Sunday, August 1, 2010

July 31, 2010: Washington - A Walk In The Park, Zoo Surprise, Mexican Firsts

Saturday started out sunny but temperate - a projected high of only 30 degrees. So I packed us a light lunch and we headed down into Rock Creek Park. The section we're closest to seems to be a bit of a greenbelt that simply parallels the parkway, so it was a bit noisy with the nearby traffic. But there were some spots where the trail broke away into quieter valleys along the water, and we even had a bit of a challenging hike up some rocks at one point. As we walked along we passed by the backside of the zoo, and noticed a large 'Amazonia' building that we hadn't yet visited. We got as far into the park as Peirce Mill, then turned back and exited early so that we could walk through the zoo on our way home.

Since we had spotted Amazonia, we made a point of finding it when we passed through the zoo. It turned out to be great - one of the nicest simulated rain forest environments I've been to, greater underwater viewing of the fish and turtle tanks, and a large research/learning environment with lots of specimens to handle and books to read. In spite of it being a weekend it wasn't too busy at all - I could definitely see myself going back to this building on a weekday and enjoying some sketching.

In the evening we headed downtown to Oyamal Cocina Mexicana, a restaurant I'd read about in the newspaper, which was featuring squash blossoms (currently in season, and which we have plenty of at home but haven't tried cooking with yet). It was a dinner of firsts: first squash blossoms (mostly undetectable, sliced up thinly in two salad type dishes), first ceviche (I've been avoiding fish due to childhood allergies, but recent trips to an allergy specialist have encouraged me to experiment more; looks like red snapper is OK to eat!), first chicken in mole sauce (I've also been avoiding mole sauce, since it typically has nuts in it - but again, the allergy specialist has encouraged me to experiment with eating nuts, since I haven't had any serious reactions in my tests with him). I'd still like to go back to try at few more things: squash blossoms stuffed with cheese (in which it looks like the blossoms are a more prominent ingredient), plus the wide variety of tacos, with unusual fillings like confit of baby pig with green tomatillo sauce.

Photos: Pierce Mill, built on Rock Creek about 1820, operational grain mill until 1897; tangled vines on Rock Creek; a fish in Amazonia; a dusky Titi monkey; the frog pond at the zoo (the flower was not in bloom the week before when we were there)

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