Thursday, August 30, 2012

DC's Gin Ricky

As summer is drawing to its always too soon yet inevitable ending, I invite you to imbibe in one last refreshing summer cocktail - DC's own Gin Rickey.

The Gin Rickey is the unofficial drink of the city of Washington. Befitting it is, as the drink is named for Colonel Rickey, a member of a group of political activists that used to hang out in hotel or restaurant lobbies, waiting to snag an ear of an imbibing Congressman, hence coining the term "lobbyist".

Politics aside, having a day job as a biochemist, Colonel Rickey was a firm believer that too much sugar was not natural for the body (and this was the late 1800s). Thus, to indulge in his merriment of multiple G&Ts guilt-free, he sought a sugar-free alternative.  Also, Rickey found that soda water, the sugar less replacement, cuts the acidity of the lime, as opposed to its sister mixer.

This refreshingly libation can be enjoyed time and time again.  Get it in while you can, and then see you next summer!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Pizza Stone

If you are anything like me, not only do you love pizza, but it is even better when you get to personalize your pizza in the comfort of your own home.

For years, I was trying to find the right cooking method to perfect my pizza.  I would try to bake it on a cookie sheet, I also tried baking it directly on the rack (needless to say that was a messy, bad idea), and in more recent times I tried the dough on parchment paper method, but then a friend opened my eyes to the perfection of homemade pizza and it goes by the name of a Pizza Stone.

BEFORE - Tomatoes, Basil, and Buffalo Mozzarella

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Great Falls

DC is full of wonderful things to do and places to see, most popular being the National Mall and its Smithsonian museums.  Yet, DC  is also an area with some spectacular natural wonders, one of them being Great Falls National Park.

Whether you are looking to hike a few trails, pack a picnic, or just marvel in the falls, I highly recommend adding Great Falls to your itinerary:

Great Falls, MD
Brave Kayaker

Friday, August 24, 2012


*** UPDATE: Bandolero has closed as of July 2015. ***

Bandolero is the brother restaurant to Graffiato, both new to the DC scene, but gaining rapid popularity thanks to the Top Chef contestant, owner, and chef, Mike Isabella.  While we have yet to enjoy a dining experience at Graffiato (it's on the ever-growing list), we have had a few visits to Bandolero, and anticipate going back again in the near future.

The restaurant boasts a trendy feel to the otherwise traditional Georgetown haunts.  Whether you pop up to the bar or grab a seat at a table, start with one of the many refreshing cocktails offered on the menu.  The El Dorado, or City of Gold, is their signature cocktail and I sometimes sip it down too easily.  Also enjoyable is the House Margarita, which is - get this - on tap!

Mind you, it is a tapas restaurant, which means small plates, which also means a lot of sharing, so I would recommend going with people that share the same common interests in food and keeping it small.  With tapas it can be tricky to follow the "more is merrier" motto.

While categorized as Mexican, the food takes on a fancy twist, rather than your typical Tex-Mex, so come with an open mind to compliment that empty stomach.  Some favorites?  Chicken tacos, blue crab tacos, nachos with goat cheese, and mole negro braised short rib.

Nachos with Goat cheese

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Homemade pesto sauce is actually quite easy to make, and when fresh basil is in season, don't you just want to use it in everything?!  The pesto can accompany multiple dishes to give it that extra zing of fresh flavor and goodness.  An added bonus - you can store it in the freezer for up to a month, so you can keep it on hand as back-up for those last minute dinner decisions. 
1 pkg (0.75 ounces) Fresh Basil
1/8 cup Olive Oil
1/8 cup pine nuts
1/8 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 Garlic Clove
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 small Food Processor

Place the basil leaves and garlic clove into the food processor.

Toast the pine nuts over the stove top in a pan on medium heat.  When toasting pine nuts, you do not need any oil.  Pine nuts have their own natural oiliness that gives them that nice and toasty brown.  Just be sure to continue to move them in the pan so they don't burn.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sherman Pickey

Both Washingtonians and tourists alike know that when it comes to shopping in the District, you can't go wrong with a visit to Georgetown.  There are a many number of shops that line the popular intersection of M Street and Wisconsin Ave, but not everyone knows that some really fabulous shops can be found up the Wisconsin Avenue hill.  Yes, it's a hill, but it is worth the trek up.

One of my favorite stomping grounds is Sherman Pickey.  It's a uniquely local venue carrying clothing and accessories for both men and women.  Some recognizable brands that they carry are Lilly Pulitzer, Elizabeth McKaySouthern Tide, J. McLaughlin, Barbour, Smathers and Branson, and Bill's Khakis.  It's a prepster's dream come true.

The ever changing, always fabulous window display
Assorted ties cutely presented by foxes
Dresses of this season
Smathers and Branson Key Chains
Backroom filled with a plethora of stimulating women's apparel
Men's clothing in season

Friday, August 17, 2012


Oh how sweetly green it is... invoking the concept of true sustainability, in 2007 a couple of smart Georgetown University grads decided to set-up shop in their alum neighborhood encompassing all the hopes, dreams, and most importantly, food, that they were looking for.

What makes this place green, aside from the fact that they serve salads (for those of you with a bigger appetite, don't worry, they'll wrap it up for you), is the core concept of the future.  They practice composting with their leftovers, composting of their bowls, use biodegradable flatware, recycled napkins, cups, etc.  Also, they offer a Sweetgreen specialty bowl for purchase that those extra green foodies can re-use upon each visit.  In essence, Sweetgreen truly is a next generation stomping ground.

And it has only been proven that DC likes this new concept shop since they have been able to open up 12 shops in the first five years of their operations.  Way to go guys!

When it comes to the food itself, their salad ingredients are locally sourced and each Sweetgreen has a list of their farming sources posted in the shop.  They strive for Organic ingredients, so while the price point is sometimes a bit steeper than your local fast food joint, you know that not only are you getting the freshest ingredients, but the healthiest ones too.  Some of my favorite salads are the Curry Gold and the Santorini, but I also like the make your own option from time to time.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Seeing as how today, August 15th, 2012, would have marked the 100th birthday of Julia Child, it seems only appropriate to sing praises to one of her most notable legacies: Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Yes, when you first see a hard copy of Julia Child's famous cookbook, it looks overwhelming. And yes, there is a small section devoted to carving your own duck, a section that I am not yet prepared to jump into, but as overwhelming as the book may initially seem, that couldn't be more opposite of what the book is.  Instead, Julia Child takes the art that is French cooking and has turned it into an easy-to-follow step by step process, or rather a well disguised beginner's "how to" guide.

Some of my favorite recipes are the beef stews, inclusive of course of the Boeuf Bourguignon, becoming famous amongst foodies after the adorable Julie & Julia movie, after which this cookbook was immediately sent for reprint with sales that surely skyrocketed.  The Boeuf Bourguignon was the first recipe we attempted and we were convinced that it would turn into a bust (back-up pizza on speed dial just in case).  But again, the amazing bit of this book is that the recipes are pretty fool proof, assuming you follow what she says. Julia walks us non-French non-trained like-to-cook-at-home chefs through every moment and every detail at each given point in the process. You learn things like when you saute mushrooms in a frying pan, they shouldn't be overcrowded or touching, because they steam instead of browning.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kafe Leopold's

When the weather is nice and the outside temp is agreeable, we find ourselves routinely making our way down to Kafe Leopold's for brunch.  Us Washingtonians love our brunch, and enjoy being out and about, so with Leopold's you can have the best of both worlds.  Granted, there is indoor seating for those that need the pumping A/C.
An added plus, on Saturdays and Sundays, when brunch is at its peak, the ownership opens L2 Lounge for overflow.  We like to put our name in at Leopold's for a table for two, and then hop over to L2 Lounge for a cocktail while we wait.  They have some of the best Mimosas in the city, Bloody Marys are a standard, and boy do they have a refreshing Bellini!  That pure peach puree, yum...

They offer the complete menu at brunch, so you can go as light or as heavy as your stomach desires.  We sometimes start with the calamari, or split the Mussels.  And on those mornings where you may have been over served the night before, the fries are just what the doctor ordered.

One of our favorite staples consistently on the menu would have to be the Croque Madame.  Served just right with that delicious French ham and creamy Guyere cheese, and just a touch of béchamel.  The egg is just the right gooey consistency that an egg should be.  Uh oh, my mouth is watering in remembrance. 

Friday, August 10, 2012


So, by now we all have seen the cupcake craze sweep the nation.  From Georgetown Cupcake, to Sprinkles, to Crumbs, and many more, it's hard to find a town without a specialty cupcake shop.  Yes, we Americans surely do have a sweet tooth, there is no denying it. 

Lately, a more recent fad has been sweeping DC by storm; it is the macaron.  But by macaron, I don't mean the coconut "macaroon" with the same pronunciation, but rather the original French macaron, which is more like a delicious petite creme sandwich made up of two meringue-like wafers.  It's light and airy, but still quenches that sweet treat craving.  A not-so-guilty pleasure.

I first tried a French macaron on one of our trips abroad.  All over Paris and London you can find a shop called Ladurée.  And get this, they are opening one up in NYC very soon!

While we don't have a Laduree in DC yet, we do have Macaron Bee in Georgetown.  Or, Sweet Lobby in Capitol Hill has delicious French Macarons.  Try one and see if you think it might be the next big thing.  I have my fingers crossed in hopes of it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

I noticed a lady reading a book with one of my favorite mottos written on her bookmark.

"Keep Calm and Carry On" came to birth during World War II and was plastered on posters all over the U.K.  It was intended to serve as direction to the people should there be an attack or bombing of the city during that time. 

I do find it quite interesting that when this saying is used today, it brings peace to one's self, when actually it's initial intention came about during a time of war, but hey, life can sometimes be ironic that way.

Needless to say, after I finished up with my appointment, I ran over to Barnes & Noble to get my hands on one of these bookmarks.  PaperSource also carries this and other "Keep Calm and Carry On" products.  I will be buying more...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Thomas Sweet

First established in Princeton, NJ in 1979, DC is the only location outside New Jersey's 5 storefronts where one can indulge in some of the best ice cream I've ever encountered on the east coast.  It's creamy, smooth, delicious, and doesn't ever seem to get that over-time freezer burn, quite possibly because of the wax paper trick they add to each hand-packed carton.  And by hand-packed, I mean over the brim, lid-popping-off hand-packed.  Making sure you get your bang for your buck!

Thomas Sweet is one of our favorite stop-bys in the not-so-cool summer nights in DC.  Extra bonus, they are open until just after 10pm, and up until midnight on weekends.  The sweet shop offers other products like soft serve frozen yogurt, fresh fudge, and house-made chocolates, but I like to stick to the old-fashioned churned on-site ice cream.  You can't go wrong.

Favorite Flavor?  All of them!  But if I have to choose, I usually go for Mint Chocolate Chip, Cherry Vanilla, Pralines and Cream, and of course, Peanut Butter Cup... yum!  Oh wait, don't forget the Rum Raisin; aah, they're just too many and all too good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fornash Headbands

In 2002 the Georgetown shopping district was introduced to a new preppy brand to add to its already established list of lovely designer favorites.  Fornash first came to the scene with a specialty in handbags, including a design your own label, monogram and all.  Since, the retailer has expanded into other prepster favorites, including clothing, jewelry, belts, key chains, and even monogrammed lamps; you name it, they've got it.  Sadly, the store was recently pushed out of Georgetown with the yet-to-be-determined development of the Georgetown Mall, but it has found a friendly home over the bridge in Arlington's Ballston Mall in Virginia.

While Fornash itself is a great store overall, and I highly recommend a visit, I am here today to talk about the headbands.  I know, just the word headband can be a cringe factor to many - ouch.  Historically, headbands had always been a "beauty is pain" factor in my life.  Sure, you ended the day with indentations in the backs of your ears and a throbbing headache when you went down that night to rest, but it was worth the accented flare atop your noggin, right?  Well, pain no more ladies, I introduce you to Fornash...

One of the reasons that I believe these headbands work is because there is not a lot of stitching entailed, thus not a lot of material to heavy down the band.  They are made of a simply trad ribbon design with what I assume is some kind of plastic insiding that doesn't dig or point at any angle.

But readers, here's the catch, I sadly report that Fornash is no longer making these headbands.  Why not?  Great question, and one that I have been trying hard to get an answer to, but all I know is that whatever is left in stock and in the store is all that is left for the time being.  So, if you are looking for a cute headband that shockingly comes with comfort, run, don't walk to Fornash today!