City Paper is not for tourists
The weather was so warm on Saturday, really more summer than spring, that Carrie and I decided to wander the streets of Chinatown/Penn Quarter, going from lunch to dessert to cheese to beer to wherever the spirit took us.
I feel bad in retrospect. We didn’t explore Chinablock, the small strip of real estate that represents what’s left of D.C.’s historic Chinatown. Instead, we mostly stayed on the sidewalks outfitted with the kind of chain and Party Central businesses that attract the well-heeled and the high-heeled alike. I definitely didn’t earn any Jonathan Gold ethnic-eating bonus points on this outing, but aside from the guilt, we had a helluva time.
Take a look:
We did manage to avoid these chains in “Chinatown.”
But we did stop at another one, the London-based Ping Pong Dim Sum, for flowering tea and some shareable plates. The food, whether spicy chicken steamed in delicate folds of rice pastry or chopped prawns fried into little brown burial mounds, showed considerable improvement over my first visit weeks ago. The dumplings were not as gummy. The pork shu mai not as bland. The chicken puff not as sticky sweet. The turnaround was remarkable, as if a whole new team of cooks had taken up residence. More investigation is required.
Not food-related, but we were tickled by this scene in the alley, where folks renting Segways were getting driving lessons before attacking the streets (and the people walking them).
The Cowgirl Creamery was packed with cheese heads like us.
We picked up a pair of cheeses, including a block of Ouray from Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which produces this firm, slightly crumbly cheese with sweet buttery flavors.
We thought about experimenting with the chocolate wine available at the liquor store next to Cowgirl but couldn’t bring ourselves to taste what could very well be a desecration of two great products.
Animal activists were trying to shake some sense into the kids walking into the Verizon Center for a Ringling Bros. show. I suspect the Coke went down bitter after that.
One man had discovered the joys of fresh fruit in Chinatown. Don’t worry, I’m sure it won’t happen again.
A soccer match was competing with March Madness for a beer drinker’s attention at RFD. Or maybe I should say there was a soccer match on TV at RFD. I’m not sure anyone was watching it.
Carrie ordered a Floris Apple Ale, a crisp, slightly tart pour that combines unfermented apple juices with a classic Belgian white ale. It tastes more like apple juice than beer to me, but it goes down smooth on a warm day.
I also went the Belgian route with a glass of Duvel Green, an equally crisp golden ale that balances citrus with sweetness, with only a mild hoppiness. It’s a good thing RFD was charging $8-plus a bottle draft for the Green, because I could have drank these all afternoon.