Grand Budapest, and other hotels

T came and picked me up just before 4p yesterday. We packed in quick fashion and raced downtown, checked into our hotel and set out for our anniversary date extraordinaire. Romance to the extreme, he took me to a jewelry store where we looked at a celebratory ring. No purchasing but he's got something in mind, and I felt rather swept off my feet. Then to Proof for an app and drinks at the bar. I started with a glass of Grillo, a white varietal that hails from Sicily and proximate areas. Done well, it excites the palate with a crisp raciness that is nonetheless soft and accessible. T had a beer, and we tucked into a dish of homemade mozzarella atop mushrooms and crispy shallots tossed with an aged balsamic vinaigrette. Not awesome, but very solid. We laughed, I had a 1/4 pour of a Turley Zin, T had a subpar beer, and then we were off to Zaytinya, walking in the rain, holding hands without a care. In their bar we sat (we love to sit at the bar of any good joint, fancy or not at all so) and shared four mezze: Htipiti (roasted red peppers, feta and thyme dip); Seared Halloumi with Dates, Oranges, Pistachios and Mint; Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Barberries, Coriander and Garlic Yogurt; and the Fried Calamari. I ordered a slight of rosés to go with it all, and T ordered yet another subpar beer. Poor guy. We ate and laughed more, it started raining to beat sixty and when it let up a bit, we headed on, this time to Dangerously Delicious Pies, for dessert.

I loved everything about this place. It's little more than a tiny yet very welcoming storefront on H St, NE, down in Chinatown. The proprietor is a lanky, smiling, knows-everything-about-the-place-and-products, gloriously afroed young man who has a marvelous demeanor for running a shop. A couple in line ahead of us ordered thick slices of savory pies: he the chicken pot, her what looked to be the BBQ pork. At the last minute, the also ordered a slice of the Peanut Butter Chess.

Not one for peanut butter in any dessert, I chose the strawberry rhubarb while T went with the Baltimore Bomb: crumbled Berger Cookies (I learned last night that these are a beloved Baltimore thing) swirled into a vanilla chess filling. Naturally we got it topped with whipped cream. While waiting, we listened to a charismatic regular with few teeth soapbox about how DDP needed seats out front. He made some good points, but according to charming man, such was not possible because they were not currently zoned for such although how they were much different than Starbucks -all of whom are zoned for such- remained a mystery. To all of us in there. We took our pies to go, walked back to our hotel, got into PJs, ordered up The Grand Budapest Hotel and started watch-eating.

It is great fun to stay at a hotel in your own city just because. Such a treat. Seems so decadent.

It is with sadness that I admit that the pies weren't amazing. Solid! Beautiful! Not amazing. But I'd go back. 'Cause if ever I owned a spot, I'd want it to be as cool and welcoming and calm as DDP.

Now, The Grand Budapest Hotel was Wes Anderson at his most eccentric and delightful. Have you seen it? I enjoyed every strange second. Ralph Fiennes is sublime, and I simply must ride in a funicular like the GPs at some point in life. Why Anderson chose Tilda Swinton for such a tiny part only to have her sit in the makeup chair until she was unrecognizable is beyond me. I adore Tilda Swinton, but Anderson could have worked with an older actress and possibly saved some time. But that wouldn't be W.A., so there. Bill Murray! Ed Norton! Jeff Goldblum! Saoirse Ronan! Tony Revolori! Utterly weird and silly and marvelous.

Today we slept in and then it was back to the real thing. T went to work, I came home and visited with Mom and El, picked up my darlings, made a dinner feast: the Brussels sprouts; Chicken with Caramelized Sumac Onions; Rhubarb Cherry Hibiscus Crumble with Almond Whipped Cream. We are all tired and feel piggish but in a grand way, and now it's to bed.