Cooling My Heels (Already) in D.C.

I was ready to be off like a flash to Europe, but it's the United Red Carpet lounge, watching what I believe is Shrek 2, that is my back drop today.

It began with a two hour delay at O'Hare, to land at 5:39 at Washhington Dulles with the desperate hope of maybe there being some possibility of making my 5:40 pm flight to Vienna. Which I did! Hustling onto tram and shuttle, racing up escalators to see if my running feet could be faster than the Austrian Airways mechanic who was apparently trying to address a mechanical delay. I made it, brushing past the tsk-tsk tone of the gate agent who said "You are very lucky," from her pursed lips.

Sweaty and frazzled I took my seat, read a little, marked my preferred breakfast selections on the menu...and was advised that our flight was cancelled. Thank you United Airlines for forseeing this issue, and giving me a place on a new flight via Frankfurt, even before I raced over to the Austrian Airways gate. I nearly laughed out loud when the United Customer Service Rep said, "Now, in case your Austrian flight doesn't go tonight, let me make sure you have *protection*." It sounded like he might have handed me a condom, but instead I have a new ticket. So I'm cooling my heels in D.C.

It gives me the moment to tell you about our weekend hanging out with Jason's siblings, Courtney and Randy, and their respective significant others Lorenzo and Amber. Jason coordinated the visit around this year's Pitchfork Music Festival, where we heard Modest Mouse and Broken Social Scene Friday night. (I am miffed that tonight Sleigh Bells performs, and here I am in an airport!) I have a few photos, but they are trapped on my camera.

But I went on my trip with a still-full belly from our AMAZING dinner at Hot Chocoloate in Bucktown. (A discovery from mother-in-law Nancy's gift of a Chicago Food Tasting Tour. My profile picture on this blog is me at Hot Chocolate last summer.) It's a "save room for dessert" kind of place, as the name suggests, but that's very hard with tasty appetizers like soft pretzels with fontina cheese dip and mussels cooked in PBR. The family all ordered the steak which was reported to be "the best steak I've had in my whole life." I enjoyed the seared ahi tuna salad - steak of the sea, if you will. Head chef Mindy Segal was having drinks at the bar with a friend the whole time we were there - it's always cool to see the chef at their restaurant, and you have to think that probably ups the level on service when she's there keeping an eye on things. Hopefully Mindy heard us losing our minds (and sometimes quibbling) over the delights from the kitchen. The restaurant even treated us to a free bonus dessert of warm donuts and hot chocolate dipping sauce. YUM. YUM. YUM. Bad cell phone photo - the lighting in the restaurant is very low, as if it's an age limit enforced by light bulb wattage. If you can't read the menu, you're too old to be here.

I have to go back, and this will definitely go on the list for a treat with future out of town guests. So who can please come visit next???

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