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It’s Time to Stop Referring to DC as a Transient City


From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

People love this city so much, they even make it permanent. (Luis Gomez Photos)

People love this city so much they even make it permanent. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Most Washingtonians can empathize with my biggest pet peeve. It’s a conversation — And it goes something like this:

New person making small talk (not from around here): Where do you live?

Me: DC.

New person: Oh, like Northern Virginia? (Then they probably mention something about how swell it would be to live near a mall like Tysons, which — purely a reflex — makes my eyes roll.)

Me: No. Like, DC.

Then comes the look of confusion.

“Oh I didn’t know people actually live in D.C…”

When I moved to the area four years ago, I didn’t know people actually live in DC, either. In fact, I was told that no one stays in DC for long.

“It’s a transient city,” I would hear.

Someone once described DC as a layover for the young, well-educated and eager types who want to “change the world” or “dip their feet in politics” before moving out to the suburbs to get married and make babies.

That was only four years ago. And the sad thing is, that sentiment still stands.

What is even more upsetting, is that I often hear that phrase, “transient city,” repeated by people who live in this city that I call “home,” not “hub.”

It’s time to put an end to that misconception. Because DC is not a transient city. It’s an amazing place to live — and especially now.

DC is a city in which one can find a job, start a business and start a family.

District residents can eat at a new restaurant every week, catch live music at an endless number of venues and watch theatre in the same neighborhood where the country’s political theatre takes place.

Without leaving city limits we can kayak on two rivers, cheer on five professional sports teams, go on a hike, take a bike ride and walk among the nation’s monuments.

It’s been ranked as one of the nation’s healthiest and wealthiest cities. And, as we can all attest, one of the best cities for happy hour (interpret that ranking as you may).

DC is rich in history and promises a bright future. It’s creative, it’s vibrant and it’s on the move.

Now, what about that list sounds transient?

In the past, the most “desirable” places to live in the District were often too expensive for those not making millions.

Now, areas formerly viewed as “a little too far from downtown” are attracting younger demographics, along with small and local businesses.

Neighborhoods and communities have always existed in the District. But a sense of community — especially among the young who move here without intentions to stay — is really taking root.

What people used to see as abandoned and disjointed sections of the city are seeing a revival in their playgrounds, their public schools and public works.

It would be naive of me to stand here and say that all of DC is perfect. There are still a lot of problems here. Many neighborhoods in the city need more funding, added jobs, better teachers, access to grocery stores and lower crime rates.

But looking at how much things have shifted in the last several years, I see nothing but hope — and love — for the District.

When I look at this city, I don’t see transient, I don’t see temporary.  I see home.

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Posted in LifestyleComments (16)

I’m Bringing Southern Back


From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

southern

Since I can’t go back to Charleston anytime soon, I’m bringing Charleston to me. (Rachel Nania)

Despite a tropical storm aiming straight for the southern part of the East Coast this weekend, I braved my way down I-95 and took a road trip to Charleston, S.C.

Yes, ma’am — I had plans for sun, paired with Southern cuisine and a side of Seersucker.

Boy, was I disappointed.

What I always remembered as a traditional, southern little city did not live up to my “leave your pinkie out while you sip your tea” and “remember to tie your bow” expectations.

In fact, it was quite the opposite. Charleston has transformed into the capital of cool.

Sure, the Seersucker, manners and bows are still around — and will always be preserved — but on top of all that is a top-notch local food movement, a booming boutique business, a cocktail scene like no other, skateboarders, and, oh yeah, beaches.

The whole trip home I was wanting to turn around and just head right back to Charleston. But since I can’t get back there for a few more months, I’m going to do my best to find a bit of Charleston in DC.

That’s right, I am on a mission to get southern in Borderstan.

Bourbon: One thing they take very seriously in Charleston is bourbon. And thankfully, so does Bourbon on 18th Street. Not only does this place have lots of — well, bourbon — it also serves bowls of tots, fish and chips and grilled BBQ salmon. 14th Street’s Back Whiskey also has you covered in terms of beverage selections and locally sourced small plates.

Locally-Sourced Southern Food: Shrimp and grits, crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies — I could keep going. But I’ll stop. Thankfully, there are several places in the area that serve up some great southern food. Next time you have a hankering, try the cornmeal fried oysters and Spoonbread at The Pig.

Still hungry? Eatonville has Hushpuppies, po boys and catfish and grits. And we absolutely can’t leave off Oohs and Aahs on U Street. The fried chicken will make you say more than “ooh.”

Chic Boutiques and Local Businesses: Finding chic designs isn’t too difficult in Charleston — and it’s pretty easy to find the same in Borderstan. Classy outfits? Check out Ginger Root Design. Something a little more edgy? Redeem. Home decor? Good Wood.

Greenery and Gardens: One of my favorite parts of Charleston is the courtyard gardens, visible from the streets in downtown Charleston. While the gardens in DC. are not as popular as the ones in Charleston, you can catch some great greenery up and down the side residential streets in Dupont Circle or at Meridian Hill Park.

Surfers: Sorry. Charleston still wins on this one.

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Cookout Season Means Cookie Season


"cookie"

Bring these cookies to your next cookout. (Rachel Nania)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

‘Tis the season for cookouts. And if you’re looking to bring something other than potato salad — while still trying to stick with the classics — you must try this recipe for the perfect chocolate chip cookies. They’re sweet, they’re gooey… and best of all, they’re salty.

So the next time you get invited to a barbecue or the beach, fill your cooler with a batch of these (and a beer of choice, of course).

Rachel’s Summer Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients 

  • 2 ÂĽ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 sticks butter
  • Âľ cup of granulated sugar
  • Âľ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 bag of bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks of good chocolate, broken into small pieces

Directions

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter completely.
  2. Mix the brown sugar and the granulated sugar in with the butter and stir for a minute until chunks are dissolved.
  3. Then (once cool, please do not add to hot butter), add in the eggs and vanilla and continue to stir. Set aside.
  4. In a separate dish, combine the flour, the baking soda, the sea salt and mix.
  5. Add the chocolate chips and coat them with the dry ingredients (this helps to keep them from completely melting in the baking process). Then, combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until fully incorporated.
  6. Spoon the dough out onto a baking sheet and bake the cookies at 375 for 10-12 minutes (just keep an eye on them and test frequently).

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Posted in Food & DrinkComments Off

Today Get Your Cheesesteak on at Taylor Gourmet


From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

Taylor Gourmet's D.C. locations will serve cheesesteaks next week.  (Luis Gomez photos).

Taylor Gourmet’s DC locations will serve cheesesteaks next week. (Luis Gomez photos).

If you haven’t made it out to H Street for Steak & Ice — or can’t make it as often as you would like — but love the guys from Taylor Gourmet, you’re in luck.

Taylor Gourmet is bringing Steak & Ice to four of its DC locations, for one day at each location, including the Dupont Circle location (1200 19th Street NW) and the 14th Street location (1908 14th Street NW).

Taylor Gourmet co-owner Casey Patten will be at each Taylor Gourmet location on its specific day, making each cheesesteak.

The Schedule

  • May 28: Penn Quarter (624 E Street NW)
  • May 29: DuPont Circle (1200 19th Street NW)
  • May 30: 14th Street (1908 14th Street NW)
  • May 31: City Vista (485 K Street NW)

The Details

  • Starting at 11 am, select Taylor Gourmet locations will serve up Steak & Ice’s Philly cheesesteak goodness.
  • There will only be 50 cheesesteaks per location, first come, first serve.
  • Menu options include the Original Ribeye Cheesesteak (or chicken breast)
    • Wit or Wit Out (with onions or without onions).
    • Choice of original whiz, house made white whiz, provolone or American cheese.
  • A small Italian water ice is free for each cheesesteak purchase.

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What $20 Gets You in Borderstan: Food, Drink, Art, Music!


"Borderstan"

Not hard to have fun in a budget in Borderstan. (Luis Gomez Photos

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

Borderstan certainly has options when it comes to an expensive night out. From wining and dining at the latest restaurants, to evenings filled with theatre and live music, Borderstan offers a little bit of everything for a top-shelf experience. Hell, even parking (or a parking ticket) will cost you a chunk of your wallet.

However, just because the price tags on some of the neighborhood’s items are higher than you’d like to pay, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great night out at a moderate price.

Often, I put myself on a budget of $20 – but that doesn’t stop me from going to some of the area’s best spots. Here’s what $20 will get you in Borderstan.

  • Floriana: Crepes with Meyer lemon, housemade ricotta and mission fig glaze AND a glass of pinot noir. Nothing beats Floriana (1602 17th Street NW) for fantastic Italian food in an intimate setting. And the best news: You don’t need a Benjamin to experience it all. My secret is to order a starter and a good glass of wine. That way, you can enjoy a delicious and seasonal taste (and wine!) for under $20.
  • 9:30 Club: An evening with Best Coast. The 9:30 Club (815 V Street NW) is one of the best venues on the East Coast to see the nation’s best bands. And thankfully, most tickets are right around (or less than) $20. On June 4, California-based indie band Best Coast is bringing its Los Angeles-inspried rock to (what I like to call) the best coast. Tickets are $20 and include two opening bands.
  • Local 16: One personal pizza and three drinks. Local 16 (1602 U Street NW) has one of the best happy hours in the neighborhood – and it lasts until 8 pm, which is arguably the best part. For $20, you can get a pizza (tomato, mozzarella and basil) for $5 and three glasses of wine or three featured cocktails ($5 each), like the mojito.
  • Local galleries and The Pig: An evening of art, plus lentil and bacon stew and a cocktail. Exposing yourself to culture doesn’t mean you need to expose your bank account to the negative sign. The best thing about having so many art galleries around is that you can browse various exhibits for free. Check out Contemporary Wing (1412 14th Street NW), Gallery plan b (1530 14th Street NW) and Hamiltonian Gallery (1353 U Street NW) for their latest exhibits. Then, head over to The Pig (1320 14th Street NW) for a Lentil and bacon stew with pomegranate reduction and herbed crème fraiche ($10) and the Wilbur cocktail (redemption rye and pineapple-rosemary syrup for $9.50).
  • Black Cat: Titus Andronicus and a beer. On Sunday, May 19, catch favorite band Titus Andronicus at the Black Cat (1811 14th Street NW) for $15 and score a beer before the show for $5. Opening band is So So Glos. Enjoy your night!
  • Masa 14: Two appetizers and two cocktails. The happy hour at Masa 14 (1825 14th Street NW) is very friendly toward the $20 budget. For less than $20, you can score two mojitos (or margaritas) and two appetizers (like a crunchy shrimp handroll or marinated portobello pao buns). Everything on the happy hour menu is $4 each.

Of course there are many other $20 combinations in and around the neighborhood. What are some of your favorites?

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Developer for Shaw’s Parcel 42 Selected; 105-Unit Building Planned


"Parcel 42"

Parcel 42 is at the corner of 7th and R / 7th and Rhode Island NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

The deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development (PED) has selected the developer for Parcel 42 — a plot of land in Shaw at 7th Street NW and Rhode Island Avenue NW, and a rectangular lot at 7th and R Streets.

Several bidders met the qualifications of the previously solicited Request for Expressions of Interest, but PED selected Shaw 42 Developers, LLC, a joint venture between TenSquare and the Chapman Development Group.

The planned development includes a 105-unit residential building with ground floor retail, according to a previous profile from Urban Turf. The development will consist of studio, one-and-two-bedroom units, with room for retail.

ANC 6E-02 Commissioner Kevin Chapple says the proposal from Shaw 42 Developers was most attractive to the city because the group offers the city a 99-year ground lease. This means that after 99 years, the land and the building on Parcel 42 will revert back to the ownership and control of the city government, unless otherwise negotiated.

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Ross Elementary’s ‘Buy-a-Book-for-Kids’ Event Starts Friday


From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

"Ross School"

Ross Elementary School at 1730 R Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Ross Elementary School‘s annual Mother’s and Father’s Day “Buy-a-Book-for-Kids” event will take place April 26-29 at two locations: The Safeway on 17th Street NW and the Dupont Farmers Market.

The fundraiser — which is the third largest for the school— helps Ross buy appropriate and updated books for its classrooms and library.

However, this book sale isn’t like most. Here’s how it works:

  1. Participants donate $25 to buy a book for the Ross library in honor of a loved one. 
  2. The Ross PTA sends the honoree a letter informing them of the gift in their name. Letters are timed to arrive on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, depending on the request of the buyer. 
  3. Then, the PTA inserts a book-plate inscribed with the donor and honoree’s names in the book purchased.
  4. Ross students enjoy quality literature for years to come, and loved ones are honored!

Here’s when you can take part in ”Buy-a-Book-for-Kids.”

Dates and Places

  • Friday, April 26: 8 am to 9 am in front of Ross Elementary; 3 to 4 pm in front of Ross Elementary School, 1730 R Street NW.
  • Saturday, April 27: 9 am to 4 pm in front of the 17th Street Safeway, Church and 17th Street NW.
  • Sunday, April 28: 9 am to 1 pm at Dupont Farmers Market, Massachusetts Avenue and 20th Street NW.
  • Monday, April 29: 8 am to 9 am in front of Ross Elementary; 3 to 4 pm in front of Ross Elementary.

Can’t make it to one of the sales? Donations are also welcome online or by mail.

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Sunday: Glen’s Garden Market Grand Opening


"Glen's"

Glen’s Garden Market to open Sunday, April 21. Click above to see pictures of the space. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

Glen’s Garden Market is opening this weekend, Sunday, April 21 at 20th and S Streets NW. Check out the photos of the interior of the new store.

Sunday may seem odd for an opening day, but owner Danielle Vogel planned to open the hyper-local focused specialty food store in conjunction with Earth Day.

Vogel, a self-described fourth generation grocer, decided to open her own store after several years of working on environmental policy on the Hill.  After experiencing frustration with the job — and more specifically frustration with the climate bill — Vogel decided to take the climate’s destiny in her own hands, with a store that minimizes environmentally harmful practices.

What to Expect at Glen’s

Here’s what you can expect to see/taste at Glen’s:

  • A bar/beverage area with local draft beers, bottled draft beers, a wide selection of local wines (lots of Virginia wines) and a wine dispensing machine.
  • A fully-stocked specialty meat and cheese counter. Think: spicy bison pastrami, beef pastrami and other hand-sliced local meats.
  • Locally-sourced chocolates. No need to say more.
  • Recycled interiors, such as wood that was used at a cattle fence at one of the locally-sourced farms.

The 5,000-square-foot space focuses on food and drink from the states of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which includes DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New York.

Vogel, who has been working to open the space for two years says she chose the location because she feels the neighborhood will “welcome a concept like ours.”

Glen’s is opening in the former site of a Townhouse Safeway grocery store, which closed in 2010.

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Posted in Business, Food & DrinkComments Off

ScratchDC Expands Service Area and Invites You to a Party


From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

"ScratchDC"

ScratchDC is expanding its service area. (Ashley Lusk)

ScratchDC — a local company that plans, measures and delivers organic and locally-sourced ingredients for a home cooked meal — is expanding its services to include Georgetown, Glover Park, Arlington and Alexandria starting Monday, April 15.

To celebrate the expansion, scratchDC is throwing a customer appreciation happy hour and celebration in Saturday, April 14, from 4 to 7 pm at Ulah Bistro (1214 U Street NW). The party will include appetizers, hors d’oeuvres and happy hour drink specials. There’s also talk of some free giveaways and other prizes.

For more information on the event, contact Ryan Hansan at hi[AT]scratchDC.com.

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DC Ranks Seventh as Most Walkable City; Dupont Tops List


From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

"Dupont"

Dupont, Logan and the West End DC’s most walkable neighborhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Overall, the Dupont Circle neighborhood pulled in a Walk Score of 98, followed by the West End and downtown.

The area’s mix of homes, apartment buildings, restaurants and stores — plus its proximity to downtown offices and buildings — makes Dupont an incredibly convenient and walkable neighborhood.

According to the article, America’s number one walkable city is New York, followed by San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.

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