Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

What could be more All-American than a chili dog and a baseball game on Father’s Day? I don’t know, but I can tell you without a doubt that the trio of Dad, dogs, and dugouts is tough to beat.

I had been wanting to visit Ben’s Chili Bowl ever since Anthony Bourdain went there. Luckily, it wasn’t hard to convince my dad–not to mention the rest of a partial family reunion–to come along for the ride.

The “half smokes” are the main event here: a half pork, half beef smoked sausage. Here they are calling my name out as we walked in the door.

I’ve never met a chili dog I didn’t like, and these were no exception. On the other hand, they didn’t seem drastically different from any other dog, despite what Bourdain had to say. After downing our dogs, we headed across town to the Nationals game. Here we are on our way in.

Ok, maybe there’s one way we could have amped up the America factor: if this guy had showed up:


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It’s high allergy season here in Austin, and it’s making me miserable. I find myself thinking about the east coast a lot. I think about November days when it doesn’t get up to 80 degrees. I think about being able to take a direct flight to somewhere other than Houston or Dallas. Also, I think about that lobster roll I had at Coastal Flats last time I was in Virginia. That thing was tasty.

lobstrer roll light

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High + Low = Central

Following Jeff’s advice, Eliza made reservations at the James Beard Award winning Central Michel Richard. I was lucky enough to tag along with her and some folks from the foundation she works with.

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The menu was interesting, with a lot of high-end takes on low-end food. It was also surprisingly long, with something like 15 entrees available.

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Once again, we took advantage of our proximity to the sea. Though oddly enough, these oysters were all from the west coast. They were smooth and buttery. Blew us all away. Off to a good start.

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Before our mains showed up, Eliza’s mom disappeared. Eventually, we found her perched in front of a large window near the bathrooms, where you could watch the massive kitchen in action. It was an impressive operation.

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Plenty of cast iron. Me likey.

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Perhaps there’s no better example of Central’s high-low approach than the cheese puffs. These little guys were pretty tasty. Nice presentation, too.

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The highlight of the evening was the charcuterie plate. That pate in the middle with the rosemary on top was like a gift from another planet. Add a little prosciutto and there’s no need to order entrees. But we soldiered on.

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Eliza had the beef cheeks and tagliatelle. I was so proud.

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Also in the high-low vein was an entree I had an absolute responsibility to order: the lobster burger. There was simply no other option for me. I didn’t even feel like having a burger, but I’d had lobster twice already during the weekend and it would have been a betrayal of my values not to complete the trifecta. Sadly, despite its rave reviews on Yelp, I thought it was awful. It just doesn’t work. The lobster was rubbery and the bun was airy and dry. It’s a cool idea, but I prefer for a burger to be dripping with grease, and this sucker was dry as a bone.

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There comes a point in a meal like this where you body begins to plead for mercy. That’s when we ordered the Kit Kat. How could you not?

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There was also a chocolate mousse involved. Sadly, it did not get finished. It was great, but my pants were busting at the seams. By this point in the meal, our hearts were beginning to atrophy and I’m pretty sure I was developing diabetes. And while we were feeling lucky to have been to such a swank place that served cheese puffs and Kit Kats, we went back to our hotel and dreamed of that charcuterie plate.

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Autumn in Washington

Eliza and I were in DC last weekend. It was a refreshing break from the Austin heat and rain. And on the cab ride in, it was nice to see some colors from the season that Texas forgot: autumn.

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Our first meal was with all of our parents plus my brother and sister-in-law at Clyde’s, a DC standby. We jumped at the chance to eat seafood, especially some raw oysters.

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Eliza had the mussels. No surprises there.

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I went for the lobster, because it was pretty reasonably priced at $17.99 for a 1.25 pounder. (Incidentally, there’s a very interesting story behind why lobster has recently become so plentiful and cheap.) This one looks angry.

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I was forced to wear the bib. Laugh it up, everyone!

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Poor little guy. He never stood a chance.

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