Inspired by 17 and Baking.
1. Small city, big town.
In cities like Los Angeles and New York, it’s easy to lose yourself. Be it a good “lose yourself” or a troublesome one — it doesn’t matter. In cities like DC, it’s easy to keep your life in perspective. The buildings aren’t too big, the streets are definitely not too wide, and the exposed brick just keeps you in check. When I’m in DC, nothing really reminds me of anything else. Yet when I leave, I find myself searching for things that remind me of DC: town houses, brick walls, and stars that cover rebar between buildings.
In cities where you don’t lose yourself, you find yourself. I guess it could also work the other way around, but that’s not what happened to me.
Yes, they exist in every other city. But beyond demographic boundaries, there is character — and each neighborhood has its own distinct personality. I live in the H Street neighborhood: quirky, detached, yet still modest from its sketchy upbringing. It’s still young enough that the trees don’t quite reach out over the roads, so the houses get a lot of light, and even more sky. But the more refined and historic residential parts of Capitol Hill are an easy ten-minute walk away.
Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what neighborhood you live in when you’re in DC — but everyone seems to be really, really into their community. That’s something you feel wherever you go, and it’s lovely.
Running is cool. Especially in DC. And what better way to get to know your city than by running it?
Even a few years ago, when we got our huge snowstorm, I’d be able to take a step outside and see at least a few people, all bundled up, powering through a pretty run. In fact, the powdery runs are my favorite. There really isn’t anything better than taking a lunchtime jog past the White House, down the National Mall, and around the Lincoln Memorial. DC is one of the prettiest things alive when it’s lightly dusted with snow.
4. Proximity to things that aren’t DC.
This city is small. Sometimes, it feels really small. For example: a girl I went to college with randomly met a friend that I went sailing with a couple of times. And then they met up with my sailing friend’s brother, who is best friends with my gay’s roommate.
Is your head spinning yet? Mine is. Long story short, if you live here long enough, you pretty much know everyone.
So sometimes, you have to get out (or just trick yourself into feeling like you’ve gotten out). Annapolis, Alexandria, the baytch, West Virginia, New York. It’s so easy to travel to and fro on this coast, and it’s all right there. And if you can’t get out, you can just go kayaking on the Potomac or picnicking in Rock Creek Park. You might just forget where you are.
5. The people.
My friends are the coolest, craziest, most interesting people in the world. There isn’t really another way to say it.
It’s eighty degrees today, but soup weather will come back at some point.
Tomato Basil Soup
A drizzle of olive oil
12 oz. tomato paste (canned is fine)
28 oz. tomatoes, diced (canned is fine here, too)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil, and heat. We’re going to caramelize your tomato paste, which will add a nice flavor depth to your soup.
Stirring frequently, cook your tomato paste in the olive oil for about ten minutes, until the color changes to a deep crimson. At this point, use a spatula to push the tomato paste over to one side of the pan, and then add your minced garlic where the pan is clear. Saute the garlic — just a bit, to release some flavor. After that starts to get some color, add your 28 ounces of diced tomatoes. Stir until even, and let simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
In a separate pot or saucepan, combine your heavy cream, milk, basil, garlic, and pepper. I added a pinch of salt — but be careful, as your canned tomatoes are probably already heavily salted. Bring your cream mixture to a boil, then remove from heat.
Just before serving, combine the cream mixture with your tomato soup, and stir until even. If you like your soup smooth, then use an immersion blender (or a food processor) to grind out all the bumps. If you like your soup chunky, well, then you’re just all set.