by Borderstan.com February 27, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

From Joey Gavrilovich. Follow him on Twitter @joeygDC, email him at joey[AT]borderstan.com

"Human Services"

There is still investment in human service providers in the neighborhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The imminent closure and relocation of Central Union Mission to make way for 50 condo units and retail spaces at 1350 R Street NW would seem to present a potent symbol of displacement brought about by urban renewal.

But, even as construction of sleek condos and new business spaces continues at a dizzying pace up and down 14th Street NW, at least two human service fixtures in the neighborhood have seen recent investment in significant structural renewals that have helped revitalize core services, sending a strong indication to the broader community that they are here to stay.

Just since the start of 2013, both Martha’s Table, a provider of education, nutrition, clothing, and family support to people living in poverty, and N Street Village, a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in the District, have received exhaustive and much-needed renovations to a space that is the very heart of any service provider: their kitchens.

Partnerships Drove Renovations

For each organization, the renovations came about primarily as a result of private partnerships with businesses which saw a strong opportunity for community investment. N Street Village’s ongoing funding partnership with lifestyle media company Scripps Networks Interactive led to their kitchen improvements in January.

Celebrity interior designer Alison Victoria, host of DIY Network’s Kitchen Crashers, came to N Street Village and worked with a local contractor to design and install an efficient and functional kitchen for residents of the organization’s night shelter, starting and completing the project in less than one week.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Martha’s Table’s new kitchen space held on February 12, Edward Allera, a co-managing shareholder of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, cited the revitalization of the area around 14th and U Streets as a reason behind his firm’s desire to invest in the project. The firm partnered with Martha’s Table to secure $30,000 in donations for the kitchen renovation, and provided a matching grant for the same amount, which proved to be crucial to the project’s success.

“We hope that the momentum created by our matching grant continues and that donations continue to roll in,” said Allera, acknowledging that the kitchen project spearheads Martha’s Table’s ongoing expansion and growth planned for the next several years. The organization recently hired Patty Stonesifer, formerly the founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as its new president. Ms. Stonesifer begins her work with Martha’s Table on April 1.

“As we move forward,” said Allera, of his firm’s partnership with Martha’s Table, “this grant is just part of our ongoing commitment.”

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by Borderstan.com February 27, 2013 at 6:00 am 0

"Cathedral"

National Cathedral is by ep_jhu from the Borderstan Flickr pool.

Photos of the Day are pulled from the Borderstan Reader Photos pool on Flickr.

Today’s photo, National Cathedral is by ep_jhu. The photo was taken on February 17 on a clear cold morning.

If you don’t already have a Flickr account, you will need to sign up for one, and then join the Borderstan Reader Photos group. Already a Flickr member? Join the group! You can submit up to five photos per day in the Borderstan reader pool. We are looking for photos from DC’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

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by Borderstan.com February 26, 2013 at 5:00 pm 0

"street"

DC street sweeping: Time to move the car again, at least once a week. (Luis Gomez Photos)

A sure sign that spring is right around the corner, residential street sweeping will resume on Friday, March 1.

The DC Department of Public Works (DPW) says posted signs identify the days of the week and hours of the day when parking restrictions will be enforced so the sweepers can clean the streets effectively.

Gradual Enforcement Until March 11

However, parking enforcement of residential sweeping violations won’t be enforced until Monday, March 11, to give motorists a few days to get used to the parking restrictions.

“The residential street sweeping program is among our most successful operations to keep DC streets clean,” said DPW Director William O. Howland, Jr. in a press release:

“We have expanded it over the years to accommodate more and more residents willing to move their cars to allow the sweepers access to the curb lane where debris and pollutants collect. We also want to make sure commuters and visitors are aware that the parking restriction applies to all motorists and a $30 ticket can be issued for violating the restriction.”

DPW street sweepers cover about 4,000 lane miles monthly. For more information about street sweeping, visit the agency website.

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by Borderstan.com February 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm 0

"CrossFit"

CrossFitDC at 1722 14th Street NW, between R and S Streets. (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.

Are you ready for Spring and to get all of the sweaters off and show how fit you are?

There is another option in the neighborhood when it comes to fitness. CrossFit DC has been working for the last couple of months on its new location at 1722 14th Street NW. They are now open and offering different packages starting at the beginners level up to the veteran.

CrossFit is fitness by design to give each individual what they are looking for and what they need at their own pace. The old location of Green Pets on 14th Street was turned into a 4,000 square foot facility that has the most modern equipment. From their site we got a list of what they have available:

  • Concept 2 Rowers
  • Barbells (including specific women’s bars)
  • Bumper plates in pounds and kilograms
  • Olympic lifting platforms
  • Airdyne Bikes
  • Specialty bars, chains and bands for Westside Barbell programming
  • Glute Hamstring Developers and Reverse Hyper
  • 30-foot Rogue pullup bar
  • Climbing ropes

CrossFit DC joins a number of gyms in the neighborhood.

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by Borderstan.com February 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]borderstan.com

March 13 Special Election. (Luis Gomez Photos)

A March 13 special election will fill the ANC 2B-05 seat. (Luis Gomez Photos)

There will be a special election March 13 to fill a vacant seat on the Dupont-area Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B. The Single Member District (SMD) 05 seat fell vacant after unchallenged incumbent Victor Wexler withdrew his candidacy before the last November’s election.

It seems probable that a small number of votes will decide the election. SMDs each have about 2,000 people. The most hotly-contested ANC races appearing on November ballots rarely get more than 900 voters.

The number of voters is often far below that, and the margins of victory are very small. Moreover, special elections for ANC seats sometimes draw no more than 100 voters.

In this case, a nearby DC Council At-Large Special Election forum, which will be held on the same night, might further drain off voters who take a special interest in local politics.

Two Candidates Running for Seat

Two candidates are vying for the seat: Abigail Nichols and Dito Sevilla. (Full disclosure: Dito Sevilla is a Borderstan contributor.)

The election will take place on the sidelines of ANC 2B’s regular monthly meeting at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW. Polls will be open from 7:15 pm to 9:30 pm only. You must be a registered voter in District ANC 2B-05 to vote.

SMD ANC 2B-05 is bordered by H Street on the south, Corcoran Street on the north, and 15th Street on the east. The western border is a jagged line which, from the south of the district, runs up 17th Street to Connecticut Avenue to 18th Street, before turning east on Massachusetts Avenue for one block and north again on 17th Street.

"special election"

Click for a larger map of ANC 2B-05. (DC Citizen Atlas)

Election manager Gottlieb Simon from ANC 2B said that voters would be required either to have their names appear on a list provided by the DC Board of Election and Ethics (DCBOEE) or provide a valid DC Voter Registration Card in order to vote.

It is too late for unregistered votes to register by mail or online, but voters who register in person during normal business hours at DCBOEE offices (441 4th Street NW, Suite 250 North) and get a Voter Registration Card will be eligible to vote. There is no absentee voting for this election.

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by Borderstan.com February 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

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

"ball"

The 2013 Brewer’s Ball. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The Brewer’s Ball will take place this Saturday, March 2 at the National Building Museum  (401 F Street NW).

The annual event, which benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, will feature a variety of handcrafted microbrews from more than a dozen of the region’s microbreweries and brewpubs.

The ball will also feature food from local restaurants (including Borderstan’s Masa 14, Ulah Bistro, Shake Shack, Jack Rose and matchbox), live entertainment and a silent auction.

Tickets start at $130 and can be purchased online. The event begins at 7 pm and goes until midnight.

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by Borderstan.com February 26, 2013 at 10:00 am 9 Comments

"Money"

Working to eat? (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Lauren Levine. Email her at lauren[AT]borderstan.com

You’re a young professional, and you live in the District. Your “save the world” job makes you feel good, but it only puts Shake Shack on the table and you’re looking for some Birch & Barley. Our generation loves food (for proof, check Instagram). Yet food has us counting more than just calories. Here are a few suggestions for making the most delicious and cost effective decisions.

Lunch

I don’t even want to count how much I’ve spent in 2013 on Sweetgreen salads (damn you February seasonal salad for being so delicious). Buying lunch out five days a week will add up before you can even figure out how to pronounce Pret a Manger. The minimum $6 you spend for lunch will add up to nearly $1,500 over the course of a year.

Obviously, you can bring lunch. I aim for compromise by telling myself that I can only eat lunch out Monday and Friday, but must bring lunch Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. If not bringing, try finding your local cheap eats. Food trucks and mom-and-pop type shops usually have more affordable prices than your DC-wide lunch staples. Also, skip the drink and chips. Nantucket Nectars is delicious and expensive.

Brunch

I used to fear those “birthday dinner” invitations – you know when your friend makes everyone go to a fancy restaurant because suddenly drinking excessively for someone’s birthday isn’t enough? Well that still sucks, but I’m more scared by brunch. Do I want to go to brunch with you? Hell yeah. I love me a bloody mary and some crab cake Eggs Benedict. But it is expensive to go to brunch in DC these days!

I have a “one brunch per week” rule. For the other days, bagels are an excellent solution to any breakfast problem. You can buy a dozen and invite friends over, probably for cheaper than brunch, and you can ask your friends to bring the mimosas. For a romantic bagel brunch, walk to Bethesda Bagel and bring your bagel to Dupont Circle. Too trendy for bagels? Wander the farmers market with friends, grab some goodies and sit down then and there to share and enjoy.

Groceries

I don’t need to elaborate here – groceries in the district are prohibitively expensive, even compared to other cities.

Have you met my friend Joe? He’s a trader, and while his produce is terrible, his prices are right. Thankfully there’s another one opening up at 14th and U. It can be hard to be an extreme couponer when you don’t live in the middle of Nebraska with a shed devoted to stock piling groceries, but you gotta work the deals to save some cash. If there’s a 2-for-1 sale on couscous, eat couscous all week! Learn how to freeze extras.

Or, the next time you find yourself outside of the District, hit a grocery store there and I guarantee you’ll save money.

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by Borderstan.com February 26, 2013 at 9:30 am 0

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

Borderstan

A town hall to discuss the state of DC fashion. (Luis Gomez Photos)

In the past, town hall meetings have been called to discuss issues such as small business, health care and the economy. But on Wednesday, February 27, OS Fashion and The Selected Few will host a town hall to discuss the future of fashion in the District.

The meeting’s participants include Peter Corbett, founder and CEO of iStrategyLabs; Keith Sellars, president and CEO of Washington, DC Economic Partnership; Ryan Fox, tailor and legacy of William Fox & Co.; Dian Holton, editorial art director with AARP The Magazine; and Grant Harris, owner and chief style consultant, Image Granted, LLC.

The meeting will take place at iStrategy Labs (1630 Connecticut Avenue NW, 7th floor) from 6 until 9 pm. The event is RSVP only and is $10 for OS Fashion Members and $20 for non-members.

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by Borderstan.com February 26, 2013 at 9:00 am 0

"hair"

Your hair deserves an affair. (Melanie Hudson)

From Melanie Hudson. Follow her at @champagne_me or Email her at melanie[AT]borderstan.com. 

We like to think of ourselves as monogamous. Loyal. Committed. Once we find The One, we never so much as let our eyes wander. We invest a lot of hours into nurturing this relationship, and we wouldn’t think of messing it up with a cheap fling. We follow him as he bounces from place to place, as he becomes less available, as he demands more time and money, because we are devoted. He gets me, we think. He makes me feel gorgeous. He’s got such strong hands. He’s met my mother.

Ladies, forget about it. For a good time, you may need to cheat on your once-in-a-lifetime relationship and call someone new – someone who specializes in the kind of quickie you’re looking for: a really good blow out.

Why pay someone to wash, dry and flat iron or curl your hair, when it’s not time for a trim or color? Because they do it better than you do. Because you have somewhere important to be and you want to rock it. Because with someone new, you can experiment and try something totally different. Because they give you a mini scalp massage. Because it’s only a small indulgence, but it feels like a big one. Because you leave the salon feeling super gorgeous and confident. Isn’t that the point?

If you’re worried you might get caught, leave Borderstan and try Drybar (1825 Wisconsin Avenue NW; $40), the three-month-old Georgetown outpost of the trendy yellow-accented hair salon chain that focuses entirely on blow outs, up dos and styling. No cuts. No nails. No drama. Just a quick(ish), cheap(ish) hair fix in a very stylish space with really friendly people. This just feels better.

The stylists at Drybar have clearly spent a lot of hours perfecting the hair-dry experience, and it shows. You can choose your style from a photo album of cutsey-named options such as Mai Tai and Cosmo. You can order a drink and snack and watch Sex and the City in the background. You can throw a birthday party or bridal shower and buy a monthly package in advance. Best of all, there is one price no matter what kind of hair you have – no extra charge for thick, long or curly hair as other salons routinely do. It’s also easy – online booking! – and open as early as 7 am and as late as 9 pm on many days.

Local Salons

If the mixed reviews on Yelp (mostly about the longer-than-advertised 35 minute appointment time) leave you suspicious, try a blow out at a traditional salon in the neighborhood. Most are more expensive than Drybar, however. Here’s a short list of popular salons in Borderstan:

  • Blondie’s Hair Studio: $40 and up (depending on hair thickness and length), 1910 18th Street NW.
  • Cristophe: $40-65 (Charming stylist Phillipe is offering a $40 special; others are $65), 1125 18th Street NW.
  • Immortal Beloved: $50, 1457 Church St NW.
  • Mimosa: $40, 1706 Connecticut Ave NW.
  • Salon Blu: $45 and up, 1339 14th Street NW.

Now, resolve to have an affair – just a little one – with a new stylist who works wonders with a high-quality blow dryer, curling iron, flat iron and styling stick, and at sometimes half the price of your regular haircut. Marvel at the patience it takes to methodically separate your hair into sections, drying each piece so deliberately. Sit in awe as even your frizzy mane turns silky smooth. Smile. Then, see how long you can wait before you go back for more – probably not long.

There’s no need to break up with your longtime love. Just find yourself a hair salon paramour. No matter what, you won’t be complaining about the blow out – it’s totally worth the cheat.

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by Borderstan.com February 26, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

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

"Graham"

Graham stripped of ABC Board oversight by DC Council. (Borderstan file photo, Luis Gomez Photos)

On Monday, February 25, the DC Council voted to strip Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) of his oversight of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board. The measure was first proposed by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson on February 21.

The 13-member council voted 11-2, with Graham and Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) voting against the resolution. The bulk of the U Street corridor and neighborhood are in Ward 1, along with Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant and Howard University.

Immediately after the vote, Graham released the following statement:

“It is time to move on. I have very important responsibilities as chairman of the human services committee and all the responsibility of representing Ward 1. Going forward, I will continue to represent the people who elected me to serve with the same passion and fervor as I have from my first day in office.”

The public reprimand comes after the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability found “substantial” evidence that Graham broke the code of conduct in a lottery contract bid.

A tweet from Bruce DePuyt (@News8NewsTalk) quotes Barry saying, “We all trade votes. I’ve done it. I’m arguing due process. He’s had no opportunity to defend himself.”

“This is a somber moment and a sad one, of course, because there is no joy in what we were asked to do today,” said Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) in a statement. “But, it is an obligation that falls to us and that we were and are duty-bound to discharge. Put very simply, we must keep and preserve that most delicate of commodities: public confidence.”

A reprimand is the least serious action the council can take against a member. It must be approved by a simple majority and carries no punishment. Barry was censured in 2010, which is more serious, WTOP reports.

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by Borderstan.com February 26, 2013 at 6:00 am 0

"Friends"

Old Friends is by TheRobbStory from the Borderstan Flickr pool.

Photos of the Day are pulled from the Borderstan Reader Photos pool on Flickr.

Today’s photo, Old Friends is by TheRobbStory. The photo was taken on February 5.

If you don’t already have a Flickr account, you will need to sign up for one, and then join the Borderstan Reader Photos group. Already a Flickr member? Join the group! You can submit up to five photos per day in the Borderstan reader pool. We are looking for photos from DC’s Dupont, Logan and U Street neighborhoods.

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by Borderstan.com February 26, 2013 at 5:35 am 1 Comment

"gun robbery"

Crime news from Dupont-Logan-U Street.

DC Police reported a gun robbery around 11:40 pm on Monday, February 25, on the 1900 block of 12th Street NW, just south of U Street. The lookout is for one man, around 5’9″, wearing a gray hoody and dark pants.

It was the second gun robbery in the area in less than three days; there was also a gun robbery at 12th and U Streets NW around 4 am on Saturday, February 23.

From the Police Alert: “ROBBERY GUN 2341 HOURS 1900 BLOCK 12TH STREET NW LOOKOUT FOR B/M, 5’9″, WEARING A GRAY HOODED SWEAT SHIRT, DARK PANTS, SLIM BUILD, ARMED WITH A HANDGUN DO NOT TAKE ACTION CALL 911 W/EVENT I20130088147, Sent on: 02/25 23:59.”

From the DC Police Twitter feed: “Robbery Gun //1900 blk 12th Street NW //LOF B/M wearing a gray hoodie wearing dark pants //6559.”

Police Alerts, More Information

You can sign up for alerts through Alert DC and get alerts  by e-mail, cell phone, pager or wireless PDA. When signing up, you can select alerts on crime, transportation, utility outages/issues, government closings, breaking news, DC-sponsored events and Amber Alerts. You can follow the DC Police on Twitter @DCPoliceDept.

You can get more information about crime in the Borderstan area through the MPD listservs for the Second and Third Districts on Yahoo! Groups.

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by Borderstan.com February 25, 2013 at 4:00 pm 0

From John Shannon who writes about green energy, sustainable development and economics. Email him at john[AT]borderstan.com.

"Fuel"

An electric vehicle at a charging station. (Luis Gomez Photos)

What if you could buy a car and (except for the normal taxes, insurance, maintenance and parking stall fees, etc.) you could drive it around for free? What I’m talking about is fuel, which for most people is a major cost these days.

Steve: In Los Angeles, the gas price is hovering around $4 per gallon. At that price, ‘Steve’ uses about $21 of gas (5.3 gallons) to travel 96 miles every weekday. He is likely to spend $106 per week in mixed driving, totaling about $425 per month.

The question is: What would ‘Steve’ rather do with $5,100 per year?

If you want an easy way to calculate vehicle fuel costs, miles per dollar (mpd) works as good as anything – and for this hypothetical SUV it costs about $0.22 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc., are not included in these figures.)

Suzy: Her Hybrid Prius also does a lot of stop and go city driving. Her EPA sticker says she should get 48 miles per gallong (mpg) city driving and 45 mpg highway driving. At $4.00 per gallon for gas, she uses $8.00 of gas (2 gallons) to travel 96 miles. Her cost per mile? Suzy’s Prius costs about $0.08 per mile to drive in mixed traffic. (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc. are not included in these figures.)

Ken: He drives a Nissan LEAF, which doesn’t even have a gas tank — because it is an electric vehicle, but the EPA sticker on the car when it was new advertised an equivalent of 95 MPG, which is expressed as 95 MPG-e.

Scenario A: If Ken charges his car’s battery pack at home, he pays for the electricity to charge it resulting in an electricity cost of $0.04 per mile. Depending on how Ken drives and his electricity rate, each $1.00 of stored electricity could get him up to 25 miles.

Scenario B: If Ken uses the many available and free fast-chargers placed around the city to recharge his EV battery pack, he doesn’t pay anything per mile — as most 30 minute fast-chargers for electric vehicles are free to use in the United States. In which case, his cost is $0.00 per mile. Buy the car, drive it for free! (Maintenance, taxes, registration, parking, etc., are not included in these figures.)

It may interest you to know that there are over 11,500 electric vehicle chargers in the United States as of January 2013, with more are being added every month. They are easily located via smartphone app and are conveniently located in almost every U.S. city.

Now, what to do with that extra $5,100 each and every year?

Author’s Note: These numbers are hypothetical examples, your costs and/or savings will be determined by your city’s gas prices and your vehicle mileage. Your electricity rate only matters if you choose to charge your EV at home — instead of at a 30-minute fast-charging station, where you can fully charge it for free!

Related Articles

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by Borderstan.com February 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0

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

GBD

GBD is coming to 1323 Connecticut Avenue NW, south of Dupont Circle. (Luis Gomez Photos)

We recently told you about a new fry-focused restaurant coming soon to Dupont Circle, GBD, which stands for Golden, Brown and Delicious.

The 1323 Connecticut Avenue NW spot is from Chef Kyle Bailey and Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIssac, both of Logan Circle’s Birch & Barley.

We recently caught up with a representative from Neighborhood Restaurant Group (NRG) to find out some more details on the fried chicken and doughnut eatery.

Borderstan: When did Tiffany and Kyle decide to start GBD and why?

NRG: Just after the opening of Birch & Barley, Tiffany and Michael Babin (the owner) began talking about opening a doughnut shop. At the time, the doughnuts on the brunch menu were getting rave reviews and no one in DC seemed to be filling that need for a doughnut shop yet. ChurchKey had played around with pairing the two items with their off-menu item “The Luther,” so there was some experimentation going on for quite some time.

Borderstan: The website says there will be appetizer options for the dinner menu — what will those be? Do you have some idea or any examples? 

NRG: The evening menu will have fried chicken dinners similar to those that have been offered at ChurchKey on Wednesdays; some additional mains, such as The Luther or Chicken Fried Steak; and a section of smaller dishes great for sharing, such as wings, chicken fried pickled green tomatoes, fries, etc.

Borderstan: What are some doughnut flavors diners can expect to see?

NRG: Grapefruit Campari Old Fashioned, Snicker’s, Apple Fritter, Coffee Cake, Tres Leches and Boozy-Butterscotch Bacon are some types of GBD doughnuts.

Borderstan: When is the anticipated opening date?

NRG: Just a few weeks away! Mid-March.

Borderstan: How many diners will GBD seat?

NRG: Approximately 50.

Borderstan: Why did Bailey MacIssac, choose Dupont Circle for the location?

NRG: Yola (the former tenant) actually sold Buzz Bakery pastries, so (NRG) had been working with them for a while and found out about the space becoming available. Dupont Circle was basically a perfect location for a concept that would pull triple duty, doing doughnuts and coffee in the morning, fried chicken lunches during the day and finally a bustling bar program and great comfort food in the evening.

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by Borderstan.com February 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

From Laetitia Brock. Email her at laetitia[AT]borderstan.com. You can follow her at @FrenchTwistDC and on her own blog, French twist DC.

Odds are you probably haven’t had Raclette, though hopefully you’ll want to after reading this post. Raclette is a great winter weather dish but is less popular in the United States than its melted cheese cousin, fondue.

In Switzerland, where it is from, and in France, where I am from, it’s very popular though. So popular that you can actually find it at McDonalds (oui, we have a McRaclette!)

"Raclette"

The raclette is of humble origins. (Laetitia Brock)

Simple to Make

So what is this Raclette? It’s four things really:

  • A pungent washed rind cows milk cheese.
  • The dish you make with that cheese.
  • The grill you use to melt the raclette (cheese) you need to make the raclette (dish).
  • The dinner party where people get together to eat the raclette (dish) made by melted raclette (cheese) on the raclette (grill).

Are you still following me?

"Raclette"

Chesse and wine. (Laetitia Brock)

It’s actually a lot simpler than I make it out to be. Raclette is a simple dish with humble origins. Like fondue, it was a way to finish dried old cheese and already opened wine. In fondue, the cheese is melted in a pot (fondue comes from the French word fondre which means to melt) and eaten with bread.

In Raclette, slices of cheese are melted in a little pan under a table side grill then scraped (raclette gets its name from the French word for scrape: racler) over warm potatoes and charcuterie. Raclette is less popular here because the grill and the cheese are harder to find. Harder, yes, but not impossible!

Raclette is the perfect dish for cold winter days and if you feel like throwing a raclette dinner party, you can easily order a grill from Williams-Sonoma or Amazon.com. Raclette grills usually come with eight to 10 little pans, but I’ve seen two-pans (for an intimate raclette date) and four-pans (for the studio friendly raclette party) pop up here and there.

The cheese can be bought at Whole Foods, Cowgirl Creamery and Righteous Cheese. Beyond the grill and the cheese, all you need is small boiled potatoes, charcuterie (I personally love prosciutto with raclette but turkey and ham are fine too), cornichons and a simple tossed salad for a side dish. Raclette is pretty heavy, so you can skip the appetizers.

Pairings

As far as pairings are concerned, white wine is typically what you would serve with Raclette, like an Alsatian pinot gris or a Sauvignon Blanc. But you can go beyond whites of course. Carolyn of Righteous Cheese currently offers French Raclette in one of her flights and pairs with a Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza beer. At the recommendation of the folks at Modern Liquor, I recently tried a light Austrian red with my Raclette and it worked out really well. So give Raclette a try while it’s still cold out out… it’ll help you melt the winter blues away!

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