Oyamel

It’d be an understatement to say that José Andrés is a powerhouse here in the Washington, DC area.  He practically owns half of DC’s Chinatown neighborhood with Jaleo, Oyamel, Zaytinya, and minibar and he’s quickly expanding to other parts of the region with Jaleo in Arlington, VA.

In the new year, Lauren and I are looking to eat a little healthier and to incorporate more vegetables into our diet.   It’s actually surprisingly hard to find that in a restaurant.  It’s hard to find something that doesn’t incorporate sugar, cooked in butter, or smothered in cheese.  After exploring some menus, we decided upon going out to Oyamel last night.  They do an incredible job of featuring lots of vegetables and lean meats.

Oyamel showcases José Andrés’ take on various Mexican regional cuisines served in a whimsical fine dining atmosphere served on small plates meant to share.  This is definitely not your neighborhood Chipotle.  It takes your idea of what’s possible for Mexican food to an entirely new level.

Of course, when you sit down, you’re given the requisite chips & salsa.  Because the seasoning, the chips are incredibly addictive but don’t eat too many.  You don’t wanna spoil your appetite for what’s to come on the menu.   The salsa was very thick and had this incredible smoke to it.

Additionally, as your appetizer, you have to try the guacamole.   For $12, it’s definitely not cheap and I’m not sure that it’s that much better than what you can make at home but you have to try it.  The novelty comes in that your server will come to your table and serve it to you table side.   It’s slightly entertaining and adds to the enjoyment of the dish.

Now, it’s on to the small plates…

Lauren got a ceviche.  I don’t remember which she got and I didn’t take a photo.  I just tried a bit of it.  It was crisp & refreshing.  Oyamel has its own ceviche bar where it’s fish masters dish out the evening’s delight from the sea.

These were little tortillas filled with turkey confit.  Had a nice spice.  There was a nice textual component from the pecans on top.

The thought of brussel sprouts makes most children shudder.  Somewhere in my adult life I learned that brussel sprouts can be delicious.  They were crispy and perfectly caramelized to bring out the sweetness in the sprouts.  They tasted like vegetable candy.

This was the taco with beef tongue.  I know you’re like “beef tongue” ?!?  Honestly, I don’t know if I was blind folded and fed the taco if i’d be able to tell the difference between it and any other kind of beef.    It was texturely pretty similar.

The finale was the pork belly taco.   What shall we say about pork belly?   It melts in your mouth.  It’s one of my favorite cuts of meat on the pig.

All in all, we left the night happy and full.  It was a delicious meal.  It continues to be one of our favorite restaurants and I’m sure we’ll go back many more times.  I’d recommend everyone making a reservation.

Thank you José Andrés & team for taking us on the continuing Mexican adventure.

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DogVaycay – Like AirBnb/Uber for Dog Boarding

dogvaycay

As we enter 2013, have been thinking about what startups & apps excite me. One has been especially relevant as of late. It’s DogVaycay.

My wife and I love to travel but we have a cuddly pitbull Latte. So it’s important to find a loving boarder for Latte who’ll care for her when we’re out of town.

We had been using a boarder but she was pretty expensive (I’ve stayed in hotels cheaper) so we had been looking for someone new. That’s when we found DogVaycay.

DogVaycay allows anyone to advertise their capability for watching your dog. You search for the best match based on location, price, and reviews. The site facilitates the reservation & payment. It’s still pretty new in DC so it was harder to find someone with more reviews.

We did find a new dog boarder via DogVaycay that we’ve used twice now an she’s great. Plus she’s considerably cheaper than the woman we had been using before.

The site even facilitates boarders sending photo updates of the dogs back to their owners. I wouldn’t be surprised if they nudge the boarders to do it cause it increases likelihood that you’ll use that boarder again.

I’m sure that DogVaycay has big plans too. They just raised a bunch of money from investors. I’m excited for their future.

Action Design DC Meetup

Have done a lot of community organizing in DC over the last 6 years.  Have been to & organized a lot of meetups, tweetups, conferences, and BarCamps all over DC for every possible topic.  Some of my most exciting recent work with some co-workers to form the Action Design DC Meetup.

The group’s about the study of how, as product designers, we don’t just make products for products sake.  We design products because we want users to take a certain kind of action that’ll better their lives.   And… day after day… week after week… we want more people to be using and benefiting from our product than before.

At the Meetup, we’ll be discussing past experiments/experiences, critique designs, discuss techniques, discuss the application of theory, offer external resources, and much more more.

We’re having the inaugural meetup on January 15th with the Director of UX from LivingSocial talking about their study of behaviors and behavior change and then a presentation about how to design experiments.

Definitely recommend coming out on the 15th.  Should be a fascinating evening!

If you can’t make the 15th or don’t live in the DC area, we have a Facebook Group for discussing Action Design online.