Saturday, March 03, 2007

Washington DC Travelogue

My family traveled with me to Washington, DC. I planned the trip to align a work assignment with an important Smithsonian exhibit on the French & Indian War, sponsored by the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. The exhibit, called "The Clash of Empires," has traveled around the U.S. and Canada and is being dismantled at the end of March. The exhibits, housed at the Ripley Center, include George Washington's letter of surrender at Fort Necessity, Pennsylvania, in 1754; an original treaty with the Iroquois that included Indian signs (symbols, in lieu of signatures); period weapons; and a grand piece of art by our favorite artist, Robert Griffing (on loan from whomever bought his original oil).

The Hotel Monaco, where we're staying, is just 6 blocks from the National Mall. The hotel is great--was formerly the Tariff Building and the national post office where Samuel Morse--the guy who patented the telegraph and the code for sending telegraph messages--did much of his work. The rooms are small but have impossibly tall ceilings, modern bathrooms with subway tile and black granite countertops.

We had a great dinner at Legal Sea Foods. The premise-made rolls were tender inside, crusty outside, and just warm enough to melt butter. We started with lobster bisque. The server brought soup bowls to our table, empty except for seasoned chunks of lobster in the middle of the bowl. He then poured the hot bisque from small crocks on top of the lobster meat. Excellent and not too heavy/creamy.

My husband, who has a healthy appetite, surrendered like Washington at Necessity to a bowl of cioppino, seafood soup with a mountain of shrimp, calamari, mussels, and a lobster claw, and some toasted garlic bread on the side. I had crab cakes, with lump meat the size of garlic cloves, accompanied by sauteed (but not limp) greens dressed with dried cherries, apple slivers, and walnuts. We were more than sated, so we took dessert back to the hotel for a "nightcap": cheesecake with strawberry sauce for the man, and an individual key lime pie for me.

The trip was just a taste, but I think I could convince my family to come back again...and again.

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