Union Market Opens, Provides New Shopping Venue For Brooklanders

The Union Market at 1309 5th Street NE is finally open. It is a short drive away for our neighborhood, and offers a much needed new venue for finding artisinal foods of all types.

I paid a visit on Sunday, and a few photos follow. As the Market gears up, a few businesses were only open on Saturday and others were still in the process of setting up shop. Nevertheless we got a good taste of what’s available. From a local creamery to an eco friendly meat farm, you could find a variety of foods, fruits and vegetables, breads, olive oil, cheeses, honey, coffee, spices, and more. An oyster bar–Rappahannock–featured prominently, and was very busy indeed. A juice bar offered a variety of deliciously unique juice mixes.

Next to the Market itself was a parking lot with a good number of food trucks. Alas most of them had left by the time I got there, but I helped myself to an amazing mix of custard and lemon ice.

It will be great to see how the Market develops over the course of the next few months, but clearly it will become a hub of neighborhood weekend activity. Check out their web page for upcoming events, including the Trucktoberfest food truck festival on September 22nd!

Large Tree Knocks Out Power To South Brookland

A good number of residences in south Brookland had their power and internet knocked out almost immediately in the strong storms that blew by the DC area on Saturday September 8th (including mine). The reasons for this particular outage became clear as I explored the neighborhood after the rain stopped.

A huge tree at the corner of 13th and Hamlin fell onto 13th street, taking out the power lines as it fell. The owners of the house on the corner are fortunate the tree did not fall in its direction. The police were on the scene and had the streets blocked off as the power lines were smoking while lying on the street and clearly were an extreme hazard.

I called Pepco a short time later to report the situation as a life-threatening emergency, and was stunned when the Pepco rep told me that nobody had called the situation in before I had. Which goes to show, don’t assume someone else has called the police or has taken care of the emergency–you have to do it yourself!

Anyway, Pepco came out a few hours later and began the work to restore everything, which took over a day. Comcast had internet service back shortly thereafter. Thanks to all the hardworking repair technicians for working through the night and getting everything back in service again!

Brookland Is Getting Figgy With It!

Wandering the streets of Brookland lately, I have noticed a good number of fig trees thriving and starting to produce some nice sized figs. Here are a handful of fig trees from Newton, Otis, Irving, and 12th Streets, as well as a tiny alley dweller.

A few years ago my wife and I had a tapas party. The hit of the night was figs stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in bacon. I know it may sound a bit crazy, but they were delicious! Here is the recipe:

Ingredients: Ripe figs, mild goat cheese (the creamy, spreadable kind), bacon

Directions: Cut off the fig stem. Slice the side of each fig and stuff with goat cheese. Wrap bacon around each fig. Overlap the end of the bacon strips and make sure the goat cheese is covered so it doesn’t ooze out. Bake the figs at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes. We like our bacon extra crispy so we finished them off by broiling for another minute or two. Warm, sweet savory ooey-gooey goodness awaits! They are a bit messy so factor that into your plans.

Brookland History Lives! Dr. Charles Drew Bridge

Charles Drew stamp Brookland NE Washington DC
Dr. Drew was honored with a US Postage stamp in 1981

I recently found out that the bridge I have been referring to as the “Michigan Avenue Bridge” is actually called the Charles Richard Drew Memorial Bridge.  A DC native and surgeon, Dr. Drew was the first African-American to graduate from Columbia University’s medical school with a Doctor of Medical Science degree. Most notably, Drew pioneered techniques for preserving blood plasma that saved countless lives during World War II. I spoke with long-time area resident Ralph Bucksell, who vividly remembers when the bridge was dedicated in Dr. Drew’s name. He told me about the bridge’s marker so I decided to check it out. I took the photo below of the marker. It is mounted at the west end of the bridge across the street from Catholic U. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t recommend checking it for yourself unless you enjoy playing in traffic. It is very easy to miss, and is situated facing traffic. So your moment of private reflection better be limited to the seconds it takes for the light to change, and be prepared to speed-read. As I left the bridge and headed home, I pondered a few things. Why didn’t they at least place the marker facing the pedestrian walkway on the other side of the bridge? Why isn’t the bridge’s true name more widely used? What can be done  to bring more awareness to the bridge’s true name? With the millions being poured into the Catholic U development, just steps away from the marker, wouldn’t it be great to overhaul the whole concept? I, for one, will be referring to it as the Drew Bridge from here on forward. The marker says the following:

CHARLES RICHARD DREW
MEMORIAL BRIDGE
Named in honor of
Dr. Charles Richard Drew, 1904-1950
esteemed citizen
of the
District of Columbia
athlete, scholar, surgeon, and
scientist whose discoveries in
blood preservation saved
thousands of lives.

Thinking About Going Solar? One Brookland Couple’s Experience

Solar Energy Brookland NE Washington DC
Solar Panels – Eco Friendly and Cost Effective!
Remember Mary and Greg, the super-smart couple who saved a bunch of money with the Riversmart program? We got back with them to talk about the solar panels on their roof and learn about another program they took advantage of – the DC renewable energy grant program. This program provides rebates to applicants to offset the cost of  installing solar (or other renewable) energy systems. The program is what iniatially motivated Mary and Greg to investigate going solar. Greg told us that they “applied the DC grant funds to a one-time lease payment which is much cheaper than buying a system.  The installer guarantees a minimum production level and is responsible for all maintenance/repairs.” According to the program’s web page:

Solar Thermal incentives are based on a flat rate percentage of installed system cost:

  • Solar Thermal (water heating) system 20% of total installed cost up to $5,000
  • Solar Thermal (space heating) system 20% of total installed cost up to $2,000
  • Solar Thermal (combination) system 20% of total installed cost up to $5,000

Rebates for solar thermal systems are capped at a maximum of $5,000 for residential and $7,000 for nonresidential. Only one REIP rebate may be requested per unique installation address, per program year.

Photovoltaic incentives are based on the combined system rating in kilowatts of Direct Current (DC) output:

  • $1.50 for each of the first 3,000 installed watts of capacity
  • $1.00 for each of the next 7,000 installed watts of capacity
  • $0.50 for each of the next 10,000 installed watts of capacity

Rebates for all systems are capped at a maximum of $16,500 (at 20 kilowatts capacity or greater) for each applicant site per program year.

So, does it pay off? Greg tell us “We’re saving about 25% on our electric bill after our solar installation!”  Be warned, it is a long process – it took Mary and Greg about 18 months to complete. The photo above shows their south-facing roof with the solar panels. Unfortunately, their roof structure didn’t meet the installer’s standard so they had to reduce the system they wanted significantly. But in the end, they told us they are glad they did it. Great job Mary and Greg!

Little Ricky’s Cuban Restaurant Coming To Brookland Soon

Ahmed Gomez Brookland NE Washington DC
Ahmed Gomez’s “Riding a Fibonacci Sequence”

We spoke with Lola and Chase, owners of Little Ricky’s, a Cuban-American restaurant coming to 3522 12th St NE. Like with most new restaurants in the District, the various bureaucratic hurdles have made it difficult to predict an exact opening date. When pressed, they said to expect a hard announcement in the coming weeks, with a probable opening date in late September or early October. What we know for sure is that it will be a sit-down restaurant and that they will initially be open Friday through Sunday; till the kinks are worked out and they are able to establish their optimal hours of operation. One of the more exciting aspects of the restaurant is their commitment to bringing the artwork of established Cuban and Cuban-American artists to their space. The first artist featured will be Ahmed Gomez. His website describes his works as:

“An ongoing relationship between my personal history, the formation of my early years in an environment surrounded by art influenced by Social Realism and the iconic illustrations of the 1920’s-50’s. They are a juxtaposition of pictorial layers, coexisting with several realities, a dialogue between the ideas of the vanguards and the Pulps Comics & Pin-Ups. They connect in an intertwining game. I want these ideas to trigger new reference points, and stimulate critical commentary on the painting as either an element of value or a visual interpretation of cultural representation.”

One thing is for sure – this is a great indication of Brookland’s promising future. Many Brooklanders are clamoring for a variety of options in dining, so we are sure the restaurant will be well supported. We will keep you updated as we get closer to Little Ricky’s grand opening!

Ward 5 Happy Hour – Great Art & Good Times At Brookland’s Menkiti Group

Vanessa Monroe’s “Providing Rhythm for the Environment”

Tonight the Menkiti Group hosted over 50 Ward 5 neighbors and friends for a joint Ward 5 Happy Hour and Art Enables event. A good time was had by all. Some of our favorite pieces of work are pictured below. The fabulous art will remain on display for some time, so stop by the Menkiti offices at 2600 12th Street, NE and support a great cause.