An ode to DC

While I was studying abroad in Amman, Jordan, I planned a solo excursion to Thailand and Cambodia for three weeks after the semester was over. I may have been a bit naive about the idea, but family and friends bombarded me with requests to keep them constantly updated on my whereabouts and safety. My solution? A facebook group called “Where on Earth is Kirstin now?” Curious folks could read my updates and know that I wasn’t kidnapped, or anything horrible like that.

Once I got back to the states, the group pretty much lost its purpose. I could easily be located in class, in my dorm, or somewhere near the Foggy Bottom region. After this week, I’m thinking about starting up that group again…

So, Kirstin, where on Earth are you now?

A sudden turn of events got me out of Columbus, GA Thursday night. There I was, sitting on my scratchy, military-issued green wool blanket, emailing with various coworkers in various locations. Around 4:30 I get a message that asks if I could make a 6:25 flight…

you bet!! No thunderstorm was going to keep me from speeding (…just kidding, there was too much traffic to speed). Two flights later I was back in my beloved DC apartment. Even better? Unlimited access to my very own kitchen. I had already started a mental list of all the dishes I’m going to whip up while I’m back. Homemade pasta? Bagels? Croissants?

I know! I’m totally obsessed, just wait until I post the pictures!

Now, I didn’t just lock myself up and bake all weekend (close but not quite). I dug through my closet for a sweater and took a stroll through my usual neighborhoods, toting along my camera (packing my Rebel was the best decision I made this week!), taking pictures and appreciating all of the little things that I’ve longed for while away.

On this particular Saturday, I was searching for the Dupont Circle farmer’s market…but somehow I didn’t find it. I don’t know if it’s already closed for the season, if it was already closed for the day, or I was searching in the wrong place…I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit directionally-challenged.

Instead, I just strolled along, browsed a vintage shop, and stopped into Teaism (inconveniently located next to a Starbucks?) for an afternoon tea. Feeling particularly deserving of an extravegent treat, I dropped $8 on a bar of “haut chocolate” from a counter display; Vosges’ Naga Bar with sweet Indian curry and coconut flakes.

There’s a lengthy story on the back of the box about the inspiration for this flavor combination, and instructions on how to fully immerse your senses with the exotic candy bar. Unfortunately, I’m too impatient to let the chocolate completely melt in my mouth (as instructed), but sitting next to the window, with sun streaming over my hand, it’s almost as if I really intended to let the piece slowly get soft, releasing its essence of curry and coconut. Obviously, they wouldn’t sell a candy bar that tasted like something you’d buy at a cheap Indian restaurant. The curry flavor is so subtle, that you don’t actually know its there. Just creamy milk chocolate with hints of coconut, and then eventually you realize that you’re thinking about a different flavor… Suddenly there’s a earthiness wafting through your senses…you can just barely smell it, but you know its there, and it sticks in your mind just like the melted chocolate sticks to your fingers.

There were other (weirder) flavors available; while I was feeling adventurous enough to spend so much on the bar in the first place, I wasn’t brave enough to tackle the smoked bacon bar… and since I was ordering an actual cup of tea, I also passed on the matcha green tea flavor.

The tea…oh goodness, the tea. Teaism is an adorable little place right off of Dupont Circle. There are stacks and stacks of all kinds of teas, but…in my limited knowledge of the finer nuances of tea selection…I opted for a simple mug of chai. It was possibly the best cup of chai I’ve ever had (my apologies to Starbucks and Green Beans!). The first thing that sets it apart from other chai-flavored beverages is that it’s made from actual loose tea that’s brewed with real spices like ginger, cinnamon, and clove. I’ve had other brewed chai teas where the spices come through too strong and are too sharp and bitter. It’s really easy to go overboard, especially with the clove. Teaism’s chai, on the other hand, was sooo smooth and creamy. Not overpowering at all and perfectly balanced. Teaism is located in an old (“vintage”) building, beat up and chipped stairs, all of those charming, decorative accessories like window latches and door handles. So I took my fancy chocolate and giant mug (a real mug!) of delectable chai and sat next to one of the upstairs window; prime location for people-watching from above.

(yes…I know I’m a bit of a creeper)

NPR was blaring from the speakers and hipsters with oversized sunglasses came and went while I adjusted the sugar canister and fiddled with the settings on my camera, taking artful still life shots. Gosh, the sophistication of this city is just too much for me sometimes…

And this is just one afternoon! There’s so much more to come, so check back soon!