February 2009 Archives

Review: Jackson 20

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Jackson 20, just blocks off the water in Old Town Alexandria serves modern American cuisine.  The Sports Freak and I decided to go there before the Maryland Duke Game last night.  We chose Jackson 20 because they were offering extended Restaurant Week thorugh the end of the month.

Located inside the Hotel Monaco, the restaurant was very loud, even though it was not yet packed.  The lighting was very dim to the point that the weather reports may have issued a visability warning in the establishment.  While I did not measure, I felt that the chairs were a bit higher than at most places.  Not like barstools, but higher than your normal dining chair.  It's these little things that restaurants need to pay attention to to keep and gain more customers.

The food fared better.  The RW menu here was advertised as off the regular menu.  Except they did not note that the two steak entrees would incur a $10 upcharge.  Our server did mention that to us.  The appetizers were hits and misses.  TSF had the scallops.  He noted they were good, but didn't elborate.  I had the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake.  That was very good, with little binder if any.  It was flaky and moist.  The seasonal slaw that was with it was less successful.  Some of the vegatables were soaking in the vinegar a little too long and created a pickling effect.  If that was the intent of it, I would say the chef needs to rethink that.

For our entrees, TSF had the sirlion and I ordered the buttermilk fried chicken.  The sirlion was huge.  Again, TSF reported it was good, but it was a little rarer than he prefers.  My chicken was excellent.  It was a skinless chicken breast breaded lightly and fried to be crispy outside, but moist inside.  It was served on a bed of kale with a side of whipped sweet potatoes.  I am not a sweet potatoe fan, but the whip was pretty good.  It was not too sweet, which is usually my fear of these dishes.  To give some "home comfort", it had a toasted marshmallow on top.  The kale was a bit bitter.  I'm not sure how to put it, but it did not seem to work out right.  I think it might have worked better in soup than as a side to the meal.  Our major disapointment with the entrees is that it took nearly half an hour after we finished our appetizers for the entrees to be served to us.  But they were still hot, so it was not that it was sitting out there waiting to be served to us.

Dessert was probably the biggest issue.  We both ordered the cranberry bread pudding with a scoop of ice cream.  The ice cream was smooth and creamy, but TSF has this thing about ice cream.  He says his close friends "know algebra and do not eat ice cream in the winter".  More on that story will be provided another day.  However, we made an exception because it's Restaurant Week.  Ice cream was not the problem.  The bread pudding was.  It was nicely put together and flavorful.  But "The ginormous bread pudding...a single bachelor sitting on the couch with a big plate full of bread pudding sitting atop his belly with a big glass of milk."  I put it in this perspective.  You get home after a long day at work and don't feel like cooking.  There are four portions of bread pudding left in your fridge and you decide to have them for dinner.  I should have gotten a picture of it, but take your standard size building brick and split it slightly uneven in two parts.  The bigger "half" is what we got..each.

While Jackson 20 has good meals, the regular pricing seems a bit high.  I won't go out of my way to go back there, but if I'm in the neighborhood, I would not have a problem stopping in for one plate.

I am a member of the board of a local not-for-profit.  We had our monthly meeting last night and through the course of the evening, I found out I've grown up.  Well, I've always figured I'm old.  A friend of mine said he has an old soul.  I somewhat agree about my own, but I'd like my soul to be a Toyota Prius than a Model T.

So last night was disheartening when at discussing financials I said "I've been using that software for...OMG, over a decade."  A decade... that's more than two presidential terms.  Yes, I've been using that since the end of the first Clinton term.  Nobody else blinked an eye.  See, out of the 20 or so people on the board, and based purely on outside appearances, I think I'm the youngest there.  There is a guy who I think might be hovering on my age, but if I had to bet money, I'd say he's got a couple of years on me.  As the meeting went on, we discussed some pretty high level topics.  As an accountant, numbers don't bother me, but the theories become muddled, and that's where some of the discussion went.

I've always been older mentally than my actual age.  I'm the eldest sibling.  I started working full-time at 17 years old, while going to classes full time.  At work, I'm generally conservative which tends to show much more maturity.  Also, personally, I've held the thought that I got old at about 28.  That was part joke, but part truth.

It's bad when the truth hits you in the face like it did to me last night.  But everyone has to grow up sometime.  I thought I did years ago, but I was reminded differently last night.

So I'm a bit backwards.  Yesterday I wrote about events that occurred Saturday, today I write about Friday.

So on Friday, there was a happy hour for DC area bloggers.  But before that, I decided to join another happy hour.  The staff from one of my old jobs had happy hour at 701.  I drank there the prior Friday as well, so Mo the bartender was surprised to see me twice in a week, when he hadn't seen me in months.  After a few stiff drinks there, I sobered up to head to Marvin.

After wandering around the place for a few minutes, I finally found everyone upstairs on the outside patio.  So the list of people I met are as follows...

Lemmonex of Culinary Couture - One of the co-organizers of the happy hour and blogs stories that segue into simple recipes.  BTW - her pictures don't do enough justice.  She's a great storyteller and a beauty.

Daniel of Tales of a Media Addict - A big DC United fan and as the blog name might infer, a fan of TV.  We discussed some TV and other things that seem to have blurred from my mind.  As a TV addict myself, I'll be on his site often.

JP of The Gospel of JP - We traded a few words, but I was already a bit hammered after drinking for nearly three hours, so I don't remember much.  But a good guy and a great blogger.

I saw one of the other co-organizers, Roosh V, but didn't get to speak with him.  Tall dude, is all I can say.  I somehow completely missed Arjewtino, the third of the trio of co-organizers, but as much as I drank, maybe I did meet him and just don't remember.

There were others I'm sure I met or at least introduced to, but I've got to say, I don't remember.  Sorry.  I'll try to check links at the sites I do know to check out your sites.  The happy hour was a great time, but I had to roll out of there before my liver cried out.  Good to meet all of you and see you soon.  Those not blogging, be sure to check out the blogs I listed above.

Cafe AtanticoOn Saturday, The Sports Freak and I attended the Maryland North Carolina basketball game and was elated that our Terps won in overtime.  While we wanted to stay and watch the storming of the court, we had early reservations at Cafe Atlantico for Restaurant Week, so we had to leave College Park quickly to get to Penn Quarter.

Just making it in time, we parked and got in the restaurant.  Years ago, I worked around the corner from Jose Andres' restaurant, so I have sampled Cafe Atlantico's lunch menu before, but never dinner.  TSF had never been there.  Wow what a treat.

As part of Restaurant Week, they offered a $35.09 3 course dinner.  In a great effort to entice diners, they placed the RW menu next to the regular menu.  So many establishments miss this opportunity by printing the RW menu on a separate sheet of paper.  Benefit for Cafe Atlantico, as the "Bacon and Eggs" caught the attention of TSF.  I agreed to split it with him as RW offers a appetizer along with it.  The "Bacon and Eggs" were simply amazing.  I good portion of pork belly with Eggs 63 ("runny") on a bed of lentils were excellent.  As the plate was delivered to our table, the aroma reminded me of Chinese pork belly.  Perfectly cooked and seasoned, it was just a bit crisp on the outside and tender inside.  It was one of the best dishes of the evening, so much so, that TSF said he would order that "for himself" next time.

The RW menu held up as well.  I ordered the tuna ceviche.  It was good and tasted a bit creamy with the coconut milk that surrounded it.  I love avocado and the sliced half added to the dish.  My only complaint to this dish might be that the tuna was lacking in quantity, but the quality and taste were great.  TSF had the butternut squash soup and he reported it was fine, but he it wasn't his favorite dish.

The entree we both had was the Braised Beef Short Ribs.  The meat was tender and well cooked.  It was great, but there is almost an injustice to it as the accompanying butternut squash, spinach and mushrooms were so good, I kept going for those instead of the short ribs.  The "moat" of potato espuma the entree was served in was great as well.  Mashed potatoes are always a favorite, but the espuma may have topped the list.

We both ended the meal with the Warm Chocolate Cake.  I am not usually a fan of dessert, preferring fruit or berries, but this was very good.  The cake was as advertised, nice and warm, with the molten center.  On the side, banana espuma and sliced banana lime salad, all good.

The only thing that I did not fully enjoy was the mojito I ordered.  It was overpowering with the mint and light on the sugar.  The mint made it nearly bitter and while I do not like too much sugar, it felt that there was not enough in it.  Maybe that is just my taste, but it was not undrinkable, just not the way I enjoy mine.

Now the biggest problem going to Cafe Atlantico is being in the same building as Minibar.  So close to the famed tasting menu with the small dining area, essentially a "bar" with only six seats.  I want to go there, but my regular dining companions are not up for such an experience.  So if anyone wants to accompany me, please let me know.  I'd like to know I can use the reservation before trying to obtain it.  For Cafe Atlantico, on our way out, the maitre d' informed us that RW would be continuing at their establishment for this week as well, so I might go there again.

Causes to Support

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When I started this site last year, it was meant as an outlet for the interesting things that I see or do.  Entertainment, politics, restaurants or just plain old goofing off.  But seriousness has to settle in occassionally, like my open discussions regarding investments and money.

Today, I am reminding everyone who has a regular job to donate if you can.  In this recession, people tend to hunker down and stop spending on many places, including charitable donations.  Some of those places end up hurting badly for funds to continue their cause.  I am providing a list below and will put it up in some fashion as a permanent fixture on this site, but if you have a place or places to donate money to, please don't forget them.

Two, two posts in one.  Actually three.  Last night, I had my third Crazy Blind Date.  The first I described a few weeks ago, the second was nothing to write home about.  Yesterday was something to write about.  Again, nothing crazy, but this is the first one that I think I might try a follow up date with.  I won't get into too many details to jinx it, so I'll review Teaism now.

My date was scheduled for at Teaism in Penn Quarter at 7 PM.  Already in the neighborhood at 6, I decided to visit my favorite bartender, Mo at the 701 Restaurant.  Always good to see Mo and I haven't been there in months.  Despite my long drought, he remembered me and who I usually come in with.  701 is one of those places one might hear about when a foreign leader or prominent member of our government holds a party or fundraiser.  But on a daily basis, it is a great place to meet up with friends for drinks, although a bit pricey.

As to Teaism, after my date left, I decided to try out the menu.  I had been there only once before and only to grab a cup of tea and run.  Teaism runs essentially a tea house, but also has an expansive, mostly Asian food menu.  It is fine dining in a casual atmosphere.  You order at the counter and pick up your own food and tea.  A nice thing is that you use actual plates and silverware when dining in.  I love Japanese food, in particular simple things like sushi and bento boxes.  When I saw bento boxes were on the menu, I had to try.  I opted for the handroll box.  I did not read into the details, but wanted to try something new, and this sounded interesting.

The handroll bento box has cured salmon, nori, pickled daikon, and rice.  I have to say, the cured salmon was excellent.  Thinly sliced in bite size portions, the fish was perfectly seasoned but left alone enough that you knew it was a quality piece of fish.  Rice is rice, but Teaism's version was good as part of a roll, or as a complimentary side dish to the entree.  Pickled daikon is not a favorite of mine, but it had the right mixture of sweetness and a hint of spice.  The nori was paper thin, so it did not hold up great as a wrap.  I ate a couple of wraps before deciding to eat the rest of the meal as individual parts.  The accompanying wasabi and miso mayo were nice condiments, but not particularly necessary to the meals.

As I said, the salmon was so good, I didn't even realize they provided a small cup of soy sauce with the bento box.  It was not needed and I only used it once to see if it improved the flavor, which it didn't.  The salmon was that good.  It was really a great meal at a great price. Without the tea, the bento boxes all run about $10 or less.  Tea is a personal preference, but at Teaism they have a large selection, so I found a good green to drink.

The shop/restaurant at Penn Quarter is small storefront adjacent to the Navy Memorial.  I sat on the ground floor and it only had seats for about 20.  There is a downstairs area, which I did not see.  Overall Teaism is a great little place to meet people.  If looking for a good low cost dining option, I would recommend this as well.  I definitely need to visit again soon.

Friday the 13th

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I've always wondered what the source of fear of Friday the 13th, or scientifically known as paraskavedekatriaphobia.  I don't even know how to pronounce that.  Wikipedia, the world's foremost authority on everything on the interwebs has some of the sources.

I don't buy any of it.  I've always had favorite numbers, colors, and other things.  But fear of specific things was not in the cards.  Sure I have fears at times, but not all the time for the same thing.

However, several years ago, I began to wonder if Friday the 13th would be the end of me.  What started at one incident became a trend for a few of years.  I don't remember the year, but I was either a freshman or sophomore at the University of Maryland.  Parking in Lot 4 because I was an underclassman and walking to class with some friends, we had a car whiz by.  One of my friends asked me if I was OK.  I asked why, and found out after looking ahead at the car.  Their right side mirror was hanging by a thread.  Man vs. Machine and I won.  My elbow wasn't any worse for wear, because basically I didn't feel it.

The next year, I was in the worst car accident of my driving life on again, Friday the 13th.  While I was physically fine, my 1991 Camry was another story.

Some point later, while driving to Ocean City, MD, I had my transmission light go on.  OK, so that wasn't horrific at the time, but a week later, when my car decided not to work anymore and I had a monster bill, I was very fearful.

All of those incidents occurred on Friday the 13th.  But I've been incident free for the past few years.  Maybe the fear is over.

Odd Dreams

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So I've been remembering some pretty odd dreams in the past week or so.  I'm not sure if they are one long mini-series, or separate incidents, but they all involve the same thing.  Car Crashes.

Yes, I am dreaming about crashes.  But even more so, I'm dreaming about smashing into other cars.  From what I recall, no T-boning, but more like I pull up behind another car and BAM!, I'm in the back of them.  I'm always driving my pickup truck.

I wonder what this means?  Maybe I've finally had it with the traffic in this area.  Or maybe it's simply road rage.  What I can't tell is if I'm doing it intentionally.  The accidents also do not seem to cause physical harm to either me or my target.

FWIW, while I realize NASCAR season starts this weekend, I am not a NASCAR fan, so I don't think that's the source of my dreams.

Those that know me, have pretty much seen the same mug for the past 20 years.  I'm blessed or cursed, depending on your viewpoint, with low growth of facial hair.  It's been great.  I have a schedule.  Monday, Wednesday, Friday and prior to dates, important meetings, and other significant events, I pull out the razor.  In elementary school, classmates of mine, Jimmy & Pete, who were brothers, had 5 o'clock shadow at noon in the 5th grade.  They, of Greek descent, I believe, went through more razors by high school than I have so far my entire life.

Even with my 3 times a week schedule, I could skip a day on occasion.  My excellent Asian genes provide me with a baby face.  My younger brother is the same way, although he does have to shave daily.  My hair has always grown on the edges.  A blessing that will not allow for a receding hairline.  But I've always wondered what if?  Not that I want a 70's porn mustache.  I'm not a kung fu master or an early Hollywood Asian villain.  Those jobs require facial hair.  But for once, maybe, I thought, I could get something.

This morning, I apparently hit that mark.  As I picked up the razor, I noticed that I am actually on the verge of a mustache.  Much more than normal, and I did shave on Monday.  I took it off anyways.  Ugh, my freedom may be gone.  I'll have to shave daily.  Now I'm thinking maybe I should let it grow and see how it goes.  So I've found some youth in my adult years.  I'm 14 again.  Let's hope the breakouts don't follow.
Councilman Barry, give me a call, I'll take care of your taxes.

Apparently Marion Barry does not understand tax law or court orders.  I'm an accountant and I don't understand all of the tax law, so I don't blame him on that part.  But I'm fairly sure I know that if I was told by the courts to file on time, I'd file on time.  But not filing his 2007 taxes, prosecutors are asking a judge to jail Barry because he is violating the terms of his agreement from the last bought with taxes.  Barry told NBC4 yesterday that he has not been served with notice of his tax issue.  Really?  You need to be notified?  Can't call your CPA?  Apparently he is taking the "Mayor for Life" title too seriously.  It does not make you exempt from court orders.

Not to be bashing Barry.  I think he did much good for the city.  In fact, if he were still mayor when Jack Kent Cooke built Fedex Field in Maryland, I don't think the Redskins would have moved.  And everyone has their faults.

His fellow council member, Jim Graham, defends Barry by stating he should not be locked up.  He references Timothy Geithner, the new Treasury Secretary, by not filing accurate tax statements.  I'm not dismissing that charge, but Geithner filed his taxes.  He failed to properly report some tax items and essentially underpaid.  That is different from Barry, who apparently has not filed his 2007 taxes.

If Barry really wants to avoid the hassle, hire a tax accountant and get the 2007 taxes filed ASAP.  I don't know how complex his issues are, but I'm guessing it won't take too long.  I'm not a regular tax return preparer, but if he can't afford it on his DC Council salary, I'll do it free for him.  Hit me up!  Then again, if he is making what this old Post article quotes, I think he afford to pay a trained tax professional.

Facebook Friends?

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For the longest time, I resisted joining Facebook.  I have nothing against it, I just wasn't into the social networking thing.  I am in LinkedIn, for business networking.  However, last September or so, one of my business contacts started a Facebook group so I reluctantly joined.

I will say I am now enjoying Facebook to a degree.  There are people I've know from high school that I have kind of reconnected to.  Some business contacts I've known only by phone I now have more of an understanding.  But there is a dilemma.  Who exactly is a "friend"?  Here are people who have been suggested to me recently.

  • The younger brother of a high school classmate of mine.  I'm not sure if I ever traded two words with him.
  • Many people who work(ed) for my first employer out of college.  Many are good friends/acquaintances.  I'll have to dig through those deeper.
  • A female 1 year behind me in high school.  The name sounds familiar, but that was so long ago, I don't know if I really knew her, I knew a sibling, or what.
  • Various people from a professional listserv I belong on.  Those should be fine, as I'm Facebook friends with others on the list.
  • This girl who I worked with during high school.  She also went to high school with me, but I think a couple of years back.  The thing I remember the most about her?  She took me, a mutual female friend who also worked with us, and our not-quite-out hispanic boss to a party themed by her Asian ethnic background.  Oh, and she was trying to "turn" said boss.
  • People who I may or may not have had class with at the University of Maryland.  Hey thousands of students in each graduating class, I can't keep track of them all.  Besides, I read the Diamondback everyday.  Some of those names were reporters/editors for the paper, I think.
  • Finally many random people who happen to be friends of friends of mine.  I can't fault Facebook on those.

So really, who do I choose to be Facebook friends?  I guess each person has to decide on their own, but I don't know if I should be "friends" with all of the above people.  What's funny is I've had more interaction with some bloggers than some of the people Facebook has been suggesting to me.

By no means the end of partisanship, the nomination of Republican Judd Gregg as Commerce Secretary shows a willingness to change on two front.  First, if Gregg is approved, he will join the Democratic Obama administration.  That much is obvious.  Second, his Senate seat from New Hampshire will be filled by a Republican to not change the balance of power in the Senate. This is the more significant move as New Hampshire's governor is a Democrat and he could have prevented Gregg's acceptance of the nomination as Gregg his issues giving up his seat to a potential filibuster proof Senate.

The nomination also brings some good news on the Cabinet front as Bill Richardson, Timothy Geithner, and Tom Daschle have marred the nominations.  Daschle has withdrawn his nomination today because of tax issues.  Richardson had done so weeks ago which opened up the nomination for Gregg and Geithner weathered the storm to be approved.

Let's hope the Daschle scandal becomes the last so that the Obama Cabinet can be full and get to work.

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    This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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