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Xmas 2013

Christmas  has come and passed, it is really hard to believe how quickly it does that each and every year.  And this year it hardly even felt like it happened.  Bryan and I spent our week in the suburbs of D.C. with his immediate family, with a two day reprieve into Baltimore to visit his friend from high school, Justin and his wife Stacey.  I’ll fill you in:

Burke, VA

Six tired and irritated adults, two screaming and energetic babies, and a Christmas tree that smokes when the lights are on (sung to music).  All I can say is our hosts in Virginia had their hands full.  Their son Josh was cute and well-behaved, just a ball full of three-year old energy.  Their adorable daughter Gianna was teething and on medications she disagreed with.  Our first day we tried to socialize while weaning off the effects of taking NyQuil to sleep through our flights out east.  Christmas Eve was nice taking a drive through Bull Run to see their light show and then heading back to have their family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner of spaghetti and meatballs.  Lori, marrying into an Italian family, does her marinara and meatballs right and I really enjoyed the meal.  We had a homemade apple pie and cranberry pie for dessert before getting ready for Santa.

Christmas morning started early with an 8:45 am mass.  We hurried back to open presents and eat cinnamon rolls.  Little Joshie had more presents than I have ever seen a person receive.  Too much.  I also got too much in my opinion.  I received a basket of various specialty salts, coconut sugar, and cooking utensils, a gift card to Bed, Bath, and Beyond for a new good knife, a Michigan zip-up hoodie, fuzzy socks (exactly like Grandma got me), and a shared gift card for dinner out with the boy in Seattle and a very cool picnic backpack, complete with wine bottle and picnic blanket.  This was after I already received awesome presents from my own family; a super cute ski bag, book light, my stocking, a cooking thermometer, two new cookbooks, a yoga blanket, a damask tablecloth, beautiful ornament, cooking flower lid, and Christmas cookies.  I was a lucky girl.  Oh, and Bryan surprised me with beautiful fancy earrings he picked out for me from Nordstrom.  Christmas dinner was a full feast.  After snacking all day we finally settled into a 17 lb prime rib roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli casserole, green beans, corn casserole, AND lasagna.  Lasagna went untouched for the night.  We had Bryan’s favorite grasshopper pie and Jesus’ birthday cake of angel food cake with chocolate frosting.

Thursday was a great day spent away from the house.  Bryan and I headed into D.C. to spend our afternoon at the Capitol Mall.  We had weather near 50 with sunshine and walked a good deal.  We explored the botanical gardens, the National Archives, and the National Gallery, saw the capitol, the white house, the Washington memorial, and my favorite, the Lincoln memorial.  It was my favorite until we went to the Air and Space Museum as our last spot and the little kid in Bryan came out.  I was actually pretty fascinated by that.  We drove back to get all dressed up for our nice dinner out with Bryan’s sister and brother-in-law (their Christmas gift to each other…and their first double date together ever).  We went to L’Auberge Chez Francois, which is a little French chateau in the Virginia countryside.  We had a great and lengthy dinner with those two and really enjoyed their conversation and the meal.  It is naturally a six-course event where you get to pick your appetizer, entree, and dessert.  They brought us out great bread and butter, then an amuse buche of split pea soup, then our entrees (I chose the seafood Bouillabaiise), then an apple cider sorbet as a palette cleanser, then the house salads, then our entrees (I chose the rack of lamb with potatoes and vegetables), and finally our desserts (I chose the chocolate souffle…we all ordered the souffles and no complaints one bit).  I was uncomfortably stuffed but with a $250 price tag per couple I was not going to waste the food.

Amuse bouche.
Amuse bouche.
Simple green salad.
Simple green salad.
My medium rare rack of lamb.
My medium rare rack of lamb.
Bryan's poached lobster.
Bryan’s poached lobster.
Chocolate souffle win.
Chocolate souffle win.

Baltimore, MD

Friday morning was uneventful.  I was eager to get a break from the family and Bryan’s parents drove us to Union Station in D.C. to hop on the MARC train to Penn Station in Baltimore.  After an hour ride, we were greeted by Justin who picked us up and took us to his Inner Harbor condo.  It had ALL the amenities; doorman, coffee in the lobby, billiards room, gym, pool, sauna, movie theater room, boardroom, garden, and patio.  They have 2100 sq-ft, a huge kitchen, and we got our own bedroom with our own large private bath.  We had wine and cheese before heading to their neighborhood, Federal Hill, to a Mexican restaurant called Blue Agave.  Justin and I shared a very good plate of steak fajitas, and the chips and margaritas were really delicious.  We were already feeling more relaxed.

Saturday morning we all went down to their gym to do our own little workout.  Came back, showered, cooked breakfast of omelettes and turkey bacon before setting out for the water taxi.  We took the water taxi to another neighborhood called Fell’s Point.  It was a perfect sunny day.  We explored a few shops before heading to Vino, a wine shop.  We spent a few hours there buying two bottles of wine to drink while playing first Candyland and then Scrabble.  We water taxied back to their condo to continue the wine and cheese with a few of their friends that live in the building.  We had reservations at a place called Brewer’s Art.  There we had a great meal, I chose their scallops over pureed lentils, sauteed spinach, and cinnamon vinaigrette.  It was a great scallop dish.  We headed back just in time to catch the UM bowl game in their movie theater room.  Great seats, awful game.

Seared scallops, pureed lentils, sauteed spinach, cinnamon vinaigrette.
Seared scallops, pureed lentils, sauteed spinach, cinnamon vinaigrette.

Sunday morning was a lazy morning.  We headed to brunch at a place called Annabelle Lee, based off of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem.  It was fantastic.  I ordered the crab cake plate.  The crab in Baltimore is different than the kind we get in Seattle.  The crab cake was softball sized and no filler.  Served with salad and asparagus and some of Bryan’s heavenly sweet potato fries I was happy.  They drove us back to Virginia for our last night out east.  We went to an Italian restaurant, called Villa Bella, with the whole family.  After so much heavy eating I settled on a fruit and chicken salad and some of the table’s calamari, though their pizzas and calzones did look very good.

One HUGE crab cake!
One HUGE crab cake!

Bryan and I woke up at 12:45 am PST this morning to start our long journey back.  I got to work 12 hours later.  UT and Tech games tonight.  Feels so good to be back!

Chelsea

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