I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement after my last post. It has been tough but time and your support have really helped me gain a better perspective, and I’m trying to maintain a positive outlook on everything. While I’m still bummed that a March defense isn’t likely, I have found a silver lining. I’ve been worried about having an income between my defense and starting a job after we move (probably in July), and waiting until June to defend actually relieves a lot of the stress I was having about that. You all always help me find the positive in any situation, and I cannot thank you enough for the support you provide. Thank you!
Wednesday morning, Matt and I headed out for a 2 mile walk through the neighborhood to keep things nice and loose. I’m trying to minimize the amount of time I spend walking around so I can help my knee rest but I don’t want to completely stiffen up before the race. We finished our walk in 30:55.
I’m writing this post while we’re on our flight to Orlando (can I just say how happy it makes me that Jet Blue serves Dunkin’ Donuts coffee!), and I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to catch up on some VERY belated blogging!
My FIL, Neil, is one of the unfortunate people with a birthday on Christmas Eve. I have always imagined that a birthday around that time of the year would be a bummer as a kid, so when Matt told me the surprise his mom wanted to plan to celebrate, I was 100% on board. She had looked into shows at the Kennedy Center during their trip to DC, and saw that The Million Dollar Quartet had a Sunday evening performance, but was dark on Monday. Their flight came early that afternoon, so after I finished up at work we all met up to grab dinner before the play (which was Matt and my contribution to the birthday event). After spending more time than we had expected trying to find a restaurant open in the West End area on a Sunday evening, we decided West End Bistro sounded delicious!
After arriving at the restaurant, we were quickly seated and drinks were ordered. I had the DC sangria, Neil went with the Dogfish Head seasonal ale (which tasted like a strawberry lambic), Melodie ordered the First Fizz, and Matt went with a glass of pinot noir. We were all very happy with our drink selections!
We then moved onto the dinner menu, and I was SOOO thankful they didn’t wait to bring out bread because I was starving!! They had two different kinds of bread in the basket, and one had a salted crust that was to die for. It seriously made me wish every loaf of bread came with a salted crust!
While munching, we ultimately decided to split two appetizers and order our own entrees. To start we went with the lamb kafta and the chicken liver mousse.
The lamb kafta was 3 lamb meatballs, each served with a different sauce and flavor profile. One was more Greek style with feta and tzatziki, one had a lot of red peppers, and the other was more of a lemony aioli. I really enjoyed trying the different combinations, and LOVED that the meatballs themselves were very moist. I would definitely order this again!
The chicken liver mousse was also delicious! Hiding underneath (which you can just slightly see in the photo) was a berry sauce, which was seriously amazing with the mousse! It brought out some incredible flavors that I did not expect, and was a combination I wouldn’t have thought would work but was amazing. My one qualm with the dish (and I have this qualm anytime I order a mousse or a terrine) is that there is NEVER enough of the grilled bread! Why do they do that?
For our entrees, Neil and Melodie ended up both ordering the braised short ribs, and Matt and I both had the pasta special, which was a lamb ragu sauce on penne pasta and whipped ricotta on top. Yes, whipped ricotta. Which, it turns out, is basically heaven.
I’ll start with the short ribs. These things were so incredibly tender neither Neil nor Melodie used a knife to cut them! I have never seen meat that tender before! The accompanying potatoes and vegetables were fresh and delicious. I was very impressed with the dish.
The pasta was also delicious. And I’m a little embarrassed to say that I ate that entire plate! (In my defense, we had run 15 miles that day.) The pasta itself was obviously a boxed pasta, and while it may have been on the higher end, it still had the boxed pasta taste. I think I have been ruined by the restaurants that make their own pastas in DC, and I’m not complaining J. However, the use of a boxed pasta is often done when the emphasis is on the sauce, and in this case, that sauce was incredible! The lamb was tender, the flavor incredible, and the real show stopper was the whipped ricotta. I still want to go back and eat more of it! I would have been happy to bathe in it, it was so good. I am definitely adding this to the next ragu pasta I make!
After we finished our entrees, and were pleasantly full, we realized we needed to dash to make it to the theater on time. However, the restaurant surprised Neil with their signature warm chocolate tart to wish him a Happy Birthday! I automatically fall in love a little with restaurants that take the time to put these special touches on a celebration…and it didn’t hurt that the dessert was ridiculously good, either. Seriously, their salted caramel was the stuff dreams are made of!
Just when we thought the surprises were over (at least for us, because Neil still didn’t know where we were taking him next), the staff handed us chocolate squares to take with us for the holidays from the local chocolatier, Co. Co. Sala (which we took Melodie to for her birthday last year). I haven’t gotten into mine yet – I’m still making my way through a plethora of Halloween candy before I even get to my Christmas candy – but it looks really good!
On our way out the door, Matt used the Uber app on his phone to have a car come pick us up (we didn’t have enough time to walk to the theater before the show started), and the car was waiting outside for us by the time we were out of the restaurant! If you live in DC and are still using cabs, make your life 1 million times easier and use Uber! It’s amazing and the drivers actually drive safely.
We made it to the theater, Melodie picked up the tickets from Will Call, and we were in our seats just a few minutes later…right in time for the show to start!
If you’re unfamiliar with the premise of The Million Dollar Quartet, it’s based on one night that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis all played together in a recording studio at Sun Records in Memphis. The owner of Sun Records, Sam Phillips, discovered all four singers and managed to get them all together just once.
At times the plot feels a little weak, which is probably what happens when you try to write a show around a recording session, but the musical is amazing and has you dancing in your seat the entire time. The actor that plays Johnny Cash, David Elkins, has a voice that sounds JUST LIKE the original. I spent half of the show commenting to Matt how much he embodied Cash. The night we went, the understudy for Jerry Lee Lewis, Austin Cook, was performing…and if he’s the understudy, then I can only imagine what the actual actor is like. Cook fully embraced Lewis’ attitude and flamboyancy on the piano, and kept the audience laughing the whole show. When we sat down and looked at the cast photos, it took about one second to figure out who was playing Elvis. In his photo, Cody Slaughter looks identical to Elvis. And the actor that plays Carl Perkins, Robert Britton Lyons, has Perkins down incredibly well…which one would expect for the actor that has played Perkins in every production of Million Dollar Quartet to date.
I cannot tell you how much fun this show was to see in person, and with the national tour going on, I would highly recommend taking any music lovers in your life to see it if it comes to stage near you. It isn’t often that the audience at the Kennedy Center is up on their feet DANCING at the end of a show, which goes to show just how much fun this production is. A little music history, a lot of rock ‘n’ roll, and one hell of a good time!
I would say that the three of us managed to pull off a pretty awesome birthday this year!
Your Turn: Out of Elvis, Jerry Lee, Johnny, and Carl, who is your favorite singer? Have you ever had whipped ricotta? What was your favorite birthday celebration?