July 24, 2011

Day Trip to Annapolis

Yesterday I surprised MG with a day trip to Annapolis - he knew we were going somewhere for the day, but he didn't know where until we were on our way there :)

Despite the heat, we had a fantastic time.  The city is only about 30 minutes away, so we drove up in the morning, and arrived about 11:30.  After parking the rental, we walked down to the waterfront to start the trip off right - with a dockside lunch!  I had some delicious fish tacos and steamed veggies.  MG had jerk chicken and let me have a bite - also delicious!

I forgot to take a picture of the food, but this was a lovely view.

We knew generally that we wanted to see the State House, the Paca House and Gardens and the U.S. Naval Academy, but other than that had no real agenda, so after lunch we started wandering.  Luckily, a turn down a small street led us to Capital Teas - we though it was just a tea shop where we could buy iced teas, but it was SO MUCH BETTER.  There were no brewed teas, but every flavor (scent?) of loose leaf teas imaginable.  We smelled quite a few, but as soon as we found the chocolate mint flavor and the toasted almond flavor, we knew we'd found our winners.  It's way too hot to think about actually having any right now, but I'm starting to daydream of cooler (possibly sweater?) weather and a glass of hot toasted almond tea.

So happy we discovered this place!

Next we toured the Paca House and Gardens, an historical 18th century home built by one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  The house itself was lovely, but the real highlight was the extensive gardens.



A beautiful trellis.  I felt like I was in the Secret Garden.

Possibly a pomegranate?

After the house and garden tour we decided to have an ice cream break.  I had a scoop each of sugar-free butter pecan and sugar-free moose tracks, and MG had a scoop of raspberry truffle and a scoop of chocolate peanut butter.  It was fantastic, and fitting way to start my 1 week ice cream/froyo self-imposed moratorium, since I've had one of the two every day for the last 4 days (and twice on Friday).  Oops.

Essential on a hot day of walking.

After our frozen treats we walked the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, which were beautiful.  There was a whole row of houses where the senior officers and deans live.  They were all in a row, with white porches and red, white and blue bunting and perfectly manicured yards.  I think if I lived there I'd pretend I was in the Music Man every day.

After the U.S.N.A. we wandered the streets for a few more hours, stopping at some antique stores and a book store or two.  Finally, we decided it was time to have dinner before heading back to D.C.  We lucked out and found a tapas restaurant called Level that features locally-sourced produce and meats.  Although Thai food sounded good too, we figured we didn't get a chance to sample locally produced Maryland food that often, so tapas it was.  Excellent decision!  Unfortunately the picture quality below isn't great - it wasn't well lit and I didn't want to disrupt other diners with the flash all the time.  Nevertheless, photo documentation was in order.


Potato gnocchi with a pea puree and bison satay in the background.
P.S. apparently they raise bison in MD?!

Japanese eggplant with goat cheese.

Grilled calamari with crispy capers.

Cuban pork spring rolls with habanero sweet dipping sauce.

Sauteed wax beans with red pepper and garlic - clearly we enjoyed these.

The gnocchi and the sauteed wax beans were our favorites.  The grilled calamari was probably our least favorite - MG is not a seafood fan (but was being a good sport in the spirit of trying new things), and I found the squid a little tougher than I'd like.  But everything else was fantastic.  

Why is this book on the table?

Secret check holder!  Fancy :)

If you're in Annapolis, I recommend this place. 

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