The 21st

This birthday was definitely different than the twenty before; it was the first time I wasn’t excited weeks in advance, the first year I couldn’t share my birthday with my grandmother, and the first that I can legally drink. What a mix, right?

Whether this birthday is just a blip in my life-long obsession with my special day or maybe a sign I’m slowly changing, I did get that 21st moment I will never forget. I was in line for a bar on U Street at midnight on Saturday and was eager to show my ID to the bouncer. The bar and the line in were packed, and when I paused to tell the bouncer I was 21 and this was my first legal bar entrance, he looked at me like I was the gum on his shoes and pushed me through. In hindsight, I LOVED THIS, but in the moment I was very insulted. Why do I love this? I love that he did not care in any way about my birthday. It didn’t make me any less thrilled to walk in legally, but it was a humbling moment that reminded me birthdays are pretty silly affairs that bouncers/humans who have nothing to do with you may not care about.

But lastly, I’d like to thank the people who do care, and who made sure my birthday was memorable even when I wasn’t feeling it. And because they know food = memorable to moi, the food, as usual, was all there in it’s allotted times and places. Sushi on Friday night, Chipotle and my favorite Ahi Tuna salad on Saturday, and shrimp and grits at District Commons and lobster at home on Sunday. And how can I forget, the Baked and Wired birthday cupcakes my dad waited in line for! Cheers to legal cranberry vodkas, a lifetime of much classier drinks ahead, and to New Orleans next weekend!

20140722-140008-50408022.jpgSushi from Niwano Hana (look at that beautiful salmon and mango roll!)

20140722-140229-50549689.jpgThe BEST ahi tuna salad I’ve come across in my life and the only thing I get at Founding Farmers

20140722-140433-50673202.jpgPart of the Pig Plate at District Commons

20140722-140632-50792984.jpgHow pretty are these shrimp and grits??

20140722-141055-51055626.jpgSaved the sweetest for last

Baltimore and Paper Moon Diner

Last weekend a couple friends and I decide to take a mini trip to Baltimore for a day and a night (thanks, Annie, for letting us crash at your place). Mary had this idea for about a month prior, and I think we figured we’d ya know, “do the harbor” and stuff.

Well, “doing the harbor” proved to be pretty dry, and hot. I mean, you can’t exactly take a dip there, and a couple hundred other people had the very same idea for the day, so I ended up watching Mary sunbathe as I “took in the view” on my Instagram.

That’s when I decided we needed to get on a boat. Then we found out the boat cruises were $20+. After attempting to persuade the kiosk attendant I was actually a child, we found this beautiful thing called a water taxi. Sure, it had a destination and we had to get off and back on every 15 minutes, but it was so nice! Mary and I got smoothies, explored Fell’s Point, and maybe I pretended to be BeyoncĂ©/sang “I’m on a boat” a couple times.

I’m still left puzzled with my idea of what Baltimore actually is, but after “doing” the city for a day I would call it down-home, briny, and underrated. Does that make any sense? I kept trying to compare it to D.C., but I think you can understand it more if you leave D.C. completely out of the picture. Baltimore is the major city of Maryland, after all, land of the crabs, Old Bay, and I have no clue what else. I’m sure my judgement would make a resident of Baltimore cringe, just like if they were to write a blog post about their day on Bourbon St. in New Orleans, and would probably title it something like “My Time in the Big Easy.” Bleh.

Sunday morning we ended up at a restaurant called the Paper Moon Diner, which was SO weird and great. They had cows and naked babies glued to the ceiling, a plastic cat in the drink fridge, and a bedazzled mannequin that really impressed me. The menu was one of those huge ones that leaves you hungrily flipping the pages with anxiety. I decided it was lunch time and got the Southern Turkey BLT with lemon olive aioli, bacon, arugula, tomato, and an egg on sunflower toast. It was pretty good, but if I ever go back I’m getting the Ham Den omelet with caramelized onions, ham, and smoked Gouda. YUM.

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I promise, I have been eating

It’s been a while since I’ve posted routinely on To Taste; To Know and it’s entirely due to a certain summer slump.

While ideally summer is a time of sunshine and rejuvenation (for youngsters that is), summer can also be an awkward and seemingly artificial transition time between semesters, a lot of nights-in without certain plans, and three months of endless possibilities that may overwhelm you so much you are not even certain what shows you should start on Netflix. For me, summer, or anytime I can literally do nothing brings on a whole lot of life questions, not excluding doubts of my voice as a writer and that voice’s portrayal on this very blog.

But! I promise, I have been eating, all kinds of cuisines and thinking of course maybe all too closely about food’s meaning in my life. So now I present to you a FOOD HAUL of all of the foods!! With short commentary.

This summer I have had…

20140710-185452-68092092.jpgOne of three identical bowls of beef bulgolgi don from Sushi Gin in Silver Spring

20140710-185952-68392580.jpgThe one and only traditional pad Thai I’ve gotten with my high school friends so far this summer

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20140710-190126-68486380.jpgSome homemade concoctions

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20140710-191257-69177828.jpgCeviche and a crab cake from my Dad’s birthday dinner at Seqouia

20140710-192349-69829795.jpgcrabs!

20140710-193137-70297592.jpgA pretty bowl of Cava

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20140710-194127-70887597.jpgFinally got Dad to take me for Indian even though he thinks it’s too hot outside for it

20140710-194325-71005823.jpgMy second annual lobster roll from Luke’s Lobster

20140710-194439-71079746.jpgMy momma getting festive for the Fourth with a watermelon caprese salad

Bethany beach and a bowl of belly

This past week I went to Bethany Beach in Delaware with my best friend Mary and her family. It’s a pretty steadfast tradition that I come along for a part of her family’s trip, and I love that they bring me. But, unlike when my family takes trips (with me at the foodie helm), food wasn’t the star player this week. Beach week with my friend and her family is about board games, fireworks, family bonding, and playful trips to play mingolf. In the insanely busy (and lovely) way they live their lives, this week is a true standout for them, as with many families. And there is a part of me that loves experiencing a different family’s perspective, and becoming, if only for a week, a real part of that family’s day to day happenings. I even loved making sandwiches and eggs at their beach house in lieu of anxiously Trip-Advisoring (a new verb) where my family will eat next. And is there anything as fun and relaxing as cooking in a beach kitchen with renters’ minimal kitchen ware (and without your junk)!?

But the other part of me was expectedly pleased when we did go out to eat at the beach. Both nights we went to restaurants belonging to SoDel Concepts, owned by Matt Haley, the James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Humanitarian of the Year. First was Northeast, a white-washed family-friendly place very reminiscent of, hey what do you know, the northeast. I took a gamble on the Moroccan Lobster roll (there were 4 types of lobster rolls to choose from!) and really liked it. While I can’t say what was exactly Moroccan about it in comparing the food I’ve had in Morocco with my lobster roll, it was great and was served in a curry mayo with caramelized pineapple and green onion. The second place we went to was called Papa Grande’s, and despite the generic name it was very good. Maybe I was more in love with the renovated garage-turned-surfer-Tex Mex shack then the actual food, but when I saw a pork belly rice bowl on the menu I was a happy girl. I think I’m more of a fan of bibimbap, but I will eat just about anything in a bowl with an egg on it. As to which is better, a pork belly rice bowl or a bowl of Mac and cheese eaten late at night with cheap wine and your best friend? That’s still up for debate.

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