Monday, April 30, 2012

Not running DC (post brought to you by red wine and gin)

I started this blog about a year ago with the story of falling in love with Washington, DC at the age of 16. It's been 17 years since my first visit to our nation's capitol, but if anything I only love it more. I'm sure my husband gets tired of me saying, "Look at this urban design! On street parking! Mixed use development!" and on and on. 

Coming up from the Foggy Bottom Metro stop where the love affair began.
This weekend we visited the D.C. area to visit some friends and relax. I did something I rarely do on vacation - I didn't run. I took running clothes, and I intended to run. But on Friday night one glass of wine turned into, um, several, and on Saturday afternoon cocktails turned into wine with dinner. I decided to relax, let go, and actually sleep in. 

We discovered a few weeks ago that flights between Detroit's Metro airport and Baltimore-Washington International are really reasonable, and we decided on a whim to book a trip. We arrived at BWI early on Friday morning and headed to our hotel on Arlington's Courthouse Road. This is my favorite area to stay - close to the metro, affordable hotels, and most importantly right next to my favorite West Virginia Mountaineer bar outside of Morgantown, WV - Ragtime. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn on Courthouse, one of my favorite spots.

On Friday morning we discovered what could possibly be my all-time favorite spot in the Metro area - The Bayou Bakery. Opened in 2010 on Courthouse, it opened about a year after the last time we stayed there (we've stayed with friends our last few visits). It is just about a block from the hotel, and we stopped in for some caffeine and a late breakfast. I loved the atmosphere - it was very charming and comfortable. As we were enjoying our fantastic breakfast (the biscuits are AMAZING), I saw a guy walk by and remarked that he looked familiar. Then I realized it was David Guas, the owner of Bayou Bakery, who I recognized for being on the Food Network's Chopped, one of our favorite shows. I have to admit - I was a little starstruck and talked about it for about two hours.

Inside the Bayou Bakery. The atmosphere is so charming!
Friday was a beautiful sunny day, so we decided to do the D.C. tourist thing and walk around the monuments. We haven't been to the Mall since 2008, and we figured we should check out the monuments every 4-5 years. Despite all of my trips to D.C., I had never seen the Jefferson or FDR Memorials. We also visited the new Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, which was beautiful and poignant.

Visiting the FDR Memorial
The powerful MLK Memorial
One of my favs - the WWII Memorial
That evening we had dinner with friends who live near the Columbia Heights neighborhood - an area, like much of the region, that seems to have mastered placemaking. We came out of the Metro to a vibrant neighborhood and headed to visit our friends in their beautifully restored row house.  We learned that the neighborhood includes lots of family homes, rentals and retail - the perfect cocktail of mixed uses.

Speaking of cocktails, we slept in on Saturday morning after imbibing in a few at dinner the night before. The weather was a little cloudy and overcast, but we decided to chance it and meet a friend at a French Market in Georgetown. I love the vibrancy of Georgetown, but I find it is difficult to visit because the Metro doesn't extend into the neighborhood. We decided to walk over from the Foggy Bottom stop. The French Market was adorable - music, street performers, French food and sidewalk sales in the shops up and down the street. We snagged some delicious strawberry shortcake after they marked the price in half. Winning!

The 9th Annual Georgetown French Market
Lots of people and a band walking up the street
We spent several hours walking around Georgetown, including a walk over onto the Georgetown University campus. We literally walked right into the Georgetown Running Company where they had lots of fantastic running gear. After our tour of Georgetown we headed back to Foggy Bottom for drinks at Circa, a chic eatery with fantastic signature cocktails. I started with one of their cocktails - the aptly named "Foggy Bottom". I love cucumbers in a cocktail, and it was fantastic. The service was a little lacking, but the drinks made up for it.

Before dinner with friends we with popped into the Whole Foods Market next door to pick up some wine and beer to take along. It may have been all the afternoon drinking, but I was mesmerized by the market. I absolutely loved it. I am not sure if I've been to a Whole Foods before that, but I am a sucker for an urban market. Dinner was at another couple's house, and it was a fantastic affair with wonderful company, delicious food, a bottle of champagne, too much red wine to count, and fancy gin that smelled like flowers.

I was moving slowly Sunday morning, but we went to the Bayou Bakery again because it is awesome. We then headed out to Baltimore to have brunch (who doesn't need two breakfasts?!?) at Spoons in the charming Federal Hill neighborhood. The service was terrible, and I'm quite sure the hostess forgot about us as we waited outside, but the food was amazing. I had risotto benedict, a delicious dish with risotto cakes, prosciutto, and then the traditional poached eggs and hollandaise. Really incredible.

LOVE these signs.
Federal Hill, Baltimore

After brunch we went to Camden Yards to watch the Baltimore Orioles play the Oakland A's. It was a gorgeous afternoon for a game, and the O's kept our trip in Baltimore fun by winning in dramatic fashion with a home run at the bottom of the 9th. 

A beautiful day for baseball

We decided to head to the Fells Point neighborhood in Baltimore just on the other side of the popular Inner Harbor area downtown. This was probably my favorite place of the trip. There were narrow streets, lots of shops and restaurants, live music, and tons of people on a late Sunday afternoon. We had dinner at Bertha's, an eatery famous for their mussels. The service was great, the food was wonderful, and the atmosphere fantastic. It was the perfect ending to a lovely weekend.

Fells Point. Love, love, love.
I'm always down for a good hootenanny.
This morning we took an early flight from Baltimore back to Detroit. Although I was tired, I forced myself to run in the lovely, rainy Michigan afternoon. This trip was one of the best I've had in quite a while. It was a placemaking bonanza!


  1. I. Love. It. Must get to DC soon to visit some of these amazing spots! I haven't been there in several years.

  2. You've got to go. Bayou Bakery is amazing, and the shopping in Georgetown is fantastic. Baltimore was a pleasant surprise. And it's not that far for you!