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 😉 

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?

A Taste of Spring: Cherry Blossoms Everything

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Cherry blossoms season is almost done here in Washington. The actual blossoms faded away late last week. Who can blame them? It’s been barely 40 degrees for the past two days… and don’t get me started on the wind! But officially, the festival ends on April 17 so there’s still more than an entire week to celebrate our city in boom and enjoy festival events, like the fireworks on the 9th, the Sakura Matsuri street festival and the official parade on the 16th, or all the different themed eats, which let’s be honest are my favourites anyway! 

Now, I’m not a huge fan of the official “cherry picks” gimmick co-sponsored by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington that sees restaurants as unrelated to Japan as Boqueria, Carmine’s or Lincoln come up with dubiously cherry-inspired menu items during the festival. But I’m a big fan of sweets of all kinds, most particularly when they don’t involve chocolate and I do love all of the cherry-flavoured pastries that have popped up all over town. Here are some of my favourites so far:
 

MILK BAR’S CHERRY ROSE COOKIE

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Normally I find Milk Bar’s treats just a tad/a lot too sweet for me but the combo of freeze-dried cherries, milk crumbs and rose water essence with a final layer of dusted cherries on top really worked for me. 
 

OLIVIA MACARON’S CHERRY BLOSSOM FLAVOUR

All my favourite macaron flavours have always been on the floral side: fleur d’oranger, rose, jasmin, muguet… so it was bound to be love at second sight with this one — second because I had already fallen with it when it was first introduced last year.
Oli
 

RARESWEET’S CHERRY BLOSSOMS COOKIE

So pretty it’s almost a pity to eat it. Keyword: almost!
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ASTRO DOUGHNUT’S CHERRY DONUT

I can’t think of a better to spend $3.25 than this donut! Inside the vanilla dough rests a soft cherry filling, and all this deliciousness is topped by a decadent vanilla bean cream cheese glaze adorned with a sweet cherry blossom design. I’ll be very sad to see this one go.
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CHAPLIN’S CHERRY BLOSSOM BOMB

Normally I’m not a huge fan of the boozy cherry blossom specials (the exception this year being BLT Steaks Japanese whiskey flight… everything else is just too cherry-y and sweet) but I am a HUGE fan of sake bombs. Don’t judge. I have been since I did my first one at a trendy London Japanese restaurant/bar back in 2002. I like Irish car bombs too. Had my first one of those at Lindy’s Red Lion, because GWU! So I actually appreciate Chaplin’s $5 bomb featuring a pint of Kirin Ichiban beer and a shot of bright pink Sakura Emaki Rose Sake. Bottoms up on that one!
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Have you enjoyed any good seasonal eats (or drinks) during the cherry blossom festival this year? Let me know in the comments! I still have a few days to try and check them out!

A Rainbow of Colourful Treats from Olivia Macarons

Olivia Macaron

Ever since it opened back in 2013, Olivia Macaron has been my go-to spot to grab my favourite French treats! I love the way these turned out as a rainbow of delightful pastries, with, from top to bottom, red velvet, rose (always my fave!), lemon-basil, almond (close runner up!) and honey-lavender. Not pictured are some of their current seasonal offerings: passion fruit (a local take on Pierre Herme’s famous mogador combo that pairs the tart fruit with milk chocolate – I’m allergic to cocoa, so I’ve never been a fan) and black sesame.

What’s your ultimate favourite macaron flavour? Please share in the comments and have a wonderful #MacaronMonday!  

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 😉 

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!!

Postcard from New York: Meow Parlour

Meow ParlourCrumbs & Whiskers‘ kickstarter campaign has raised over $35,000, has gotten all of the necessary permits from the D.C. government and, this just in, officially signed a lease for a Georgetown location. So Washington is definitely getting a cat café in the near future though it probably won’t open until late summer. And until it does, I thought I’d share what I hope Crumbs & Whiskers will be like. And that’s basically Meow Parlour.

Meow Parlour is New York’s first, adn to date only, cat café. Or perhaps I should say a space with cats, where you can bring coffee purchased at another location around the corner. Unlike Paris’ cat cafe, Cafe des Chats (which actually is more of a teahouse than a café), D.C.’s Crumbs & Whiskers will also technically not really be a café. The US has stricter restrictions on food service industry regulations that basically mandate that kitchens be not only cat-free but also in a completely separate space. When I talked to Crumbs & Whiskers‘ founder, Kanchan Singh, at her kickstarter campaign launch (yes, I’m pretty into this cat café business) she mentioned partnering with a food provider in order to comply with health code regulations. Just like at Meow Parlour, you’ll basically be paying for play time with kitties… and you can chose to bring in pastries and/or coffee from an approved vendor along. For Meow Parlour, that approved vendor is Macaron Parlour, an East Village bakery I first discovered when it was just a booth at Union Square Holiday Market and have enjoyed visiting since, even when they make crazy flavours like Cheetos macarons (which are actually quite delicious by the way). Macarons and cats are basically two of my favourite things, so the minute online reservations opened for Meow Parlour I booked two spots to check it out during a business trip to New York. I dragged my friend Caitlin, who may not love cats nearly as much as I do, but can’t resist the appeal of macarons, and checking out a hot new local business.

Before getting to Meow Parlour, we actually swung by Meow Parlour Patisserie just around the corner to pick up a coffee and some macarons, including some adorable Hello Kitty looking ones.

Meow Parlour

We then entered Meow Parlour, where the first thing we were asked to do is sign a lengthy waiver, take off our shoes and sanitize our hands. In New York in February this wasn’t my favourite thing to do so if you go, be warned: wear pretty socks or make sure you’ve got a good pedicure going! Once inside, you’ll find the space bright, clean and chic. Also, of course, full of cats! There’s definitely a strong cat-theme but everything is done very tastefully. There’s a wall of cats of course, with pictures of the current residents along with their “purrsonality type” but there’s no tacky cat trees.

Wall of cats at Meow Parlour

Instead there’s a full wall bookshelf with nooks and crannies and holes that allow the kittens to hop up and down, hide in scratchers at the top or lay next to you and a tasteful Le Chat pillows as you read The Cat in The Hat (or another cat themed book) from the library.

I love the design of the space at Meow Parlous! (picture courtesy Meow Parlour)

Meow Parlour

Meow Parlour

Before even entering Meow Parlour, you’ll probably spot a few kitties observing the traffic on Hester Street from oversized white wooden letters that spell the word “meow” at the floor to ceiling window at the front.

Meow Parlour

Meow Parlour

Back towards the shelves, there’s also soft cushions on the floors surrounding low hexagonal white coffee tables with see-through tops and cat beds inside, as well as cat head shaped holes on the sides. There’s typically a cat or two inside the table as well and you can watch them sleep peacefully 😉 If you’re here to get some work done, there’s high top tables and free wi-fi. Cats, it is a well known fact, love nothing more than laying on computer keyboards while you’re trying to write a blog post… so hopefully you have realistic expectations about how much work you can actually get done at Meow Parlour. And if you just want to play with some cats, there’s plenty of toys laying around and plenty of cats willing to chase stuff around.

Meow Parlour

Meow Parlour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since visiting, I have loved following Meow Parlour on social media since it opened. That’s another thing that the New York cat cafe does really well and I can’t believe there’s actually someone on their payroll whose job it is to hang out with cats of day, take pictures of them and post them on social media (follow Meow Parlour on twitter, instagram and facebook). Add the fact that there’s macarons involved in the business too and, well, you can pretty much guess this is my dream job. All jokes aside (I’m actually not really joking) the folks at Meow Parlour do a great job of updating followers on new resident kittens and on letting them know who found his or her forever home. Because, of course, all of the cats at Meow Parlour are available for adoption. In that regard, Meow Parlour and Crumbs & Whiskers, which will follow the same model, are kind of halfway houses for cats… it’s not quite like being in a shelter and the idea is that they shouldn’t stay there very long. I can only hope that Crumbs & Whiskers will be as tastefully a space as Meow Parlour and that it will enjoy the same level of adoption rates. There’s definitely been a lot of turn-over at Meow Parlour since it’s opened and that’s a sign that it’s doing something right! I certainly hope for the same success rate for the cats at Crumbs & Whiskers, which will all come from the Washington Humane Society.

If you’re interested in checking out Meow Parlour when you’re in New York, they take a limited number of walk-ins so you should definitely consider making a reservation online at meowparlour.com. A half hour of kitty time will set you back $4 and you can book up to 5 hours. They have children hours too if you have kids (check the website for details). Meow Parlour is at 46 Hester Street in the Lower East Side, and Meow Parlour Patisserie is around the corner at 34 Ludlow Street. All pictures unless otherwise noted were taken by me back in February 2015.

Saint Paddy’s Day Treats at The Sweet Lobby & Olivia Macaron

Two of the best macarons shops in Washington have cooked up special Saint Patrick’s Day treats! Obviously both are going green, though Olivia Macaron’s Irish Cream macaron has a hint of gold dusting too!

macarons

What would your ultimate Saint Patrick’s Day macaron flavour be? I love Bailey’s so I think that’s be a great flavour… but I also think an Irish Whiskey Caramel macaron would be pretty awesome!

Images courtesy of Olivia Macarons’ instagram and The Sweet Lobby’s Instagram

Olivia Macaron Venturing out of Georgetown

No, the Georgetown purveyor of colourful macarons is not opening a second boutique in Shaw. At least not yet (how great would it be though??) But there’s still some good news if you love Olivia Macaron but don’t love trekking all the way to M Street… you can now purchase a limited selection of macarons to go along your favourite coffee blend at La Colombe in Bladgen Alley.

Olivia Macaron now available at La ColombeObviously, there’s a lot less flavours available at  La Colombe, but it’s great to know that there are some available in Shaw right? Also, if you can’t make it to (or don’t want to) Olivia Macaron or La Colombe, Olivia delivers nationwide (just call 202.965.1000 for orders.)

La Colombe is located at 924 N St NW. Olivia Macaron is located at 3222 M St NW.