Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Where to Drink Gin in the District

A while back, I let y'all take a peek inside my fridge and, if you recall, it's mostly used for storing beer. Curious about what the rest of my home-bar situation looks like?

Here you go:

A family portrait.
1. Let me just allay your fears and explain that Mama Gin (the standard 1L size, for scale) isn't ill, she's simply frozen.

2. A warning to our dear readers: If you make your liquor preferences known (as I have), you will receive no other gifts ... ever. I do enjoy other labels as well, but I'm in a "love the one you're with" situation right now.

3. Please know that I have no intention of tackling this stash solo. Even if I drank every day or even every week (which isn't always the case), I'd be OLD by the time I polished it all off. Thus, I'm already planning on setting up a martini bar and inviting my best gals over to celebrate being awesome!

4. Since I can't fit all y'all (yes, I'm Southern) in my cozy apartment, I thought I'd give you some great options for enjoying your own helping of gin elsewhere in the district.

An Ode to Gin:
What to Order and Where to Find it 
in the District

Gin for Washingtonians
Our city's official cocktail, the Gin Rickey at

Learn from the master, Derek Brown, in 
What Goes Into a 1920s Prohibition Cocktail

Gin for Anglophiles 
(or just future Olympics-watchers)
Pimm's Cup No. 13 at Againn with my preferred spirit pairing:

Photo Credit

Gin for Brunchers
The Queen's Mary at Mie n Yu.



Gin for Southerners
A gin julep at the Round Robin Bar.
(Yes, the bartender will give you a hard time, 
but press on - it's worth it!)

Photo courtesy of my cousin.

Gin for James Bond
(for when he runs out of vodka)
An up or dirty gin martini, shaken or stirred, at Dirty Martini (duh).

Photo Credit

Gin for Non-Vegans
A Sloe Gin Fizz at The Gibson.

Photo Credit

Gin for The Philly Transplant/ Comedy Lover
An It's Always Sunny [in Philly] at Wisdom.
Yes, that's really what it's called, 
and it's made with Bluecoat Gin and Danny DeVito's limoncello.

Photo Credit

Gin for the Connoisseur
Practically anything at The Gin Joint.

New Heights Restaurant

Pick your flavor, give it a whirl, and report back with your own recommendations. And, as always, please drink well (and responsibly too)!

Cheers, y'all!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cocktails Inspired by Childhood: The Right and Wrong Way

On Saturday night, Jules, Thirsty Ivy, our new friend Red Stethoscope and I went to an early dinner together at Rosemary's Thyme Bistro in the nebulous area in between Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle. We weren't ready to let the night end once the dinner bill came, so naturally, a discussion over where -- and what -- to drink followed.

I don't know if you know this, but it's been a trifle stifling in the District as of late. To illustrate:


Bearing that in mind, we decided to pursue watering holes with beverages that were particularly frosty in order to cool our ever-rising core temperatures. A mention of alcoholic Snow Cones at Jack Rose Dining Saloon just up the street prompted an evening-long mission: to seek out drinks from our childhood to which local bars have added alcohol in order to allow them to grow up with us.

As we soon found, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it:


THE WRONG WAY: Snow Cones at Jack Rose Dining Saloon, 2007 18th St. NW

When I got wind of alcoholic Snow Cones, I was expecting vodka-mixed cherry, blue raspberry, orange or grape concoctions. That's not what we got, unfortunately.

Jack Rose's Snow Cones -- mint julep on the left; margarita at center and right.

The Snow Cones at Jack Rose come in mint julep or margarita, which, to me at least, begs the question, "Why didn't we just go to Lauriol Plaza down the street to get actual frozen margaritas? This Snow Cone is bullshit!"

Basically, they scooped a bunch of ice and put it in a cone cup, then poured the alcohol mix over top. The alcohol then immediately sank through the ice to the bottom, so you were either crunching on pure ice off the top or sucking pure alcohol from the bottom through the straw. Eventually, we figured out that if you stabbed your Snow Cone with your straw enough times, the ice would crunch and melt with the alcohol mixture enough to be the right consistency, but by that point I was done with the novelty of the drink and ready to try something else.

And, like I said, they only had mint julep or margarita. If I'm getting a Snow Cone, I want blue-freakin-raspberry. And don't tell me that's a flavor that doesn't exist in nature either -- it's a flavor that exists in the whimsy of my childhood dreams and I want booze in it, goddammit.



THE RIGHT WAY: Adult milkshakes at Trio Restaurant, 1537 17th St. NW

After chucking our paper cones, we decided to take a walk down the street to Trio Restaurant, where we'd heard tell of five different milkshakes that had been classed up with alcohol. Indeed, they serve them:

My Mexican milkshake, with Kaluha
And boy, were they delicious. I got the Mexican milkshake with Kaluha, which was just as rich and chocolatey (with a hint of chili spice) as you'd expect. Jules got the Italian milkshake with Frangelico, which tasted like alcoholic peanut butter. And Red Stethoscope got the Irish milkshake with Bailey's Irish Cream, which was minty and delicious as well.

It was hard not to suck them down in one giant slurp -- they were SO GOOD. In fact, that's one of the only downsides (I'll get to the other in a second) -- they were so delicious that I sucked it down the hatch and felt tipsy way more quickly than I'd intended. I think if I had to do it all over again, I'd order the Italian milkshake with Frangelico... that peanut butter was to die for.

Now, the other downside is this: If you're going to go to Trio, sit on the patio outside. Don't sit inside, no matter how hot it is, no matter what the other variables. Why? Because I walked into that restaurant and immediately was assaulted by an all-too-familiar smell: My grandparents' house in Waterloo, Indiana.

This is my sister and me circa 1986 at the farm in Waterloo. Now, this obviously is out in the cow pasture, but close your eyes and imagine what the inside of the house would smell like.

It's a scent that is a mixture of cleaning supplies, cooking smells and... well... old people. I don't know how to describe it any better than that. Walking in there caused a visceral reaction in my brain that sent me on a mind trip back to my grandma's stinky kitchen.

But bottom line, the grandma smell is not a deal-breaker AS LONG AS you sit out on the patio. If you're out on the patio, you're good. And who wouldn't want to be out there along 17th Street watching the spectacular passers-by anyway?


So, the next time you're in the mood for nostalgia-inspired drinks, check out the adult milkshakes at Trio. You'll be glad you did!



Monday, June 25, 2012

Where to Eat and Drink: La Loma

Shamless Bragging About My Cupcakes
Fun fact: I can never live in Texas. I nearly died last week when the weather approached the triple digits. Saturday, while some people gallivanted around town to Mississippi on the Mall, or Capitol Barbecue, I camped out in my cool condo, cleaned like a crazy woman and baked cupcakes courtesy of a recipe I found on Pinterest. No, I am not a soccer mom, I just hate the heat, and would much rather bake in my kitchen and not in the sun. My Pug, Lola, also is not a big fan of the hot, hazy, and humid, so we make sure we stay inside and far away from anything requiring us to be outside, without proximity to a cool body of water.

Source: dcist.com
That being said, when the weather is nice (read: 80 degrees, slight breeze, no humidity) I love to eat outside. I am fortunate that my condo has a small balcony and will eat my dinner on a little table there some nights when the weather is just right, and the mosquitoes are few and far between. But when I’m in the mood to grab a quick bite to eat al fresco (oooh I’m so fancy), one of my favorite little spots is La Loma on Capitol Hill (316 Massachusetts Ave NE, at D St NE).

La Loma is a quaint little Tex-Mex restaurant near Union Station and easily accessible by Metro. Upon arriving, I was greeted quickly, and immediately taken to an outside patio table. The tables are spaced nicely and I didn’t feel overwhelmed or too close to my dining neighbor.

Source: foursquare.com

After I was seated, I was handed a menu and started to peruse. La Loma is a typical Tex-Mex place and the menu consisted of enchiladas, chimichangas, fajitas, quesadillas, queso, guacamole, etc. It’s definitely not a gourmet establishment, but sometimes a girl just wants some chips and salsa, ya know what I’m sayin’?

I quickly ordered a sangria and some queso dip to start and my lunch partner-in-crime, Rob, ordered a margarita. Our drinks arrived quickly and in no time I was guzzling my sangria (it was delicious) and Rob had put a serious dent in his margarita. Yes, we went to Catholic school, where we perfected the art of day drinking. (NOTE: The drinks are strong, and had me saying, "Hayyyy!!!"). After chatting for a bit and sampling the queso we began to look at the menu more in depth.


My general go-to meal at Tex-Mex places is the chicken chimichanga… mmmmm deep fried deliciousness. I mean, Paula Deen is my hero, does this surprise you? However, I decided to branch out (this is rare for me) and take a page out of my sister’s book and order a cheese enchilada.

Side bar: If you are ever in Blacksburg, VA make sure you visit El Rod’s.  As an undergrad student (and now Vet student), my sister introduced me to this gem and despite living in Blacksburg for six years has never strayed from ordering Vegetarian #6, cheese enchiladas. So I decided to channel my inner little sister and jump into enchilada world.

And now we return to your regularly scheduled programming… my sister didn’t lead me astray and cheese enchiladas really are the cat’s pajamas. Rob's quesadillas didn't disappoint, either. Our food was flavorful and fresh. Again, if you’re looking for a nice little neighborhood joint that’s not ridiculously over-priced or needlessly pretentious then this is the place for you! I don't know about you, but deciphering the menu at Rosa Mexicano can be tricky (especially after a few pomegranate margaritas with Grand Marnier), and sometimes I'd rather not wait 6 hours at Lauriol Plaza, no matter how delicious those swirly margaritas are.




The most important thing to note about this place, however, is the amazing staff. I cannot say enough nice things about the people that work here. I have dined at very nice places and received poor service, so I know how big of a factor attentive service is when dining out. From the moment I walked in to the time I left, the level of service I received was astounding. I was quickly seated, and given a menu, and despite being a bit crowded, I never had to wait for anything. My water and sangria were always full, and the waiter struck the perfect balance of helpful yet not over-bearing. The entire wait staff was friendly and my food arrived hot. So not only is there great seating, extremely reasonably priced food, but the service is out of this world!

Overall, La Loma is a great place if you’re looking for a low-key, reasonably priced place to eat outside with your friends. I love places like this, I don’t feel badly about laughing a bit too loud or spilling salsa on my dress (which undoubtedly will happen). So if you’re looking fun setting to grab a bite to eat and relax with your friends, when it’s not a million degrees outside, La Loma is just the place for you!

Adios,




Friday, June 22, 2012

How to Beat The Heat in DC This Weekend

Source: someecards.com
Happy Friday! I don’t know about you, but this week has dragged on for me, and I could not be more excited that it is Friday. And I can’t even lie, I have ZERO desire to be outside this weekend, unless I am in close proximity to water. This girl prefers to crank up the AC (sorry polar bears) and avoid my hair looking like this. So this edition of our weekend round up includes activities to keep you cool as a cucumber. (Yes, I really am that cheesy and say things like this on a regular basis).

Friday
Forget the outdoor movies and Jazz in the Garden: Tonight, I recommend checking out The Brightest Young Things’ party at the National Geographic Museum. For $25.00 you get after-hours access to the whole museum including a scavenger hunt, informative talks, and of course, since this is a Gamma Girls suggested event, there will be a dance floor, human-size hamster balls, food trucks, and a plethora of booze. Seriously, how fun does this sound?

If dancing and hamster balls aren’t your jam (I’m not sure how this could not be anyone’s jam, but to each their own), DJ Soul Call will be spinning 80s records (yep, I’m talking vinyl, people) all night at the Black Cat. So if James Brown, Tina Turner, and Stevie Wonder make you want to shake your tailfeather, stop by The Black Cat and you won’t be disappointed.

Seriously, how can this NOT make you want to dance? (Source: Last FM.com)

Saturday
Still recovering from dancing and drinking on Friday night? Well if you plan on doing something other than cleaning your kitchen and baking all the recipes you pinned on Pinterest while watching Dance Moms this week (yes, that is my big plan for the day, be jealous), this is what the cool kids will be up to (see what I did there keeping “cool” and “cool” kids, I’m a comedian, folks).

Capitol Skyline Pool. Source: Booked.Net

The Mother Trucker food truck/pool party is this weekend at Capitol Skyline. You know what that means water and delicious treats. So food trucks + food + drinks + music + slip ‘n slide = A-MAY-ZA-ZING! Tickets are only $15.00 (this does not include your food or drinks) and the event lasts from 11 AM to 8 PM. And don’t forget your sunscreen. I heard (from a friend of course) that forgetting sunscreen at Taste of Georgetown causes you to peel in an unsightly fashion and makes people on the Metro think you have the Bubonic Plague.

If Mother Trucker isn’t up your alley, and you still want to relive your college Spring Break days, The Front Page is hosting its Swimsuit Soiree. Yes, the event is free, and the winner of the contest wins a nice prize of $1,000.00. The event starts at 6 p.m. and is indoors. Rumor is, Samantha may be competing (under an alias of course), so see if you can find her.

Source: theconcordian.org

Now if you are looking for a more low-key event, since Magic Mike doesn’t come to theaters until next weekend, Beauty and the Beast is playing at the National Theater. Call me crazy, but I’m a brunette so I have a soft spot for the brown haired princess Belle, and will absolutely take in this show before it leaves D.C. And for all you bargain hunters, Goldstar has tickets that sell for close to $100.00 for around $60 bucks. So if you have family in town and want to check out the show, or are like me and just want to embrace your inner child, this is a MUST SEE… Tale as old as time….

Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday, is here and if you are looking for one last hurrah before admitting to yourself that in a few short hours you will be back at your desk, these things will stretch the weekend a little bit longer.

Shiver me timbers…  (Again, I really am this cheesy, people, thank you for sticking with me this far). Pirates and rum make me happy. Yes, I am a total Pirates of the Caribbean junkie and am obsessed with Captain Jack Sparrow. If you are like me, and enjoy rum, you'll want to check this out. Richard Foss is presenting a history on rum at Bethesda’s Regional Services Center at 2:30. It’s a free event, open to all, and (your liver is thanking me) is just a talk, no rum will be served.



One of my favorite ways to spend a lazy Sunday is to head to Quarterdeck and eat crabs and drink beer. Yes, I am from Maryland. Yes, I love to pick crabs, drink beer, and hang out with my friends. And this is one of my favorite places to do so. Now this place is not fancy, it’s a good, old fashioned, crab joint. So get your mallets (I know that’s what you crazies use, I just use a knife) and head to my neck of the woods to spend Sunday Murr-land style.


Source: dcmetblogs.com
Later in the evening, you can also take a page from my book and host True Blood Sunday Fun-day where you and your closest pals cook dinner, drink a bit, and watch True Blood (by watch I mean drool over Jason Stackhouse and Vampire Eric). It never disappoints.

Have a great weekend and I will catch you on the flipside!



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Where NOT to Brunch: Tabaq Bistro

The glass terrace on the top floor of Tabaq Bistro showcases some stunning views of the D.C. skyline, and these views, along with an interesting menu, reasonable prices, and an atmosphere that transitions from serene to sultry as the day wears on, render it theoretically perfect for occasions varying from brunch to after dinner drinks.

Source

Theoretical perfection, however, is meaningless. What it comes down to is the actual experience, and the actual experience of brunch at Tabaq on a recent scorching Sunday suck-diddly-ucked. Why? Ohhhh, I will tell you why.

Let's just set the scene. First, picture arriving to your destination and then climbing the stairs for fifteen minutes* to reach the top floor. You curse the stairs for amplifying the effects of your hangover, but persevere, thinking about the delightful moment that you'll reach your mecca- brunch in an air conditioned room- and toast, mimosa in hand, to your friend's 30th birthday.

Instead, you finally reach the top floor, where you are hit by the following realization -- you'll be dining in what is essentially a poorly ventilated glass box.  Despite your outfit of shorts and a tank top, you have already begun to wilt from the stale heat of the room.

At brunch, you hardly notice the conversation around you, or the nice views, or the taste of your eggs benedict florentine, because all you can think about is how the sun is beating against your back and DEAR GOD, why is it so hot in here? You think about all of the places you would rather have brunch. Like, in the waiting room of a dentist's office. Outside the elephant enclosure at the zoo. ON THE METRO.

Can I at least get a fan up in here?
Source

Exaggeration aside, the food was fine, though the spinach on my eggs tasted suspiciously like it had been defrosted, as it had that watery and mushy quality that doesn't usually befall fresh vegetables. It reminded me of these terrible granola bars my dad used to make -- in his attempts to devise a healthy version of the treats, my family suffered through numerous failed creations that we coined "wet and heavy bars" for their unfortunate texture. Generally, wet and heavy are not qualities you strive for in any food, but certainly not in spinach.

A bright side to this COMPLETELY INEXCUSABLE SCENARIO of insufficient temperature control- sorry, I couldn't control my rage for a second- is that the service is quick. How could it not be, with everyone so sweaty and miserable and anxious to be anywhere else but having brunch at Tabaq Bistro?

*this may be a slight exaggeration



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where to Eat and Drink: Vinoteca

In truth, I have one older brother. In reality, I have several. My brother, the real one, has a handful of close friends - from childhood, college, and beyond - that I consider family and, as a result, am treated as the baby sister by all. One of these "near-brothers," who conveniently shares the same name as the real one, lives in town with his gorgeous wife, and I'm lucky enough to break bread with them frequently.

Recently, the three of us had plans to see a concert at U Street Music Hall, and I made reservations for a pre-show dinner at Vinoteca. My friends hadn't been before, and their only preference was a place with outdoor dining. Since we'd just been to Ulah together, this decision was easy for me.

Located next door to Solly's at the corner of 11th and U Streets NW, Vinoteca is definitely one of my favorite wine bars in the city and, according to DateMeDC, is a prime spot for first date drinks!

I've been several times, though never on a date, largely because it also has two of the best patios in town. That's right - TWO outdoor spaces.

There's the obvious spot, right in front of the restaurant. No one seemed to have a great photo of the patio with the current tables and chairs, but just picture a great dining space in the bottom left corner of the frame.

Photo Credit 

And then there's the less obvious spot, tucked away in the back - the Plaza.

Photo Credit 

Yes, that is a bocce court on the right side of the photo. Actually, a friend of mine from college is in a league that plays here, and I often cheer them on (as best one can - it's bocce after all). In the winter, they bring in several heaters (perhaps too many for my liking) to make this secret hideaway enjoyable year-round!

Fun story: in November, I had plans to watch my friend's bocce match and hopped on the Green Line to meet her. To pass the time en route, I flipped through my Twitter feed - duh. Guess what I saw? A tweet from @VinotecaDC saying that the first five people to show the bartender that tweet got a free glass of wine. Not half-price, not buy two get one free. FREE.


Proof

You can take the girl out of college but you can't take away her love of complimentary gift without purchase! No guarantees that they'll repeat this, but it shows that it's never a bad idea to check your destination's social media sites before visiting!

Okay, back to dinner with my adopted family...

Since it was not yet oppressively hot, I elected to walk to the restaurant from Georgetown and arrived a few minutes before our 7pm reservation. This was fortuitous, as their Happy Hour runs EVERYDAY from 5:00 - 7:00pm ... so I treated myself to a glass of Viognier while I waited. See what being early gets you?!

A few minutes later, my friends arrived, we were seated on the front patio, and one of the most delightful servers I've ever had greeted us. She asked the usual "Have you been here before?" type questions and then asked, "Do you have tickets to a show that I should know about in order to time your dinner? What time do you want to be able to walk out of here?" So considerate and not something I necessarily expected out of this casual bistro. And, yes, she did get us out right at the exact time we noted!

The ladies had identical meals and went all out (the gentleman wasn't that hungry and isn't worth mentioning here). We both ordered a Barely Buzzed cheese starter, marinated olives, a fennel and pea shoot salad, fried risotto balls, and dessert - tres leches for me (because it comes with Guinness ice cream, but it was too much for me to finish) and the chocolate flight for her.

Delicious! I really enjoyed the light flavors of our meal, especially since we were going to go dance around to one of our favorite bands.

I was also very pleased with the service. Our water glasses were never empty (this is a big deal for me), our waitress was pleasant and professional but also super quirky and entertaining, and the courses/ hodgepodge of small plates were timed really well.

It wasn't free this time, but I'd consider it a very reasonably priced meal. My share was less than $40 (including a second glass of wine, naturally), and I was more than content.

Whether it be for bocce matches, first date drinks, or dinner with your fake brother, I'd say Vinoteca fits the bill.

Salud!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Where to Get Pretty: Cindy Nails in Rockville

Restaurants with white table linens and crumb service, high-end salons, private drivers, boats.  What can I say: I enjoy the finer things in life. Once I moved from Ohio to San Francisco and ultimately D.C. as an adult, I very quickly developed a penchant for pampering.

What I did not immediately develop, however, is a salary to match. Fiscal responsibility is not my strong suit, and more often than not, when faced with a choice between indulgence and practicality, I jump headfirst into the splurge. I am the very definition of champagne tastes on a beer budget.

But luckily, with just a little bit of patience and a whole lot of searching, I've finally found a salon where I can get all the pampering services I want at just a fraction of the prices. Allow me to introduce you all to Cindy Nails in Rockville.

Cindy Nails
11630 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852


Now, I'm sure a lot of you are going "WTF, ROCKVILLE?!" right now. But let me assure you, Cindy Nails is Metro-accessible from the Red Line (the White Flint stop, more specifically):


And some of you may have looked at the neon-lighted sign in a strip mall and went "WTF, THIS PLACE LOOKS SHITTY" but again, I assure you that's not the case once you get inside:


Click on that photo to see a bigger shot of the inside of Cindy Nails. What you're getting once you walk inside is rows upon rows of manicure tables and two full walls of pedicure chairs. This is the essence of perfection -- you never need a reservation, and walk-ins are welcome/encouraged. I have been to this salon at least five times at this point, and I have only ever had to wait about 10 minutes for a pedicure one time.

In the back down a long hallway are multiple waxing rooms, which is what led me to Cindy Nails in the first place. A full Brazilian Wax here is... get ready for it...

$37.

You can go completely bare down there for $37 WITH NO RESERVATIONS AND NO WAIT. That is UNHEARD OF in the D.C.-area. I've paid as much as $60 for a Brazilian before, and there are places around the city that offer them for upwards of $75.

But don't let the inexpensive prices make you think there's something lesser about the service. The waxing rooms at Cindy Nails are clean, and the wax they use smells like chocolate. The technicians are quick, if a little too chatty. Actually, that's my one complaint about it -- when you're getting acquainted with me a la my gynecologist, I don't really want to chat with you about the new iPhones you and your family just purchased.* But awkward naked conversations aside, I'm still a repeat customer.

Combine the waxing with an excellent mani/pedi, and you're in for a lovely, affordable day. Enjoy it!


















*Actual conversation I had on Sunday when I had my legs over my head. So awkward.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What to Do in the District This Weekend

How excited are y'all that it's Friday? I didn't even work a full week but have been waiting anxiously for the weekend to roll around again - especially since the weather is supposed to be beautiful, and there's so much fun to be had in the district!

If your dance card isn't quite full yet, the Gamma Girls have come up with a short list of killer activities to keep you out of trouble ... or directly IN IT, rather.

Friday

Remember when Red,White, and Bourbon raved about her neighborhood and the FREE outdoor movie series held at Gateway Park, at the foot of the Key Bridge? Well, the Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival is already on their second election-themed movie. 

Catch Primary Colors tonight at dusk. (Current knowledge of Travolta's scandal might add a certain something to the movie, no?) I hear that prime blanket space fills up fast, so try to break away from the office early or bribe a friend who works nearby to save your group's spot.

If you like being outside but prefer live entertainment, you should know that the Washington Nationals are playing that well-loved, pinstriped team from the Big Apple. That's right, the Yankees will be in town all weekend! (Remember: I'm from Tampa, their spring-training home, so I've got no beef with them.) 

Can't argue with math!
Too tired from the work week but don't want to sit at home alone (not that there's anything wrong with that)? Then call your best pals, tell them to ditch their suits for yoga pants, and host an impromptu wine night -- a la the Gamma Girls! Oh to be a fly on the wall tonight...

I would be completely remiss if I didn't also highlight that today is National Lobster Day! You better believe that our resident Mainer, Appealing Kate, will be celebrating. 

Here's how you can too: Use Twitter to stalk the Red Hook Lobster Truck, stop by Luke's Lobster in Penn Quarter, visit my neighborhood and the one remaining Tackle Box restaurant, or pick out some live ones at Maine Avenue Fish Market, name them, make them race on the kitchen floor, and cook them up yourself.

Saturday
Photo Credit
I'm an early riser and love to take advantage of the cooler temps and emptier streets before the rest of the city wakes up. On the weekends, this means hitting up the Farmers' Market before it gets too crowded or runs out of my favorite salsa. 

I tend to hit up the Dupont or Glover Park-Burleith markets, but if we aren't neighbors, you might want to use this map from WaPo to find one in your neighborhood.


If you're looking for a morning outing that's slightly more active, reread our summer activities post and set sail on the Potomac.

Speaking of sailing ... Fort McHenry (in that state to the north) is hosting a week-long Sailabration, the start of a three year commemoration of the War of 1812. 
Head up on Saturday or Sunday for the "Angels Over Baltimore" Air Show with musical performances following. For almost eight years, my driver's license said I was a resident of Pensacola, FL (my parents actually lived), so the Blue Angels hold a special place in my heart.

I'll be spending some of Saturday with my favorite toddler, who LOVES trains, planes, bikes, and especially trucks. If there's a little kid in your life with the same interests, treat them to an afternoon of truck touching at RFK. It sounds strange, but that's exactly what it is - the 5th Annual City-Wide Truck Touch put on by the Department of Public Works. They'll also have some food trucks and music

If you're just a kid at heart, maybe you'd prefer to check out the wheels in the bicycle parade at Yards Park. It starts at 9 a.m. and is part of New Belgium's Tour de Fat, a fundraiser benefiting local charities. Yes, there will be beer.

Sunday
Sadly, my brother and I won't be able to help our dad celebrate Father's Day in person (note to self: phone home!). If my dad were here, though, I'd probably take him to Fogo de Chao (because dads love meat), Smith Commons (because dads love beer), Thomas Sweet (because dads love ice cream), or Tortilla Cafe (because dads love a good deal).

Photo Credit
If your dad is local, maybe he'd like to check out the last day of the Belgian Beer Festival at Et Voila in the Palisades neighborhood.

Or, maybe just tell him to go fly a kite ... on the Mall ... with a picnic you made with your very own hands. Now that's love!

Surely you can find something on this list to save you from doing laundry this weekend! (Don't call me Shirley!)


Have a great weekend, y'all!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Where to Eat Wings and Drink Beer: Duffy's Irish Pub

If you read Katie's tips for a fun weekend in the city last week, or if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I celebrated my birthday by dragging my girlfriends to SAVOR, an American craft beer experience at The National Building Museum. Yes, most people were there to taste some of the best beer this nation has ever made (as was I), but I didn't want the other guests to miss out on the opportunity to toast to me and shower me with well-wishes ... so I covered my dress in birthday stickers.



This was certainly one of my better ideas. Brewers and drinkers alike went out of their way to help me ring in 29 like the hophead that I am! A special shoutout to Ska and Laurelwood breweries for the swag (not goodies distributed to the general attendees, I might add)!



You'd think that after a night like that I'd have no interest in more beer on Sunday (my actual birthday) ... but you'd be DEAD WRONG.

I elected to spend my birthday night with some of my favorite people drinking some of my favorite beer and eating some of my favorite food at one of my favorite bars.

Translation: I spent the night with close family friends, enjoying Chocolate City's Cornerstone Copper Ale (to be honest, it wasn't my first or second choice, but they were out of several brews - guess I wasn't the only thirsty one!), going to town on a plate of chicken wings at Duffy's Irish Pub.

Best logo ever, right?
I've been an avid patron of this not-so-divey dive bar from the moment I moved to D.C. in July of 2009. They'd advertised a night of $2 Guinness/Smithwick's, which was enough to make me and my high school pal come running. (Just so you don't get your hopes up ... this special has long since expired. Good Happy Hour deals can still be had though! They even do a Late Night Happy Hour Monday-Wednesday after 10pm.)

Andy, the owner, greeted us and asked for our I.D.s. After learning that all three of us are from small towns in Florida, we were instant friends. My buddy and I didn't eat anything that night (but definitely should have), so it was another month or so before I fell in love with their food.

Photo Credit: Washington City Paper
The menu at Duffy's has evolved over the last several years, ditching some of the more traditional Irish favorites (i.e. shepherd's pie, much to the dismay of my father and my brother's best friend) but saving their most popular item - THE WINGS!

In case you didn't know, Duffy's has consistently ranked at the top of the Washington City Paper's reader poll as the Best Wings in the city ... and for good reason!

They offer several varieties: mild, medium, hot, spicy or honey BBQ, spicy Asian, and Chesapeake (charbroiled wings with Old Bay).

I'm a big fan of black pepper (in fact, I even have a pepper grinder in my desk at work alongside a bottle of hot sauce), so I usually go for the mild, a black pepper-based sauce that still gives a decent kick. On Sunday, I also treated myself to some guilt-free french fries (because it was my birthday and that's how it works). For those of you craving carbs, with or without a side of guilt, I should mention that they also have amazing tots, fried pickles, and onion rings!

Monster Burger
I don't eat beef or pork but if you do and are SUPER hungry, you should be a hero and order the monster burger. Yes, those are grilled cheese sandwiches standing in for the regular, boring hamburger bun.
Photo Source

Be honest, you're thinking that would be the perfect meal to chow down on in front of a big game (on one of their many flat-screens)! Am I right?

If you're headed to a concert or a dance party at the 9:30 Club (it's directly across the street), you should also know that Duffy's is my favorite pre- and post-show spot in the area. Keep your eyes on Twitter or Facebook for nightly specials (sometimes you can show your ticket and get a free shot with your post-concert beer).

When I lived closer (and by that I mean within a couple of Green Line stops), I was there weekly and people knew my name. Now I'm a less-frequent visitor and, thus, lost my "regular" status. This makes me sad. But spending my birthday with great people, good beer, and delicious wings made me oh so HAPPY!

Go be happy at Duffy's too!