Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Home Sweet Home

After some goodbyes in NYC, I went home to Washington.

Good byes should always be made with good food and farewells should always be made with decent fare.

Two weeks ago, I went to dinner with dear friends at Niko's Mediterranean Restaurant on the Upper West Side off Broadway.

Grilled Halloumi (a fresh Cypriot cheese) presented in the nicest way I've seen yet


A week ago, I went to dinner with a friend I'd made at the dentist's office when I worked there. We've met up quite a few times since then and really ought to become critics because we photograph and savor everything we eat on our foodcentric outings.

We met at Cafe Centro, an art deco gem inside the Met Life building which is on Park Avenue behind Grand Central Station. It was Restaurant Week in NYC (as it is this week in DC), so we went with their set menus.

I chose a
frise salad with toasted pecans, slices of honey roasted pear, and mini gorgonzola fritters. I was so hungry, I forgot to take a photo, sorry. We each had a glass of white wine, mine being a California pinot grigio.

This was followed by:

Long Island duck breast (medium rare) on a bed of spinach, with cranberries and a vincotto (wine reduction), and a mini pureed chestnut flan

Dessert was a
chocolate almond financier in a butterscotch sauce topped with brandied whipped cream and a rolled chocolate stick

On the subway afterwards, the two of us decided to meet again on Friday afternoon for the long-promised 3-course dessert at Chikalicious in the East Village. It was VERY windy and freezing cold, but I had essentially finished my packing and I could not leave NYC without undertaking this project:

We ordered the cocktail of the day, which was
sparkling white wine with a frozen cube of raspberry juice with a raspberry in the middle - so as it melts, the wine turns pink

My main course was
hot chocolate soup and banana ice cream with freshly chopped banana, topped by a cocoa bean crispy wafer

The final course was a little plate of teensy weensy
petit fours

Then we went across the street to their bakery and I picked up a couple of their most perfect cupcakes.



The morning mail included a gorgeous handmade card from Nikki and Roomie, which I packed in my hand luggage and have now set on my little dresser. Thanks, girls :)

I can't believe it took only two days for that card to travel nearly 2500 miles!

The moving guys started after 9.30 and left at 11.00 am for their 4-hour drive south. Chris came by for moral support and to help roomie and me eat breakfast. It was past 1pm when I reached Manhattan and found Penn Station after wandering west from 34th St-Herald Square (having taken a taxi last time, I didn't know it was right underneath Madison Square Garden).

All panic stations when I missed the 1pm train, the next two were sold out, and I couldn't get a train out of NY until 3pm - two hours are precious when you are following a moving van! I called them and they were already in Maryland - not far to go. I called the office and they said they'd send them on their secondary delivery so as to buy me time. I called landlady and she said if I wasn't there by then, she could write them a check, and that everything would be alright and that I mustn't forget to breathe.

I got on the Acela Express, you know, the tilting bullet train. It was nice, but as regards comfort, not really that different from the slower and slightly less spacious Northeast Regional. It was, however, fast enough that I couldn't think about everything outside the window, so I fell asleep for a much-needed nap.


Arrival at Union Station nearly 6pm. As I left the gate I smiled and said, "I'm home."
No way the guys would still be at the house, so I took my time and snapped some pics

The lovely embossed barrel vaults make this a very classical space, the cleanliness, potted plants, and mood lighting promote calm

Classical figures stand in every niche. One day I will find out who they all are.
I got into a taxi and once again carried on a lengthy conversation with the taxi driver. People here are very southern in their social skills.

Once home, my bed was assembled, my bags and boxes piled against the wall, and my hangers in the closet. I was up until the wee hours, putting things away like a little squirrel storing nuts for the winter.
Here is my bed after I made it and rehung the voile curtains. No need to shut the curtains now in order to shut out the room.

In fact, I woke up in the middle of the night and smiled. You know how usually when you're in a new place, you wake up and don't remember where the heck you are? Well, that didn't happen.

Yesterday I went out with the other upstairs tenant to Columbia Heights, an up and coming neighborhood with some excellent brand new stores. Between Target and Bed Bath and Beyond, I got a cute kettle and a great trash can.

Simplehuman are very cool. I like their slow close lids, because it is so annoying when lids shut suddenly in a blast of trash can air

And my elegant little Oster kettle which works fine so far

Same time, same place, stay tuned for more.


Jo said...

Yay Livvie! Glad you made it home!

Two of your foodie pictures aren't working! I want to see the duck breast, please!!!

Olivia said...

Jo - They're fine for me but I've relinked to the duck one, which is the other?

Anonymous said...

Man, fastest card I've ever sent!

I love the cozy feel of your bed - like a little comfort fort. Maybe your blog could be called Olivia's Notes from Home ;-) Glad you're feeling so settled already. Now a minor detail about a job....

michelle G said...

I am haapy you has a new home, keep us posted dearie

love and miss you


Selba said...

Welcome home, Livie :)

Enjoying every pic in this post.

Olivia said...

Nikki - I really can't think why it was so fast.

It occurred to me today as I was framing an image of a detail in my room that I will be able to take more photographs like you do in your home.

Now, as for the job - pray for me - it's so tight! I will recheck my resume tomorrow and send at least one out, as I still have errands to run in the day.


Michy - hey, thanks. You sound like a happy girl right now.


Selby - so glad you enjoy the pics. I am very hungry right now and would love to eat that duck breast for dinner.

The Moody Minstrel said...

And now the next chapter officially begins. Let loose the atmosphere!

pete said...

Hi Liv! Your new place looks really lovely, I'm glad you're all moved in; you sound really positive and happy about Washington. Nice to hear it :)

Flighty said...

I'm glad to see that you arrived okay and have already started to settle in!
I got a similar handmade card from the SoCal girls!
Put your new kettle on as it must be teatime! xx

CafeMark said...

Good to see you've made the move safely. We can't accuse you of not eating well! Take care - Cafe!

MJ said...

Wow! this is a megapost! =) I loved it! your bedroom looks fab! I am glad you are in your new place and that everything is going fine!

steve on the slow train said...

The Acela decisions were made when George Warrington was president of Amtrak--he who wasted so much on branding. The name is supposed to be an amalgam of of acceleration and excellence. Somebody found later that by adding one letter (ascela) you get the Italian word for armpit.

Anyhow, the tilt function of the train wasn't calibrated right, so it can't lean into the curves the way it should. Still, it's the best we've got in the U.S.

I think most of the statues in the interior of Washington Union Station are soldiers--probably Greek or Roman.

I'm glad the move went well, even though you had to pay a premium for Acela.

Olivia said...

Minstrel - my room is so large, it does have its own atmosphere!


Pete - thanks. I was walking home last night and I said, "God, please let me stay here forever, please?"


Flighty - it's always teatime in my world :)


CafeMark - mostly, yes. So far this week it's been frozen dinners as I've been too preoccupied to cook anything!


MJ - Thanks! Lately it seems I've been specializing in megaposts.


Steve - hahhaha, that did make me laugh about the Italian for armpit!

I remember when I signed up with Amtrak, etc, I read up on their trains and learned that the full tilting angles of the European style Acelas does not meet the Amtrak safety guidelines.

Virgin Trains in the UK also uses the high speed train. They call theirs the Pendolino and it's also a premium price. Unfortunately, they can't fully tilt there either.

It seems the rest of Europe with their newer transport systems and tracks, are the only ones really able to take advantage of the full speed and tilting.

I remember taking the TGV from Paris to Avignon, which took 4 hours to travel 350 miles. It took the Acela nearly 3 hours to travel 200 miles (though the stated time is usually 2.5 hrs)

Glo said...

Liv, it must feel just wonderful to settle in after all the packing, moving etc. ~ thanks for taking us along on the ride as well :) Now with your kettle at the ready, and your room all cozy, you can enjoy yourself! I look forward to more of your adventures!

michelle G said...

michelle is a happy gal

Um Naief said...

Home Sweet Home...

It's good to be home. :)

i love the kettle. wish they sold Oster here.

at least you handle stress well... i'm wondering if i would have been a basket case of some such! ;)

don't know if it's in this blog or another one, but *for sale* houses are nice. i think i like the 2nd one better...

i'm glad you're happy and feel good to be there. that makes all the difference.