October 2012

Food: Washington DC and General and Travels31 Oct 2012 12:24 am

Twice a year, the White House opens their gardens to the public for tours, once in the spring and once in the fall. Tickets are free, you just have to wait in line to get a ticket, then come back at the predetermined time on it to gain access. As the Canadian Embassy no longer helps you get access to the White House interior, this was as close as I was going to get, so I was up early on a Saturday to get a ticket. The early hour was worth it!

There are a number of tickets, as they let about 150 people or more through every half hour, starting at 9am and ending at 4pm.

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I took a number of photos of things like the West Wing, Rose Garden and the presidential putting green, but I was most interested in the First Lady’s vegetable garden. Only three first ladies have maintained veggie gardens at the White House throughout its history – Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama have all had gardens on the property, but Michelle’s is the biggest.

There is a bee hive that produces honey for the White House…

There are 50 varieties or so of produce, and the harvest this year totaled more than 1,000 pounds, all of which is used in the White House. There is a wide range of items, from bok choy to salad greens, artichokes, tomatoes and more.

These were a special heirloom variety of bean, cultivated from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello property. Hence the quote.

(Can you see the masses of people behind me? It’s a popular tour!)

This past weekend I visited Arlington Cemetery, too. I’ve been twice now, and I went specifically to catch some fall color before hurricane Sandy blows all the leaves away. It wasn’t as colorful as I had hoped, but there were still some shots to be made.

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I really like Arlington. It’s a powerful place, and huge. Over 400,000 people are buried there, over 12 acres I believe. I spent a lot of time at Section 60, which is the area where those who died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried. It’s incredibly active, as families and loved ones visit those they have lost. I hope to return atleast one more time before I leave D.C.

Food: Washington DC and Travels and work (kinda)29 Oct 2012 10:50 am

Come with me on a tour of the World Bank’s cafeteria! If you aren’t familiar with the World Bank, it’s an international institution that loans money to developing countries to assist them with projects to fight poverty, improve health and wealth and stability.

If you mention The World Bank to most people in Washington, it’s likely that they will immediately mention the cafeteria. It’s legendary in D.C. circles. The main problem is that the World Bank, like many major buildings here, has heavy security. Because of this, you have to know someone who can “get you in.” As interns with the United Nations, we occasionally have to attend meetings in the building, so we were granted building passes a few weeks ago, which puts us in a special group of people who can access the fabulous cafeteria. What’s even better, our office is just a short jaunt from the place.

The day after finding that out, I was literally running down H Street towards the World Bank, so excited to see what waited. I had heard rumors of international food, fresh salads and wine. Could it be true?

After going through a screening and getting our photos taken for our security passes, we were finally inside!

I am in love with the typeface the World Bank uses.

The building houses some 6,000 employees at any time, plus those visiting on business…or just for lunch. From the outset it seems like a hospital cafeteria, but a little more futuristic. Also, the guy serving up lobster rolls at the entrance indicates there is something special inside.

You pick up a tray and real cutlery and head in. There are little booths selling all sorts of items, from a meatball bar (only on Fridays) to fresh salads, vegetarian African stews, an Asian noodle bar, a sushi bar, soups, wood fired pizza – and more. A protein grill has fresh cuts of salmon, chicken and steak ready to go when you decide what seasoning you want.

Fresh fruit, cheese and a variety of salads wait. (There was indeed wine at the tills if you wanted something to accompany your cheese platter.)

Another intern and I made a rookie mistake and beelined for the sushi. I mean, I was craving it, but it’s not the most value conscious item there. Especially when you can get a full three item Indian curry plate for $7, or a steaming bowl of pho for $6. But these sushi chefs were Japanese and the rolls were made to order. They also did chirashi bowls, nigiri sushi and sashimi.

This is the Indian bar, with fresh chutneys and naan. In addition to using real plates and cutlery as well as¬†compostable take away containers, I read on another blog that they work their foods into leftovers, so these might have been made from yesterday’s salad bar.

Instead of packets of ketchup, there are dressing and seasoning bars featuring large communal bottles of Sriracha, soy, dressings and more. There are several recycle and compost bins near the tray drop off area. This IS the World Bank after all. Sustainability is one of their deals.

As you order,  you will hear people order in other languages all around you РI heard French, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese while I was there the other day. The servers switch back and forth as need be.

On top of it all, everything is fresh. These aqua frescas are made daily. Fresh grapefruit, orange and pomegranate are in coolers. The freshly squeezed juices go for $1.20-$1.85.

Dessert was varied, and although a little pricey, it was delicious. There’s even a serve-yourself frozen yogurt bar. The desserts and pastries change daily. There are theme days for the cafeteria as a whole – coming up on Halloween is Hawaiian days, and later in November a Mexican fiesta. The lobster rolls I mentioned at the top were just for that week because it’s the season here, apparently.

The dining area is huge – you can eat in the communal hall, near ancient doors from around the world mounted as art, standing at a bar, or on a bridge in the soaring atrium. Or back at your desk – every stand does food to go.

I got the eel roll (for some reason called the Vegas roll) with coconut agua fresca and carrot cake. It was really bang on.

A coworker got the African street food, and apple strudel. It was not as good as the carrot cake.

We took a stroll around after lunch, checking out the world flag wall and other interesting art and displays they have.

Lunching at the World Bank is going to be one of the many things I will miss about D.C. when I leave.

Travels and work (kinda)18 Oct 2012 09:12 am

Multiple complaints of lack of blogging on this blog have been heard – and shall be rectified. (Especially following five days of delicious eats when Mike was visiting)

Until then, here’s a photo of me in front of the US Capitol. Tomorrow I’m off to the World Bank to pick up my security pass and have lunch at their amazing food court. Should be awesome!

Travels and work (kinda)08 Oct 2012 11:55 am

It is completely amazing to me what a whirlwind this year has been. It began with packing up in Japan, spending time diving and meditating in Thailand, packing up in Edmonton while we picked a place to live in Canmore, a launch of a website I’ve been dreaming of starting for some time, a roadtrip across North America, a phone interview and then another move to Washington D.C. for an internship with the United Nations. I cannot describe to you the range of emotions the year has brought…so instead I will post some photos from D.C.

I’m living in a very vibrant area called Dupont Circle, just 15 minutes walk from work. There is a Whole Foods 7 minutes away, some amazing restaurants and food trucks steps from my door, excellent free museums and a zoo available due to the Smithsonian Institute’s wonderful system, and the weather has been great.

Hopefully there will be more to come soon!