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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Thing 2: Artisanal Cheese Tasting

On my way to the library from work, with the mission of my new blog on my mind, I decided to stop into the Cowgirl Creamery on F St., NW. Ironically, the cheese shop got its start not far from my hometown in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it opened its downtown DC location last year and the Cowgirls are hometown girls, so I think it counts. While featuring their Cowgirl cheeses which are produced back in California, they also sell artisanal cheeses from around the country, and feature many locally made foods - chutneys and jams, bread and wine, soups and meats.

I wandered in and had a look around. The store is very white and clean, everything bright white. Coolers and shelving are lined with delicious-looking gourmet foods. The staff is incredibly friendly, and before I knew it the woman behind the counter was doling me out some free cheese samples! Note: Free cheese is the quickest way to my heart. I sampled their three house cheeses all made in the San Francisco Bay Area. The first was a mild, creamy cow cheese, followed by their "winter" cheese which is encased in herbs. I was informed that come mid-march, they will be switching to their "spring" cheese, which means I will have to go back. The final in the trio was my favorite - a creamy cow cheese that was more pungent and strong than the other two. I like my cheeses to taste just a little bit like the smell of feet. I finished my taste tour with the "cheese of the week", a very nutty-flavored sheep's milk cheese made in Minnesota.

I left the store en route to the library, but not before caving in and buying a small block that incredible feet-tasting triple cream and jar of locally made heirloom tomato soup which I plan on heating up as a small taste of summer if we get any more "wintery mix."

Thing 1: Wonderland Trivia

First activity: Monday Night Trivia at the Wonderland Ballroom, in Columbia Heights. Wonderland, bar of skinny hipsters with thick black glasses and effortlessly cool second-hand sweaters, hosts a Trivia Night that is as quirky as the bar itself. The boyfriend and I arrived after work and shortly before 7pm, grabbed a table upstairs where the trivia takes place, and ordered some food. I dined on a footlong sausage, only $3.00, and a side of thin, crispy fries with gooey, tasteless fake cheese product. The food isn't great, but the beer selection happily makes up for it. Along with the potent Delirium Tremens on tap, they have a variety of beers, including one that tastes of rose water, and one that tastes like soap.

Trivia is seven rounds, two of which are "picture" rounds, and each round with ten questions and one bonus, for a total of 77 possible points. What makes it quirky that the trivia is more obscure (i.e. not "american history" but "failed american presidents," not "sports" but "serial killers"), and if you don't know an answer, but you write a really funny wrong one, you win a free beer. You also get a fab prize for funniest team name (bonus points for topical humor, example: "Al Sharpton's Family Owned and Operated Since 1845"). And if you win the whole to do, you get $100 towards your bar tab. The optimistic begin drinking early in the hopes of getting the full $100 paid off. It is a good gimmick.

How'd my team do? Dead last. Embarrassing, sure. But it earns us the right to pick a category for next week, to give us a leg up in the competition. Which means I'll be back to eat another footlong sausage and show off my knowledge of early 90's hip hop next Monday.

Bored? In DC? Impossible!

I'm 25, and I came to DC eight years ago, for college. Although in college my DC spanned from Foggy Bottom to Dupont to Georgetown, I knew I felt at home in this place and would make it my home going forward. I am continually fascinated by this city -- its colonial, racial, and federal history, its jumble of cultures in such a very small space, its big city opportunities and small town realities. Its obsession with politics. Its free museums. Its stunningly high HIV rate. The vaulted ceilings of the metro and the cheap seats at RFK and the fantastic Jamaican food in Petworth -- I love learning about this district.

So, it was with a little strange that these past two weekends I felt...bored. My boyfriend and I spent the whole weekend on the couch watching TV, reading, napping. I was bored. And then I was angry, because in a city with so much to do, how could I be bored? And thus, was born the blog.

I am resolving to do 365 fun, new, unique-to-DC activities. The idea is not necessarily to do them in a year, but to have accumulated a year's worth of great things to do in DC. And they must be DC-specific. So Ruby Tuesday's is out, no matter how great the new one in Columbia Heights may be. Likewise, hanging out at Starbucks, going to the multiplex or browsing Barnes & Noble. On the other hand, a picnic on the Mall, drinks on the top of the Washington Hotel, and Ben's Chili Bowl are a go. I'd like to be a tourist in my own city, but also know about the little secrets off the beaten path that only the locals know about.

Maybe someday I will even have readers, and they can post their favorite only-in-DC spots and activities. And we can be this neat little community of people who share a love of living in our nation's capital.

And so here's to exploring 365 parts of DC, and never spending one more weekend bored on the couch!