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It Starts with a Day-Glo Sponge Cake

Futons. Lamps. The unfortunately-named POÄNG chair. You thought Ikea was only about super modern/self-assembled/cheapo home furnishings?

Well, "Börk, börk, börk!" to that, as the Swedish Chef would say.

Above is the fare Scott and I enjoyed while perusing our local Ikea store, which is a mere 5 miles (!) up the road. Yes, that's a neon-greenish/yellow sponge cake, in a hue not seen since Members Only jackets, fanny packs, and jelly shoes ruled the fashion scene in, oh, 1986.

The main course - Swedish Meatballs, served with mashed potatoes and a creamy gravy. Well, the Swedes don't know "gravy" - they call it a "sauce," bless their little Smörgåsbord-ed hearts.
The plate also includes Lingonberries, which brings to mind my middle-school years of loving IHOP and always wanting the Boysenberry syrup for my pancakes. Lingonberries, Boysenberries...they taste about the same to me.

Appearing to be half of a tennis ball drizzled in chocolate, the Princess Cake is actually a pastry of sponge cake, raspberry jam, whipped cream and marzipan. It tasted to me of sugar, cream and more sugar. Scott and I finished it off with mugs of Ikea coffee - of which Scott purchased two packages - one organic, one conventional - and a roll of KNÄCKEBRÖD Flerkorn (in English - Multigrain Crispbreads). So go figure we'd be the folks more interested in the funny sounding food than the furnishings.

No, the food at Ikea isn't a culinary marvel, but you can't really complain about a $4.99 plate of meatballs and mashed potatoes. It's straight-up cafeteria food, but in the environs of Ikea, caf food is totally acceptable - it's not like you're bound to encounter Adam Sandler's Lunch Lady sporting a hair net, sensible shoes and a ladle.

However, we have discovered several places upon which to give Hungry Times Two shout-outs:

- Taqueria Tres Reyes in our little burg of Riverdale, Md. I had three cheap soft corn tacos - a chorizo, a chicken, and a carne asada and they were AWESOME. Fresh, fast and hot - as one of our movers told us, if you go to Taco Bell in this hood, you're crazy, because Tres Reyes is THE place. I loved the spicy green sauce that came with the tacos - it looked like pureed, thinned-out guacamole, but it actually tasted like a creamy coconut sauce with a kick. Not sure what it is, but I like it!

- Matchbox in the Gallery Place/Chinatown area in DC. It's an old Chinese grocery store and has a three-tiered layout with an exposed brick look. Very cozy aka LOUD, but their pizza is excellent. Wood-fired and varied - check out their menu here.

- Zaytinya, also in the Gallery Place zone. I fail to correctly pronounce the name of this Eastern Mediterranean place, but one visit has me pining to go back. Happy Hour is a big deal in DC. I haven't noticed a huge "price break" so to speak in bar specials, but here at Zaytinya, they have $4 glasses of Greek red wine. The bartender even doled out free pours in our glasses after giving us our bill - so even more of a value! I immediately knew I would like Zaytinya when I walked in and despite all the sleek glass and metal decor, there were huge slabs of lamb on rotating spits visible in the kitchen. Though I didn't order anything, the people next to us at the bar munched on mezze items that looked and smelled amazing.

- Eastern Market. How could you not love a place with fresh MD crab cake sandwiches, a bakery with to-die-for sourdough bread, eclairs, cupcakes, cherry turnovers and then some, plus a PICKLE vendor, an Empenada stand, an Asian grocery, and a florist? DC's oldest continually operating market, located in the Capitol Hill 'hood, is awesome! There's also an annex with a flea market for art, clothes, jewelry, furniture, etc.

- Busboys and Poets. Named for Langston Hughes, who worked clearing tables at a DC hotel before he made the literary scene, this DC franchise serves as a community-oriented meeting spot - restaurant/bookstore/fair-trade gift shop/performance space, all serving to promote diversity, social justice and equality. Their brunch is fantastic and their Bloody Mary is kickin'.

In the spirit of Busboys, I'll end with a fantastic Hughes poem I memorized in my eighth grade English class (Thanks, Mrs. Grace Leary - I still remember most of this). It's a reminder to keep on keepin' on.

Mother to Son
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachinlandin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Hope everyone is reaching their landings and turning their corners... E


  1. I love Ikea! I miss Ikea! Go walk around Ikea for me!!


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