Last Saturday, I left my normal four block radius on U St. and traveled to Fredrick, MD to eat at Volt's Table 21.  For those of you who aren't food geeks and Top Chef fans, Volt is Bryan Voltaggio's restaurant that focuses on local, seasonal menus.  Table 21 is the chef's table in the kitchen.  A friend of mine procured the reservation in November 2009.  That's right…she made the reservation LAST YEAR and the wait continues to be close to a year for Table 21.   It seems Table 21 has achieved the enviable reservation status of "almost impossible."  

I was excited about going to Volt.  My folks owned several restaurants while I was growing up in NC and food has always played a key role in our dynamic.  This has translated into a fierce fascination with good food, unusual dining experiences and new restaurants.  To top it off, my husband is an instinctive cook and is always making something yummy.  Needless to say, discussions about food, wine, and restaurants dominates a lot of conversations.

Let me preempt my commentary by explaining we've also eaten at minibar.  It's very, very hard to top a minibar experience.  Jose Andres pioneered the concept and he's mastered it.  I had a lot of moments where I was thinking "hmm…Volt vs. minibar" and minibar was winning.  I'm not saying Volt isn't good.  In fact, it was excellent and I'm thrilled I was able to experience it.  I'm saying I'm jaded.

Back to Volt.  We had 21 courses!  I'm only going to highlight a few of the courses for the sake of brevity.  21 courses takes a lot of stamina even when the courses are small.  I'm also exceptionally picky and I don't like a million things.  I know.  I'm a pain in the ass.  I'm not Anthony Bourdain, people. This doesn't diminish the experience for me.  I try everything and my husband is the clean up crew.  It's the best of both worlds. 

This is the Neil Dundee*, the beverage director, making our first course called the "john daly".  It involved lots of liquid nitrogen (notice the "steam" coming off the top of the glasses), hanger one buddha hand citron, orange and sweet tea foam.  It was a dramatic presentation which we loved.  I'm a sucker for great presentation.

To the right, is Volt's take on the Caprese salad.  The precision in each of the dishes was impressive.  In this course, each tomato was perfect.  The mozzarella was a tiny bubble. The basil was presented as frozen pellets.  All the elements melted in your mouth to make an incredible bite. 

The course to the left was lobster, butter, fennel and carrots.  All of the course were cooked perfectly.  I felt one or two of the meat courses were over salted.  Otherwise, it was phenomenal.  I didn't love a few of the courses but as I mentioned, I'm picky.  The rest of my crew thought almost everything was good.  The courses with the least amount of gimmick were our favorites.  The consensus was the regular menu must rock.

The service was exceptional.  It was top tier and thoughtful.  We received muffins for breakfast as we exited.  Ours were lemon poppy seed and they were devoured Sunday morning.

Overall, I enjoyed myself immensely. For a food geek like me, it was a perfect Saturday evening.  For the entire menu, see below.

-"john daly" hanger one buddha hand citron, orange, sweet tea foam
 -proscuitto chip & dip
– beet macaroon with foie gras (I really enjoyed this although I generally despise beets)
– yellowfin tuna tartare cilantro,jasmine rice wrapper, soy, yuzu, avocado
-chilled yellow corn crab salad, coconut
-"chicken parmesan" parmesan noodles, parsley
-cherry glen farm ravioli porcini mushroom, goat cheese (my favorite!)
-lobster butter, fennel
-sturgeon sour cream and onion potatoes, red onion confiture
-artic char maroon carrots, matsutake mushrooms
-barramundi cauliflower, verjus, chickpea
-sweetbreads fennel, kalamata olive, caper, lemon
-turscarora farm beets arugula, goat cheese, balsamic
-pork belly mostarda, cannellini beans, orange
-border springs farm lamb licorice, curry, farro, cauliflower
.jpgneland farm strip loin lobster mushroom, applewood smoked bacon
-point reyes blue cheese apple, balsamic
-goat cheesecake raspberry sorbet, morcona almonds, caramel powder
-gala apple walnut crumb, dulce de leche
-textures of chocolate caramel, chocolate ice cream
-chocolate, candies and macaroons

*sorry for the fuzzy photos.  All photos were from our phones. 

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Although I'd love to claim the shout out on Urban Turf was about me, it was about my new listing.  It was featured this week on Comp and Circumstance: The Battle of the Two Bedrooms.  The comments on the post are about half and half (excluding my comment that favors the U St. condo.  Come on…of course I'm going to advocate for the U St. property.  It's my listing and in my neighborhood.  Everyone already knows about my love affair with my 'hood.)  We're having another Open this Sunday 9/26 from 1-4 if you want to make a decision for yourself.

So far, we've had a lot of interest in the unit.  A couple of agents have asked for disclosures but no registered offers.  (yet!) 

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For the last week, I've been wrangling an offer on behalf of one of my buyers.  The sellers are DB's (use your imagination) and they think it's 2004 not 2010.

Our offer came in 10K below the last sold comp.  Yes, we knew it was low but it wasn't a low ball offer or 10% off list.  It was 35K off list.  It was risky tactic but we assumed the seller would counter with a reasonable number based on the sold comps in the area.

There were no other offers.  We were the first and it had been on the market for 14 days.  It was priced well but it wasn't exactly right or there would have been multiple offers.  A recent post on Urban Turf indicated the highest amount of the interest a listing receives is in the first four/fives days it's on the market.  I was hopeful we'd be able to come to an agreement quickly.

Instead, the sellers scoffed and countered with the list price.  You read that correctly.  THEY REFUSED TO NEGOTIATE AT ALL.  I was flabbergasted. 

My client was annoyed but the place is appealing.  We came up 30K.  THE SELLERS STILL DIDN'T ACCEPT IT.  We're still negotiating.  

I'm gobsmacked.  I know nothing should surprise me anymore because real estate is a crazy world.  Yet I'm astonished by this situation.  It would be different if it was a short sale and the sellers HAD to sell it for list price or they would default on the loan.  Except this isn't a short sale.  It's a regular sale.  I don't understand why a person would try to sell a property in this market and not be willing to negotiate.  This is a business transaction, people.  Negotiating is part of it.  Get a clue.

What I really need is an intervention from Mike Aubrey from the HGTV show "Real Estate Intervention."  He'd kick some seller ass and all would be well.  Isn't my imaginary world interesting? 

Meanwhile, in the real world, I'm waiting to hear from the listing agent to see if our last counter was accepted. 


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American Ice Co.

Great update on POP about the new bar from the ESL guys that's around the corner from our place.  My husband and I were talking about this place last week as we had happy hour on our roof.  I think it's going to be the 6th thing I love about my 'hood.  Or maybe it'll move to #1.  I guess it depends on how the tacos taste.

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I have a new listing!  It's 2004 11th St, NW #239 and it's $409,000.  It's a bright 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo with garage parking on lively U St. Corridor. Open floor plan, maple hardwood floors, gas fireplace, 2 bedrooms en suite and a wonderful balcony overlooking 11th St. Amenities include fitness center, rooftop deck, courtyard, party room, front desk person. FHA approved. 2 blks to U St. Metro, 4 blocks to Yes! Organic Market, minutes to numerous restaurants and shops.  Click here to see the virtual tour.  I'll be holding an Open House on Sunday from 1:00-4pm.  Please stop by if you're in the neighborhood.

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Realtors do a lot of things to make a transaction happen.  We clean.  We put away stuff.  We walk dogs.  We travel at all hours to get paper work signed.  We stage units.  We arrange cleaners, painters, handy men and contractors. We set up home inspections.  We show 60 properties in one week to buyers who are only in the country for a short amount of time.  We do a lot of things to facilitate a deal.

Today, I think I hit a new level of "dumb stuff I do".  Today, I had to clean off a bathroom counter and put away someones XL Magnum condoms.  Yep.  Really.  Many, many things went through my mind as I performed this action.  Most of them I can't print.  The one thought that's stuck with me all day:  I can't believe the things I do for my job!

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As I type this post, I'm sitting with an ice pack on my lower back.   It's being held in place an ace bandage that's tied around my waist.  Hilarious mental image, isn't it?  I've managed to "break my back."  Not really but it sounds amusing.  Something is inflamed and it's pressing on my sciatic nerve.  It's amazingly painful.

I've always been pretty lucky in the injury department.  I started playing soccer when I was five years old and only had two injuries:  broken elbow (when I was thirteen) and a broken foot (three years ago).  Not bad in the scheme of things.  I have a very high tolerance for pain.  Most aches and pains I can ignore but this one has my complete attention.

I've taken measures to make it better.  I went to the doctor, got a shot and some muscle relaxers.  That didn't help.  The muscle relaxers kept me up all night and my back got worse.  This week, I visited with a chiropractor recommended by a friend and I'm making progress.  I can now walk without pain shooting down my leg.  YEA!    

The most interesting side effect of my broken back is I'm more irascible than usual.  I don't have a lot of patience when I'm 100% healthy.  Now, I have none.  Thankfully, my husband hasn't been a target.  Everyone else should watch out.  

For example, I just sent an unpleasant email to an incompetent listing agent.  Do I care?  Yes and no.  Part of me feels guilty that I wasn't friendlier in the email.  In my defense, I had already sent three emails asking the same question with no direct response.  Now my closing date is in jeopardy.  The other part of me thinks "whatever."  Do your job and do it well.  Then I wouldn't have to send irate emails.  Would this be normal if my back wasn't broken?  Probably not.  The email would have been more amiable.

I'm hoping the future weeks will bring me some relief and increase my tolerance.  Meanwhile, I'll keep showing property and try to keep my peevishness to a minimum.  I better up my dosage of ibuprofen.


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