Monday, March 26, 2012

Philadelphia/Valley Forge

 We took a quick trip to Valley Forge and Philadelphia last weekend and were overwhelmed by all of the history that oozes out of these amazing places. Valley Forge is where General George Washington and his troops camped through the winter during the revolutionary war. I admitted to Adam when we arrived that I honestly couldn't even tell you the significance of Vally Forge and if you asked me before our tour I probably would have told you some important battle happened there. Lucky for me we had a great tour guide corrected any wrong idea (or no idea, for that matter) I had in my head about Valley Forge. The things that happened at Valley Forge could be described as tragic. So many men were lost not to gunfire but to illness, disease, hypothermia etc. The tour guide told us stories that I almost couldn't believe, the sacrifice that those early Americans made amazes me. I caught myself constantly thinking that if I would have been one of those soldiers I wouldn't have lasted, I would have given up early on and probably headed back to England. But that's why I was born a girl, and born many years after the revolution. It's the same reason I wasn't born to be a pioneer. I am a wimp. Plain and simple. And it makes my respect for those that sacrificed for me that much greater.
 After Valley Forge we headed over to Philly where we visited a museum, saw Benjamin Franklin's grave, posed with the founding farmers, and saw Bruce Springsteen's 1964 corvett.
We took a tour of independence hall where the Constitution and the Declaration are said to have been signed. It was underwhelming but we had to do it. Is it bad that all I was thinking about while inside the building was: "this looks nothing like it did in National Treasure"? I fail.

Adam lived in Philadelphia until he was 8 (I think, correct me if I'm wrong dear) and since I've known him he has talked about these cream filled doughnuts that are supposedly wonderful and that you can only get in Philadelphia. So we tracked some down, and I was again underwhelmed. I would have rather had a boston cream pie doughnut . But Adam was happy so that count's for something.  
 After our doughnut break we visited William Penn on top of the Philly city hall, which happened to be across the street from love park. We also learned (from a local) that Philadelphia is the city known for it's street art and murals. I liked that. What a cool thing to be know for, right?
 After a long walk we came across a street vendor selling water ice. Water ice and I go way back, thanks to a dear friend I had growing up in Farmington. She was from Philadelphia and had moved to Utah with her family. Her mom knew how to make water ice and my friend would regularly invite me and some other girls over to have the frozen treat. I remember the first time she asked if I wanted water ice, as a 12 year old I figured it was a funny way a asking if I wanted some ice water. She was something of a foreigner to me, and I thought maybe that's how they say it where she's from, I politely accepted her offer and was glad I did because I was rewarded with a frozen fruity treat. Since then I have never had water ice anywhere other than in my friends basement until my visit to Philly. With my first bite so many memories came rushing back. It was like a comfort food. What an experience. Funny story: when I ordered the water ice the man behind the counter looked confused and asked me to repeat myself so I said "can I get a cherry water ice, please?" he answered back "oh a woouter ice, yeah 3 dallahs", haha the accent killed me. I guess I butchered the pronunciation.

Over the course of the whole trip I think the most beautiful thing I saw were these flowers. I don't even know what they are or what they're called but I loved them. They're like little bells with a heart on each petal. Aren't they precious? Anyway that's the trip! Hope you enjoyed the recap.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Food Adventure: Pennsylvania

This weekend we made a quick trip up to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While there we had to make a really tough decision: Would we eat a Philly Cheesesteak at Pat's or Geno's? The Philly Cheesesteak is the state food of Pennsylvania, and we knew that to get a really good cheesesteak we had to go to the South Philadelphia intersection where the "best cheesteak" war rages. Pat's King of Steaks was the restaurant that started first; Pat actually claims to have invented the Philly Cheesteak. Geno's came along a few years after Pat's opened its doors, and people say that Geno's Steaks perfected the cheesteak sandwich. Either way I'm sure that both restaurants are delicious, but we went with Geno's -and all I can say is wow. Somehow when you combine thinly sliced beef, a soft hogie roll, caramelized onions, and cheese wiz you get a food creation that can only be described as perfect. On our way over to Geno's we had a local cab driver who had lived in Philly his whole life. Luckily he gave us a heads up about how to order at Geno's. He said, "When you order you either say 'Wiz with' or 'Wiz without', don't be a provolone snob." Sound advice. Wiz with obviously means a Cheesteak sandwich with cheese wiz and with onions and a Wiz without is the same thing only without onion. We both ordered a Wiz with and some some "freedom fries" and waited patiently while they put our order together. Once we got our food we found an open table and got down to business. The thinly sliced meat was a little crisp on the edges because they cook it on a flat top grill, the cheese (which they were very generous with) was gooey and warm and the onions added a whole other dimension of flavor. The white bread was soft and the perfect vessel to get the meat, cheese and onions to my mouth. Over all I'd say that this is one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten. Adam concurs. Although I'm still not sure if he even tasted his it was completely gone before I even had a chance to have my first bite. Pennsylvania, thank you for the Philly Cheesesteak! It will not soon be forgotten.

On our "yumm scale" we rated Geno's Steaks Cheesesteak Sandwich a Holymolycanioiyumm!

For your reference the "Yumm Scale" :
1. Yuck
2. Yu...
3. Yumm
4. Super Yumm
5. Holymolycanoliyumm!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mount Vernon

This weekend we decided to visit Mount Vernon. And boy am I glad we did, it is probably one of my favorite things we've done since moving to DC. First of all, the weather was spectacular which made being outdoors in a beautiful place even better.  I love historic buildings and this is one of the best kept-up restored homes in America. Mount Vernon is where George and Martha Washington lived. There is a quote on one of the walls of the orientation building written by George Washington about Mount Vernon: "No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this." He loved Mount Vernon, and I can understand why. I think what I thought was most amazing about Mount Vernon was that nothing about the house has changed since Washington's death in 1799. Of course things have been restored as needed but no furniture has been moved around, the paint colors haven't changed, the art on the walls is still the same, etc. The mansion is on top of a hill right on the Potomac river. It is so beautiful.

Around the mansion there are several gardens, a larger one for flowers and hedge design and a smaller one for fruit trees, herbs and other lovely things. We loved the gardens. There was fresh lavender growing, and I may or may not have plucked off a blossom and sniffed it all afternoon.

We were bummed when we found out that there was no photography allowed inside the mansion but we did snap a quick photo of the slave quarters. (see below) Adam found Washington's carriage, I swear anything with wheels and he's interested. He tried to explained to me how cool he thought the suspension system was on the carriage but he lost me at "suspension system". Unfortunately my love for "things that move" aren't as extreme as his. 

The cherry on top of an awesome day at Mount Vernon was the baby animals. A momma pig had her babies an hour before we got there. They were bran-stinkin new babies. I swooned. They were the cutest little guys. There were also a bunch of baby goats running around, that also stole my heart. 


All in all Mount Vernon was a success! We loved it!  

St. Patricks Day

Neither of us wore anything green, there was no corned beef or cabbage, no Irish soda bread, no restaurant with an O' or a Mc at the beginning of the name.

 Just this cute guy a bar b que chicken pizza, a spinach salad, and some March Maddness 

Food Adventure: Virginia

The state food of Virgina is ham. Virginia Ham. To be completely honest I didn't think that "Virginia Ham" would be any different than regular old ham. I thought maybe the pigs in Virginia were happier or special in someway, making the ham taste better, but after a quick Wiki search I learned that the actual pig doesn't have much to do with the process of making Virginia Ham. Well of course you need a pig, but any pig would do, not just a Virginia one. Anyway, Virginia Ham is special because it's a cured meat, meaning it has been soaked in a salty/watery solution for a long time. The aging process is important in curing the meat because it brings out so many flavors. After the meat has been cured it is smoked over hickory chips and then is again left to age for "several months or up to 2-4 years" (according to Wikipedia). Making this stuff is a process, to say the least. In our quest to find Virginia Ham this weekend we visited Alexandria Virginia, home of President George Washington's estate at Mount Vernon. There was the most adorable little restaurant on the property there that we decided to give a try. Appropriately Virginia Ham was on the menu, as a sandwich, we of course had to give it a try. The sandwich came with a thick slice of pepperjack cheese which seemed out of place to me but Adam loved it so go figure. The ham itself was really flavorful and extremely salty thanks to the curing process. It was pretty tasty, but at the end of the day it was still a ham sandwich. Virginia Ham or regular ham it is all pretty similar, just as I had suspected. Truth be told my favorite part of the meal were those amazing home made chips. They were to die for. Thanks for the ham Virginia!

On our "yumm scale" we rated Mount Vernon Inn Restaurants Virginia Ham Sandwich a Yumm. 

For your reference the "Yumm Scale" :
1. Yuck
2. Yu...
3. Yumm
4. Super Yumm
5. Holymolycanoliyumm!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."  Charles Dickens

Adam and I took a little stroll last weekend and took a couple of photos of the beautiful cherry blossoms. Then we got in a debate about whether or not the actual fruit grows on the trees. I told him that these aren't the type of trees that produce cherries. No fruit actually grows on them.
 What a mistake that was. It was as if I had told a 4 year old that Santa Clause doesn't exist. He was so disappointed. I think he imagined himself along with all the other Capitol hill employees cherry picking on their lunch breaks. In other news I think I mastered the "sock bun". The number of days that I can go without washing my hair has significantly increased. This is a beautiful thing.