Celebrating DC’s First Michelin Guide at the French Ambassador’s Residence

Bibendum at the release party for DC's first Michelin Guide

Being invited to the French Ambassador’s Residence is always a treat… I’ve only been there a few times in my 13 years in Washington and I’m always elated when I have the chance to attend an event there. Last night was no exception, if anything it was more special than ever as Washington’s top toques gathered to celebrate the release of the District’s very first Michelin Guide. So. Many. Chefs. 

In addition to the 11 chefs who were awarded coveted stars in the red guide, representatives from the restaurants who were awarded Bib Gourmand last week as well as from those who were listed in the book were present. Who was left in DC’s kitchens last night? A lot of sous-chefs in charge 😉

DC's Michelin Starred Chefs

There are 107 restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide, including 19 Bib Gourmand, 9 one-star restaurants and 3 two-stars restaurants. The big winners from this first edition are Jose Andres and Aaron Silverman. At 34, the chef who made D.C. fall in love with a litchi and pork sausage dish is one of very people in the world to have both a one star (Rose’s Luxury) and a two stars (Pineapple & Pearl) restaurant. And he’s just getting started! Jose Andres also had a very good week, receiving two stars for his Minibar and a Bib Gourmand for pretty much all of his other establishments (Oyamel, China Chilcano, Zaytinya and Jaleo).

My favourite moment from last night’s event, other than sipping champagne among the who’s who of the Washington culinary scene — and getting my picture taken with Bibendum — was when Patrick O’Connor, the chef and proprietor of the two-star Inn at Little Washington said a few words as he accepted his recognition. At 71, he is twice Aaron Silverman’s age and had long lobbied Michelin’s to cover the city. “I am living proof” he said “that if you wait long enough your prayers will be answered.” Despite their insistence that they would only include restaurants from DC proper in the guide, I am so glad that the Michelin inspecteurs ventured out to Washington, VA. I’m hoping to make a trip out there soon, but until then, I’ll be combing through the guide (which shouldn’t take long, the D.C. edition is a mere 96 pages long, of which maybe 15 are ads for Michelin and maps) and picking out some new spots to try!

DC Michelin Guide

The first on my lists are all around where I live, and I can’t believe I eaten there yet: Ottoman Taverna (Bib Gourmand), Kinship (one star) and Chercher, a Bib Gourmand Ethiopian restaurant I hadn’t even heard of until the guide came out. Do you think the release of the guide will influence where you’re going to eat in the near future?

Michelin Awards Bib Gourmand Honours to 19 DC Restaurants

 

Bib Gourmand

The lines at Bad Saint are about to get even longer 😉 As is customary, Michelin announced today the list of “affordable” restaurants that have earned the designation of Bib Gourmand. These restaurants will not be receiving stars next week (the DC edition of the Michelin Guide will be released on October 13th) but do offer “exceptional good food at moderate price.” Bib, in this case, doesn’t refer to the piece of cloth you place around your neck to keep your clothes from spills while eating. It’s short for Bibendum (aka, the Michelin Man!) and I’d encourage you to read this article for a little background on one of France’s most beloved brand mascot.

Without further ado though, here are the 19 restaurants that have earned this recognition: 

  • Bad Saint 
  • Bidwell
  • Boqueria
  • Chercher
  • China Chicano
  • Das
  • Doi moi
  • Jaleo
  • Kyirisan
  • Lapis
  • Maketto
  • Ottoman Empire
  • Oyamel
  • Pearl Dive
  • Red Hen
  • Royal
  • Thip Khao
  • 2Amys
  • Zaytinya 

I personally love that the Michelin inspectors, like myself, are DC-suburbs adverse. I hate reading these lists of Washington cheap-eats only to see that none of them are in the city 😉 The Michelin Guide will only include restaurants in D.C., which rules out the Inn at Little Washington for a three stars. Could Jose Andres’ MiniBar get that honour? It’s very possible… 4 of his restaurants are already on the Bib Gourmand list…. but I guess we’ll have to wait until next week to find out. Stay tuned! 

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!! 

 

New Mural at 801 N Street NW

It’s been pretty gloomy in Washington, DC lately so I was pretty excited to stumble upon a new pop of colour in Shaw. Kuddos to Jessie and Katey, an artistic duo from Baltimore, for working in the rain to turn a dull wall above a parking lot into a vibrant public mural.

Jessie and Katey mural at 801 N Street NW in Washington, DC

The mural is part of the District Wall project sponsored by Blind Whino and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Between September 19th and September 30th, abstract muralists like Jason Woodside (1380 H st NE), Remi Rough (649 Kenyon St NW), Tavar Zawacki (1012 7th St SE) or Waone Interesni Kazki (829 Rock Creek Church Rd. NW) have been painting new pieces of street art around the city. I’m always eager to see more graffiti cover the city’s empty walls. And even though the project was supposed to end September 30, some of the murals are still works in progress. James Reka (Rekaone) just got started on his for example, so there’s still more to come… yeah! 

 

Week-end Highlights: Pho, Poutine & Playing Tourist on the Mall

Happy Monday!! How was your first weekend of fall? Friday and Sunday were absolutely beautiful here in Washington. I really wish I had made some outdoorsy plans… or that I had a car so I could be spontaneous and go play outside of the city. But I still found ways to enjoy the beautiful weather.

SUNSET ROSÉ ON THE ROOF

I’d had a busy week and I wanted to go swimming Saturday morning (call it the post Olympics effect, but I’ve been going swimming at Dunbar Aquatic Center three times a week lately) so I took it easy Friday night and just enjoyed some rosé on the roof before watching the series premiere of Designated Survivor with the husband. I found a $8.99 bottle of Coteaux Varois, Mémoires rosé de Provence at my local liquor store and really liked it. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a bottle and this was a good value rosé.

Sunset rose on the roof

I love this pineapple wine tumbler I scored at Marshall’s for just $2.99!

I also really liked the first episode of Designated Survivor! The show marks Kiefer Sutherland’s return to television as a low-ranking cabinet official catapulted into the nation’s top job following an act of terrorism that kills all of the U.S. government during the state of the Union. I’m definitely going to watch the next few episodes! Have you seen it? Watched any other good new shows?

FOODIE SATURDAY (OH, AND ART ALL NIGHT TOO)

I was a bit upset Saturday because we were supposed to go to Barrel Oak Winery to celebrate a friend’s birthday but ended up having to excuse ourselves since we couldn’t arrange for transportation to the vineyard (the lesson here is don’t let your husband be in charge of those kinds of arrangement, even if he’s a former classmate of the birthday girl and good friends with her husband.) I was super bummed because I really wanted to get out of the city and would have love to spend the day outdoors, with friends, sipping wine. But I did end up slightly out of the city, in the suburbs, near Morningside, Maryland (where Andrews Air Force Base is) to try my friend Madalene’s family restaurant Pho Viet. I *love* pho and the weather was actually pretty perfect for a warm bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup. It was also super fun to chat with Madalene’s mom, one of the owners of the restaurant, and her sister who was in the kitchen making the soup that day. I actually I’m looking forward to cooler temperatures only so I can have more pho 😉

The #1 pho at Pho Viet in Morningside, MD

The #1 pho with brisket, tendons, meatballs and rare beef

The eating didn’t stop there 😉 Afterwards, my friends Cecile, Aparna and I checked into Le Diplomate for the last Saturday of their summer glaces and sorbets cart. The fromage blanc and strawberry ice cream were SO good but I guess summer is definitely over 😦 And for dinner I finally tried Haikan‘s mapo tofu poutine.

Mapo Tofu Poutine at Haikan in DC

Mapo Tofu Poutine at Haikan in DC

Ice cream from le Diplomate in DC

Ice cream from Le Diplomate

I’d been wanting to try it ever since the restaurant opened. I’m still on the fence about it though. I mean, having spent 4 years in Montreal, I’m always on the lookout for poutine here in DC but I think I’m more of a purist. The tofu just isn’t a good replacement for the cheese curds for me 😉 But still, it was an interesting twist on the dish. And while we were up in North End Shaw, we checked out Art All Night. Every year I tell myself that I’m not going to compare the event to the Nuit Blanche in Paris. But it’s hard not to. Yes, it’s fun to walk around your neighbourhood after hours and discover new businesses. It’s always fun to see Batala play and witness a new mural come up, but the art part of Art All Night just really isn’t there and it’s kind of the same thing year after year… There’s been a bit of controversy about this year’s event which was rebranded from Nuit Blanche | Art All Night to Art All Night: Made in DC but they really need to step it up if they want this to be more of a cultural event and not just a glorified evening block party. Putting a couple of DJs in restaurants and on empty parking lots, with some weak projections on the walls really doesn’t cut it. 

PLAYING TOURISTS ON THE NATIONAL MALL

Sunday was absolutely gorgeous and I reeeeeeally wanted to get out of the city!!! But alas, that wasn’t meant to be. So I did the next best thing I could think of and took a really walk around the National Mall. I’m so lucky that America’s backyard also happens to be mine! Altogether, I walked some 7 miles, stopping to catch some of the music performances at the Freedom Sounds Festival and take pretty pictures of the monuments. I still would have liked to escape the city for a bit, but this wasn’t bad 😉 

Picture Perfect day at the Tidal Basin

Picture Perfect day at the Tidal Basin

What’s your favourite way to escape the city when you simply can’t get out? Let me know in the comments!!

Weekend Highlights: Garnacha, Hello Kitty, a Pique Nique & a Sneak Peek at NMAAHC

I can’t believe it’s already Monday! I packed a lot in three short days, and the weekend definitely flew by! Now let’s just hope the week goes just as fast too 😉 

MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY AT GRAND CATA

Have you been to Grand Cata yet? It’s one of my favourite wine store in the city… and since it doesn’t carry many French bottles, that’s saying something about the rest of their selection! My first instinct when picking vino is usually to go straight for what I know, French wines but Julio and Pedro who co-own the Latin-centric shop are always spot with their recommendations. Whether it’s a Spanish garnacha, a Portuguese rose or a bottle from South America, they’ve definitely helped me step out of my wine-comfort box and explore different wine producing regions. On Friday, they held a bit of a party at their 7th street store to celebrate Mexico’s Día de la Independencia. There was Mezcal (Grand Cata sells more than just wine) and tasty maizopes courtesy of Manos de Maiz. 

Manos de Maiz

Grand Cata Wine Store in Washington DCCelebrating #Garnachaday

Since Snooth, an online community for wine drinkers was hosting a virtual tasting party with Wines of Garnacha for #GarnachaDay I picked up a 2014 Gardacho from Alzania vineyards in Navarra, a 100% garnacha wine that they recommended and joined the twitter fun while watching St Vincent on Netflix 😉 I definitely needed a night in after a busy week, though I’m not gonna lie, I thought the movie was going to be a bit funnier… I was quite depressed after watching it… 

HELLO KITTY CAFE TRUCK PARKS IN BETHESDA

Hello Kitty Cafe Truck

I also needed a good nice rest since I had to get up super early to head to Bethesda for the scheduled appearance of the Hello Kitty Cafe truck. Yes, I pretty much dedicated all of my Saturday to waiting in line, outside a pink truck, to grab one box of $15 Hello Kitty themed macarons.

Nicole and the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck

Hello Kitty Cafe Truck

The wait was a bit ridiculous (Hello Kitty sure has some dedicated fans!) and the line could certainly have been managed better but it was all worth it! Besides, I got to swing by Fresh Baguette while I was there and tried their pumpkin croissant too! ps: speaking of Fresh Baguette, they’re in the running to have their bread named DC’s best baguette. Will I see you at the best baguette finale at the French Embassy on September 29th

 

END OF SUMMER FRENCH PIQUE NIQUE

Sunday, some of my Frenchies and I had planned a get-together with friends and other members of the french expat meet-up at Peirce Mill and Barn in Rock Creek Park for a low key picnic. The ratio of baguettes to attendees was excellent, which I guess is to be expected when French people get together… 

Peirce Mill and Barn Frenchie pique nique

Peirce Mill & Barn

 

 

 

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY & CULTURE PREVIEW

National Museum of African American History and CultureA huge merci to Ninette who let me tag along with her during the friends and family preview of much anticipated NMAAHC, which will officially open this Saturday. I *cannot* wait to go back! Three hours was barely enough time to skim the surface of this fantastic new Smithsonian museum, which takes visitors on a journey through the lens of the African American experience, from slavery in Africa at the lowest underground level of the museum to the brighter upper floors to segregation to the third and uppermost history level, called “1968 to Today.” There, the mood lightens, with sections celebrating achievements and contributions to pop culture, music, sports and the arts.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Oprah Winfrey at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

On my next visit to the museum (I have timed free-tickets for September 22) I’ll actually start at the upper levels and make my way down since I spent most of my time Sunday at the lower levels. I also will absolutely visit Sweet Home Cafe, the museum’s dining hall for which chef Carla Hall was a culinary ambassador. Like Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe at the National Museum of American Indians, the 400 seats-restaurant is split into 4 food sections that tell the culinary story of African Americans: the North States, Agricultural South, Creole Coast, and Western Range. I was only able to peek at the menu for the Creole Coast, with candied yams, house pickled vegetables, catfish po’boy and duck, andouille and crawfish gumbo among other. My husband is from Louisiana and I definitely want to eat my way through that menu — and discover the rest too! 

So that was my weekend… next week is the National Book Festival and Art All Night (two September events I’ve been looking forward toso I have another busy weekend ahead. Hopefully, the week will go by quickly!! How was your weekend? How’s your week shaping up?

5 Events To look forward to this September

I actually love summer… I don’t mind fall, but it reminds me that winter is coming, so I’m usually sad when labour days comes around. That being said, there are actually quite a lot to look forward to in D.C. in the fall. Here are 5 events happening in Washington this September that I’m particularly excited about:

THE DC SHORT FILM FESTIVAL 
I have a short attention span, so seeing 7-9 movies in 90 minutes sounds pretty great to me. The DC Short Film Festival runs from Septembre 8-18, 2016 and showcases 131 films from 33 nations around the world, including plenty from France. A lot of the festival is geared towards aspiring filmmakers, with practical workshops on fundraising to finance your project or how to write a film review (actually, I might be interested in that one!) but there are plenty of film screenings too of course! 

PARK(ing) DAY

I just really love the creativity involved in PARK(ing) Day , which will be held from 9Am to 4PM on September 16. It initially started in San Francisco to encourage businesses and residents to rethink how they use public space by converting metered parking spots into temporary, pop-up parks. 

Park(ing) day 2015 in DC

 

UNCENSORED AND BANNED BOOKS WEEK AT MARTIN LUTHER KING JR LIBRARY

The D.C. Public Library, along with libraries across the country, is shedding light on literary censorship in American history through Banned Books Week, which will start September 25 and wraps up with Uncensored, a cocktail party on September 30. That event will feature live music, as well as local mixologists’ boozie interpretation of a specific banned book, like a chartreuse concoction based on Ronald Dahl’s The Witches. Tickets aren’t cheap at $50 (you can buy tickets here) but all ticket sales will support DC Public Library programs and services. Also, this will be one of our last chance to hang out at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at 901 G St. NW before it closes down for renovations starting in early 2017. Throughout the month of September, the D.C. public library system will be hiding copies of books that were once banned or challenged in businesses around the city and invite Washingtonians to go on a bit of an uncensored books scavenger hunt. Find a book (Compas Rose Coffee is one of the spots!) send a pic on twitter to @dcpl_literati using the  hashtag and you could win free tix to the party! (plus it just sounds like a fun thing to do!!)  

Uncensored at the MLK Library

Still on the topic of books, I always look forward the Library of Congress National Book Festival, happening this year on September 24 (and still at the convention center…. I miss the days when it was held on the mall!) Stephen King will be there, as will Shonda Rhimes (that’s going to be a popular session), Bob Woodward (always popular with the DC crowds), and Salman Rushdie (always popular with me!!) 

 

HISTORIC OPENING OF THE MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY 

You know you’ve lived in Washington for a long time when you’re getting ready to see your  second new Smithsonian museum open on the National Mall (and third overall, I already lived in DC when the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center opened in Chantilly). The first one was of course,  the National Museum of the American Indian in 2004. But I feel like I’ve really followed the NMAAHC, from its authorization in 2003 to the site selection in 2006 and finally construction after president Barrack Obama helped break ground in February 2012. I can’t wait to take an “after”-selfie once the building is fully finished. 

African American Museum in DC

The much anticipated grand opening will happen September 24th at 1PM, after an official dedication ceremony earlier that morning (featuring Barrack Obama no less). The NMAAHC definitely knows how to throw an opening party, with free three-day, two-night festival on the Washington Monument Grounds, featuring live music by Public Enemy and the Roots among others.  I’ll probably skip all that, but I can’t wait to go inside the beautiful bronze building for the first time! Got my timed entry tickets for the 26th and I can’t wait!

National Museum of African American History and Culture

On the topic of museums, I’m also looking forward to reopening of the National Gallery’s East Building Galleries. Designed by IM Pei (of Louvre Pyramid fame) the angular building has been under renovations for close to three years. In addition to 12,000 new square-feet of exhibition space, the museum will now have a rooftop sculpture garden, featuring Katharina Fritsch’s “Hahn/Cock” giant blue rooster. That one. It’s already there, I can see it from the street and I can’t wait to get closer!

ART ALL NIGHT – MADE IN DC

By now I’ve accepted that Art all Night isn’t trying to be Paris’ Nuit Blanche and I’ve come to appreciate the event for what it is here. It’s a great evening of cultural happenings showcasing some of the city’s coolest neighbourhoods and emerging or established artists. This year, the festival takes place on Saturday, September 24th from 7PM to 3PM in Capitol Heights, Dupont Circle, H Street, North Capitol, Shaw as well as Tentleytown and Van Ness. This year the festival will feature District of Columbia artists and collectives only, in celebration of the Made in DC initiative which I find pretty cool! The full schedule hasn’t been released yet, but you can check out the Art All Night website for updates.

Any event you’re looking forward to this fall?

 

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.

DRINKS AT THE WATERGATE HOTEL

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

 

LABOUR DAY CAPITOL CONCERT

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

 

STUNNING SUNSETS

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… 

Sunset

Stunning sunset in Washington, DC

 

SUP-ING ON THE POTOMAC

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!

 

What’s the Best Baguette in Washington, DC?

I’ve lived in the District for over 10 years now and as the French expat one of the top question I usually get asked is “where can I find good bread?” Usually it’s recent transplants from France asking… The answer partially depend on where you live I guess. I mean, Bread Furst probably makes the best baguette in the city. But I live in Shaw. It’s bad enough I have to spend close to $3 for bread, I’m not trekking all the way across town on top of it. So I get my baguette mostly at A Baked Joint now, and occasionally at Paul or Le Pain Quotidien. Two places where I would never buy bread back home…but hey, I have limited options here 😉
The best Baguette in DC

Of course, Parisians take their bread very seriously. It is like 20% of our diet… It’s so important that we have a trade association for bread and the bakers that make it, la Chambre professionnelle des artisans boulangers du Grand Paris. And since 1994, they’ve teamed up with the City of Paris to throw an annual baguette show-done to select the best loaf in town: la meilleure baguette de Paris. In addition to 4,000 euros, mad bragging rights and a guaranteed line outside your bakery for a few weeks, the winning boulangerie also becomes the official bread supplier of the French President and his residence. Yes, obviously, that’s a thing too.  

This year, the French Embassy to the United States has decided to organize its very own “best baguette” contest for the Washington, D.C. area. After polling district residents online to see what their favourite bread-spots were, the top 4 bakers are facing off for a carb-filled finale at La Maison Française September 29th. 

The bakeries competing for the Best Capital Baguette title are: 

A jury of chefs and other DC-food personalities will decide the winner that evening but guests are also invited to join and will get the opportunity to try the different baguette along with charcuteries, cheese and jam. Bonne Maman, D’Artagnan and President are partners, so you know there’s gonna be some good stuff there! No wine sponsor though, so that’ll be cash bar and at $25 for a ticket (which you can buy here), that seems fair.

My money is on Fresh Baguette or Bread Furst, but I guess we’ll have to wait until September 29th to find out and see who will become the official bread supplier of the French Ambassador’s Residence… and the 2016 Best Capital Baguette!

ps: New York hosted its own competition earlier this year… so if you’re looking for some the best bread in Manhattan, just head to one of Eric Kayser‘s many bakeries. And good news, it won’t be too long before we have our very own Maison Eric Kayser here in DC. CANNOT WAIT! 

Le Monde calls DC the “new empire of cool”

Every year, some 1.6 million French tourists visit the United States. Most start in New York and visit Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Some may venture out to Florida, especially if they have kids, New Orleans, Boston and Philadelphia. Washington, DC doesn’t get a ton of love though that might all change thanks to a recent article in Le Monde, one of France’s leading newspaper. The article, published in the travel section of M Le Mag, gushes over the District, going as far as labeling it the “new empire of cool.” 

Le Monde appelle Washington, DC le nouvel empire du cool

So what makes DC so cool now? In a nutshell: a restaurant scene worthy of getting its own Michelin guide, gentrification and the Obamas. “With its institutional, even boring, reputation, the U.S. Capital is changing gear” begins the article, “and dreams itself a rival to New York City thanks to new gastronomic restaurants and gentrified neighbourhoods.” Yep, even in French articles we have to reminded that we are not New York (though obviously we want to be right?) and there are references to the city throughout the article. The decor at Maketto, for example, reminds you of a New York loft. the upcoming hotel The Line is “signed by the Sydell Group — who, in 2012, woke up a few blocs of Manhattan by opening the NoMad Hotel.” Forbes naming D.C. “the second coolest city in the US” in 2014 means we’re “taking our revenge on our exuberant neighbour New York.” Nevermind that we’re really not as obsessed with New York as everyone seems to want us to be… or that Forbes actually ranked us in the top spot on that list, not runner up 😉 

In addition to New York City, the author name drops Barrack and Michelle Obama quite a bit too. Rose’s Luxury? It’s where Barrack Obama celebrated his 54th birthday last year! Maketto is a big hang out for “local hipsters, as well as the First Lady.” And Michael Schaeffer, editor of the Washingtonian is quoted saying that «the Obamas have undeniably contributed to the changing perception of the city, more cosmopolitan, more creative. Especially since they frequent local businesses and restaurants instead of staying enclosed in the White House.” I guess on that last note he does have a point… 

Rose's Luxury's Pork Lychee Salad

The outdoor courtyard and deck at Maketto

OK, so I moved from Paris to Washington, DC 13 years ago and yes, I’ve definitely enjoyed the way the district has evolved since. I don’t know that I’d call it the new “empire of cool” though. What’s interesting is that the article, which appeared in the newspaper’s travel section, brushes aside all of the city’s museums, sights and other historical attractions to focus pretty much exclusively on our shopping and dining scene. Sorry National Mall 😉 So who got singled out by the article? 

union market

Rose’s Luxury gets an early mention, of course, and the author also spends a considerable amount of ink on H Street NE further north and Erik Bruner Yang’s Maketto (“an on-point men’s fashion boutique, trendy coffee shop and Asian restaurant frequented by locals hipsters as well as the First Lady“), cocktail bar Church and State and local vintage boutique Nomad Yard may see an influx of French tourists following glowing mentions. The article highlights the current duality found in many DC neighbourhoods today, with family owned African American businesses cohabiting with a new generation of businesses. That, the author argues, is fully on display near Union Market, as well as Shaw or U Street. In the neighbourhood “once known as Black Broadway … people now go buy pillows at Salt & Sundry or eat at Le Diplomate, an Americanized version of a French bistro.”  The author’s words, not mine, though she definitely sums up perfectly how French expats here feel about the 14th street restaurant. Further up, Adams Morgan get a mention with the Line Hotel as well as its walls “dressed by colourful murals from (street) artist Aniekan.” SO glad he gets a mention!! 

D.C. mural artist Aniekan Udofia was commissioned by American Express to paint this mural in Adams Morgan

D.C. mural artist Aniekan Udofia was commissioned to paint this mural in Adams Morgan

So, DC… new empire of cool? That might be a bit much but I love that the article highlights parts of the city that may not usually get a love of love in travel guides or articles. There is more to DC than the mall and Georgetown (Hu’s Wear does get a mention as a good place to go shopping.) It’s nice to see that come through for once in a travel article. And if I start hearing people people speaking French next time I’m dining at the Dabney, I’ll know why 😉

If you can read French, here is a link to the full article in Le Monde’s M Le Mag.