servers cover your picnic table in butcher paper and dump out a huge pot of crabs, freshly steamed and covered in Old Bay spice, right in front of you. Dex has had a hankering for more ever since living in Baltimore for a few months. To soothe the craving, we hopped in the car and drove out to the Chesapeake Bay, to a place called Cantler's a little bit outside of Annapolis, MD. As soon as we walked up, we had a sense that we were in the right place.
The seating was picnic-table style, albeit with individual seats, and as soon as we started talking crabs, the servers covered our places with butcher paper. The silverware: fork, knife, spoon, and wooden hammer. Check, we're in business! We didn't hold back on the orders: oysters by the half shell, rockfish, hush puppies, and a big-old portion of Maryland blue crabs. The prices were higher than expected, but apparently this has been an issue all over due to the global supply chain slowdown.
How were they? Well, let's just say that before we got to Cantler's, Jen was just kind of going along with Dex's crab obsession. Her first priority was to get noodles, second priority was to get Dex to stop talking about crabs all the time. But after Cantler's? Whole different story. Let's just say that Jen couldn't stop talking about crabs too.
Thus we headed back to DC, with our bellies full of seafood and our taste buds coated with Old Bay. DMV, you've got some great food. For the sake of our stomachs, we hope it won't be long until we're back!