Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A weekend away out east

Dave's cousin got married in New York this weekend, so I took a few days off and spent time with Dave in D.C. and in New York with his family.

Day 1: Downtown D.C.

I landed early Thursday morning at Reagan Airport and met Dave at the National Portrait Gallery.  I had never been there, and Dave had only been to the first floor.

Half of the museum is an art gallery, and half of it is a gallery of portraits of figures in American history.  

The second floor contains one of the more famous sections: the gallery of portraits of American presidents.  Usually the portraits are not the presidents' official versions, as you can see by this Chuck Close portrait of Bill Clinton at left.  

I didn't know that Mr. Close had done a portrait of Bill Clinton - I think it is fantastic, though.  I can never decide which I like better - his photorealistic paintings, or his pixellated paintings like this one.

We got lunch at the Shake Shack, which is delicious, of course.  I wonder how long until that chain comes to Chicago...

Day 2: Driving to New York

Most of Friday was spent in transit to New York and sight-seeing in New York City.  We drove up early, stopping in Baltimore for crab eggs Benedict at Blue Moon Cafe.  Delicious.

I held my own driving in New York City, through the Lincoln Tunnel, across Manhattan on 36th Street, and then through another tunnel onto Long Island.  I feel like I should earn some kind of badge for that!  After checking into the hotel, we doubled back (on the train, this time) toward NYC for dinner with some of Dave's family.

First, though, we stopped at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains some really amazing pieces that we missed the first time we visited NYC in 2011.

The temple room includes this real temple that was saved from a flooded region in Egypt and moved to New York as a gift to America.

It was so striking in that sun-filled room!  And the reliefs on the columns and walls were amazing to look at.  Dave particularly likes the graffiti left by English travelers.

We also didn't get to see the Frank Lloyd Wright room while we were there in 2011 - I don't know how we missed it either, as I love Frank!  It looks like it could have been plucked from Taliesin itself.

We also got to see some Vermeers, which Dave loves.  I think that we saw them last time, but Dave wasn't into Vermeer then like he is now.  My favorite was this one.  The felt fabric looks hyper-realistic in person, and her silver jewelry simply pops off of the canvas.  I also got to visit the many Manets in the exhibits, which made me very happy, as Manet is one of my favorite painters of all time.

Then we headed down to the Village for dinner at Babbo with Dave's parents and uncles.  Dave and I shared baguettes with tapenade-soaked chickpeas, sardines, a salumi and prosciutto platter, and pappardelle with wild boar!  My main course was duck with chickpeas and spaghetti squash, and his was rabbit.  I also got Mario Batali's famous olive oil cake and gelato, which definitely lived up to and probably exceeded my expectations.  The cake was full of bright flavors and rosemary.  Mmm.  Dave's dessert was an apple polenta thingie.

We probably exceeded our welcome at the table and were able to catch a train home with plenty of time to spare.  We continued catching up and sharing world views all the way home, and I'm sure everyone who sat in that car knows exactly what we all think on all subjects now.

Day 3: The Wedding

Saturday was, of course, the reason for the timing and location of the whole visit - the wedding of Dave's cousin, Kathryn.  He and Kathryn bonded when they were growing up as the introverted Mussers, and he had looked forward to her wedding for some time.  It was also neat for me to see the church where Dave's uncle - Kathryn's father - is a minister in Long Island.

The extended Musser clan subscribes to a very different spiritual tradition to Dave's immediate family, but I still feel we all came together very well to wish Kathryn well and to celebrate a joyous occasion for her.

We made a pit stop during the pause between the ceremony and the reception at Brickhouse Brewery, apparently Long Island's oldest craft brewery.

The beers I tried at Brickhouse were the Hurricane Kitty APA, Nitro Stout, Wonder Wheat, and the Aegis Biรจre de Garde.  My favorite was the Aegis - delicious and thick, it almost tasted like a hefeweizen instead of a Belgian wheat, which is probably why I liked it so much.

The reception was at a lovely country club, and we all ate until we were practically bursting.  Kathryn's favors were beautiful cards that featured photographs she took on her missions with orphans in Ecuador.  Painted doorways, street lamps, colorful clothing - all of the photos were so beautiful, I definitely need to order some more from her!

Day 4: Driving back to D.C.

Before we drove back to D.C., we did hit brunch at Mojave, a delightful little Mexican restaurant in Astoria.  I got huevos rancheros, Dave got chicken quesadillas.  My margarita was very nice, also!  Astoria was like sensory overload; I wouldn't mind going back to hit up some Greek diners, also.

The drive back was uneventful - this time Dave got to negotiate the streets and tunnels of Manhattan.  He was really tempted to go back to the Met, but we decided maybe we'd do a NYC trip by train in the fall.

Day 5: Heading back to Chicago

We spent a relaxing day together in Dave's Silver Spring apartment on Monday, mostly watching Doctor Who, playing video games, etc.  We did take a trek out to his local liquor store for a delightful tasting of O'Hara Irish Red, a smooth and delicious beer made by an Irish microbrewery.  We also got to try Burgerfi, a "healthy" burger place in his neighborhood where he had never been before.

Luckily I missed the snow storm and was able to make an on-time departure, but there had been a few inches of snow in D.C. that day and quite a few cancellations in the morning, so I felt very lucky.

Speaking of feeling very lucky, I also wrote a brief little poem to commemorate my visit with my husband, and how much better I feel having seen him after almost five weeks away.

The feel of his kiss is still on my lips,
The dirt of his street is still on my shoes.
He bought me toffee, crunchy and sweet -
A taste in my mouth I don't want to lose.

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