Two big things happening tomorrow

Within DC, the Watergate Hotel, just now slipping from the hands of Monument Realty, goes up for auction tomorrow. I am placing my bets on the Jumeirah group, who are richer than Croesus and even crazier. One has to be at least bold enough to assume the debt and cost of renovations necessary to bring the building into operations. Although the building is structurally fine, the constant need for interior renovations and building system upgrades led Monument into a period of severe financial hardship when their backers went bankrupt.

Outside of DC, Joe Biden is in Ukraine. After the niceties of Obama’s visit to the Kremlin two weeks ago, Biden may be going over to reassure the shaken administration that the US is still an ally. On the other hand, the alleged “reset” of Russo-American relations and the tanking of the pro-wetern Ukrainian coalition would mean that his meeting with Yulia Timoshenko and Viktor Yuschenko could be both tense and unsatisfying. On Wednesday, the Vice President will be in Sakartvelo Georgia to speak to the parliament. Again, this meeting is a cautious attempt to maintain relations between the US and Russia’s prime enemies. Unlike the Baltic States and the Balkans, these countries are unstable and still sucsceptible to major influence. It will be interesting to watch the developments.

N.B. – Please do not refer to Ukraine as “The Ukraine,” as that implies that Kyiv is just some Russian border town. Украина literally means “hinterland” or “borderland,” but generally had its connotation set with a capital letter by the 18th Century. Only under the later Tsars and Soviets did the government take advantage of the lack of articles in Ukrainian to insist to western observers that the “Little Russians” did not deserve independence; it’s right there in the name, “our borderland.” If you’re under 30, you probably don’t make this mistake, but it still creeps into the news every once and a while to irritate sticklers like me.

Undestructable (transit edition)

Constant source of amusement and possible conceptual art project English Russia has posted some pictures of ancient trolleys from what appears to be Abkhazia and Georgia. The trolleys are model Skoda-9Tr, produced between 1961 and 1982, but apparently they’re still running. They’re not luxurious at all, but they get you where you need to go. In Vladimir, I noticed a clear class difference between the people who rode the trolleys (the poor, pensioners, kids) and those who rode the private bus lines, since they did cost an extra 5 rubles for the luxury of a secondhand German bus. This had a lot to do with the fact that the elderly and students get free passes, but those who could did try to get away from the constant breakdowns. 

Classic post-soviet grunge
Classic post-soviet grunge.

Skoda continues to make trolleys, in addition to DC’s new streetcars. Perhaps Fenty could get a few vintage 9TRs for a trial line in Anacostia. They’re low cost, durable, and disposable. There’s no way this can go wrong; if they get anyone to ride them, they’ll be a smashing success.

Preparing for winter: Adjika

Adjika is a traditional Georgian sauce made out of peppers and fresh herbs, like most sauces. But, unlike most spices, this sauce is amazingly delicious, mixing just about every taste (mostly dill) into a dense sauce that can be jarred and kept for long times. It really is meant to be made in the summer, before the beautiful mountain passes of Khvetsuri are covered with their first frost, or something poetic like that. Essentially, like canning, it is meant to get you through the winter with some semblance fresh flavor. But in modern DC, winter isn’t so crushing, but I would like to not have to buy so many fresh greens in the winter, for cost as well as localist reasons. 

Not pictured: many more peppers.
Not pictured: many more peppers, a blender, khmeli-suneli, and saffron.

Don’t see the celery and think this is some pablum. The punch packed is straight to the mouth. It’s definitely as hot as a vindaloo and as robust as a goulash. But it also has some delicate, herby flavors that makes it a lot like pesto. Indeed, it is great on pasta and mixed in with vegetables in a stir fry. I have already tried both. Plus, since it is so potent, you really don’t need to use much at all to really kick a simple meal into something fierce. Since I did not use tomatoes, the texture is very rough, which makes it good with a little oil. It does, however, look sort of funny. 

This will easily last three months.

Now, the recipe calls for a few things that I did not add that cost $7 per ounce, because I felt that if I screwed this up it would be a very pricy mistake. Luckily it came out well, and I hope to share it with a lot of people.