Getting my Coffee Fix at Qualia Luke’s Diner

Luke's Diner pop up at Qualia

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

Luke's diner pop up

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

Qualia turned into Luke's Diner for the day

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

Luke's Diner no cell phone sign

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

New no cell phone rules at Luke's diner

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

 

Christine & The Queens at the All Things Go Fall Classic Festival

Have you heard of Christine And the Queens? Did you go see her and her band when she played at the 9:30 Club earlier this year? I couldn’t make it, so I’m stoked she’s coming back! As part of a small North American tour, she’ll be performing at the All Things Go Fall Classic Music Festival at Yards Park this Saturday, October 8th. DC’s not a big music festival town  and I’ve loved seeing this one grow from its beginning at Dock 5 behind Union Market in 2014. And of course I love that there’s a French artist in the line-up!! 

All Things Go Classic

The headliners this year are Empire of the Sun (the videos from the Australian band are amazing, like this one for Alive, so I bet they put on quite a show!). They’ll be joined on stage by Passion Pit, Sylvan Esso and others, including of course Christine! The best part of this music festival, in my opinion, is that it marries music and food. In addition to all the artists, the restaurant review site Infatuation selected vendors like Buredo, Takorean, Milk Cut or Beefsteak to make sure festival-goers don’t go hungry. Isn’t that nice of them 😉

Christine and the Queens at the 9:30 Club in May 2016 - Photo by Francois Boo

Christine and the Queens at the 9:30 Club in May 2016 – Photo by François Boo

You can still grab tickets if you’re interested in going (click here) and use the code FrenchTwist to save 10%.

ps: check out my earlier write up on Christine and the Queens.

The Best Ikea Products for Diner en Blanc

I’ve been combing through the new IKEA catalogue since it came out last week and re-designing my apartment in my head ever since. Because I’m in a Diner en Blanc state of mind right now, putting the final touches on my tablescape etc. I’ve been paying particularly close attention to anything white that I could possibly hack for the event or use as a fun little additional design piece. And guess what, you can pretty much find everything that you need for your table at IKEA. So if you don’t have all of your stuff for #DeBDC16 yet, check out these pieces:

Ikea Table - Diner en Blanc

Since the table has to be covered by a cloth, it doesn’t need to be white and the askholmen table folds easily for transportation to and from the secret location. The Gunde chairs are equally convenient and you have all your basics covered for less than $60. 

Now for all the stuff that goes on top of the table… Of course you can go for a more elaborate tablescape but your basic pieces are:

  • napkins
  • plates
  • glasses 
  • silverware
  • lights.

I would add a cheap place mat to add a little “color” and the pretty 3-tiered kvittera serving plater to use as a functional centerpiece. You may also need a wine cooler if you’re having champagne or white wine (and of course, Ikea’s got you covered for that too). The skurar lantern (and all of the skurar series) can be used either as a vase or pot for flowers or for some dim dinner lighting. Altogether, we’re looking at $70 for all the dining elements. 

Everything you need for Diner en Blanc

If you’re headed to your first diner en blanc soon and are looking for a one-stop shop, Ikea basically has you covered. And if you’re veteran diner, you can still pick some super cute pieces to add to your table design without breaking the bank.

Happy Watermelon Day!

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

DC's Watermelon House

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

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

Bonne journée de la pastèque!! Are you celebrating?

Pokéball Doughnut – Gotta Eat ‘Em All !

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

Duffy's Irish Pub

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

pokeball donut from Astro Doughnut in Washington DC

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

Postcard from New York: Going to A Late Show Taping

Attending a taping of the Late Show with Stephen ColbertHere’s something free and unique to do if you have a spare afternoon in New York City: attend the live taping of a late (or late-late) night talk-show! I say afternoon, because a) while the shows air in the evening, tapings typically happen earlier that day b) even though you have to book your tickets in advance, there’s a lot of waiting around in lines involved before you can actually take your place in the audience. Here’s what my experience attending a live taping of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” was like.

But first, why The Late Show with Stephen Colbert? I actually watch the show every day and I absolutely love Stephen Colbert. I love his smart humour, and think his guests tend to be more interesting than those on other shows. Also, I was busy all week with work commitments and his late show is the only one that tapes on Fridays when I finally had some free time 😉

The first step if you want to see any late night talk-show  (Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers or Trevor Noah also shoot in New York City) is to go online and get (free) tickets. I knew exactly when I would be in New York and stalked the Late Show’s website for available tix, which are typically released a month in advance and go REALLY fast. I booked my spots for February 19th on January 11 to give you an idea of the timeline. Once you’ve got the tickets, you should clear out your calendar for that entire afternoon. Attending a live taping is a BIG time commitment and involves a lot of waiting around. Even with your pre-reserved tickets, you still need to queue to physically claim said ticket on the actual day of the taping and seats are first comes first served starting at 2PM. My ticket instructed me to get in line “no later than 3PM” but I showed up at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway (between 53rd and 54th) at 1PM to get decent seats. Each show is overbooked, and reserving a spot is no guarantee that you’ll get in. At 2PM, the line started moving, as Late Show staff checked my reservation and my I.D. They gave me a numerical ticket (111/400… not bad!), stamped my hand with a black CBS logo and instructed me to come back at 3:45PM. 

CBS logo

That gave me about an hour and half to grab a late lunch. Luckily, I knew of two great options in Hell’s Kitchen, within a 5 minute walking distance: Danji and Totto’s Ramen, both on 51st street between 9th and 10th avenue. After standing an hour outside in the middle of February, ramen seemed like the best option to warm up!

Pre Stephen Colbert Late Show RamenTotto's Ramen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At my assigned time, I headed back to the Ed Sullivan theater and waited another 10 minutes lined up in numerical order based on my ticket. Our bags were scanned before we got to queue some more, this time at least in an indoor area inside the theater. Another pro-tip: if your bags are too large, they’ll make you check them so pack light. And I was able to go in with a bottle of water. That time of the waiting was possibly the worse because you’re crammed into a rather small room with 150 other people with 2 TVs cranking out old Stephen Colbert skits as only distraction. FINALLY, a young lady with a microphone welcomed us and reminded us of a few things: mainly, we’ll be filmed (duh!) and we’re not allowed to use our cell phones. I’d attended a few tapings of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart before so I knew the drill. No tweeting, snap-chatting, instagramming and NO photography whatsoever in the studio! Womp womp! 

Attending a taping of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert

IMG_6023IMG_6022

Finally, I sat down at my seat, on the fifth row, right in front of the band area. There’s pros and cons to sitting on the main level of the theater. The main pros are proximity to the stage, the host, and the guests but on the con side cameras do get in your way and you can’t see the beautiful projection on the ceiling of the theater. Around 5PM, comedian Paul Mecurio came onto the stage to get us pumped for the main show coming up. He reminded us quickly of our purpose today as audience: to laugh, preferably loudly, at Stephen’s jokes. He made a few jokes of his own and pulled a few people onto the stage, including a software engineer from Google and his friend who was an opera signer and had an absolutely beautiful voice. Then Stephen Colbert came in for a quick Q&A. The questions weren’t riveting but he did mention that his wife was in attendance with some of her girlfriends, which was pretty cool.

At around 5:45PM, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, the house band, came onto the stage to play a few tunes and before I knew it the taping was finally starting!! I will say Jon Batiste and Staying Humans are pretty awesome in person, even with an extra human tap-dancing in the “percussion” areas. I took a couple of screen shots of the show afterwards, which included special audience members from the Coast Guards, Chelsea Handler in a tight little white number, an awesome segment on Marco Rubio’s “Morning Again in America” ad that included references to some of my favourite Canadian things like DeGrassi and Poutine, Zosia Mamet and a performance of The Lumineers’ new  song Ophelia. 

Coast Guards members in the audience of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
IMG_5790Chelsea Handler on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert

About the guests – when you book tickets to the show, you have NO idea who the guests are going to be. Like, when I saw Jon Stewart in Washington, D.C., I had no idea that President Obama would be his guest… the day AFTER I got to be in audience. I don’t even remember who the guest was when I went… I just remember that it wasn’t Obama 😉 I’m pretty happy with who I got to see, though honestly I would have been happy with anyone, as just getting to be in the audience was quite the treat. One of the highlights of the show that evening though was the cute interaction between Colbert and his wife (“darling”), either during the taping or during the commercial breaks as well as his interaction with us the audience the few times that he had to re-tape a segment (quite a few times actually). Otherwise, the guests pretty much just ignore the audience 😦

After the show wrapped, Colbert did a few reshoots, including Zosia’s name, which he had mispronounced. He explained to us that earlier in the day, the building next to them had a sewers issues that had prevented them from being able to do their rewrites in their typical offices and that was one of the reasons the show’s taping appeared a bit frantic and disorganized. He chatted up with his wife a bit, asking her where she and friends were headed for drinks afterwards and that was that. I myself headed to Casellula for a post-Late Show glass of vino. Overall, I had a blast at the taping, it was so fun to see behind the scene of a show I watch everyday though it was a lot of waiting around, and definitely required some advance planning. Here’s my last pro-tip if you’re planning on being in the audience like I was: wear warm clothes! The theater is FREEZING so much that the staff is walking around in their coats. I definitely wished I’d worn a warmer sweater 😉

Have you ever attended a show’s tapping, whether in New York or Los Angeles? How was that experience for you? 

Postcard from (snowy) Washington, DC ~ Jonas 2016 Edition

Exactly a month ago, we were celebrating Christmas in t-shirts. Well, the warm spell is over! Winter has (finally) arrived and mother nature made up for loss time by blanketing the north east with a pretty thick coat of snow. According to the National Weather Service, 57 cm (22.4 inches) fell in Washington, DC at the National Zoo (much to the delight of our giant panda Tian Tian)  which was enough to shut down the federal government, metro and pretty much the entire city. We don’t do well with snow here 😉

While I did brave the snow to toast Mandu‘s fifth anniversary on Friday night, it snowed really hard for most of Saturday so I locked myself up indoors and watched the blizzard with my cat Chloe from the warmth of my cosy apartment, eating semi-homemade pho and catching up on the Oscar nominated films available online. I loved the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? (available on Netflix). Have you seen it yet? You can also stream Ex-Machina on Amazon. I really loved that one too. By Sunday, the snow had settled and we were treated to a warm(ish) and Sunday. I had planned to just go to the U.S. Capitol and snap some pictures but then when I got there I thought, why go home now, the mall is right there… and before I knew I basically played tourist in my own city, walking close to 7 miles and seeing all the big sights! Here are some highlights from my walk:

Snow removal during Jonas 2016 in Washington, DC

SnowselfieSledding on the west lawn of the US capitol
Washington Monument in the Snow
Snowselfeet at the World War II MemorialWorld War II memorial in the snow
Sledding at the Lincoln Memorial
Korean War Veteran Memorial in the snowMLK Memorial in the snow
Jefferson Memorial and frozen Tidal bassinTidal Bassin and Washington Monument in the snowEmpty pennsylvania avenue during Jonas
dc snow

Clyde's Stays Open during Jonas 2016Do you want to build a snowman?

How pretty does Washington, DC look under a fresh powdery coat of snow? Did you get snowed in too? How did you weather Jonas 2016?

Experience the sparkle of the season at Georgetown GLOW

Two years ago my friend Sylvain Cornevaux, then Cultural Director for l’Alliance Française, partnered with the Georgetown Business Improvement District and other groups to bring a week-long public art and light display festival to DC’s oldest neighbour. Inspired by Lyon’s renowned Fête des Lumières, the festival, now in its third year, has now evolved into Georgetown Glow, independently organized by the BID in parallel to their annual holiday window display competition. 

The 10-night light art exhibition puts a modern, artistic twist on traditional holiday displays and takes place nightly along the C&O Canal between December 11 and 20th (from 6-10PM). The event still has a bit of a French flair, and three of the five artists represented in Georgetown Glow 2015 – Isabelle Duverger, Arthur Gallice and Hervé Orgeas, are Frenchies. Overall, the event makes for a fun stroll through Georgetown, especially since the temperatures have been so warm. Here is some of the work presented at Georgetown Glow:

"iGlow" by the DC-based trans-disciplinary design collective HiJAC

“iGlow” by the DC-based trans-disciplinary design collective HiJAC,  is a corridor of light in the courtyard outside of Grace Church in Georgetown

‪DC‬ artist Kelly Towles, known around town for his colourful murals, created the A Happy Place light and video installation for Georgetown Glow 2015.

DC‬ artist Kelly Towles, known around town for his large scale murals, created the “A Happy Place” light and video installation in the Jefferson Court office courtyard on K Street

 

 Laia Cabrera & Co.'s "Shifting Gaze," a video mapping/sound/animation mashup along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Laia Cabrera & Co.’s “Shifting Gaze,” a video mapping/sound/animation mashup along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

 

Frenchies Herve Orgeas and Arthur Gallice tell the story of 2 "lovers" in 'WIRED People Project: The Lovers" under the historic Wisconsin Avenue Bridge.

Frenchies Herve Orgeas and Arthur Gallice tell the story of 2 “lovers” in ‘WIRED People Project: The Lovers” under the historic Wisconsin Avenue Bridge

 

There’s nothing truly holiday-y in Georgetown Glow, if anything it reminded me a bit of the Nuit Blanche…  Curator Deirdre Ehlen MacWilliams has been involved with the Downtown BID’s Art All Night event, which I did not attend this year, but have found rather disappointing in the past, perhaps only because the caliber of the work presented falls well below what I have experienced at the original Nuit Blanche in Paris. There were definitely moments, however, at Georgetown Glow where I felt like I could have been at Art All Night, particularly watching Kelly Towles’ “A Happy Place.” I really wish they would bring more work like this and like “Wired” to Art All Night… hopefully next year right? 

Until then, Georgetown Glow 2015 is taking place from Friday, December 11  to Sunday, December 20. All of the work, except Kelly’s, are lit between 6 and 10 PM nightly. Kelly gets a shorter window: 7-9PM. Georgetown Glow is organized by the Georgetown Business
Improvement District (BID) with support from the JBG Companies (read this great article about the real estate giant’s sponsorship of street art around town), Jamestown/Georgetown Park, The Washington Harbour Ice Rink, HOK Architects, Hickok Cole Architects, AIR (American Institutes for Research), RB Properties, Inc., Sea Catch Restaurant, Jaguar/Land Rover, The Georgetown Current Newspapers, Grace Episcopal Church, Georgetown Suites, and Think Out Loud Productions. Maps are provided though 3 of the five pieces can be found alongside the C&O Canal. 

 

 

Holiday Spirit on Ice at City Center DC

I’m pretty sure the folks over at City Center DC didn’t anticipate that it would be 70 degrees outside when they planned a live ice sculpting event for December 12th. Despite the unseasonably warm temperature, the event was a ton of fun! While two sculptors worked on an ice dress and a Christmas tree at the Park at CityCenterDC, additional sculptures were slowly melting away in Palmer Alley! My favourite was the Birkin bag, of course 😉

Check out some of my pictures below. 

Ice sculpture at city center DC

Live ice sculpting at City Center DC

Ice sculptures at City Center DC

 Ice Menorah at City Center DC

Carolers at City Center DC

Ice sculpture at City Center DC

Ice sculpture at city center DC
And while I’m pretty sure none of the sculpture survived the evening, you can catch more icy action at the National Habor where ICE! at Gaylord National features 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures and five ice slides, among other attractions, inside 15,000-square-foot tent kept at a cool 9 degrees. Ok, that’s actually cold not cool! Brrr. 

It’s the Most Boozytiful Time of The Year

Mad props to my good friend Colleen who made this awesome wine advent calendar for her office. OK, yes, it helps that she works in the wine industry… but still, I think we all agree this is THE best way to countdown to Christmas day!

Picture courtsey of Colleen V. for International Cellars Inc.

Picture courtesy of Colleen V. for International Cellars Inc.

I’ve seen a lot of super original and cute advent calendar inspiration online this season, but this one is by far my favourite!! Every day until the 25th, International Cellars will be highlighting a different wine and region with a bottle from their advent calendar so make sure to follow them. And if you’re looking to make your own wine advent calendar (it’s not too late right?) World Market has a great tutorial (and sells the wine rack you need to make it, of course!)  Make sure the last bottle is champagne that you’ll toast Christmas with!! Cheers!