Cherry Blossom Time

Having navigated subways in Hong Kong, Paris, London, and Milan and living in New York City where, despite its many problems, the subway is a way of life, I found the Washington DC metro a complicated, aggravating system.  The so-called Smartrip system requires passengers to deal with banks of machines, (some not-functioning; others that won’t accept cash, others anti-credit cards—and so forth.) Step up  to buy a card or add value and you’re confronted with a series of plusses and minuses. Need help?  There just might be a lone employee trying to deal with many frustrated people.  Does anyone mention you need to hold onto your card to exit the turnstiles upon departure? Or that certain trips cost more than others? Nope on both counts.  Two Ivy college grads managed to get around but it wasn’t easy. And between us the machines gobbled about seven dollars—overall small potatoes but at the time irritating.

By accident, we picked prime cherry blossom time to visit DC. The trees are truly lovely but it’s an ultra-busy  period — people with kids, triple strollers, wheelchairs etc.  (Perhaps we aren’t so smart although none of our DC friends said “rethink your timing.”)

Day one was spent at the (drum roll) National Museum of African American History & Culture.  It’s sensory overload with lots to see and hear and many people trying to pass through small, lower level spaces (read bottlenecks.)  At one point we entered a huge elevator where the operator announced that going forward we’d walk over a mile. No problem for us but might they have made the announcement earlier on so people could opt out? The museum’s exterior is veiled in bronze-colored cast-aluminum lattice work,

cladding on exterior of museum

apparently evocative of iron work once done by enslaved craftsmen; from the inside it lends a sense of foreboding which I bet wasn’t the intention. Overall, I’d give this venue an A for effort and C- for achievement.

On the flip side, viewing the Obama portraits was easier than anticipated. Barak’s picture hangs with other presidents while Michelle is in

Michelle Obama–beautiful but not much resemblance

another room off to one side with interestingly diverse and seemingly random company. Other areas of the National Portrait Gallery were relatively uncrowded including a section with portraits of Marlene Dietrich at her androgynous best.  The National Gallery of Art had a large exhibit devoted to work of “outliers” – artists who were self-taught or primitive or otherwise outside the mainstream who nevertheless played an important role in the history of modern art, a beautiful, bright show. The National Gallery is also currently showing works by photographer Sally Mann emphasizing her Southern roots and a beautifully curated show of sixty portraits by Cezanne drawn from other collections worldwide, some never seen in the US before.

Besides a lot of walking, the weekend encompassed catching up with DC friends. Let’s leave the orange ogre out of it. Go Stormy. Bye Paul.

We ate these Salted Oatmeal Cookies for dessert at lunch one day at Teaism,, a restaurant chain,  along with a DC pal. The 2007 recipe appeared in The Washington Post.  Recipe makes 18 cookies which will be gone in no time.

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling

In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for a few minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the sugars, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon, beating until the mixture is well blended. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing until well incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and oats, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary and mixing just until they are incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough for at least an hour before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Form the dough into golf ball-size balls and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle sea salt generously on top of each ball of dough, as you would sugar. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 15 minutes or until the cookies are puffed and beginning to turn golden, being careful not to overbake. (The cookies should have a tender interior.) Transfer the cookies, still on the parchment paper, to a wire rack to cool completely.





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4 Responses to Cherry Blossom Time

  1. Mary says:

    You captured our trip brilliantly! I laughed out loud reading about some of challenges…wish I could have done more of that at the time!!!

  2. Charlotte Levy Schwartz says:

    …and have you been to Hillwood? It is the collection of Marjorie Merriweather Post.
    Whenever I get back to DC, my best friend and I always go back to Hillwood. The collections are breathtaking.
    If you haven’t been to this museum, order your tickets early, then i suggest taking an early train to DC, Uber over to Hillwood, have lunch in the tea room, stay as late as you can, then Uber back to Union station! No metro necessary.