Week-end Highlights: The Crown, Beaujolais, Friendsgiving & Fotoweek DC

Brr! It got cold all of the sudden! After a gorgeous Saturday, it looks like temperatures are back to what they should be this time of year, which means I spent most of Sunday curled up on the couch with my cat, binging on The Crown. But before that, I did have quite the fun weekend.

LE BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU EST ARRIVÉ!
I kicked off the weekend at one of my favourite monthly gathering, Creative Mornings. Creative Mornings is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community. Every month, there’s a theme that’s picked for all of the chapters around the world. This month, it was “Fantasy” and all 157 chapters around the world gets to select an appropriate speaker from its local creative community based on their interpretation of that theme. For DC, host Joe Daly reached out to photojournalist Nicole Tung who showed some of her work in war-torn Syria at the National Geographic auditorium. The pictures were pretty rough, especially at 9AM, but it’s definitely work that needs to be seen…. 

Creative Mornings

Nicole Tung at Creative Morning

On a more upbeat note, I wrapped up Friday at my friend Marc-Antoine’s annual Beaujolais Nouveau celebration. I’m too old to party at Bistrot du Coin until the wee hours on a week day (though I did have a lot of fun there back in my days…) and I much prefer a casual get together with friends. Everyone brings a bottle of Beaujolais and some cheese, it’s the perfect way to celebrate the new harvest. Have you tried this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau? It’s pretty fruity (though I guess I say that every year lol)

Le Beaujolais Nouveau 2016

MINI-HIKE BEFORE MESSY KITCHEN’S FRIENDSGIVING POTLUCK

The weather was simply stunning Saturday, it would have been a shame to stay home (though I was really tempted to because I made the mistake of starting The Crown Friday evening!) I went on a mini-hike in Rock Creek Park to soak up all the fall colours (and the amazing 70 degree temperatures!)

Mini-Hike in Rock Creeek park

That evening, I got a head start on Thanksgiving at my friend Notes from a Messy Kitchen‘s annual Friendsgiving potluck. Not only was the food amazing but she raised more than $2,000 for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry

Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving

Carving the turkey

Notes from a Messy Kitchen's Friendsgiving

FOTOWEEK DC AND BINGING ON THE CROWN

Sunday was COLD! It was also the last day of Fotoweek DC. I wish I had had a chance to go to more events. I did make it to Scott Suchman‘s discussion of the Michelin guide (he showed stunning pictures he had taken at all of the restaurants that received stars and more). I also made it to one of the last events, a talk with Ami Vitale Sunday at National Geographic. Taking pictures of pandas is a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it right? 

After watching the U.S. pick its new president for the past two years, I finally got to vote as well. The French right and center right hosted an open primary on November 20, with a run-off on November 27 to select a candidate for the 2017 presidential election. For the French election, they will set up a voting station at the French embassy for us to vote in person, but this time we got to vote online which was kinda fun! The candidate I voted for made it to the second round, but I do want to spend the next few days leading to the second round combing through both Alain Juppé and François Fillon’s platform so that I can make the best decision of which candidate I want to see in the general election in May.  

Voting in the French primaries

Finally, I wrapped up the weekend binging on The Crown, Netflix’s sumptuous 10-episode series staring Claire Foy as a young Queen Elizabeth ascending the throne decades before she expected to. Have you had a chance to watch it yet? You should!

This week is going to be a short one… I hope you enjoy it and wish you a great Thanksgiving if you’re celebrating. 

 

Le Beaujolais Nouveau is Arriving at These 6 French Spots

Beaujolais Nouveau 2016

Ten days after the U.S. elections and one week before Thanksgiving, it’s time to celebrate a French holiday for a change: the arrival of the first wine of the season, le Beaujolais Nouveau. As always, it happens on the third Thursday of November, so unless you were up until 2 a.m. celebrating at Bistrot du Coin today’s the day! Here are 10 French restaurants and wine bars marking the occasion around town.

Cafe du Parc at the Willard InterContinental will be offering free George Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau along with passed hors d’oeuvres at the bar on Thursday from 5-6pm. Beaujolais will also be available by the glass and as a pairing with a 4-course, prix-fixe dinner at the restaurant upstairs ($65 per person without the pairing, $85 with.)

Le Grenier on H Street will also be pouring complimentary Beaujolais at its bar from 6 to 9 pm on Thursday. 


Beaujolais Nouveau at La JambeBeaujolais is pretty cheap wine, and Chef Cedric Maupillier totally gets that.
 He’ll be offering glasses of the vin primeur for $10 a glass ($7 at the bar during happy hour) and $25 a bottle throughout his Shaw restaurant ConvivialAround the corner from Convivial, my new favourite wine bar, La Jambe is celebrating the 2016 harvest with $9 glasses of Beaujolais Nouveau ($16 for two until supplies last so make it a wine date!) which will pair perfectly with owner Anastasia Mori’s homemade charcuterie. Petworth Citizen will also be pouring some Jean Paul Brun, but they don’t have Anastasia’s rillettes though…. 

Le Beaujolais Nouveau will also arrive at Central Michel Richard, where Domaine Dupeuble – Beaujolais Nouveau will be poured (and paired with Coq au Vin!) from Thursday to Saturday. 

Coq au vin and Beaujolais at Central Michel Richard

Across the pond in Old Town, Virginia, Michelle and Christophe Poteaux have crafted a fabulous three or four course menu ($39 and $49 respectively) at Bastille, designed to pair with a Domaine Manoir du Carra Beaujolais, which will be offered for $9 a glass or $32 a bottle. (ps: Domaine Manoir du Carra has a Beaujolais rosé which you should absolutely try if you can get your hands on it!!) 

Last year’s Beaujolais Nouveau release happened just on the heels of the Paris attacks when gunmen and suicide bombers hit the bataclan concert hall, the Stade de France, restaurants and bars, almost simultaneously leaving 130 people dead and hundreds wounded. It was a little difficult mustering the usual enthusiasm that accompanies the celebration. So I’m really looking forward to it this year and you’ll find me, as usual, celebrating with dear friends at home parties rather than out and about. Will you be celebrating the release of the new 2016 harvest this year?

 

Week-end Highlights: Laotian Food, Spanish Tall Ships & a Little Art

Happy Monday! Did you have a good weekend? After a long, emotional, week, mine was low key, in a good way, though I still managed to do quite a bit. Friday, I made my grand waitressing debut when I helped out with chef Bobby Pradachith’s Amone pop up at Mess Hall. 

Mess Hall food incubator in Washington, DC

 Chef Pradachith is the son of Chef Seng Luangrath of Thip Khao. After a stint at Minibar, he’s  following on his mother’s footsteps in elevating Laotian cuisine’s profile in the District and created a fantastic menu of historic dishes his three days pop-up at the culinary incubator. It was interesting for me to b behind the scenes for once and I still got to try a few of the dishes, like this riced cured rockfish with a fermented pork sauce, pineapple and cashews (Sa Ton Pa Va) or the soft coconut jelly with sour coconut, peanut brittle and salted plum (Woon Mak Pao).
Sa Ton Pa Va Laotian food

 

Week-end Highlights: Pinxtos, Vegan Wedding Cake & a Mini College Reunion

I’ve been pretty lucky. So far this summer, all of the weddings that I have been to have been local. Even better, since my college friend Sandra got married here at 2941 Restaurant not only did I not need to travel but a bunch of my college friends actually traveled to see me! Well, attend the wedding, but also see me!! 

ALL THE PINXTOS AT ANXO

My friend Elena, who came down from Connecticut for the occasion, is pretty obsessed with all things Spanish culture. To be fair, she’s a Spanish teacher and has traveled extensively throughout Spain. She wanted to check out Anxo and I was more than happy to oblige since I had not yet been to DC’s first cidery and pinxto bar in Truxton Circle. The weather was beautiful, and we were able to eat all the Basque small plates (and drink all the cider) outside which was such a treat. My favourite is always the Pintxo Gilda, with Basque peppers, olives and anchovy! 

Gilda pinxto at Anxo in DC

POPSICLE BRUNCH & PLAYING TOURIST ON THE MALL

Since the wedding was at 4PM, I squeezed in a little brunch catching up with some other college friends. They were staying at the Melrose Hotel between Foggy Bottom and Georgetown, I suggested we try RIS’ popsicle mimosa brunch. The popsicles come in two flavours: pomegranate spice and ginger orange pineapple. Since my friends weren’t drinking, I only had one of the ginger orange pineapple mimosa but under different circumstances, I certainly would have jumped on the $20 bottomless option.

RIS' ginger orange pineapple popsicle mimosaAfter brunch, we took a quick stroll on the mall. Could the weather have been more perfect to play tourists!?

Playing tourists on the mall

The wedding was beautiful, and one of the highlights was the vegan cake by chef Caitlin Dysart. Yep, vegan cake (the bride is vegan). Isn’t it just gorgeous?

Vegan wedding cake by Chef Caitlin Dysart The end of the weekend is a bit of a blur… literally 😉 I probably should have drank a little less wine. How was your weekend?

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!! 

Drink all the French Bubbles at DC’s First Champagne Week

DC Champagne WeekIf you missed Champagne Day on October 21, don’t worry! Champagne shouldn’t be celebrated in a day anyway, it clearly deserves its own week! At least that’s what my friends Jess and Alison thought. These two wine pros are throwing DC’s first ever Champagne Week, from Sunday November 6 to Thursday November 12.

The idea for DC Champagne Week started off small. Jess runs Young Winos of DC, a group that connects people in the District with wine tastings and events. She reached out to Alison, who runs her own wine consulting business Bon Vivant DC, to partner up on a champagne focused event. Jess jokes that Alison took a small idea and blew it up, but Alison retorts that Jess never would’ve reached out to her if she wanted something low key 😉 Before long, Alison was in Champagne attending le Printemps des Champagnes, the weeklong industry festival (you can read more about her trip to Paris and Champagne here). While there, she was able to meet producers, other champagne event producers and came back with a better understanding of what a champagne week might look like in DC. Right away, Alison had a vision of a grand tasting like the ones she just experienced at the Printemps des Champagnes and everything grew from there…

Champagne Week DCSo what can you expect from DC Champagne Week? Here’s a run-down of the events:

The event will feature an elite lineup of champagne houses including Pol Roger, Gosset, Pierre Paillard, Charles Heidsieck, A.R. Lenoble, Canard-Duchêne, J de Telmont, Heucq Pere & Fils, and selections from the Terry Theise champagne portfolio. Select cuvées will be available for purchase throughout DC Champagne Week at Calvert Woodley, a fabulous wine shop and the event retail partner. You can find out more about DC Champagne Week right here and I definitely hope I’ll be seeing you at some of the events!!

Santé!! 

Week-End Highlights: GLT Get-Together and All the Pumpkins!

This week-end was all about two things: girlfriends and pumpkins! We had planned a fun day-trip to the Middletown/Frederick area to visit a pumpkin patch and the weather could not have been more perfect. If anything, it was too warm to wear the typical instagrammable fall outfit 😉

We headed to Jumbo’s pumpkin patch because I had seen it listed in a couple of articles as one of the best in the United States (like in this post on Travel + Leisure). This seven-generation family farm offers lots of family friendly activities like face painting, pony rides, hayrides etc. but also has a legit patch where you can pick-your-own gourd. There were A LOT of kids, but once you got out to the patch it felt a bit calmer.  And it’s just an hour from D.C. so it’s a perfect day trip! 

Jumbo's Pumpkin Patch

Jumbo's Pumpkin Patch

We had planned on visiting nearby South Mountain Creamery and Distillery Lane Ciderworks but unfortunately ran out of time after a particularly long lunch at The Main Cup. We did squeeze in a quick visit to Olde Mother Brewing, just outside of Frederick, on the way back. It’s a pretty new spot, and I wouldn’t have thought to visit it if one of my friends and former colleagues hadn’t messaged me that she worked there when she saw that I was in the neighbourhood. I must say I actually really liked their pumpkin beer (which is rare!!) 

Tasting flight at Olde Mother Brewing

In the evening, I met up for dinner and drinks with a couple of awesome local ladies from the Girls Love Travel group. I’ve recently joined this group to interact with like-minded travel chicks and get some travel inspiration and it was super fun to get together for the first time. Some of the girls are actually pretty new to the DC areas and up for doing some slightly touristy stuff, which is always fun! 

Girls love travel get together in DC

Sunday, I went back to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for a third time. I had wanted to go back to the history galleries since I skipped those altogether on my second visit but there was a pretty ridiculous hour wait just to get into that part of the museum. So instead, I focused on the “Making a Way Out of No Way” section, which details how African Americans acted to change and build their lives despite tremendous obstacles. This is probably the last time I’ll go to the new Smithsonian this year, though I feel like I still have SO much to see. Have you been yet? 

2015 Notre Dame de Cousignac Rosé Luberon

I spent the rest of the day writing. The weather was beautiful so I opened up a bottle of 2015 Notre Dame De Cousignac Rosé Luberon just in time for sunset!  I love trying wines from regions I have been to, like the Luberon where we spent Christmas with my uncle’s family a few years ago. I found the bottle in the 2 for $20 bins at Batch 13 so it was quite a steal too! ps: that pic is from snap chat. Do you follow each other on the social platform yet? We should 😉 Click here to find me!

Hope you had a great week-end too! 

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?

Weekend Highlights: 2Amys, Taste of DC & a Muddy Music Festival

We don’t have a lot of three days weekends in the United States and hurricane Matthew caused problems for many travelers who had fun plans for the holiday… I didn’t have any plans to get away from Washington but there was plenty going on in the city!

POST ITALIAN EMBASSY DINNER AT 2AMYS

Since October 2012, the Italian Embassy has engaged the public in an open discussion on digital diplomacy and innovation in foreign policy through its Digital Diplomacy Series. Last week, they gathered a great panel of folks from the White House, Tumblr, Facebook and Google/YouTube to discuss what happens when digital diplomacy goes live. Afterwards, since we were already in the Cathedral Heights neighbourhood and in an Italian mood, we decided to grab diner at 2Amys. The Neapolitan-style DOC-certified pizzeria had just received a Bib Gourmand from Michelin earlier that day and I had never been so it seemed like the right time to go check it out! (You can read the full list of restaurants that just received a Bib Gourmand for the first edition of the DC Michelin Guide here.)

Pizza Neopolitano at 2Amys

Recent reviews seem to imply that 2Amys is resting on its laurel a bit, but I totally understand why it would be appealing to Michelin inspectors and my bill definitely came under the $40 required to get on the Bib Gourmand list. 

ALL THINGS GO FALL CLASSIC AT YARDS’ PARK 

As he took the stage around 6:30PM, Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos greeted the crowd by screaming “Rain or shine, motherf**kers. Rain or shine.” The Nationals postponed their game, but the show still went on at Yard’s Park, despite frigid rain and lots of mud! I was SO stoked to see Christine and the Queens perform, though regrettably she “declined to performed,” leaving festival-goers soaked and with not much to do in a muddy parking-lot turned concert venue. Womp Womp.

Christine and the Queens is a diva

All Things Go Fall Classic music festival

Things turned around though, the sky cleared up and almost looked like pink cotton candy by the time Sylvan Esso wrapped up their set. I wasn’t too familiar with Passion Pit’s music but I enjoyed their exuberant act but called it an early night before Empire of the Sun came on. I heard they put on quite a show though!

TASTE OF DC ON PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE

By Sunday the weather had cleared up for Jessica of Young Winos of DC and I ate our way through Washington at Taste of DC. And drank our way too, of course. It was the perfect day for rosé and the backdrop was pretty perfect too!

Rose all day by the US Capitol

CATCHING UP ON VERSAILLES

While the weather was perhaps too pretty to stay indoors, my friend Cecile and I had made plans to watch the first few episodes of Versailles, the lavish British-Franco-Canadian production set during the construction of Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles. The series already aired in France, the U.K., and Canada but just premiered on Ovation here in the States. 

Versailles Series

For the most expensive series in French history, I remain unconvinced so far. There are way too many subplots introduced in too short of a timeframe to keep track of and all the characters, especially the men, look the same with their long wavy brown hair, so it’s really hard to keep track of who’s who and what’s going on. I’ll keep watching, but I’m not impressed so far. On the plus side, Cecile made a fabulous tagine with green olives so at least the food was good! 

Did you get around to doing anything fun this weekend? Were you affected by Matthew at all? Let me know in the comments and have a great week!

Getting my Coffee Fix at Qualia Luke’s Diner

Luke's Diner pop up at Qualia

Where you a fan of Gilmore Girls? I watched it religiously when I was in college and I can’t wait until Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, the four-episode revival of the series, comes out on Netflix November 25! To celebrate the 16th gilmoreversary of the series’ original pilot air date (this is making me feel old!!) and of course promote the new season, Netflix had the brilliant idea of bringing a little bit of Stars Hollow to life by turning some 200 coffee shops across the U.S. and Canada into Luke’s Diner pop-ups. And to serve free coffee, which we know Rory and Lorelai would have totally be fans of!!  

Luke's diner pop up

There were five coffee shops that got the Luke’s Diner treatment in the D.C. area: Bump ‘n Grind in Silver Spring; Grounded Coffee Shop in Alexandria; Flying Fish Coffee & Tea in Mt Pleasant; Three Fifty Bakery and Coffee Bar on 17th Street and Qualia Coffee on Georgia Avenue which is where I headed for my coffee fix this morning. Of course, the lines were pretty long at all of these, but it was definitely worth it! Loved seeing the staff all dressed up like Luke, wearing flannel shirts and (Netflix-branded) baseball caps turned backwards.

Qualia turned into Luke's Diner for the day

Cell phones were only in their infancy back when the show first aired and we all remember that Luke Danes was not a fan, with a NO CELL PHONES sign prominently placed in his diner. Well, that was there today of course….

Luke's Diner no cell phone sign

Some pop-up Luke’s Diner around the country even got a life size Luke’s cutout displaying the updated no cell phone rule… looks like 2016 Luke is still as grumpy as ever 😉 The new sign reads: “No texting while ordering. No MAN BUNS! No taking pictures of food. No headphones. If I can hear your music through your headphones, WHY ARE YOU WEARING HEADPHONES?”

New no cell phone rules at Luke's diner

No taking pictures of my food!?! Why doesn’t he just write no millennials allowed in 😉 Can’t wait to see play out in the show’s revival!!