Tuesday, January 11, 2011


We made it to the Arcimboldo exhibit at the National Gallery on Sunday - the very last day it was scheduled to be there.  It. Was. Amazing.  A sculpture made by an American artist of "Winter" was set up just outside the gallery and is pictured above.  All Four Seasons were there, plus three of the five elements that he portrayed in his unique way.  Water was incredible - 60 species of marine life portrayed as a head.  Overall a tremendous show of 16th century art, that up until now I had only appreciated on menus and as prints.

After a couple of hours at the National Gallery my eyes were ready to fall out of my head, so we started back to the metro, via Oyamel, a Mexican bistro owned by Chef Jose Andres.  We managed to snag a couple of seats at the crowded bar to order some coffees and a couple of tacos.  It was obvious that we were more trouble to the bartender than we were worth, as we were made to feel as though we were a couple of worms sitting at his bar, rather than customers.  I wanted to write on the credit card slip: "Great food, loose the 'tude".  Kevin approached it a little differently - he told the guy just how we felt, to explain why we left only a 15% tip.  "Oh?  I am so sorry.  What did I do wrong?"  What an idiot.  He has probably been treating bar guests like this for so long he doesn't even realize it, just gets pissed off when tips are poor for "no apparent reason".  It was enough to keep us from wanting to sit at his bar again, that's for sure.

From there we headed to the train and dinner in Annapolis.  We went to the Wild Orchid on West Street, which had moved there in June from somewhere over in Eastport.  Service here was much better, although while the bartender's attitude at Oyamel would keep me from eating at his bar, the food would bring me back. Food at Wild Orchid might not warrant a special trip over the Bridge.  I think the most disconcerting thing was the cheap chunky wine glasses they used.  In a place that looks pretty upscale from the decor and the menu,  you would think they would have something a little less low brow to drink wine from.  We knew the Chef was not there, not only because of the open kitchen - and our very cozy corner booth was right in front of the glassed-in kitchen and the swinging kitchen door - but because the spot in the parking garage that is reserved for Jim Wilder was empty.  It was a Sunday, after all.

The meal was pretty much just "okay", especially considering the prices.  We shared some calamari -  a very small portion, with a strange tomato soup-like sauce in a big cup on the little plate of squid.  Kevin started with their duck confit, a very well produced version served on a generous bed of lentils.  The lentils were delicious, but there were way too many of them for a first course.  That doesn't mean Kevin didn't eat them all.  I began with baked oysters, which would have been much better if the oysters had been released from their shells before baking...  Entrees - Kevin really wanted to try the famous Elysian Fields lamb, even though it wasn't something we could share.  I had the half-duck.  Kevin's rare lamb came midwell, which was immediately noticed by a server and immediately whisked away to be replaced by one cooked to the proper temperature.  The rare version was deemed delicous.  My duck was good too, although the chestnuts garnishing the plate were unbelievably dry.  The Brussels sprouts were tasty, and the sauce was well made.  I ate the whole thing.  No dessert - too full!  And not much of a Sunday night selection anyway.

We headed back to the land of pleasant living, glad we have the opportunity to go over to the other side but happier to return.

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