True confession: once upon a time my husband had the ceiling over my bathtub painted a trompe l'oeil of a bright blue sky and puffy clouds and flying among them the Concorde, hot air balloons, and our two dogs. It was fun, sweet and sentimental. But, wow, look at this ceiling of an elevator at the Katzen Art Center? No shade on that.
I am reposting this from New York Social Diary. It is a wrap-up of memorable meals from the last year at restaurants in and around Washington. It was a challenge to keep the list to only 14, because there were so many good meals at so many good places during 2014. The full list is at the jump.
When reviewing the last year through the lens of my budget, it is clear where the fun dollars went: eating out in restaurants old and new. And with good reason — the region continues its growth as a foodie’s paradise. More than any other indulgence — clothing, personal maintenance, entertainment, travel –— an interesting restaurant meal ranks first. Therefore, happily, and in no particular order, here’s a personal round up of memorable dining in 2014 in and near Washington.
|• A night at The Inn at Little Washington. Year in and year out, The Inn is a Broadway show, an experience, a warm bath of excellence. It is a delight to watch chef/owner Patrick O’Connell find new peaks for his incredible talent. Patrick won’t rest on success nor settle for a new idea that’s less than fresh. He now offers three tasting menus. Try the “Enduring Classics” — it starts with a “Tin of Sin” — and the wine pairings. Let Patrick and his expert crew serve you. Gaze into the eyes of that lover across the table and enjoy the ride. You don’t go here to think. You go to slow time, to savor pleasure. Be sure to book a room, walk the pretty town, and do bring the black card.
309 Middle Street, Washington, VA
|• Saturday lunch at Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen, where a favorite menu choice is the amazing breakfast flatbread. Woodberry is worth the drive from Washington and, if you live in or near Baltimore, lucky you. The food is great, the décor is bright and appealing, and the service is efficient and smooth. After lunch, visit chef Spike Gjerde’s new Parts & Labor boucherie and also explore Fels Point.
2010 Clipper Park Road
|• 1789 in Georgetown for Thanksgiving. It is a venerable spot and the last bastion of the classic Washington repast, with a menu of classic items such as Nantucket Bay scallops, fried oysters, rockfish, short ribs and duck. Hugging the Georgetown University campus, it is a favorite spot for visiting parents, but it is also a good choice for a dinner when you want the luxury of quiet conversation. Also, white tablecloths, candlelight, and excellent martinis. The Pub Room is romantic and cozy, and the adjacent John Carroll Room has a fireplace.
1226 36th Street Northwest
|• Toki Underground lures me back again and again, for dinners as well as weekday and weekend lunches. All good. I’m a creature of habit here: the pork dumplings, fried chicken steamed buns, Toki Classic ramen, chocolate chip cookies and, always, a round of beers for the kitchen. It is a rock-and-roll, hipster, skateboard, Asian thrill ride and chef/owner Erik Bruner-Yang is as pleasant as he is creative and talented. Climb the dark stairs to a culinary good time.
1234 H Street Northeast
|• Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen + Bar is only months old and with each month it gets better and better. Daniel is a long-time friend, and I cheer and support him, but friendship has nothing to do with why I crave the seared duck breast, the creamy boudin blanc, the golden fried chicken, the steak tartare, the soups and the burgers, not to forget the glass-enclosed jazzy CityCenter vibe. For my Christmas Eve lunch with Lyndon Boozer, I had the juicy “Yankee” cheeseburger, which I’d been ogling on previous visits. New Year’s Resolution: entice 7 kindred spirits to gather for the feast that is called the “Whole Hog.”
931 H Street Northwest
|• Mother’s Day lunch at Fiola Mare couldn’t have been better. A sunny day, overlooking the Potomac River, starting with the refreshing Spring Garden cocktail, followed by the spectacular seafood platter with oysters, clams, lobster, mussels, scallops, jellyfish salad, tuna tartare, Alaskan King Crab legs, and other raw and cooked delicacies. The iced platter is expensive at $75 for the small or $140 for the large, but it is a meal in itself. Start with the excellent Colors of the Garden salad. Their coconut sorbet is the perfect ending. It was also the ideal spot to dine and watch the July 4th fireworks.
3050 K Street Northwest
|• Taqueria Nacional is a darling nook on T Street off 14th that produces thoughtful, tasty and authentic Mexican. I order shrimp or carnitas tacos, occasionally toastados, and their fresh fruit drink of the day. The guacamole is just right. Also tempting on the menu, Heuvos Rancheros. Created by chef Ann Cashion, Taqueria seems to get it all right and, more good news, they also deliver!
1409 T Street Northwest
|• Chez Billy Sud is a welcomed arrival in Georgetown. It’s new, it’s pretty, and it’s well run. I go often and have the Salade Verte and then switch between Moules Frites one visit and the Steak Frites the next, or go with the trout “Grenobloise.” The Profiteroles are a popular dessert choice. But when they have chocolate sorbet, go for it — fudgesicle for adults. Note: We went to Chez Billy Sud the day after Christmas with family and our group quickly expanded from 6 to 8 plus two babies who needed high chairs. The staff were accommodating and cheerful and helped to make our meal relaxing and pleasurable.
(Be sure to also try the original Chez Billy, in Petworth.)
3815 Georgia Avenue Northwest
Chez Billy Sud
1039 31st Street Northwest
This is only some of the list. Read the full story, with more photos, at NYSD: Best Washington Restaurants 2014.
The photographer David Kennerly has created a photo challenge group on Facebook, and I'm happy to say he added me to the group. As I started to look in the archives for photos to post I was drawn to various images of winter. I've posted some on the group page but here is a larger selection. They were shot over the past several years using either a Canon Rebel, Sony Rx100 or various iterations of the iPhone.
While there are a lot of chilly justifications for shooting only B&W winter photos, I like color photos of the cold, too. Here are some:
Christmas Eve morning in Washington dawned wet and foggy, especially as the unseasonably warm air hit the chilled Potomac River. Below are the Kennedy Center and Roosevelt Island. Both photos were shot around 9am with my Sony RX 100.
Here is a favorite image from inside Christ Church, the Episcopal parish at 31st and O Streets in Georgetown. I shot this on Christmas Eve a few years ago with my iPhone Hipsta app.
I love posting this recipe every year. It is the Egg Nog that was served at Nathans every Christmas Eve year after year, on the house. My husband, Howard Joynt, created the recipe after getting some tips from the bartenders at White House holiday parties. These men were on the household staff and, among other duties, made the Egg Nog. We were fortunate to be invited many years in a row and after the receiving line off Howard would go to discuss Egg Nog. Back in the day the White House served some fine Egg Nog (I hear of late it is tasting institutional). This recipe does not taste institutional. It's wonderful. Cheers!
HOWARD'S EGG NOG
5 Egg Yolks
5 Egg Whites
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup cognac
3/4 cup dark rum
1 quart milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pint heavy cream
Nutmeg to taste
Vanilla extract (1-2 teaspoons)
-Combine yolks, pinch of salt and sugar in bowl and beat to ribbon stage
-Add bourbon, rum, cognac to yolk mix
-Let those ingredients rest, and while they rest
-Whip egg whites to stiff peak
-Whip the cream to medium thickness
-Fold whites and cream together, and then add yolks and alchohol, and milk, and stir for at least 1 minute
-Add spices (nutmeg and vanilla, more salt if needed)
Chill in the refrigerator overnight.
Serve in a punch bowl with a big chunk of premium vanilla ice cream in the punch bowl
Stir regularly when serving
Dan Rather came to Washington today to tape The Q&A Cafe and it was a sell-out show at The George Town Club. It will air next Friday on DCN Channel 16. We talked presidents, Civil Rights, CIA, journalism, television, CBS News and, especially, the questions Robert Redford asked as the actor prepared to portray Dan in the upcoming film, "Truth," which just finished filming in Australia.
As if an hour with Dan wasn't treat enough, Greg Menna of District Doughnuts brought a buffet of his treats for all to share. He's looking for a Georgetown location for expansion of his delicious business. Wouldn't you like to have fresh doughtnuts on your street? I would, if they are District Doughnuts.
On New York Social Diary today we recap the Kennedy Center Honors, where the producers themselves produced a showstopper.
Take a few minutes to read the Washingtonian account of a very nasty real estate battle that is going down between some very rich people in Georgetown. In one corner is socialite developer Jane Cafritz. In the other it is venture capitalist Mark Ein. They are backed by their supportive spouses, teams of lawyers and architects, and each side wants its own way. What's the cat fight over? The (relatively moderate) upgrading Ein would like to do to a property he owns, the former home of Katharine Graham. It is next door to the the Cafritz house, which already underwent several upgrades.
Read the whole sordid story from Luke Mullins: The Catfight Over Katharine Graham's House. (But, please know, this is not typical Georgetown, where folks are generally quite neighborly).
After Peacock Room opened on P Street for a brief time earlier this year or late last year before closing for a season of renovations. It is now open on again - on P across from the 7/11 -- and seems open to stay. They serve lunch and dinner Wed-Sun, and also have wine and beer and coffee bar. They open at noon, except on Sunday, when they open at 8:30 am (with pastries on hand).
It's a pretty place and worth checking out, and a welcomed addition to the upper middle part of the village, where we need more small bistros and cafes. The menu features items such as baby beet salad, roasted chicken soup, fluke crudo, procini stuffed chicken, heritage pork loin. For sweets and savories there are black walnut pain perdu and a macaron ice cream sandwich.
There's more information here at the website: After Peacock Room.
Dog Tag Bakery opened today. It's been a long time coming. I wanted to get something up ASAP, so that you'll go and go often, so here's an edited version of the press release:
Dog Tag Bakery officially opened for business today at 3206 Grace Street, NW. The enterprise is a work-study program for veterans with disabilities and their spouses seeking to begin civilian careers in business. Dog Tag offers breakfast and lunch menus filled with sweet and savory breads, cookies and pastries, including vegan and gluten-free items.
The first class of fellows recently completed the program and was awarded certificates in business administration from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. The group, comprised of seven men and women from various branches of the military, attended rigorous classes while also completing hands-on job training at the bakery. Responsibilities range from baking to operations to marketing. The program is designed to help the veterans acquire practical business skills. Run as a business rather than a charity, the bakery’s proceeds are used to support the program.
Dog Tag Bakery was born out of a conviction that no veteran who wants to work should be unemployed. The founders are Father Rick Curry of Georgetown University and philanthropist Connie Millstein.
The ADA-accessible bakery also features coffee from veteran-owned Compass Coffee. Proceeds from the bakery are reinvested in the program. The bakery also features a custom-made dog tag chandelier, where visitors can add their name for a donation of $125.
For more information, visit Dog Tag Bakery at 3206 Grace Street, Northwest, Washington, D.C., or visit its website,dogtagbakery.org.
Do this one of these wintry nights: drive to Petworth, 828 Upshur NW to be precise, and tuck into a table, or a seat at the bar, at cozy Crane & Turtle. Chef Makoto Hamamura and his crew produce a tasty and innovative dining experience, starting with excellent cocktails and small bites. We started with Hamachi Tataki and Big-Eye Tuna Tataki (irresistible, both) and then moved on to appetizers of Japanese mushroom tempura and a dish of roasted butternut squash, followed by the entrees, Maine scallops and Pan Roasted Monkfish. For dessert? Apple Rangoon and, for the chocoholics, Mount Fuji. Just go. You'll thank me.
On another night in Petworth, do also try the original Chez Billy. Much attention is being paid to the new one in Georgetown, Chez Billy Sud, which is a treat, but you've got to try to Chez Billy Petworth, too. Darker, more moody, a bigger bar, fun and delicious.
I never thought in a million years that I'd write a New York Social Diary column about bacon, but perhaps it underscores how seven years as a diarist can lead a writer to the most interesting opportunities. And so it is, as today's column is about The Bruce Bacon. One of the publisher's of the site, Jeff Hirsch, sent this encouraging message: "Didn’t think it was possible to write a story about bacon (and make it) interesting. But you somehow did it!"
It's not a crime wave, but there is an uptick in the word on the street of incidents -- mostly car breakins, package thefts, but this accompanies the earlier report of some armed hold-ups in Cleveland Park and Georgetown. Not sure what came of that. Whatever the reason, this weekend I noticed an increased presence of police even on the residential streets.
Marion Barry Jr., who died last night at the age of 78, appeared on The Q&A Cafe twice, the first time long before the program was recorded and aired on cable TV. The second interview, above, occurred in September of 2012. He was very candid, engaging, and amusing, and its worth a watch. We covered a lot of territory. First, though, please read this review of the Barry interview and my remembrance on New York Social Diary
Chuck Todd, host of NBC's Meet the Press, will be the guest at The Q&A Cafe on Friday, December 19. (Consider this my holiday gift to you, fair readers and audience members). Do I need to say there will be a lot ot discuss? Nah. You know there will, including his new book, The Stranger, about President Obama. I would like to say we'll have books for sale, but I don't know at this point if we will, so please buy it in advance, bring it, and I'm sure he'll be happy to sign.
The location is The George Town Club on Wisconsin Avenue at Volta. Seating begins at noon, the program begins soon after 12:15. Lunch is served. The all-inclusive price is $35. For reservations please call the club at 202-333-9330 or email to GTC Reservations.
Chuck first appeared on The Q&A Cafe in 2008, when he was a relatively new on-air political correspondent.
We still have some seats available for the Redskins Bruce Allen next Tuesday, Nov. 18. Please join us. Dan Rather, alas, is currently sold out. We hope soon to announce a date for DC's new mayor.
When I suddenly became a solo parent to a 5 yr old, and a federal tax fraud defendent, and bankrupt, with all the chaos that landed on me, Eminem was my soulmate. He wrote to my pain and rage. His tunes were my hymns and anthems. He kept me from chugging pills and booze and committing God knows what. He tamed me. Lifted me up. He was my troubador. He comforted me in countless commutes and carpool lines and girded me before confrontations with adversaries who just wanted to take me down. Great to see him perform at The Concert for Valor on the national mall tonight, becaue he is a true American. He understands pain and rage and, from what I can tell, not giving up.
I hope he reads Innocent Spouse.
There are dozens of questions Bruce Allen should be asked. I will try to get to at least 15 or 20 of them on Tuesday, when he is the guest at The Q&A Cafe.
But now, as I write this on Nov 21, the big one is probably: what's with two times cancelling a scheduled interview? Which is what happened on Monday afternoon.
Here's the thing: while canceling the interview may seem like a small thing in the scheme of things of the Redskins organization, here's what it means in my orbit: I don't get paid. The District Cable Network is out a scheduled program. The George Town Club, which has booked the space for the show, is without a room full of patrons that day, so left high and dry. In other words, there are ramifications.
I'm happy to say very few people have canceled the show at the last minute. One was the former president of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar, one was Larry King, and one was a Chicago newspaper columnist. In 13 years of more than 350 shows, that's all.
My much relied upon Sony RX100 camera died a couple of weeks ago and the repair was so costly it made more sense to buy a new camera, which arrived on Friday. It's the newer edition of the RX100. I took it out for a spin this weekend. I found a lot of love on the riverfront, the newly married and the newly engaged, posing here, and here, and there.
As well as a lovely Saturday lunch at Fiola Mare.
Having dinner at Le Diplomate, doing its part to remind me why this is one of the best bits of culinary theater in town. Theater for the palate, the eye, and the mind. As one who slogged through this business for a dozen or more years I am always impressed with "Le Dip's" consistency of food and service. It's not easy to achieve either and especially both.
After I heard concern from The Georgetown Metropolitan's Topher Mathews that a bank might be a likely tenant for the old Neam's market space, I reached out. I sent a message to George Neam, who is overseeing his family's search for a new tenant. I asked whether a bank was under consideration. "That's not on my radar," was his response.
Sincerely hoping his radar is accurate, because the last thing Georgetown needs, especially in such a prime location, is one more bank. What would be nice is a market bistro. They can put an ATM in the back.
I'm following up on the post earlier today that Dan Rather needed to reschedule our interview that was to be this Friday. It will now occur on Friday, December 12 at The George Town Club. Seating begins at noon, the fee is $35. For reservations, please call 202-333-9330 or email Q&A Cafe Reservations. (If you were wait-listed for 11/7 it's good to check on this new date, because perhaps not everyone who had a reservation can keep it).
Our next Q&A Cafe interview is Tuesday, November 18, with "Redskins" president Bruce Allen. Please join us. This has a lot of availability and will be a very interesting show.
It would not be a complete Halloween without a drop by Bill Dean's annual Halloween party ... always reliably naughty and nice. We recap it today, with lots of photos, on New York Social Diary.
The photo above is from the 11am All Saints service at Christ Episcopal Church today, notable because it was Rev. Stuart Kenworthy's last as rector after more than 20 years. The Christ Church congregation includes a lot of us here in Georgetown, but also people from beyond Georgetown's borders and, over the years, presidents and others of the nation's leaders. A few weeks ago Stuart and I did a "farewell" interview at The Q&A Cafe. He's interesting throughout, but especially when he talks about his time serving in the Iraq war and when, while he was there, a member of his Washington parish sought him out. That individual was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Please watch.
It was a day in March and I got up early to drive the long drive to Wallops Island, Virginia. It was a cool but sunny day and the drive was easy. NASA officials met me there and we were joined by photographer Ron Blunt to spend a day at the launch pad and assembly facility to shoot a story for Washingtonian. It was fascinating. The launch pad that was involved in last night's explosion is shown immediately below. It does not look like a conventional launch pad. There is no gantry. It's more of a hole in the ground supported by an elaborate concrete launch mechanism. Above and below are photos inside the assembly building, Ron and me, with Antares rockets behind and beside us. They are brought from Ukraine and repurposed, workers come from there, too, which is why a lot of the signage is in two languages.
Back in the day I covered launches at the Cape Kennedy/Canaveral in Florida for the wires and then Time magazine, including the troubled Apollo 13. Everything was huge -- rockets, the Vehicular Assembly Building. Wallops is boutique-sized, to fit the modern era of more un-manned space business. But note also in the photo below, on the horizon, an old-school gantry.
Our next Q&A Cafe, on Friday, February 27, is with Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. Audience seating at noon. Fee for lunch and interview $35. For reservations at The George Town Club please call 202-333-9330
Visit this link to view our archive of broadcasts: The Q&A Cafe on YouTube
Author, interviewer, and photographer. Read more...
Here is information for my popular memoir Innocent Spouse...
MEDIA: For book-related inquiries, please contact my agent, Laney Becker, at 212-243-8480