Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Avatar, 3D, and Life of Pi

There was a lot of hype when Avatar was coming out. People thought that James Cameron was going to forever change the movies. There were some skeptics, some believers, the movie came and went. While I did find it to be a great movie, I don't really think things are forever changed, but I have noticed a welcomed transition.
The 3D experience is not new to the theatre. It had its first major boom in the 1980s, accompanied by the iMax experience, and has actually been around since the early 1900s (but at a high cost to produce). Now, 3D is back, and better than ever.

There was a period where we were finding ourselves, big movies buffs mind you, refraining from the trip to the theatre thanks to the comfort of our home entertainment system. Not only have HD TVs and OnDemand kicked everything up a notch, but with the latest technology, the home viewing experience now comes close to the big screen, without having to rush for a bathroom trip in between scenes (pause, thank you!).

So, with the emergence of 3D, and even iMax is back in some theatres, there is a new reason to go. Sure, you can even get 3D TVs at home now too - technology really has boomed! But, somehow the novelty of wearing 3D glasses amongst a room full of strangers feels better than by yourself at home on the couch.

Most recently, we went to see Life of Pi in 3D.  It's a great movie, highly recommended.  What's amazing, that I learned from the book, is it is actually based on a true story. While the story is enough in itself, the 3D visual effects really brought the movie to life and justified the theatre going experience.

So, did James Cameron change it all? Who knows. The 3D era may come and go as it did before, but for now, I do enjoy the extra effort that Hollywood puts in. Noted and appreciated.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

J. McLaughlin Tartan Handbag

There are certain accessories that just seem to fit at certain times of the year. My lighter colored Lilly dresses are best fit for the Summer, while I like to keep my darker plaids and patterns for the Fall and Winter.  So, now is the time of year that I choose my J.McLaughlin Tartan Handbag to accompany my wardrobe.
I think we can agree that the Gordon Dress Tartan pattern is adorable, and the brown corner patch pads with the accompanying brown leather strap really compliment the beauty of this handbag, but one of my favorite bits behind this purse is its functionality.  As you may notice above, there are two zippers sewn in halfway on each side.  How many times have you seen a gal searching the depths of her purse, desperately seeking that tiny mint case that is of course hiding in the bottom? Accessibility nightmare?  Problem solved.
Added to the list of joy of this handbag are the many different ways in which to carry the purse.  The leather strap fits comfortably in the palm of one's hand,
Or squarely rested on one's arm,
And best yet, the circle is perfect for over the shoulder.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sterling & Burke

A great shop in Georgetown - Sterling & Burke
Stearling & Burke has been around in the DC metro area for over 25 years, operating out of a warehouse in the Maryland suburbs. Then, in the beginning of 2011 they decided to hit the streets and bring us retail. And we are so pleased they did. Now you can pop into the store and browse different collectibles - don't be shy about heading upstairs, too.  They carry many well-known British brands, like Penhaligon's and Halcyon, and J.W. Hulme's fine leather.  Go ahead, give it a browse, you'll find it delightful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stachowski Market, it's what's for Dinner

We are fast approaching my favorite holiday of the year - Thanksgiving!  I love this holiday for many reasons: first, we take a moment to be thankful, appreciate our beginnings, gather around with our loved ones, but most importantly, we eat, and eat, and eat.  Now is the time of year where all I can do is think about food!

So, with that in mind, the question bears... have you been over to Stachowski Market yet?

Behind the Butcher's counter, you are brightly greeted by the Owner/Chef/Butcher himself, Jamie Stachowski, what a character.  Not only has Jamie gained experience as a chef at some of DC's hot dining spots, but he has become vastly popular at the local farmers markets for his sausages and charcuterie. Truly unique and one-of-a-kind.

Yes, Stachowski's is primarily a butcher shop.  They focus on local, fresh meats, all of top quality, but it doesn't stop there. They also carry local produce, seasonally of course, and other fine products, like fresh baked bread, the basket stamped with a sign proudly displaying the bread's nearby origins. Jamie gives credit where credit is due, but most the credit should go directly to him. Check out the freezer with plenty of pates, galantines, and mouses to choose from.  "We're not a restaurant," he says, "But we like to make stuff." So humble.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Brunch at Martin's

I know I have posted on Martin's Tavern before, but as I mentioned, Martin's really is our home away from home.  Along with Chris Matthews, we practically live there, night and day.  And, as I've also mentioned before, brunch is very important to Washingtonians.  So, of course we do the occasional Saturday or Sunday brunch at Martin's.

For groups of more than two, it's best to make a reservation and sit at one of the tables, booths, or best yet - in the Dugout, but when it is just us two, it is quite enjoyable to saunter up to the bar and grab a stool.  Gladly to greet you is Aniko, a wonderful bartender who isn't shy to talk of her glory days at Nathan's.  She will treat you well, as she always does us.

One of the best parts of brunch at Martin's is their signature housemade bloody Mary.  It's a classic, usually mixed together the night before by Aniko herself, but what tops it off is that the glass is rimmed in Old Bay seasoning.  Old Bay seasoning is like Ketchup or Mustard to an east coaster.  Primarily used to season steamed Maryland Blue crabs, it's a staple around DC.  And of course, reliable Martin's.

The menu offers your classic brunch staples.  Some of our favorites are the Eggs Benedict, any style, Buttermilk pancakes (seasonal pumpkin are to die for), and the good old Corned beef Hash.  There are a variety of options, including some pub style sandwiches like the Hot Brown or the Monte Cristo, and of course the British hangover classics of Bangers & Mash or Fish & Chips.

Friday, November 16, 2012

National Archives

The other day I found myself doing my civic duty (doesn't that sound more pleasant than the cringe-worthy call of jury duty? It's all about perspective, people.), which meant I found myself downtown. It was beautiful weather, so for my lunch break, it seemed only fitting to stroll the National Mall.    

I've always marveled at the architecture of the National Archives.  It's a perfect box.  I refer to it as the present. Couldn't you just tie a bow around it?  Well, it was about time that I made my way inside.

The National Archives is home to some of the most sacred founding documents, like the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, made famous in movies with history buffs trying to steal these treasured pieces. But what really grabs the attention of an onlooker, or namely me, is the copy of the Magna Carta, perfectly on display.  Cool, right?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pizza Dough

Anyone that knows me well will say I am a real sucker for pizza.  Bread, sauce, and cheese - how could you go wrong?  Pizza is a staple that most kids grow up with, and as you age, your taste buds tend to morph into a more acquired taste, but that just means you up the ante and upgrade from a frozen pizza to a fresher homemade pie. 

For beginners, most grocery stores sell ready-made pizza dough, but if you want the real experience of doing it all from scratch, here are the easy shake down steps to follow for your own simple a'pizza dough:

Ingredients - Thin Crust
1/2 pkg active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/4 + cups flour, bread flour or all-purpose
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Ingredients - Thick Crust (a.k.a Doubling up)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 + cups flour, bread flour or all-purpose
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Monday, November 12, 2012

Paris Eats

Lovely Paris (sigh)... not only does it fill me up with joy from the wonderfully sculpted architecture to the surrounding history, but also because of its delicious cuisine!

While you really can't go wrong popping into any one of the given cafes on every street corner, there are still a few favorites. Here are some of mine broken out by hot spot locations:

Montmarte/Sacre Coeur (18th Arr.)
When you are up visiting the Sacre Coeur and admiring the view from Montmarte, do as the Parisians do and grab some street food, a bottle of wine, and pop a squat on the steps of the church. Watch the sunset over the city - a view worth savoring.

Or, head over to the Place du Tertre.  It's a garden full of local artists. In the center is the artists' square, which has been popular for years with famous artists like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Vincent Van Gogh, just to name a few. Even today, the place is packed with aspiring painters, potters, and sculptures galore. In the image below, an artist was painting the square from his studio window. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It takes not just one, but 2 Amys

What do you get when you take a gal by the name of Amy Pastan and another by the name of Amy Morgan, and put the two together?  An amazing pizzeria called none other than... 2 Amys!

Two Amys takes pride in their pizzas being certified D.O.C. - Denominazione di Origine Controllata.  Did you pronounce that correctly? I didn't... So what is D.O.C.?  It's a fancy way to say that their Neapolitan-style pizza is produced using specific standards with regards to ingredients and technique, as acknowledged by Italy.  Basically, it just means it's awesome, trust me.

Most importantly, Two Amys cooks their pizzas in a wood-burning oven, which is really how all pizzas should come to be, giving it that crispy outside crust with a fluffy and airy inside.  It's perfect, 'nuff said.

So let's start with, of course, the starters.  Two Amy's does not take reservations, so sometimes you've gotta put your name in at the front and then stroll on back to the bar with patience.  Order up a glass of wine or a frosty beer while you wait, but also don't be shy to go ahead and get to ordering some grub.  There's a wonderful array of mezze lining the bar, as legit Italian trattorias do, with plenty of options to choose from, all quite satisfactory as an appe"teaser".  We tend to frequently go with the standard risotto balls and salted cod croquettes.  Delish.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Streetcar Tracks in Georgetown

I think we can all agree that the reconstruction of the Georgetown streetcar tracks makes it much easier to drive over, but is it as pretty as it was before?  The jury is still out on that one...

Aesthetic Appeal vs. Functionality


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bayou on Penn

It's the closest you can get to New Orleans without hopping on a plane.  Bayou, located on Pennsylvania Ave NW, is a vibrant concept restaurant with all the jazz of NOLA and of course, the accompanying cuisine.

Bayou falls under the Georgetown Events family with sister eateries like the popular Jetties and Surfside. The menus are collectively designed by the DC's well known Chef  Rusty Holman. So of course, one is expected not to be disappointed.

Now let's talk Bayou eats... It's the real deal with spicy Cajun and creamy Creole that every stomach desires.  There are too many delicious, mouth-watering options, so let's take it course by course.

For brunch, there's the Fried Green Tomatoes Benedict!  Any of the brunch choices should be accompanied by an order of the Jalpeno Cheddar Grits - yum...

For Appetizers, I highly recommend the Barbeque Shrimp, Seafood Gumbo, Fried Green Tomatoes, Tuna & Green Tomato Tartare, and the Crawfish Cheesecake (yes, you read that correctly, it's a crawfish and sausage cheesecake appetizer, highly indulgent, but well worth a taste). And don't forget them biscuits!

You can't go wrong with any of the Po' Boys, but my favorites are the Frenchmen (fried oysters) or the Marigny (half fried oysters and half fried shrimp).  Get them dressed, or shhh naked.