Warrior Diplomacy

D.C. is rolling out the red carpet to welcome 15 very special visitors. They are not dignitaries, though they do come from a foreign land. They are not celebrities but draw huge crowds everywhere they go. They are 15 life-sized terra cotta warriors from the thousands of statues that used to guard the tomb of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang.

The 1974 excavation of the terra cotta army by local farmers in the town of Xi’an was a great archeological discovery. For those unable to make the journey to China to see them, 15 warrior ambassadors have kindly been dispatched to the U.S. From November 19, 2009-March 31, 2010, they will establish residence at The National Geographic Society, their final stop in a 4-city American tour. To build on the buzz around the exhibit, a number of cultural venues, restaurants and hotels have developed China-themed events and programs. Here are my top picks:

Ten Penh
Throughout the course of the exhibit, the Pennsylvania Avenue restaurant will offer special Terra Cotta menus. In addition to Terra Cotta Pot lunch specials, the restaurant will “spice up” the exhibit by offering an Emperor’s Choice three-course prix fixe dinner focusing on a different spice prominent in Chinese cooking each week. To wash it down, the bar will also offer a special cocktail, the “Immortal,” blending ginger, green tea and a mystery liqueur.

On November 21st, from 11am-1pm, Ten Penh is also bringing in noted Chinese chef and cookbook author Susanna Foo for a cooking class where foodies and diners can learn more about Chinese cooking techniques and ingredients. The costumed mascot of the exhibition, ‘The Warrior,” will be present at the cooking class in November for photo opportunities (and to protect all diners.)

Mie N Yu
Mie N Yu will be offering a $49 four-course Terra Cotta tasting menu featuring regional Chinese flavors. Guests who purchase the menu will receive a gift certificate that can be redeemed for a ticket to the National Geographic Museum’s Terra Cotta Warriors exhibition.

Willard InterContinental Washington
The hotel’s famous Peacock Alley is adding a Chinese twist to its traditional afternoon tea experience. Tea-goers are treated to a multi-sensual experience inspired by Chinoiserie. Guests can sample European and Chinese flavors, incorporated into items such as ginger, Mandarin mousse and green tea meringues, along with traditional tea offerings like Lapsang Souchong, organic Dragonwell and Thousand Days Red Jasmine. Tea service will be accompanied by music from Guzheng master Alice Kan. $39, $49 with glass of champagne. Nov. 14-Dec. 3: service daily at 1 PM; Jan. 2-Feb. 14: Fri.-Sun. at 2:30 PM.

The Ritz-Carlton Washington, DC Lobby Bar
The Lobby Bar honours the Terra Cotta Warriors’ arrival by serving up Chinese rolls with prawns, ginger, mint and sweet soy; glazed duck satay skewers with hot chili sauce and the “Ancient Warrior” cocktail, a refreshing blend of Domain Canton ginger liquor, firefly raspberry tea vodka, Chambord and Sprite. Available Oct.-Dec., Tues.-Fri. 5-10 PM, Sat. 11 AM-11 PM, Sun. 11AM-5 PM.

Asia Nine is jumping into the Terra Cotta Warrior action with a just announced special Chinese Feast. On December 2nd, Chef Boonrod Yotmanee will treat guests at the Chinatown eatery to a $50-three course meal that kicks off with a 210 BC cocktail and wraps up with a The Sweet Warrior Lotus paste bun. Reservations must be made by Nov. 29th at 202.629.4355.

The Folger Shakespeare Library
Visitors can get another taste of China at the The Folger Shakespeare Library, which will explore how trade and travel have shaped knowledge of Asia in a special exhibition: Imagining China-The View from Europe, 1550-1700. On view Sept. 17, 2009- Jan. 2, 2010, this exhibition displays the first book written in Chinese by a European, Matteo Ricci, founder of the Jesuit China mission, and other fascinating treasures.

The Freer & Sackler Galleries
Special tours of Chinese artifacts will be offered at these two Smithsonian Institutions focusing on Asian arts and culture.

Imagination Stage
Finally for the little ones, Imagination Stage in Bethesda is putting to life the story of Mulan, a young girl in traditional China who takes the place of her father when he is called up to fight against the Huns. Based on the 1998 Disney film Mulan and the story “Fa Mulan” by Robert D. San Souci, performances will run from November 24, 2009 to January 10, 2010.

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