Goldberg’s: One Solid Bagel

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Every now and then I get it—the intense craving for that blister-boiled outer crust bursting with soft, chewy, starchy bliss.  Yes. I recently had a bagel day. I had to have that goddamn bagel and I had to have it as soon as possible. Living in the DC area, bagel cravings can make for difficult days. There was one a time when I was single and footloose—When I need a bagel it was time to head north for a quick NYC trip. And yes, I’ve traveled 4 hours to NYC to pick up bagels. Those days are long gone so I search for the best local bagel eatery around.

So far, the best I’ve found is Goldberg’s Bagels. Goldberg’s is a proper bagel. I received my bagel education by watching bagels being made from scratch at the now (RIP) closed H&H Bagels in Manhattan. I used frequent their Upper East Side location with every visit to the Big Apple. Every bagel has a few essential elements: The dough has spent a few days in the fridge. It’s risen properly. It’s kettle-boiled (the most essential part), placed in cold water, and then baked. Bagels are laborious. And when  prepared with any other method, they are not bagels. They are imposters and one can immediately tell by texture and taste—usually even by appearance.

Goldberg’s bagels are made using traditional methods. They are fresh and offer the right mix of simplicity. The outer crust is a solid, mildly tough texture. The inner crust is soft –neither cake-like or doughy (signs of bad bagels).  No, it’s more like a brioche without the buttery finish.

So, that’s it—the only proper bagels I’ve really found in DC are Goldberg’s. One doesn’t go to Goldberg’s for the ambiance, the surly staff who clearly prioritize their Jewish clientele over others, or their terrible sandwich menu and bad coffee. It’s not a place I recommend dining in. I can’t speak highly of their cream cheese or lox—only the bagel. It’s the place you go to as a stop-off from 495 to get your bagel and take home, and my 3.5 year old likes that they have a chocolate chip bagel. I go for the everything seed or onion bagel.

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Kinship: A Review

We recently had the good fortune of a memorable meal with friends at Kinship, the latest restaurant by visionary Chef Eric Ziebold in Washington, DC. Kinship is what I would call a “concept” restaurant which has a menu inspired by the single concept of Kinship.  

“Kinship: A feeling of being close or connected to other people.” -Eric Ziebold and Ceila Laurant

Ziebold and Laurant define kinship with culinary items placed in one of four categories on the menu: Craft, History, Ingredients, and Indulgence. The organization of the menu around these four terms is as delightful for the diner as it is appealing to the academic social scientist in me.

Each category includes 2-3 appetizers, main courses and dessert options from which diners can pick and choose. My dinner selection centered on crafty indulgence with a focus on ingredients for dessert.  

Highlights included morels served in a light mushroom sauce with poached egg and porcini as well as a splendid foie gras prepared to perfection with a sweet apple jam base (indulgence). As a main I opted for the duck confit (craft) which did not disappoint with its well-perfected texture–one of the best I’ve had. The homemade bread and butter provided to the table also adds a nice touch.

As a dessert our table opted for the salted caramel peanut bar–peanut, chocolate ganache and salted caramel with a scoop of bourbon ice cream–what more could one ask for–though dessert are on the smaller side compared to the typical DC restaurant and I would not recommend sharing. 

Other notes about the restaurant-the wine menu is extensive and they serve a variety of wonderful fruity reds with a large selection of Cabs and Pinots, which accompany most of the meal items well. They also have a well-rinsed slection of whites. This wine menu is among my favorite in DC, with Blue Duck Tavern being my absolute favorite. I also like that the Kinship menu provided the option of half bottles. I do not know if there is a sommelier on staff and it would have been nicer if one had stopped by. 

The waitstaff were professional but still appear to be getting their act together. A better trained and more well spoken set of waitstaff could really elevate this restaurant placing it among they top DC dining destinations.

The ambiance is perfect mix of modernity integrated with concepts from the slow food movement–a minimalist heaven with a touch of home-like comforts, especially the set up at the bar. I felt like I was sitting inside of a Kinfolk magazine, a modern hipster’s delight. 

Kinship Rating (5 point scale)
Food: 4.5
Dessert: 4.5
Ambiance: 5
Service: 4

Growth comes at the point of resistance: What I learned on summer vacation

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A heartfelt emphatically present, incrementally inspiring mom or dad or coach can liberate an ambitious child to take the world by the horns. As adults, we have to take responsibility for ourselves and nurture a healthy, liberated mind-set. We need to put ourselves out there, give it our all, and reap the lesson, win or lose. The fact of the matter is that there will be nothing learned from any challenge in which we don’t try our hardest. Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities.  -Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence (Highly recommended vacation reading)

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And just like that…our vacation in Costa Rica is coming to a close as we wrap up our final day.  Three weeks have gone by quickly, but the trip has served our purpose—providing a beautiful new and relaxing space for exploration and unwinding, and for making us realize how fortunate we are with our day-to-day lives back in Takoma Park, MD.  We’ve also faced some difficult questions and sought answers to those questions. Most importantly, we are now ready to return home—refreshed and excited for what the remainder of summer will entail.

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That’s it for the serious stuff. Now, the bucket list of I’ve really enjoyed and will miss about Costa Rica:
Our Lomas home in Neuvo Colon, Finca Mirador
Cooking at Finca Mirador (even when my bread was a TOTAL flop)
The local beach, Playa Matapaolo
Beach time and yoga play with the kids
4 am yoga practices and watching the sunrise
Flora and fauna of all kinds
Butterflies and humming birds
MONKEYS (currently howling in the background)
The Coco Loco drink at Playa Flamingo
Nature arts and crafts with Diya
Dhyan learns sequencing and relationships—dropping duck and water bottle game and putting on mommy’s sunglasses
Observing Diiya’s vocabulary explosion
Spending time with Granny Sue
Visits from Diya’s big cousins
Mommy-daughter outings
Hot springs at the Arenal volcano
Long beautiful sunsets with my amazing husband
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The Balancing Act

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Every period of travel introduces new lessons. In February we spent the month in Bangalore. Overextended in work, I was reminded about knowing when to stop and rest—when to say “enough practice/work/activity for today.”  Now as we find ourselves in Guanacaste, the Northwest province of Costa Rica for the month, my morning yoga practices are fraught with lessons of balance, especially as I move through standing postures, Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana and Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. These are postures that are always and never a struggle—in the sense I get into them without hassle but can struggle immensely depending on my desire to work on them in practice. Also, after attending a great workshop with Krista Shirley in April, I was reminded of all of the various ways I can work on these postures to strengthen bandhas and really ground myself in practice. I’ve definitely been more aware since then. I feel progress has been made…until the last few days.

Every morning over the last week I lose my balance in these postures and struggle to bring them back together again. Astrology would suggest this has something to do with some activity between Neptune and Jupiter. We’ve also just had a full moon with all kinds of energy jumping everywhere. After a few days of rest and realignment today’s practice was better but still a struggle.

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I delve deeper to explore what these balancing postures have to say about my life and the current state of my mind as I try to balance so many aspects of daily life—home life vs. professional life, my children’s needs vs. my own, career choices, and the many multidimensional aspects of all my interpersonal relationships.

There are the big questions—confronted with the question of what to do next with my career, where I want to be in 5 years, and the most valuable way to spend time now to maximize present and future happiness?

As I explore these deep questions I am once again humbled by how the practice of ashtanga yoga has led me to delve deeper through the lens of balance. I find no immediate answers, but do see a need to step back and to let go of the easily identifiable negative aspects pulling me down to focus on the positive aspects propelling me forward. While not easy, the lesson is humbling.

“Practice and all is coming.” -Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.

Photo credits to my amazing husband, Chidu Rajghatta.

The Tumeric/Haldi Latte: A Review

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So, after all of the hype from  Indian media the last few days about this latest San Francisco barista craze, I had to try it.

This new trend  also happens to be the cold remedy for millions of Indians, including my Mother-in-law, and has a long history in India for treating sore throats. I was told when I was living in India back in 2005 that if I would drink a version of this concoction at the onset of a cold, it would stop the cold from progressing. The tumeric and pepper coat the throat, and after drinking it you’re not supposed to drink anything else for 30 minutes. It does seem to have benefits when I’m not feeling well, but until now, I’ve never considered making it into a latte or related type of beverage. I’ve always just crushed a teaspoon of peppercorn and mixed it with a teaspoon of turmeric and 1/2 cup of warmed milk. Over the years I’ve grown to like the sharp taste of the tumeric combined with the pepper, but confess, that I gagged the first time I ever tried it.

The latte is a much improved upon variation, and one I may just happily enjoy as an afternoon alternative to herbal teas.

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon haldi/tumeric
1 teaspoon fresh cut ginger
1 teaspoon coconut oil
5 Black peppercorns
A sprinkle of cinnamon
A pinch of sea salt
Honey to taste
1 cup milk of your choice

How to make:
Heat milk on a stovetop.
Grind all other ingredients in a coffee grinder with a touch of water.
When milk begins to boil mix ingredients together. Stir or use a milk frother until it reaches your desired consistency.

Pour and enjoy.

ಮುಗಿಸಿದರು? ಮುಗಿಸಿದರು. Knowing when to stop.

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Today she crashed during my yoga practice, and suddenly a little voice rang out inside my head said, “You’re finished. That’s it for the day. Take rest.” And that’s exactly what I did. I curled up right beside her and entered shavasana.

“You’re finished. Take rest.” Where does the voice come from? It’s not the lazy voice that I sometimes hear with a wondering mind. No. It’s not that voice at all. It’s a voice from deep within that is there in everything I do and has been present as long as I can remember–the body’s own way of saying it is time to stop.

I love watching children, because they hear the voice. They lie down and listen no matter where they are or what they are doing. It’s beautiful. Somewhere as we grow up, I think most of us learn to ignore the call to stop and take rest even when it is loud and strong. “No. I’ll just get a coffee and finish that paper, or I’ll make up that loss of sleep tomorrow.” I remember cross-country and marathon running days in college and graduate school when  I wouldn’t stop for anything unless I logged at least 45 miles into my running diary each week. I just kept going until I fell down and literally ended up with an injury, or catching a cold. Even with regular yoga practice, until a few years ago I often heard the call to take rest and would just push myself thinking, “No. I will stand up in my backbend today–just a few more tries.” After a few more tries I was beat and grumpy all day.

Then something happened during a yoga session with Kino McGregor a few years ago. I arrived to the practice ready to really work on backbends. After completing primary series, I did my first backbends and drop back. She came from across the room and assisted with my next one. Then, just as a good Bangalore Aunty tells me to take rest after lunch, she nodded her head and immediately said “You’re finished. Take rest.” At first I was offended. How could she stop me? This was the main part of the practice I had come to work on. I wanted to do more backbends. But later in the day I realized something. I felt really good. I wasn’t tired or grumpy. She saw through my practice and knew when it was time to stop. Then I started listening myself, and I started hearing that voice again and heeding its call.

It is far too easy to ignore the call to take rest, but I try to listen for that voice inside that says, “You’re finished”–in yoga, at home, and in  my professional life. The basic lesson: Sometimes less is more.