Tag Archives: Washington DC

The Mall In Washington DC – Beautiful Even On A Cold Wintry Day

These pictures were taken earlier this week on a cold, wintry day on the Mall.  As former residents of the area, we continue to fall in love every time we visit.  Can you see why?

The majestic Washington Monument
The majestic Washington Monument
The Washington Monument against darkening clouds
The Washington Monument against darkening clouds
The Capitol
The Capitol
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The beautiful Smithsonian building
Another Gallery on the Mall
S. Dillon Ripley Center
The National Museum of Natural History
The National Museum of Natural History
The Smithsonian Building
The Smithsonian Building – Up Close
A few exhibits from the Air and Space Museum
A few exhibits from the Air and Space Museum
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Another impressive display
The impressive elephant in the Rotunda of the Natural History Museum
The impressive elephant in the Rotunda of the Natural History Museum

National Museum Of Natural History, Washington DC – A Perfect Escape

By Lakshmi:

Who? Anyone who is visiting the Washington DC area has a must do on their list – The Smithsonian Museums.  Many a visitor tends to cram all the museums on the Mall in one day.  But, if you have the luxury of time , it is awesome to spend at least half a day or more at each museum.

What? The National Museum of Natural History is located on the Mall in Washington DC.  Like most of the museums on the Mall, this one costs nothing to enter, making it an affordable, fun treat for the whole family.

How? You can take the Metro to the Smithsonian station and walk the path across the Mall to this museum.  Parking is tough, so public transportation is recommended.

Why?  Having spent many years in the DC area, we have lost count of the number of times we have visited the Smithsonian museums.  And now living away from the area, the museums are still a mandate on our yearly sojourns into the city.  This week, we were facing an incredibly cold day and off we walked into the National Museum of Natural History.  From the magnificent African elephant that greets you in the Rotunda, the museum is chock full of treasures and elements that holds attention spans across ages.  The Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals features 274 mammals found across continents over 220 million years.  From life size animal likenesses on display to artifacts that you can touch to learn more, the exhibit is simply awesome.  Toddlers are amazed to watch the animals in their story books come to life, young children marvel at the differences and similarities and adults walk away learning yet another unknown fact.  If animals are not your thing, and murder mysteries intrigue you, then you will love the Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th-Century Chesapeake.  Of course, if diamonds are on your mind this holiday season, you cannot miss the Hope diamond on display in the Harry Winston gallery.  No visit for us is complete without catching an IMAX movie and this time we watched the Flying Monsters 3D, an impressive narration by David Attenborough.

I can go on and on about all the reasons we love this museum, including the gift shop and cafe….instead, I will stop here and share some pictures so you will want to visit.  You can also find an exhaustive listing of all the exhibits at their website at http://www.mnh.si.edu/

The impressive elephant in the Rotunda
The impressive elephant in the Rotunda

Why visit the Mammals exhibit?
Why visit the Mammals exhibit?

Our common origins
Our common origins

One of the 270 plus mammals on display
One of the 270 plus mammals on display

Want to join me?
Want to join me?

More life size mammals on display
More life size mammals on display

Bones, skeletons, artifacts and more...
Bones, skeletons, artifacts and more…

 

Baklava – A Little Piece Of Happiness In Every Layer

By Lakshmi:

Baklava – The very word conjures up beautiful images in my mind.

– Delicate layers of flaky phyllo dough encasing a filling of sweetened nuts drizzled with a sugar/honey syrup flavored with cardamom or orange blossom

– The joy on people’s faces as they savor their first bite followed by the myriad of expressions that follow on discovering the filling and the melding of flavors.

– The little crumbs sticking over your lips and potentially clothing, making you a bit angry that you could not eat more neatly and yet you have no regrets over devouring something so sinful.

– The excuse to have yet another cup of your favorite beverage (coffee) to balance your palate

Ok…how’s that for waxing eloquence on one of my favorite desserts?

Since its debut in the 8th century BC in ancient Assyrian civilization, more people have fought over rights to creating Baklava than patent contests in the modern world.  Regardless of  its origin, we know that it is a dessert enjoyed with a cup of coffee in Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Armenia, Egypt and more.

Since my very first bite at Lebanese Taverna in the Washington DC area, discovering the varieties of Baklava around the world has been joyful.  The phyllo has been a staple, while the fillings have varied from walnut and pistachios to caramelized milk and more modern versions with chocolate.  I have had cab drivers from the Middle East argue the merits of their native Baklava, discrediting others as imitations and proving that the dish is worthy of national debate!

Favorite memories include savoring the dessert at Bacchus and Lebanese Taverna in the DC area, at Karakoy Gulluoglu in Istanbul, at a small unknown stall near Plaka in Athens, at a roadside eatery in Egypt….and the list goes on and on!

I am proud to claim that not only have I eaten my weight in Baklava during our global travels, but I have also experimented making it with success in my own kitchen.  And to many a naysayer who calls making Baklava a laborious process that’s not worth the calories, I retort and say, it’s pretty simple and totally worth it.

If you’d like to ever overcome your fears to try making Baklava, the simple illustration beautifully created by the website www.theydrawandcook.com should be all you need to get started.  Happy foraging for Baklava!

Baklava