Pan Con Chocolate

On the two nights that we spent in DC last month, we twice had the opportunity to dine on some haute cuisine. Our purveyor was none other than the world-famous Spanish chef José Andrés, who I had the temerity at the time to describe as a “local” chef, not fully realizing who he was. In a sense though he is a local chef there, hosting a suite of eateries clustered just north of the mall, in the Penn Quarter, on the 400 block of 7th street NW. We visited three and ate at two of his restaurants. We first tried China Chilcano that features Peruvian fare with Japanese and Spanish accents, but it being Saturday night, we were shut out. No worries though, because there were plenty more places to choose from.

We ended up down the block at another of Andrés restaurants, Jaleo, a Spanish themed establishment that we were so impressed with that it made the blog that night. It also was packed, but we ended up being seated at the bar, which is how we ended up dining the next night too. We started with a sliced apple and fennel salad, with Manchego cheese, walnuts, and sherry dressing. For our main course we dined on two small plates, shrimp sauteed with garlic and a Spanish omelet with confit potatoes and onions. Pictured is dessert for two that we ordered, chocolate custard with caramelized bread, olive oil and brioche ice cream. One scoop of gelato was not enough.

The following night, we went across 7th to Oyamel, a place that featured food from Mexico City. We both ordered tacos. Anne’s featured wild mushrooms and poblano peppers and mine contained confit pork with avocado salsa verde. Trying to be more restrained than the night before, we skipped dessert. All three of these places are on the Michelin Guide’s (by the French tyre company) Bib Gourmand list of exceptional restaurants at “moderate” prices.

In addition to Andrés’ culinary success, he has also won distinction for his humanitarian work with the World Central Kitchen. Winning the US National Humanities Medal. More recently, last year he received an award of $100M from Jeff Bezos, to distribute to non-profit organizations of his choice, which he has used to feed the Ukrainians and receive their Order of Merit in gratitude.

Back Home in the USA

Lower Falls, Hocking Hills

Oh well, oh well, I feel so good today
We touched down again back home after being away
After driving around it’s good to be back home, from all over the USA
New York, Washington DC, oh, how I learned from you
Ann Arbor, Rochester, Cleveland, and Malden too
Let alone just to be at my home back in old St. Lou
Did I see the skyscrapers, did I see the long freeways?
From the coasts of the Great Lakes to the shores of Boston Bay
You can bet your life I did, when touring the USA
Looking hard for a drive-in, searching for a corner cafe
Where hamburgers sizzle on an open grill night and day
Yeah, and a jukebox jumping with records like from the 60’s in the USA
Well, I am so glad I’m living in the USA
Yes, I am so glad I’m living in the USA
Anything you want, we got right here in the USA
— With Apologies to Chuck Berry

This morning, we hiked the second half of the Old Man Trail. Anne is seen above posing with her souvenir old man ($9.99 at the gift shop). After leaving the park, we headed west and eventually arrived home, safe and sound. After three weeks on the road, it will be good to sleep in our own bed tonight.

Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor

We left Cleveland and headed to Michigan. Swinging by Michigan Fine Yarns of Livonia, Anne was able to stock up on all of her knitting needs. Then Ann Arbor, with check-in at our motel, then downtown. Checked out TK Wu for dinner later and Avalon for breakfast tomorrow. Anne found 10,000 Villages on Main that was having a Midnight Madness sale. We barely got away with all that she could carry. Swinging by Harry’s new digs we picked him up for another downtown run. I must say that driving around Ann Arbor tonight was pretty hairy and this from someone who has already driven DC, NYC and Boston on this trip. It is unusually warm this evening, so everybody and their brother was out and about. Mostly on foot, ignoring all traffic rules, but also by bike. I got a dirty look from one cyclist, who decided to pop out of my blind spot and also my all-seeing car’s. The biggest surprise I saw was on the face of one young woman who was in a crosswalk and stared at me with incongruity, when I stopped to let her cross the street in front of me. With Harry in tow, we stopped again at TK Wu, this time for dinner. The food was amazing. Returning to his place, I fixed his TV, and we spent time with him reviewing our travels, until it was time to leave.


Cleveland’s Arcade

We are in Cleveland tonight. It was an interesting drive here from Rochester, what with gale force winds off the lakes Ontario and Erie, with winds that spat rain and sometimes snow flurries. Even though the temperature never got below freezing, spray kicked up by the trucks made for near whiteout conditions at times. We persevered though, making it here in the early afternoon. We had talked about stopping at Cuyahoga National Park, which is just east of Cleveland. It would have been a new park for us and we were past the front, but the weather had turned quite cold by then. We didn’t stop, but pressed on regardless. After check-in and with most of the afternoon still ahead of us, we came up with a plan. We will be here tomorrow, and then we will tour both the Science Center and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, down by the lake. The Hall of Fame is open late tomorrow. It was very windy today and is expected to be the same tomorrow. We visited the pictured arcade that opened in 1899 and is likely the first indoor mall of America. Afterwards, we crossed the street and ended up spending the rest of the afternoon in the city library. It was more interesting than it sounds and definitely warmer than being outside. Later, we grabbed dinner, tacos, and then headed back to the hotel.


Hudson River

I had a thought on the NY Thruway, while driving past Normans Kill, “A car, a truck, my kingdom for a horseless carriage!” Further down the road we stopped at one of the tollway’s many service centers. I pumped gas, while Anne used the restroom first. When we finished both these chores, she asked if I wanted coffee? I emphatically assented, then I took my turn in the lavatory. Coming back as she was finishing pouring the coffee, she said, “Good, you’re back. I only have a dollar.” I gave her a twenty and then told her that I would pay for the coffee, but when I went to the checkout counter the woman clerking there told me no charge. I thanked her profusely, for her generosity. Only later did I wonder why did she do it? Later still, while we were swapping tales with Alice and Chris, recounting the gifts of kindness that we had been given during our Big Adventure, our big bike trip of some forty years ago. Only then did this clerk’s gift come into focus. It was a small kindness to someone who appeared in need of it. While not really true, it was still heartfelt appreciated.