Festivals and Fireworks.

After a wonderful morning at the farmer’s market, we spent a little time at home resting up and getting ready for a big day out in the city.  We walked the (almost) mile from our house to the Metro, and then hopped on towards DC!  I was a little scared of this poster until I realized it was a Gillette advertisement.

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We jumped off at the Foggy Bottom metro station, and walked a few blocks to the George Washington University campus.  What better way to be welcomed into our new hometown than with DC VegFest falling on our first weekend here!

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In addition to all the great food and vendors there, I wanted to be there early enough to catch a few of the speakers.  After reading about vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke on No Meat Athlete’s blog, I was excited to hear what he had to say about veganism and athletic performance.

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He gave a really great talk all about motivation and consistency.  We really are the keepers of our own destiny.  One of his best lines in my opinion was, “As vegans and vegetarians we have to lead by example.  Let’s change the image of vegans as being skinny and weak, and show that we are healthy, strong, and happy.”

All that talk about delicious vegan food made me HUNGRY, and we made our way around the veeeery crowded food vendors to find lunch.  Going off a blog reader recommendation, we decided on Amsterdam Falafel Shop

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We purchased plain falafels, and then waited in an incredibly long line to fill them up with toppings. 

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I took some beets and pickled cabbage, along with a few fun unidentifiable sauces (the perks of being at a vegfest – not having to wonder if things are vegetarian!).

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We sat and enjoyed our lunch in the grass on an absolutely beautiful and sunny afternoon. 

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I was really excited to see how crowded the festival was – gives me hope that more and more people are starting to see the benefits of vegetarian eating. 

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I will say that as a whole, I was a little disappointed in the informational booths and vendor messaging.  A lot of the booths were using scare tactics and plastering horrific information about animal testing and cruelty as a means for influencing people to eat vegetarian (some were even showing videos).  While obviously those issues are at the very heart of why I eat the way I do, I prefer to focus on the positive benefits of eating a vegetarian diet, rather than harping on the negative effects of the alternative.

I was so excited finally get to meet (in person) one of my other favorite vegetarian bloggers, and another blogger who is all about positively advocating a vegetarian diet – Matt from No Meat Athlete!  You can’t get much more positive than a running carrot.  :)

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It was fun to talk to Matt for a while, and get a chance to meet his wife and adorable veggie baby.  Before we left, we had to take advantage of the rare opportunity to get some delicious vegan dessert.  We picked up this pretty pink box from Emily’s Desserts – how appropriate.

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Feast your eyes on this – a gluten free and vegan chocolate peanut butter layered mini cake.  Ohhhh deliciousness.

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Casey and I grabbed two forks and sat and ate it right there in the grass.  A fun way to end a fabulous festival!

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But the fun wasn’t over yet.  We were just getting started!  We headed back down to our neck of the woods, and spent about an hour walking around the King Street Arts Festival – a giant gathering of local artist and craftsmen showcasing their beautiful work.

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It was a gorgeous day, and there were people, dogs, and families everywhere.

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I have absolutely NO eye for art, so sometimes the concepts are a little lost on me. 

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I also didn’t realize how expensive original artwork can be!!  We were hoping to maybe find something to hang in the empty spot above the couch, and we found a few things that we really liked, this this pretty red tree below.  Unfortunately it was almost $5,000 – just a wee bit out of my price range.  :) 

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Even though we didn’t buy anything, it was fun to walk around Old Town and see all the pretty art and jewelry, and continue to explore our charming community. 

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After checking in with the dogs and collapsing on the couch for a bit, we headed back into the city for dinner out with friends.  After hearing good things, we tried to go to Good Stuff Eatery in Capitol Hill last week, but discovered that it was closed.  When we found out that Blake was headed back there this weekend, we jumped at the chance to go again!  The restaurant is founded by Spike from Top Chef, and the concept is gourmet burgers and fries. 

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I have to be honest – it was one of the single most disappointing restaurant experiences I’ve had to date.  While they did offer a mushroom burger (which I had made sure of in advance), it was premade and stuffed with cheese, so there was no option to remove the cheese and make it vegan, which left Casey with a pile of fries for dinner.

I ordered a village snack fry, which was supposed to be a small thing of French fries tossed in dried thyme and rosemary, but as you can see I had almost no herbs on mine.  I don’t usually order fries, but the entire reason I did here was because I thought the herbs sounded delicious.  No herbs = no bueno. 

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The mushroom burger was stuffed with t
wo cheeses and fried in a coating of panko.  I will admit, the taste was fine, but perhaps this just isn’t my kind of food.  I honestly think that now that I’m so used to eating healthy homemade food, I’ve sort of lost the taste for greasy fast-food type eating.  I ate it, but it made me feel gross. 

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And while the food was lackluster, that wasn’t what bothered me the most.  The service was absolutely terrible.  The cashiers didn’t even make eye contact when you ordered, and they acted like our presence was an inconvenience.  I don’t know if the whole “act mean to the customers thing” is part of the atmosphere Spike is trying to create, but if it is he has definitely missed the mark.  Bottom line – Good Stuff is not good. 

But the company was wonderful!  It was nice to meet Blake’s friends and have a fun night out, regardless of the dinner itself.

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When the rest of the group headed out on the town for the night, Casey and I decided to take the long way home and walked down to the National Mall on our way back to the Metro.  I don’t see how it could ever get old to walk past views like this on your way home from dinner…

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My (lack of) knowledge of government, politics, and history is actually quite embarrassing, but that doesn’t stop me from being totally in awe of the beautiful architecture and overwhelming power that this city represents. 

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And just as we came over the hill and passed the Capitol, we looked out to our left and saw an incredible fireworks show coming from the baseball stadium. 

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Not sure if there was an actual game, or perhaps a 9/11 tribute going on, but either way it was the perfect ending to a wonderful day. 

In total we walked over 9 miles for the day, and my legs are feeling it this morning.  Hoping to recover enough in time to run this afternoon!