Sunday, February 19, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 02/18/17: Teacher Talk at Union Market, Joy at Atlas Brew Works, Perfect Pasta Dinner

1.  As it got close to noon, Vicki, the Deke, and I piled into the Sube and darted down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and west on Rt. 50, into Washington, D. C., and parked in the lot in front of Union Market. The temperature was climbing toward 70 degrees, a relaxed mob was scattered outside the market, seated at communal tables, drinking coffee and diving into cardboard containers of food from around the world. Inside the market, the seams between the many food vendors and meat/fish markets were bursting with invigorated people, uplifted by the cloudless weather and moderate warmth. I continued my quest to memorize this market, who the vendors are, what they sell, and where they are located, and enjoyed the many little touchless tangos I danced with other visitors, as we exchanged smiles and worked to give each other space to move along.

Vicki, the Deke, and I bought lunch at the Red Apron's sandwich counter -- I chowed down on the Original Red Apron Burger -- and took it outside where we sort of miraculously sat at a table with three twenty (maybe early thirty) something youngsters who all turned out to be public school teachers. A cathartic conversation ensued about the challenges of teaching, the love of working with children, and the anxieties regarding the future of public education. It happened again. We fell into great conversation with astute, creative, deeply caring Millennials and we were kind of stunned as we made our way back to the car at our good fortune to have randomly landed at their table.

2. Not far from the Union Market is Atlas Brew Works and we decided to drop in and sample some of their splendid beers. Like Union Market, this joint was packed, indoors and outdoors, and hopping with joy and fun, the celebrative noise level magnified by a baby shower being given in the tasting room. We settled into three seats side by side by side along a counter and sampled all kinds of beer. My two favorites were both barrel-aged ales: the very same Town and Country Belgian Strong Ale I'd enjoyed last night at Old Line and Atlas' winter saison, La Saison de Brett. I really didn't want to leave. I wanted to keep sipping on these five oz. tasters of barrel-aged beer bliss, but, alas, we needed to move on to Phase III and IV of our day with Vicki.

3. Phase III? Naps.

Phase IV? Vicki volunteered to make dinner and, lo and behold, it turns out Vicki is also a devotee of that simple, tomato-y, buttery, onion-y richness, Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce, here. My contribution to the dinner was a trip to Panera to buy a baguette and to go to the Old Line Wine and Spirits shop and buy some wine. I did that, and I couldn't stop myself from also purchasing a sixer of the not always available Double Duckpin Imperial IPA. As I went to check out, I was asked to wait a minute for the cashier who was on a bathroom break and, at that moment, one of our favorite servers, Kristin, walked in and when I asked her how things were, she told me it was dead back in the bistro, thanks to the gorgeous day outside.


No cashier.

Dead in the bistro.,

I decided to have a half pint of Town and Country.

So I walked back with Kristin, ordered a small glass of Atlas' red wine barrel-aged Belgian strong ale, chatted with James a little bit, watched Kristin sample the Town and Country ale, and soon I returned to the cashier out front and bought the wine and beer and headed back to our apartment home.

Our dinner was the epitome of simplicity and full flavor: a bowl of penne and Marcella Hazan's sauce, a small glass of wine, and slices of buttered baguette.

A perfect way to close a perfect day with Vicki.

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