Life Goes On~Celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau in Washington, DC

I’m not exactly in a celebratory mood these days, but life goes on. Paris is about life, about being at a terrasse right now etc. Life has to go on and this week life includes the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau, which always takes place on the third Thursday of November (or midnight that Wednesday!) Here are a few, selected spots where you can partake in some Gamay-drinking in Washington, D.C.

Beaujolais Nouveau 2015

BITRO DU COIN    Still THE place to be at midnight when Beaujolais Nouveau is released. It’s probably too late to get reservations for dinner, but show up around 10PM when they start  clearing out the tables. The Beaujolais typically starts pouring 11PM, which technically is well past midnight in France anyways 😉 More details here.

CAFE DU PARC Get a complimentary glass of George Duboeuf Beaujolais at the bar between 6-9PM, with additional ones and small bites available for purchase too. If you like it, stay for the prix-fixe Beaujolais dinner ($55 diner only, $80 with George Duboeuf wine pairing).

CENTRAL   Michel Richard’s Pennsylvania Avenue restaurant will keep the party going from Thursday November 19 through Saturday, November 23. Rather than serve the Duboeuf Beaujolais you’ll find pretty much everywhere else, they’ll be pouring a Domaine Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau 2015 for $11 a glass, or $42 bottle. Executive Chef David Deshaies has also created a classically French 3-course prix fixe menu ($55) to pair with the grapes, featuring gougeres, escargot Fricasse, Filet mignon with syrah-shallot sauce, and winter vegetables; and a seasonal Apple-cranberry cobbler for dessert.  

SLATE   For those who want to try some of the finer vintages of Beaujolais, Slate’s owner/Sommelier Danny Lledo will be leading private at-the-table tastings of the 2014 Nouveau and three choice Beaujolais for guests on Thursday, November 19th from 5-8 pm.  The cost of the tasting is $15 and choices include: George Duboeuf Beaujolais “Nouveau” 2015, George Duboeuf Flower Label Beaujolais 2014, Jean Paul Champagnon Fleurie, Beaujolais 2013 andDomaine Laurent Martray Brouilly, Beaujolais 2013.

TABLE Who wants to cook the day before Thanksgiving? Nobody, that’s who. For $150, Table invites you to give thanks for Gamay wine with  masterfully prepared local cuisine paired beautifully with Cru Beaujolais on Wednesday November 25. Check out the full menu and book your spot here

 

Beaujolais Nouveau

 

BEAUJOLAIS FOR A CAUSE    The DC Center is hosting a Beaujolais-themed fundraiser at the Human Rights Campaign on November 19th to benefit its Women Center. Tickets are $20. L’Alliance Française and the French-American Chamber of Commerce are also hosting a “Beaujolais and Beyond” “fun”raiser celebration at La Maison Française. Beaujolais Nouveau and other red wines will be free-flowing and proceeds benefit causes dear to both francophone organizations. 

ENO Wine Bar in Georgetown is dedicating its Beaujolais celebrations to the 129 victims who lost their lives during the Paris attacks on November 13. On Thursday, November 19, the bar will be illuminated with France’s national colours blue, white and red. ENO will be pouring a Dupeuble 2015 Beaujolais Nouveau (same wine as Le Diplomate though it’ll be $9/a glass and $35/bottle at the 14th street bistro) for $10 a glass and $40 a bottle. Guests are encouraged to share prayers and messages over social media using hash tag #ENOPrayersforParis. These messages will be displayed on a loop on Thursday evening at the wine bar. I’m not a huge fan of the #prayforParis hashtag, though I really appreciate the sentiment. Consider adding a #Parisisaboutlife or . Paris may get tossed by the waves but she will not sink, even in a pool of Beaujolais.

Beaujolais Nouveau

 

Finally if you’re like me and your favourite way of “enjoying” a glass (or five) of Beaujolais Nouveau is at home with some friends, here are a couple of wine shop I recommend:

WEYGANDT WINES is carrying 3 unique cuvées of Pierre-Marie Chermette’s Beaujolais Primeur 2015: Cuvée Pierre Chermette ($12/bottle), Beaujolais Primeur Cuvée Vieilles Vignes 2015 and Chermette’s Beaujolais Primeur Rosé 2015 (OMD Beaujolais Rosé!! Game changer!! That one is exteremely limited so go snag a bottle right now!!) ($12/bottle).

DCANTER carries a Domaine Descroix Beaujolais Nouveau 2015 priced at $13. This is a pretty decent Beaujolais option that would pair really well with your Thanksgiving meal, so you might want to reserve a few bottle since the Capitol Hill shop will most likely sell out pretty quickly. 

CORK & FORK is where I usually pick up my Beaujolais Nouveau every year. Dominque Landragin typically selects a couple of interesting bottles that you won’t find in most stores. Like DCanter, he’s offering the Domaine Descroix Beaujolais Nouveau 2015 as well as a Domaine Anoir du Carra Beaujolais Village Nouveau. My recommendation when it comes to Beaujolais is always go for the village if you can… 

Last Friday, terrorists sought to attack France’s way of life… what better way to show them that our spirit will never be defeated than with some headache inducing Beaujolais Nouveau. Or something like that 😉 Cheers!

 

 

 

13 Novembre 2015 – When Words Fail

Friday night’s attacks in Paris hit home. Very close to home. It’s hard to process my own feelings right now, let alone find the words to express them. My aunt and cousins used to live across the street from the Bataclan. One of those cousins was at the Stade de France for the France-Germany match. I have two sets of friends, both with young children, who live rue de la Fontaine-au-roi. The images I watched on newscasts that evening and throughout the weekend were not the Paris of tourists that’s typically shown in the United States, with the obligatory accordion background music. This was my Paris. These were my streets. This was my home.  

I wish I could be home in times like these. But I am not. So like in January, following the shooting at Charlie Hebdo, I gathered with friends, this time in front of the statue of Lafayette near the White House. There’s so much to process and think about already, just being able to speak French and hear French being spoken all around made me feel better already. I know that things are going to be ok. We’ve been through worse. But right now, I don’t really want to think or speak about it, so I will just leave you with pictures of two moments that warmed my heart over the weekend.

French embassy in Washington DC after the Paris attacks

Well wishers left heartfelt message, flowers and even bottle of wine – a very sweet thought – outside of the French Embassy here in Washington, DC

Vigil in front of the White House following the attacks of November 13 in Paris

A few hundred people, including many French expats, gathered for a vigil at the statue of France’s General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette near the White House. Ambassador Gerard Araud and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough led a minute of silence for the victims.

Highlights from Best Of France 2015 in New York

Over the weekend, I made a quick trip to New York City to check out the third edition of Best of France,  an event organized by the New York French community to showcase French brands in the United States. Yes, there was wine. Yes, there was cheese. Yes, there were stripped shirts – including the world’s biggest marinière courtesy of Breton brand Saint James. There were even cancan dancers from the Moulin Rouge. But beyond the expected images of France, there were also US-based French start ups, major brands like Air France, L’Oreal and Ariane Espace, as well as small businesses representing the best of France’s savoir faire from cakes and foie gras to apps, knives, bikes, etc. 

POLITICIANS, A COW AND THE BAGUETTE-MASTER

Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, kicked of the event on September 26

With visits from the minister of foreign affairs, Laurent Fabius, the minister for ecology, sustainable development and energy (and former presidential candidate slash unofficial French first Lady) Ségolene Royal AND François Hollande (you know, just THE President of the whole country) it’s fair to say the event attracted some high profile visitors. 

French president Francois Hollande visits Best of France 2015

French president François Hollande visits Best of France 2015

Unfortunately for moi, Hollande dropped by Best of France on Sunday around 3PM and that’s exactly when my train back to DC left so I missed out, again. But I did get to get to meet some pretty cool French icons like La Vache qui Rit and Eric Kayser.

Laetitia Brock and Eric KayserLaetitia Brock and La Vache Qui Rit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kayser provided bread for pretty much every event where bread was needed (so all of them, we’re talking France here!) and was pretty much everywhere during the two days of Best of France: signing books, ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ, meeting the president, etc. 

Eric Kayser meets president Francois Hollande Eric Kayser helps ring the closing bell at NASDAQ

Of course, I inquired about plans to open a Maison Kayser in DC, which have been in the works for quite some time. Sadly, I have no good news to report on that front, it’s not gonna happen until 2017 at the earliest. Le womp womp.

VIVE LE BEURRE

There are Guinness World Records for pretty much everything and over the course of Best of France, President broke the record for largest butter sculpture with this impressive rendition of the city of Paris’ skyline. It took 7 days for dairy artisans Jim Victor and Marie Pelton to carve a ton of butter into this spectacular landscape. Cocorico!! 

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GATEAUX BASQUES, CANELES AND OTHER SWEET TREATS

Speaking of butter, I loved tasting some wonderful French products like this amazing gateau basque from Gateau Basque Lauburu.
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Not familiar with this almond-based cake?  Read this NPR primer to learn more. It’s so good and will soon make an appearance at a Whole Foods near you!! 

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More well known in the US is the equally buttery canelé. The lovely Celine of Canelés by Celine, who opened New York’s first canelé-only bakery back in 2014, was around to sell some of her original creations like a basil pesto or bacon canelé. I have my reservations about these flavours, but it looks like Hollande was a fan!!

Introducing the bacon canelé, a definite made in France treat…with a distinct American twist, from Canelés by Celine

Michel et Augustin at Best of FranceThere were too many wonderful French food at Best of France to mention everything, but I’ll just mention one more: Michel et Augustin. They too not only had the chance to present their products to Francois Hollande (apparently everyone but me got a pic with the pres who roamed the event for over an hour before walking back to his hotel by foot…) but also to gain some new fans in the US. After perfecting their recipes and selling more than 150 million cookies in France, Augustin moved to New York to bring his kooky cookies to the homeland of cookies. Their products are currently available in 25 Starbucks in New York and hopefully that’s just the beginning because I *love* their raspberry with bits of pistachio cookies. 

OF COURSE THERE WAS WINE..

Let’s be honest… you can’t have an event promoting France without wine being involved. There was the not-so traditional, like Winestar which offers single-serving cans of vino… 

Winestar: French wine in a can…and then there were more traditional offerings at two FABULOUS grand tastings held at the AXA Center, just a few blocks up from the main event. 

Wine tasting at New York's Best of France eventGrand tasting at new York's Best of France

Presented in partnership with James Beard Award Winner and New York Sommelier Jean-Luc le Dû, the tasting offered over 100 wines, organized by regions from Champagne to Jura, Corsica or the Loire. Having recently returned from a (too-quick) trip to Bordeaux, I lingered at the table promoting wines from that region, sampling wonderful wines from Saint Emilion and Pommerol. 

…BUT THERE WAS ALSO RHUM

The area of Best of France where I spent the most time was the “Rendez Vous in France” section dedicated to French tourism. I have a million new spots I want to visit on my next trip to France but at the top of the list are the French Antilles islands of Martinique, Saint Martin and Guadeloupe. The islands sponsored the welcome reception on opening night where I sampled some wonderful rhum-based cocktails (another sponsor was Diptyque and all attendees left with a candle. Not a mini one. A real candle. That was VERY awesome.)

Rhum french CaribbeanSaint Martin Cocktail

Other than Saint Martin, the French Caribbean islands are not super well known to American travelers, in part because there were no direct flights to reach them… until now!! Throughout the winter, European low-cost airline Norwegian is offering pretty affordable flights to Point-a-Pitre and Fort-de-France. I’m already plotting a birthday get-away 😉

LE MOULIN ROUGE DANCERS CANCAN-ED ON BROADWAY

Danceuses du Moulin Rouge at Best of France

The beautiful danceuses of the most famous cabaret in the world garnered the most attention in both the French and US media (sorry François Hollande!) for their first visit to New York in their 126 years history. They made the rounds on morning and late night shows, performed on the main stage at Best of France and even posed for pictures in front of the Statue of Liberty. Americans, of course, are the third largest clientele for the Moulin Rouge, after the French and the Chinese,  so this was an important promotional visit I’m sure for the cabaret and I must say I enjoyed watching their high energy performance! Of course, like everyone else that’s not me, they too got their photo op with the president 😉

Francois Hollande and the Moulin Rouge Dancers

Gad Elmaleh in DC – Part Trois, Now All In English


Le revoici, le revoilà! Gad Elmaleh repasse au Birchmere, avec un petit changement qui n’est pas négligeable: le comedien fait son show en Anglais!! 

It’s hard enough being funny in your native language, let alone in a foreign one. Seinfeld, for example, was notoriously bad when dubbed in French, and the humour didn’t quite translate. And yet, that’s exactly the personal challenge that French funnyman (and Seinfeld BFF) Gad Elmaleh has set for himself. After performing sold-out shows in Washington, DC twice in 2013 (in April and September – you can read my recap from the September show right here), the comedien is back for a third time. This fall, he’ll try to branch out of the French-speaking and expat crowd by performing en anglais in 17 cities across the US and Canada.

Gad Elmaleh al in English

I thought he was absolutely hilarious when he performed at the Birchmere in Alexandria two years ago. The running joke throughout the performance was Cathy, the lone non-French speaker in the audience whom Gad picked on repeatedly. Good news for her, she can go back to the Birchmere on December 13 and finally be in on the jokes. I, for one, would rather see the comedien in v.o. (version originale). But I’m excited at the prospect of bringing my husband to the show this time, or some of my other friends here who appreciate French but may not speak it well enough to follow an entire stand-up routine in it (maybe they should do like at the opera and have surtitles!). 

You can get your tics for the DC, Montreal and Vancouver shows here. You can also catch one of his film, Capital, on Netflix right now. Or you can get a sneak peek of his English show on YouTube, with a short segment where he comments on two very American things French expats in the US don’t get: air conditioning and over-zealous wait staff at restaurants 😉 Don’t worry, it’s not all US bashing during his routine. The French definitely get picked on too! 

*** note: it appears the DC show is already sold out… womp womp for those who didn’t purchase tickets soon enough, like me! But wow, that was quick!!*** 

Save the Date: Screening of Full Moon in Paris at the National Gallery of Arts

I’ve got an idea for you: travel to Paris without leaving DC. Actually, without leaving the National Gallery of Art

On September 20th, the National Gallery of Art is hosting a 4PM screening of Les Nuits de la Pleine Lune/Full Moon in Parisa masterful comedy of manners by new wave film maker Eric Rohmer that was recently restored. You can read a summary of the film here

Full Moon In Paris
Also on view at the National Gallery of Art right now (and through October 4th) are 50 of the most important and beloved paintings of Paris and its environs by impressionist Gustave Caillebotte. Never heard of Caillebotte? You’re not alone 😉 “Known” as the “unknown Impressionist” in light of Cézanne, Degas, Monet or Auguste-Renoir’s success, Caillebotte played a vital role in the early history of Impressionism by being a patron of the impressionists, whose work he supported and purchased (he came from a wealthy family and didn’t need to sell his work to get by.) His most famous work, “Paris Street, Rainy Day” is one of the highlights of the exhibit, which will move on to the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas once it wraps up here. 

Gustave Caillebotte Jour de pluie à Paris
For a perfect “French in DC” afternoon, I would start with a casual brunch at Paul’s flagship store at the Navy Memorial then walk over to the National Gallery of Art on Sixth and Constitution Avenue to soak in Haussmannian area Paris at the Caillebotte exhibit before wrapping the day with the screening of the very French comedy of manner. If you *really* didn’t want to leave the National Gallery of Art you could also start with brunch at the museum’s Garden Cafe too 😉

Is Ladurée Finally Coming to Washington, DC?

Laduree storefrontDo you know how long I’ve been waiting to write a post like this? Well, I’ve lived in DC for about 12 years and been blogging for 6… so that answers that question 😉

I had actually had thought I’d be writing a post like this announcing that Maison Kayser had finally nailed down some retail space in the District but it looks like Ladurée beat them to the punch (please be true, please be true). And I’m not going to complain about that (though I still would LOVE for Maison Kayser to open in the District pretty please!!!) {update: that’s happening too soon! Hurray!!}

Laduree at the Louvre Museum

Laduree at the Louvre Museum

Laduree on the Upper East Side, in New York

Laduree on the Upper East Side, in New York

News that one of Ladurée‘s signature pastel green coloured storefront would be opening in Georgetown appropriately broke in the Georgetown Metropolitan.   I had really hoped that if Kayser or Ladurée were to open in the District they would settle in City Center amongst their fancy French neighbour Hermes, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Caudalie. Obviously Georgetown is a really great fit as well and we’ll have to wait until opening to see whether the lines for macarons at 3060 M St. will rival those of Georgetown cupcakes a few blocks away… 

Laduree Macarons

If the famous Parisian macarons shop does open in Washington, it will only be Ladurée  fourth US location, after two stores in New York and one in Miami. {update: there’s one in Los Angeles now as well.} Ladurée has been owned by the Groupe Holder since 1993. Groupe Holder, of course, also owns Paul BakeriesPaul Bakeries‘ US expansion begun right here in Washington D.C., where it currently operates 7 bakeries (with an 8th one slated to open soon at 13th and K NW). Will the macarons be baked in France and flown over frozen or will they be baked in house? Will it be macarons only like the UES storefront or more of a salon de the like in SoHo? So many questions!! But this is very exciting news regardless of the answers 😉

Dîner en Blanc – Part Deux, DC Edition

When Washington played host to its first Diner en Blanc last year, the main complaints from participants concerned the location. Yards Park in Southwest DC was a beautiful venue, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t strike anyone as particularly iconic. Compared to some of the other famous locations where the all-white diners have popped up across the globe — Lincoln Center in New York, the Trocadero with the Eiffel Tower as backdrop or on 6 bridges over the Seine in Paris, Covent Garden in London, Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles to name a few — the 42-acre development on the Anacostia River waterfront was a bit lacking in Washington monuments and recognizable sites. It was also a bit out of the way, with few passers-by likely to stumble upon the scene. With that in mind, the organizers sought out not only a more central location, but also one that felt more-DC. And that location was the Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square, a 1900s beaux-arts building in front of the more modern Convention Center. 2,700 revelers, all dressed in their best whites, squeezed into the park around the former library for an evening of eating, drinking, dancing and of course, instagramming 😉

This was my second Dîner en Blanc of the summer. In New York last month, I got to experience what it was like to be a care-free guest at the event, showing up in Manhattan just hours before the start of the diner. Yesterday was a completely different story! I started the evening in Dupont Circle, where 500 of the guests met one of 10 different group leaders that would whisk them to the secret location — part of the concept of the flash mob dinner party is that guests only found out where it is being held at the last minute. The logistical challenge for the organizers is to get everyone onsite in a timely and orderly fashion, while they’re lugging their table, chairs and food. On the metro. The DC metro. Once my five groups had left Dupont Circle with their leaders, I hopped in an uber to beat them to the location, so I could be onsite to welcome them and help them set up in a pre-determined spot on the lawn of the Carnegie Library. The few quiet moments I got to spent before the storm of white-clad guests descended upon Mount Vernon Square were some of my favourites of the diner. 

Diner en blanc DC 2015

Diner en Blanc at the Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square ~ Enjoying some quiet moments before the groups arrived.

Then the groups arrived from the 8 different meeting points scattered around the city and Northern Virginia. The Convention Center and Chinatown groups arrived first obviously. The Dupont Circle groups arrived last which led to a somewhat frantic setting up. Before we knew it, it was 6:45PM and the second edition of Diner en Blanc DC officially kicked off with the traditional waving of the napkins. Finally, it was time to relax and eat! 

DC's 2015 Diner en blanc at the Carnegie Library

Rather than order from the catered options available for purchase, I had prepared a simple cold diner that was heavy on prosciutto: spiced watermelon soup with prosciutto, prosciutto wrapped melon (with additional hors d’oeuvre sized ones to pass around the tables) and a spinach-prosciutto quiche with a green salad. I had picked up some shimmery vanilla macarons at Olivia Macaron, the Georgetown shop had made them especially for the occasion and they looked so pretty on my table (in addition to being delicious of course!)  

diner Macarons

Bonus, like in New York, Celebrity Cruises also passed around some white chocolate dipped macarons and my friend Cecilia of OneVanillaBean had made all sorts of delicious desserts like a raspberry-rose roll-out cake and caneles, which she was kind enough to share with the people sitting next to her. By 8PM when the sparklers were lit and the jazzy background music that accompanied diner turned into more upbeat sounds spinned by DJ Sabeel, I was ready to kick-off my shoes and hit the impromptu dance floor set up on the stairs of the library!

Sparklers at diner en blanc DC

At that point, all of the stress I experienced in the early evening was long gone (copious amount of Lanson Champagne definitely helped with that as well!!) As I danced with old friends and new friends alike, 2,700 strangers from all walks of life who came together to share a magical moment, I remembered why I love this event so much and why I’m so proud to be involved with it. Because you have to bring basically everything with you, you can really express your creativity at Diner en Blanc, whether you express it through your outfit, menu or tablescape. My friend Sandy made this crafty #DEBDC sign, which was quite a hit! My friend Xionara had a bird on her head. Felicity Amos, my Dupont Circle co-group leader, had an elaborate table display, complete with a white bust of George Washington. 

My friend Sandy made this crafty sign! #DEBDC

The fact that I was able to walk home in less than five minutes made it only better 😉 

Dine at These 6 French Restaurants During Restaurant Week


Between August 17 and 23, some 200 restaurants will be offering three-course prix-fixe lunches for $22 and dinners for $35 as part of the
Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s Restaurant Week. I’ll actually be in France that week so I’ll be missing out on the biannual promotion. Which, let’s be real, is ok because I’d rather be in France 😉 If you’d like to pretend you’re in France too that week, may I recommend you make a reservation at these French restaurants:

Bistrot LepicBISTROT LEPIC WINE BAR

Did Tom Sietsema’s (glowing) review of Bistrot Lepic in the Post recently made you wonder why you don’t go to one of DC’s best French restaurant more often? Now that the circulator goes up Wisconsin, you have no excuse, and restaurant week is the perfect time to discover or rediscover this Georgetown gem. Standout items on the lunch and dinner menu include salade de langue de veau (that’d be French for veal tongues!), a beet and apple salad with farm goat cheese quenelle, snails baked in garlic butter and those are just the appetizers. For mains, there’s a truite meunière, rognons de veau (veal kidneys) or beef medaillons with Gruyère polenta. For desserts, there’s some iles flotantes (baked egg whites floating in crème Anglaise) one of my fave French dessert that you don’t see very often on menus here. I must say, you might actually need to go to Bistrot Lepic more than once during restaurant week!

FIG & OLIVE

The newly-opened City Center restaurant is offering 2 great prix-fixe menus for restaurant week. The $22 lunch includes a salmon crudo appetizer with Arbequina olive oil and a rosemary lamb with couscous with fig and Koroneiki olive oil. Dinner, priced at $35, gets even better: beef carpaccio with white truffle olive oil,fig & olive’s tajine, with harissa Arbequina olive oil or a paella del mar with oregano Hojiblanca olive oil. For an additional $10, you can even get filet mignon with Arbequina olive oil Béarnaise. Both menus include dessert crostinis and an optional crostini tasting for an additional $7 too. Fig & Olive is definitely the one restaurant I hope does extend its restaurant week promotion!!  

Fig and Olive Cocktail

MINTWOOD PLACE (DINNER ONLY)

Mintwood Place jumped on this list mainly for their key lime speculoos pie dessert, for which I would totally head to Adams Morgan for.  The bread pudding with rhubarb sounds pretty amazing too. Can I swap out an appetizer for a second dessert you think?  Hum, actually, I really want the steak tartare with jicama to start, so maybe no swapping, just two desserts 😉

BASTILLE

If you haven’t had a chance to out Bastille since it relocated to its new (and much bigger) location on N. Fayette Street, restaurant week is a great excuse. Not only does restaurant week at Bastille last until September 6th, but the menu includes some awesome modern French dishes like a a shrimp nicoise salade (lunch menu only), a shenandoah valley lamb burger with harrissa aioli, Moullard Duck breast or shrimp and grits a la basquaise. For an extra $12, you can even add a fourth cheese course before desserts. But don’t fill up! Chef Michelle Poteaux’ take on the key lime seems worth saving a little room for.

 

2941

2941 

Executive chef Bertrand Chemel and pastry chef Caitlin Dysart have designed a simple restaurant week dinner and lunch menu with seasonal ingredients. Start with the the ricotta salata with peach marmalade, ricotta, Cancale sea salt, TrueFarms lettuce or the crab Salad with watermelon gelée, basil, cherry tomatoes. For main, skip the risotto, though it sounds great with cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, popcorn shoots, yellow corn, marjoram oil, and opt for the pan seared rack of lamb with summer squash, herb vinaigrette, spaetzle before ending on a sweet note with Caitlin’s dessert, like the Peaches & Cream with yogurt mousse, poached peaches, vanilla chiffon, raspberry sorbet. For lunch, I wouldn’t miss the duck bolognese, because DUCK! Bonus: restaurant week is extended until August 28th, so I might even be able to squeeze in a quick meal when I get back!!

 

BISTRO BIS

Two appetizers really stand out for me on Bistro Bis’ restaurant week menu. First, the steak tartare. I love love love a good steak tartare! The other is the moules Marseillaises, which combines the two cultures I come from: my dad is from moules-land (aka. the north of France by Belgium) and my mom is from Marseille, the land of pastis which is used in the broth of the mussels. There are too many stand-out dishes to list on the entree side, classic French dishes like a confit de canard Toulousienne (kind of like a light cassoulet), a Daube d’agneau (with merguez saussages too!!) or a rockfish provencal. Here the lunch menu also brings the addition of a Salade Niçoise, but a more classic one with tuna. 

Pinea at the W Hotel

BONUS: PINEA

Pinea hasn’t posted its restaurant week menus online but based on past experience, the mediterranean inspired restaurant inside the W will probably open up their entire menu, which few restaurants do. Plus, the dining room recently underwent a complete re-do at the hands of street artist Gaia, so that’s an additional reason why you should check out Pinea during restaurant week! 

Do you usually dine out during restaurant weeks? Have you made reservations yet? Any dinner or lunch you’re particularly exited about? Let me know in the comments!! 

Dîner en Blanc – New York Edition

Last night, I joined 5,000 revelers at Pier 26 in Tribeca for the fifth edition of New York’s Dîner en Blanc. Being involved with the DC event, which this year will take place on August 29th and involve 2,500 guests, I can appreciate the sheer logistics of getting all of us, carrying our own tables, chairs, tableware, centerpieces and food, there!

Diner en blanc New YorkWashington Square Park

Diner en blanc Washington Square Park

 

Our evening started at Washington Square Park, one of 24 meeting spots throughout the city. Well, really it started on a bus to New York… but let’s not go there 😉 Following a quick glass of rosé on tap at Claudette (no it wasn’t weird at all to show up there with 2 chairs, I swear…), my friend Caitlin and I met Katie, our very organized table leader, as well our 48 diner mates.

Part of the concept of Dîner en Blanc, which originated in Paris (I mean where else??) is that the location of the diner is kept secret until the very last minute so we had no idea where we were headed. Previously, Dîner en Blanc New York has popped up at Bryant Park, the Lincoln Center and, more recently, Nelson A. Rockefeller Park at Battery Park. It took a good hour and a half to get from Washington Square Park to being set up in our designated area on Pier 26. With only two entry points to get 5,000 people in and out of the site, it was definitely a challenge to get everyone there and ready for diner, but the end result was worth all the sweating and slugging of white chairs in the metro and 33 degree heat!

Diner en blanc new york

Diner en blanc new York

Diner en blanc at Pier 26Despite being so close to last year’s location, which was a little disappointing, the backdrop of this year Dîner en Blanc – the Hudson River, New Jersey City Skyline and the new One World Trade Center – was absolutely stunning! You could even see a small  Statue of Liberty in the background! The site will be converted into a mixed-use recreational facility soon so this was the very last event held on the empty Pier.

Diner en blanc New YorkDiner en blanc New York

Caitlin and I opted to skip the picnic baskets provided by Chef Todd English and brought in our food, sushi from Beyond Sushi and macarons from Mille-Feuille.  Per New York regulations, we did pre-purchase a bottle of champagne to pick up on-site, from Dîner en Blanc New York sponsor Perrier Jouet.

Diner en Blanc New YorkDiner en blanc new York

One of my favourite element of the diner, which I hope we will have in DC too, was the Celebrity Cruises volunteers who not only had the cutest outfits as they held signs indicating the different rows of tables but also handed out white chocolate dipped macarons to all of the guests toward the end of the dinner. I cannot wait to see what they have planned for the event here in Washington, which they are also sponsoring!! 

Celebrity Cruises at diner en blanc new york

Have you ever attended a Dîner en Blanc event before? When? Where? Are you planning on attending one this year? I’d love to hear!!

Six Budget-Friendly French Wines for Bastille Day

From a baguette relay race at Paul to diner at Bistrot du Coin or a fancy patio fête at the Sofitel Hotel, there are plenty of options to celebrate France’s national holiday, le Quatorze Juillet, in Washington, DC. If you’re more of a homebody, why not stay at home and watch a great French film while sipping a good bottle of French wine!

For the films, I’ve narrowed down 20 of the best French films available on Netflix right here. And to help you find the perfect bottle of wine to go along whichever flick you pick, I turned to Michelle Lim Warner and Michael Warner, co-owners of DCanter, for some suggestions.  One of the things I love about the Capitol Hill wine boutique (other than the amazing chandelier in the tasting room!) is their “good juice wall” featuring affordable bottles in the $15 and under price range. In the spirit of that wall, Michelle and Michael recommended these six affordable French sippers:

Six Affordable French Wines for Bastille Day

 

PIERRE OLIVIER BRUT VIN MOUSSEUX NV

Champagne is the ultimate celebratory drink, but the price of a bottle can put a damper on your French party. Luckily, there are plenty of sparkly alternatives that won’t, like this $16 bottle of brut. This “vin de France” isn’t made in Champagne – it’s actually made in Burgundy using grapes from around the French/Spanish border – so it’s labelled as a vin mousseux which literally means foamy or bubbly wine (a bubble bath for example is called a bain moussant in French). Light and fresh, this “mousseux” will be a great aperitif to kick off your evening! It would also be great as a kir royal, with a few drops of cassis added to it!! 

CLOTILDE DAVENNE SAUVIGNON 2013

When you think Burgundy, you probably picture full-bodied reds, but the region also makes some great white wines like this Sauvignon Blanc. Most notable white burgundies like Chablis tend to be made from Chardonnay grapes so this wine is a bit of an oddity for the region. Another fact that makes this wine a bit of an oddity: it’s made by a woman winemaker, which sadly is still not that common in the male dominated wine industry. Like other white Burgundy, this sauvignon blanc pairs well with seafood (oysters and mignonette anyone?). 

Le Petit Gueissard RoseGUEISSARD LE PETIT GUEISSARD ROSE 2014

Since my grandparents lived in Bandol, I’ll always be partial to rosés from that part of Provence. Doesn’t hurt that they’re some of the best in the world either! Unfortunately, it’s hard to find an affordable bottle of Bandol, especially in the US. Just a few kilometers away from Bandol, however, is Sanary-Sur-Mer which also produces fine rosés like this $15 bottle. Pair it with Ma Vie en Rose or La Vie en Rose, bien sur 😉

ALAIN JAUME & FILS “HAUT DE BRUN” 2012

Alain Jaume and his three children make a great Côtes du Rhône that’s complex, yet perfect for every day drinking.

CHATEAU FESTIANO CUVEE DES FOUDRES 2013

Ever since I started planning my trip to the Languedoc-Roussillon I’ve been obsessed with trying as many different wines from that region as I can get my hands on! For research purposed of course. This juicy bargain, which retails at $15, is from the Minervois, one of the AOC in the Languedoc, and it’s definitely getting me excited for my trip!! Try it with some herbed cheese like Boursin, or blue cheese like Roquefort, whose caves I will also be visiting during my trip in a few weeks! 

CHATEAU BLOUIN BORDEAUX RED 2012

Bordeaux is probably the most well-know wine region in France, and this small right bank chateau makes a great red (80% merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc) with silky tannins and a well balanced finish. At $14, it’s a nice bargain that’s light enough to drink throughout the summer. 

What will you be drinking for La Fête Nationale on July 14th?

DCanter is located at 545 8th St SE near the Eastern Market metro. You can follow the wine boutique on Twitter, Facebook and Instragram for some cool wine tips!