Friday, June 26, was quite the day in American history. And in news. I give a roll call in my New York Social Diary column, and tell the story about the photo above.
Please make a reservation today for this evening's Q&A Cafe -- a look at professional sports, DC and beyond, with the hosts of ESPN 980's "The Sports Fix," Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan. We'll discuss the Nats, the Wizards, the Caps, the Redskins, DC United, but also Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Alex Rodriquez ... and more.
It's a special late afternoon-early evening taping. Seating will begin at 4:30 at The George Town Club, Wisconsin Ave and Volta, and we'll start the show by 5. They plan to have cocktails and a keg, mini hot dogs, hamburgers and lobster rolls, for a fee of $25 all inclusive. Stick around after to watch the last innings of the Nationals game on the TVs in the GTC's pub.
For reservations please call 202-333-9330. Or email GTC Reservations. All are welcome.
Coming Thursday July 16 at lunchtime, "Primates of Park Avenue" author Wednesday Martin.
"Primates of Park Avenue" is an anthropological exploration of a point in time when the 1% are, indeed, different from the rest of us. Her book, barely a month old, already has been sold to MGM. Casting hasn't begun but there's plenty of speculation. Of course, it's also controversial. Check out the take from my New York Social Diary colleague David Patrick Columbia.
This exclusive - and sure to be entertaining - Q&A is her only appearance in Washington, where we also have our share of 1% ers.
The book will be available for buying and getting signed.
Please make your reservations directly with The George Town Club at 202-333-9330, or email at GTCReservations. Seating will begin at 11:30 and the interview will start approx 12:15. The event, including lunch, is $35.
For most of the tonight's Nats vs Rays game the rain held off. Maybe it should have started sooner. After a boffo Tuesday the Nats had a less than glam Wednesday. Still, it was a pleasure to be at the ballpark.
Win or lose I watch Johnny Holiday and Ray Knight before and after every game. Their style is easy-going and informed. This is my fangirl photo.
I took the "children." Ha. My son Spencer Joynt on the left, and then beside me, Nina Charness and Joe Powden. The three of them were high school classmates at Georgetown Day School.
Even on an off night Bryce Harper is a treat to watch. The complete all-star.
Screech! He's just like us. He sits and watches the game with occasional anxiety.
What does an old dirt road mean? I explain on New York Social Diary today.
It has to do with a party on the Western Shore that unexpectedly placed me on that road, and at a home, only a field over from where we lived in the late 80s and 90s. The road was as familiar to me as anything that's held close to my heart. When we packed up and left Galesville, MD, in '99 I had overnight become many things: a widow, solo parent to a 5 year old, saloon owner, federal tax fraud defendant, as well as still having my day job as a producer for Larry King Live. There was no way to deal with all of that and hold on to our beautiful place that I thought would be home for the long haul.
A big bump in the road, alas.
So, here I was deep in the past. How was it? Beautiful, of course. A chance to embrace old friends and views of the tranquil water. I loved life on the Chesapeake Bay. It's a treasure of our region. Rumor was my old home may be going on the market soon. Hmmm. That was then. Who knows what now has around the corner.
On New York Social Diary today we wrap up the spring social season with the Hillwood Gala, shown above. And from there we go to 14th Street, to an art opening, "Black Whole" at Black Whiskey, which was curated by my son, Spencer Joynt and JD Deardourff.
Have fun at both.
But here's a little more on each film.
In a silly way, the critics were just plain snarky about the "Entourage" movie. Maybe that's because a lot of film critics don't watch TV shows. So, forgiven. But I liked it from beginning to end - and especially the end. The production values were a tad on the tight budget side, but the boys (and girls) came to play. I was a fan of the HBO series, and actually recently re-watched in advance of the film release. In other words, I came to the movie pre-disposed to appreciate. It could have let me down but it didn't. It was a pleasure. btw, if you are an Entourage fan, don't miss Jerry Ferrara's Bad 4 Business podcast. He is known as "Turtle" in the show, but, gosh, he's a fine interviewer, and his "Entourage" series is a treat for buffs of how the sausage is made.
"Spy." I like Melissa McCarthy. I'm a fan of "The Heat," but less so of "Bridesmaids." Why? Her comic timing is so fine and so naturally gifted that she doesn't need the testosteronish vomit and shit jokes, though I understand they are critical to box office $$$$. I worry about her weight, and hope she doesn't keep it on because "Hollywood" has told her that's the golden ticket. What she accomplishes in her movie roles transcends her weight. And "Spy" is just one more example.
I walked into "Spy" expecting to enjoy myself. Seeing Jude Law in a well-cut suit, doing a charming spoof of James Bond, was a treat. The fact he's aging nicely is also a treat. Jason Stathem. Well, I've seen all his films and I'm a fangirl. He spoofs himself, but (like Law) in some fairly awesome duds. If McCarthy is the delish entree of this film, Law and Stathem are the excellent side courses. The theater at this early matinée was not filled, but everyone was laughing.
I saved the best for last, without even knowing that was the flow, though this was the order in which I binged this weekend.
"Love & Mercy" made me swoon with the opening credits, a sentimental head trip through the hey day of Beach Boys hits. The film takes us intimately into the creative life of the "surfer" band and their visionary force, Brian Wilson. Most of all Brian. I can't love this movie too much. It is excellent and essential for anyone who loves pop music.
Oldies playlists, or greatest hits of the 60s, 70s, 80s, etc on Sirius, aren't big with me. I tend to aggressively not live in the past, which hosts a lot of pain; the music stirs emotional turmoil. Watching glimpses of Brian Wilson's brilliance was so inspiring and warming and took me back to some very important markers of my life on earth. I eagerly wanted to jump back in to their song list.
The critical arc of the story is Brian's music but also his mental anguish. They never give it an official medical diagnosis, but do attribute the influence of drugs and alcohol, and an abusive father. As we know from his very public story, he pulls free from a controlling "life coach" - before we called them that - and gets it together and there is a happy ending.
We all have our different frailties. I watched my husband, who suffered from chronic depression, transform on Prozac, and I've periodically been glad there was Lexapro for my fits of anxiety (true business hell, jobless/debt madness). "Love & Mercy" is an empathetic balm, and the performances and the music are enriching on many levels.
I especially loved delving into the process, watching him work with The Wrecking Crew, the details and elements of crafting a record. In a word, its engrossing.
So, now, go to the movies.
PATRICK O'CONNELL, GLANCING AT HIS NEW BOOK, "THE INN AT LITTLE WASHINGTON: A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION."
Patrick O'Connell, the man who took a near ruin, an old basket shop and a former garage, and turned the whole package into The Inn at Little Washington, was the guest on The Q&A Cafe on Thursday, May 21. We taped the show at Tudor Place. A steady spring shower fell on the tent where we taped the show, and the temp hit a high of 52 degrees. We smiled through, and Patrick couldn't have been more entertaining and interesting as he took us through the three decades of creative vision and energy that made the old garage into the globally acclaimed restaurant and inn that it is today.
Here's the show on YouTube. Its 45 minutes. Sit back, listen and laugh. (You can also watch on the big screen, using your Apple TV)
They haven't even been buried, and yet some of Washington's social gadflies are piling on Savvas and Amy Savopoulos, the couple who were tortured and murdered in their Woodley Park home along with their 10-year-old son, Philip, and the housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa. There's nasty whispering among the NOK crowd, complaining that they weren't social enough, or to the manor born, or rich enough, that it was only their money and skin color that made their deaths a news story. No! Not true.
I say this because I've heard it, and I've received email messages with that point of view.
Perhaps Savvas and Amy were not into the society thing, but that is hardly a negative. I go into that in my New York Social Diary column of yesterday, The Darkness and The Light. Being obsessed with "society" is usually an empty pursuit; there are people who prefer to focus their social life on their children, community, school, church, sports, that sort of thing.
Certainly the murders got attention because of the high-priced neighborhood in which they happened, and that Savvas was CEO of a successful family business, but the horrifying nature of the crime is what made news. Had they been any other color or nationality, or had the crime occurred in the suburbs, or another part of DC, it still would have been news. Home invasion, ransom, torture? News, sadly, wherever it happens.
There is an interesting story in looking at the whole family, the patriarch, the work he's done, what he owns, and the family's roots in the Washington area. I'm told they did the scaffolding for CityCenter and also the scaffolding that is now shrouding the Capitol dome. All of that is interesting. To whine that they didn't measure up to some phony social standard is heartless.
On Memorial Day Weekend I remember and honor those who have served and who we have lost, including my father Richard H. Ross, who is at Arlington National Cemetery, and uncle, Jon Papp, who is buried on one of the Discovery Islands in Canada, and friends, too.
I also treasure the tradition of it being a holiday that kicks off summer and the many pleasures of summer. So, in that regard, these few pics, and appropriate words...
Sittin' in the morning sun
I'll be sittin' when the evening comes
Watching the ships roll in
Then I watch them roll away again, yeah
I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
Watchin' the tide roll away...
From the great Otis Redding, "Sitting On The Dock of The Bay"
I'm happy to announce an encore appearance at The Q&A Cafe of two of my favorite sports journalists, ESPN's Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan. They host the popular midday radio broadcast, "The Sports Fix." Tune in live or download the podcast daily. (I do). They are appealing because they are well-informed and amusing, especially as they spar over different views.
Thom is also a sports columnist for The Washington Times and is the author of 11 books, including on the "Redskins," the Baltimore Orioles, wrestling, the Negro League, the Philadelphia Eagles and more. Kevin is a renowned play-by-play man, sports commentator, "news anchor" on The Tony Kornheiser Show, and recently landed an exclusive tell-all interview with former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. Together Thom and Kevin make a team.
So, please, whether your sport is football, baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, lacrosse, rugby, swimming, MMA or watching from the comfort of your favorite chair, please make a plan to join us for this show.
The date is Thursday June 25. The location is The George Town Club. This will be a late afternoon event, with snacks, beer, wine, cocktails. We will seat the audience around 4:30 and begin the interview soon after. We'll end in time for you to make it to the Nats vs Braves game, or stick around at the GTC for "burger night" and to watch the game on their two TVs in the pub room. If you haven't yet tried out the redone and revived (more youthful) George Town Club, this is an excellent way to do it.
For reservations please email GTC Reservations. Or phone 202-333-9330 during weekday business hours.
Don't miss this one. It's a good time.
This photo was taken at the end of our hour-long conversation, and we were freezing, but our smiles are sincere because The Q&A Cafe, with Patrick O'Connell as guest, was a pleasure. Later, an audience member noted he could see our breath as we talked, but that's DC in the late May. Any kind of weather can happen. One day summer, the next day winter. Or near winter. Nonetheless, it's in the can and will air next Friday, and when that happens I will make a note here. Also, I will post the full interview when it goes up on YouTube.
We talked about everything, and laughed a lot.
Lots of thanks to Mary-Michael Wachur and Leslie Buhler of Tudor Place. Doing the show at Tudor Place with Patrick was their idea and, along with Rachel Hayden of The Inn, they did all the heavy lifting to make it happen. (Mother Nature was on her own). Susan Gage Caterers created and served a delicious box lunch, and with the weather, made sure guests had hot tea and coffee in addition to cocktails and wine.
The attentive audience was not too put-off by the chill and rain. After all, once Patrick starts telling his stories it is captivating. And the box lunch. And the adorable Georgetown Cupcakes, featuring the cover of his new book, "A Magnificent Obsession."
ELLEN CHARLES ON THE RECEIVING LINE AT THE PARTY IN HER HONOR
The Tudor Place garden party, an annual event that typically is Georgetown's most luscious social occasion, returned to high ground this evening with a revived soirée that honored Ellen Charles. As I walked into the house and down the carpeted path to a sweeping tent, my reaction was, wow, Tudor Place is back! I say that because in recent years the garden party seemed to have lost its way a little, not sure of whether it was a corporate fundraiser or an old school good time. Happily, it got the message: old school is its strong suit. And by old school I don't mean musty. I mean elegant with contemporary panache. The credit for pulling that off goes to this year's chair, Elizabeth Powell, who gave the event a glorious reboot.
And then there was the food, from Susan Gage Caterers. Ham biscuits as we arrived, grilled cheese sandwiches made in the fashion of standard poodles (Ellen owns, loves and shows standard poodles), lobster rolls, a buffet of lamb chops, onion pie, beets, salad, mashers. Later, splendid strawberry shortcake, among other desserts.
Well done, Elizabeth. I hope you are home now, feet up on a soft pillow, celebrating what you achieved. And here's Ellen with Tudor Place executive director Leslie Buhler. We will be back there tomorrow to tape The Q&A Cafe, with guest Patrick O'Connell, owner and chef at The Inn at Little Washington.
Have you been to The Red Hen? If you have then you know why I devote my New York Social Diary column to it today. If you haven't been, well, please read the story and make a reservation. You'll thank me, but most of all, you'll thank Chef Mike Friedman for the delicious food he makes.
More good news: they are open every evening of the week!
For Washington in general and Georgetowners in particular the story of Albrecht Muth and Viola Drath is all too familiar. They lived up on Q Street across from the Exxon. They were seldom seen and not well known until she was found dead in the upstairs bathroom and he was charged and convicted of the murder. Last week, Christoph Waltz announced he is directing and starring in a film about the couple. A "Memo to Christoph Waltz" is the title of my New York Social Diary column today.
This is a post of sincere thanks to Dr. Lee Morgan, his wife Kris, and their staff at Georgetown Veterinary Hospital. This is the end of a rough week for me and my son, because we had to put down our 15-year-old Bichon Frise, Leo, who was suffering from lymphoma. Dr. Morgan and Kris got us through the weeks leading up to what was Leo's very loving, calm, peaceful and humane passing on Monday, May 4.
What I'm grateful for, beyond the kindness and attention, is that Dr. Morgan explained all the medical options available and respected my wish to do as little as possible because Leo already was fragile with age. Chemo was offered but I didn't think it would make a significant difference, and Dr. Morgan supported my view. We focused on keeping Leo comfortable and free of pain. Through this stressful journey (for the humans), whenever I needed to talk to him he was available to talk -- if not right away, soon enough.
We miss Leo terribly. The grief is real. But our pain was made easier to bear thanks to the compassion of the Morgans. At the end of the week I received a note from Dr. Morgan, pointing out that Leo was one of his first patients when they took over the animal hospital from Dr. Wesley Bayles in 2002. There were many happy visits over the years, and the visits were as conversational as they were purposeful. Like Dr. Bayles, Dr. Morgan cared about my pet. Our sons both are named Spencer, too.
Of our loss, Dr. Morgan wrote, "In the end, you did the most loving thing you could for him. You did not let him suffer."
RIP, Leo, and thank you, Dr. Morgan.
(Take a moment to visit the site and read about Dr. Morgan's background and the volunteer work he does, including with the Iditarod. )
Please check out our most recent Q&A Cafe, an interview with the remarkable chef and restaurant mogul Daniel Boulud. We talk about everything. Spoiler alert: you'll be hungry after.
The Washington Ballet hosted its annual spring gala the other night. The "Swan Ball" celebrated the ballet's most recent production of Swan Lake. The gala was held at the hilltop Embassy of Germany, and the full story is on New York Social Diary.
I'm keeping the below post as I wrote it because it was honest, but after writing it I learned of the gross, out-of-touch and appalling framework for Hermes' DC opening, in particular that the party was for a one per center elite and in bad form. Kate Bennett on Politico reported that guests were invited on the basis of having spent a $85,000 at Hermes, and then Robin Givhan explored the tasteless dinner. Honestly, does this company know what city it was in, the nation's capital, the government, where the average worker is doing the business of the people with their tax dollars and not loading up on $10,000 handbags? This is not Palm Beach or Abu Dhabi. It was also the immediate aftermath of riots in Baltimore. Had they ever heard of the concept of toning it down, good taste, appropriate behavior and so forth? Apparently not.
Anyway, here is what I wrote, but its of a Hermes of an earlier, gentler time. Still, I now have more reason than ever to sell the stuff. Distance myself. Happily.
When I first discovered Hermes it was in a tiny boutique near Tiffany's on East 57th Street, just off Fifth, in Manhattan. It was where Jackie Onassis would come to buy her equestrian-themed fine leather goods. She was known in particular for carrying the "Constance" bag. Also famous, named for Grace Kelley, was the "Kelly" bag. Of course, I had to have one of each.
Hermes was available in Washington, too. The Garfinckel's Department store at 14th and F (now the Hamilton) had a small counter, where they sold a few hand bags and mostly scarves and ties. It was there that I got my first Hermes scarf - a design of pink peonies - a collection that grew over the years to probably 250 or more scarves. I've sold most of them, but still have a sentimental collection. I sold some of the hand bags, too, but kept a few, including Constance and Kellys.
Back when I was a Hermes regular, I also bought their toile beach pareus and beach towels, enamel bracelets and earrings, great silver neck chains and other silver jewelry. I still have some of it. I wore the perfume, too: Caleche. But, as they say, that was then.
Now Hermes is a huge global brand (as my budget has gone from Champagne to fruit-flavored water) and Manhattan has more than a few stores, and there are stores also in Palm Beach, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Boston and Denver, to name only some. If you are a fan of Hermes, you owe it to yourself to go to the Paris store. That's a wow. We've had Hermes in suburban Virginia for quite a while, out at Tysons Corner. And this week we got one in downtown Washington, too, at CityCenter. It opened with a Champagne party and a seated dinner.
There's a lot of wealth around in 2015, crazy wealth, and this store is aimed at that market. Men's ties start at $200. They have home goods, too -- beautiful plates, flatware, serving pieces, accessories. And, of course, clothing and leather goods.
You don't have to be a billionaire to go in and look around, though. Just as when I first discovered Hermes more than 30 years ago, the company still maintains a high level of quality. And if you have the bucks, jump in and splurge. Whatever you buy will last and last and last. Hermes is the opposite of the modern trend of disposable wearables.
Here's one thing to remember about the Hermes store. It's next door to one of my favorite restaurants, DBGB Kitchen + Bar, which now with the warm weather has its glass walls pushed open to the air ... and a view of Hermes.
DBGB Kitchen +Bar and Hermes -- side by side at CityCenter. Soon to open, another well-known luxury brand, Louis Vuitton. I know them well, too. Crossing my fingers this big push on high end retail, and the customer who can afford to play, works out well for CityCenter.
This is reprinted from New York Social Diary
I didn't write a Washington Social Diary this Monday because there was no compelling reason to produce one, meaning an account of the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, and related parties, since I'd already written my thoughts – unchanged – a couple of weeks earlier. However, I'm not an ostrich and thought a few observations were appropriate:
|• As for parties, the class of the field remained the Friday dinner hosted at their Embassy Row home by Atlantic Media’s David and Katherine Bradley. Year after year – it is fun, it is elegant and civilized, it is adult, it is seated, and it is soup to nuts done by 10 pm, and guests, if they choose, can zip off to the more frenzied and louder soirees.
In every way but its location it harkens to the soul of the WHCA dinners of yore, at the then-Sheraton Park, when gray-haired and well-dressed media moguls came south from New York to join their Washington reporters and editors for a night of sophisticated mingling with the government establishment. Everybody got loaded and partied … all at the hotel.
|• President Obama (and Keegan-Michael Key) and Cecily Strong had great writers, understood the material, and delivered their jokes with such skill it was a pleasure to watch them enjoy hitting their marks. Now that the President has given us “bucket” as a useful euphemism, I plan to put it to work and often. Thank you, Mr. President. Cecily – you killed, even though many in the audience were clueless. That is this dinner, year after year.|
|• The media mistakenly identify the White House Correspondents' Association dinner as “the social event of the year,” but it is not social, at least not in the sense of attracting Washington society. It is a media event, a corporate event, a business event; in other words, a work-related schmooze-fest. It could just as easily take place in Las Vegas with all the guests/conventioneers wearing big fat badges. As a networking and marketing event, it is the biggest of the year. Without red carpets, though, the city’s lobbyists play this game more often and better.
• The celebrities were irrelevant this year, for better or worse. Ditto the Vanity Fair-Bloomberg "after" party. It was basically a NY/LA affair.
|• It was troubling to watch CNN (still the go-to for breaking news) focus its entire evening on the dinner – with an anchor in evening wear, no less! – while on any other day we know they’d be focused on the deadly earthquake in Kathmandu, and the violent Baltimore street protests related to the death of Freddie Gray. It was just plain weird, and only underscored the timeliness of the jokes on CNN made by President Obama and Cecily Strong.
• That said, I was pleased to see that CNN booked Patrick Gavin for their live coverage. He is the director of the just-released documentary, “Nerd Prom,” that explores, debates and occasionally mocks the White House Correspondents' dinner. For stepping out of line and speaking up he is, by DC standards, a marked man. Good for CNN.
• First Lady Michelle Obama had a look on and it was fun. As a mother I could almost imagine her at home before dinner, with daughters Sasha and Malia helping her dress, saying “go for it, mom,” with the hair, and the silvery Zac Posen, and her saying, “you’re right. I have to do something to stay awake on that dais.”
|• This is not remotely a haute fashion event, though many women dress in long gowns, including some wearing dresses with trains, no less. Before the TV and movie stars became a staple of the occasion, and thus the need for glam loaners from designers and a red carpet extravaganza, the standard was cocktail length, good jewelry and polished hair. On that basis, the best dressed was MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski. On the other hand, Jane Fonda (a saint for attending) would benefit from a fashion consultation with Helen Mirren.|
|• At dinner at the Bradley’s I was impressed to see actress Michelle Monaghan, because I am a big fan of “True Detective.” No, I did not ask for a selfie. I was also impressed to see Google’s Eric Schmidt, mostly to be able to thank him for Waze, the app that got me through snarled rush hour traffic to the Bradley home. There was a protest outside the nearby Turkish Embassy, and it created havoc. Not for me with my Waze. Again, thank you, Eric. I did not ask him for a selfie, either.|
|• There will be a lot of second-guessing about the dinner, as there always is, but it can’t help itself. It is like a federal agency, meaning it will return next year without much changed. The celebrity quotient might go up because it will be President Obama’s last in office. There are those here who believe if Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election, then THAT will be the WHCA dinner to beg, borrow and steal to attend. Stay tuned.|
Here's the Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin today, Sunday, with the sun out and the temps back up where they belong in the 60s. Took my new iPhone out for test drive and, as you can tell, it has skills.
My father, a pilot who dropped parachutists at Normandy on D-Day, did not live to see the WWII Memorial built. I go by from time to time, hoping he's looking at it through my eyes. He'd be pleased, of course. It's design is controversial but on a day that's a 10 for beauty the grandeur shows off.
It was a sun-kissed day when Cleveland Harvey took me for a top-down drive around our suburban Virginia neighborhood. He was the older brother of a former boyfriend, but we had a friendship all our own, too. He was athletic, attractive, smart, funny. Life was simple and innocent. Parked by the river, enjoying spring weather much like today, he told me he had been drafted and was headed to Vietnam. I never saw him again; only the first of friends to go to that war and die.
There are many more photos such as this one of lilacs on New York Social Diary today. I devote my weekly column to verbal and photo praise of Georgetown and DC in the spring.
It was something out of the Smithsonian, an actual ladies luncheon, but it was also a pleasure and one of the topics of this week's New York Social Diary from Washington.
Happily reposting this 2009 piece I wrote for New York Social Diary, about the time the late Nora Ephron dropped by the American History Museum with some fine loot from her charming film "Julie & Julia." Cozy here in bed, watching and remembering the occasion. Enjoy!
|JULIA’S KITCHEN GETS MORE JULIA (2009)
All you have to do is read her enduringly terrific book, “Heartburn,” and you’d be safe to assume writer and director Nora Ephron is not thrilled to come to Washington. Talk about returning to the scene of the crime, err, heartburn. But come she did last week, bearing gifts for The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Museum director Brent Glass welcomed Ephron and accepted a small bit of loot from her new film, “Julie & Julia,” which stars Meryl Streep as the famous chef, author, TV star and general food enthusiast, the late Julia Child. Why the Smithsonian? Because they have Julia Child’s original kitchen from her Cambridge, MA., home, an actual working family kitchen that doubled as stage set for her PBS program.
|Movie director Nora Ephron with museum director Brent Glass.||Niece Phila Cousins praised Meryl Streep for an "absolutely brilliant" portrayal of her "Aunt Juju."|
|Ephron contributed a costume worn by Streep, as well as a script and some story boards, and matched the $5,000 gift made to the Museum by Childs’ niece, Phila Cousins, on behalf of the Julia Child Foundation.
If you’re too young to be clued in to why Washington gave Ephron legitimate heartburn, take note of the exchange between the writer and director and Stephanie Green, a brave columnist for The Washington Times. In the midst of the party outside the kitchen exhibition, Green asked Ephron, “Was Carl Bernstein a good cook?” Ephron shot her one of those looks. “You’re at this and asking me about my ex husband?!!?” I believe the conversation ended there.
A list of guests provided by the museum included Dana Allen-Greil, Susan Anderson, Paul Appeldorn, Rob Barrett, Jane Bergner, Olga Boikess, Diane Bolz, Mike Finn, Jullian Brems, Susan Poretz, Beth Mendelson, Susan Sorenko, Janet Cam, Kristen Chasse, Nick Moran, Elizabeth and Barbara Cullen, Leslee Dart, Kathleen Desmond, Patrice Dionot, Laura Duff, Victoria Duncan, Nanci Edwards, Liesel Flastenberg, Helen Quick, Karen Thomas, Annie Groer, Anthony Hesselius, Maggie Hogan, Kathy Hollinger, Michele Jacobs, Kate Jansen, Tom Huzienga, Alex Cudaback, Mary and Phil Kopper, Karril and Tony Kornheiser, Peter Liebhold, Janelle Lombardo, Nikki Lowrey, Joan Mayfield, Brian Maynard, Roland Mesnier, Tim McCullaugh, Pilar Torres, Janis McLean, Rosa Mendoza, Michel Richard, Allan Miller and Katheryn Newal-Smith, Rebecca Pawlowski, Nicholas Pileggi, Judy Woodruff, Steve Velasquez, John Todhunter, Ellen Stanley, Dan Snyder, Gigi Simone, Bill Yeingst and Ivory Zorich.
|Nora Ephron surprised the guests when she announced she was "happy to match" a $5000 gift given to the Smithsonian moments earlier by The Julia Child Foundation.|
|The audience at the Ephron presentation. The woman to the left, in the green dress, is Julia Child's niece, Phila Cousins.|
|A costume worn by Meryl Streep in her role as Julia Child.||A story board from "Julie & Julia."|
|Guests at the party examine the "Julie & Julia" screenplay.|
|A copy of the 2008 "Salmon Revision" of Ephron's script for "Julie & Julia," now a possession of the Smithsonian.|
|Spoiler Alert: a snippet of direction from the "Julie & Julia" screenplay.|
|Food for the party was prepared by Washington chef Ris LaCoste based on some of Julia Child's favorites like Quiche. Fondue and Coq au Vin.||There were lots of glasses of Goldfish. Why? Because, according to her niece, Julia Child loved to munch on Goldfish.|
|As it was: the Julia Child kitchen exhibition at the Smithsonian.|
The DC Cannabis Campaign's Adam Eidinger is interviewed about the process of getting marijuana legalized in the nation's capital. We taped this episode of The Q&A Cafe on Friday, March 20 at The George Town Club. It was broadcast on DC Cable Network, channel 16.
Watch the full show here:
Our next show is April 24, with chef Daniel Boulud.
It seems it was only yesterday when Howard and I went to Bistro Lepic to check it out in its first week of operation, but guess what? That was 20 years ago. Co-owner Cyrille Brenac reminded me of this at dinner the other night, and the celebration that he and his business partner, chef Bruno Fortin, have planned. Through Sunday night they are offering a special menu that features "all our favorite dishes."
This restaurant is among the neighborhood's staples. Here's how it is is with my nearby friends: One of us calls the other and asks, "Want to go to dinner?" "Yeah, sure, where?" "Up or down?" Down is La Chaumiere, because it is down on M Street across from the Four Seasons Hotel, and up is Bistro Lepic, because it is on Wisconsin just above Reservoir Road. In either direction, we win. They are Georgetown's French clubhouses. I love them both and give them my vote as often as possible. (You "vote" by going)
Lepic has been so present in my life. I returned from France once to celebrate an important birthday with a group of friends in the upstairs private dining room. I've had lunches and dinners with many friends, and lovers, and would be lovers, and new and old acquaintances, business associates and various moms before afternoon carpool. And sometimes, carry-out. My son and I have frequent "family" dinners, and the beauty of it is the room is vibrant enough but soft enough to allow for a sense of "being there" but also conversation.
The canvases on the walls are the works of my pal Izette Folger and they reflect her quirky and thoughtful personality. We have had so many occasions to rendezvous there.
Cyrille and Bruno also own the delightful La Piquette in Cleveland Park, and if I could walk there -- as I can to Lepic and Chaumiere -- I would be there often. So very good. Cyrille is here in DC full-time, Bruno lives in Bali.
Lepic notably has a new chef, George Vetsch, who came to the restaurant from the wonderful C.F. Folks. (Spencer worked there with him; George was chef, Spencer was counter boy) At Lepic he's refreshed the menu while preserving the classics. My favorite dish is the sea scallops with ginger and broccoli mousse. The floating island for dessert. And I devour the bread. I love the soups, too.
I wish I had more photos in this post. For some reason when I'm there I just am there, not taking photos, and that's as it should be. I will try to get up there and take a few in the next couple of days. But here's the anniversary menu sent to me by Cyrille. You can book on OpenTable.
20 Years Anniversary Celebration Menu
♠ Appeteazers ♠
Salade Bistrot Lepic
Organic baby green salad with fried cherry tomato
Soupe du Jour
Mousse de foie gras
Chicken & foie gras mousse terrine
Salade de betterave au chèvre
Golden beet & apple salad with farm goat cheese quenelle
Salade d’endive au Roquefort
Endive and mache salad with apple, walnut and Roquefort
Escargots au beurre d'ail
Snails baked in garlic butter
Tarte à l’oignon
Onion tart with bacon and baby green salad
Pied de cochon
Crusty boneless pig feet, onion mustard sauce
Ris de Veau Vol-au-Vent
Sauteed sweetbread with mushroom fricassée Vol-au-Vent
♠ Entrees ♠
Pan seared trout, celeriac purée with onion apple julienne
Salade aux fruits de mer
Spring green salad with grilled salmon, shrimp, scallops and fresh fish of the day
Paillasson de saumon
Salmon in potato crust, baby spinach, garlic and dill sauce
Foie de veau provençale
Calf liver with capers, garlic, black olives and Jerez vinegar
Rognons de veau, sauce Dijon
Sauteed veal kidneys with chunky Yukon gold potato, Dijon mustard sauce (market availabilities)
Joues de veau braisées (Add $5)
Braised veal cheeks (osso-bucco style), Orecchiette pasta, basil and truffle oil
Poulet fermier au curry
Free range chicken breast with curry and currant Basmati rice
Médaillons de boeuf poêlés
Pan seared beef medaillons served with Gruyère polenta and wild mushroom jus
♠ Desserts ♠
Floating Island with crème Anglaise
Tarte au fruit du jour
Homemade fruit tart of the day
Fresh seasonal fruit & Chantilly cream
$39 pp - Excluding Tax and Gratuities
Dozens of DC fashionistas swarmed the French ambassador's residence Tuesday evening for a party to honor fashion writer Robin Givhan, and her book "The Battle of Versailles." It would seem the party might be postponed because of the plane crash on French soil but no, said Ambassador Gerard Araud, postponement did not come under consideration. There were some comments about the catastrophe in the French Alps, but subdued beneath air kisses, laughter and the shutter click of party cameras.
It was a gathering of the beautiful people, accompanied by Champagne, foie gras, smoked salmon and a late-arriving André Leon Talley, editor-at-large of Vogue, who was delivered from New York City to Washington DC by a black town car. The party began at 6. He rolled up at 7:20, but very ready to party - once dressed. "Oh, no, don't take my picture," he said from the car. "I'm not dressed yet."
Those who were there, and dressed, included possibly, maybe, very likely Maryland Congressional candidate Kathleen Matthews, who was greeted at the door by Ambassador Araud. They talked together for a French minute, which is longer than a New York minute or a Seinfeld stop-n-chat. The exuberant Aba Kwawu, who was the impresario, cheerfully greeted many friends. We got to spend time with Lisa Crawford of Saks Fifth Avenue, Diane Rehm of her own show, Maria Trabocchi of her many restaurants (the woman of the day with a Style section front page story) Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post and Nick Schmitt of the State Department, Joann and John Mason, David Hagedorn and husband Michael Widomski, Morgan Treqouet, who is the Residence Manager. Kevin Chaffee and Tony Powell and Paul Morigi. There were many others there, too many to mention.
The models, all lanky, some bored, struck various poses in beautiful gowns. Occasionally, they betrayed a grin. As a group, they towered over the people in the room. But note: they were matched in looks by the wait staff. The French residence has the best looking people in Washington working as their servers.
My guest was Maria Ory, who works with me in the communications office of Foreign Policy. We had fun, and she seemed to enjoy meeting this very high concept Washington guest list.
As we left it was pretty to look back at the newly renovated residence, the evening light still quite bright, and appreciate the silhouettes through the lovely window.
I expect there was a moment of silence, but I don't know, as we left before the final curtain. Home, and dinner, called.
Here's some good news for Georgetown: if he and his partners can find the right 5,000 square foot space, acclaimed Chinese chef Peter Chang would like to bring one of his restaurants to the village. Gen Lee, who is Chang's partner and spokesman, is ready to talk to any interested parties.
As a person obsessed with high quality Chinese food, I hope a developer see's this post and helps to make it happen. Chang just opened in Arlington, and I made a beeline there in the first week. Fans lined up outside for as long as two hours to get a table. It lived up to all the cult hype. Delicious, authentic cooking. This is something we don't have but do need in Georgetown.
Please just take a moment, as you see Francesca Saunders and Spencer Joynt doing here, and think about what we have to do to get Peter Chang in Georgetown. Also, please read my post about eating at Chang's, and also The Washington Post piece from Tim Carman on Chang's incredible backstory. You'll be on board immediately.
I promised Gen Lee I would do something, but speak up if you want to see this happen. It will take all of us but we can make it happen.
In the last week I have had an interesting back and forth of messages with the new owners of the old Neam's Market space, which in its last iteration was a Marvelous Market. The exchange began with an email sent jointly to me and Topher Mathews of The Georgetown Metropolitan. It was from Daniel Mermel, on behalf of his family who own Sivan Properties of Port Washington, NY. Daniel and I continued writing to each other after the first message. His tone was open, friendly and welcoming of opinions and advice. He had quite a lot to say and I will include bits of it here in this post, and up top some encouraging news he shared, though confidentially.
Sivan already are vetting possible tenants, pro's in the food/market genre, and he mentioned a name that made me smile. If this person was game to take the lease it would be a WOW. It would make news and be good for Georgetown. The individual has legacy, reputation, skill and I know his work well. We've been friends for years. So, fingers crossed on that one. Daniel said, "Still very early, but he’s interested in checking it out and our leasing agent has a good relationship with him." I'm hoping, though, that he also talks to Wagshal's - he said he wanted to - and I shared with the Wagshal's owners, the Fuchs family, the part of Daniel's message that was about them. I urged him to also reach out to Cathal Armstrong, who owns Society Fair, an excellent market, boucherie, bakery and cafe in Old Town Alexandria.
Here are some highlights of his messages to me.
WHO THEY ARE:
We are a small, privately held family owned business that invests and develops commercial real estate both for our own account and with a select group of partners. We focus primarily on two metro markets, New York and Washington DC. With regard to our track record, we are proud of the way we conduct business and gratified that we have maintained a strong reputation for nearly 50 years and are now in our third generation. We strive to conduct ourselves with dignity and integrity and our track record is considered to be a good one by our partners, lenders, collaborators and colleagues who have worked with us repeatedly and over the long term.
THE SIVAN BUSINESS MODEL
We are, of course, a for-profit business. Interestingly, we’ve taken a number of blighted sites and redeveloped them to create jobs, remediated environmental contamination, put properties back on the tax rolls that had been delinquent for years and otherwise made positive contributions to a number of properties in the District and elsewhere. We rarely encounter community opposition and have worked well with our neighbors and local leaders.
THE NEAM'S DEAL
As to the Neam property, we worked closely with one of the Neam’s family members to acquire the property and had excellent dealings with them throughout the process. They were a pleasure to work with. Their family chose to sell for a number of reasons and our family chose to buy for a number of reasons, but nobody’s objectives were to disrupt the community. We believe we bought a great property with a lot of potential and are in the early planning stages as we evaluate a number of options.
THE IDEAL TENANT
I am sure you can appreciate that landlords do not get to choose their tenants in a vacuum. At any given time, there are a limited number of retail tenants seeking to expand in a particular market and fewer still whose space, location and design requirements fit with a particular vacant property. Further, like any for-profit company, we must take into account a potential tenant’s financial condition, business plan and the amount of rent their business can support. The costs of doing business in a market like Washington, DC and a neighborhood like Georgetown in particular are high and this limits the pool of suitable tenants. I agree that this is unfortunate, but it is something beyond our control....We are in touch with a number of potential tenants and, included in that group, are a number of smaller gourmet grocery stores. I am hopeful that we will be able to find a tenant that provides a welcome service to the community and also meets our financial objectives.
Our leasing agent works with a lot of chefs (Mike Isabella and Nathan Spittal are some of his clients).
SIVAN AND THEIR NEW GEORGETOWN NEIGHBORS
In the end, regardless of what we do, I recognize that not everyone is going to like us. But, I’d prefer to have a dialogue with interested members of the community instead of interpreting our lack of public statements to mean that we have any harmful intentions....We are starting slowly and letting people know we want to hear their ideas. I spent over an hour on the phone last week with a local mom who runs a business in the neighborhood geared towards families while balancing a busy life with three young kids of her own. She gave me some very good ideas and we both genuinely enjoyed the conversation and connected.
HOW LOCALS CAN GET INVOLVED IN FINDING A TENANT THEY'LL PATRONIZE
It's really just a matter of sending any ideas and leads/contacts along that you think would be a good fit. Reminding the community that if they want to see a particular retailer come to the site, they can reach out to them and let them know of the demand. The more potential customers ask a business to come to their neighborhood the better the odds. Remember, signing a long term lease, investing capital into the property and running a business in today’s world all require a real commitment, a willingness to take risk and a true sense of optimism. Or, put another way, it’s not for “wusses”. But if a business owner feels that the community really wants them there and will support them, it makes a huge difference.
If you have any message you would like forwarded to Daniel, please send it to me and I will forward to him with your contact information.
The next Q&A is Thursday July 16, with Wednesday Martin, author of "Primates of Park Avenue." For reservations at the George Town Club, please call 202-333-9330 Don't miss this. It's the summer beach read and her only DC appearance. Noon, with lunch served, $35. Politics & Prose will sell the book. All are welcome.
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