Los Angeles en 10 Photos

J’ai rarement l’occasion de visiter la côte ouest. La Californie, mine de rien, c’est quand même à six heures d’avion de Washington (DC! mais c’est quand même quatre heure de vol de l’état de Washington aussi) donc c’est pas comme si on peut y aller juste pour un petit weekend…  Mais comme j’étais à Anaheim pas loin pour une conference au travail, j’en ai profité pour rentabiliser le billet (surtout qu’il était payé par ma boite!) et je suis restée quelques jours de plus sur Los Angeles, histoire de redécouvrir un peu la deuxième plus grande ville des Etats Unis. 

Voici un petit aperçu de mon séjour à Los Angeles en 10 photos. Pas mal on été prises à Venice Beach comme c’est là que j’avais loué un AirBnB (que je recommande fort d’ailleurs pour ceux qui passeraient à Los Angeles!) Sinon, comme ce n’était quand même pas mon premier voyage là bas, j’ai évité les gros lieux touristiques et j’ai préféré explorer un peu des nouveaux quartiers comme Echo Park et Silver Lake ainsi que revoir le Hollywood sign, mais d’un angle un peu different cette fois 😉 Je vous laisse voir:

Palm Trees in Los Angeles

Le gros cliché de Los Angeles: les palmiers partout, à perte de vue, sur la plage, dans la ville. Ils font rêver et on ne s’en lasse pas!

 

Les surfeurs adorent et moi aussi! Un bol de sashimi hawaïen de Poke-Poke, dégusté sur la plage de Venice Beach pour un diner healthy et léger, et pas cher en plus.

Toujours à Venice, la célèbre Muscle beach, la plage du bodybuilding avec ses salles de musculations en plein air.

Toujours à Venice, la célèbre Muscle beach, la plage du bodybuilding avec ses salles de musculations en plein air.

Il n'y a pas que la plage à Venice Beach, y'a aussi le quartier historique des Canaux de Venice qui était tout près de mon AirBnB.

Il n’y a pas que la plage à Venice Beach, y’a aussi le quartier historique des Canaux de Venice qui était tout près de mon AirBnB.

Hiking to the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles

C’est LE symbole de Los Angeles et la meilleure façon de le voir de près, c’est a la fin d’une randonnée dans les collines d’Hollywood.

Trouvaille colorée au détour des rues du quartier branché de Silver Lake, à l’Est de Downtown

On reste dans le sport avec cet escalier, une trouvaille colorée au détour des rues du quartier branché de Silver Lake, à l’Est de Downtown. 

 

Decouverte pour moi lors de ce voyage: la quartier de Echo Park avec ces collines couvertes de petites maisons colorées et son superbe park, avec une vue imprenable sur downtown.

Découverte pour moi lors de ce voyage: la quartier de Echo Park avec ces collines remplies de petites maisons colorées et son superbe park, avec une vue imprenable sur downtown.

Autre découverte, celle du nouveau musée d'art contemporain du Broad. Il a ouvert ces portes fin 2015 et rengorge d'œuvres de Koons, Hirst, Basquiat, Mapplethorpe et Braque. Bonus: il est gratuit!

Autre découverte, celle du nouveau musée d’art contemporain du Broad. Il a ouvert ces portes fin 2015 et rengorge d’œuvres de Koons, Hirst, Basquiat, Mapplethorpe et Braque. Bonus: il est gratuit!

Un de mes buts pendant mon sejour a Los Angeles: ne jamais depenser plus de $20 par repas. Mission accomplie avec ces ramens a Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle.

Un de mes buts pendant mon séjour à Los Angeles: ne jamais dépenser plus de $20 par repas. Mission accomplie avec ces ramens à Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle.

Weekend Highlights ~ Low Key Labour Day

The first Monday of September is always Labor Day in the United States. It honors American workers and their contributions to the strength of the country. It’s also considered the unofficial end of summer… le sigh.

DRINKS AT THE WATERGATE HOTEL

We kicked off the weekend with happy hour at the Next Whisky Bar in the newly opened Watergate Hotel. Of course, everyone knows of the Watergate from the history books and the role it played in the demise of president Richard Nixon. But today, it’s a complex of 5 buildings right by the Kennedy Center. One of those building is now a landmark hotel overlooking the Potomac River and I hadn’t been yet since it reopened in June (it was closed for renovations since 2007.) The drinks are pretty pricey, so it’s not a spot where I’m going to become a regular at, but I loved the bar’s splashy atmosphere, with its lush red seats and the soft amber glow from the curved illuminated wall of 2,500 whisky bottles. 

The Bar at the Watergate Hotel

 

LABOUR DAY CAPITOL CONCERT

After that, my weekend was rather low key. Saturday, I went for a quick jog to the U.S. Capitol. I really want to get back into running now and jogging to and from the Capitol is a nice and easy 3 miles, the perfect distance when you havn’t been running for a while. Plus it’s such a pretty route, especially now that the scaffholding is almost all down. 

Concert on the West Lawn of the US Capitol

Sunday evening, I went back to the Capitol, to the West Lawn to be exact, to catch the free concert by the National Symphony Orchestra. It was a very only-in-DC concert. The musicians, led by Steven Reineke, kicked off the program with the star spangled banner. Featured singer Storm Large and her band Le Bonheur then launched into some American classic, including America the beautiful. My favourite moments were when she dedicated her performance of The Lady is a Tramp to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (her “spirit animal”) before serenading Bernie Sanders with a special version of My Funny Valentine, which she turned into My Bernie Valentine. Yep, politics is everywhere, always (but especially in an election year!) Washington, DC 😉 

Labor day concert at the US Captiol

 

STUNNING SUNSETS

Was it because of Hermine? I’m not sure, but we were treated to some pretty magical, unforgettable sunsets Friday and Saturday nights. According to my instagram feed, that was the case all along the East Coast, all the way to New York City. I wish my pictures could do justice to just how breath taking the red sky was… 

Sunset

Stunning sunset in Washington, DC

 

SUP-ING ON THE POTOMAC

I try to go kayaking on the Potomac at least once every summer, though I waited until the very end this year (let’s be real, it was too hot before that!) The weather was so perfect on Monday, we definitely weren’t the only ones who had that idea. We opted to do the Stand Up Paddleboards this time, which was a great workout on top of being a fun way to see the city from a different angle, including the Watergate where I had kicked off the weekend. 

Boating in DC
SUP-ing on the PotomacSUP-ing to the WatergateWe wrapped up the weekend with a little grilling, of course. That’s kinda synonymous with Labour Day right? In addition to running again, I’m trying to eat less meat so rather than cook steaks or burgers, I tried something different: grilled artichokes. 

Grilled artichoke with rose

It was actually really good and super easy to do. The trick is to boil the artichokes first. Once they’ve cooled down a bit, cut them in half and brush them with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. You’ll grill them for 5-10 minutes (until the tips are a little charred) and enjoy with a little more of the olive oil mixture. It’s actually quite perfect if you ever have vegetarian friends over for BBQ!

How was your labour day weekend? Did you go anywhere fun or stayed behind and enjoyed an emptier city? Let me know in the comments and have a great (short) week!

 

Les 5 Produits Français que j’Achète à World Market

Vous connaissez World Market? J’adore!! C’est une chaine de magasins ici où l’on trouve un peu de tout que ce soit pour le décor, les meubles, mais aussi des bijoux et de la nourritures venus ou inspirés des quatres coins du monde. Le mien est un peu plus petit, on n’y trouve pas de produits alcoolisés (certains ont un super choix de vins et de bière) ni de meubles, vaisselles etc. En fait, c’est juste un petit rayon dans mon Bed Bath & Beyond local près du Verizon Center. Mais c’est le rayon le plus important! Celui de l’alimentation 😉 Voici quelques uns de mes produits français préférés que j’achète à World Market

LE SEL DE GUERANDE

Fleur de sel de guerandeGros sel de guerande

Le sel de Guérande est un sel de mer naturel et artisanal récolté à la main par les paludiers dans les marais salants de la Loire Atlantique. Je le trouve version fleur de sel ($6.99) et gros sel aussi ($4.99) à mon World Market

LE SUCRE DE CANE LA PERRUCHE

Sucre de canne la perruche

Je ne trouve pas encore de cassonade à mon World Market, hélas, mais bon, le sucre roux, ambré en cube comme ca c’est un bon début et à $5.99 c’est pas encore trop cher et ça fait bien plaisir dans mon nespresso du matin! 

LA MOUTARDE MAILLE

Moutarde a l'ancienne et moutarde originale Maille

Il n’y a que Maille qui m’aille et si mon supermarché local a fait de bon progrès (j’y trouve maintenant de la moutarde Maille a l’ancienne) elle coute toujours un peu chère.  Alors en attendant que Maille ouvre sa boutique sur Washington (c’est dans les projets de la marque apparement) je rempli mon cadis à World Market!  

LES CORNICHONS

Cornichons

C’est pas facile de trouver des bons cornichons français, pas les gros pickles comme ils font aux Etats Unis (et que je trouve très bons aussi, mais c’est pas la même chose). J’adore particulièrement les extra fins Domaine des Vignes ($3.99) que je trouve à World Market

LES PETITES DOUCEURS

Quelques petits produits que j’adore: les mini-pots de confitures Bonne Maman (toujours pratique quand on a des invité pour le brunch), le Nutella version sample que j’ai quasiment toujours dans mon sac à main (je l’appelle mon Nutella d’urgence, on ne sait jamais quand on en aura besoin!) et les Kinder. Oui, je sais, ni le Nutella ni les Kinders ne sont français, mais on en consomme tellement chez nous que c’est un peu comme… Dommage par contre, on trouve toujours pas d’oeufs Kinder Surprise ici 😦

KinderEmergency Nutella

Mini-confiture bonne maman

BONUS: QUELQUES PRODUITS D’AFRIQUE DU NORD

Du côté de chez ma grand-mère maternelle on est du Maroc (de Casablanca) et le couscous est mon plat français préféré (et je suis pas seule d’après ce sondage.) Alors quand je trouve de l’harissa, du ras el hanout et de la semoule, je saute dessus!  

Harissa from World Market

Semoule pour le couscous

Ras el Hanout spices from world market

 

Vous avez trouvé d’autres bons produits français à World Market ou ailleurs? Je sais qu’on trouve de tout si on bien y mettre le prix (par example à Dean et Delucca, nous on en a un a Georgetown) mais l’avantage de World Market c’est que c’est très abordable! Quels sont le produits qui vous manquent le plus? N’hésitez pas a partager vos tuyaux alimentaires dans les commentaires! 

 

What’s the Best Baguette in Washington, DC?

I’ve lived in the District for over 10 years now and as the French expat one of the top question I usually get asked is “where can I find good bread?” Usually it’s recent transplants from France asking… The answer partially depend on where you live I guess. I mean, Bread Furst probably makes the best baguette in the city. But I live in Shaw. It’s bad enough I have to spend close to $3 for bread, I’m not trekking all the way across town on top of it. So I get my baguette mostly at A Baked Joint now, and occasionally at Paul or Le Pain Quotidien. Two places where I would never buy bread back home…but hey, I have limited options here 😉
The best Baguette in DC

Of course, Parisians take their bread very seriously. It is like 20% of our diet… It’s so important that we have a trade association for bread and the bakers that make it, la Chambre professionnelle des artisans boulangers du Grand Paris. And since 1994, they’ve teamed up with the City of Paris to throw an annual baguette show-done to select the best loaf in town: la meilleure baguette de Paris. In addition to 4,000 euros, mad bragging rights and a guaranteed line outside your bakery for a few weeks, the winning boulangerie also becomes the official bread supplier of the French President and his residence. Yes, obviously, that’s a thing too.  

This year, the French Embassy to the United States has decided to organize its very own “best baguette” contest for the Washington, D.C. area. After polling district residents online to see what their favourite bread-spots were, the top 4 bakers are facing off for a carb-filled finale at La Maison Française September 29th. 

The bakeries competing for the Best Capital Baguette title are: 

A jury of chefs and other DC-food personalities will decide the winner that evening but guests are also invited to join and will get the opportunity to try the different baguette along with charcuteries, cheese and jam. Bonne Maman, D’Artagnan and President are partners, so you know there’s gonna be some good stuff there! No wine sponsor though, so that’ll be cash bar and at $25 for a ticket (which you can buy here), that seems fair.

My money is on Fresh Baguette or Bread Furst, but I guess we’ll have to wait until September 29th to find out and see who will become the official bread supplier of the French Ambassador’s Residence… and the 2016 Best Capital Baguette!

ps: New York hosted its own competition earlier this year… so if you’re looking for some the best bread in Manhattan, just head to one of Eric Kayser‘s many bakeries. And good news, it won’t be too long before we have our very own Maison Eric Kayser here in DC. CANNOT WAIT! 

Diner en Blanc by the Lincoln Memorial

The very first diner en blanc took place in Paris’ Bois de Boulogne in the 1980s and has popped up in some of the most iconic locations around town since then, like the Champs Elysees, Notre Dame or the Place des Vosges to name a few. While I loved Washington’s first two diners en blanc, the sites (Navy Yard Park in 2014 and the Carnegie Library in 2015) had lacked a certain wow factor. This year, however, the organizers really delivered that only-in-DC magic as 3500 white-clad diners descended on Henry Bacon Park for an over the top, elegant pop-up picnic in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial.

Diner en Blanc, Washington DC

Getting so many people, slugging their tables, chairs, decorations and for many food, to an undisclosed location and setting them up at the site is always an exercise in organized chaos, but it always all comes together beautifully in the end.

Diner en Blanc at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial

Photograph by Vita Images for Diner en Blanc Washington, DC

The diner has many detractors but, as I mentioned to the Washington Post for an article on the event, one of the reasons I keep getting involved in Diner en Blanc is the camaraderie and the creativity. For all the talk that it’s a pretentious, posh, exclusive event, with a restrictive dress code and many strict rules, it’s actually one of the most inclusive and diverse I’ve ever attended in the city. Whether you’re a chief of staff in a congressional office or an inter, a lobbyist or a student, a lawyer or a bartender, everyone is equal for one night. I’ve never heard anyone ask someone else the dreadful “oh, what do you do” question at Diner en Blanc. Instead it’s compliments on fun angel wings, a sparkly beard, original outfits or crafty centerpieces. Everyone is treated the same at Diner en Blanc: everyone has to drag their stuff across town, no one knows where they’re going to end up setting up and everyone is given the same blank white canvass to work with. And they are free to get as creative as they want… well, as long as you keep it white 😉

Diner en blanc Washington DC

Diner en blanc Washington, DC

Some of my friends express their creativity through their outfits, others go all out on their table scape. Check out this sail my friend Jade made! It was amazing!

Diner en Blanc at the Lincoln Memorial

Some get creative on the dance floor too ! I usually focus on my menu but this year decided to spend some time and energy on a homemade flower crown instead. And I had a pretty simple but stunning table design planned that involved massive white balloons (inspired by this pin) too but that was thwarted by the National Park Service rangers who apparently disapprove of balloons… womp womp. We still got a few good pictures with them though!

Photo by Jai Williams for DCist

Photo by Jai Williams for DCist

Picture by Vithaya Phongsavan for DC Modern Luxury

Picture by Vithaya Phongsavan for DC Modern Luxury

Again, it was a wonderful evening, spent laughing, eating, drinking champagne and dancing under the stars with old friends, and strangers alike, in one of those truly only-in-DC moments. I only wish it could have lasted longer…

Diner en blanc 2016

 

 

Soirée Guerre des Etoiles au Match de Baseball

Dans la catégorie experience typique Américaine à faire au moins une fois, je vous présente le baseball. Mon premier match c’était à Fenway Park, le terrain de jeu des célèbres Red Sox de Boston, qui est aussi le stade de baseball de plus ancien encore utilisé aux U.S. Tant qu’à faire, autant choisir un stade historique et une équipe mythique non?  

Match de baseball des Washington Nationals

L’équipe de D.C. c’est les Washington Nationals et elle est plutôt nouvelle. La capitale Américaine avait été privée de son sport national pendant des années, jusqu’à ce que les Expos de Montréal débarquent sous un nouveau nom et branding en 2005, pour la plus grande joie de tout le monde. En contraste au Red Sox et à Fenway qui sont pleins d’histoire et de nostalgie, nous on a un stade et une équipe flambants neufs. En tout, j’ai dû aller à une dizaine de matchs, souvent avec le travail, car ça se fait beaucoup ici les virées organisées au match de baseball l’été quand les bureaux sont un peu plus calmes. Sinon, je préfère m’abstenir et j’ai de la chance, mon mari c’est pas son truc non plus le baseball. Sauf que hier c’était soirée Guerre des Etoiles au stade et que pour une fois j’avais vraiment envie de voir ça!! 

Soiree guerre des etoiles au match the baseball

Et oui, comme la saison de baseball dure 6 mois et que chaque team joue plus de 160 matchs, le staff marketing des équipes organisent souvent des soirées à thèmes pour égayer un peu tout ça. Souvent c’est des “Girls Night Out” ou “Bark at the Park” quand on peut amener ses copines ou son chien. Et des fois c’est un peu plus geek avec des matchs Pixar, Zombies, Star Trek, Game of Throne ou Star Wars. Pourquoi pas…? 

Comme la force était forte du côté du thermomètre (il faisait encore 35 degrès à 7 heures du soir) j’ai laissé à la maison mon costume de wookie Chewbacca  et j’ai improvisé un look princesse Leia fan des Nationals, tout en blanc avec le logo de l’équipe (et surtout des manches courtes!) et les doubles chignons macarons. Les 20,000 premiers spectateurs arrivé au stade on eut le droit à un t-shirt special, les présidents qui vont la course au quatrième inning étaient en costume aussi et un peu partout a travers le stade il y avait des photos opps avec les personages de la franchise. 

Star Wars Night at the baseball game

Star Wars Night at the Baseball Stadium

Star Wars Night at the baseball game

 

 

 

Star Wars Night at the baseball stadium

Sinon, le match… oui, j’ai pas trop regardé 😉 

                                           *              *              *                *                  *

Deux trois trucs a connaitre pour voir jouer les Nationals, l’équipe de Baseball de Washington:

  • La saison de baseball c’est debut Avril a fin Septembre et les matchs se passent au Nationals Park dans le Sud Ouest de Washington, au metro Navy Yard. Y’a plein de truc à faire avant le match, comme le Bullpen at Half Street Fairgrounds, avec de la bière et des food-trucks, ou la brasserie Bluejacket. Mais il ne faut pas trop se gaver… les concessions à l’intérieur du stade valent vraiment une visite! 
  • Les billets s’achètent en ligne sur le site de l’équipe. Sinon, vous pouvez vous renseigner sur la disponibilité des places sur place au stade en vous rendant à la billetterie le jour du match. Les prix varient entre $10 pour des places plutôt basique à la Right Field Terrace et $370 dans le Delta SKY360 Club ou vous avez buffet et boissons à volonté (et une vue bien meilleure a mon avis…)

 

 

Bon Quatorze Juillet / Have a Tasty Bastille Day

I just got back from a week of holiday back home. Other than that tiny little event when France lost the UEFA championship to Portugal, everything was absolutely wonderful. If anything, I feel like I got an early taste of the Quatorze Juillet since there were flags absolutely everywhere and I sang the Marseillaise like 50 times (it’s kind of the de-facto soccer chant for supporters of the French national team.) Seriously, my instagram feed (<– follow me!) turned completely bleu blanc rouge over the last 2 weeks 😉 

A Very French Instagram

A very patriotic instagram

At least I get to pretend I’m back in Paris a little longer because tomorrow is our national holiday (you say Bastille Day, and that’s ok, I say Quatorze Juillet… please just don’t say France independence day!). I’m stoked, as always, to celebrate at the French Embassy with my Frenchies. It’s always pretty special to celebrate July 14th with the French community and fellow French expats from the Washington area every year.

Elsewhere in the city, Washington’s many French restaurants always step up to the plate to celebrate one of the thing we are most proud of: our food!

  • Grab made to order crepes ($10) on the terrace at Café du Parc as well as a wine flight and cheese & charcuterie board ($30) from 5-8PM. After that, head to the restaurant to enjoy a special Taste of Bordeaux menu.
  • Celebrate Bastille Day at Bastille in Alexandria. Out of all the special Bastille Day menu I’ve seen, this is the one that I’m most excited about AND it’s available through July 17. I’d have a hard time deciding what to order between the canard aux pêches (see picture below), loup de mer (my favourite fish!) and entrecote Béarnaise if I went! Bonus: you can add a wine pairing to your menu too! 
Canard peche at Bastille in Alexandria VA

Picture courtesy Flash Public Relations via Chef Christophe Poteaux’s facebook feed

  • 2491 in Virginia is celebrating all week, with a special menu through Sunday, July 17. Highlights include a lobster thermidor and a lapin à la Provençal, which are not items you frequently see on French menus here in the US. The desserts by chef Caitlin Dysart, as always, sound absolutely delightful like the blueberry Vacherin with lavender ice cream or the apricot clafoutis.
  • If you haven’t had a chance to check out La Jambe in Shaw yet, here’s a perfect excuse! They’re come up with an adorable “bleu, blanc, rouge” board special for the holiday, which, along with a glass of wine, will only set you back $20!

    Bastille day at La Jambe

    If shopping is more your scene, City Center DC has some great shops (go easy on the champagne at Louis Vuitton, or your wallet might hurt tomorrow!) AND great food… plus music, wine tasting and mini-facials at Caudalie

    Bastille Day at City Center

    There’s a ton of tasty pics floating around my instagram feed today and way too many fabulous options to list them all. I’ll give you these two drool-inducing pics though:

    delicious

    But last but not least, of course, you can also celebrate with a night in. It’s going to be like a million degrees tonight, so that’s a perfectly acceptable option! You can always grab a bottle of French wine at one of the many great wine shops around town. I always find some great fun bottles at DCANTER on Capitol Hill and am never disappointed with the amazing selection at Weygandt Wines in Cleveland Park. Bonus: Weygandt Wines is offering 20% off its French bottles on July 14th! For the films, I’ve got you covered with this handy list of the best French films on Netflix. 

    Anyhoo, as I mentioned I’ll be at the French Embassy tonight… following me on snapchat if you want to see what that looks like on Bastille Day! 

    Bon Quatorze Juillet à tous!! 

Weekend Highlights: Flower Crowns, Mucha and Football

Happy Monday! Did you have a good weekend? After keeping a low profile last weekend and throughout most of the week (I’ve had the worst cold!) I made up for lost time and had quite a wonderful 3-day weekend. It all started with rosé and flowers on Friday. 

One of the best part about having friends from different parts of the world is learning about their culture and traditions (oh, and the amazing food too!) On Friday, my friend Bianca showed us how the Finns celebrate summer solstice. Midsommar is one of the most important national holiday in Finland (and it’s a big deal in many other Nordic countries too.) While her rooftop does have a fire pit, we didn’t light any kokko (bonfires) to keep evil spirits away but we did drink some snap and make midsommarkrans,  beautiful DIY flower crowns using string, birch and of course, flowers. Check us out being all crafty!

Making flower crowns for midsommar

Celebrating Finnish midsommar

Almost as good as the snapchat filter isn’t it? ps: speaking of, you can follow more of my day-to-day on snapchat (<– click on the link, or username laetitiabrock).

Saturday, I escaped the city with my friends Olga of MangoTomato and Nicole of Hapatite. We headed to Winchester, a quaint little town tucked away in the Northwest part of Virginia, about an hour and a half away from Washington. 

They love all things apple in WinchesterWinchester, Virginia

Winchester, Virginia

What prompted our mini road trip was an Alphonse Mucha exhibit at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley though we snuck in some shopping in the city’s Loudoun Street Mall and some good eating at One Block West, a fabulous little restaurant, and Red Fox Creamery! And while we had to rush through them a bit because they were prepping up for a wedding, I *loved* the gardens at the museum, almost more than I loved the collection inside!

Alphone Mucha exhibit

The Chinese Garden at the Shenandoah Valley MuseumGardenThe Chinese garden at the Shennandoah Valley Museum

On the way back, we stopped by Wild Hare Cidery for a quick tasting then found our wine (as well as fabulous views!) at Bluemont Vineyard

Bluemont Vineyard

With France playing its 8th of final game bright and early at 9AM on Sunday, I had pretty much written the day off, at least as far as getting anything done beside watching football was concerned. I was a little worried about my choice of venue for the match… Fado’s is one of the best spot to watch football in the city, but we picked it BEFORE knowing that we would be facing Ireland 😉  Things weren’t looking too good when the boys in green scored within the first few minutes but luckily Griezmann was there to save the day and I’m looking forward to cheering on Les Bleus in the quarter finals next weekend (and then hopefully in France for the semis and finals!).

Allez les bleus

Keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll face Iceland, I’ve loved following their Euro Cup Cinderella story… and I’d rather not face England too. Have you been following either the Copa America or the Euro Cup? You’d almost never know there’s a major international soccer tournament that just wrapped up in the US… I feel like it’s barely gotten any coverage 😦 

We’ll be watching the game at Penn Social on Sunday with a bunch of other expats so don’t hesitate to join us! Is it bad that I’m already looking forward to next weekend? Between the July 4th holiday and all the football, it’s going to be another good one!

Weekend Highlights: Packing, Crabs & Macarons Glacés

In France, in May, it seems that every other weekend is a three day weekend (because it is). Here in the United States we get one May bank holiday for Memorial Day. I rarely get to take advantage of the time off though because my huge annual work conference always falls right around that time. This year is no exception. I’m off to Anaheim on Thursday. It’s been a while since my last trip to California, so I actually decided to stick around for a few days afterwards and I’m SO excited. Now I just need to find a place to watch the France-Romania game on June 10th in Venice! I can’t believe the Euro cup starts next week!!

So I had a pretty low-key weekend, getting everything ready for my trip including tying up some lose ends at work. But don’t worry, that’s not all I did 😉

KICKING OFF SUMMER WITH RIBS, CRABS AND FRIENDS

First blue crabs of the season

Memorial Day officially kicks off summer here in Washington and it typically means three things: most pools (including the one on my roof) open, you can white and it’s blue crabs season! Blue crabs are so different from the ones I grew up eating in France but I’ve really taken a liking to getting down and dirty with a mallet to dig into Maryland crabs, steamed with old bay seasoning. My friend Madalene went to the Maine Avenue Fish Market in Southwest DC to pick up some fresh ones. She had us over for ribs and crabs and it was a messy, but lovely affair. 

MACARONS ICE CREAM SANDWICHES AT CAFE DU PARC

It’s already really hot and humid in the district and after the crabs, the best thing I ate all weekend was a refreshing macaron glacé from the new ice cream stand outside of the Willard Hotel. At $8, they’re not cheap, but I have no regrets! 

Macaron glaces from Cafe du Parc

 

STRAWBERRY SEASON AT THE BLOOMINGDALE FARMERS MARKET

Other than the Dupont Circle Farmers’ market, which operates year round, most of the other markets here in Washington, DC are seasonal. And the season has started!! There’s three markets that I typically visit. During the week, I usually frequent the White House Farmers’ Market, which operates close to my office on Thursdays. It’s a great spot to grab lunch and take a quick break. On the weekends, I’ll go to the Freshfarm stand at City Vista for fruits, vegetables and fresh eggs. If I need a little more (or if I’m craving pies from Whisked! or kimchi from Number One Sons) I’ll head to the market in Bloomingdale, which is exactly what I did on Sunday. I didn’t pick up too much stuff since I’m going to be out of town for 10 days but couldn’t resist those beautiful strawberries. 

It's strawberry season

On my way back home, I meandered through the neighbourhood to check some of the Pow! Wow! D.C. murals that were too far to get to during our tour last week (read all about it and see the murals in progress here). Those are on the back of the Studios at 52 O Street and I obviously LOVED to Yoda one by Wooden Wave (aka Matthew and Roxanne Ortiz.)  
o street art

On Monday, I met my friend Olga of MangoTomato and Laura of The Daily Suitcase to chat food and travel over brunch at BToo. I had the lobster waffle, which was good, though a bit on a small sized so I also devoured an order of delicious frites! Since BToo is close to my office, I actually headed there for a bit afterwards to finish up a few things. Womp womp right?

Frites at BToo

So all in all, not one of my usual busy bee weekends running around the city but I still had a lot of fun, and squeezed in some good eats! Did you get around to do anything fun over the long weekend? Did you stay in town or head out somewhere?

So You Wanna Visit the White House…?

I’ll always remember the first time I toured the East Wing… it was the morning after I met my now husband. I told him I had to make it an early night because I was supposed to be at the White House at 8AM. You know, a typical D.C. excuse 😉 I’d only been in the U.S. and in Washington for 6 months and it was all very exciting for me.

I’ve been fortunate to go inside the White House a few more times since then. And while bowling at the Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley at 1600 Penn* is still on my DC-to-list with slim to no chance ever getting crossed off, I did get to go to the West Wing once and tour the building once during the holiday season. Here what you need to know if you want to visit the White House too. 

THE WEST WING & BOWLING ALLEY

Unless you’re invited by the White House or know someone who works there (and has West Wing access, which isn’t everyone), the personal residence and the West Wing are pretty much off limit. Because they are led by staff, West Wing tours visits typically happen in the evening or on weekends, outside of office hours. If you’re lucky enough (like I was) to visit when the president is out of town, you’ll get to peak into the Oval Office. Not go into it, but peak into it. Photographs, of course, are strictly off limits except in the press room, which is why SO many people have pictures of themselves at the press secretary’s podium. Well, at least so many people in DC… If you do have the opportunity to tour the West Wing, clear your schedule and go! Ahead of time, you’ll be asked to provide your full name, birth date, social security number, and possibly other personal data so that the secret service can run a quick background check on you. Obviously, I passed the test and I wasn’t even a permanent resident back then so being foreign won’t prevent you from being able to do a West Wing tour. Bowling at the White House requires the same kind of “friends with benefits” which I clearly do not have anymore 😉 They only get to book the lanes once a quarter so again if you’re ever invited to the most exclusive bowling alley in the country, clear your schedule and make it happen! Also, don’t forget to bring your own snacks and booze… I already have my sparkly all picked out… I just need an invite now. 

THE EAST WING

white house tours are self guided

So I toured the East Wing the first time right when I met my husband, on a traditional tour that had been arranged by my graduate program at the George Washington University. I toured it a second time during the holiday season in 2011 when the White House hosted one of its first tweet up ever. Most of our time at the tweet up was spent in the basement of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building where, interestingly enough for a tweet up, we couldn’t get a signal and where there was no wifi. The White House has learned a lot since then and frequently hosts tweet ups like the one recently for the arrival ceremony for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The highlight of that tweet-free tweet up for me was meeting with and getting to ask questions of White House pastry chef Bill Yosses and White House florist Laura Dowling about what it’s like to plan and prepare for Christmas at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (planning typically starts in March.) Getting to see the end result from all of their hard work during a tour of the building afterwards was really amazing. SO many Christmas trees and gingerbread houses!

Gingerbread White House

white house 4 white house 5

Christmas season at the White House White house 6white house 1

There currently are no tweet up or instameet planned but you should check the White House Social website periodically and follow them on twitter and instagram to get alerts for the next one. Here as well, you also have to go through a quick background check, which non-Americans like myself can pass. The other way to get to tour the East Wing is, of course, through your congressional representatives, though that process is currently being revamped.  I will update this post as soon as the new information is official on April 18. 

THE WHITE HOUSE GARDENS

The easiest way to get inside those gates is the bi-annual White House Garden tour. No, you don’t get to go inside the residence, but you get to see Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden and take a really cool picture like this from the South Lawn: 

Laetitia Brock at the White House

White House Garden Tours happen in the fall and in the spring, and mark you calendars right now because the next ones are next week, on Saturday April 16 and Sunday April 17 2016. On either of those days, show up at the Ellipse Visitor Center (kitty corner from Pinea at the W at 15th and E NW) to get a free, timed ticket. Those are distributed on a first come first serve basis and the visit is obviously really popular so I recommend getting there at 8:30AM since tours begin at 9AM.
White house 10

The grounds will be less crowded earlier in the day. Bring as little with you as you can and selfie sticks are strictly prohibited, as are bags (small purses might be fine but play it safe. Diaper bags are not allowed), food, weapons (duh!) and animals other than service dogs. You’ll go through metal detectors but no background check or advance planning is required for those… White House Fall Garden Tour

You can read a little all about my 2010 White House Garden Tour right here and if it doesn’t make you want to get up early on Saturday or Sunday, remember that it’s one of your best shot at getting in before Obama’s term end. Another alternative for the gardens, if you have kids, is to enter the lottery for tickets to the White House Easter Eggs Roll. 

* Wondering what is it like to bowl at the White House? Check out this lucky Deutsch Art Director’s account on the agency’s blog! Wondering what it’s like to visit the White House for a special event hosted by the First Lady? My friend Olga did just that a few weeks ago.