Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Best Brunch Sandwiches in D.C.

Ever heard of the Paradox of Choice? It's a phenomenon that we face in a society of infinite options, wherein when presented with said options we feel overwhelmed and thusly panic, frozen in our inability to decide. It's the reason I went on 60+ first dates during my two years running Date Me, D.C.! and why I struggle with selecting my brunch entree weekend after weekend.

Savory or sweet? Spicy or mild? I just don't know!

But fortunately, I think I've figured out how to make myself (and you, dear reader, once you follow my suggestions) happiest: Brunch sandwiches. These delightful bread concoctions combine all of the above flavors through proteins and grains that are guaranteed to alleviate that post-Saturday's-bad-decisions-wicked-Sunday-morning hangover.

Check out these following suggestions, in increasing order of awesomeness, for all your palate-tending needs:


THE BRESAOLA, CHEESE AND EGG SANDWICH: Sixth Engine, 438 Massachusetts Ave. NW
I always forget to take pictures of my food,
so enjoy this photograph of the outside of the restaurant.

That nearly unpronounceable "B-word" translates to "air-dried beef," according to Sixth Engine's menu. And as unappetizing as "air-dried beef" sounds, it's actually a salty, flavorful meat that, while drier than your average sandwich meat, is decidedly not the consistency of beef jerky. Think more along the lines of prosciutto and you're onto something.

In any case, the sandwich is the aforementioned beef with gruyere cheese and slathered with mornay sauce on two thick slices of toasted bread, with two sunny-side up eggs on top. The runniness of the eggs, the saltiness of the beef, the sweetness of the mornay sauce... it all adds up to a deliciousness on which you've got to use a fork.


THE MONTE CRISTO: Dr. Granville Moore's, 1238 H St. NE

Seriously, if I'm going to be blogging about food I really
need to take pictures of it before eating it. Sigh.

This is the ultimate marriage of sweet and savory: Granville Moore's, known for its rich, Belgian gastropub food, serves up grilled chicken, ham and Swiss cheese between thick slices of cinnamon French toast with a fried egg on top. It's another sandwich you'll probably have to eat with a fork, but the amazing flavor combinations totally merit the extra eating effort. Additionally, it's served with home fries, which you can substitute for Granville Moore's famous twice deep-fried frites.


THE T.U.B.S. (TED'S ULTIMATE BREAKFAST SAMMY): Ted's Bulletin, 505 8th St. SE

There! I finally have a food picture!


I have blogged about Ted's Bulletin's UTTERLY AMAZING T.U.B.S. sandwich before, but hot damn does it ever bear repeating. Spicy sausage, scrambled egg, fried egg, bacon and cheddar on Texas Toast ... oh my god. It just melts in your mouth.

It is so good, in fact, that when my mom came to visit me this past weekend and tripped and fell on my street while carrying my leftover T.U.B.S. sandwich half, spilling it all onto the sidewalk in front of my apartment, I picked it up, hesitated for a moment, then said, "...well I'll just brush this off. I'm sure it's fine."

I'm willing to eat it off the pavement, people. That's how good it is. For serious.



So don't be put off by multiple choices, people. Revel in it, and choose one of these sweet and savory, spicy and mild, crunchy and soft sandwiches. You won't regret it!!!






Monday, July 30, 2012

Where to Eat: Del Frisco’s Grille

NOTE: Del Frisco’s Grille did not ask me to dine here, or ask for a DTD review. They have no idea I am a DTD contributor. In fact, I made the reservations using my work E-mail that is linked to Open Table. So please keep that in mind as you read this post.


As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up on a farm. No, I don’t mean one of those 10 acre call themselves a farm but are actually just some grown adult living out an Old McDonald fantasy, I mean real-deal, my dad woke up at 4 AM to milk the cows every morning, honest-to-goodness farm. Yes, I have driven a tractor, milked a cow, am obsessed with fairs, owned a pony, and am actually not afraid of dirt.
Back Where I Come From
Now, for some of you the idea of me being raised by a farming family may be a shock because you automatically assume that farmers = hicks in overalls - not preppy, Pug-owning, TLC-addicted, and educated girls. So, before I say anything else, let’s just clear that up. If I EVER hear anyone disrespect someone in the agriculture industry I will bring out the camouflage appreciating, Brantley Gilbert-singing side and it will go something like this:

Source
Now that we have that little tidbit out of the way, I continue. Since I was raised on a farm, I have been eating amazing home grown vegetables and hand-raised beef my entire life. See, it was cheaper (and way more delicious) for my family to grow our own fruits and vegetables and raise our own beef than to buy it at the store. Yes, we snapped green beans and canned them, shelled peas and froze them, and canned fresh peaches in a jar so we could have them year round. Without even realizing it, I was accustomed to the best food around. In fact, I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I went to college and for the first time in my life had to buy meat at a grocery store. Let me tell you, I was unimpressed.

That unimpressed attitude is where my review of Del Frisco’s Grille comes in. In order for this review to be really meaningful I needed to clarify that I am picky; beyond picky, actually, and have NEVER given a glowing review to a steakhouse before (Morton’s, Charlie Palmer, Ruth’s Chris- doesn’t matter) because my mama’s cooking and home-grown beef were infinitely better. But that was before Del Frisco’s. (Hence why I have no pictures because sassy pants here automatically assumed I wouldn’t blog about this place because steak houses never “wow” me).

Now, after quite the entertaining introduction, it is time for the main event…. Last Friday, I met my college friend for dinner and drinks at Del Frisco’s. It is new to D.C. but Rob had dined at the Denver and New York locations and had nothing but nice things to say, so I said let’s give it a try. For those that aren’t aware, Del Frisco’s in D.C. is located on Pennsylvania Avenue near Federal Triangle station, but easily walkable from Navy Memorial and Metro Center. Since it was about a zillion degrees outside, I chose to drive and valet parking is only $10.00. No, I am not a snob, I just live in Rosslyn and walking to the Metro, in the heat, and then walking to a restaurant will make my hair look like Medusa, and my personality will match it.

After handing the keys to the valet, Rob and I walked into the restaurant and were immediately greeted by an extremely friendly team of hostesses. We exchanged pleasantries as they escorted us to a comfortable booth in the kitchen section of the restaurant. Not even going to lie, I was already impressed and I had been in the restaurant for five seconds. I love kitchen seating, being so close to the action is awesome. Plus, whenever a restaurant isn’t afraid to let customers watch the food preparation process, I know I am at a great establishment.

VIP MARTINI
Once seated, our server was at our table within 30 seconds; she provided us with an overview of the drink specials, custom cocktails, along with the menu specials of the evening. Rob chose the Del Frisco’s signature drink the VIP, I settled for a glass of Malbec. I love red wine and needed it after the hellish week I had.
After placing our drink order, the most hilarious and kindest food runner then introduced himself to us and proceeded to fill our water glasses. I kid you not, he was the nicest non-waiter server I’ve ever had. And he was on the ball. My water glass was never less than half-full. Having been to restaurants where I literally had to BEG for more water since it’s about 100 million degrees outside, this man was a God-send.


Our server returned after just the right amount of time to check in and see if we were ready to order and we were. We ordered the roasted tomato flatbread to start. For the main course, Rob went for the filet, me the New York Strip. [Also disclaimer – if you order steak well done, please don’t EVER talk to me about your love of steak. Rant over.] We also ordered some mac ‘n cheese and succotash.

Shortly after taking our orders the flatbread arrived. Not a disappointment. I dove right in and in a really attractive manner shoved this pizza-like appetizer down my throat. (I’m really classy, guys.). Let’s be honest, when a girl is having a bad day, don’t come between her and carbs, it’s dangerous. I also noticed a lot of fellow patrons eating these fantastic-looking mini-taco appetizers. These little dandies will absolutely be on my plate during my next visit.

Flatbread
Mini-Tacos
After inhaling the flatbread, Rob and I ordered more drinks (well Rob ordered wine, I was still on glass number one because I was talking about my life dramz and inhaling flatbread so there wasn’t a lot of time to guzzle).

Now here is where the real meat of the story starts folks (see what I did there), thanks for sticking with me. After devouring the appetizer, the executive chef comes over to our table and thanks us for choosing to dine at Del Frisco’s and asks us about our meal choices. He shakes our hands, talks with us for a short amount of time and politely excuses himself.

Then, a few minutes later the general manager of the restaurant comes over and asks us about our food choices and confirms that we are nothing but pleased with our dining experience thus far. She was extremely grateful for us choosing to dine at her establishment and wanted to make sure that we were satisfied. Again, just reiterating that I was not asked to write this review nor did Del Frisco’s have any idea that I write for DTD. The level of attention and service I received from Del Frisco's was phenomenal and truly enhanced my experience.

When our meals came, the server immediately asked us to check our steaks to make sure they were cooked to our liking. I was shocked (in a good way). I have NEVER had a server ask me to check my steak upon delivering it to the table. As you can imagine, I was not surprised when it was cooked to perfection.

The next 15 or so minutes were quite uneventful as it mainly consisted of little conversation aside from, “Good Lord this is amazing.” And it really was. Fellow blog friends, I found the unicorn that is delicious steak, and that unicorn is at Del Frisco’s. The steak had that perfect grilled taste that isn’t overpowering but still has a little charcoal bite to it. The succotash wasn’t what I was used to (mine is served warm with copious amounts of butter) but nonetheless was delicious, served room temperature with tomatoes. Rob’s mac ‘n cheese was made with a hint of spice and bacon, and everyone knows you can never go wrong with bacon.

Steak. Yum!


After destroying my steak in record time, and Rob close behind me, we knew that dessert was a MUST. I wanted the chocolate lava cake because let’s be serious, girls love themselves some chocolate on a bad day. However, that wasn’t available, so I went for the Nutella bread pudding. Fair warning, don’t even waste your time thinking about ordering anything else. I’m pretty sure the dessert gods were smiling down on me when this fell into my lap because I have never had anything so wonderful. As soon as I went home I logged on to the interwebz and found myself a good recipe. I’ll let you know how that works out.
Nutella Bread Pudding
Two and a half hours later, stomachs full to the brim (I wish yoga pants were acceptable dinner attire) Rob filled out the guest cards, to make sure we were on the list for events and specials and headed home. But our story doesn’t end here, folks. On Friday (as in a few days ago) we received a proper thank you note from Del Frisco’s thanking us for dining there. Yes, a REAL paper thank you, none of this mass E-mail junk. The Martha Stewart and Emily Post in me squealed in excitement. Aside from Thirsty Ivy, and a few family members I am the only person in the world I know that still writes thank-yous. I am beyond impressed with Del Frisco’s and will forever sing their praises. The food is outshone only by the impeccable service.






Now if this doesn’t have you visiting Open Table and booking yourself a dinner reservation at Del Frisco’s right now, I don’t know what will. I promise you folks, it won’t disappoint.

Yours In Delicious Meat,



Friday, July 27, 2012

What to Do in the District This Weekend

It's a goddamn oven outside once again, with temperatures ranging deep into the 90s despite predicted thunderstorms. Yes, Hell has opened an annex, and it's located in the heart of Washington, D.C.

You've probably already read a lot of blog posts and news reports detailing how you can stay cool and beat the heat. But we D.C. folks know that it's impossible to keep this summer humidity from suffocating you like a straitjacket, so here's what I say: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em this weekend. Here's a list of activities that are sure to keep your core temperature raised for the next few days.


OLYMPIC BAR CRAWL: H Street Northeast

With its traditional torch-passing and lighting of the ceremonial flame, the Olympics are definitely this weekend's hottest activity. So, don't just watch them from the artificial Arctic you've created in your English basement -- be a spectator out on the town. Check out H Street's Olympic Bar crawl, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at The Argonaut and makes four stops along the street before winding up at The Queen Vic, where pints are $4 until the closing ceremony.

English soccer player Michael Owen carries the Olympic flame.
I chose this picture to illustrate because, really, what is hotter
than a man and his dog? Nothing. The answer is nothing.

TILTED TORCH: PLAY DATE BURLESQUE SHOW: Red Palace, 1212 H St. NE

Stay on H Street for Saturday night, when Red Palace will make you feel tingly in funny places with their steamy burlesque show. I've seen Tilted Torch shows before, and they certainly don't disappoint -- there's always some sort of fire dancing associated with the performances.


You haven't seen anything until you've seen a scantily clad woman hula hooping with a flaming hoop. Then, you legitimately have seen everything and have won at life.



EAT SOME SPICY INDIAN FOOD

As Thirsty Ivy and I frequently discuss, everything can be related to an episode of "Sex and the City." This bullet point is no different: Remember when Carrie dates the politician who wants to her to pee on him, and they eat dinner at an extremely spicy Indian restaurant where she doesn't drink any water?

This doesn't end well.
Since D.C. boasts multiple award-winning Indian restaurants, grab your favorite Hill staffer and re-create the moment! (Minus the peeing and awkwardness, of course. Or plus it. Your choice.)

My favorite spot is Heritage India in Glover Park, but Appealing Kate loves Rasika. Either way, grab some curry and prepare to feel the spicy burn on your tongue.


SEE THE CITY FROM A BIKE: Capital Bikeshare or Bike and Roll


That's a map of all the bike trails in and around Washington. Most of them connect to each other (see BikeWashington.org for more details), so get out your rusty Schwinn and pedal yourself silly. And if you are bike-less, check out either Capital Bikeshare, with bike ports located around town, or Bike and Roll, which has its main hub at the Old Post Office Pavilion, for rentals.

My personal favorite ride in D.C. is the Mount Vernon trail, which winds its way along the Potomac from Teddy Roosevelt Island to the Mount Vernon Estate. It's a breathtaking view of our nation's capital, so don't miss it.



And with that, D.C. folks, stay hot. Since it's already 91 degrees outside, I'm sure that won't be too hard.










Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Where to Spend a Friday Night

Last October, I was lucky enough to attend the Susan G. Komen "Honoring the Promise" Gala at the Kennedy Center. This is an annual gala that celebrates those who have helped to not only promote breast cancer awareness, but also those who are determined to find a cure. Specifically, it honors "those on the front lines of the breast cancer fight with special awards of distinction in Medical and Scientific Research, Advocacy, Community, and Global Leadership." It was a special event for me for a number of reasons.

First, my mother is a breast cancer survivor. She was able to avoid chemotherapy, radiation, etc. all due to early detection. It's a message that Komen strives to deliver to women, and I am so incredibly grateful for that. Second, it was the first time I'd ever been to the Kennedy Center. It was everything I had envisioned it to be. Grand, beautiful, historical. Third, I got to dress up and spend a fancy night with the guy I was dating and with some of my close friends who also attended the event.

So, when I learned the date of the gala this year (Friday, September 28th), I added it to my calendar immediately. And then when I discovered a few weeks ago that there was an upcoming event, the "young professionals 'honoring the promise' kick-off chocolate and champagne reception," I jumped on it. That event is tonight. The minimum donation for the event is $100, but each $100 will help provide one mammogram for a woman in the DC metro area, specifically in Wards 7 and 8, which have the highest breast cancer mortality rates in the nation.

While it is too late to RSVP for tonight's event, it got me thinking. I wish that more of my friends had known about it. Could make that $100 donation (which, btw, also counts as your ticket to the 2012 gala), and help a woman in our city get the mammogram that could end up saving her life.

But it's not too late to do something. Tickets are still available for this year's gala. Last year, it was an incredible event. Below is a clip of the featured performers. And this year's event is expected to be just as much fun. Think about it, you get to dress up fancy, watch great performers, drink fancy cocktails, nibble on delicious food...and all the while you are helping raise awareness about breast cancer and helping to promote the good work that Susan G. Komen does each and every day. I don't know about you, but I can't think of a better way to spend a Friday night.



Tickets for the 2012 "Honoring the Promise" gala can be purchased here. Additionally, Komen offers a fairly significant discount for young professionals, allowing us to contribute to the cause without breaking the bank.


I hope you all will consider attending this event.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where to Eat Ethiopian Food in the District



Did you know that D.C. is home to more Ethiopian restaurants than any other city outside of Africa? Many are clustered around U Street and Adams Morgan, the latter being where they originally took up residence until rising rent costs resulted in relocation to a then less-trendy U Street.

When I was 22, I had a great affinity for Adams Morgan, but I was reluctant to try Ethiopian food despite the rumors I’d heard of its deliciousness. Being young and naïve, I assumed that bread described as “spongy” and “sour” couldn’t possibly be good. While those are accurate descriptors- and a sign that maybe the Ethiopian joints around town could benefit from a savvy PR campaign- oh, how wrong I was. After just one visit I was hooked, and now I make it a point to sample as many different Ethiopian spots as I can. Whether it’s your first or fiftieth trip for injera, the favorites below do not disappoint.

Etete
1942 9th Street NW

Every time my friends and I head to a show at the 9:30 Club, we make it a point to stop by Etete for dinner first. It’s gotten to the point where it’s an unspoken agreement that any concert can and will be accompanied by a shared vegetarian platter beforehand (friends who are willing to forego meat and split a meal with the annoying vegetarian are true friends indeed).

Of all the Ethiopian places I’ve been to, Etete is the one I’d recommend first for a date. The décor is warm and stylish, and the service is generally very good. Most importantly, the food is top notch, and it remains the standard by which I compare every other Ethiopian establishment.  The high quality of the food as well as the restaurant itself means that Etete gets away with slightly higher prices, and its popularity can result in crowds on the weekends; you may want to play it safe with reservations rather than risk a long wait. 

Dukem (contributed by Thirsty Ivy)
1114-1118 U Street NW

Dukem has captured my heart mostly because it has this surprising ability to be the perfect venue for both a fun, intimate date night and a rowdy bachelorette party. (Yes, I've been there for both.) The casual atmosphere and large dining room allow you to snuggle privately in the front corner or take up an entire section near the dance floor. The live music and dancing add a playful touch and quickly make you forget that you're still in the district.

Their vegetarian platters - filled with potato, lentil, curry, and greens dishes - are designed to be shared - either by two or twelve - and accommodate a variety of dietary preferences (namely, mine!). But a word of warning: if you take them up on their "with fish" option, be prepared to see a whole, fried fish on a plate. P.S. They also stock a handful of native beer! 


1344 U Street NW

I’d heard about the great jazz offerings at Twins Jazz for quite some time before I realized that they also served Ethiopian food -- a winning combination if ever I’ve heard one.

Twins Jazz features popular area jazz artists, and according to their website, also offers opportunities for young, aspiring musicians: “Music students are encouraged to participate in our weekly jam sessions, to learn their craft from more experience musicians. We aim to bring greater appreciation and understand of jazz from traditional to the contemporary.”

Source
Now, given that it’s a jazz venue, it obviously can get a little loud (and, fair warning -- when I visited on a recent hot day, it was quite warm inside). If you’re only looking for some good food, you’d probably be better off checking out one of the other establishments included in this list. But for those who want a little something more than dinner, Twins Jazz is a great, unique option. It also offers more choices for those who may be wary of traditional Ethiopian cuisine; the cheese nachos, for example, come topped with spicy red lentils and are amazingly good. 

Meskerem
2434 18th Street NW

Source
Meskerem is nestled between the busy strip of bars and restaurants along 18th Street, and I walked by it a million times (slight exaggeration) before finally paying it a visit. My roommate and I stopped in after a long day of moving, and were then somewhat dismayed to find ourselves seated at a table like those shown in the picture on the left. 

Fortunately, the hostess very graciously accepted our plea to sit in chairs with backs, and moved us to a table by the front window, a great spot to rest our weary bones and spy on the always interesting scene along 18th Street.  And the traditional seating inside is quite lovely, so long as you don’t go on a day when you can barely bend down to tie your shoes.  

Selam 
1524 U Street NW

Source
Selam is a family run, no-frills restaurant (read: not a great date spot) that boasts some of the best food in town. The cuisine is Eritrean, which is similar to Ethiopian -- meaning that it’s all of the tasty goodness you’ve come to expect but with a slightly different twist. As an added bonus, the food tends to run a bit cheaper than it does at competing venues. 

While I’ve always found the staff at the small restaurant to be extremely nice and accommodating, the service can be slow, even when it doesn’t appear to be crowded. Last time I visited, I spotted a few people dining solo at the bar, watching TV on the flat screen across the room.  Selam is an ideal spot for such an outing, or even just for chatting with the friendly owners while sipping a drink from their well-stocked bar.

Benethiopia (a Fojol Brothers food truck)
Check Twitter for the day’s location

Source
Words cannot describe the joy I felt upon first learning that the Fojol Brothers had an Ethiopian food truck. While I like a good cupcake truck as much as the next girl, I can leave my office and find a tasty cupcake within a few blocks, no matter which direction I walk. I can’t say the same for Ethiopian food, which is why having a truck that makes an often inaccessible food suddenly accessible is rather genius. 

The Pick 2 option ($8) will provide you more than enough food for lunch (including ample injera), though the truly hungry can order the Pick 3 ($11). I almost always choose the collard greens and split peas when they're on the menu (there are always four vegetarian choices) but the lentils are deliciously spicy and I’ve heard from my meat-eating coworkers that the beef berbere is quite good, too.

Ethiopic
401 H Street NE

H Street is all the rage these days, and with good reason (I’ll save the waxing poetic for another post), and Ethiopic is a fantastic addition to its already impressive restaurant scene.

The atmosphere is what my friend calls "simple chic," with a clean and modern design.  Like Etete, the comparatively upscale setting and excellent food make it a bit pricier than its competitors, but only slightly so.  Ethiopic is a great option for the weekend when you're planning to hit the bars afterward, and a good preventative tactic against over-imbibing -- the delicious injera will slow your alcohol absorption and help you exercise better judgment when deciding whether or not you really need that third slushie (sorry, I mean Awesomeness) from Little Miss Whiskey's. 

Those are only a handful of the great Ethiopian offerings around D.C, but it's time to wrap this post up -- let us know your favorite spots below!   


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Best Cupcake in the District

Have you ever wondered where to get the best cupcake in the District?

If yes, read on! If no, then we probably wouldn't be friends in real life (just kidding...kinda).

A few weeks ago my wonderful roommate threw me one hell of a birthday party. The theme was a "cupcake tasting." Yup, I do have the best roommate ever in the history of roommates. I found her on craigslist two years ago and it was pretty much love at first sight.

In preparation for the party, my roommate pre-ordered cupcakes from the following D.C. area bakeries*:
The cupcakes displayed at my party

Baked and Wired

Sprinkles

Georgetown Cupcake

Crumbs

Red Velvet

Buzz Bakery

Safeway (just for shits and giggles)








Now, we all know the key feature to any accurate taste testing is that the participants do not know what they are tasting. Aka a true blind taste test.

So, my roommate set up an elaborate blind taste testing system. She labeled each type of cupcake so that she knew which cupcakes were from where but no one else did. She handed out pieces of paper and pens so that we could each record our votes. There were approximately 16 participants in the taste testing.

First**, we voted on what bakery we thought would win the test. The general consensus among the 16 tasters was Baked and Wired.

Next, one-by-one, we tried a slice of each type of cupcake. We did not know what type we were trying. At the end we voted on our favorite. My roommate tallied up the votes and announced the winner.

The winner? Georgetown Cupcake.

I must say that I was a little disappointed because I think that GT Cupcake gets too much hype. That the show is what makes the cupcakes popular. But, I was wrong. The cream cheese frosting was the best frosting and the cupcake itself was extremely moist and chocolatey.

The second place? Safeway.

BUT I think this was rigged. Three of the guys attending the party guessed which cupcake was Safeway (it wasn't hard -- the frosting tasted like a mixture of plastic and sugar) and voted for it just to be pains in the ass(no surprise here, but it was Matt from Third Date Cooking and his two friends).

So, there you have it. Georgetown Cupcakes has the best cupcake in the District (out of the places that we tried).

Insiders tip: next time you need cupcakes, pre-order them and you can cut the line at Georgetown Cupcakes. It was pretty awesome to waltz past all the tourists waiting in line.




* I know that are many more cupcakeries in the District, but we had to narrow it down to a reasonable level.

**Actually, that's a lie. The first thing we did was pop some champagne and chow down on homemade lobster rolls I made with the 20 live Maine lobsters my kick-ass brother shipped down to me as a birthday present.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Where to Take Your Dad When He Visits

Back in October, I gave you an itinerary for when your mother visits. But of course, you didn't come from her alone: Your dad had an equal hand in your creation, likely teaching you how to drive a car and loveably screwing up by putting pancake batter in the toaster. How better, then, to show him your appreciation for raising you the right way than planning an awesome visit?

Here are a couple of surefire wins for a weekend in D.C. with pops:



FOR A MUST-SEE MEMORIAL: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial


While the Jefferson dome is one of the iconic landmarks of D.C., fewer people visit this memorial than do the Lincoln or the Washington simply because if you're not a local, it can be confusing to get to. But don't let that deter you: Metro with dear ol' dad to the Smithsonian stop and get out on Independence Avenue. Walk along Independence to 15th Street; turn left and walk to the Tidal Basin. Follow the path around to the steps of the Jefferson.

The long walk will be worth it. Once you climb the steps to face our nation's third president, immediately turn around: You'll see a gap in the famous cherry blossom trees, through which you can see directly to the White House. It's a view unlike any other.

And of course, for something that really NOBODY does, go underneath the memorial to the small exhibit and gift shop. It mostly focuses on Jefferson's time founding the University of Virginia, but it's a cozy museum that offers up facts unseen elsewhere in D.C.


FOR A HISTORY-LADEN DAY TRIP: A private tour of Antietam National Battlefield, 5831 Dunker Church Road, Sharpsburg, Md.

Famous photograph of the Antietam Battlefield. That church -- the Dunker Church -- still stands on that spot.
In my 29 years as a daughter, I have found one truth to be self-evident: Dads LOVE the Civil War. They watch documentaries about it on the History Channel, they read books about it, they collect memorabilia. It is entirely possible that my dad is slightly more obsessed than other people's dads, but this I promise you -- something about having a kid makes men go, "Hmm, I think I'd like to learn about General Beaureguard today."

Which brings us to Antietam: The site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War is practically right in our backyard, and if you haven't been there, you need to go see it. And when you go, spend $75 to get you and your dad a private battlefield guide from Antietam Battlefield Guides.

These guys are more passionate about Civil War history than anyone I've ever met -- so passionate, in fact, that even if you hated your history classes in high school, you'll still find this day to be extremely interesting an entertaining. The guide my dad and I hired had conducted such extensive research, he'd even drawn his own maps of the direction of the conflict. It was day I'll never forget, and my dad LOVED it more than anything else I've ever taken him to do.

You'll need a car for this one, so either update your Zipcar subscription or obtain a rental.



FOR A NICE DINNER: The Caucus Room, 401 9th St. NW

(Editor's note: Watch out -- their website plays music, for those in a cubicle right now.)

This is a big, fat steak restaurant about midway between the Capitol Building and the White House. And what do you get when those things meet? Politicians dining with lobbyists and all other manner of important people.

Make note: This is not a trendy spot. You probably won't catch any Hollywood celebrities grabbing a bite here. But for seasoned political watchers, you might recognize some of the more powerful names, if not their faces, in the country chowing down on a hunk of red meat.

Filet Oscar at The Caucus Room
Your dad will love the classic juicy steaks and bold red wines. For me personally, it just doesn't get any better than the Filet Oscar at The Caucus Room -- Perfection on a plate. And Food & Wine Magazine agrees, naming it one of the best steaks in the United States.



FOR BRUNCH THE NEXT DAY: Cedar, 822 E St. NW

It can be a pain in the ass to get a reservation for brunch in this town, amirite?! Not so with Cedar, a manly, wood-decorated place that is in the basement of the building with only a small sign out in front. Its underground location (which makes it sound like a speakeasy, I realize, but that's not really what we're dealing with here) makes it easy to pass by or overlook, simply because you don't see people inside dining. Which means it's perfect, because the food is amazing, the service is impeccable and you and your dad will have your choice of seating.

And, let me just make a note about the decor: The place actually is all done up in cedar wood, through which they have images of cedar trees, making you feel like you're dining in a log cabin somewhere -- an excellent place to bring the father who took you camping when you were 10.

Additionally, any place that has French-press coffee holds a place in my heart. You and your dad will definitely have a bonding moment over a pot of their Sumatra bold blend.


So call up your dad and start planning his visit! He'll be guaranteed to have a great time with these places.



Monday, July 16, 2012

How to Survive The Day Your Ex Gets Married

Ladies, it’s bound to happen sometime, as much as we don’t want to think about it… the day will come when a guy from our past gets married. Whether he dumped you, you dumped him, or you both ended things amicably… one day, a man we once cared for will devote the rest of his life to another woman. Regardless of how much we are over him, or truly glad that he has found someone so perfect for him, there is a little part of our hearts that will hurt. So fear not, girls, when this day comes, I have put together your guide to surviving your ex’s wedding day.
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Sure, it may be tempting to make slutty brownies, watch Lifetime on repeat, and listen to Adele, but my fellow she-girl man haters club members (yes, this is a rip off of Little Rascals), this is NOT the way Gamma Girls spend this “special” day. This day is about getting pretty and drinking and dancing with your girlfriends and the fair men of this fine city. 



First, and foremost, every girl needs a little pampering. So whether you get your hair blown out, your nails done, get a massage, or get a facial… darlin' it’s all about YOU today and feeling pretty.  
Perfection. Source.
Appealing Kate is a big fan of Bubbles blow outs, and Lord knows I am pretty excited (understatement of the year) for the Dry Bar to open up. In fact, most salons offer a shampoo and blow dry service, that is a much more cost effective option than a cut/color. Call your salon, head to your favorite stylist and give your hair a little va-va-va-voom. I promise you ladies, this will have you feeling like a princess in no time  (fun fact: HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, gets blow outs three times a week). 

And of course every pretty girl needs fantastic fingers and toes. Capital Katie loves Cindy’s Nails, and be on the lookout soon for the Gamma Girls guide to getting (reasonably priced) perfectly manicured nails in the district.  

If I’m being completely honest, aside from Pugs, spa days are a girl’s real best friend. Elizabeth Arden Red Door spas are like a dream. The smells, the music, the fluffy robes… perfection. Yes, it is a bit pricey, but on a day like today the splurge is totally justified. So whether you’re looking for a massage, a facial, or any other relaxing spa treatment, I recommend the Red Door in Pentagon City. Plus, if you have an existing client refer you, you can get a discount on your first visit. Massage Envy is also a great alternative and offers a great first-time visitor discount, as well. Finally, take a cue from Extreme Couponing and keep an eye out on the “deal sites.” Groupon, Living Social, Daily Deal, etc. run spa special deals regularly. Always be on the lookout, girls, you never know when you’ll NEED a massage. (Photo Source)

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After you are beautified, put on your best dress, heels, grab your girlfriends and head out on the town. Tonight is the night you want the male to female ratio to be highly in your favor. So you want to visit bars that men frequent. If politicos or military men are up your alley then, Capital Katie has you covered. If there is a major sporting event, Redline is bound to be hopping with eligible men (but fair warning, be prepared to play second fiddle to the game). Finally, Jack Rose tavern is always swarming with whiskey drinking gentlemen and has never disappointed. In fact, Thirsty Ivy was very lucky and some of my birthday magic drifted her way the last time we visited. And, let’s be real, it is always a great idea to head to Rumors or The Guards to dance your worries away and laugh until you cry (totally plagiarized from Appealing Kate).

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Now when that time of the night arrives and your freshly blown out hair is in a sweaty messy ponytail on top of your head, you are seriously debating walking home barefoot, and are laughing at everything in sight, the only thing left is to grab yourself some jumbo slice and call it a night. Make sure your girls spend the night so you can re-live college, wake up with a pounding headache, and go through your hilarious iPhone photos. Naturally you'll head to brunch and giggle while talking about the awesomely “bad decisions” you made the night before. All in all, the perfect night.

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So ladies… get pampered, dress up, follow this plan and you will have made so many new memories that you will barely even remember that some guy got married!  

Yours in Spice Girls, Britney Spears, and Tina Turner “Girl Power” Singing,




Friday, July 13, 2012

What to do in the District this Weekend

I've got to be honest that I'm pretty thankful to be alive right now, because I was seriously concerned I would melt to death last week.  Some people call me dramatic.  I just say that I know what my body is capable of handling.  And this girl from Maine is NOT equipped to handle 105+ days.  I actually think the only reason I'm still alive and kicking is because I opted for an air-conditioned yoga studio instead of my usual outdoor running AND because I may or may not have bought one of these:
Yes, it's pink. I know you're all shocked.
That said, the weather is back to bearable!  And just in time, because there are loads and loads of fun summer activities in and around the District this weekend!


Tonight

Tonight is week eight of Jazz in the Garden at the National Sculpture Garden and will feature jazz vocalist, Juanita Williams.  After relaxing with some sangria and good conversation, head over to the Truckeroo at the Fairgrounds (near Yard's Park) to choose from 20 of your favorite food trucks.  I'm going to give a plug to Red Hook Lobster because...well, yeah, you all know that I'm obsessed with all things Maine.  And their lobster roll is legit.  

Another cool outdoor event tonight is taking place at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre (yeah, I never heard of it before today, either).  It's a huge outdoor theatre in Rock Creek Park that can hold over 3,500 people.  Tonight the Washington Post is sponsoring a FREE event that includes performances by three up and coming artists in the "neo soul" genre: Yahzarah, Deborah Bond, and Tamika "Love" Jones.  I can can think of nothing more relaxing that grabbing a few friends, a blanket, some snacks, and listening to soul music in Rock Creek Park as the sun sets.  There are no advanced tickets, so get there early as seating is all first come, first serve.

Saturday

Guess what boys and girls?  It's Bastille Day!  And there are celebrations all over our great city.  Maybe it's because our city was designed by the famous Frenchman, Pierre Charles L'Efant, or maybe it's just because we'll use any excuse to eat baguettes and drink wine?!?  Either way, there are a ton of fun events planned.

No surprise here, but the French Embassy has a rocking party planned.  Tickets are $100 BUT you'll get an open wine and champagne bar, and a buffet of delicious french food, including pomme frites (aka reallll french fries).  Remember all our Gamma Girl talk about L'Enfant Cafe's crazy-ass La Boom Brunch?  Well, the cafe is closing an ENTIRE block to celebrate Bastille Day.  The event will include...wait for it... a french maid relay race.  Yup, true story.  And they even plan to auction off a trip to Paris. 

After you've had your fill on all things french, head over to Pearl Dive for Oyster Tasting from 2pm-4pm.  Tickets are $55 plus tax and will include Argyle Sparkling Wine, Draft Beer, Heavy Hors D'oeuvres  and of course all the delicious ice cold local oysters you can eat!   

One of my favorite outdoor spots in the summer is Wolf Trap.  And tomorrow night it's, you know, only showing the THE WIZARD OF OZ on giant screens while the NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA plays the scores live.  Yes, I just said that in the most excited voice ever.  And, yes, my friends call me a dork on a regular basis.   Lawn seats are still available and only $20.

Sunday

I recently started following the blog Joe Flood.  And has he got a great idea outlined in his latest post: a photo walking tour from Dupont Circle to Georgetown.   The trail includes secret gardens, homes out of Architectural Digest, and Embassy Row.  My suggestion?  Grab brunch beforehand in Dupont at Firefly.  Not only does Firefly have a kick-ass brunch menu, but it also features $2 mimosas.  Um, yes, please. 

Looking for something a little more low-key?  Tonic in Mount Pleasant is hosting a summer cocktail making class from 5:30-6:30pm.  For $50, participants will learn how to make the most delicious, refreshing, summer drinks.  

Hope we've provided you with some fun ideas.  Hope you all have a great weekend!




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What to Do with Visiting Parents

Mombo [our affectionate name for our mother]: So, I was thinking that we should invite Billy and his wife to dinner when we come to visit. 

Me: Umm...you're coming to visit?  When?

Mombo: On our way up to Maine in a few weeks. [My brother lives in Portland, Appealing Kate's hometown.]

Me: You're going to Maine? So, if you're coming through D.C., I assume you will be driving? (My parents still live in FL and are taking several weeks to drive the greater part of the Eastern Seaboard for the third time in less than one year -- because that's apparently what you do when you are retired ... and bored.) 

Me: Wait a second ... why wasn't I invited? 

****

One of the perks/drawbacks of downsizing to my current Georgetown apartment is that I no longer have a spare bedroom for guests. Meaning, my parents won't be crashing with me. 

I'm not entirely off the hook, though. I still have to come up with a suggested itinerary for their stay here, complete with dining options (got it covered already) and daytime activities to keep them out of trouble while I'm at work and out of my apartment if I take time off.  

As I've mentioned before, my parents used to live here and have several friends and favorite haunts in the area. This comes in really handy (as in, they don't need directions) but is also extra-challenging (a la "Thirsty Ivy, take us somewhere new!")

I've started the planning process by doing what any of y'all would do in this situation ... I consulted the Doing the District archives! 

There are a handful of fresh options in Capital Katie's Where to Take Your Mother When She Visits. The Hillwood Estate, for example, is definitely on the menu now. 

My folks will have their car (read: I will be using it to stock up on lots of heavy things!), but they prefer not to drive much when they're in the city ... so I'm trying to come up with some more great options that we can either walk to or that is a quick cab/bus/metro ride away. These are my thoughts so far for not-so-obvious outings in the district ... 

What would you add?

1. The Old Stone House -- that cute little building that looks out of place on M Street in Georgetown and is one of the oldest buildings still standing in the city. Yes, it's within blocks of me. Yes, my brother spent several years at Georgetown University. No, no one in our family has ever visited. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?


2. The Citi Open (formerly known as the Legg Mason Tennis Classic), which is part of the U.S. Open series and is held in Rock Creek Park.  Because of the Olympics, the draw will be thinner than years past but some of my favorites are still on the list for now: Tommy Haas, Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey, and James Blake. My parents played (somewhat) competitively for most of their lives and remain BIG FANS, so this is sure to be a win with them ... even if they're only around for the opening matches.


3. The Corcoran Gallery of Art -- because it might be their last shot to visit in its current location (which still seems confusingly up-in-the-air). I don't know yet what days the Senior Thirsty clan will be here, but I'm hoping they'll be around for at least one Saturday (FREE Saturdays until Sept. 1). Plus, the Gallery is running a beach photography exhibition that I think my parents would enjoy. Plus, I'd enjoy an excuse to browse around the gift shop and find a birthday present for my hard-to-shop-for sister-in-law.

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4. The Kreeger Museum -- an art museum on Foxhall Road (up the street from Jettie's - yum!). Truth be told, this one made the list largely because I have a Google Offer that's expiring soon, and I've still never been. The museum closes to the public August 1 - September 10, so keep that in mind before you hike over there. I understand that the sculpture garden is quite impressive, as are the permanent collections from Africa and Asia. My parents aren't particularly artsy, but I have a feeling they'll dig the architecture, and hopefully they'll appreciate it as a new adventure!


5. The National Air and Space Museum - Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center -- aka the annex out by Dulles (breaking the no-car rule, obviously) and the new home of the space shuttle Discovery. (Remember how exciting Shuttle Tuesday was?!) Though I didn't grow up particularly close to Cape Canaveral, we could see night-time shuttle launches by walking outside and looking up. When/if a shuttle was able to land in FL, we were woken up with a loud boom as it reentered. Now the folks can take an up-close look at what was once their alarm clock!



That should be enough to keep the parents occupied during their two D.C. visits. Yes, two.  Remember, they're driving so they'll have to come back through here to get home from Maine.  And, yes, I am invited. 

So... what's on your must-hit list for non-first-time visitors?

Here's hoping your hosting skills make you the favorite child in your family too!  Please don't tell my brother I said that...