Long Overdue Update! We’re Moving!

I’m still here! I’m alive!

We’ve had a lot happen in a short amount of time so our lives have been a little crazy. Well, The first couple weeks of silence were lack of inspiration (with life in general) and the back half of the silence has been because WE’RE MOVING! Not far, just from Old Town over to Del Ray. But it was not expected or planned, so the past month has been pretty insane. Our landlord informed us that she needed to move back into her condo and that we would need to find another place. She gave us just under 60 days. We hopped right to it and actually found the place we’re moving to, about 3 days later. We had that lease signed in less than 2 weeks. It’s pretty amazing what the anxiety of possibly not having a home will do for your productivity! And actually really heartening how supportive our friends have been. Thanks to everyone who has checked in on us and who have offered to help us move next weekend. Our lives look like this now.

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We looked all over Old Town (our second choice was on Prince St. right smack dab in the middle of Old Town. The deal-breaker there was street parking) and Del Ray. We looked at a complex off of Columbia Pike (Penrose) in Arlington where some of our close friends live. We looked at 4 other units in our current community. We flirted with the idea of sharing an amazing house in Bloomingdale with another couple (Neither of us ever got a response to our response to the Craigslist ad). We thought about moving into the District, but didn’t see anything that was workable with two cats in our price range. Also, because the move was so unexpected, we sort of wanted to minimize our life upheaval.

We found a HUGE two bedroom condo in another garden-style development in Del Ray that was juuuust over our max budget. We decided that increasing our living space by ONE THIRD would be worth it though. Especially now that we have 2 kitties. We’re also giving up having an in-unit washer and dryer and dishwasher, but a two bedroom walking distance from delicious margaritas at Los Tios? SOLD! We can buy a portable dishwasher if that’s too terrible. And well, we’ll deal with the laundry. I can blog from the laundry room! I’m sure it will be a challenge, but we both saw ourselves living in that apartment. The lady was ready to move in as soon as she walked into it. I’m excited to have a guest room and space to entertain. Maybe dinner parties will become a new blog feature?

We’ve frequented Del Ray the whole time we’ve lived in Old Town, but I’m excited to live there and be part of that community. I even already found a community garden that I’m interested in joining next spring. I like the smaller-town feel of Del Ray. It’s less touristy and more neighborhoody than Old Town. Check out this timely article WaPo published today about the neighborhood!

The increase in rent and moving expenses are sucking up quite a bit of our fun money. It’s ok though! My mom put it best when she said that if going out was more rare, it would be more enjoyable when it does happen. And she was so right. Going out had started to feel like a chore (I know, crazy right?) just so I had content for the blog. It’s been nice to slow down and enjoy ourselves.

So, that’s been life in my corner for the past couple of months. I hope to be posting more regularly again after we get through schlepping our stuff two miles north and slightly west. Catch you all soon!

Pork Barrel BBQ (Del Ray)

I decided to take last Friday off from work after having a couple of really long work weeks. I had all sorts of grand plans to take a bike ride and do things outdoors, but the weather gods had other plans and decided this would be perfect timing for a nice huge spring storm. It did clear up later in the day, but at that point, I realized that the lady had accidentally taken the key for the storage unit with her to work. That’s ok, I found plenty of other things to do to occupy my time.

At some point in the day, I started getting a ridiculous hankering for BBQ (chicken and potato salad in particular). I’ll blame it on all the summery thoughts brought on by visiting Nicecream Factory earlier in the day. I did some internet research and laid out all the BBQ options in the metro area. Since I was off from work, I was already in Alexandria, so Pork Barrel BBQ came up the obvious answer. When the lady got home from work we headed over to Del Ray.

When we walked into the restaurant, I was surprised at how… nice? it was. I’m not sure why, but I think I just assumed since it was a fast casual place, the finishings wouldn’t be so nice. Lots of stone and wood. There was also a full sized bar that ran the full length of one side of the restaurant. We decided to saddle up at the bar and take advantage of their happy hour specials.

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We started with a couple of $2 “Old School Cans.” They had a selection of about 6 different beers. Craft cans were $4. You really can’t beat that. We went with cheap beer because I was craving a Miller Lite (sometimes that just happens), but they have a pretty decent beer selection.

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Since they were also on special, we decided we’d start with an appetizer of nachos.

 

The cheese sauce on the nachos was a little strange. It sort of tasted like it had been mixed from a powder. But everything else about them was delicious! And whoever came up with the idea to put slaw on BBQ nachos is a genius.

Since the nachos were pretty sizable, we decided just to share on entree. We went with the Build A Platter Combo with beef brisket, ribs, potato salad, and baked beans. It also came with a piece of cornbread.

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It was actually a pretty absurd amount of food. And despite how delicious it all was, we could only finish about half of it between the two of us. The brisket was super tender and the ribs really flavorful, and huge! The potato salad hit the spot and added a nice cool element to the meal. The baked beans were delicious, nice and sweet. The other bonus was the 3 types of BBQ sauce on the bar in front of us. They had a NC vinegar style, a memphis vinegar style, and a classic sweeter BBQ. I like being able to choose, and take different bites with different sauces.

The food was great, the atmosphere really nice, and the server/ bartender was pretty fantastic. I can’t believe it took us so long to eat there. I’m pretty excited to go back.

  • Favorite thing I had: Everything was good, and it was exactly what I wanted. My fave was probably the baked beans. And the NC and Memphis-styled BBQ sauces.
  • Favorite thing she had:  The potato salad
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The pulled pork! Well, we had it on the nachoes, but next time I’m craving a pulled pork sandwich, that’s it. the sausage also sounded good
  • What makes this place stand out: I wasn’t expecting such a nice, huge, fully stocked bar in a fast casual setting. This could double as a neighborhood bar! All that was missing was a cocktail menu. OH! I almost forgot! Since they’re connected, you can also order from Holy Cow’s menu from the bar there. Burgers or BBQ, take your pick!
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Probably monthly in the lunch/ dinner rotation. It’s a good, affordable option.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Dairy Godmother would be our usual destination.

Holy Cow (Del Ray)

A couple weekends ago, the lady and I were trying to decide on a good, cheap lunch option close to home. I was torn between sushi or burgers. Two very different things, I know. I settled on burgers and chose Holy Cow in Del Ray, since we hadn’t been there in several months. And the name makes me giggle.

It was pretty busy with tons of families. I had been hoping it wouldn’t be so hopping since it was a bit after lunch, but alas. There was not a long line to order, so that was nice. There are several options. They have a menu with several burger recipes and also the ability to craft your own with several meat options besides just beef. I decided to craft my own and I settled on a regular burger, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, BBQ sauce, and blue cheese. (I did this because most their burgers lack the veggies, and I prefer to balance it out) The lady also went make her own regular burger with the veggies and swiss cheese. We decided to split the smallest order of regular fries.

 

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It did take a while to get our burgers (they give you a playing card to take to a table and bring you your food). So we’re lucky I even have a pic of it, because I was SO HUNGRY. The order of fries was a wee bit small to split, but we made do. And the burgers were delightful. The meat was juicy, and the bun was just the perfect size and thickness for the burger. I sort of want to drop everything and go have one now.

  • Favorite thing I had: Well, my burger. Blue cheese and BBQ sauce were a good combo.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I feel like I should give their turkey burger a try. They also have really interesting burger of the week, combinations. A milkshake!
  • What makes this place stand out: The fact that they donate 25 cents per burger to local charities is awesome! You choose the charity from a huge list, tell them the number, and it’s done.  It also sits beside it’s sister restaurant, Pork Barrel BBQ and has some nice outdoor seating at picnic tables.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): It will be in the weekend lunch rotation.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): We checked out Happy Tart, gluten-free bakery just across the street. Neither of us are gluten free, but the treats were pretty tasty anyway.

Planet Wine Shop (Del Ray)

Planet Wine is connected to Evening Star and also owned by Neighborhood Restaurant Group (who continue to prove to me that they can do no wrong). I figured that while we were in the area, post No. 9 Lounge, we should pop in to look around. I had been here before and knew they had a pretty good beer selection. I was hoping to find a fave or two to take home for later. As soon as I laid eyes on the giant shelf dedicated to beer in the middle of the shop, I took quick notice that they had quite a few VA Breweries represented. I got excited! There are several breweries in central and southwestern VA that I love that I hadn’t been able to find close to home yet. I first noticed that they had a Wild Wolf brew and went on the search for Blonde Hunny Ale. I discovered this one on my last trip to Roanoke and had only found it as far north as Harrisonburg. Of course they had it. Now I was sold on making a purchase. I grabbed a carrier and we were off to the races to fill it with a few more.

Then, as if the clouds parted and god said “Happy Birthday” to me especially, the lady pointed to a beer. I blinked and focused on it. Right there on that shelf sat one of my very favorite beers. One that has a special place in my heart because it’s brewed in my hometown by the brewery that inspired my dad to start home brewing. The beer that started my journey into learning about and enjoying craft beer. Right in front of my face Parkway Brewing Co’s Bridge Builder Blonde. My hometown has finally come to my new home. I’m pretty sure I squealed with excitement and snatched it off the shelf as quick as I could. The lady grabbed a couple others (Dogfishhead’s Namaste and Duclaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus) and we were on our way. I chatted up the guy at the register about when they got Parkway and told him about how excited I was about it. The lady said he seemed taken aback by my enthusiasm and excitement. Oopsie. It’s the little things in life.

  • Favorite thing I found: Duh. Bridge Builder Blonde by Parkway Brewing
  • Favorite thing she found: Sweet Baby Jesus by DuClaw Brewery. Not too hard to find here, but always fun to see.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Let’s be real, I’ll be back next week. Anytime I have a hankering for any local or VA beer. Anytime I needed expert help to pick out wine. I really should check out the wine next time…
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Home, so you can enjoy what you just bought. Or anywhere in Del Ray, like St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub.

 

 

This entry submitted to Friday Favorites: http://virginiabloggers.com/2014/03/28/friday-favorites-3/

No. 9 Lounge at Evening Star Cafe (Del Ray)

No. 9 Lounge

 I will spend this week reviewing all the places I went for my birthday this past weekend. I started the celebrating a few days early this year. (What? I’m an Aries)

After particularly difficult days at work for both the lady and me, I thought it might be nice for us to go grab a drink nearby. (After we both hit the gym and ate leftovers at home, because that’s how we roll). We’ve been to Evening Star a few times in the past 6 years, but No. 9 Lounge caught my eye a couple of weeks ago and has been on my short list ever since. I figured that it would be the perfect place to start my birthday weekend early, so off we went. The entrance to No. 9 is on the side of the Evening Star building. We went in, walked past The Majestic Lounge downstairs, up the steps, and into No. 9. We grabbed the last 2 (very plush and comfortable) seats left at the small bar. There was a band setting up to play in the back corner and a pool table, shuffle board, and sizable TV in the opposite corner. Couches around the edges of the room and a big communal table on the middle. This is definitely a neighborhood bar. As per Neighborhood Restaurant Group standard, they had quite an impressive draft list, a good bottle selection, and from what I could tell, a decent wine selection (wine is my weak spot, don’t know much about it except that I like it).

We went straight for the cocktails list, which initially excited us. All of the drinks sounded interesting and we gravitated towards a couple in particular but took a minute or two to settle. She went for the Rye Sparkler. Rye, cava, chocolate bitters, and vanilla syrup. It was served in a champagne flute with a cherry and sugar cube at the bottom. I went with The Good Herb. Rum, lavender syrup, lemon juice, burlesque bitters. They were both good! Hers got a little bit too sweet as she continued drinking and there was something about the lavender syrup that gave mine an odd aftertaste. Mine got a little better as it warmed up, surprisingly. They were not drinks we could come back and order time and time again, but we both appreciated the creativity. In general, the ingredients were in the wheelhouse of what we like. We’ll be back to try the other cocktails. Or to drink beer. I do love beer.

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  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The Arcadian. Gin, honey syrup, arcadian rosemary
  • Most interesting thing she wants to try next time: The Smoked Old Fashioned. House-smoked Maker’s!
  • What makes this place stand out: The set up for live music. It’s not something I would expect as part of a place like Evening Star. We didn’t stick around for the music this time, but maybe something to check out in the future.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Next time I want a fancy-ish cocktail close to home.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Ahh, anywhere in Del Ray. I’d go next door to Planet Wine (retail wine and beer) and then down the street to Dairy Godmother.