Wow. Fast away the old year passes..
Just a couple of things.. I had intended three subjects but due to the brilliant writing of the Feeder, the intended rant on commercialization of Christmas will have to wait..
Food (short) another La Rive (I can’t stop!)
And this will probably be the last La Rive for a while. MFO and I joined some friends for dinner a while ago. Alert readers may remember that earlier I said I had a dish I had never experienced before. On the evening we went, there was an “Octopus” salad among the first course selections. I envisioned the little deep fried ones you occasionally get in dishes like fritto misto, so I ordered it up. Well, when it arrived at the table it was quite a surprise
Quite the presentation. Never having had that particular style of octopus I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. While innovative visually, I have to admit that I found them a bit chewy and not overly flavorful.
On the other hand (or tentacle) my main dish of crispy Duck Confit was quite nice, classically prepared
Anyway, it’s nice to see new items appearing on the menu. People still seem unsettled about the place.
Last weekend, we journeyed up the road to attend a concert in the Basilica in DC, properly known as the “Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception… The shrine is the largest Catholic church in the United States and North America, one of the ten largest churches in the world, and the tallest habitable building in Washington D.C. Construction of this church, notable for its Neo-Byzantine architecture, began in 1920 under Philadelphia contractor John McShain. It opened unfinished in 1959. An estimated one million pilgrims visit the basilica each year.”
For those of you unfamiliar here is a (borrowed) picture
Note that this is NOT the National Cathedral. Which is currently under seemingly endless repair, rivaled only by the Washington Monument.
Anyway, each year the Chamber Choir from the Catholic University of America in Conjunction with the Choir of the Basilica put on a Christmas Concert for Charity, free to the public but with a chance to donate (through baskets on a pole) and the “proceeds” go to a designated charity, this year the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.
It is a very popular event and people arrive quite early to get a “good seat”, although it is of dubious value since even if you’re in front, you are quite a distance from the singers.
It is video taped for showing on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) so you can see the “boom” in front, which became intrusive at times
Eventually the place filled up
And the concert began, first with the Catholic University Choir, then the Basilica choir, then the combined choirs. Mostly sacred music, sung sometimes in original Latin, sometimes in German, but they did include some traditional Christmas Carols like "Joy to the World" and the audience were invited (stand and) to join in. The knees appreciated the chance to flex, as well as the backside getting relief from the solid wooden pews.
Although this is not my favorite form of music, 200 voices singing praises to the Lord is indeed impressive, especially in such a setting.
The concert ended with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Welcome to the season.
Sidebar Review (which got longer the more I typed)…
We decided to stay over rather than drive home after the concert. There is a new Hyatt property near our friend’s place and so we decided to stay there (he was kind enough to drive for the evening). Most readers know we prefer Marriott facilities, and unfortunately this experience did nothing to shake that loyalty. It’s a weird hotel; the lobby is on the third floor for instance. The rooms are very nice,
I kept being unsettled by that combination of art
and the windows afford interesting views of the neighborhood…
And allow clever artsy shots
The hotel has been open a year but still have some edges to hone (at least in our one time experience). For instance, they don’t have traditional room service (cost saving?)… you have to call in your order and then go pick it up. We were tuckered out and hungry after the concert and decided to use their non-room service “24/7” option. Except that when we went to call, the phone was dead. So MFO went down to the lobby and ordered, and was told it would be ready in 20 minutes. Upon returning in 20 minutes, nobody knew about the order, so she waited some, only to discover it had languished behind the desk for a while, rendering it stone cold. (so-so flatbread and (lunch meat) Turkey Club on (dry cold) toast).
Breakfast was included in the room rate so next morning we went down for the Buffet (only choice) which was nicely laid out
Oddly enough the “exit” sign for the food service line was nearest the entrance to the dining space with the “enter” located at the far end of the room. Needless to say, and understandably, most people went in the exit. Once inside all the food was on “hot plates” making them more accessable instead of the usual Chafing dishes, avoiding the normal juggling of tongs, plates, and the lids that want to slam shut on your hands.
And the contents of the serving dishes seemed to come directly from the Sysco truck (potatoes always the give away). Standard stuff with minimal taste..
And one of the attendants in the room seemed to want to emulate a Wizards player. Upon clearing a table, she did a gorilla dunk with the silverware into the tubs, causing a loud and continuous clatter. She seemed like a nice lady, spoke to the children etc., just created a din. She also had an odd habit of asking you if you were finished when your fork was between the plate and mouth..
Lastly, since our phone was dead we stopped by the desk, and when staff’s private conversation behind the desk ceased and they noticed us, we asked for a porter to help us with our bags. We agreed that 9:10 would be about the right time. We went up to the room, tidied and finished packing and……. At 9:25 we shouldered our own bags and went back to the lobby for our receipt checkout (no envelope under the door here) “Oh, didn’t anyone come to help?” Uh, no. Graciously declined her offer to personally help us out..
Since the location is very convenient both to our friend’s place and the mall, we would stay again and hope that maybe some improvements have been made. I gave them an ear full on their “take time to fill out this survey about your recent stay”. I’m sure it will have the same effect the other hundreds I’ve filled out in the past..
our nation's capitol
The Cheery Part… on delay
Well, due to the usual verbal run on, I’ll save my ire at Christmas commercials for next time. Does anybody really give somebody a surprise car with a bow on it for a gift? More later
Meanwhile the holidays offer many opportunities to