Weekend Highlights ~ Low Key Labour Day

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


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

The Bar at the Watergate Hotel



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

Concert on the West Lawn of the US Capitol

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

Labor day concert at the US Captiol



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


Stunning sunset in Washington, DC



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

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

Grilled artichoke with rose

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

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


Some like it hot raw…

Once the stronghold of steakhouses and burger joints, could Washington be ready for a meat-less, heat-free dining experience? If the success of Elizabeth’s Gone Raw is any indication, it would appear so… Launched last July by Elizabeth Petty, owner of The Catering Company of Washington, this new occasional restaurant aims to challenge the palates of Washingtonians while demonstrating that food can be both healthy and flavourful, uncooked and surprising. Elizabeth, who herself went raw in 2009 for health reasons, and her chefs Thomas Berry and Calvin Lee, are now providing DC with its first high end raw and vegan tasting menu. I had the opportunity to taste my  first entirely raw vegan meal yesterday at Elizabeth’s catering headquarters, an elegant townhouse located at 1341 L Street, NW. I came to the lunch with a series of expectations, not least among them that the meal wouldn’t be as satisfying as a traditional “cooked” and non-vegan meal. I was wrong.
Heat may be missing from the kitchen but it wasn’t lacking in those Kale Chips which opened the tasting on a uniquely spicy and crunchy note. Apparently, they have developed quite a bit of a following…
The first course challenged my memories of mushy grape leaves. Here they are, extremely crispy, stuffed with jicama, mint and parsley and served on a cucumber salad with cilantro tahini.
The ginger cream dressing was definitely the high point of the third course for me. In this age of chomping down food as quickly as you can to move on to whatever you need to be doing next, I found myself spending more time eating (well, chewing too) my radish melange and cabbage slaw, served with cashews on Cottingham Farm spinach than I would have a “normal” meal.
Following a palate cleansing lemongrass sorbet, the fourth course channeled Asia, which typically has very vegan friendly options. Soft coconut was turned into soft fettuccines topping a bed of fresh thinly sliced zucchini, green papaya and kelp noodles, served along a slice of slightly dried pinneaple, avocado and a green curry sauce.
The highlight of the meal, however, came all the way at the end. If I spent more time than usual on each of the previous courses, I devoured the dessert! Shaped like a delicate orange rose, the ruby red grapefruit tart with creme d’amandes was absolutly delightful. The crust, which like everything else had not been heated beyong 105 degree Fahrenheit, was made of pressed macademia nuts, with sea salt vanilla and dates. The cream consisted of cashew and almond flour, honey, almond milk and coconut butter. It was the perfect sweet balance to the tart grapefruit and I could have eaten five more of these tarts. Except, contrary to what I expected at the beginning of the mea, I was so full!
Neo-gastromony recognises the strong connections between us, our plates, our planet and culture. The concept is gaining grounds in the district and Elizabeth’s Gone Raw heat free, meat free fine dining experience fits perfectly within it. Spending more time chewing your food, enjoying its fascinating textures, gives a leisurely pace to your meal, a nice break from the typical fast food and fast life we are accustomed to. If you would like to try this unique culinary experience, Elizabeth’s Gone Raw is now hosting weekly 5 course, prix fixe dinners. You may still be able to get a spot for tonight’s seating (3/11) which features the menu pictured above or for next Saturday’s special event with with Daphne Miller, MD, best selling author of the Jungle Effect. Otherwise, dinners will be held on 3/25, 04/08, 04/15, 04/23 (Saturday) and all Fridays in May.  All dinners with the exception of those featuring guest speakers are $75, with an optional $30 organic and biodynamic wine pairing.