Running (Slowly) with the Marines: MCM 10K Recap

The Marine Corps Marathon is a huge running event, with thousands of runners from all over the country coming to DC to run with the Marines. Since I’m a long way from being ready to run my first marathon, I decided to sign up for its little sister event: the Marine Corps Marathon 10K. I figured after the Disneyland Paris half marathon a few weeks before, 10 kilometers would be a breeze. I had a simple goal going into the race:¬†to run a faster 10K than my previous one, the Capitol Hill Classic. Since it took me an hour and sixteen minutes to complete that course back in May, I also added a stretch goal of finishing closer to the 1 hour mark this time.

How did I do? Well, by the first kilometer I knew that stretch goal would be impossible to achieve and I even questioned whether I’d even make my goal… or complete the whole run! My legs were so heavy and so tight from the beginning on and, more worrisome, I had a nagging pain in the back of my left knee. I considered that I might have to walk the whole course… except walking hurt just as much as running ūüė¶ The pain in the back of my knee actually went away so I decided to keep running, slowly, with a few walk breaks every mile. That got me to the finish line in 1:09. Technically, I made my goal though I was really hoping to do better and it’s hard to feel satisfied with the run. I guess I have a hard time celebrating little victories ūüėČ

Despite that, I loved running this 10K and I had an absolute fantastic day. First of all, the weather was gorgeous!¬†I know it sucked for those running the full marathon… but it was a perfect for a 10K! I had initially planned to meet a few people from the Marine Corps Marathon and 10K Club facebook group¬†for a photo opp by the Capitol reflecting pool but the location was changed at the last minute so I ended up just snapping one sola.

The picture turned out great, though I was looking forward to meeting some of the people from the group IRL. I don’t have a ton of runner friends yet, well at least not ones that are just starting to run like I am…¬† My friend David who was staying with me for the weekend walked me to the security point (gotta love a race with a start line 10 blocks from your apartment!) and then I joined the other runners for the pre-race celebrations. We started 10 minutes later than we were supposed to and by 8:10am I was off running on the National Mall. I was doing a great job keeping up with everyone around me… but as I mentioned, I was in pain. Unlike the Marine Corps Marathon which draws so many spectators, there are not a ton of people lining the course for the 10K. I could have used a little bit of cheering early on! I did love seeing the Batala ladies right before the 14th street bridge. They rock for being there for us so early!¬†

The 14th street bridge is notorious for being one of the hardest part of the course for those running the full marathon. It’s slightly uphill, long and there are no spectators to cheer the runners on. It’s also typically around mile 18-20 when¬† they’re really starting to feel tired. But for the 10K it comes at just the 2 miles mark so it’s not so bad. I did slow down a bit though, especially since my legs really hurt. After that, the race takes us to Crystal City and the course’s only water station. I definitely could have used one more somewhere in there because it was quite warm. I could tell early on from my time (4.3 kilometers at the 30 minute miles and a 6:58/km average pace) that I wouldn’t hit my goal and that I would probably get a worse time than I had back in May. I was so discouraged I felt like walking the rest of the course but then I received a very well timed text message from my friend Emily who had just ran the Navy 10 miler the weekend before.¬†

So rather than give up, I picked up my pace. I went down to 6:30/km (6:26/km at K6, 6:38/km at K7 and 6:27/km at K8) from 7:03/km at K4 and 7:09/km at K5. I walked a little bit when we got near the Pentagon which brought my pace back to 7:17/km for K9 but finished strong (for me!) at 6:36/km at K10.¬†The finish line of the MCM 10k is the same as the full marathon¬† and while it was still early, there were already a lot of people cheering, which was definitely something that was missing from the rest of the course.¬† That was great! Of course, the finish line by Iwo Jima is notorious for being super steep and that was rough! But I kept running because at this point there are a lot of spectators (and Marines!) cheering so walking isn’t an option, especially so close to the end and with so many people watching. I spotted my friend David (good thing he’s SO tall) though he clearly completely missed me ūüėČ I cannot imagine doing that finish after having run 26 miles… I’m really in awe of everyone that runs the full course!

Once you’re done, there are tons of Marines congratulating, high five-ing you and fist bumping you and you get your medal from a Marine too. The atmosphere at the finish line was great, though it was a bit of a bummer to see the Iwo Jima memorial covered in scaffolding. I snapped a few souvenir pics then had the nice surprise of seeing my friends Nicole and Calla who had come to cheer me on, though clearly thought I’m a much much slower runner than I actually am because they completely missed me at Crystal City. That’s too bad, because it’s such a nice boost to see a familiar face when you’re running but I was still SO happy to see them at the end.¬†

David, Calla and I actually headed back to Crystal City to cheer on the runners in the marathon. We got there by the time the 3:15/miles pacers were arriving and stayed through to the 5/miles pacers. I was trying to spot two of my friends who were running but failed miserably. I did spot Elyse from the 14th street Pacers store looking strong on the course! After that, it was time for a little celebrating! I love that it was still rosé on the roof weather at the end of October! 

While I had a great day, I can’t help but not feel satisfied with the race. Running is part mental part physical, and I clearly still need to work on both, train more and push myself to accomplish the goals I set for myself. Of course, I don’t want to end this year on a sour running note, so I did the only thing one can do in this situation: I signed up for another race! I’ll be running Pacers’ Jingle All the Way 15K on December 10th, which will force me to keep running, even as the weather gets colder. I can’t wait to prove to myself that I can do better! Also, how much fun is planning a cute Christmas running outfit going to be? And the snowman medal is adorable. Can’t wait to add it to my (small) collection!¬†

Anyone else race this weekend? How did it go?

Week-end Highlights: The Crown, Beaujolais, Friendsgiving & Fotoweek DC

Brr! It got cold all of the sudden! After a gorgeous Saturday, it looks like temperatures are back to what they should be this time of year, which means I spent most of Sunday curled up on the couch with my cat, binging on The Crown. But before that, I did have quite the fun weekend.

LE BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU¬†EST ARRIV√Č!
I kicked off the weekend¬†at one of my favourite monthly gathering, Creative Mornings. Creative Mornings is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community. Every month, there’s a theme that’s picked for all of the chapters around the world. This month, it was “Fantasy” and all 157 chapters around the world¬†gets to¬†select an appropriate speaker from its¬†local creative community based on their interpretation of that theme. For DC, host Joe Daly reached out to photojournalist Nicole¬†Tung who showed some of her work in war-torn Syria at the National Geographic auditorium. The pictures were pretty rough, especially at 9AM, but it’s definitely work that needs to be seen….¬†

Creative Mornings

Nicole Tung at Creative Morning

On a more upbeat note, I wrapped up Friday at my friend Marc-Antoine’s annual Beaujolais Nouveau celebration. I’m too old to party at Bistrot du Coin until the wee hours on a week day (though I did have a lot of fun there back in my days…) and I much prefer a casual get together with friends. Everyone brings a bottle of Beaujolais and some cheese, it’s the perfect way to celebrate the new harvest. Have you tried this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau? It’s pretty fruity (though I guess I say that every year lol)

Le Beaujolais Nouveau 2016

MINI-HIKE BEFORE MESSY KITCHEN’S FRIENDSGIVING POTLUCK

The weather was simply stunning Saturday, it would have been a shame to stay home (though I was really tempted to because I made the mistake of starting The Crown Friday evening!) I went on a mini-hike in Rock Creek Park to soak up all the fall colours (and the amazing 70 degree temperatures!)

Mini-Hike in Rock Creeek park

That evening, I got a head start on Thanksgiving at my friend Notes from a Messy Kitchen‘s annual Friendsgiving potluck. Not only was the food amazing but she raised more than $2,000 for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry.¬†

Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving

Carving the turkey

Notes from a Messy Kitchen's Friendsgiving

FOTOWEEK DC AND BINGING ON THE CROWN

Sunday was COLD! It was also the last day of Fotoweek DC. I wish I had had a chance to go to more events. I did make it to Scott Suchman‘s discussion of the Michelin guide (he showed stunning pictures he had taken at all of the restaurants that received stars and more). I also made it to one of the last events, a talk with Ami Vitale¬†Sunday at National Geographic.¬†Taking pictures of pandas is a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it right?¬†

After watching the U.S. pick its new president for the past two years, I finally got to vote as well. The French right and center right hosted an open primary on November 20, with a run-off on November 27 to select a candidate for the 2017 presidential election. For the French election, they will set up a voting station at the French embassy for us to vote in person, but this time we got to vote online which was kinda fun! The candidate I voted for made it to the second round, but I do want to spend the next few days leading to the second round combing through both Alain Jupp√© and Fran√ßois Fillon’s platform so that I can make the best decision of which candidate I want to see in the general election in May. ¬†

Voting in the French primaries

Finally, I wrapped up the weekend binging on The Crown, Netflix’s¬†sumptuous 10-episode series¬†staring Claire Foy as a young Queen Elizabeth ascending the throne decades before she expected to. Have you had a chance to watch it yet? You should!

This week is going to be a short one… I hope you enjoy it and wish you a great Thanksgiving if you’re celebrating.¬†

 

Week-end Highlights: Laotian Food, Spanish Tall Ships & a Little Art

Happy Monday! Did you have a good weekend? After a long, emotional, week, mine was low key, in a good way, though I still managed to do quite a bit. Friday, I made my grand waitressing debut when I helped out with chef¬†Bobby Pradachith’s Amone pop up at Mess Hall.¬†

Mess Hall food incubator in Washington, DC

¬†Chef¬†Pradachith is the son of Chef Seng Luangrath of Thip Khao. After a stint at Minibar, he’s ¬†following on his mother’s footsteps in elevating Laotian cuisine’s profile in the District and created a fantastic menu of historic dishes his three days pop-up at the culinary incubator. It was interesting for me to b behind the scenes for once and I still got to try a few of the dishes, like this riced cured rockfish with a fermented pork sauce, pineapple and cashews (Sa Ton Pa Va) or the soft coconut jelly with sour coconut, peanut brittle and salted plum (Woon Mak Pao).
Sa Ton Pa Va Laotian food

 

Week-end Highlights: Pinxtos, Vegan Wedding Cake & a Mini College Reunion

I’ve been pretty lucky. So far this summer, all of the weddings that I have been to have been local. Even better, since my college friend Sandra got married here at 2941 Restaurant not only did I not need to travel but a bunch of my college friends actually traveled to see me! Well, attend the wedding, but also see me!!¬†

ALL THE PINXTOS AT ANXO

My friend Elena, who came down from Connecticut for the occasion, is pretty obsessed with all things Spanish culture. To be fair, she’s a Spanish teacher and has traveled extensively throughout Spain. She wanted to check out Anxo and I was more than happy to oblige since I had not yet been to DC’s first cidery and pinxto bar in Truxton Circle. The weather was beautiful, and we were able to eat all the Basque small plates¬†(and drink all the cider) outside which was such a treat. My favourite is always the¬†Pintxo Gilda, with Basque peppers, olives and¬†anchovy!¬†

Gilda pinxto at Anxo in DC

POPSICLE BRUNCH & PLAYING TOURIST ON THE MALL

Since the wedding was at 4PM,¬†I squeezed in a little brunch catching up with some other college friends. They were staying at the Melrose Hotel between Foggy Bottom and Georgetown, I suggested we try RIS’ popsicle mimosa brunch. The popsicles come in two flavours: pomegranate spice and¬†ginger orange pineapple. Since my friends weren’t drinking, I only had one of the ginger orange pineapple mimosa but under different circumstances,¬†I certainly would have jumped on the $20 bottomless option.

RIS' ginger orange pineapple popsicle mimosaAfter brunch, we took a quick stroll on the mall. Could the weather have been more perfect to play tourists!?

Playing tourists on the mall

The wedding was beautiful, and one of the highlights was the vegan cake by chef Caitlin Dysart. Yep, vegan cake (the bride is vegan). Isn’t it just gorgeous?

Vegan wedding cake by Chef Caitlin Dysart The end of the weekend is a bit of a blur… literally ūüėČ I probably should have drank a little less wine. How was your weekend?

Week-End Highlights: GLT Get-Together and All the Pumpkins!

This week-end was all about two things: girlfriends and pumpkins! We had planned a fun day-trip to the Middletown/Frederick area to visit a pumpkin patch and the weather¬†could not have been more¬†perfect. If anything, it was too warm to wear the typical¬†instagrammable fall outfit ūüėČ

We headed to Jumbo’s pumpkin patch¬†because I had seen it listed in a couple of articles as one of the best in the United States (like in this post on Travel + Leisure). This seven-generation family farm offers lots of family friendly activities like face painting, pony rides, hayrides etc. but also has a legit patch where you can pick-your-own gourd. There were A LOT of kids, but once you got out to the patch it felt a bit calmer. ¬†And it’s just an hour from D.C. so it’s a perfect day trip!¬†

Jumbo's Pumpkin Patch

Jumbo's Pumpkin Patch

We had planned on visiting nearby South Mountain Creamery and¬†Distillery Lane Ciderworks¬†but unfortunately ran out of time after a particularly long lunch at The Main Cup. We did squeeze in a quick visit to Olde Mother Brewing, just outside of Frederick, on the way back. It’s a pretty new spot, and I wouldn’t have thought to visit it if one of my friends and former colleagues hadn’t messaged me that she worked there when she saw that I was in the neighbourhood. I must say I actually really liked their pumpkin beer (which is rare!!)¬†

Tasting flight at Olde Mother Brewing

In the evening, I met up for dinner and drinks with a couple of awesome local ladies from the Girls Love Travel group. I’ve recently joined this group to interact with like-minded travel chicks and get some travel inspiration and it was super fun to get together for the first time. Some of the girls are actually pretty new to the DC areas and up for doing some slightly touristy stuff, which is always fun!¬†

Girls love travel get together in DC

Sunday, I went back to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for a third time. I had wanted to go back to the history galleries since I skipped those altogether on my second visit but there was a pretty ridiculous hour wait just to get into that part of the museum. So instead, I focused on the “Making a Way Out of No Way” section, which details how¬†African Americans acted to change and build their lives despite tremendous obstacles. This is probably the last time I’ll go to the new Smithsonian this year, though I feel like I still have SO much to see. Have you been yet?¬†

2015 Notre Dame de Cousignac Rosé Luberon

I spent the rest of the day writing. The weather was beautiful so I opened up a bottle of 2015 Notre Dame De Cousignac Ros√© Luberon just in time for sunset! ¬†I love¬†trying wines from regions I have been to, like the¬†Luberon where we spent Christmas with my uncle’s family a few years ago. I found the bottle in the 2 for $20 bins at Batch 13 so it was quite a steal too! ps: that pic is from snap chat. Do you follow each other on the social platform yet? We should ūüėČ Click here to find me!

Hope you had a great week-end too! 

Weekend Highlights: 2Amys, Taste of DC & a Muddy Music Festival

We don’t have a lot of three days weekends in the United States and hurricane Matthew caused problems for many travelers who had fun plans for the holiday… I didn’t have any plans to get away from Washington¬†but there was plenty going on in the city!

POST ITALIAN EMBASSY DINNER AT 2AMYS

Since October 2012, the Italian Embassy has engaged the public in an open discussion on digital diplomacy and innovation in foreign policy through its Digital Diplomacy Series. Last week, they gathered a great panel of folks from the White House, Tumblr, Facebook and Google/YouTube to discuss what happens when digital diplomacy goes live. Afterwards, since we were already in the Cathedral Heights neighbourhood and in an Italian mood, we decided to grab diner at 2Amys. The Neapolitan-style DOC-certified pizzeria had just received a Bib Gourmand from Michelin earlier that day and I had never been so it seemed like the right time to go check it out! (You can read the full list of restaurants that just received a Bib Gourmand for the first edition of the DC Michelin Guide here.)

Pizza Neopolitano at 2Amys

Recent reviews seem to imply that 2Amys is resting on its laurel a bit, but I totally understand why it would be appealing to Michelin inspectors and my bill definitely came under the $40 required to get on the Bib Gourmand list. 

ALL THINGS GO FALL CLASSIC AT¬†YARDS’ PARK¬†

As he took the stage around 6:30PM, Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos greeted the crowd by screaming “Rain or shine, motherf**kers. Rain or shine.”¬†The Nationals postponed their game, but the show still went on at Yard’s Park, despite frigid rain and lots of mud! I was SO stoked to see Christine and the Queens perform, though regrettably she “declined to performed,” leaving festival-goers soaked and with not much to do in a muddy parking-lot turned concert venue.¬†Womp Womp.

Christine and the Queens is a diva

All Things Go Fall Classic music festival

Things turned around though, the sky cleared up and almost looked like pink cotton candy by the time¬†Sylvan Esso¬†wrapped up their set. I wasn’t too familiar with Passion Pit’s music but I enjoyed their¬†exuberant act but¬†called it an early night before Empire of the Sun came on. I heard they put on quite a show though!

TASTE OF DC ON PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE

By Sunday the weather had cleared up for Jessica of Young Winos of DC and I ate our way through Washington at Taste of DC. And drank our way too, of course. It was the perfect day for rosé and the backdrop was pretty perfect too!

Rose all day by the US Capitol

CATCHING UP ON VERSAILLES

While the weather was perhaps too pretty to stay indoors, my friend Cecile and I had made plans to watch the first few episodes of Versailles, the lavish¬†British-Franco-Canadian production¬†set during the construction of Louis XIV’s palace at¬†Versailles. The series already aired in France, the U.K., and Canada but just premiered on Ovation here in the States.¬†

Versailles Series

For the most expensive series in French history, I remain unconvinced so far.¬†There are way too many subplots introduced in too short of a timeframe to keep track of and all the characters, especially the men, look the same with their long wavy brown hair, so it’s really hard to keep track of who’s who and what’s going on. I’ll keep watching, but I’m not impressed so far. On the plus side, Cecile made a fabulous tagine with green olives so at least the food was good!¬†

Did you get around to doing anything fun this weekend? Were you affected by Matthew at all? Let me know in the comments and have a great week!

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 ROS√Ȭ†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 ros√© on the roof before watching the series premiere of Designated Survivor with the husband. I found a $8.99 bottle of¬†Coteaux Varois,¬†M√©moires ros√© 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 ros√©.

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‚Äôs 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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ 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 ūüė¶ 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 ūüėČ 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 ūüėȬ†

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 ūüėȬ†

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¬†D√≠a 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¬†ūüėČ 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 ‚Äú1968 to Today.‚Ä̬†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‚Äôboy 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 to)¬†so I have another busy weekend ahead. Hopefully, the week will go by quickly!! How was your weekend? How’s your week shaping up?

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 ūüėȬ†

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!

 

Weekend Highlights ~ Restaurant Week, Caipirinhas & Grilled Peach Pizza

Definitely another low-key weekend… sometimes you just need some of those you know, especially as I gear up Diner en Blanc next Saturday. Friday night, I had a couple of girlfriends over for¬†ros√© on the roof. My friends Jean and Aparna can’t make it to diner en blanc, so we thought we’d dress in white and have a bit of a test run. I’m being a bit of a rebel this year and sprinkling hints of gold into my tablescape so I wanted to check out how it looked. Plus I love any excuse to host. I think it turned out pretty well no?

diner en blanc table

I wanted to keep things simple for the menu so I made Martha Stewart’s Grilled Peach Pizza recipe¬†as well as a pitcher of caipirinhas (check out my recipe here, along with some personal memories of drinking Caipirinhas in Brazil) ¬†since I wanted to finish my bottle of cachaca. We talked about the Olympics, of course, our latest trips, ones we have coming and diner en blanc. It was lovely.

Martha Stewart's Grilled Peach Pizza

Martha Stewart's Grilled Peach PizzaSaturday was beautiful and I was quite lazy, spending most of it at the pool. On Sunday, I caught the tail-end of Restaurant Week with a lunch-date with the hubby at Del Campo in Chinatown. I used to be so into restaurant week before, booking lunches and dinner throughout the time of the promotion, but now not much. Del Campo did a great job with their menu though. I kicked off my meal with the Chilean Salmon Ceviche¬†while my husband had the empanadas de Pino. Those were basically breakfast empanadas with bacon and egg and I’m totally going to try and make them at home one day!¬†

Salmon ceviche at Del Campo

empenadas de pino at Del Campo

Since I had Brazil on my mind,¬†I ordered the¬†Smoked Pork Feijoada. It was ok, though definitely not as good as my husband’s¬†Grilled Short Rib with jalapeno potato puree and bone marrow.¬†

Short rib and bone marrow at Del Campo

The desserts were lovely, I always love the tres leches twinkies with passion fruit sorbet. The menu offered for lunch and diner is actually exactly the same but it’s $13 pricier in the evenings, so I’d definitely recommend¬†the earlier option and the deal continues through next Sunday too. There’s also a $55 Restaurant Week’s chef menu, that swaps the short rib for grilled Wagyu bavette sirloin & chorizo and the empanadas de pino for Wagyu skirt steak empanadas. I still think the lunch menu was really good and a good deal, so I’d stick with that though.

Tres leche twinkies at Del Campo

Did you partake in restaurant week this past week? If yes, any stand-out meals? If not… why not? Do you find your interest in the promotion to have decreased over the years? Let me know in the comments and have a great week!!¬†