August 20, 2013
Written by GregsListDC guest writer Mary Doman (Photographs by Mary Doman)
I recently was cruising GregsListDC (like I do almost every Monday), looking to line up a schedule of fun city outings and activities for the week. I'm always up for exploring DC, and GregsListDC lists unique events that I'd never be able to find on my own! When I saw Greg’s call for entrants for the Chevrolet blogger story dinner contest, I got pretty excited. A chance to share my road trip story about a memorable meal, meet “The” Greg of GregsListDC in real life, ride in a sweet Chevy Malibu, and dine at Restaurant Nora--a place that I'd been dying to try for years? Sounded like a golden opportunity! I submitted my story and crossed my fingers.
And I won! Greg picked me up last weekend in a sleek black Chevy Malibu and we cruised to Restaurant Nora in no time. As a busy city-dweller who usually relies on public transportation, I was thrilled by the ease, convenience, and speed of such a sophisticated personal car during rush hour--what a treat!
And the treats kept coming! Great food, delicious wine, and bags of Chevrolet goodies awaited us on Nora's cozy, sunlit patio. As all the bloggers and guests arrived, we mingled and got to know each other. You'd think being amidst a group of eleven strangers might feel awkward, but we had so much in common that the conversation flowed effortlessly. Lots of talk about food and cars, of course, as well as about life in DC and life as a blogger.
During the first course (fresh baby greens topped with smoky-sweet grilled peaches, crumbled goat cheese, and candied pecans in a delicate shallot vinagrette), we introduced ourselves. The host bloggers talked about their amazing and informative internet sites, and their guests (many of whom were also bloggers) recounted their winning stories. When it was my turn, I was excited to share my tale:
It was the summer of 2010 and I had just started dating a guy named Anthony. He was cute and I was interested, but still didn't know that much about him. When he asked me if I'd like to go on a day trip to King's Dominion theme park, I was hesitant to say yes because I was a nervous to spend so much one-on-one time with someone I was just getting to know. But I have a weakness for road trips and roller coasters... so I said yes!
Saturday morning came, and Anthony picked me up in a sleek rental car (he'd obviously upgraded his reservation to an Elite-level ride!). I was totally impressed. We'd both had the brilliant idea to burn our favorite songs onto CDs for the adventure; it was hilarious to compare our choices on the drive. The 90-minute trip to the park passed quickly, and when we arrived, we dug into the picnic I'd packed for us. I'd splurged and made goat cheese salads and roasted turkey and red pepper sandwiches, which really impressed Anthony (delicious meal #1). Then we spent hours riding roller coasters and getting to know each other during long waits in lines. I don't know why I had been nervous to go on the trip -- our conversations were totally natural and we were laughing nonstop.
At the end of the day, we hopped in the car to drive home -- and hit a wall of traffic! Anthony had planned to take me out to a nice dinner en route, but when we realized that we'd have to return the car by 9 p.m., we knew we wouldn't have time for anything fancy. So we pulled into a Wendy's drive-thru and ordered burgers and fries to share. We sat in the parking lot and laughed about the "romantic" dinner Anthony had planned; he apologized so many times for taking me to a drive-thru on our first dinner date! I, of course, didn't care at all and found the whole situation extremely funny and a perfect way to end our adventurous day. And actually, the burgers and fries were quite delicious (delicious meal #2). I knew then that if we could find romance in an empty Wendy's parking lot on a Saturday night, we must have had something pretty special.
The real ending to the story is that now, three years later, Anthony and I are engaged. Our wedding is next month! Though we won't be serving Wendy's at the reception, this drive-thru restaurant will always hold a special place in my heart.
I think it was well-received! Other guests shared stories about road trips from around the world, and memorable meals at restaurants that ranged from high-end to hole-in-the-wall. It was really neat to hear about people's different road experiences, and how a simple roadside meal could have profound, lasting effects on lives and relationships.
Our chitchat also focused on some of the sweet rides that the host bloggers got to test drive for the week. Greg raved about his Malibu; Lisa of Dining in DC bragged about her Spark’s speed and convenience. Pamela of Pamela's Punch was treated to an Impala; Laetitia of French Twist DC hit the streets in an Equinox. What lucky drivers!
Then, it was time for the main course. As the nation's first certified organic restaurant, Nora focuses on fresh and local ingredients that pack a lot of flavor. I got the juicy roasted Amish chicken, which was elegantly stuffed with spinach and prosciutto and served with a panzanella salad. You could definitely taste the difference in the meat, which was more tender and flavorful than the non-organic chicken that I typically buy (and far more delicious than a Wendy's burger!).
The only thing more satisfying than the meal was the conversation. I got to interview Greg about everything GregsListDC-related, including how his website began (as an e-mail among friends!) and how he manages to constantly provide such neat, informed posts. He is one organized guy! I also got a long list of restaurant recommendations from Laura of Best Thing on the Menu and Laetitia -- we're planning a dinner date soon! Since my personal blog (Minutes Per Mile) focuses mostly on fitness, I was able to advise some of the guests who were training for their first 10Ks and marathons. The group certainly had a diverse range of interests and blogging areas, but we all had one thing in common: a passion to share! Since we all dole out our advice and inspiration on the internet, it was wonderful to share our thoughts face to face.
The whole evening was an amazing opportunity in so many ways. Thanks GM, GregsListDC, and Restaurant Nora!