Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Pandas and galaxies

At the moment, it's just me and all the country's astronomers. What I mean is, I've accompanied Jo to DC, where he's attending a huge astronomy conference, and I'm watching cuddly pandas eat bamboo (the hotel's just next to the zoo and not a whole lot else), going to obscure museums (so far, I've seen exhibits on avant-garde Japanese fashion and American Jewish soldiers and the post-WWII DP camps), appreciating Whole Foods store-brand granola in a city that no doubt has good food somewhere but not somewhere I've found it, and pretending that DC in an especially cold winter is walkable, which, even with extreme layering, it's not.

Anyhow. WANT! (Yes, my purpose in life is to lower the average IQ in this astronomer-filled hotel.) While others study the galaxy, I just attempt to dress like it. Tragically, the $30 skirt is out of stock. These, meanwhile, are perfection, and would be an exception to my anti-leggings-as-pants rule. If there is a source for space-print material, and I could go about learning to make such clothes for myself, that's what the comments are for...


Dara said...

Welcome to DC! There's a fantastic exhibit at the Sackler about the Falnama. Go see it.

Jeff said...

I've been getting sent to DC lately instead of NYC for work and the food situation has disappointed me a bit.

(Except for some pretty good pizza at Matchbox).

Hopefully a kind soul in DC reads this and suggests some must-do restaurants as I'll be going there all this year.

Matt said...

That's probably the same hotel where the law school hiring market is each year.

I was going to say that some of the clothes looked good while others looked a bit like vomit, but then the ones you picked were some of the ones I thought people should especially stay away from. :( I'd never suggest that people should follow my fashion advice, though.

I can't offer DC food advice as I've always found it a disappointing food town. (Supposedly it's all the middle-American types there or something.) But try Tyler Cowen's dining guide. I think it's on line and should be useful.

rshams said...

Jeff - DC has wonderful food - it might not be NYC, but there are plenty of yum options. You just need to know where to look, or you'll be stuck going to your usual steak-and-salad power broker place.

I recommend Zaytinya - across the street from the Chinatown metro. Really good mezza - I recommend the cauliflower w/pine nuts and any of the rice dishes.

PS7 - a block from Matchbox. Exquisite drinks.

Rasika has upscale Indian food. Try their crispy spinach chaat, any of the breads, and any fish dish.

Palena Cafe (the no-reservations, cheaper front section of Palena) has one of the best cheeseburgers you'll ever have, as well as a kickass roast chicken. Try their fry plate as well.

That should suffice for the next few business trips :-)

Isabel Archer said...

My fair city does have good food! Okay, yeah, so I don't actually know Woodley Park very well, and on the few times that I have been there (mainly for the zoo), I was not overly impressed. However, there was one halfway decent Indian place that's across the street from the Woodley Park metro.

You're not far from the 18th St. district. True, it's mostly nightlife and bars populated by 22-year-olds, but Little Fountain Cafe is excellent (see I remember liking La Fourchette, but you may actually know something about French food and thus be less easily impressed.

You're not far from the U Street corridor either (I'm guessing it's about a 15-20 minute walk.) There are a few notable Ethiopians there, and I really like Coppi's also.

Belle Lettre said...

Go hang out with Amber and make me feel jealous and miss you both.

Petey said...

This may be your funniest post ever, Phoebe.


And to those sentenced to the District who attempt to defend your poor little city's culinary bona fides: know that there is something quite sad about the parochialism.

It just is what it is. You've got the army, navy, and air force. No need to defend the indefensible.

Petey said...

And there is some good food there stuck among the strip malls.

The district is like LA, but without the beach or the mountains.

Phoebe said...

All: I tried to make it clear from the post that I wasn't saying NY has better food than DC. It might, but I'm not so sure, and at any rate wouldn't be in a position to judge, as I've got years of experience locating cheap and delicious food in one city, and a few attempts at making the day's necessary caloric intake not too unpleasant in the other.


The exhibit was quite good! Thanks for the suggestion. It also brought me near a cool and oddly interactive exhibit on American Jewish peddlers, and as something of a peddler aficionado, it was a happy surprise.


Walked by Matchbox inadvertently, but already had plans to go to another pizza place, 2Amy's, which was quite good. I got a pizza with a heap of arugula on top, and an overpriced but delicious cannelini bean appetizer I'm going to attempt to recreate at home. Peregrine Espresso, a nice snooty coffee bar near Eastern Market and also near Matchbox, had one of the best mocha's I've ever encountered. It could also be that any warm drink consumed after crossing a freezing city on foot wins a superlative, but I think it really was excellent.


Seems you did just say the clothes I like look like vomit. Alas. Luckily I dress to resemble outer space, not to please the WWPD commentariat. That said, the Topshop skirt is a bit vomity. The leggings, I'm afraid, are not.


Zaytinya was, unfortunately, the scene of one of my least pleasant meals in a restaurant, ever, on my last trip to DC. (See account here.) I'll have to look into the others next time.

Isabel Archer,

Thanks for the tips. Once again, clearly I should have posted this sooner - I'd finished most of my DC dining by the time I saw any of this.

Belle Lettre,

Why did I think from her blog that she was in Vienna? For some reason I was convinced no one I knew in DC was currently in the city. Anyway I'd like to see you both again next time we're in the same place.


If this 2Amy's pizza place is anything to go by, there's absolutely good food in DC. Perhaps better than in NY, because it seems that dining is less oriented towards food trends/the denunciation of tasty foods on account of them being 'clichéd'. (Poor molten chocolate cake, what harm did you ever do?) That, and in DC, dining in a restaurant for under $50 a person does not mean continuously getting elbowed by your neighbors. That said, there's also a good chance food is, in fact, better in NY. But as mentioned above, I couldn't really judge.

Petey said...

"in DC, dining in a restaurant for under $50 a person does not mean continuously getting elbowed by your neighbors."

There are genuine virtues to being in a cowtown.

The arm room in restaurants in Omaha is absolutely fantastic.

Virtues are virtues.


Also, you should try some of the good NYC pizzerias sometime. Not quite up to New Haven standards, but otherwise the best in the New World.

I'm getting addicted to Motorino. And that's not even among the best.

I'll bet you made excuses for Chicago pie back in the day...

Phoebe said...


Fair enough, Motorino might be better than 2Amy's. But if it is, it's only slightly. The pizzas were remarkably alike.

And re: Chicago pizza, no. That stuff's disgusting. I once even saw a show about how it's made, which made it look, if this is possible, even less appetizing than was already the case. Not that I didn't eat it when that was all that was around, but I'd hardly seek it out. There is decent pizza in Chicago, but it's presenting itself as an alternative to what Chicagoans typically consider pizza.

PG said...

I trekked out to Brooklyn once partly to try Motorino's and did not find it worth the journey or the price. The food took too long to arrive, the bread was cold, and while they clearly are using quality ingredients, they aren't make the best use of them (e.g. the pizza was burnt in several spots).

It's been too long since I lived in DC -- especially DC proper rather than Virginia suburbs -- to give useful advice on specific food options, but I'd say the good, reasonably priced "ethnic" food is easier to reach than it is in Manhattan.

Phoebe said...


This was the East Village Motorino - technically Jo and I did trek, as we walked there all the way from Battery Park City, but it's not, in theory, a trek, as it's within walking distance of Union Square. The salad was unimpressive, but both our pizzas excellent.

Dara said...

Dude, 2 Amys is right near my apartment! Glad you enjoyed it.

Also, I will now have to return to the Mall to track down this peddler exhibit.

Phoebe said...


The peddlers are in the American History museum. I was a bit disappointed that the focus was 1820-1880, since my own family's North American peddling was more early-20th, but I'm also interested in French-Jewish peddling in the earlier period. Now I just need to locate an equivalent museum exhibit for Alsace.

Also, some of the coats the peddlers apparently peddled (or wore?) that were on display were very avant-garde chic.

Petey said...

I trekked out to Brooklyn once partly to try Motorino's and did not find it worth the journey or the price.

See, this was kinda my point above about the inadequacy of DC pie.

Motorino is just average NYC pie. It's in a tier above stuff like Artichoke or Two Boots, but it's in tier below more than a dozen pizzerias that do truly scrumptious pie.

But even though Motorino is just average NYC pie, it's still better than the best DC pie...


I got a pizza with a heap of arugula on top

I highly recommend the arugula and prosciutto pie at Luzzo's. Profoundly scrumptious.

Phoebe said...


My main complaint with sites like Yelp are the reviews that say, of each restaurant, 'you can get much better Cuisine X - perhaps even for less money - in the same neighborhood,' then fail to follow through with where the alleged superior option can be found. Either people should be silently content that they know their secret place, or, out with it! So I appreciate that you've at least named one such establishment. However, the pizza you suggest comes $20 for the smaller size - it had better either be a massive 'small' or truly amazing pizza.

Petey said...

So I appreciate that you've at least named one such establishment. However, the pizza you suggest comes $20 for the smaller size - it had better either be a massive 'small' or truly amazing pizza.

Get the large for $25. It'll feed two.

The not-quite-as-good pies at Motorino are $15 and feed one.

(And note that a large at Two Boots runs $23, so this is basically the standard Island pie charge. Pie is oddly price inelastic.)

Phoebe said...


It's all about personal versus shared - Two Boots pies are shared (slice/to-go) pies, whereas Motorino's are (large) personal ones. If Luzzo's can be shared, then I'm not against. It's just that after finding much-recommended Franny's steeply overpriced and overhyped on multiple occasions (it had the benefit of being around the corner from an old apartment), I'm always wary of $17-and-up pies at sit-down restaurants.