Monday, February 28, 2005

That's what I do here!

It snowed today.

Snow in the Washington metropolitan area is treated as if it is the first of the ten plagues. At a prediction of snowfall everyone runs to the grocery store to stock-up on milk, eggs, and bread. School is cancelled and everyone plans on having the day off from work.

It snowed intermittently throughout the day and started to accumulate late in the afternoon. So, of course, all the area schools were closed all day. Becuase of the school closings and becuase she had work that had to be finished today, my colleague, Feminist Islamist, arrived at work this morning with her 2 year-old and her 6 year-old.

The problem with having your kids at work is that you have to find ways to keep the kids amused so that you can get some work done. This was a constant struggle today for Feminist Islamist. I actually overheard the following snippet of a conversation:

The 6 year-old said, "you have work to do?"

"Yes, I have work to do! That's what I do here! That's why it's called work!"

Friday, February 25, 2005

Naan and Beyond

Apart from good food, Naan and Beyond has a couple things going for it: a great name and a thin, bald, south Asian man with gold hoop earings who yells every order back to the kitchen (do all good take-outs have someone who yells? see "Greek Deli").

Three of us from work went there for lunch today, heading down L Street to the 1600 block. I ordered a Caeser's salad with tandoori lamb tikka. As Caeser's salads go it was true to form: bite-sized cuts of hearts of romaine lettuce with parmesan cheese tossed in dressing. The chunks of lamb, however, were a little drier than I would have liked.

My colleagues, let's call them Feminist Islamist and Eternal Sunshine (she was the "complainer of the bunch" in "Greek Deli" but she complained about her moniker so I've given her a more positive one here), both ordered the chicken tikka sandwhich, tandoor cooked chicken with chopped cabbage wrapped in naan flat bread. Both reccomended it. Feminist Islamist said it is her favorite meal from Naan and Beyond. She also reccomended the paneer tikka sandwhich and the samosas, particularly the chicken samosas. She always makes sure to get a cup of mango sauce whatever her order.

Naan and Beyond has a few tables inside and a few more outside during good weather. The service is strictly over the counter.

Naan and Beyond is located at 1710 L Street NW in Washington, D.C. next door to Ascot Lounge.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sledding at your own risk

One of the joys of fatherhood for me has been sharing childhood play with the boy. I spent a recent weekend with him and with the cold weather and some fresh snow we did a lot of sledding.

I don't remember the last time I went sledding. It might have been in high school. It's quite a rush, so I wonder why I haven't been in years.

Living Memorial Park in Brattleboro Vermont has a ski slope with a ski tow. In fact, it is the site of the world's first ski tow, powered off the rear axel of a Model T, or so my father often told me. This is the town where he grew-up. The original ski tow has been replaced with something a little more sophisticated.

One sign as you approach the softball field at the base of the slope informs you that the hill is not groomed for sledding and that you go sledding at your own risk. Another sign tells you that sledders should stay to the left of the line of potted pine trees. It was midday Saturday and there was just one skier out and a mother and her son sledding.

The hill offers a nice long gentle slope that drops off suddenly for a short steeper one before leveling out onto the softball field. The boy preferred to start at the top of the steep slope. I kept encouraging starting further up. Our first run we went down in our seperate orange plastic toboggans. After that we stacked the sleds and went down together. "I always want to go with you, daddy." "And you always can."

We took several runs and had a great time. Then we poked holes in the ice on the softball field for a while to find the grass hidden beneath the ice, before heading off to find lunch.

Living Memorial Park is located on Guilford Street in Brattleboro Vermont. From Interstate 91 take Exit 2 and turn onto Western Avenue (route 9) away from Brattleboro. Turn left onto Guilford Street at the covered bridge (Creamery Bridge). Living Memorial Park is on the right.

See also "Kids say the darndest things."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Kids say the darndest things

About a year and a half ago when the boy was just two, we were in the grocery store together and I suggested he select a box of crackers for his snacks. He chose Ritz crackers. Thinking that I should guide him towards something a little more healthy, I suggested a box of whole wheat Ritz crackers. "How about these instead?" Now, on this box were pictures of crackers with various toppings, amongst them cheese, small pieces of deli meat, and broccoli florets. The boy points at the box and shouts, "No! That one has broccoli in it!"

Coincidentally, the boy recently declared to me at dinner one evening, "I don't eat vegetables."

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Do the baked goods suddenly get fresh again at 6?

Au Bon Pain's baked goods go on sale at 50% off every day at 4:00. Several months ago I developed the habit of visiting Au Bon Pain right after work to buy a couple cookies or a pastry. One day, running late I arrived just after 6:00. The clerk rang-up my purchase. When I saw that I had been charged full price, I asked: "Isn't everything marked down after 4:00?"

"Yes" the clerk replied, "but it is now after 6."

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Greek Deli

One of my intentions for this blog is to write food reviews. My goal is to seek out those rare gems and true bargains among restaurants. Those places where it's all about the food and not about the presentation: take-outs, self-service, fast-food joints, and diners. In essence, places with great food but no atmosphere.

I'd like to pursue this as a quest for the archtypal bargain restaurant. The problem is I'm pretty sure that I've already found it: Greek Deli on 19th Street Northwest between L and M.

I've been eating from Greek Deli for a few years now. Shortly after starting my current job four months ago I began raving about it to my coworkers. Finally, I convinced one of them to go with me. Now she is as hooked as I am. Today four of us headed over there, and brought back lunch for ourselves and one other.

We headed off from the office at noon down L toward 19th. Sure enough the line, as it is every day, was out the door and all the way to the street. The line moves quickly. The wait from the street is probably just fifteen minutes.

Greek Deli is strictly take out. It is a small and cramped place, tucked between Nooshi (formerly Oodles Noodles) and Nooshi take-out. There is just enough room inside for the line and people to pass by on their way out. The food has all been prepared ahead, except for the pita sandwhiches, and it is served to order into styrofoam containers. Once inside, you discover that the line moves quickly because Kosta, the owner and chef is barking "next, next" as he serves-up the orders. A member of his staff operates the cash register.

Back at the office we all dug-in. I'd ordered a Greek salad with lamb on top. If succulent ever described cooked meat, it describes the lamb from Greek Deli. The salad was fresh: lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and peppers topped with plenty of feta cheese. One of my colleagues had also ordered the salad and lamb: "the lamb juices and the salad dressing get mixed-up and it's all yummy."

The third in our group had ordered the lamb platter, which came with orzo, fava beans, a salad and bread. She had also ordered a side of hummous. She reported that everything was good, but what really seemed to make an impression on her was that hummous: "I've never had such good hummus. It had a lemony taste to it."

Another colleague had a chicken pita. The chicken, she said, tasted of olive oil and zatar spices. The complainer of the bunch, she said the chicken pieces were cut a little big and that there was lots of cilantro on the sandwhich. "Usually cilantro on any dish kills the dish for me."

The final member of our group had ordered the Moussaka platter. She said her lunch was "phenomenal." Like me she ate the whole thing. She "took the bread and sopped-up all the oil."

Greek Deli is located at 1120 19th St., NW in Washington, D.C. It is open for breakfast and lunch.

See also "Did you hear the one about the restaurant on the moon?"