Sunday, October 24, 2010

More Fall Fun

Guess what this is?


This weekend, Matt and I made a spontaneous trip up north to Frederick, Maryland, and its environs. That there is so much surreality within 90 minutes of Washington (and for a very reasonable price!) has warmed my she-cockles for at least the next month.

Our first stop was Volt, the restaurant I have been dying to visit since Top Chef 2009 (head chef Bryan Voltaggio was the runner-up; his brother Michael won). Me and about 5,000,000,000,000 other people. Getting a reservation is impossible, especially if like me you're about as on the ball as Robert Green, the 2010 World Cup goalie from England.

I called Volt on Friday morning to see if they'd add us to the wait list for the weekend, just in case, and I found out something revelatory from the lady who answered. They have a lounge and bar area. It is first come, first serve. You don't need a reservation, and they serve the whole menu!! Best-kept secret in the entire world of trend-obsessed half-informed DC food snobbery!

Matt and I got there for lunch at 1. There was no competition at all for spaces, and within minutes we were seated at the bar, dining on shiitake veloute, delicate ravioli with frothy sage foam on top, pillowy chevre cheesecake...honestly, I have no idea what I was eating, but it was heavenly. The bartender was as attentive and friendly as any server. Volt lives up to every single bit of hype it has received. I can't believe Bryan didn't beat his brother.

The only problem with the bar area is that you have to share it with all the other "back door gourmet" cheapskates like you. In our case, these included a woman who wordlessly seized all three different bread options when asked which one she'd like, and another who insisted the bartender dump out her mostly-consumed wine and give her a new glass because hers was "sediment-y."

Less worth the calories eaten, but equally riveting, was our dinner destination, the Cozy Village in Thurmont, Maryland, about 14 miles outside of Frederick. The Cozy Village's centerpiece is its restaurant, an all-you-can-eat buffet with various nightly themes (ours was "Land and Sea").

But there is so much more to the Cozy Village.

You see, the Cozy Village is near Catocin Mountain, home of the Camp David presidential retreat. Once, after eating there, a couple of Kennedy's aides stumbled into an abandoned house nearby and ripped down some wallpaper they liked and later, Jackie Kennedy used a similar pattern to decorate a room in the White House (or something). In recognition of this humbling moment of international glory, Cozy Village is also an altar to Camp David and the American presidency. You can stay in one of many presidential themed suites! (All sold out, sadly, by the time Matt and I got there.) Pose under a sign that says "Camp David!"

Read all about our great president's and the palm tree's Herbert Hoover's wife used to decorate her room's in the White House!

...And then dine on fried chicken and whole crayfish! With the heads still on!

I probably seem a little snarky right now. Let me explain. Cozy Village is, in many ways, a nomofomecca ("nomofomo Mecca")--an outpost of homemade root beer and kitsch so profound I wanted to kneel down and make out with the ground when I got there. But when I went inside, I couldn't help but notice there was something a little odd about the Cozy Village, particularly the museum. Something...missing. And it was more than just good grammar on the signage.

Reagan, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Eisenhower, Clinton, Nixon, very nice...wait. Where was Barack Obama? In a museum about the presidency?

He was in the gift shop. Next to a Jesse Jackson bobblehead.


Anyway, enough with the culinary adventures...this post is already getting too long. Between the best and one of the most interesting meals I've had in a while was the MOTHERF-ING PUMPKIN CANNON. Lawyer's Moonlight Maze [and Pumpkin Cannon] was the reason we went out to Thurmont in the first place. The farm consists of a 7.5-MILE corn maze in the shape of two superheroes and a tank (something I guess you can only appreciate from the air), a pumpkin cannon firing range featuring giant robots made out of old junker cars and oil barrels, and a nice little fire where you can roast marshmallows.

Matt and I totally cheated on the corn maze (our motto: when in doubt, blunder through the corn toward the sound of the pumpkin cannon). Parts of the maze made us feel like we were doomed extras in Battlestar Galactica, as we emerged into a clearing only to see enormous, angry robots looming in the distance.

We had to wait in line for two hours to take aim at those cylon bastards, but eventually we did, and I totally hit one. Look at how mad I made him.

...Yeah, take it.

We weighed driving home to Washington after that, but instead we decided to make it a weekend and keep driving to Gettysburg, which was only 20 minutes or so away at that point. We pulled over to stay at the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center despite one Yelp user's warning that he had spent the night there being eaten alive by spiders and spent all of Sunday afternoon communing with Civil War ghosts and lazily eating fajitas. Then we finally came back. I spent the whole drive asleep and snoring with my mouth open, but Matt tells me it only took an hour and a half. Hard to believe this was all so close to DC.


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