Compass Rose: Inspired conversation over drinks

I’ve been wanting to try this T street venue ever since I first heard about the hidden gem off 14th behind Saint-Ex.

Compass Rose Exterior

Compass Rose Exterior

We were looking for a place for drinks, in particular, a place where drinks could compliment the intensity of our conversation and ultimate debate. This place delivered. Taking two seats at the bar, whilst sipping Sazeracs (I’m going to NOLA soon so it seemed appropriate, also I love whiskey drinks). The cocktail wasn’t cheap, coming in at $13 a pop, but it was quality. The bartender took great care in making it and added in a few tricks we weren’t familiar with. One in particular was an absinthe spray. Traditionally, Sazeracs are to be prepared in glasses soaked in absinthe, but what a waste of absinthe. So what they’ve done here is create a spray which (in our fair opinion) actually preserved more of the flavor of the absinthe and greatly reduced the waste.

Sazerac

Sazerac

Though small, we easily sipped one to two of these per hour making them last, also, the bartenders were in no rush to move us along (definitely a plus when looking for a bar to sit and talk at). We successfully debated (and I mean debated as in friendly discussion, no arguments or hurt feelings… the best kind of debating) the politics, focusing around Israel and Iran (currently reading  Six Days of War by Michael Oren and eagerly looking to discuss it with any who are interested), the coming release of Jurassic World (seriously excited for this), and the trials and tribulations of modern romance… the internet has made this more difficult.

I would strongly recommend Compass Rose for those evenings when you are looking to catch up with a friend in a more intimate setting. We met at 7 so we could have missed the HH deals, but I would add that this isn’t the place to get drunk at, it is a full restaurant after all. In fact, that is my next thought, I’m going there for dinner… perhaps a date night.

Have you been there? Have you eaten there? What should we get? Where do you like to go for more intimate drinking sessions? Share below…

-huysmans

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Where to find cassoulets in DC?

Eater DC recently pulled together a map of where you can find cassoulets in DC. I love cassoulets when it’s cold out, so I was excited to see this. But on the flip side, since I love cassoulets so much, I’ve eaten most of the ones on the list and can say that some are better than others.

The bests:

Bistrot Du Coin: Gooey, beany and meaty, this is one of my favorite cassoulets – maybe because you can find it on the menu year round. I know it’s weird, but if you’re craving a meat stew in the middle of the summer, you can always head to BDC. I think their cassoulet is balanced well – not too soupy and not too thick, it’s the perfect stew texture you’re looking for in a cassoulet.

Le Diplomate: Tons of beans – which are my favorite part. Since it’s a special, it’s good to grab once during the winter, and I like that they include just three kinds of meat so that the beans can shine and absorb tons of flavor.

The not so best:

Mintwood Place: Now, I love everything at Mintwood, so I was surprised how much I didn’t like their cassoulet. It was way too heavy on the breadcrumbs, and I didn’t love the pork belly inside – it almost had too much meat. The beans melted away – which are my favorite part – and I was just left with thick breadcrumb paste.

 

Check out Eater DC’s cassoulet map here: http://dc.eater.com/maps/best-cassoulets-in-dc

The makings for a good discussion or What we read with coffee this weekend.

Good discussions are such a treat. No matter the topic, a well informed debate has the potential for elevating your thinking and expanding your perspective. I regularly enjoy debating/discussing issues of both societal and social importance. So for some good food for thought, here is a selection of provocative pieces on everything from education, to the colonization of Africa, and to Banksy.

Banksy, the female street artist

Starting with the last, Kriston Capps at Citylab from The Atlantic tackles the mystery of Banksy’s identity suggesting that she is in fact a woman. The piece is well written and relies heavily on both the releases of HBO’s documentary, Banksy Does New York, as well as the mockumentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, and on gender analyses of the art world. The piece was published last November, I know I’m behind the times in finally getting to read it, but it does an excellent job at both breaking down gender norms in art (especially street art) while also revealing the undeniable, over-the-top masculinity that is prevalent in most forms of art, and art appreciation. If for nothing else, this piece does a good job to hold a mirror to ourselves, especially us men, and ask why we assume masculinity in this street artist?

Uncolonized Africa

A friend recently shared with me an artists re-imagining of Africa as if it was never colonized. The artist, Nikolaj Cyon, is an up and coming star from Sweden. The piece is a map of Africa, or Alkebu-Lan as it is renamed, without the influence of Europe. The article, by Frank Jacobs, details the piece and acts as a jumping off point for discussion. If you are uninformed about the history of the continent, this piece is a good start. However, for anyone who has the least bit of previous knowledge on either Islam or the Congo for example, will find this article utterly preachy… it is as if the author is discovering Africa for the first time too. Unfortunately, both the artist and the author have little background in either the history or the demographics Africa or any one of the dozens of countries making it up. Though thought provoking, this is nothing more than another white voice “speaking” for an entire continent of people. Those out there looking to actually discuss the incredibly toxic and still very current effects of European colonization should read The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham or King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild. They are researched and well written.

How Strict is Too Strict?

I work in education and have taught in both traditional public schools and charter schools and have no shortage of strong opinions about what good teaching is. But more important than my anecdotal evidence and opinions, is the national debate we need to have on how to improve education for all Americans. Back in November (I know all of these great pieces came out in November) the Atlantic ran an article by Sarah Carr about the unique case of New Orleans. The focus of the article is on the strict (or maybe too strict) policies of what some call the broken-windows theory. The idea is that no offense is too small to be ignored, everything from stepping off the line when being marched between classes to slouching to dress-code violations must be met with strict discipline. I have many concerns about such intense discipline practices, especially after implementing them myself as a teacher. Chief among those concerns, is the idea of forcibly teaching obedience over curiosity. I’ve argued in the past that such schools are preparing graduates to be silent workers rather than vocal leaders. As true as that might be, the reality is that this model is offering success for kids who would not have it otherwise. The public options where the charters are excelling are decrepit failing schools. As much as we might have issue with the charter approach, it is working, and until the public option can be improved, we need these organizations like KIPP to come in and help give futures to our nation’s ignored children. What I really like about the article is the evolution of these policies within the charter organizations. They start out rigid and exacting and end more fluidly with a greater reliance on the relationship between the school, child, and family. I like to see that these organizations are listening to the criticism and responding. It’s an inspiring piece, and a conversation we should all be invested in.

 State of the World

The World is Not Falling Apart titles this wonderfully optimistic and intelligently supported piece by Steven Pinker and Andrew Mack. The piece looks at an incredible amount of data from a plethora of different sources to analyze trends in different categories of violence across the world. In short, their thesis is to say that the world is safer, more democratic, and less violent than ever before in history. They go further to criticize news sources for the “big lie” of a world on the brink of chaos. Every fact they introduce and statement they make is well supported with evidence. In some respects, this is the sort of research we all need to be engaged in and aware of. Optimism and hope are the most powerful and beautiful tools of our time and are tragically underutilized by our most visible news sources. If you can only read one of the four links I’ve posted, read and appreciate this one.

 

I would greatly like to hear your thoughts on any and/or all of these issues and topics. Please share below…

-huysmans

The internet prepares your Oscar night party!

The internet is a-buzz with Oscars recipes and party ideas. If you’re looking for last minute ideas, here’s a roundup:

Good Morning America (ABC) – Wolfgang Puck Transforms Your Oscars Party – The celebrity chef shares his tips to cooking up a glamorous Oscars party meal

People: Get the Recipes from Elton John’s Oscar Viewing Party

The Daily Meal (this one is for my friend Margy): Oscar-Worthy Ways to Serve Avocados

Los Angeles Times: What would Doogie eat? 16 recipes for your Oscar party

Huffington Post: Your 2015 Oscar Party Menu in GIFs

Going abroad to Clarendon

Okay, so that isn’t exactly “abroad” but it is in a different state. Kind of gets you thinking, while we are there, we’re next to people who have a stronger voice in our government despite the fact that we live closer to those seats of power. Proximity gets you no where in this country!

Anyway, while it snows rather blustery today, perhaps it’s time for an adventure outside of the neighborhood, outside of the city. Our pick for an adventure, Clarendon.

This aint no suburb, in fact it very much feels like it’s party of the city. We were toured around by a local who explained its Vietnamese history… though that didn’t account for the oddly high number of “New York” style pizza places there were. As a real NYCer, they’re fake.

Where to go?

Nothing like a good happy hour special and a friendly Irish pub to set you right after traveling the always delayed Metro. We started at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub… and of coursed tweeted the deal. The staff is, of course friendly, and the alcohol well priced. Order the fries, the curry sauce they come with is different and delicious.

IMG_5832

The outside of O’Sullivan’s

 

We followed drinks with dinner at Mexicali Blues. The margaritas are must, personally I like a regular margarita, none of this frozen or flavored crap. In terms of quality, their’s is pretty good, on the better end of whats available in this area.

You have to order pupusas for the table. It’s a handmade corn tortilla stuffed with filling of your choice and served with marinated cabbage. We went for the Loroco (an aromatic, Central American flower and cheese) filling, it was really good and different than the typical Mexican restaurant flare. And that is because it is part of the more authentic Salvadorean section. Also, the guac was delicious.

I am a fan of fish tacos and fajitas and both were, again, better than what I’ve had in the district, except for El Rey, they’re tacos are spectacular… can’t wait for the warmer weather.

Okay, so that was our culinary adventure into Clarendon. We plan on going back so if you have recommendations, please share.

-huysmans

 

When quality doesn’t matter and space does, Tortilla Coast

Instead of writing a bad review and stating the obvious about what is served at Tortilla Coast, I will instead try to decipher when Tortilla Coast is the right option for a meal.

Tortilla Coast does not serve the kind of cuisine you’d write home about or provide any sort of value that would make its mediocracy worth it. It just exists as a Tex-Mexish place since apparently 1988. (Full disclosure, I’ve only been to the new Logan Circle location and not its original Capitol Hill venue.)

I don’t mean to paint it as terrible. The fajitas and tacos are good for dinner, starting with the nachos, while the huevos rancheros or Mexicanos are good for brunch. At anytime, the margaritas are worth getting. But this isn’t a date place or a place I’d call uniquely DC.

It is, however, great for certain occasions. Chief among those, big groups. Because this place doesn’t typically fill up, it is great for big get togethers. The staff will work with your group, they’re very flexible with a size range rather than an exact number. And, who doesn’t love ordering tons of guac with pitchers of margaritas.

Secondly, they’re not a bad brunch backup. They don’t fill up like Commissary does making them great for the last minute decision to go out.

Lastly, their servers are the nicest people. Seriously, we’ve been there at times to get some snack and do work. The servers were super accommodating and let us know that they even have wifi available… a perk not seen at many restaurants.

That’s my take. Do you agree? Share below…

-huysmans

p.s. Their rewards program is a joke. We’ve never gotten it to work. Seriously, the software behind it is archaic.

It’s official, the first snow day of 2015!

Updated at 10:10 am: The first SPECIAL has come our way. We love you Cork!

For the complete list, visit Washingtonian, they’ve done a great job collecting the specials.

If you’re looking for something to do other than eating and drinking, some of the museums are open:

  Also, the Snowball Fight has moved locations:

 


If you haven’t heard already, OPM, DC, and DCPS (no HW!) all got a snow day today. Additionally, for those looking to get outside, Metrorus is suspended and Metrorail is on a weekend schedule.

Now that we got that out of the way, what’s the plan for today?

Via the Facebook page of the Washington DC Snowball Fight Association

Via the Facebook page of the Washington DC Snowball Fight Association

Snowballs anyone?

The Washington DC Snowball Fight Association (DCSFA) is organizing its next event at 11 am today. And it looks like there are prizes to be had thanks to James Hoban’s Irish Restaurant and Bar.

Day drinking and eating?

Here is what we’ve heard so far about who’s open and serving, we’ll update throughout the day:

If you’re looking for specials, hopefully they’ll tweet soon (like yesterday), but it is a Tuesday and you know what that means… Love ya, Commissary.

But the plan we like the most, this one:

Snow or not, we cannot forget that it’s Mardi Gras!

Stay warm and dry!

-huysmans

Happy President’s Day! I mean…Snow Day!

From EaterDC:

*Dino’s Grotto is offering a free mug of soup with food purchase after 5 p.m., and $6 ginger lemon hot toddys.

*Urbana will offer discounted snow day cocktails and $5 pizzas if it snows.

*Firefly has a Cadillac grilled cheese and a soup of the day for $5. Add Bulleit bourbon or rye or a beer for $10.

*Kangaroo Boxing Club opened at 11 in honor of the snow.

*Justin’s Cafe will have half-priced wine all night.

*All Circa locations will offer 50 percent off wines priced less than $100 per bottle.

*DC Coast will have $5 beer, wine and cocktail specials and $6 bar food options from 4 p.m to close.

*Penn Commons will have $5 beer, wine and cocktail options from 4 p.m. to close.

*Westend Bistro is offering a “cherry snowcap” cocktail with vanilla vodka, chocolate liqueur, muddled boozy cherries and homemade cocoa for $10.

From Twitter:

Richmond, a romantic way to get away from DC

We love DC, but we also love that DC sits on the crossroads between a weekend in the Berkshires and a weekend in South Beach. And, with good old Amtrak, we can be in Philly or… Richmond in a matter of hours. So for this Valentine’s Day we took a romantic weekend southbound to the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Richmond.

First, the Amtrak gripe. There are two stations in Richmond, Staples Mills (5 miles north of the downtown) and Main Street Station (in the downtown). Staples Mills is well serviced but not convenient for the weekend traveler who is traveling by train to avoid needing a car, i.e. us! Obviously we wanted the Main Street Station which is serviced only TWICE a day! We either had to leave at 7:30am or 5:00pm, we chose the latter. Amtrak, please fix this.

Okay now on to Richmond. This place can be a super romantic weekend away. We splurged. A night at the Jefferson and dinner at Lemaire to honor the cheesiness of Vday. So here is to those weekends when you’re looking to blow cc, Amtrak, and OpenTable points all at the same time… gotta love those free weekends.

Lemaire

Lemaire is located in the Jefferson hotel and has been described as one of Richmond’s most romantic restaurants. Since the weather was in such bad shape this weekend, we felt it was a good decision, on top of the reviews, to not leave the building for dinner. So what was Lemaire like for us?

It started with drinks. They have a great create-your-own-Manhattan menu. We started there, but then discovered the cocktail with Copper Fox. Order the “I am for Richmond… First and Last” and get Copper Fox rye, carpano antica formula, coochi americano, broadbent madeira ’96, and black walnut bitters. Combined, its a delicious take on a Manhattan complete with our favorite Virginia distillery.

"I am for Richmond... First and Last" with Copper Fox Rye Whisky

“I am for Richmond… First and Last” with Copper Fox Rye Whisky

After the drinks, the menu itself offers a lot. We went with the special snapper over orzo, mushrooms, leeks and a black truffle cream (love truffles) and the roasted monkfish over beluga lentils. Delicious prepared and though pricy, made for a wonderfully romantic evening.

Thyme and Lemon Basted Red Snapper

Thyme and Lemon Basted Red Snapper

Roasted Monkfish

Roasted Monkfish

-huysmans

What to read with your coffee this weekend

Presidents, they’re just like us. In love.

Monday is a holiday! Eat brunch!

Did people on the East coast know that Hollywood had lost its groove?

Always great to read about Gabby out and about:

Uber as a “candidate”:

Sound prepared and knowledgeable at your friend’s Oscar’s Party: