Around the World in 80 Plates: Cuba Libre

In an effort to keep myself sane as I work through grad school, I’ve been looking for ways to entertain myself and get to know the city that I (kind of sort of) work in. While waiting for my metro one day, I spotted this ad for DC Restaurant Week.winter-rest-wk-2016

I had also been seeing ads for Sotatsu at the Sackler Museum (the Freer is closed for renovations).


So I figured I’d make it a 2 for 1 deal and go to DC to check out the exhibit before it left, and get a bite to eat at the same time. I brought along Alesha to make it happen.


To get to Sackler, we did a bit of ice climbing through the snow and mud, and into the garden.

We saw a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Then we went to Sackler. The museum didn’t allow photos, but I can procure my favorite pieces from the exhibit. Sotatsu’s style went through numerous changes, from collaborative poetry pieces,

to landscapes,

His most famous work, called, “Waves at Matsushima”

to dragons,

to flowers,

and my personal favorite, a fat tiger and a dragon glaring at each other.

They’re purposely placed together to look at each other. Nice touch, Sotatsu.

Another one of the standout pieces wasn’t his own, but his own work referenced in a new work; his stuff was ‘sampled’ essentially.

By Ogata Korin.

Now that’s what you call a legacy. This screen, like many of the screens in this post, is much longer. Alesha and I started on the right of it, captured by the cats that are frollicking throughout the painting, then we were stuck on the nearby window, and then realized we were staring at Waves at Matsushima again, this time in someone else’s painting. Cool.

We then took our stab at drawing our own Sotatsu certified fans.

IMG_9099 Some people are cheaters. I mean, this dragon o’er here is too perfect. That cat is too captivating. That Japanese flag’s sun is too round.

I added my own touch to this screen to commemorate the day. I did my own interpretation of Waves, Alesha added a poem.

“Hey little fighter, So soon it will be brighter. Your day will soon come.”-Alesha sampled an artist of her own

Alesha and I then spent the day souvenir hopping throughout other museums. I regret not buying more dancing bells (can you really have enough?) and more jewelry, and I am still considering going back to certain spots and picking up some stuff.


I found great lighting in the metro, and took some selfies.




And then we went to Cuba Libre.IMG_9113Out of all the restuarants participating in Restaurant Week, I chose Cuba Libre because they had a really long drink menu, and a pork option that sounded awesome.

I chose a spicy caipirinha.

They also had amazing bread, and amazing (mango) butter.


The lighting in Cuba Libre is very dim,

I forgot to brighten this photo. They put pork rinds on top of this pulled pork dish. IT WAS HEAVENLY.

the music is very loud, and the room is very…loud as well. I got the distinct Las Vegas casino vibes from it. That very familiar packaging of cultural pieces and putting them together like Legos somewhere else.

IMG_9122Rustic building faces? Check. Vintage portraits and pictures of Cuban life? Check. Cuban cigars? Check, please!

Our bill came in a cigar box.

In the end, my lookover of the drink menu was a moot point. I ate too much, immediately realized I could only handle one drink, regretted all the bread I ate, took back that regret and relished in the bread I ate. So on and so forth. Alesha and I walked off the food on the way back home, and I began plotting out my return back to eat more.

Join me soon for our return to MAGfest!





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