Ah Memorial Day weekend, for many the first true weekend of summer. The rules of fashion say we can once again wear white pants, but as a chef, that’s a dangerous proposition. I spent Saturday with friends enjoying numerous local beers and ciders, taking in the sights from Brookland Pint. A convenient neighborhood bar and grille next to the station. The conversation lead to a lively discussion over pickles and root beer which we took to twitter and opened the floor to the world at large.
It’s a lively combination, the vinegar and salty punch paired with rich vanilla and caramel flavors. Sunday, I decided to venture out to the quaint and hospitable corner store known as Good Foods Market to acquire supplies and test the combination out for myself. Sunday evening brought impromptu bar hopping and as Monday came around, the combination of salt, malt, sugar, and fermentation had me craving diner food.
Brookland is a funny neighborhood, friendly people from all walks of life tucked around a bustling Red Line station. While giving it a google yielded few results for a local greasy spoon, a lovely young lady at the corner store recommended Murry and Paul’s – a local joint commanding fast ticket times and low prices. Their fast service concept has been in Brookland since 1964 and after strolling a few blocks down Monroe, I turned a corner. As the wind picked up, the smell of hash browns, butter, and bacon grease beckoned me to their front door.
I found the place absolutely packed and squeezed into a spot at the counter taking in the old timey menu letter board bolted to the wall. I was immediately offered coffee and a vast selection of juices by a congenial man working the counter and grill simultaneously. The whole crew worked in a tightly organized fashion to feed over 40 people at once.
After a few quick gulps of the fuel I require to function, I saw a woman smiling ear to ear toting a vat of grits up to the grill. As a southerner in a northern state, this was a welcome sight. I ordered 2 eggs over medium with grits bacon and toast. Not even 6 mins later my plate landed in front of me and i was stunned by the portion size for only $6.50. Needless to say the follow up nap was epic.
Tuesday was an array of calls, emails, and texts finalizing my route and preparing to launch the website. A surprise text from a college friend popped up just as i was starting to contemplate dinner. We meandered over to Toki Underground, a favorite for DC Ramen fanatics. I was immediately taken by their decor and cocktail menu. I ordered the Abura Tsukemen bowl; dipping ramen is something of a novelty but I’ve always enjoyed it. I love to add a soft boiled egg and stir the yolk into the noodles before dunking a hearty bite in to the rich decadent broth.
I paired this with Toki’s famous “I love you Berry much” a cocktail combining the aromatics of roku gin, framboise, ginkoubai, rosemary, with a lightly carbonated effervescent finish. My friend ordered the “Toki Monster” a playful combination of bourbon, scotch, barenjager and angostura bitters with a light nibble of pork belly kushiyaki resting seductively on the rim of the glass. The smell of two whiskeys and the kushiyaki as the wash of bitters hits the palette was a real experience – I will definitely be returning for one of those before leaving town.
Dinner was followed by a leisurely stroll around the Mall, though the museums and sights had closed for the day, the lazy sunset views up and down America’s front lawn brought memories of summers past chasing the popsicle man and running barefoot through the sprinkler. I had not yet been to the Mall so there was something really special about getting to see it with a friend and not with a crowd.
After meeting some really lovely members of the Amtrak staff, I was told there was a big must do experience I was missing; The Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market. I had not yet ventured to Union Market but the Film Noir May promotion was too good to pass up. Orson Welles’ “The Lady from Shanghai” is not only an iconic film, it is in my opinion Rita Hayworth’s sassiest performance. I have always been a sucker for the Film Noir aesthetic so $12.75 later, I was on my way to suspend disbelief and time travel into the world black and white film.