Friday, March 15, 2013

My Love Affair with Hockey

Where it all began...

Ignorance often factors into why a person dislikes, makes fun of or generally doesn't understand a certain subject. For some it's foreign cultures and for others it's different art or music. For me, hockey was always a punchline.

Living below the Mason-Dixon line all my life, hockey was never a part of my formative sports education. The game just wasn't culturally relevant in Louisiana. We don't have frozen ponds to play on during the winter months, and on top of that, Louisiana is in heart of the Deep South aka football country.

There was that brief period in the late 90's when the NHL began to expand to southern cities like Atlanta and Nashville and subsequently, minor league hockey teams began to pop up all over the south. This lead to my brief infatuation with the Monroe Moccasins and even briefer interest in the Baton Rouge Kingfish

I will say that I've always found the game somewhat exciting, mostly because my childhood was filled with memories of Gordon Bombay and the Mighty Ducks beating the likes of the Hawks, Iceland, and the Eden Hall Varsity. Add to that the thrilling "Miracle on Ice" in 1980 and a minor fandom brewed inside me.

Then I moved to DC, got a ticket to a hockey game and my sporting life was forever changed. March 5, 2013 is a date that will forever be seared into my mind because that was the day I fell in love with hockey.

It was a brisk March evening as I headed to the Verizon Center to watch the Washington Capitals square off against the Boston Bruins. The Capitals, a historically good hockey team with a transcendent star in Alexander Ovechkin, were having down season, ranked in the bottom five of the NHL standings.

My friends and I took our seats, which just happened to be about six rows behind the bench. Most of the crowd was loose and already on their second or third cold one.

If that doesn't scream "Merica, I don't know what does.
Having attended my fair share of professional football, baseball and basketball games, I've become accustomed to the piped in pop music, cheerleaders and general gimmickiness that often saturates professional sports.

My preconceived notions about the offcourt entertainment were blown to smithereens when we entered the stadium to Trapt's "Headstrong."  Fans were raging all around me, banging their heads and jamming their air guitars like it was a Guns-N-Roses farewell concert. Where was I? Also, why were there so many Boston fans here? At least a third of the Verizon Center was filled with Bruins fans. Things were going to get interesting if the game was close.

A rabid fan's custom jersey - Wow.

The Caps turned out an abysmal performance in the first period. Down 3-0, they headed into the locker room. Side note, I totally dig the period system. Who doesn't love two halftimes?! Washington chipped away at the lead and by the third period, they were only down 3-2. 

With 2:30 left in the game, Ovechkin gets called for hooking, giving the Bruins a power play for two minutes. I think the NBA should consider a penalty box for flagrant and technical fouls - can you imagine the Heat running rampart over a short-handed Bobcats team during a power play?

The Ovechkin-less Caps held strong, and as the clock ticked down to :30 seconds, Ovi busted onto the ice. I don't know who passed to who, but next thing I know THE CAPS SCORE! OVERTIME BABY! At this point things were getting salty between a few fans. The Verizon Center was about to explode, and some Boston fans near me were an unhealthy blend of drunk and angry. A few minor scuffles were broken up by security before the OT period began.

Overtime Baby!

Originally, I hoped the sudden death OT period would just run its course because I wanted to see a penalty shootout. What happened was even better. Off the face-off, the Caps controlled the puck. Skating toward the Boston goal, the Washington players worked the puck around at a lightning pace, finding the open man (whose name I still don't know because the only hockey players I will ever commit to memory are Gretzky, Sid the Kid and Charlie Conway) who found the back of the net. CAPS WIN! CAPS WIN! CAPS WIN!

That night had all the ingredients for a skeptical fan: a sweet blend of alternative/heavy metal stadium music, two halftimes, salty fans and a dramatic comeback. It was the perfect night of hockey. Any other NHL experience will be hard pressed to top it. 

And that's why I may never go back.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Georgetown Cupcake Phenomenon

Nestled away in the northwest corner of Washington, DC, in the heart of Georgetown's M Street shopping mecca, lies a cupcake sanctuary: Georgetown Cupcake. To the naked eye, the building seems like nothing more than a simple bakery, frequented by soccer moms and their children on the hunt for a sugar high. However, Georgetown Cupcake has quickly become a tourist destination in the DC area.

That's because this seemingly simple bakery is actually the setting for the TLC reality series DC Cupcake.

Sisters Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne are the co-founders of Georgetown Cupcake and stars of the hit series.

Gaining nationwide popularity and notoriety via reality television, the sisters have since opened up four additional shops in Boston, NYC, L.A. and Bethesda, MD.

Naturally I was skeptical. Are these cupcakes really THAT good?

One weekend I ventured up to Georgetown to taste these supposedly delicious cupcakes. The line wasn't unbearable, and we only had to wait for about 15 minutes.

Typical weekend lines outside Georgetown Cupcake in DC
Then I stepped through the door.

The minute I entered the bakery, a thousand magnificent aromas filled my nostrils. Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry - you name it. I was already salivating. I wanted every cupcake in sight.

Georgetown Cupcake offers eighteen flavors daily, including multiple varieties of chocolate, vanilla, and red velvet that available each day, three seasonal flavors, and several other rotating flavors.

I settled on the Peanut Butter Fudge cupcake because it seemed like the closest cousin of a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup - the best candy.

More addicting than crack.
Ladies and gentlemen, the cupcakes are THAT GOOD. I wolfed it down in .5 seconds. Check it out if you're ever in the DC metro area or order online. I hear they make great gifts.