The Lengths I go to for Sangria and Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC
It’s Saturday morning, 68 degrees with clear blue skies and a light breeze, the first truly gorgeous day of spring and I’m stuck in traffic. Inching our way through D.C.’s notoriously snarled beltway traffic we arrive at our destination 45 minutes late after a 4.5 hour drive. What could prompt me and my friend Katie (of Domestiphobia fame and the only person crazy enough to join me) to drive 8 hours round trip on an absolutely beautiful spring day?
Spanish food, that’s what.
The lure of paella and sangria are strong but that’s not the only reason we journeyed this far. When fellow blogger Jessica van Dop Dejesus of The Dining Traveler invited me to the #DCTravelBlogger brunch at Chef Jose Andres’ Jaleo Crystal City in Arlington,VA I jumped at the chance. Eating and talking travel, two things I do very,very well.
Rushing in Katie and I took our spots at the end of the table where we were soon presented with glasses of cava and sangria (I personally think I should be greeted this way all the time) . A few quick introductions were made before our table mates pointed at a green drop perched on a silver spoon. “You need to try that-it’s a liquid olive!”. A liquid what? I brought the spoon to my mouth, where a gentle pressure resulted in a burst of briny, olive-y goodness. Unfortunately we missed the molecular gastronomy demonstration that resulted in this tasty morsel but more good things were in store.
A selection of Iberico ham, charred asparagus with romesco and fried baby shrimp topped with an organic egg immediately brought me back to my time wandering the labyrinthine streets of Seville-the scent of orange blossoms heavy in the air; days spent searching for ceramics and sampling tapas, nights spent searching for flamenco and sampling sangria. Vegetable paella prepared table-side was delicious, with savory caramelized notes that only a seasoned paella pan can provide (truth be told, the carnivore in me was missing the spicy kick that chorizo brings to the paella party). Our meal was then capped off with a decadent sweet-soaked Spanish toast accented with caramelized bananas and rum whipped cream.
Aside from being plied with delicious food and drink at every turn, the best part of the experience was meeting and talking food and travel with a number of D.C. area travel bloggers. This was a group that wouldn’t judge me for enduring a 4.5 hour drive through D.C. traffic for some Spanish food. I was especially excited to finally meet Jessica (aka The Dining Traveler) in person. We immediately bonded as only female-military-veterans-turned-travel-bloggers can.
With my desire for Spanish food temporarily sated, I figured it would be a shame to drive all this way to D.C. during peak cherry blossom season and not to head across the Potomac. If you plan on visiting Washington D.C. consider staying in Arlington as hotel prices are considerably cheaper (a night at a Ritz-Carlton can be had for under $200 per night compared to the $500+ per night in Georgetown) and you are a quick metro ride to anywhere in the city.
Washington D.C. is definitely at its prettiest in the in the springtime. The season’s first pale green buds signal life has returned after this past winter’s wrath while delicate pink and white blossoms soften the capital’s classic architecture.
Having only a few hours to wander the National Mall was our best bet for getting in a few sights.
First stop-1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
It was hard for me to believe that Katie had never visited the White House since it’s a constant for me on nearly every visit. Aside from the world changing decisions going on inside, it’s a fabulous place to people watch. Tourists angling for the perfect spot for a White House selfie, legions of gray suited government workers doing their daily D.C. hustle and an ever changing roster of political activists protesting outside provide the perfect snapshot of daily life in downtown Washington. Katie, on the other hand, was making plans for moving in. Domestiphobia for president 2024?
A leisurely stroll through the National Mall took us past the buildings and monuments that grace the change in your pocket. Wanting to get the iconic shot of the Jefferson Memorial we meandered towards the Tidal Basin only to find that everyone else had the very same idea.It wasn’t just crowded, we were well past that. There was literally a sea of people lining the banks of the Potomac and spilling over the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. We settled on taking pictures of each other instead (we’re pretty photogenic, don’t you think?) and battled the crowds to get back toward the metro. A chance glimpse by Katie revealed the perfect shot of the Washington Memorial, the tranquility of the image belies the packed masses that fall just below the frame.
Slightly smug with the satisfaction of our photographic success it was time to head back to Arlington for a quick bite to eat before hitting the road for home. Four hours later, I pulled into my driveway bleary-eyed and exhausted as the clock struck midnight. So, was dealing with D.C.’s notorious traffic worth it?
Yeah,it was definitely worth it.
Here’s how a few of my fellow bloggers experienced the #DCTravelBloggers brunch at Jaleo
- “A Taste of Spain at Jaleo” – Travelaine.com
- “Stylish Dining” – Miss-Sassy.com
- “Liquid Olives And Sangria: The Ice Breakers Of The Future” – Domestiphopia.net
- #DCTravelBlogger Brunch – Jaleo Crystal City – GetinmyMouf.com