Sunday was just about as incredible a day as we get here in DC. Perfect temperatures, brilliant jewel-toned sky with wisps of high clouds, and colors that popped. I went out with some friends to participate in a Ravenchase Adventure, starting at Presidents Park just north of the White House. With a package full of clues and DC-specific hints and puzzles, we took off around the National Mall, from John Paul Jones to the Enid Haupt garden and the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. Running from statue to statue, sculpture to exhibit, Mall to Penn Quarter, we gathered seven worksheets full of codes and clues, all to realize we were carrying the solution in our bag all along.
We ended with a late lunch at Matchbox. We walked tired back to the Metro and car, having covered 4.5mi of ground in the middle of the city; it was the part of DC we usually reserve for tourism, doing our own tourguide duty for friends from out of town. It was nice to get down to the Mall to get to some of the out-of-the-ordinary places like the Enid Haupt Garden where the views are so lovely. Seeing Jim Sanborn’s Antipodes, a very similar work to his Kryptos which is at CIA-Langley and remains unsolved, was a real treat. I had somehow missed it on previous visits, and it is absolutely amazing in person. Our clues lead us to a code for Ian’s wooden chest, but lead us into parts of the Mall we’d otherwise missed. Our day, though, was not quite yet half-done.
After our hike through the Mall district, we headed over to the Kennedy Center to see Washington Choral Arts Society perform antiphonal works in the main concert hall. Working with 180 voices, Norman Scribner performed an artistic architectural construction in sound. He moved his choir throughout the hall, with sections of the chorus placed throughout the second and third levels of the hall, for many of the works. Spanning five centuries, the program was tribute to the works that began in the balconies of St. Mark’s in Venice. I was most impressed with the Sanctus from the Martin mass, and especially with the trio of Marian songs by Biebl, Britten and Tavener. While the 16th and 17th century works were good, it was the 20th century music that Scribner’s voices sang to perfection. I usually don’t find myself gravitating toward the modern sound, but these were too good to ignore. The Sancta Maria in the Biebl Ave Maria was as good as I’ve heard anyone do it, and the positioning of the choir was being like wrapped in a warm blanket of rich sound, entirely unlike any other performance I’ve seen.
After the concert, it was dinner at Dino in Cleveland Park. It’s become one of our favorite “date night/special occasion” places, with a delightfully intimate dining room, and a menu of tasty Italian fare and a wine list with all manner of hidden gems. Tonight’s dinner continued Dino’s unbeaten streak, with veal saltimbocca, an amazing insalate forte with fresh local greens from the Dupont market, and incredible pasta. The finishing gelato trio, including fresh pistachio and a vanilla/black pepper flavor that left us marveling. How can the bitterness of black pepper be so utterly neutralized by the vanilla, but still leave such an amazing flavor profile? I can’t tell you, but I can tell you that Dean Gold is probably just about my favorite restauranteur in the city. I’ve never had short an amazing meal, and I always come out of there feeling like I got off lucky with the check. Sunday nights before 7 and you can get a 3-course prix fixe for $25, and wines over $50 are 33% off. That meant what should’ve been about a $150 check was closer to $95. Do yourself a favor and go.
How did we get so lucky this weekend? How did we find ourselves a day like today with temps in the 70s, beautiful wispy clouds and a town that is so beautiful right at the end of Fall? I don’t know, but I find myself thanking my lucky stars for living in a city this abjectly gorgeous so much of the time. How about you, what did you find to rejoice in this weekend?