Don’t Be That Guy: The Finance Department

As a writer, I work in the communications division of my organization. We’re very spread out, mostly along the second floor of our building. Although, our poor copy editor is on the fifth floor, which makes for very interesting walkabouts during the editing process.

Anyway, by some weird twist of assigned seating fate, I sit near the Finance Department. Let me tell you, every pre-conceived stereotype of what a Finance Department employee is like (well, not EVERY stereotype) but most of them have been shattered by my observations of this species of particular worker.

For one thing, they are really, really loud. I was shocked at how boisterous they are in greeting each other. They act like it’s been months instead of mere hours since they last rested their wondrous gaze upon one another.

I had always assumed people who dealt in accounting were by nature very serious, but oh no, they are quite, quite jolly. Their peals of laughter reverberate off the cubicle walls.

True story: I told two of my communications coworkers the other day that it’s like a Finance Department Rave every morning. My coworkers, in turn, suggested that I put on some techno music and join in the early morning festivities. Fast forward to this morning — I heard someone playing techno music out of their phone as they were walking towards my office. Thinking it was one of my coworkers, I said (outloud) “Aaaaaawwwww yeah! Let’s do this” and started dancing at my desk with pens held aloft like glow sticks. A few seconds later, a Finance person walks past my door with his music blaring and sees my own little personal rave. I. DIE.

Other observations: They do not discuss the latest accounting scandals or software, but rather, they love to talk about their various health ailments, of which there are quite a few, including, of course, the expected carpal tunnel syndrome. No doubt acquired while raving hard — Finance style.

But it doesn’t stop at just work-related injuries. There are apparently buttloads of weekend shenanigans that put our delicate little Finance crew directly in harm’s way. It’s not at all unusual to see a group of them congregating around one of their own who has come in with a fresh new cane or arm brace. They gather in the kitchen (they love themselves some free Flavia flavored-coffees. The syrupy and sweeter, the better) and cluck over this latest injury, hanging on for all the details while the company’s bills wait patiently.

“So there I was, vaulting over my fat cat to replenish my cheese platter when I rolled my ankle and that’s why I’m using crutches today.”

They also love to talk about food. They are quite the foodie bunch and often weigh the merits of different cheeses in different recipes. I heard quite the discussion yesterday about white cheddar and gouda. It was a regular Top Chef over here.

What they do not like to do, however, is clean out the kitchen refrigerator. Or, my personal pet peeve, place smaller items (like sodas, or containers of cottage cheese – no, I don’t know their thoughts on that particular cheese, but I’m sure I’ll learn about it soon enough) on shorter shelves, thereby leaving the taller shelves for someone with a tall item, say, a lunch bag (ahem, me).

Also, I would have expected the Finance Department, which deals with the very delicate issue of money and bills, to display a bit of circumspection and respect for privacy. But no. I have heard about the most egregious abuses of company-issued cell phones, in part, because the Finance person in charge of resolving phone bill disputes often gets into very loud and heated phone conversations about it. It’s been, to say the least, illuminating.

So, to sum up, if you live for danger, like to party, walk on the wild side, enjoy fine food and Flavia coffee, you might want to consider a future in accounting. They are a really, really fun bunch.

Totally Pretentious Food Truck Review: CapMacDC

Hey, you know what we haven’t done in a long time? A Totally Pretentious Food Truck Review!

Don’t get me wrong….I haven’t stopped eating at food trucks. Don’t be silly. Of course I have been. I’ve just been writing about other things.

But, I’m in Puerto Rico this week, swimming with fishies (mmmm, fish tacos from Surfside. A future TPFTR, for sure).

So, this seems like a perfect time to bring back TPFTR and do a review of my very, very favorite, hands down food truck: CapMacDC.

I love these guys. I love these guys like Jessica Simpson loves being pregnant. I love CapMacDC like Kardashians love attention. I love CapMac like Real Housewives love bling, wine and cat fighting. I want to marry them, divorce them and then marry them again.

Yeah, I’m kinda obsessed with CapMac.

Let’s just think about this: It’s macaroni and cheese. I mean. Come. On! Who doesn’t have memories of making macaroni and cheese. My sister and I loaded it with butter, a tiny splash of milk and that wonderful orange cheese powder, fighting over who got to lick the inside of the packet. And these guys are doing that childhood favorite and making it all fancy, huh?

It’s fancy because the chef is straight up official – Chef Arnoff worked at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak at the Four Season’s DC and for James Beard Award winning chef, Barbara Lynch.

I’ve eaten at CapMacDC a number of times, over a variety of seasons. I’ve stood impatiently in many, many lines, under blazing sunshine and in cold temps, and as a result I’ve sampled many of the delectable items on the menu. Because the lines are always so, so long, I usually order two items and then eat them over several days.

And I’ve discovered that CapMacDC is good fresh. And they’re good leftover. They would be good off the damn sidewalk, probably.

We’ll start with the obvious: the $6 Classic CapMac’n Cheese. You can get it one of three ways, plain (as if anything from CapMac could be considered “plain”) with cheddar, pimento and Cheez-It crumbs on top; “sloppy” with a meat sauce for $2 extra; or “balls out” with meat balls for $2 extra. We’re not talking side portions either. These are nice, large brown cardboard containers of delicious, cheesy, gooey goodness.

The macaroni is al dente, topped with a gooey orange mass of cheese and topped with crushed Cheez-Its. I get mine sloppy, and the texture of the meat, Cheez-Its, and pasta is rich and satisfying.

I’ve had the Chicken Parm Meat Balls ($9), a revelation of house ground chicken and parmesan meat balls, rigatoni in red sauce, topped in provolone béchamel . The quattro of tiny meat balls gets a nice boost from its tart-sweet tomato sauce and the creamy bechamel.

This last summer, I was quite disappointed by the menu (they actually didn’t have the classic, I think) but I went ahead and tried the Weiner Mac ($9). Oh. My. Sausages. It’s basically the classic CapMac’n Cheese topped w/ locally made all beef brat and caramelized onions and crushed Lays potato chips. And it was served cold. The pasta was soft and creamy, the brats were plump, and the entire entrée was complemented by a tantalizing cheese sauce. I did not think I would even like it. Now I’m starting a one-person Occupy CapMac Movement to try to get it back on the menu.

My most recent visit I got the Classic CapMac and the Marco Bolo ($8), a traditional Italian beef Bolognese with fresh herbs, parmesan and a touch of cream. The pasta was excellent – smooth al dente ribbons in a portion that was just the right size. I enjoyed the spiciness of the Bolognese sauce and could see all the fresh herbs in the dish.  And despite the cold weather (it was mid-November), the pasta was still piping hot when I got it back to the office.

There are still a few things I haven’t tried, such as the goat cheese mac. I also regret not trying the rice pudding when it was on the menu last summer. I think having a desert option (which they don’t currently have) is a very smart move.

Couple of other things: Bring cash, they don’t take card. Soda/water selection is basic and limited.

And the lines are generally long. That’s just the way it is. Don’t expect to just walk up to the window. Don’t go there if you have an important conference call in 15 minutes. But once you put your order in (and I do suggest you order multiple items), things move along pretty quickly.

I have to give CapMacDC a resounding four out of four wheels. Hell, I might bump them up to a Doolie and give them six out of six wheels.

NOTE: I wrote this review right around the time of CapMacDC’s first anniversary (November – hence the sweet CapMacDC tote bag you see in the pictures).

But I have recently been contacted by CapMac’s Chef Vicky, who says she’s a fan of the blog and has offered me a free lunch. I have not taken her up on it yet (but you bet your sweet ass I will), but I just wanted to disclose that so no one thinks that influenced my review at all.

My love for CapMac is well documented throughout the blog here and here, for example. But I still wanted to publish my review without the graft influence. Not that I’m above some graft, wink, wink. OK. I will shut up now.

Happy eating fools! Hopefully I’m on a beach in Puerto Rico somewhere eating some lechon!

Totally Pretentious Food Truck Review: Pi Pizza

Pizza. Is there any other more controversial food product? On the face of it, this should not be the case. It’s nice and round, no sharp edges. It’s made to be shared with friends and loved ones.

However, pizza is also a distinctly individual thing. Thick or thin crust? What toppings? Can you just put onions on one half? Crumbled or patty sausage? These are the things that cause fights to break out.

Since pizza is such an individual thing, Pi Pizza isn’t going to appeal to everyone. They did, however, appeal to my friend and reader T2, who suggested I do a TPFT review for the blog. She’s a notoriously picky eater, so I knew it must be pretty good.

Pi Truck

Like many in DC, Pi Pizza is a transplant. They have a restaurant and truck in St. Louis, and began rolling here in DC at the end of February. And they’re opening a restaurant in Penn Quarter this week called District of Pi.

Pi Truck specializes in deep dish pizza pies, your choice of 4 types for $12 a pop. Pi serves up Chicago style pizza, deep dish crust, lots of toppings, and covered in tomato sauce. What Pi does differently is the crust. They make it with cornmeal, which gives it a distinct nutty flavor.

Pi Full

I let my nose lead me to Pi Truck on a recent Tuesday, the smell of garlic and marinara drifting through Farragut Square. I perused the menu, which is not expansive. There was a vegetarian option, the Western Addition, which contained spinach, feta, mozzarella, mushrooms, onions.  There was also a plain cheese. Unfortunately, Pi’s meat option with pepperoni, sausage, salami and meatballs was just down to pepperoni. So, I went with the Southside, which contained sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions.

Pi also had better than average drink selection, with sparkling water options. I ordered a Pellegrino Orange for $1, gave the young man my money and waited 8 minutes for my pizza. As advertised, my pizza came out right on time.

The pizza was individually-sized but large enough for two lunches. The crust was nice and crunchy and topped with a layer of cheese, a layer of toppings and then topped with marinara. For me, there was not enough cheese. The Chicago style pizzas I’ve had all featured a big layer of ooey gooey cheese. The marinara was very good, pure tomato sharpness, great paste-like texture and definitely fresh. However, it overwhelmed the other toppings. I could barely taste the sausage and onions, and couldn’t at all taste the peppers and mushrooms.

Pi Slice

The crust and the sauce really made the pizza. The cornmeal crust was sturdy enough to let you stuff your face without spilling toppings everywhere, which was much appreciated when you’re trying to eat in professional clothes.

I appreciated the pepper and Parmesan cheese packets they give  you but it would have been nice if they also gave out napkins. I also really appreciated the fact that they posted their schedule up on Mondays, so you can plan ahead. And, they take credit cards, which is always nice.

I’d give Pi Pizza Truck three out of four wheels. Overall, it was a pleasant experience, at a very good price, and a good, not great, pizza. I would try it again, hopefully on a day when they had a meat lovers option, so I can see if the meat stands up to the sauce. I don’t want to recommend they tone down the sauce, but maybe amp up the cheese and fillings. Also, maybe some other options, like a couple of salads or something might appeal to folks.

Pi Half