Charleston Eating Tour, Spring 2014

I didn't do any planning for my five-day trip to Charleston with friends. I just showed up at the airport, and let our friend who was born and raised in Charleston show us around. Actually, I take it back. That was a plan and the best plan I could've made. I didn't take as many photos as I could've but, here's what we got up to!

Hominy Grill Brunch, Charleston Nasty Biscuit = demolished

Hominy Grill Brunch, Charleston Nasty Biscuit = demolished

Hominy Grill bloody mary is a must.

Hominy Grill bloody mary is a must.

Gigantic bowl of kale at Bull Street Gourmet Market. Yuppies wished it, and it was so.

Gigantic bowl of kale at Bull Street Gourmet Market. Yuppies wished it, and it was so.

Cocktail dotted with little gelatin pearls, just waiting to be sucked up the metal straw. I really want metal straws for my kitchen, for no discernible reason. And check out the mirror on the table.

Cocktail dotted with little gelatin pearls, just waiting to be sucked up the metal straw. I really want metal straws for my kitchen, for no discernible reason. And check out the mirror on the table.

Dinner in the gorgeous private dining room at McCrady's Restaurant. Four courses for $65 feels like a bargain here, the duck was easily the best I've ever tried. I was insanely spoiled, because the next night we went out at FIG. Nine vegetable salad is where it's at! We also got a cocktail at the very cozy bar at Husk. See? Spoiled!

While I was eating carefully-sourced, expertly prepared meals from critically acclaimed restaurants, I checked in to see what Joe as eating for dinner. "Wyngz," he texted back. That's right, wings with a Y and a Z. I think they are legally required to be spelled that way, as they are a "chicken food product". In fact, they includes the proviso: "does not contain wing meat." 

The library ladder at Edmund's Oast 

The library ladder at Edmund's Oast 

Edmund's Oast brewpub was more casual, but just as great. It's located in a giant hall with a vaulted ceiling and meat hanging from the ceiling, sort of like a hipster Medieval Times. 

The Japanese cabbage pancake is the stuff dreams are made of.

The Japanese cabbage pancake is the stuff dreams are made of.

Asian-Southern fusion sounds a little terrifying, but Xiao Bao Biscuit is delicious. The decor is perfectly undone, and this might be the first place I'd go if I went back.

Best cat EVER!!!

Best cat EVER!!!

Besides the food, one of the highlights of my trip was meeting this cat. I want one!!! It's my friend's friend's cat and it is mesmerizing. I screamed when I saw it. "What the hell is that?" This is a flattering photo, because you can't tell that the kitty is a little chubby. I thought, wow, that's what my fat cat looked like without her fur. Weird! I did some reading and Sphynx Cats are supposed to have a pot belly, it's part of the breed standard. Even weirder!

P1070953.jpg

Animal interlude! Look at this turtle, being all cute.

We stayed in a friend's apartment in the best location ever, right on the main drag, King Street. So charming! For high-end shopping, Hampden is quite spectacular. I had never heard of Elle Sasson before browsing Hampden, and I wish I had places to go in her whimsical-meets-tropical designs.

I brought my running clothes and went for a jog one afternoon. I didn't want to bring my cellphone, so I went with just a key. But there was a key code you had to enter to get into the apartment, so as I ran, I repeated the string of numbers. 5-3-8-9, I chanted in my head. 5-3-8-9, 5-3-8-9. But as I rounded the corner to our block, things started to go awry. 5-3-9-8. 5-8-3-9. Or was it 9-8-5-3? I had no idea. And no phone to call any of my friends, and no options really. Vacation panic! Amazingly, someone opened the door and let me in after 15 minutes. I never saw anyone in that small apartment building before or after that.

Here are some photos from Farm Bar, a Kinfolk-ready coffee bar and restaurant in a trailer near the train tracks. The Reston-born owner actually did host Kinfolk for a dinner at her farm!

My travel companions looking like rockstars!

My travel companions looking like rockstars!

Sums up our Charleston trip!

Goodbye, Pulp! You Will Be Missed!

I went to interview the manager of Pulp about the store's very sad closing, and then went on a bit of a card-buying bender. 

pulp-merch-dc.jpg

Employees told me other people had bought more. What can I say? I love cards and this was my last chance at Pulp and everything was 40% off. They always had the coolest assortment, and the best window-shopping experience too. It's a shop that seemed very cosmopolitan to me when I first moved to D.C., after growing up as a NOVA suburban kid. This is what city shopping is supposed to be like, I thought. This is it. 

Now I need to be ok with putting these cards in the mail and letting them go. Life is change, and Meryl from Pulp had a good outlook on it: "It's ok that it comes to an end. It's difficult and it's sad and you kind of wish it didn't have to be that way, but it does."

Tunes Tuesday, "Nightlight," Dungeonesse

Once again, I love end-of-the-year lists. I read that the singer from Wye Oak had a quasi-R&B side project and I thought this is something I need to listen to now. 

This one is on repeat. The background is pure 80s, but her vocals give it some gravitas, don't you think? There's a wistfulness to this track that stops it from totally floating away.

The Gosh Gee Golly Bests of The Year

Best-of-the-year list time is my favorite time of year, so if only for posterity, I am writing one for my own blog. Here it is: 

Book: I couldn't put down Detroit: An American Autopsy. You'll shake your head in disbelief just about every page. Charlie LeDuff doesn't pull any punches, even when he's writing about his own disfunction. What will happen to Detroit? How will this story end? I also was surprised that Bourdain pretty much rehashed the book in his Detroit Parts Unknown episode, but at least LeDuff was along for the ride.

Honorable mentions:  The Interestings, The Light Between Oceans, David and Goliath, Beautiful Ruins

Music: I felt kind of behind on new music this year, so I am going with what I know. Sorry haters, Vampire Weekend is a crowd-pleaser for a reason. Their latest, Modern Vampires of the City, seemed heart-felt. I played "Step" about a million time, but that's not my favorite moment. That has to be the spoken word lyrics on "Finger Back" that goes: "Should she have averted her eyes and just stared at the laminated poster of the Dome of the Rock?" This is just the best for some reason I can not articulate.

Honorable mentions: Tegan & Sara's Hearthrob, Lord Huron's Lonesome Dreams, Thao & The Getdown Staydown's We The Common, Jessie Ware's Devotion and for single, Wale's Bad, not the Rihanna version.

Concert: This is cheating, but Coachella. I can't believe we went. I wrote here about all of our adventures, including falling in love with Father John Misty and nearly getting squished by a giant snail.

Politicians: Our leaders continued to let us down this year at nearly every turn, so I am turning to Canada for some dark comic relief. Put aside Rob Ford's crack scandal for a moment, and let's just focus on his pratfalls. Running into a camera, inexplicably collapsing when attempting to throw a football, dropping candy just out of reach of children at a parade — here's one person who actually does need a reality show.  

Blog: The Racked.com universe!

Fashion: I like that the Topshop section at Nordstrom Pentagon City exists, that the Brooklyn Flea made it to Washington, and I thought that Thread at Union Market was ambitious, lovely, and unlike anything in D.C. 

Personal: I left Mount Pleasant and moved in with Joe to a groovy little (emphasis on little) apartment on H Street. I loved living in Mount Pleasant with the best roommate ever, but I was excited for Joe and I to start a home together. I counted down the months from January until July. We fell in love with our place and the neighborhood, from Hunted House to Boundary Road.

After three years and some change of growing my hair out, I pulled a Miley and chopped it all off. I think my hair likes being short. Don't know if the world likes it, but who cares.

I took barre classes and yoga classes and tennis classes and quit my gym.

I've challenged 10 bartenders in D.C. to make cocktails on the spot with crazy ingredients like quail eggs, Four Loko, and marmite for my WCP column Remixology (!) and I've been so amazed at the results from these creative folks. So impressive and unflappable.

I still need to pinch myself about Racked DC, I can't believe it. It's been amazing and I can't wait to hit the ground running in 2014. I made some tough decisions over the past two years, knuckled down and did work, got some very lucky breaks, and help from folks around me, and maybe that's the secret, huh? Just stick around and keep plugging away.