Saturday, June 29, 2013

48 hours in Washington D.C., Day 1

Known more for its monuments than foodie-culture, boy and I managed to spend 10% of our time in Washington D.C. seeing the sights, and devoted the remainder to food and rest.

Our time management was mainly thanks to a Segway tour. Along with our group, we'd take a few moments at one historical monument before zipping past all the weary pedestrians on our way to the next. For history-browsers, this is the perfect way to see what D.C. has to offer. 

Surprisingly, Segway-ing isn't as lazy as it looks, and after more than 3 hours rocking back and forth on our feet, we had worked up an appetite (and sore calf muscles!). Founding Farmers was the closest of my pre-researched options that (we hoped) wouldn't turn us away at the door due to our disheveled attire. 
Founding Farmers is owned by a collective of American farming families, and offers good quality classic American dishes alongside some more modern options. Where possible, they source local produce, and they aim to have as many sustainable practices as possible.

For us, all this was a bonus. Forefront in our minds was that it was an air-conditioned oasis of yum.
I was sorely tempted by the Southern pan-fried chicken with waffles, but somehow the grown-up in me decided on handmade ravioli with butternut squash and mascarpone ($15). The pasta was
perfectly cooked with good flavour in the filling, and even though the sage butter sauce veered towards having too much acidity, thankfully it landed just short.

Boy's meal was silky smooth and pure comfort. He had decided on a chicken pot pie ($14) that was all sorts of fabulous. Homely, with inclusions such as peas and carrots, I was shocked at how good it was. The crust, an American biscuit (think savoury Aussie scone with a crust), added crunch as well as a bread-y component that helped mop up any leftover sauce.

After the joy of our mains, the cookies and ice cream ($8) left us a little flat. To our taste the cookies didn't have a high enough proportion of gooey innards to crunchy exterior. However, they may be fine for D.C. standards and we might be snobs, fresh from the cookie haven of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There, cookies even have their own display table at wedding receptions, ready to be raided at regular intervals by hungry attendees. If you're not yet hitched, I highly recommend stealing that particular tradition for yourself!

Founding Farmers on Urbanspoon
In the evening we set out for Daikaya, a trendy newcomer that serves ramen on the ground floor and has a restaurant and bar (izakaya) on the first floor.

While boy and I stand out like sore thumbs in hipster joints, I hoped that my accent gave me an exotic facade, and, as we stuck to the ground floor hole-in-the-wall, I think we managed to not look too out of place!

With four types of ramen, gyoza, and rice making up the entirety of the downstairs menu, the waitstaff can afford to be knowledgeable about their subject, and they were quick to help us translate unknowns. While we waited for our order, I quickly took in the surrounds, and was somewhat surprised at the laid back (almost to the point of unprofessional) manner of the staff in the open kitchen. However, as soon as the small space started filling up with hungry workers, the staff seamlessly kicked up a gear to deal with the rush.

Always a sucker for a dumpling, the gyoza ($5.50) were stunning. A perfect rendition, they were some of the best I've eaten.

The ramen was also of a high quality. It's Chintan stock was delicate, without the power punch of flavour that I've experienced at Gumshara in Sydney. Of the two we tested, boy and I both preferred the Shoyu Ramen ($11.75), with its additions of soy, toasted garlic and half and egg, to the Shio Ramen ($11.50), that had less depth of flavour.

Both styles had perfectly al-dente noodles and an abundance of palate freshening bean sprouts, leaving us with an impression that we'd been fabulously healthy and could over-indulge in naughty treats the next day.

Daikaya on Urbanspoon

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Stephanie said...

Thought you might enjoy these articles about how Washington's 'foodie culture' is burgeoning...

Heard about your blog through a mutual friend - it's really nicely done. You're very lucky to live in such a delightful part of Australia (although really, I think there are dining gems sprinkled here and there all over this lucky country).

Mary said...

Thanks for the articles! And you're right - I am lucky to live where I do.