5 Local Boutiques I Love for #SmallBusinessSaturday

Even though Small Business Saturday is a totally made-up holiday invented by American Express in 2009, the sentiment behind it is really nice: support local small businesses! In that spirit, here are some of my fave independent shops in DC:


As you may have noticed if you’re reading this blog regularly lately, I recently started running. One of my running resolutions for the year was to join a running group and the first one I tried was Summit to Soul‘s Wednesday night runs around the US Capitol. I just fell in love with this adorable shop and its supportive community of awesome runneuses. Summit to Soul is an adorable woman-owned local shop on Barrack Row that specializes on women’s athletic apparel. It carries the cheeky tanks and sweatshirt from Sarah Marie Design Studio which I simply cannot get enough of. 



Let’s face it, I’m a bit of a wine snob but that’s mostly because I grew up drinking French wines and they’re just what I know best (having a grandmother who lived in rosé  mecca Bandol certainly helped!)  I’m trying to branch out though and be more open minded so I LOVE dropping by Grand Cata in Shaw and let its co-founders, Julio and Pedro, talk me into trying a bottle I would have never picked up on my own. To this date, I have never been disappointed. More than a Latin American wine shop, Grand Cata is in the business of promoting Latin American culture. Its mercadito sells gourmet products from all over the continent (including anchovies stuffed olives which I adore) and frequently showcases the work of Latin American artists. Of course, most wine shops in the city fall in the small business category and there are many others that I love including Wardman Wines in Brookland, DCanter on Capitol Hill, Weygandt Wines in Cleveland Park or Cork and Fork on 14th street. I also love Via Umbria in Georgetown, though wine isn’t its main focus. It sells stunning Italian ceramics, linens and food in addition to running an amazing café. 




We’re big readers here in DC and are very lucky to have some great independent bookstores in town, including some like Politics & Prose in Chevy Chase and the newly expended Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Dupont Circle that organize great literary-focused events too. Bookstores were the preferred shopping destination of President Obama who always made a point of visiting an independent shop on small business Saturday (he had a sweet tooth as well and visited The Dairy Godmother in Del Ray one year!). I doubt President Trump will be stopping by any of our local businesses since he’s spending the long weekend golfing at Mar-a-Lago… I mean, the winter White House 😉 Other local bookstores you could visit Saturday (or any day of the year really!) include Upshur Street Books in Petworth, Capitol Hill Books near Eastern Market, Idle Time Books in Adams Morgan or Bridge Street Books in Georgetown.  



The Washington Post just profiled this gem of a shop on Capitol Hill, wondering how it has managed to survive in the age of Amazon. The answer, and what always brings me back, is by carrying some cheeky DC focused products (think DC shaped cutting board, cookie cutters shaped like the US Capitol and even for all 50 states etc.) that you wouldn’t find at Williams & Sonoma or Sur La Table. That’s in addition to everything you could even need for your kitchen. Other shops I love in this category are Home Rule on 14th street and The Cookery near the National Cathedral.



I could buy everything in this home goods and decor store, especially around the holidays! Perhaps that’s because Le Village Marche, which has two boutiques in Cathedral Heights and Shirlington, specializes in Parisian-inspired home decor and gifts, including  French soaps, candles, letterpress stationery, kitchen accessories and artwork. Also specializing in home goods and gifts: vintage home furnishings boutique Miss Pixie and Amanda McClement’s impeccably curated Salt & Sundry (with locations on 14th street and Union Market, as well as two sister shops specializing in paper goods and plants, Little Leaf, also at Union Market and just off of 14th street.) 



Washington, D.C. To-Do List for Thanksgiving Weekend

Guess who’s stuck in Washington, D.C. for Thanksgiving? 

Not Taylor Swift, me 😉 If you’re raising your hand too, I’ve got a few ideas of things you can do to still have a fabulous weekend in the city.


So you have no family here or you’re stuck having to work on Friday… guess what, there are people who have it worse than you. So why not give back and help those less fortunate. The D.C. Jewish Community Center hosts a number of “everything but the turkey” volunteer events between Sunday November 19th and Tuesday November 21st (including one that is family friendly.) All of the shifts to assist with thanksgiving food preparation the week of Thanksgiving are already full at Food & Friends but you can still buy one of the Thanksgiving Pies they are selling to benefit their Slice of Life initiative (that one’s a win-win for everyone involved!). The Holiday Helpings opportunities at Bread for the City are also mostly all filled up (we’re obviously a city that loves to volunteer!) but you can still find some openings by looking through their volunteer opportunity calendar here. You can also participate in one of the region’s many Turkey Trots like the one benefiting SOME at Freedom Plaza on Thursday, November 23, 2017.

SOME is also accepting Thanksgiving donation baskets at 71 O Street on Friday, November 17 (8AM-4PM), Saturday November 18 (10AM-1PM) and Monday November 20 (8AM-4PM). You can learn more about this opportunity and what they need <here>


There’s always something happening at the newly re-branded Capitol One Arena in Chinatown. During Thanksgiving week, we’re looking at Lady gaga on Sunday, November 19th, hockey games on Saturday (Capitals vs Minnesota), Monday (vs. Calgary), Wednesday (vs. Ottawa) and Friday (vs. Tampa Bay) or basketball (Wizards vs. Portland on Saturday November 25. Other concerts include St. Vincent, performing at D.C.’s newest venue The Anthem on November 27 or Diplo at Echostage November 25th. On the more classical side, the National Symphony Orchestra will perform the score from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets while audiences relive the magic of the film on giant screens (November 24-25 and 26.)

Picture courtesy of the Kennedy Center

And of course, the Nutcracker starts at the Kennedy Center too… because Christmas. That means yep, A Christmas Carol is back at Ford’s Theater too. Less Christmas-y, you can catch performances of Twelfth Night by the Shakespeare Theater Company at Sidney Harman Hall (November 14-December 20th, tickets here), Nina Simone: Four Women at Arena Stage (November 10-December 24, tickets here) or The Second City Presents ‘Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains)’ (November 11 – December 31) at Woolly Mammoth Theater.  


The University of Iowa Museum of Art was kind enough to loan us Jackson Pollock’s ‘Mural’, the artist’s largest work which will be on display at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building starting November 19th. While you’re there, you can still catch the Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting exhibit which opened on the West Building a few weeks ago.  And since the Freer Gallery of Art just reopened after nearly two years of renovations, why not check out its Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt exhibit (Miaou! open through January 15, 2018 at the Sackler Galleries), Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia (open through November 2020) or instagram your way through Subodh Gupta: ‘Terminal a new large-scale installation made from towers of brass containers that are connected by thread.

Image courtesy of the Hauser & Wirth Gallery

You can also catch the last few days of Kingdom of Colors at Artechouse. The  immersive visual experience, designed by French filmmaker Thomas Blanchard and artist Oilhack (with a soundtrack by Lyon-based composer Leonardo Villiger), closes November 26th. And there will be 5 augmented reality cocktails at this one! Finally, if that’s your thing, you can also visit D.C.’s newest museum, the Museum of the Bible, which will open November 17 (tickets are free.)


It might be Thanksgiving weekend, but as soon I’ve you’ve digested that Turkey the city is all about the holidays. Thanksgiving weekend is really Christmas season’s first weekend and you can get into the holiday spirits at one of those events:

  • Season’s Greenings, the United States Botanical Garden annual holiday show, opens Friday, November 23 (and runs through January 1, 2018.) Tickets are free but you might want to wait until a little later in December when the crowds die down a little. There will be a number of special evenings as well throughout the month with live music… and less children! You can read my recap of the 2015 edition right here.

  • Get a head start on buying those Christmas presents at the Downtown Holiday Market, whose tents will start appearing by the National Portrait Gallery as early as Saturday November 24.  
  • If the weather is nice, you can head to the National Zoo for ZooLights, a fun display of LED Christmas lights. (Free admission; 5-9 PM daily; November 24 – January 1, 2018)
  • CityCenterDC will light its impressive 75 feet tall holiday tree on Saturday, November 25 (6 PM) Also making an appearance, the 25-foot reindeer (I love those!)  
  • Donald Trump and his family will also be lighting the National Christmas Tree that Saturday. You had to enter a lottery to go to the actual ceremony but you can also just go check it out on Sunday instead. In addition to the National Christmas Tree, each state and US Territory has a smaller tree on display in President’s Park. 


A First Look at the Shop Made in DC

I’ve been writing a lot about running lately, so I thought it was time for a non-jogging related post. Meet the Shop Made in D.C., a newly opened shop-café combo at 1333 19th street NW. As you may have guessed by the name, the 2,500-square-foot space only stocks products that are made in the District, from the coffee (which comes from Small Plane, Ryan Jensen’s new roasting company) to a rotating selection of goods by local small business owners. All of them belong to the Department of Small and Local Business Development’s Made in D.C. program, which provided $100,000 in funding for the project, through a grant to the Golden Triangle BID. Other financial backers include Boston Properties, People Make Place and the Neighborhood Restaurant Group

Two things caught my eyes right away when I came in last Saturday. First, big black letters at the back of the store with the words EAT and DRINK. I guess I was hungry 😉

It was a little too early for tacos (from Tortilladora) or momos (from Dorjee momo), so I just grabbed an everything bagel from Bullfrog Bagels and a coffee. The shop carries oat-milk which is my new favourite so I was excited about that!

I’ll have to come back to try more of the food offerings, including the beers which Greg Engert, director of the beverage program, selected from 6 local breweries. 

Next, I couldn’t help but be drawn to a long brick wall on the side of the store, with bold and  bright posters from 18 of DC’s landmark neighbourhoods, created by Anthony Dihle of Victory Dance Creative.

Alongside all the products featured in the shop, you can find little cards detailing the name of the artisan that made it (24 currently), alongside their makerhood, how many years they have been a maker, how many years they have been in DC and of course, their social media handles so you can look them up.


Food products and prints are most prominent in the shop, but you can also find beautiful leather goods from Stitch and Rivet , shirts by District of Clothing or pottery from Hollow Work Ceramics. For now, all of the local entrepreneurs featured have to be DC based businesses registered with the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development though that might change soon since that partnership is only slated to last 6 months as it stands right now.

I foresee the Shop Made in DC being a great event space too, and they are already organizing a Meet the Makers evenings as well as participating in Dupont’s First Friday art walks. I’m sure there’ll be a lot more different events planned soon, especially with the holidays coming up, and I can’t wait! 

Shop Made in DC. 1330 19th Street, Northwest. Open Monday though Friday, 7 AM to 8 PM; Saturday and Sunday, 11 AM to 6 PM. 

U.S. Supreme Court? CHECK!

FINALLY!! After 6 years on my DC-to-do-list, I can cross off visiting the U.S. Supreme Court! Well, actually, the item on my list was a little more ambitious than just visiting the U.S. Supreme Court. I wanted to sit through an oral argument. And that’s not exactly what I did this week, but close enough. 

US Supreme Court

Thanks to a former colleague, I sat through a lecture on property rights in the progressive era, organized by the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society and hosted by Justice Samuel Alito. The lecture itself was waaaay over my head, I have no legal background whatsoever, but the reception afterwards, in one of the court’s stunning conference rooms, was right up my alley! I mean, of course I would find a way to drink wine at the U.S. supreme Court right? 

Reception at the US Supreme Court

So now I actually do want to just take a tour of the building and get to learn more about it but I am still crossing the U.S. Supreme Court off my DC-to-do-list!! So far, I’m doing pretty good and I think I might be able to cross everything off… let’s recap:

  1. U.S. Supreme Court — check 
  2. Sipping cocktails at the Columbia Room.
  3. Catching a movie at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.
  4. Dinner at Bad Saint — check (read about it here)
  5. Visit the Society of Cincinnati and Lars Anderson House.
  6. Watch the planes take off and land at Reagan National Airport from Gravely Point — check
  7. Catch the Caps practice at the Kettler Iceplex — check
  8. Meander through the lush grounds at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden — check (and during Cherry Blossoms season which was absolutely gorgeous!)
  9. Go on a hike in Rock Creek Park — check (though I’d like to crush it from top to bottom like this Washingtonian article recommends.)
  10. Have drinks at The Tombs in Georgetown.

So 6 down, 4 to go with 7 weeks left in 2016! I think I can do it!! 

Crossing Off Bad Saint From My DC-To-Do-List

When I added Bad Saint to my 2016 DC-To-Do list in early January the tiny Filipino eatery in Columbia Heights was already quite the popular destination for local foodies. Grabbing a seat at the tiny 25-seats restaurant required a some advance planning (or luck!) since it has a strict no reservations policy. Then came national recognition. In September, Bon Appétit magazine gave Bad Saint the # 2 spot on its Hot 10 list of best new restaurants in America. Michelin inspectors took notice as well and a few weeks ago included Bad Saint in its Bib Gourmand list of worthy yet affordable restaurants in DC’s very first edition of the guide (you can see a full list here). Not the greatest timing to decide to cross it off my list 😉

By 5:30PM the line for dinner at Bad Saint went down the block

By 5:30PM the line for dinner at Bad Saint went down the block

But you know what, I’ve made some questionable choices about my time lately, including waiting 3 hours in line for Hello Kitty themed macarons, so I figured, what’s one more line, especially if there’s fabulous Filipino food at the end of it right? And so I headed to Columbia Heights yesterday, armed with a good book and some mosquito spray. I got there around 3:50PM, which was a bit later than I had meant, and almost didn’t get a table for the first seating at 5:30PM. Luckily, around 5:45PM, my dining companion and I were shown to two uncomfortable stools at a narrow counter facing a mirror and near the exit. Not the greatest seats in the house though the dim space filled with photographs and knick-knacks is otherwise fairly cosy. A bit crammed, but cosy. Co-owner Genevieve Villamora waited on us for part of the evening, providing attentive service and many welcomed explanations about the menu. 

The menu is separated in three sections: gulay (vegetables and salads), isda at iba pa (fish and more) and carne (meat.) Within each of these sections, dishes are organized by size and Genevieve recommended we order one to two dishes per person, depending on their size and how hungry we were. So we did. Here’s what we ordered, mostly from the vegetarian section. 

Kinilaw na pugita (octopus, fingerling potatoes, queen olives)

Kinilaw na pugita (octopus, fingerling potatoes, queen olives)

Ginisang ampalaya (bitter melon, farm egg, preserved black beans)

Ginisang ampalaya (bitter melon, farm egg, preserved black beans)

Like many of the diners that head to Bad Saint, I don’t have much experience with Filipino cooking. It’s not a cuisine I’m that familiar with, but I am familiar with good food, and good food I ate!! The ampalaya (the bitter melon salad with a farm egg and fermented black beans) was probably the only dish that didn’t wow me, though I found its unconventional flavours interesting. I loved the octopus and fingerling potato ceviche, though I would have loved a bit more olives in there. My grandmother is from Morocco, the land of olives, and I pretty much always want more olives. The Adobong Dilaw was like autumn in a clay pot and I can’t wait to have some of the leftovers tonight!
Ginisang tokwat (fried tofu, yu choi, sate oil)

Ginisang tokwat (fried tofu, yu choi, sate oil)

Adobong Dilaw (cauliflower, kabocha squash, tumeric)

Adobong Dilaw (cauliflower, kabocha squash, tumeric)

Since the menu changes frequently, you may not see these items when you visit, though I think the bitter melon salad and a version of the Adobong Dilaw are typically found (there was also a chicken version of the dish on the menu too.) I know Bad Saint doesn’t accept parties larger than 4 but I found myself wishing that I had come with more people. It’s not that my friend J.C. was bad company, it’s that there’s only so much we could eat and I would have loved to be able to order more dishes and explore even more of chef Tom Cunanan’s creative Filipino menu! 


Have you been to Bad Saint yet? Does its presence in the Michelin Guide make you more likely to go? I wanted to check it out well before Michelin and Bon Appétit took notice, but the release of the red guide definitely gave me that extra push to go and do the waiting in line thing. There’s a lot of other Michelin-starred or Bib Gourmand restaurants I want to try. Sadly, Minibar, Pineapple and Pearls and Kinship are not quite dining options for my budget right now, so I’m tackling the list from the bottom up, at least price wise, and starting with the Bib Gourmand I haven’t been to yet. So, Bad Saint: check. Bonus for crossing it off my 2016 DC-To-Do-List too. And Ottoman Taverna… you’re next! 

Celebrating DC’s First Michelin Guide at the French Ambassador’s Residence

Bibendum at the release party for DC's first Michelin Guide

Being invited to the French Ambassador’s Residence is always a treat… I’ve only been there a few times in my 13 years in Washington and I’m always elated when I have the chance to attend an event there. Last night was no exception, if anything it was more special than ever as Washington’s top toques gathered to celebrate the release of the District’s very first Michelin Guide. So. Many. Chefs. 

In addition to the 11 chefs who were awarded coveted stars in the red guide, representatives from the restaurants who were awarded Bib Gourmand last week as well as from those who were listed in the book were present. Who was left in DC’s kitchens last night? A lot of sous-chefs in charge 😉

DC's Michelin Starred Chefs

There are 107 restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide, including 19 Bib Gourmand, 9 one-star restaurants and 3 two-stars restaurants. The big winners from this first edition are Jose Andres and Aaron Silverman. At 34, the chef who made D.C. fall in love with a litchi and pork sausage dish is one of very people in the world to have both a one star (Rose’s Luxury) and a two stars (Pineapple & Pearl) restaurant. And he’s just getting started! Jose Andres also had a very good week, receiving two stars for his Minibar and a Bib Gourmand for pretty much all of his other establishments (Oyamel, China Chilcano, Zaytinya and Jaleo).

My favourite moment from last night’s event, other than sipping champagne among the who’s who of the Washington culinary scene — and getting my picture taken with Bibendum — was when Patrick O’Connor, the chef and proprietor of the two-star Inn at Little Washington said a few words as he accepted his recognition. At 71, he is twice Aaron Silverman’s age and had long lobbied Michelin’s to cover the city. “I am living proof” he said “that if you wait long enough your prayers will be answered.” Despite their insistence that they would only include restaurants from DC proper in the guide, I am so glad that the Michelin inspecteurs ventured out to Washington, VA. I’m hoping to make a trip out there soon, but until then, I’ll be combing through the guide (which shouldn’t take long, the D.C. edition is a mere 96 pages long, of which maybe 15 are ads for Michelin and maps) and picking out some new spots to try!

DC Michelin Guide

The first on my lists are all around where I live, and I can’t believe I eaten there yet: Ottoman Taverna (Bib Gourmand), Kinship (one star) and Chercher, a Bib Gourmand Ethiopian restaurant I hadn’t even heard of until the guide came out. Do you think the release of the guide will influence where you’re going to eat in the near future?

Premières Visites du Nouveau Musée d’Histoire & Culture Afro-Américaine

Ça y est! Le tout nouveau Musée National de l’Histoire et de la Culture Afro-Américaine (l’acronyme c’est NMAAHC en anglais) a ouvert ses portes au public samedi dernier à Washington. Et il les a ouvertes en grande pompe et circonstance,  avec l’ancien président George W. Bush, Barack et Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey et plein d’autres célébrités ainsi que deux jours de fête et de concerts sur le National Mall.
National Museum of African American History and Culture L’inauguration du NMAAHC c’est l’événement culturel de l’année ici… les billets d’entrée (qui sont gratuits d’ailleurs, comme ceux pour tous les musées nationaux gérés par l’Institution Smithsonian) se sont arrachés comme des petits pains en ligne. Il faut maintenant quasiment attendre jusqu’à janvier pour avoir des places. Heureusement, je m’y suis prise à l’avance et du coup j’en suis déjà à ma deuxième visite 😉 J’ai eu la chance de pouvoir le visiter juste avant son ouverture officielle, trois jours après l’inauguration et j’y retourne mi-octobre…. Un peu beaucoup? Non. Il y a plus 33 000 objets a découvrir sur presque 40 000 mètres carrés, donc je pense que j’aurais même besoin d’y retourner l’année prochaine, surtout que je n’ai pas du tout étudié l’histoire américaine  à l’école, donc j’apprends plein de chose à chaque fois!

En gros, le Musée National de l’Histoire et de la Culture Afro-Américaine propose un veritable voyage dans l’histoire des Etats Unis comme l’ont vécus les afro-américains. La visite s’organise chronologiquement au début et commence tout en bas, au troisième sous-sol du musée. C’est symbolique, bien sûr. Dans ces premières salles on revoit les épisodes les plus sombres de l’histoire Américaine: l’esclavage et la ségrégation… Cette partie m’a rappelé le Musée de l’Holocauste, qui est tout près d’ailleurs. On y voit des cartes retraçant le commerce des esclaves, des chaînes (dont des toutes petites pour enfants), des notes de vente et une cabane d’esclaves provenant d’une ancienne plantation de Caroline du Sud.
unnamed-27National Museum African American History and Culture

Un grand mur m’a fait particulièrement réfléchir: celui du paradoxe de la liberté. Derrière une statue de Thomas Jefferson on peut lire les noms de tous les esclaves dont il était “propriétaire…” lui, l’auteur principal de la Déclaration d’Independence qui décrit que tous les hommes sont nés égaux et sont doués par le Créateur de certains droits inaliénables; parmi ces droits se trouvent la vie, la liberté et la recherche du bonheur. Progressivement, on arrive à l’époque de la ségrégation et à la lutte pour les droits civiques. Là, il n’est pas rare d’entendre quelques personnes un peu plus âgés raconter leur propre experience pendant cette période et c’est extrêmement émouvant quand ils sont là en famille, avec leur enfants et leurs petits enfants, de les voir partager ces souvenirs difficiles qu’ils ont vécus personnellement. Cette scène de parents qui expliquent ce lourd contexte à leurs enfant se répète à travers le musée. Certains sont si jeunes qu’ils n’ont jamais connu d’autre président que Barack Obama, dont l’élection conclue d’ailleurs cette partie du musée. On sort enfin des épisodes les plus sombres de l’histoire américaine pour arriver aux plus glorieux.

Tuskegee Airmen Trainer Plane at the NMAAHC

Les étages supérieurs redonnent leur place aux contributions des Afro-Américains dans l’histoire militaire, le sport, les arts et la culture. Les thèmes précédents ne sont pas oubliés… la ségrégation et la lutte pour les droits civiques y sont encore mais on y célèbre surtout la réussite, les victoires, les premières historiques que ce soit celle de Josephine Baker, Alvin Alley, Spike Lee, Mohamed Ali ou des soeurs Williams. Et oui, d’Oprah Winfrey aussi… elle a donné plus de 20 millions au musée donc elle est un peu partout 😉

Oprah Winfrey's studio at NMAAHC A statue of the 1968 Olympics black power salute at NMAAHC

En dehors des expositions, il y a trois endroits que j’ai beaucoup aimé dans le musée. Le premier c’est une petite fenêtre cachée dans la section histoire militaire au troisième étage. Quelle vue! Attention, pour prendre la photo comme moi, il faut s’allonger par terre, sinon on coupe le haut du Washington Monument… 

The view from the 3rd floor of NMAAHC

Ensuite, c’est la cafétéria au premier sous sol, qui est en elle même un exposition à part entière puisque le menu retrace les contributions culinaires afro-américaine à la cuisine du pays. Enfin, un bon resto sur le mall 😉

Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich from sweet Home Cafe at NMAAHC

Le dernier endroit est un pièce dédiée à la contemplation, un endroit calme (assez dur à trouver d’ailleurs!) où on peut s’assoir et, bercé par le murmure d’une fontaine qui tombe du plafond, réfléchir un peu à tout ce que l’on vient de voir, au poids de l’histoire, à la situation actuelle qui est loin d’être idéale en ce moment. Bonus: ça fait une belle photo instagram aussi! 

Contemplation room at NMAAHC

Le musée est déjà un énorme succès avec plus de 28,000 visiteurs en quelques jours… Si vous ne vous êtes pas pris comme moi au mois d’août pour réserver vos places gratuites, il faudra vous armer d’un peu de patience… et d’un bon réveil. Tous les matins, des places seront mises à la disposition du public à 9:15. Une fois toutes distribuées, il vous faudra revenir le lendemain. Donc surtout là au début je conseillerai d’y aller assez tôt! Sinon, les reservations pour janvier-fevrier s’ouvriront le lundi 3 octobre à 9 heures du matin. Après vous pouvez aussi juste apprécier l’architecture extérieur du musée, il est superbe aussi… mais bon, si vous pouvez visiter, c’est mieux tout de même! 

Le Monde calls DC the “new empire of cool”

Every year, some 1.6 million French tourists visit the United States. Most start in New York and visit Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Some may venture out to Florida, especially if they have kids, New Orleans, Boston and Philadelphia. Washington, DC doesn’t get a ton of love though that might all change thanks to a recent article in Le Monde, one of France’s leading newspaper. The article, published in the travel section of M Le Mag, gushes over the District, going as far as labeling it the “new empire of cool.” 

Le Monde appelle Washington, DC le nouvel empire du cool

So what makes DC so cool now? In a nutshell: a restaurant scene worthy of getting its own Michelin guide, gentrification and the Obamas. “With its institutional, even boring, reputation, the U.S. Capital is changing gear” begins the article, “and dreams itself a rival to New York City thanks to new gastronomic restaurants and gentrified neighbourhoods.” Yep, even in French articles we have to reminded that we are not New York (though obviously we want to be right?) and there are references to the city throughout the article. The decor at Maketto, for example, reminds you of a New York loft. the upcoming hotel The Line is “signed by the Sydell Group — who, in 2012, woke up a few blocs of Manhattan by opening the NoMad Hotel.” Forbes naming D.C. “the second coolest city in the US” in 2014 means we’re “taking our revenge on our exuberant neighbour New York.” Nevermind that we’re really not as obsessed with New York as everyone seems to want us to be… or that Forbes actually ranked us in the top spot on that list, not runner up 😉 

In addition to New York City, the author name drops Barrack and Michelle Obama quite a bit too. Rose’s Luxury? It’s where Barrack Obama celebrated his 54th birthday last year! Maketto is a big hang out for “local hipsters, as well as the First Lady.” And Michael Schaeffer, editor of the Washingtonian is quoted saying that «the Obamas have undeniably contributed to the changing perception of the city, more cosmopolitan, more creative. Especially since they frequent local businesses and restaurants instead of staying enclosed in the White House.” I guess on that last note he does have a point… 

Rose's Luxury's Pork Lychee Salad

The outdoor courtyard and deck at Maketto

OK, so I moved from Paris to Washington, DC 13 years ago and yes, I’ve definitely enjoyed the way the district has evolved since. I don’t know that I’d call it the new “empire of cool” though. What’s interesting is that the article, which appeared in the newspaper’s travel section, brushes aside all of the city’s museums, sights and other historical attractions to focus pretty much exclusively on our shopping and dining scene. Sorry National Mall 😉 So who got singled out by the article? 

union market

Rose’s Luxury gets an early mention, of course, and the author also spends a considerable amount of ink on H Street NE further north and Erik Bruner Yang’s Maketto (“an on-point men’s fashion boutique, trendy coffee shop and Asian restaurant frequented by locals hipsters as well as the First Lady“), cocktail bar Church and State and local vintage boutique Nomad Yard may see an influx of French tourists following glowing mentions. The article highlights the current duality found in many DC neighbourhoods today, with family owned African American businesses cohabiting with a new generation of businesses. That, the author argues, is fully on display near Union Market, as well as Shaw or U Street. In the neighbourhood “once known as Black Broadway … people now go buy pillows at Salt & Sundry or eat at Le Diplomate, an Americanized version of a French bistro.”  The author’s words, not mine, though she definitely sums up perfectly how French expats here feel about the 14th street restaurant. Further up, Adams Morgan get a mention with the Line Hotel as well as its walls “dressed by colourful murals from (street) artist Aniekan.” SO glad he gets a mention!! 

D.C. mural artist Aniekan Udofia was commissioned by American Express to paint this mural in Adams Morgan

D.C. mural artist Aniekan Udofia was commissioned to paint this mural in Adams Morgan

So, DC… new empire of cool? That might be a bit much but I love that the article highlights parts of the city that may not usually get a love of love in travel guides or articles. There is more to DC than the mall and Georgetown (Hu’s Wear does get a mention as a good place to go shopping.) It’s nice to see that come through for once in a travel article. And if I start hearing people people speaking French next time I’m dining at the Dabney, I’ll know why 😉

If you can read French, here is a link to the full article in Le Monde’s M Le Mag. 




Happy Watermelon Day!

Rather than give you a French inspired recipe using summer’s most refreshing fruit, pastèque, I give you one of the most colourful house in Washington, DC and one of my favourite piece of street art in the city: the Watermelon house!!

DC's Watermelon House

The row house is located at 1112 Q Street near Logan Circle. Its exposed side has been painted in pink and green to resemble a has a watermelon slice, complete with seeds. Story has it all started with a bad paint job and since everything I know about Logan Circle’s famed Watermelon House I know from this Washington Post article, you can read all about it there too.

Oh, and if you really want some recipes, I do have two super refreshing ones for you right here.

Bonne journée de la pastèque!! Are you celebrating?

Pokéball Doughnut – Gotta Eat ‘Em All !

Have you been roaming the streets of Washington searching for Pikachu? I returned from Paris to find that Pokémon Go had taken the United States by storm (and of course promptly downloaded the app as well). Over the past week, small business owners and restaurants around the city have been trying to cash in on the popular augmented reality game, advertising their status as Poké Stops, enticing shoppers and dinners by setting up lures  and, of course, coming up with pokemon inspired drinks and food. Duffy’s Irish Pub near U Street has been particularly keen on all fronts offering Pokémangorita, lures, free wifi and phone chargers.

Duffy's Irish Pub

Meanwhile, ever one to give into fads, I made my way to Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken over the weekend to catch one of their pokéball doughnut, a vanilla based cake with a raspberry red and vanilla white glaze. It’ll be available for $2.65 in their stores (downtown DC and Falls Church) throughout the month on weekends, and, bonus, I even caught a Bulbasaur on the way there!! 

pokeball donut from Astro Doughnut in Washington DC

Now I enjoyed this donut, but you know what else is delicious and looks like a pokéball? That’s right, a macaron! I mean, you could make all sorts of pokemons too…  just saying… hint hint all you macarons shops in town 😉