Road Trip Day 1 : Philly & Washington DC

Phew, We just reached Nashville!  It’s Day 3 of our road-trip. I just drove 350 miles from Virginia to Tennessee, my first time driving 6 hours at a stretch. It is by far the most gorgeous drive I have ever been on, just unreally picturesque and some stunning views!

Its 4.30 PM or so I thought…..It’s 3.30 PM since we are now one hour behind ET. And I finally got the extra hour and thought it’s the best time to blog!

Day 1 :

We started our road trip on 11/17 from Framinhgam, MA headed to Philadelphia, PA.

Our first stop was PetsHotel a kennel started by Petsmart, the pet store chain. It was a gut wrenching experience dropping off Sushi (our cat) for the week. It’s been around 10 months since we adopted her and this is the first time she has been away from us for more than 2 days. It makes it harder than she is in-fact a dog in a cats body. It’s really interesting to see how much she is like a dog, and has very little of the usual cat characteristics. Be it playing fetch with us, or how much she is emotionally dependant on us. She communicates with us, she is literally stuck to us whenever we are around. That sure made this harder….Sigh, I miss her as I am writing this !

We reached Philly by noon, in time for lunch and a few hours of sightseeing downtown. We passed through extremely crowded roads of NY and NJ.  I had a picked a Mexican restaurant called Copabanana in South Street.

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 Quite a bad experience we had there! We were there after a 6 hour drive, quite hungry. 30 minutes after we ordered, the waiter informed us that they had misplaced our order ticket in the kitchen, and they had prepared nothing ! We were angry, yet too hungry to now actually get out , find another place and order all over again. So we hung in there and gave in another order, this time with a $10 discount. The waiter was very sweet and offered to forgo his tip! We tipped him more than we were originally going to, just for his intention and genuiness.

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The food was just about okay. the highlight of our meal was the Bubble bread that was their specialty. It was interesting and quite tasty. It was special hot Italian breadsticks with a cold spreadable butter infused with overtly garlicky cheese and cream. It was heavenly!

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We also had the spinach, sundried tomato and goat cheese Quesadilla along with a side of mexican flavored rice, black beans, fried plantains and Mexican version of Mac’n’ Cheese.

The Quesadilla was quite average. The filling inside was still quite cold. The sundried tomatoes tasted a bit old and overall it had no seasoning. The guacamole it came with was made well. The usual onion and tomato salsa was also just about alright. Not too memorable. I could not eat more than one peice.

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The Fried plantains and Mac’n’Cheese were good. The Mac’n’Cheese was quite different and it had been made with mexican cheeses. Quite creamy, cheesy and well done, although no seasoning yet again. The Plantains were delicious.

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The rice and the blackbeans, the usual vegetarian sides were good. The blackbeans were notably well made. The rice had great flavor and had been made with butter. These two dishes were the highlights just second to the bubble bread.

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Right across from where we had lunch, we noticed this hole in a wall type of eatery with people lined up to  mile outside. The foodie I am, I had to find out why. It apparently is the ‘world’s’ best place to eat Philly cheese steak sandwiches. It’s called Jim’s Steaks.

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The crowd there and the amount of time they were waiting out there for a sandwich was just mind-boggling! Being a vegetarian, I couldn’t really appreciate the smell or the quality, but hey they have been review by Food TV and with a few hundered people lined up for miles outside, they have to be good !

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How could I go to philly and not visit Chef Morimoto’s restaurant? That was my next destination. It was not open, it was mid PM, but hey, it was still worth a picture! My husband has actually been there for dinner and he says it’s an experience that’s worlds apart from your regular dining. Hopefully the next time around, I can plan to go there for their acclaimed dinner menu.

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It was 4 PM and we had to over to DC to make it in time for our hotel reservation! We hit the road and I drove us into DC in under 3 hours. We checked in Hamilton Crowne Plaza in the intersection of 14th and K Street NW. In chaotic downtown after much frustrating navigation in the night, we reached our hotel, checked in.

We were dog tired and too exhausted to step out and it was already too dark to do any sightseeing, so we decided to stay in the room and order dinner from the 14K Restaurant in the hotel. Too tired for pictures of the hotel, although we did get some interesting pictures of dinner.

We started with their Chef’s special Butternut Squash Soup.

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This is the best soup I have had thus far in these many years of reading and recreating recipes. It was a unique interpretaion of flavors and it was so flavorful, creamy, light and fluffy. The Chef’s specialty touch was using Tahitian vanilla in the soup. It was salty, savory yet sweet because of the squash and the vanilla. The combination was out of this world! And the breads it came with were fantasti as well. Fresh out of the over herbed breads and ubtter rolls, the best of the best.

We then had a Classic Caesar Salad, also a chef’s specialty.

I’m afraid I’m sounding repetitive but this is once again one of the best Caesar Salad’s I’ve ever had. I am a big fan of Caesar salad, but everywhere I order it, it has been pretty generic in flavor. This was something else! The dressing had just the right amount of seasoning. it was creamy and the romaine lettuce used was the best of the best. The crouton it was served with was crispy, crumbly and garlicky goodness. It was also served with a Parmesan Tuile ( just a fancy word for parmesan crisps).

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We moved on to Entree`s. We got the Roasted tomato and cross valley farm spinach risotto and Potato Gnocchi.

The Gnocchi was served with porcini mushrooms and pine nuts in a parmesan broth. Too intense of a mushroom flavor for my taste but my husband a mushroom lover enjoyed it. The combination of parmesan cheese, pine nuts, mushrooms with the light and creamy gnocchi was a great combination.

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I had the roasted tomato and spinach risotto which was again served with a parmesan tuile, drizzled all over with spinach-garlic olive oil. The tomato had been freshly roasted, the spinach was the most flavorful organic spinach I’ve had, and the rice was just perfectly cooked with just enough bite to it. The spinach-garlic oil was a fantastic compliment to the whole dish. 

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And that’s what we did, ate and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Keep reading for Day 2 and more and Check my other blog out for more on Day 1 and all our non food related experiences….

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