As promised, although a little late, here is part two of the series on our trip to our Nation’s Capital.
This part of the series will focus on the food we ate, as most of you know DeLeesa and I love food, having travelled around the world in our military careers we have sampled some of the world’s finest cuisine, and keeping with that tradition were exposed to some great dishes while we were in D.C.
Sidewalk dining at its best, D.C. style
First on the agenda would be the late lunch we had on Day 2 (Day 1 was mostly travel) of our trip.
After finding a tuxedo for me at Geoffrey Lewis, we decided it was time to have some lunch, so we headed back to The Willard; however along the way we came across an outdoor cafe and although we were concerned about the cost (remember we were on a strict budget for this trip) we decided we would live a little.
The Cafe was actually an extension of The Occidental Restaurant, The Occidental is located at 1475 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, next door to The Willard and has been in business since 1906. Their motto, “Where Statesmen Dine” – pretty much says it all. However if you have any doubts, Eva Zibart of the Washington Post says, “Not surprisingly, the Occidental gives business lunches a good name.”
While we waited (the line wasn’t very long) DeLeesa and I were amazed at the precision, almost choreographed way in which the staff moved. When someone was finished with their meal and they left the table, it couldn’t have been more than three seconds and and three staff members descended on the table. One cleared all the glass, one cleared the plates and silverware, and the other removed the white linen table cloth and they all immediately disappeared in to the restaurant, at the same time, two new staff members passed them on the way in, and they brought a fresh table cloth, glasses with water, and then a third (who appeared out of nowhere) placed the plates and silverware.
Once our table was ready we were immediately seated and brought menus. The specials that day included Executive Chef Rodney J. Scruggs’ world-famous Open Faced Salmon and Crab Cake Sandwich. Which DeLeesa ordered without giving much thought, for those of you who know DeLeesa you know this is no small feat [:)] She said she wanted to try a crab cake on the East Coast, and this was definitely the place to get it. I on the other hand felt like something different, and different was for me the Grilled Swordfish Sandwich, imagine if you will a sandwich made of upland cress, crisp pancetta, oven dried plum tomato lemon roasted garlic mayonnaise served on toasted focaccia. It was, to say the least out of this world!
DeLeesa described her sandwich as “orgasmic”, “…if I wasn’t in a 5-star restaurant I would have licked the plate.”
For those of you wondering, total with tax and tip was less than $30.00.
After a lunch like that, there was only one thing left to do, go back to the hotel room and take a nap, the fact that it was just next door was a blessing. [:)]
An informal gathering of soldiers, brothers, sisters, et al.
Later that evening, DeLeesa and I were invited out to Tim and Cricket’s place, a Civil War era mansion in Old Towne (Virginia) overlooking the Potomac River. There we had Tim’s famous (well maybe in his mind) Bison Chili, along with all of the normal sides, including potato salad, fruit salad, chips and of course beer and wine.
Being a career soldier, my friend Tim has many friends who are also either soldiers or former soldiers, so we spent the night surrounded by a bunch of guys (and their wives) who, for me “going through a door” would be an honor. I won’t go into who specifically was there; however let’s just say, both the law enforcement and military communities were well represented [:)] – Any of you out there reading this who have spent time in a close nit unit like an SF Team or SWAT Team, know that when these groups get together for a celebration, there are always special ceremonial things that must be accomplished during the event. Without breaking a sacred trust, let me just say that I was both honored and humbled by being asked to take part in “The Grog” ceremony, and was pleasantly surprised when my wife, DeLeesa was the only woman asked to participate. Being a veteran of Gulf War I, the guys felt it was only right to ask her as well.
Later that evening, Tim being somewhat of a showman, decided that we would all participate in the time honored, Napoleonic art of le saberage. For those of you who do not know what this is, its the practice of opening a champagne bottle using a sword or saber. Below is a video of how this accomplished, to say that ours went as well as the one below would be lie; however, in our defense by the time we decided to conduct our exercise we had all drank, drunk or par-took in a decent amount of alcohol. Regardless, we did about 8 bottles and for the most part Tim’s hand was steady as a rock!
All in all it was a wonderful night, from Cricket’s Mom entertaining us with her playing of the accordion, to the toasts we made during The Grog ceremony, and of course the friendships both created and rekindled. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
We did enjoy other food throughout the weekend; however I will save the dinner at Tim & Cricket’s reception and our last meal in D.C. for part four.
Hope you enjoyed part two, if you haven’t read part one (The Willard), you need to.