Drink the District’s Cloverfest Returns to Yards Park on March 14

Cloverfest at Yards Park

 

Obviously, I’m more into celebrating the Gallic than the Gaelic, but it is Saint Patrick’s Day and it is a big deal around here. Never one to miss toasting a big holiday, Drink the District is back with its second Cloverfest at Yards Park. The beer-centric event will feature unlimited sampling and full pours from over 20 breweries and cider houses like Sam Adams, Lancaster Brewing CompanyAtlas Brew Works, Brewery Ommegang or Brewer’s Alley Restaurant & Brewery. And of course, since it’s Saint Paddy’s Day there will be a very special green beer 😉

Hopefully, the weather will be nice because there will also be dueling piano shows, giant Jenga, beer pong and other backyard games as well as a great line-up of food trucks, with food available for purchase. Two of my current favourites, Arepa Zone and Borinquen Lunch Box will be there, as will Captain Cookie and the Milk Man with a very special Saint Patrick’s treat: an Irish cookie bomb made of two Guinness cocoa cookies with a Baileys filling. Cap Mac, on the other hand, is bringing out some corned beef mac and cheese! How good does that sound?

Pretty good right? Here are the details:

  • The event is March 14, 2015.
  • There are two sessions, one for day drinkers, from 1:30-4:30PM and one in the evening from 6-9PM.
  • You can buy tickets for either session right here ($44 per ticket.)

You can buy tickets or you can test your luck of the Irish right here and try to win 2 tickets from moi! (Please note the tickets are for the evening session from 6-9PM only.) To enter, just comment on this post with your favourite Gaelic (not Gallic) food! You can also find and like one of my #cloverfest posts on instagram (follow me here) to get additional entries. I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday, March 11. Bonne chance!

But until then, stay up to date with Drink the District and their upcoming events. Follow them on facebook or twitter. Spoiler alert: the next event will have a cherry blossoms theme and will involve wine too! You can already buy early bird priced tickets too.

G’Eclair to Bring Trendy French Pastry to Adams Morgan

In 2009, I met my mom, aunt, grandmother and cousins in Djerba, Tunisia for a relaxing Mediterranean family vacation (you can read more about that trip here). I had to leave before everyone else because well, I’m the only one who lives in a country that doesn’t have 6-weeks of paid vacation days a year (grrr USA!) but did meet up with my dad in Paris for a quick 24 hours before flying back to D.C. My dad and I both have a mad sweet tooth and truly appreciate fine desserts, so these 24 hours turned into quite the pâtisseries marathon. And it was good timing: Éclair Week was in full swing at Fauchon, leading me to rediscover a forgotten childhood favourite.

eclair, fauchon

Fast forward to today. Saying that éclairs are the new macarons is about as over-said as saying that macarons are the new cupcakes. And yet, that’s pretty much exactly what I just said 😉 Éclairs are quite trendy right now, and they’ve never looked or tasted better! Some éclairs truly look like tiny pieces of art (see the stunning éclair Joconde below.)

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Fauchon's Mona Lisa éclair

One of the chef pâtissier to credit for the éclair’s relaunch from simple pastry a high-end dessert is Christophe Adam, who spent 15 years at Fauchon. Adam, who now has his own shop(s) called l’Éclair de Génie, and Guillaume Simonnet, of L’Atelier de l’Éclair, have Parisians lined up outside their stores to try their latest creations and flavours… They’re looking to spread the éclair gospel to the United States, with Adam slated to open a shop in SoHo this summer this year.  There’s already quite a few spot to get decent éclairs in New York: Kayser‘s are really good as are the ones at Michel Richard’s Pomme Palais, Daniel Boulud’s Épicerie Boulud, Dominique Ansel Bakery and La Maison du Chocolat. Pastry chef Jennifer Yee also offers a selection of éclairs at Lafayette Grand Café and Bakery (try it for brunch! Their bread comes straight from Poilâne!!). In Washington, well, it’s a bit more difficult to find good éclairs right now. Like a lot more difficult. So I have high hopes for G’Eclair (pronounced Gee-Clair not JAY-Clair), an éclair boutique that popped up on valentine’s day and will open soon inside frozen yogurt shop Spoon in Adams Morgan. The team behind G’Eclair is also behind Donburi, a Japanese restaurant focused on rice-bowls. Its owner James Jang and his business partner Grace Owens-Stively are getting into the éclair business and eventually plan to open their own small brick-and-mortar éclair shop.

G'Eclair in Washington, DC
GEclair

Over the weekend, Grace and James handed out free éclair samples. I braved the snow Saturday to try them out and wasn’t disappointed by the green-tea white chocolate mini-éclair and the miso-caramel one. There’s still a little bit of work to be done on the presentation I think. The pastries need to be finer and longer to look more refined, and the designs have room for more artistry too. But the flavours were spot on so I’m definitely hopeful and think I might have more reasons to visit Adam Morgan in the near future…

Art All Night Returns September 27, Expands Across the District

I’ve given up on D.C.’s Art For All ever being a cultural event of the scale and caliber of Paris’ Nuit Blanche, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not looking forward to it. The main event, Art All Night/Nuit Blanche DC, now in its fourth edition, will take place Saturday, September  27  and go beyond the Shaw neighbourhood to all four quadrants of the city.

Art all night, art all night 2014, art event dc, nuit blanche dc

Art All Night uses art to cast a new light on the city and one of the things I love the most about the DC version is that it allows me to explore both established art spaces and discover more underutilized venues. This year is no exception. Here are some of the highlights:

Activated! Art4All Launch Party ~ If you haven’t walked through the new City Center complex downtown (and seen its fun digital art feature the Gateway), now is your chance! D.C.’s newest development will host the official launch party for the 3 week festival on Friday, September 26 (6-8PM.) The $15 tickets include 2 tickets and appetizers, provided by recently opened DBGB DC and Del Frisco’s. That alone should sell you on it.

North Capitol Main Streets ~ That part of town is definitely not one that I would want to explore at 1AM on any other night, but during Art All Night 50 artists will turn 3 lots between 1514 and 1638 North Capitol into THE place to be on September 27. Curated by Art Soiree and the team that put the Wonderbread Factory on the cultural map, North Capitol Main Street will feature a silent disco, a commissioned graffiti mural, food trucks, projected video art and more between 7PM and 3AM.

north capitol

 

Dupont Circle ~ Here, Art All Night is mainly taking place in small, established galleries like Hillyer Art Space, Foundry Gallery or the Washington Studio School. Don’t miss an interactive movie making experience at the Heurich House Museum and Alex Braden‘s Outside and Play (Reprise), a 12-minute site, sound, and time-specific performance beginning promptly at 12:05am (it’s BYO headphones!) at Hillyer Art Space.

H Street NE ~ There will be a little bit of everything on H Street: golf at 3rd and H, dessert making at 646 H Street, DJs, film projections, an open house and preview of the new Ben’s Chili Bowl, live bike frame painting and custom bike making and a performance by an eclectic chamber collective at the Atlas Theater (between 8-10PM only.) Basically, a pretty typical scene for a Saturday night on H Street 😉

Congress Heights ~ Curated by Tendani Mpulubusi El., the area around the MLK corridor will host a sidewalk arts fest between 2700 – 2900 Martin Luther King Avenue SE, exciting lighting schemes and graphic projections as well as store front displays, readings, sip and paint and, of course, music.

IMG_4784Shaw ~ Shaw was the main host for all of the Art All Night events in 2013 and will be the main hub again this year. The area has changed SO much in the past 12 months though! If you want to see everything Art All Night has to offer in that part of town, start the evening at the Carnegie Library (live music) and zig zag your way up to the Popeye Building through 7th and 9th street. There’s too much stuff going on for me to list them all but I’m looking forward to the unveiling of a new outdoor mural by Kelly Towles at 1509 7th St. NW, abstract painting and sculpture (also much needed caffeine!!) at just-opened Compass Coffee, the return of Anienkan Udofia’s Marvin Gaye mural (which was recently lost to construction) at 1748 7th st. NW, and DJ + photo booth at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library.

After the 27th, Art For All continues with two “PorchFests” on Rhode Island Avenue NE (October 4th) and Adams Morgan (October 18th). Inspired by similar PorchFest events across the country aimed at creating a family-friendly, neighborhood-based alternative to the nightclub music scene, these two events will celebrate local talent by turning the front porches of neighborhood homes into performance spaces.

So yes, D.C.’s version of Art All Night is more of a take on the Parisian concept, an (almost) all-night exploration and celebration of art that’s amplified through a 3-weeks long art festival. I think it mainly succeeds in showcasing local artists and bringing art within everyone’s reach in a fun, party-like atmosphere. But, in Paris, some of the major museums like the Louvre, Pompidou, the Grand and Petit Palais or the Palais de Tokyo open up to the public (free of charge and ALL night) for Nuit Blanche. Wouldn’t it be awesome if some of the Smithsonians or the Newseum could open their door for D.C.’s Art All Night? In Paris, Art Happenings take place in both unusual and underused locations as well as major buildings that are not typically open to the public. For example, this year, Motoi Yamamoto  will create an art piece using salt on the floor of the salle des Tapisseries in City Hall. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could get some of the government buildings to partake? Like all night readings of the Constitution to different music at the Archives, or something like this? Just my suggestions…

 

 

Namaste National Mall

Yoga on the national mall

 

It’s Bring Your Own Matt on the National Mall this Saturday. For the fifth year Lululemon Athletica is organizing a Cherry Blossom Yoga session at the foot of the Washington Monument. Whether there will actually be cherry blossoms remains to be seen (peak bloom is supposed to occur between April 8 and 12, but we also got some slushy flurries over the weekend) but hopefully it will be warm enough for some outdoor downward facing dogs.

Day-of registration begins at 9AM on Saturday, April 5 2014 and the yoga class begins at 10 am, rain or shine (let’s hope for some shine though!) at Constitution Avenue and 15th Street.

Nespresso’s VertuoLine is Hoping to Conquer America

This week, Nespresso kept Union Station commuters and travelers well caffeinated with its Nespresso VertuoLineTM Pop-Up, one of the first stop of a 108-days, 17 cities pop-up tour. The main goal of the pop-up tour is to introduce Nespresso’s new VertuoLine system in the United States and Canada.

Nespresso Pop-Up at Union Station on March 8, 2014

Nespresso Pop-Up at Union Station on March 8, 2014

Not familiar with Nespresso? In the world of single-serve coffee machines, it’s kind of like the Apple to Keurig’s Microsoft. Nespresso dominates the proportioned coffee market in Europe the way that Keurig dominates it in the United States. My mom’s had a Nespresso machine for years.  I would have loved to get one but I really don’t drink espresso everyday. My husband and I didn’t want to clutter our small condo kitchen with more appliances than it already has by having both a regular coffee maker AND an espresso machine. And that’s exactly why Nespresso’s VertuoLine system is a game changer. It’s a sleek, single-cup coffee brewing machines that allows you to make both American style large-cup coffee AND an espresso. Like Nespresso touts in its ads, it’s a coffee revolution!

Nespresso Virtuoline Pods

How it all works? Like a regular Nespresso machine, except the pods are rounder and larger. They’re equipped with a bar code that the machine reads to automatically adjust itself to brew either a long coffee or an expresso. There’s 8 different types of long-coffee to chose from for now, including a hazelnut and a vanilla pod, which I quite enjoyed when I tasted them at the pop-up, and a half-caf and decaf pod. A huge merci to Nespresso for sending me a VertuoLine to try out. I’m very excited that I have finally joined the Nespresso family and I can’t wait until my next dinner party, when I can *finally* offer my guests an espresso at the end of the meal!

Nespresso Vertuoline

The foam at the top of the new coffee is quite unique to the new machine

The new VertuoLine machine comes in three different colors: red, silver and black. It retails for $299 with coffee-pods selling for $7.50 (espresso) and $9.50 (long coffee) for packs of 10.

** Free Cupcake Alert!! **

Henry Ford would have turned a 150 years old today and, well, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate his accomplishments (like, you know, revolutionizing the assembly line and all) than with free cupcakes!!

This Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. Ford Motor Company is partnering with local food truck Curbside Cupcakes to hand out free cupcakes*! The trucks will be located at Metro Center (intersection of G and 12th Streets, NW) and Capitol Hill (intersection of D and First Streets, SE).

photo

 

Are you a Henry Ford buff? Curbside Cupcakes is posting twitter trivia via its twitter handle starting at 12:05PM. A new question will be posted every half hour or so and the first person to tweet the correct answer answer using the hashtag #HenryFord150 will win a price (which I assume will involve cupcakes…) And if you don’t know much about Henry Ford, there’s still time to learn! Head to www.henryford150.com to brush up before the contest 😉

Joyeux anniversaire Henry Ford (and enjoy the free cupcakes DC!!)

 

* while supplies last

Stanley Cup(cakes)

So far so good… the Caps trumped the Rangers 3-1 at the Verizon Center last night and you can celebrate with cupcakes. Crumbs Bake Shop has partnered with NBC Sports Group and the NHL to design and create a a limited edition of Stanley Cupcakes, with either the Stanley Cup or team specific logos.

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Crumbs is selling the cupcakes for $4.50 in its 69 locations throughout the country, including its two locations here in DC. Let’s hope we can enjoy Caps cupcakes all the way to the finals right? Right! And at the very least, Washingtonians can enjoy them today. An NBC/NHL/Crumbs co-branded mobile vehicle will be distributing the specially “iced”  Cupcakes for free today at Union Station from 12 to 3 pm and 5 to 7 pm. Sweet 😉 

10 Commandments of Home Buying Brunch

My friend Ati (whom you have seen on an episode of HGTV’s Bang for your Bucks episode before…) is having a big week! She’s busy preparing to host a workshop on home buying this weekend AND her business, DC Home Buzz, landed itself in The New York Times’ “Capturing the Soul of a Business in a Single Photograph” slideshow. Not bad 😉 

 
 
 
While getting your picture featured in The New York Times is a big deal, let’s talk about the workshop… I bought my first (and so far only) place a little over four years ago. The husband and I went into the process of buying our condo pretty blindly. From what I understand from my friends who are in the process of looking for their first home right now, the market is quite different in the DC area today than it was back in 2008. It’s a seller’s market and to help wanna-be first time home owners navigate the tricky DC real estate waters, Ati and her DC Home Buzz partners are throwing a workshop on the “10 commandments of Home Buying: a First Timer’s Guide.” Over light brunch and mimosas, she’ll show participants the ropes of the real estate process from initial search to closing and explain how to figure out what you can afford. 

The workshop takes place this Saturday, March 16 at 10:30AM at DC Home Buzz‘s offices in Columbia Heights. Spread the word if you know anyone who’s thinking of becoming a first time home owner and encourage them to sign up! The workshop is free, though space is limited.

Moi Président de la République…

 

j’ouvrirais les jardins du palais de l’Elysée*

It was a gorgeous, yet cold, fall day in Paris. A perfect day for the French presidential palace to open its ornate wrought-iron gate (topped with a golden French rooster, cocorico please!) to the public for the first Elysée gardens open house tour of the year. Starting with today, visitors will be able to stroll the green grass of the palais every last Sunday of the month. That’s better than the bi-annual White House Garden Tour, though there’s no kitchen garden at l’Elysée… 

I must say, Francois Hollande’s new policy to open the 18th-century Elysée Palace gardens to the public every last Sunday of the month (they were previously only open once a year during Les Journées du Patrimoine in September – when you can actually visit the inside of the palace too) may be the first of his policies that I approve of 😉

We waited about an hour to cross the Grille du Coq on October 28, 2012
The grounds of l’Elysée, once a jardin parc à la française, now à l’anglaise
Though a little bit of that 18th century French touch remains 😉
L’Elysée was built between 1718 and 1722 and was once occupied by Napoléon


In Paris on the last Sunday of a month? You can try your hand at reproducing Hollande’s official portrait when visiting the presidential gardens… They’re open from noon to 5PM until March and then from 1PM to 7PM from April to September. Entrance is free and takes place on the Champs Elysées side of the palais, kitty corner from the Grand Palais (metro stop: Champs Elysées-Clemenceau), in front of the grille du coq, the rooster gate. Entrance is free and you can bring food, but no glass bottles. A group of parisiens in front of us had clearly planned a nice picnic only to get their bottle of wine confiscated at the security check-point… 


* “Me President of the Republic… I will open the gates of the Elysée gardens.” The title of the post refers to Hollande’s use of the phrase “Moi Président de la Republique je…” (Me, when I’m president of the Republic, I will…) fifteen time during his televised debate with Nicolas Sarkozy during the campaign to announce how his presidency would differ from that of his predecessor.

Get your Greek on…

Finally! Some good news associated with the word “greek” (there hasn’t been much lately…) Ben and Jerry’s recently introduced a new brand of Greek Frozen Yogurts and is hitting the road with their Scoop Truck, handing out free scoops of the new flavours (Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Fudge Chunk, Banana Peanut Butter and Blueberry Vanilla Graham) along the way. The truck’s first stop? Washington, D.C.! Hurray! From April 16 to may 11th, the scoop truck will be roaming the streets of the District handing out free (#OMGFreeBenJerrys) scoops of greek frozen yogurt.
Picture courtesy of Ben and Jerry’s/AP/File
You can track down the truck on twitter and even better, you can request a stop by following @Benjerrystruck and tweeting where you would like it to make a stop. I’ve already requested Dupont Circle! It’s supposed to be up to 90 degrees today… I could certainly get my Greek on 😉