Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Diva In Love

I haven't been blogging much because I've been wrapped up in an intense love affair. I'm surprised by the intensity because I didn't believe it could happen now after waiting so long and having been down these familiar roads before, so many, many times. But here it is, the greatest surprise of all, I've fallen in love with none other than my city, my home, Chocolate City, aka the District of Columbia.

I'll admit i needed to run away first to have this happen and like all great love affairs, I felt the need to resist. My sister always says everything is better with some drama! I whisked myself away to a foreign country for 3 years and by that i mean New York City where I tried to my best to forget about the D of C and to adopt an uber chic, Carrie Bradshaw persona. Unfortunately, I don't sleep with that many practical strangers nor do I weigh as much as a twinkie. Then when I came home I holed myself up in Arlington, convincing myself that I needed a break from city life and that this new "suburban-urban" city was a needed refuge.

Then April 6th happened.

My sis and our BFF met for brunch to plan yet another trip out of the country, this time to Italy. What says Diva, better than a trip to Italy?! The BFF being the crafty woman that she is booked a reservation at a miracle of a place on Capital Hill called Belga Cafe. I call this a miracle not because the food was particularly stunning or that I was blown away by any one dish or taste in particular but I say this because this is what I had hoped to see for DC since I left, this glimmer of bravery to go above and beyond the played out Mexican-fusion, the even more played out Asian fusion, and the uber boring sports bar fiascos that seem to be so loved around here.

Belga cafe introduces adventurous new dishes to the boring landscape that was the DC restaurant scene that I left only 4 years ago. My girls and I had a great time trying a few Belgian specialties and enjoying the decor and layout of the restaurant. Granted if Ms. Aretha Franklin herself were in the room wailing about her bridge being over troubled waters you wouldn't hear a note because of how loud it gets in there. However, you have to look at the bright side. By the end of your meal you will make friends with your neighbors. That’s what we did, sharing a few witty remarks with the Mr. Tall and Scruffy somebody next to us. What goes better with brunch then some sexy on the side? I digress.

The menu, I must say, is overwhelming with lots of Belgian yummies that settling on one entrée of deliciousness might be a difficult one. You got your sweet Belgian waffles, your savory Belgian waffles then all those mussel pots and don’t even get me started on the frites. Considering the potential for stuffing ourselves into a sad oblivion of elastic waisted jeans, I think my girls and I chose wisely. On our table on that day were the following: Belgian French toast, goat cheese and sundried tomato waffle and my mussels hoegaarden.

The bff’s French toast was crispy even after sitting on the plate for a good while, patiently waiting for me to taste it. The whipped cream was obviously freshly prepared and there was a sugary, crispness to the texture of the toast that was reminiciscent of a good crème brulee. In true European form, the portion was wayyyy small but perfect for the fact that we were all sharing dishes anyway. There’s a reason French woman don’t get fat!

My sis’s entrée defined YUM. Really though if you put goat cheese on anything, I’d be happy enough to blog about it. The texture of sweet doughy waffle, the tarteness of the cheese and the subtle hint of tomato was fantabulous. The salad on the side had one of the best dressings, I’ve tasted on a side salad ever. I could eat a plate of it and be perfectly happy but that’s only if I knew there was nothing else on the menu.

There are tons of pictures of my entrée because I thought it was just so beautiful. It was hard to choose just one. The shiny opaque black shells of the mussels and the bright, yellow fried goodness of the frites were in my opinion, at that moment, perfection. I’ll have to admit, I chose because of the name. I just wanted to be able to blog about eating something called a hoegaarden. It turns out that hoegaarden is the type of beer the mussels are cooked in. The genius chefs at Belga threw in celery and bacon and I’m sure a stick of butter the size of a small Belgian grandmother and the result was deliciousness in a pot! The dish itself was so rich that I barely touched the Belgian mayo that come along with the frites.

At the end of the sinfulness that was our main course, we moved on to dessert which in my book is a necessity. The Cafe Liegeois spoke to us in a language we couldn't understand and like all things foreign and expensive we were drawn to it. We ordered in our best Belgian accents and in minutes the piece of art you see above arrived at our table. The fluffy white disk with the grape is a vanilla infused homemade whipped cream, the scoops of ice cream were espresso and chai flavored, the first dark brown layer an interesting thing known as "La Chouffe" aka coffee liquor jelly and the final, and most divine layer, the creme brulee. The dessert was beautiful but had mixed reviews. The BFF didn't care so much for the coffee liquor jelly and decided to eat around the offensive stuff but I loved every flavor so much that when my girlies ditched the last few bites, I for sure picked up that little cup and went to town. In other words, I thought it was particularly delicious!

While we had in depth discussions about what we would wear to see the Pope and the pros and cons of Kate Spade backpacks on our hike to Cinque Terra, I sat back for a moment and had a little tete a tete with myself. I’m such a loser for thinking that DC couldn’t turn into one of the best loves of my life. It's like that person who’s been your best friend for so long that you can’t imagine seeing them in any other way and then wham, you share a beer one day and hello, you're totally one of those stories you hear about from your girlfriends.

Since the brunch at Belga, I’ve taken to crossing over the Key Bridge at least twice a week to venture into the D of C , rediscovering Eastern Market, and traipsing around the city to listen to some great live music at hole in the wall bars that I snubbed before I left NYC. ( Who else saw The Chief Joseph Band at Wonderland Ballroom this week? )

Each time, I have to take a big giant breath of thanks for the now and this love affair that I hope will last a very long time.....or, let's be honest, at least until someone hotter comes along.

1 comment:

Joyce said...

love it! belga was warm up.