Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fogo De Chow Down

On Thursday I went out to dinner in DC to help celebrate my brother graduating from business school. We couldn't find a sitter for the kids so Lori graciously stayed at home. She had already been to the restaurant of choice for the night, Fogo De Chau. The Brazilian Churrascaria is located in the heart of downtown DC and is probably PETA's worst nightmare. I had heard about the all-you-can-eat-meat theme of the restaurant which was one of the reasons I was keen on visiting. Unfortunately I had just acquired a pretty nasty cold the night before and almost cancelled at the last minute if it wasn't for these little orange dynamos.

Side note... My cold persists to this day and is pretty strong. I'm slightly convinced this is the start of Swine Flu. Since my amazing wife (the bravest woman I know) is taking on her first sprint triathlon this weekend, I immediately tried to quarantine myself to prevent the sickness from passing on to her. Alex seems to have acquired it, so we just need to hold off on spreading it for one more day.

The meal at Fogo was very good. I was given the FAQ on the dinner proceedings by my dinner guests. Nate, Besse, Besse's parents Jay and Jill and our jovial friend Jim Holmberg all attended. All five of them had been to Fogo before. I felt like a NASCAR race rookie and fully expected Nate to put yellow tape on my rear. They instructed me on how to first take a trip to the salad bar to prep for the main event. I got a small amount of fresh mozzarella and a little pinch of caesar salad.

The rules for consuming the mass quantities of fresh meat were simple (outlined here in the "Dining Experience" section of the website). You had a colored coaster next to your plate. If you turned it so the green side was facing up then the gauchos (waiters complete with hammer pants) would stop at your plate as they passed by with one of 15 different kinds of meat on large skewers. You could then say yes or no as to whether you wanted a slice of that specific meat. Sausages, bacon-wrapped fillet and other meats would slide off the skewer onto the plate. For sliced meat like the delicious top sirloin, you needed to use your supplied personal mini tongs to pull the meat off as they sliced it. When you wanted to take a break and concentrate on eating, you turned the colored coaster over to the red side and the gauchos would pass you by as you ate.

The only way to make the meat delivery experience fresher would be to parade around actual cows, pigs and lamb and have the patrons dig their teeth directly into the animals as they passed. Overall I had a good time but several of the meats seemed very salty. It could be that my cold hampered my sense of taste as well. The top sirloin and lamb cuts were my favorites. Next time I will pace myself better (I was pretty much done about 30 minutes into dinner). Apparently there are other Churrascarias in the area as well that I may want to sample. If you are an extreme carnivore, I fully recommend sampling the meat gorging experience of Fogo De Chau.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Now THAT'S a Playground!

On Friday, after leaving work early to experience the goodness that is District 9, I joined up with Lori and the kids at a nearby park in Mclean. She was taking the kids to Clemyjontri Park after their naps to meet up with her friend and her toddler son. When she first told me they were going to this park I immediately thought "Clem-what? Park?"

After I pulled into the spacious parking lot I instantly knew that this was no ordinary park. The area was canvased with colorful playground equipment, swings, tunnels, ramps, cars, fire engines, mazes, see saws, monkey bars, ziplines and just about anything else a kid could want at a local playground. It took me some time to locate my family amidst the array of apparatuses. Once I found them I realized Josh and Alex had already been running full-bore across the sprawl of fun. They were both beat red and chock full of energy.

I have to admit, I was pretty psyched to roam around the grounds myself. I especially enjoyed the maze that I could see over but Josh and Alex could not. We let Alex lead the way and he used his surprising navigational skills to get out of the maze rather quickly. The two acre playground is sectioned into four areas that have specific focus concentrations. The entire surface of the park is made up of soft rubbery material that cushions any potential accidents that may occur. The downside of this type of floor covering (coupled with the fact that it was very humid on Friday) is that the park gets very hot rather quickly. After just 15 minutes of playing with the boys I was dripping in sweat (thanks to the pair of jeans I wore to work on casual Friday).

I'm really hoping I can get my Mom out to this park when the weather cools down. The entire park is handicapped accessible and she could easily get around in her power chair and watch the kids go nuts. I'm surprised I hadn't heard about this crazy park with the crazy name before. I believe Lori had and I'm glad she took the kids there. I'm sure this won't be our only visit to "the playground to end all playgrounds."

Enjoy a quick video of Josh working the "zipline" with a random Batman kid watching.