Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Staying on Capitol Hill - a Couple of Meals and a "Hack Tour" of the National Gallery of Art

Gentle Friends, while I was in Washington I stayed in a private "Suite" in a home I found on Air B&B - actually, it was the converted attic of a 4 story historic house about 3 blocks from the Capital, a super location, and a wonderful historic neighborhood.  I loved my "hostess" she was very helpful and the room was gigantic with a mini kitchenette and full on bathroom!!  With it being so close I usually took the Metro and my stop was "Capitol South Station" - I just walked the few blocks every day - these are some of the buildings I would pass.....

 ... the Thomas Jefferson building, or as it is also known as the Library of Congress....

 I often passed the Capital....


 I had done some research before I left and found one of the "Top Spots" for BBQ in DC... Garden District....  I forgot to take a snap of the place so I lifted this from the Internet...

... I did take a snap of the menu...

... I already knew what I wanted and order - hush puppies, fried pickles, a BBQ Sandwich and some "Carolina" Slaw...  they are known for the micro brew beers, but I couldn't see one that wasn't too wheaty/cloudy - I like clear and light Asian beers -  so I passed on the beer and had a cream soda since they didn't have any sweet tea ( when I heard that I became leery of the BBQ)

... here's a snap of my order.  Now, I read all the glowing reviews and after eating there I have a couple of comments - this is a place to go for beer, the in-house brewed beer in particular.  They have Happy Hour every weekend evening and I was there on a Friday evening... the space became packed as I sat there waiting for my order, it seemed that everyone else was there to socialize and drink beer, I am sure by what I could see that I was the only one there to have dinner - I did see a few other ordering a few appetizers, but that was few and far between....  It was alright BBQ, a bit on the stringy side and far too much "sweet/hot" sauce, the bun was large and had an odd texture, the hush puppies were excellent, the pickles were tasty, the coating was a bit on the heavy side, but they held their heat for quite a while, and what on earth made the slaw "Carolina" I am still trying to figure that one out, I even asked the waiter, and he hadn't a clue.......  so there you go - an alright BBQ place but probably a very good Microbrewery.

The next morning I got up and was on my way to Eastern Market, a great restored 19th Century Farmers Market ...

... an interior shot...

... once again in my pre-research on DC I found that inside EM at what is a called "Market Lunch" they made what is purported to be one of the 10 Best Breakfast sandwiches in the US...  so, of course that was my goal.... getting me one of those breakfast sandwiches called a "BRICK"...
... you have to queue up in a line and order at the counter, since it was Saturday Morning the line was almost non-moving and it took almost 45 minutes to place my order, I think the main reason for this sloooow moving line is that the employees are really not slow - but - the guy at the register ( he must have been the manager or owner or something) had to have a conversation with every single person who placed an order.... he was incredibly chatty....

... eventually, I placed my order, found a seat and waited for my number to be called....  after about 5 minutes my number was called and I had my BRICK and sweet tea ...  now the BRICK is a large biscuit with potatoes, cheddar cheese a fried egg and choice of breakfast meat, I had a sausage patty (they make the sausage there in house and it was very good!!).  Overall it was a tasty sandwich but the time spent in line was excessive.  The Market is open Tuesday through Friday also, and if I was going back I would go on a weekday and skip trying to go on a weekend.

After breakfast, I headed downtown to the Mall and on to the National Gallery of Art and my next tour.... The Museum Hack Un-Highlights Tour.

In a past life I was a Curator of Museum Education in an Art Museum so I have lots of Museum knowledge and tons of art history background, so I really didn't need a tour of the history and art stuff... so I looked around on the Internet and found this unusual tour!!  I would HIGHLY recommend this tour to anyone looking for something a bit different!!  

The front of the National Art Museum, impressive ain't it!!

... we met our tour guide , Hannah, here in the rotunda at the fountain and started in on the tour.  I had read quite a few glowing reviews of Hannah and her tour style so I was totally pumped when she walked up and I found out she would be our guide.  There were supposed to be 5 of us on tour but one couple dropped out so it was was the three of us on tour and Hannah, so intimate and just wonderful!!!  Hannah said that the hack tours are never more than 10 people in a group.

Our first stop was the wonderful painting by Leonardo da Vinci of "Ginevra de'Benci" - O/P 1474/78

"Leonardo's portrait of Ginevra is the only painting by the artist in America.  The young Florentine lady, who was much admired by contemporaries for her culture, beauty, and character, appears on the front of a double-sided wooden panel.  She sits before a juniper bush, an evergreen that not only provides a dark foil to enhance her pale features but also alludes to Ginevra's name: the Italian word for juniper is ginepro" 

This is the back side of the painting, framed open so you can see it....

"On the back of the panel, a wreath of laurel and palm branches encircling a juniper sprig is depicted.  Entwined around the plants is a scroll with a Latin inscription meaning "Beauty Adorns Virtue."  Together the plants and the text present an emblematic portrait of Ginevra; the laurel and palm are common symbols for the intellectual and moral virtue, and the Latin word for beauty artfully twines about the juniper."

We moved on to "The Alba Madonna"  a monumentally spectacular painting by Raphael c.1510 -O/P

Here are a couple of other paintings I liked along the tour......

"Andries Stilte as a Standard Bearer" O/C, 1640 by Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck

This great portrait I have always enjoyed and seen many times in books and papers about American is "Catherine Bras(s) Yates (Mrs. Ricahrd Yates)" O/C 1793/94 by Gilbert Stewart

After a couple of hours on tour, which seemed like only a few minutes, we ended up in the Degas Sculpture Gallery in front of this piece.... the original ....


After leaving Hannah I wandered off on my own and found some wonderful things to look at.....  
you know how I love furniture....

The Pembroke table was made in Charleston 1790-1800 and is mahogany,  the monteith bowl on top was made in Jingdzen, China, 1795-1815 and is of hard-paste porcelain and the looking glass was made in New York, c 1785-1810 and is also mahogany.

I ran into this super looking glass....

 ... the only info given was "Looking Glass with needlework" made in England between 1650-90.  Mostly faded but still with lots of super imagery...

... a detail of the rabbit.

Here's a lovely dining room...

Here in this space was some great American made things.......starting with the punch bowl (not made in America) on the table, made in Jingdezhen, China, 1770-90, hard-paste porcelain,  the three-part dining table is attributed to John Townsend of Newport and dates to 1795-1800, the chairs are New York made and date to 1785-1800 - all of the furniture is of mahogany.

The sideboard was made and is labeled by William Mills and Simeon Deming of New York, 1793-95 - it is the most elaborately ornamented New York sideboard known from these makers.  It was once owned by Oliver Wolcott governor of Connecticut and the first comptroller and secretary of the De[partmernt of the Treasury 1795-1800 under George Washington (I just keep bumping into him)  

I think I'll sign off today, thanks for stopping by do stop again!!

Take care,


  1. Gorgeous place, and the food looks good too♥

  2. Glad you enjoyed your trip, Edgar! Thanks for the tour through the eye of your camera lens.

  3. The food looks scrumptious. I've only eaten fried pickles at two places here in my area and my favorite is the spears at a place called the Haunted Hamburger. I love museums! Thanks Edgar.

  4. Thank you soooo much for mentioning the bad stuff along with the good stuff in your reviews!!!

    I am day dream planning a trip to DC and love the information you provided. Can you give me the name or the hookup for the B&B?

    And do I just plug in "hack tours" in google for that information?
    Once again thank you for the tips.

  5. Stunning mirror, the little bunny adoring it in the needlework is fabulous.
    Great pictures of the museum you have shared.

  6. Thanks for the mini tour of the National Gallery! I've been once but am eager to return when I visit my daughter who lives in DC. loved your pics from Mt Vernon too!

  7. Thanks for sharing your trip. We have had the opportunity to visit DC several times. Always impressive sites.

  8. Great pictures! The "Looking Glass with needlework" is beautiful. I would love to know the history of it, especially the age of the stitcher, how long did it take and what kind of fibers did he/she use. Very interesting. Thank you for another wonderful day.

  9. So many interesting things. I would have liked the furniture the best. I love seeing great American furniture. Too bad about the Bar-B-Q, as a good southern boy,you do know good Bar-b-Q when you have it.

  10. Thanks again for a fascinating glimpse of your excursion. That
    stumpwork mirror is stunning....appreciate your closeups....
    also enjoyed Mrs. Yates and the wonderful American furniture...
    You are a great commentator/guide as well, Edgar.

  11. What a great place to visit!I loved it too!AriadnefromGreece!