January 9, 2008

Washington D.C.: Day 2 (Ethiopian and Gelato)

I think it's safe to assume that most people visit Washington D.C. to view the capital of the "free world" and all its monuments and memorials and famous buildings and free museums, things that fall under the category of "Important Cultural Things That People Travel Across Many Lands To See In Person."

So naturally I went to Washington D.C. to eat Ethiopian food and gelato.

EATING TIME
Gather round, and pick up a roll of bread while you're at it.

After running a bit late due to Evil GPS Woman taking us on crappy routes and because the streets of Washington D.C. are laid out in a way that is confusing if you're only used to an NYC road-like grid, Tristan and I met up with Erin and Olivia at Etete for lunch upon Erin's recommendation. Knowing the massive fooding knowledge that Erin has stashed away in her brainmeats, I would follow her to any eatery, even if it were over a bridge, although I'd hope that the bridge had a non-fatal drop and preferably we wouldn't really walk over the bridge because that would result in some kind of injury to my person, but you know what I mean. Just trying to make a point.

Between the four of us we shared a vegetarian combo, something with lamb, something with another meat, and cottage cheese in three states of being seasoned. I'll explain this more later. Maybe. (This is what happens when you don't take notes; you sound like an idiot.)

YES I HAVE ROLLY BREAD
ROLLY BREAD

The staple that goes with all this food is injera, a flat, super-moist, slightly spongy and sour bread made of teff flour. No utensils are needed while eating Ethiopian food; just pull apart a roll of injera (this is an oddly satisfying process, to break the slightly sticky bond between one section of the bread and its neighbor, to destroy all its connections to its kin), rip off a chunk and use it to pick up the wat (stew) or tibs (sautéed stuff). The sponginess of the bread makes it perfect for soaking up saucy foods.

mm vegetables..and lamb
Veg and stuff!

Our main platter came in the form of a huge-ass round of injera topped with the vegetarian combo (seven kinds of vegetarian-friendly blops) and possibly the yebeg wat, "fresh and tender lamb cooked with berbere and spice." I could take out the "possibly" and you wouldn't know the difference, but I'd rather be truthful and reveal the gaping flaw that my brain has the ability to remember about as much as a handicapped goldfish, or a gerbil, or defective toaster. What I do remember is that it was definitely lamb, tender morsels of that precious little animal covered in fleece as white as snow.

While eating the vegetarian blops, I didn't really think about what I was eating. It all tasted...awesome. And had flavors that I won't even bother trying to identify because I know I'll fail. If you're curious enough, here are the descriptions of the vegetarian blops, ripped from Etete's website:

Fasting Food: Combination of veggie with fish [...that's not really vegetarian, is it]
Yemisir Wat: Split red lentil cooked in Ethiopian red pepper sauce, meten shiro, oil, and onion sauteed together
Yeataklit Wat: Fresh green, carrot, potato, green pepper and onion sauteed with garlic, ginger and tomato
Yekik Alicha: A dip of delicately spiced cooked legumes
Gomen: Collard greens with onions, peppers and garlic [the description on the site is wrong; I figure mine is close enough]
Tegabino Shiro: Mitin Shiro [powdered peas], oil and onion sauteed together
Azifa: Choppen onion, green pepper, garlic, lentil, lemon juice mixed with Ethiopian mustard

Lots of garlic, tomato and onion it seems. That would explain why we continued to eat even after reaching the point of satiety.

...Oh wait, I always do that.

FOOD OF SOME SORT!
More food

We also ordered kitfo, "minced meat seasoned with herbed butter and hot red pepper, served with seasoned cottage cheese." What kind of meat? Um. ...Beef? Yes, I'm going top call it beef. The pile of ground beef was surrounded by a small mound of some sort of dry, spicy seasoning and three baby piles of cottage cheese, each flavored with a different seasoning (or rather, two were seasoned and one was not). The waitress explained the seasonings to us. Naturally, I've forgotten what they were.

I think by this point of memory disintegration it's best that I just bombard you with any remaining visual stimulation from Etete. These words are coming out in an overwhelmingly disappointing and inelegant fashion. If they possessed an odor, it'd be most fetid, like a stale hobo, the one slumped over on a seat at the end of the subway car that no one will come without a three-foot radius of, causing all the other passengers to meekly squish together in the "clean air" portion of the car while breathing in just enough air to sustain brain function.

That's only happened to me once.

bread mask
This is something else you can do with injera.
we ate it
This is what happens to a plate of injera topped with delicious things after being subjected to the ravenous bellies of four 20-somethings.
Erin is FULL
This is how you feel after eating too much injera-wrapped meat and vegetable matter.
stupid face #1
This is what happens when you make stupid faces.

Although I failed to describe its food in much detail, I highly recommend Etete. There's a reason we ate nearly everything until the point where we would have to purge our stomachs to eat more—because everything tasted like awesome. And someday I will be more familiar with Ethiopian food to tell you more than that.

Thankfully, I'm well versed in the language of gelato (also known as "THE LANGUAGE OF PURE SWEET LOVIN'"), which should make the rest of this entry flow more smoothly.

Dolcezza
Dolcezza, does not always come with a Tristan

Using Erin as our GPS, we drove from Etete to Dolcezza, her recommendation for shizztastically awesome gelato, the kind that puts images of dancing unicorns and rainbows into your head.

GELATOOO
Lato!

The four of us crammed into the narrow gelateria while craning our heads to look at the flavors, ranging from the simple "Lime" to the slightly more specific "Georgia Butter Pecan" to the most specific "Toigo Orchards Bosc Pear Bourbon." They source their ingredients from a selection of local farmers whenever they can and make note of it in the flavor names. Which is quite nice. It's not often (or not ever, more like) that I eat gelato and get a sense of the local agriculture that went into it.

Then again, once I start eating gelato all thoughts leave my brain that can't be expressed by the act of unconsciously drooling or by uttering the words, "mmmm," "awesome," or "gimme more."

nom nom
My gelato cup

Of course, I got pistachio. Not just any pistachio, but pistacchio di bronte, the almighty god of pistachio-ness that makes tears of delicious joy well up somewhere deep behind my eyes so that they don't spill out (that would be over dramatic), but exist in spirit. To offset the somewhat dense and creamy pistachio gelato, I also ordered the apple cider clove something-something sorbet. That's not the real name, but it's close enough.

NOM
Olivia + me = gelato happies!

Dolcezza's pistachio gelato passed the test: "Does this bring me back to Italy?" Correct answer: "Hell yes!" (or maybe, "Hell si!", replacing "hell" with whatever it is in Italian). The first creamy bite coated my mouth and filled my nasal passages with warm, buttery pistachio essence, which is the only acceptable kind. It's alive—all other kinds of pistachio essences are dead. DEAD, I SAY. Dead is not acceptable. Would you be happy if someone gave you a dead puppy instead of a live one? Hell no! Why would anyone do that? So don't accept dead pistachio essence. And yes, that was a terrible, nonsensical comparison, but mentioning dead puppies tends to get the message home that this stuff is important. Although maybe not as important as dead puppies.

The apple cider sorbet was also excellent. It carried a crisp apple flavor, wasn't too sweet, and had a very smooth texture aside from the smattering of clove bits. I missed the creaminess of gelato in the sorbet's lack of...um, fat, but I didn't want to overdo it. Half gelato / half sorbet tends to be the best combination to prevent suffering from dairy fatigue.

churro dipped in chocolate gelato
Oo, churro!

Then again, if you find a gelateria that also serves churros reheated to achieve peak deliciousness then you should overdo it. Olivia bought a churro to dip into her chocolate gelato. Sweet jesus. If you like churros on their own, you should try one with a layer of cool, creamy chocolate goo. You can't question a combination like that; there's some kind of universal law that deems it delicious. "One form of sugar-enhanced fat shall pair well with another form of sugar-enhanced fat." Or sugar and fat equate to something that sends your brain waves of happiness. Yes.

The Bean Counter
Beans

We walked up the street to grab coffee at The Bean Counter. And by "we" I mean anyone else aside from me since I don't drink coffee.

JUMBO!
Pizza

I didn't eat this pizza. I was just amused by the declaration of a REAL ORIGINAL JUMBO SLICE. Using the words "real" and "original" are meant to reinforce it's "authenticity," but at the same time they kind of...um, don't. Like, "Made With Real Fruit Juice!" Should you even have to point that out? Know what I mean?

...oh god, it's late again, and the brain does not want to process anything.

Oh, if anyone can tell me more about this pizza, please do. My stomach didn't have enough room for a slice of pizza, definitely not one of the "jumbo" category.

PATRICK AND HIS GRANDPA
HELL YES.

After parting ways with Erin, Tristan, Olivia and I hung out in a bookstore to kill time while waiting for more of Tristan's friends to arrive. Taking refuge in the kid's section, we browsed the books, feeling mostly underwhelmed by the literature meant to enhance children's minds (the minds of the future!) until we came across the gem that is Patrick and his Grandpa. What's so remarkable about it? Do you see the cover? That grandpa is a rotund, scruffy, half-blind amputee with a peg leg a gold hoop earring in his right ear (it reveals itself on subsequent pages)? The drawings, while not horrible, definitely feel a bit...off. Wobbly heads. Strange...crazy looking things. I kind of (just kind of) wish I had bought the book so I could describe it in better detail, but I couldn't do it. It felt...wrong.

I guess it couldn't have been that bad; Geoffrey Hayes is still going strong in the world of children's books. There are listings for his books that haven't even come out yet! Damn. I don't think "Grandpa Gimpy and His Missing Eyeball" (Tristan's description) will make any more appearances though.

After leaving the bookstore Olivia and I parted ways with Tristan (who would later go dancing at a club with his friends) and returned to Olivia's house just outside of Washington D.C. to meet up with her friends and make s'mores.

stuff for making s'mores
Yes!

Ingredients were secured!

a bit burnt?
Yeah!

Marshmallows were carbonized!

NOM
Nom.

And graham cracker-chocolate-marshmallow sandwiches were eaten. I could only eat one. Those things are heavy, dude.

olivia mixing the POPCORN
Makin popcorn!

Olivia also cooked a batch of popcorn on the stove top to complete our balanced dinner. Of s'mores 'n corn. I'd like to believe that somewhere in this universe, that is a balanced meal. For someone with fucked up body chemistry.

We left her home sometime before midnight to make the two hour trip back to Charlottesville. Her parents insisted that Olivia feed me tea during the ride (really, I would ask her to place the cup in my grip, spout facing my mouth) so that I wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel and, you know, kill their firstborn.

The trip back to C-ville went quite smoothly, aside from the time I almost ran over a possum.

Addresses

Etete
1942 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dolcezza
1560 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007

The Bean Counter
1665 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007

Posted by roboppy at 11:46 PM

Tags: coffeehouses, Dolcezza, Erin, Etete, Ethiopian, gelateria, gelato, Olivia, The Bean Counter, Tristan, Washington D.C.

Comments

I've never been to that Ethiopian place, my favorite in DC might be a little place on V st. behind Ben's Chili Bowl.

Posted by: Josh at January 10, 2008 12:18 AM [#]

There's a lot I could say in response to this post, but instead I'll just exclaim: Pizza Mart! I love that place! (but, in the name of full disclosure, it's largely because I'm really into food economy, and the slices are massively - ludicrously! - large)

That gelato looked heavenly.

Posted by: Alex at January 10, 2008 12:23 AM [#]

Josh: I don't know where V Street is (yeah, I totally didn't look at a map before I went; letters confuse me, being my brain can only process numbered NYC streets) but if I'm ever on it, I SHALL KEEP THAT IN MIND!

Alex: I amended my post to ask what the pizza tasted like. I hadn't thought that...uh, anyone had eaten it and could tell me what the heck that pizza was! So it's good? Massive?...ly delicious?

Posted by: roboppy at January 10, 2008 1:03 AM [#]

There's not a whole lot of Ethiopian restaurants here in Holland. I happen to live near one. Can someone tell me why I haven't been there yet??? Cuz this all looks and sounds ginormously tasty.

Also: did anyone eat that brick-o-carbon formerly known as marshmallow?

Posted by: Mikey at January 10, 2008 7:55 AM [#]

Oh but it IS a grid. Letters are east-west, numbers are north-south, state streets are at 45 degree angles, and there's a circle or square where two state streets meet. That's most of the city. Up in far northwest, Rock Creek and Rock Creek Park get in the way, and there are of course some other exceptions, but there really is a grid there.

Letter and number streets start at the Capitol building, so 5th and K NW is over 5 and up 11 blocks from the capitol building to the NW.

One of the growing hipster food and arts areas is centered at 14th and U, NW, with Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle to the north and west, the U street corridor to the east, and 14th street heading north. Many good choices there for feeding the belly.

As for Ethiopian, so many choices. My favorite is Dukem at 11th and U (down the street two blocks from Ben's Chili Bowl). It's where Ethiopian cab drivers tell you to go, and where they go. Live Ethiopian dancing and music on Wednesday nights. Delish!

Posted by: kitchengeeking at January 10, 2008 9:22 AM [#]

Pizza Mart displays the "real original Jumbo Slice" in an attempt to win the ongoing battle between pizza places that cater to drunk people late at night in Adams Morgan. (It's a very serious battle let me tell you!) They all claim to have invented the Jumbo Slice, as if cutting a pizza into four slices instead of sixteen is an innovation of complete and utter genius, that no one else can truly replicate.

But let me tell you, if you're looking for drippy, gooey pizza at 3 in the morning, it's not half bad...

Posted by: Kate at January 10, 2008 9:54 AM [#]

Hilarity and fullness always abound at Ethiopian joints. I love the lamb stuff, too, as well as the collared greens stuff and the cabbage and carrots stuff. And the injera plate, even though it gets a bit goopy at the end. The first time I went for Ethiopian food, my friend and I had leftovers, so we rolled the whole deal up like a giant Ethiopian burrito and took it home. Alas, injera doesn't reheat well.

The only time I buy Hershey bars is when S'Mores are in the forecast.

Churros! The closest thing to Dunkin Donuts discontinued and incredibly unhealthy French crullers I can get anymore. I love you, Churros.

Posted by: Julie at January 10, 2008 10:13 AM [#]

I love the intro, even if the sentence "capital of the free world" gives me the shivers. "Of course I went there to...".

Anyhow, one of the better pieces you've written in a while, and I half wanted to eat Ethiopian after this. Still sceptical (but yes, I'll try it at least once).

Oh, and the gelato sounded great. It seems you've found the one that can measure up to the better gelatterias in Bologna.

Oh, and it'd be "Inferno, sí!" Nobody would say that, though. In Italy sexual swearing is considered "mild" and relgious swearing "severe" (except in Venice, but nobody counts them) and thus much more rare.

Posted by: Morten at January 10, 2008 10:26 AM [#]

Mikey: GO TO THAT RESTAURANT!!!

Yeah, the marshmallow was eaten! It only has a thin carbon covering really; the inside is all marshmallow goodness.

kitchengeeking: Ah...yeah, you're right it is a grid, but it's a grid with DIAGONALS and CIRCLES and WHAT THE HELL I CAN'T DEAL...WITH THE NON 90 DEGREE THINGS...just kidding. ...No not really. When I hit the West Village in NYC and roads go wooshwoosh (uh, in my head that's what happens) I get discombobulated because things aren't straight.

Oo, I didn't go to 14th! Walked around 18th a bit though.

And cab driver approved food is usually a good bet. I want!

Kate: ...It's one fourth of a pie? WHAT THE HELL?!

I mean, I'd try it.

Julie: Injera kinda falls apart by the end of the meal, eh?..I mean if it soaks in the sauces of the other stuff. MM SPONGY. I've never had enough leftovers to take home, haha. -__-

I love churros even if I rarely get to eat em! Doh.

Morten: Ah yes, "the free world" is...is strange to think about when i hear about all the ways we're not free. It's a facade! Could be worse, of course.

One of the better ones! That's very flattering. :) A little too much. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?

AND YES EAT ETHIOPIAN, you'd like it. I dunno why you wouldn't!

Oh no, I would offend everyone in Italy with my blasphemous swearing.

Posted by: roboppy at January 10, 2008 11:09 AM [#]

The dead is not acceptable rant was HILARIOUS. You crack me up! I really should try to be less of a lurker, as I read your site all the time, but do not comment very often. How rude is that?

Posted by: Jessica at January 10, 2008 11:45 AM [#]

S'mores! It is also fun to do it the ghetto way at home, with a gas burner or a microwave. It always poofs up really large in there.

And yea, the Grandpa looks like a jolly ol pirate.

Posted by: danny at January 10, 2008 11:57 AM [#]

Churros; It's what Gelato was missing, lol.

I love looking at the kids books, they're always so Un-PC.

Posted by: Graeme at January 10, 2008 1:29 PM [#]

<3 Olivia's injera mask :)

Posted by: Kathy at January 10, 2008 2:13 PM [#]

i can't get visions of dolcezza gelato out of my head. WHY CAN'T THEY OPEN ONE ... IN MY HOUSE??? then, then, i would never move.

also: best post concluding sentence ever. A+.

Posted by: janet at January 10, 2008 2:56 PM [#]

Your Ethiopian vegetarian plate brought back such memories. I'd always get that when I lived in D.C. and haven't found anything as good in NYC.

And touché on the pistachio--it's my favorite!

Posted by: deb at January 10, 2008 4:26 PM [#]

Oh I love smores. When i was doing Camp America it was the only thing that kept me sane when doing camp fires with the kids.

Posted by: Susan at January 10, 2008 5:16 PM [#]

Jessica: Now that I know you exist, you can't lurk anymore! Ha ha!

Danny: We were planning to build a fire in the woods, but by the end of the night we were totally like...no, it's easier to do on the grill in the comfort of the backyard.

Oh, that grandpa.

Graeme: HAHA, that's a great slogan. Possible t-shirt? ;)

Kids books are awesome. I wish I knew how to write one! Not easy, it seems. And mine would probably be inappropriate for young minds.

Janet: I would like to hire a personal Italian gelato maker to live in my house. Yup.

I'm glad you noticed the sentence! It sums up the day well. Yeah. Freakin' possum.

Deb: I guess DC has NYC beat when it comes to Ethiopian...hell, and gelato! Dolcezza was awesome. Gelato in NYC needs to kick it up a notch. Or two.

Susan: Aw, that was your prize for having to deal with kids? ;) "KEEP CALM, IGNORE THE SCREAMS, THE S'MORES ARE A-COMING..."

Posted by: roboppy at January 10, 2008 6:18 PM [#]

HOLY CRAP that is a lot of eating! I dunno how you do it, man. I think I'd explode...my capacity for food has sadily dwindled after I left Paris. For some reason my ability to inhale food by the basket fulls is no longer. Oh well. Btw, the Bean Counter looks soooo adorable! It's (one of) my dreams to open up a little place just that like...except I'd sell french pastries and books, muawhaha!

Posted by: adelyn at January 10, 2008 7:05 PM [#]

Charlie and I just had Ethiopian the other night at Cafe Lalibela, where I too gorged myself. Teff is a funny thing. There's something slightly unnatural about that bread.

Posted by: Alex at January 10, 2008 7:55 PM [#]

Ooh...I'm curious of Ethiopian food. Still haven't tried it yet but yearning to do so soon. I'm actually a bit surprised that the "rolly bread" was injera bread, I thought it was towels or something.

After reading your gelato description, it makes me wanna have a cup of 'lato.

Posted by: Tina at January 10, 2008 10:29 PM [#]

OMG first off, this is my first time commenting on your site, but I've been reading it since forever and long ago. I've actually dragged friends to places in NYC because "I saw them on this way awesome food blog that I read religiously" and wow, so excited to see that you were in DC! I go to school so ridiculously close to the gelato place, I mean, I've seen it countless times, but I've never gone it.

You should come back for restaurant week Jan 14-20!

-Cheers

Posted by: Fan at January 11, 2008 2:57 AM [#]

the 'jumbo slice' is bigger than my head. i dont really remember how it tastes too much though, sorry, i only eat it when im drunk on the streets of adams morgan.

Posted by: vince at January 11, 2008 3:34 AM [#]

Oh man I can still feel the hot crusty churro and the creamy sweet gelato combo in my mouth. GOOD TIMES. Cafe colonial soon? Ps- why do I always look so insane in your posts? Maybe its because the food is so insanely good...

Posted by: Olivia at January 11, 2008 10:47 AM [#]

i just can't get past the fact that injera looks like the nubbly rubber sheets that you line shelves with in the kitchen. and they taste sort of like that too. or so i surmise.

Posted by: Fredric Koeppel at January 11, 2008 2:18 PM [#]

Adelyn: I think my stomach expands when I'm with friends. When I eat alone in the office or at home I quickly feel like a brick. :( NO FUN!

OH PARIS I MISS YE.

And a shop of French pastries and books sounds like an awesome place to be. Yeah.

Alex: Unnatural...LY DELICIOUS?

Yeah it's a little odd at first, but then you get used to it because it's tasty. Maybe we should eat some more when you get back to this coast. HUHUHUH?!

Tina: Delicious towels!

I always want gelato. :(

Fan: Thanks for delurking! I like it when people do that. Yessss.

Erin went to Georgetown! And I have a friend who currently goes there for grad school. Ooh.

Anyhoo, you better go get some gelato now. And again and again and again. Cos that's what I'd do. :)

I'm afraid I'll miss your RW, but I'm going to eat out during the NYC one!

Vince: I googled the jumbo slice to get an idea of HOW much bigger than your head it was...

....WTF, WHY?!

Olivia: People tend to be a little more insane when they're around me. Yes, I'll blame it on the food. THE FOOD.

And Cafe Colonial, I almost forgot! Let's do it.

Fredric: OH, NUBBLY SHEETS ARE DELICIOUS!

...Nah, I don't think I can digest rubber.

Posted by: roboppy at January 11, 2008 3:21 PM [#]

I absolutely LOVE Dolcezza. It's one of the places I miss most since leaving DC...

Posted by: Alejandra at January 11, 2008 9:38 PM [#]

Next time you're in DC, you must go to Ben's Chili Bowl. Although I live in New York now, which arguably has much more delicious food offerings, there is just nothing better than a plate of those chili cheese fries.

Posted by: Carey at January 12, 2008 10:46 PM [#]

Hey Robyn,

I was on facebook and I recieved a most peculiar invitation to join a group called "How Asian are You?" The things people come up with!

Anyway, I clicked it and there's a montage of stereotypical Asian pictures... and I think I see your face in it! :O Or someone that bares a extremely close resemblance to you. :P

Picture: http://photos-a.ak.facebook.com/photos-ak-sctm/v43/152/8408414852/app_3_8408414852_5960.gif

Link:
http://hs.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=8408414852&ref=nf

Haha, weird how these coincidences go.

-- Angel Wong

Posted by: O_O; at January 13, 2008 10:35 AM [#]

Alejandra: I miss it too. :'( Although I did fulfill a gelato craving at L'Arte Del Gelato yesterday.. :)

Carey: CHILI CHEESE FRIES! That does sound good. Next time, next time...

Angel: OH MY FREAKIN' GOD WAAI!

Thanks for pointing that out! That was a not-very-clevery Asian quiz. Dammit. And now my face is there. Hell, they could've found someone who was genuinely giving the Asian peace sign; every time I do it it's to make fun of it. Oops.

Oh well, success!

Posted by: roboppy at January 13, 2008 9:53 PM [#]

I love that you tried Ethiopian food and enjoyed it your first time around. Also one of my favorite African cuisines, and pretty much distinct from any other kind of cooking. If you like spice, get you some ethipian berbere (spice rub/mix, one of the little red piles that came with your kitfo). I would be interested to read your reaction to other African cuisines in the future!

Posted by: Elsie Eyakuze at January 16, 2008 7:18 AM [#]

Elsie: I haven't had any other kind of African food! Seems like Ethiopian is the most prevalent? I mean...uh, I'd love to eat it all. If I can find it. Yessss.

Posted by: roboppy at January 17, 2008 12:19 AM [#]

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Thursday Night Smackdown
Tommy Eats
The Ulterior Epicure
umami
U.S. Food Policy
The Wandering Eater
We All Go Poopie
World to Table

Non-Blogs

Brooklyn Chowder Surfer
Edible Queens
Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down
Serious Eats
VendrTV

Recurring Eating Companions

These friends have lent me their stomach acids on numerous occasions.

Chichi
Colin
Diana
Eric
Greg
Kåre
Kathy
Melissa
Morten
Olivia
Tristan
Veronica