by March 26, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From Kathryn Ciano. Follow her on Twitter @katciano. Email her at  kathryn[AT]

"Le Diplomate"

Le Diplomate’s beautiful neon sign. (Luis Gomez Photos)


Leather and wood inside Le Diplomate. (Kathryn Ciano)

Le Diplomate, a French restaurant coming to 14th and Q Streets NW, will be open soon and is taking reservations, starting April 12.

Opening day comes after two years of development work and many demolition dollars that were used to repurpose the old laundromat at 14th and Q Streets.

The long-anticipated restaurant went through a lengthy liquor license application and laundromat demolition.

Stephen Starr’s Le Diplomate will seat 260 diners and serve lunch, brunch and dinner. The menu will be a hybrid of traditional bistro dishes and contemporary selections, paired with cocktails and wines.

Le Diplomate will also have a patio, just in time for spring.

Inside, red leather booths and authentic French furniture — some of it actually imported from Paris — decorate the space. The efficient, light-wood interior all bring to mind a railroad dining car (or one smoldering cigarette shy of the perfect Parisian café).

To make reservations, call 202-332-3333 between 10 am and 6 pm.

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by March 6, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

From Kathryn Ciano. Follow her on Twitter @katciano. Email her at  kathryn[AT]

WhyFoods.(Courtesy Kat Ciano)

Sarah Waybright from WhyFoodWorks.(Courtesy Kat Ciano)

DC has become a major food city. Within a one mile radius you can get pizza in various stages of preparedness, at least 22 types of mussels, and beer — goodness, so much beer. But what if you want to save money, eat healthier and learn to cook for yourself?

Enter Sarah Waybright, entrepreneur extraordinaire, walking New Year’s resolution and, hands-down, the coolest girl who ever made me a massaged kale salad. Ah, Sarah’s massaged kale salad — but that’s a story for another day and another book of sonnets.

The idea behind WhyFoodWorks is simple. Sarah comes to your kitchen and makes you dinner — not like a personal chef, but like a personal nutritionist, ready to explain exactly what food you need and how to prepare it, all in the course of a dinner party.

I sat down with Sarah to talk about her blog, her business and her relationship with the Borderstan community.

Borderstan: So explain exactly how this dinner party idea works.

Waybright: I provide a healthy, delicious effort-free dinner party. I bring the ingredients, the food, the pans and blender, the silverware, placemats,  EVERYTHING — all I need is your stove and sometimes a microwave. All you have to do is invite your friends. I even take the dirty stuff home with me, so there’s no clean up for you, which is unarguably the worst part of hosting.

Parties are for four to eight people; that’s the best size for good conversation and it lets me talk to everybody and answer their questions. And that’s what you’d plan anyway for a dinner party, to get the right vibe.

Borderstan: What kinds of food do you cook?

Waybright: I always have five menus available for selection. One of them will rotate monthly and the others seasonally. You can choose whichever menu you want. There are already a couple of dietary considerations taken in — one menu is vegetarian, one is gluten-free, one is dairy-free, but I can also take into account allergies and intolerances — I can replace items without compromising nutritional integrity.

The key is that I’m offering healthy options I know are delicious and that I know I can teach you to make well for yourself.

Borderstan: How did you get started on this?

Waybright: I’ve been doing dinner parties since college. I grew up on a dairy farm, as part of a big family, so I’ve always had people over, with lots of focus on good conversation and good food. In college I wasn’t thinking about nutrition as much as whether the food looked and tasted nice. Since doing my Master’s degree in Human Nutrition, I can make things delicious and beautiful, and also a meal that’s actually good for you.

When I first considered launching the business, I looked to see whether anything like this already exists. I found personal chefs and meal services, but NO ONE else is teaching home cooking with a focus on health IN private homes.

I want to teach people to do things that they’ll actually use again. Hiring a professional chef doesn’t teach you how to cook for yourself. You’re probably not going to make fancy food on a regular basis, and some chefs charge so much. One I found in the DC area costs $500 for a two-person in-home class. I want to reach out to people who aren’t part of this elite group that can spend $500 on a chef for the night. Cooking doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Fresh, simple, and cheap ingredients can be delicious if you know what you’re doing.

Borderstan: Tell me more about this cheap, healthy food.

Waybright: For parties I keep things at a price that’s reasonable for what you expect to spend eating out at a nice restaurant. I’ll even do wine pairings, for an additional $8/person, which includes two glasses of wine per person, plus education about wine and nutrition.

The food will be delicious. It will feature techniques anyone can do, and you’ll have an opportunity to ask whatever questions you want. I’m a nutritionist and a Registered Dietitian (RD). It doesn’t take much to call yourself a “nutritionist,” but RD’s all have at least a Bachelor’s degree in the subject, have completed an internship, and passed a standardized national exam.

Borderstan: What’s your philosophy on food?

Waybright: I’ve boiled down my eating concept into a few basic principles. Any diet works — paleo, vegetarian, whatever — as long as you’re applying these principles. When I do parties, the point is to show people how easy it is to apply these principles to every meal.

A lot of times people think about food like there are “good foods” and “bad foods,” like cookies are off-limits and everything else is okay. But that’s just not true; it’s all about amounts. At dinner parties I talk a lot about food pairings — what foods work best to maximize nutrition together. For example, my February menu includes bacon, but I serve it with an oat risotto, and the fiber from the oats prevents absorption of all of the cholesterol in the bacon.

It’s important to appreciate how our bodies process food. People know that eating a high-fiber diet is good for their cholesterol levels, but they don’t know why. At the end of a dinner party, I don’t want people to be focusing on their colon necessarily. Intestines aren’t very sexy. But if they never think about their colon, then this can be that special opportunity.

Borderstan: Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Borderstan and the community?

Waybright: This is a 100 percent woman-owned business — it’s just me. I live in northern Borderstan, and I’m constantly out and about around here — I bought a brick at Saloon, to support their efforts to build schools in impoverished places, and I work at the Columbia Heights Farmer’s Market. I really believe in community. I’m hoping this business spreads mostly by word of mouth. The blog is to get awareness out there and really develop a community base, and the website gives more info about how to book a dinner party.

One of my goals is to do a 10-to-1 ratio: For every 10 parties I book, I’ll do one for a population that can’t afford a party or education about nutrition, or donate a party for a charity.  My first donated party will be auctioned off at the Chris4Life Eat4Life Celebrity Chef Cook-Off on March 19. And I work with ScratchDC; they take the leg work out of from-scratch meals and deliver them to your door, and its customers get a discount for my parties, too.

I also want to build loyalty into my plan. Hosts of a dinner party get 50 percent off, then if that person hosts a second party they get 75 percent off, and the third party for the same host will be free. If a guest tells someone else about it, all of that person’s guests will get $5 off.

The feedback from parties so far has been FANTASTIC. I loved working with the guests, and I think they felt the same way. Some of what they said were the “best” parts really surprised me — like after dessert, we all sat around and talked nutrition. I wasn’t even thinking of that as part of the experience, but that was something everyone commented on as being so valuable. I love doing this, and I just can’t wait to do more.

To schedule a dinner party, please fill out the form here, or contact Sarah at 202-505-2396 or sarah[AT] Find FoodWorks on Facebook at WhyFoodWorks, 
Twitter at WhyFoodWorks andPinterest at WhyFoodWorks.

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by February 7, 2013 at 11:55 am 1 Comment

From Kathryn Ciano. Follow her on Twitter @katciano. Email her at  kathryn[AT]

"Space Station"

The International Space Station. (Courtesy NASA)

Borderstan residents will have a chance to spot the International Space Station tonight! The space station will appear as the third brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon. It will look like a fast-moving plane in the sky.

Tonight at 7 pm head outside in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area to view the space station. It will appear for three minutes at 7 pm sharp. Here are the coordinates you’ll need to spot it: Max Height: 42 degrees, Appears: SSW, Disappears: SE.

People live and work aboard the International Space Station as it travels through the atmosphere at more than 200 miles above the earth. Check out more information on the Space Station’s mission here.

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by January 14, 2013 at 9:00 am 0

From Kathryn Ciano. Follow her on Twitter @katciano. Email her at  kathryn[AT]


U Street Mural by Aniekan Udofia. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Since America’s early days, Washington, DC was never meant to be a place of permanent residence. The founding fathers imagined that politicians would come to DC only temporarily to serve their terms, but that the capital city would never be a comfortable or welcoming place for people to settle.

The U.S. Constitution established this “federal town” right in the middle of the Great Dismal Swamp, for goodness sakes — voting rights were meant to be the least of DC residents’ problems.

Fast forward to today. The Congressional members collectively charged with taking care of our federal town do a fine job much of the time, and DC has become a pretty great place to call home. But too often, representation in DC is a classic tragedy of the commons.

In 2005, the city received $5.50 in federal spending for every dollar paid in federal taxes; more than double what any actual state receives. Yet I can’t get the DC post office to stop the mail forward I requested temporarily over a year ago, and District Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton won’t even respond to my phone, email, or website submission pleas to help me address the problem.

Whether or not you believe DC statehood is the answer, it’s worth talking about the fact that DC’s approximately 632,323 residents — more than Vermont or Wyoming — pay the highest federal taxes every year per person, and have lost more servicemen and women in our nation’s wars than many states, yet they lack voting representation in Congress. Read great discussions of the statehood debate herehere, and here.

More urgently, sign the petition by January 18, to encourage President Obama to install DC “Taxation Without Representation” license plates on his inaugural limo, an important step to awareness of District residents’ civil rights the president stubbornly refused to take during his first term.

In November 91 percent of DC voters came out to support President Obama’s reelection, including standing in freezing lines late into the night to cast their votes. The least the President can do is support our right to vote on how our tax dollars are spent, which we currently have no right to do.

In fact, as Social Security and Medicare taxes rise after this month’s fiscal cliff deal, even individuals earning $30-40,000 will see an average tax increase of $445 annually. (Check out what the 2013 bill will do to your taxes at the nonpartisan Tax Foundation’s 2013 tax calculator here.)

DC Vote spokesman James Jones says of this effort to urge the president to bring attention to the city’s longstanding second-class status by installing the plates:

“This is an opportunity for the people of D.C., and for supporters of our fight for full democracy everywhere, to elevate our struggle to a new level. We are very grateful for President Obama’s support for our struggle for equal rights. He has stated publicly that we should have the same voting rights as every other American. Displaying the Taxation Without Representation plate is simply an expression of the truth about D.C.’s political status.”

That’s the thing about taxation. Government isn’t just a name for something we all do together; it’s supposed to be a way to pool our resources to cover “public goods” — people and programs we all agree to help, that individuals or corporations can’t as easily fund themselves. But in the District, politicians’ blatant abuse of tax dollars is so often a scandal that ABC simply turns it into a slideshow — and we can’t even vote for change.

Currently the petition to install “Taxation Without Representation” plates on the inaugural limo has only 3,202 signatures (as of January 10). The White House has promised to formally address this movement only if the petition can get 25,000 votes by January 18. Sign the petition to support this tongue-in-cheek statement in favor of civil liberties and individual rights today!

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by January 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm 0


U Street and Adams Morgan are two of the top most art-centric places in the country. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Kathryn Ciano. Follow her on Twitter @katciano. Email her at  kathryn[AT]

DC Mayor Vincent Gray’s office announced this week that Adams Morgan and U Street, together, are one of America’s Top 12 ArtPlaces in the country. ArtPlace, a community-based collaborative focused on “creative placemaking,” selected these two neighborhoods for the title, among other cities, such as Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle.

According to the press release, ArtPlace selected Adams Morgan/U Street and the rest of the honored neighborhood list based on a set of six indicators identified by a consulting firm that specializes in the study of metropolitan economies:

Four indicators measure the ingredients of vibrancy: the number of retail and service businesses; the percentage of independent businesses; the neighborhood’s Walk Score; and the percentage of workers in creative occupations living in the neighborhood. Two arts-related indicators were also used: the number of arts-related non-profits and the number of arts-related businesses. Finally, neighborhood scores were normalized for family income so that neighborhoods with the highest concentration of income did not skew the results.

This is the second time ArtPlace has recognized the District as a creative community. In 2011, ArtPlace granted $250,000 to fund Arts and Culture Temporiums in four emerging DC neighborhoods: Anacostia, Brookland, Deanwood, and Central 14th Street NW (Spring Road to Longfellow Street NW).

Enjoy our creative neighborhood and get to know your neighbors by checking out the upcoming exhibits at local galleries this weekend — there are almost too many to name. My short list is below, but you can always check out Borderstan’s semi-weekly gallery roundup, or this link for Borderstan’s year-end exhibition roundup for more complete lists of nearby art spots:

  • At Longview gallery, 1234 9th Street NW, Colin Winterbottom’s “Gothic Resilience” presents a series of photos of the national cathedral restoration starting January 10 (including photos of artifacts and architecture damaged in the Aug. 2011 earthquake)
  • Gallery plan b, 1530 14th Street is showing mosaics by Ted Milligan and Michael Curry, starting January 12.
  • Curator’s Office, 1515 14th Street NW, Ste. 201, “Periodically invites a curator (museum curator, critic, artist, collector, educator, promising student, gallerist) to display a tightly focused presentation of an artist or art collective’s work. The invited curator provides an explanation for the selection and defines the cultural significance of that particular artist to contemporary art practice. From time to time, artists are invited to interpret the ‘office/micro-gallery space.”
  • Transformer Gallery, 1404 P Street, is a tiny space hosting an exhibition called “Cabinets of Curiosity,” starting January 19.
  • Hamiltonian Gallery, 1353 U Street NW, opens Here Not There on January 12: “Joshua Wade Smith began Here Nor There with a two-day long urban trek in which he walked along the train tracks from his home in Baltimore to DC. On the second leg of the trip, Smith recorded his walk through Washington, DC from the train tracks near New York Avenue to the doors of Hamiltonian Gallery. The project concludes on opening night with an in-gallery performance. Smith will send runners sprinting down a 40 foot-long racetrack toward a mirrored wall, thereby forcing his performers to undergo the same physical and perceptual challenges he experienced on his solo journey.”
  • Randall Scott Projects, 2030 8th Street NW at V Street, opening in DC in January. Randall Scott has been in and out of the Borderstan area–most recently occupying a 2,400 square foot Shaw studio until that was demolished this fall. See this space for Botticellian and schoolgirlish soul-wrenching figures.

Check the galleries’ websites for exhibition opening info. Most of these galleries are open late enough in the evening so that you can stop in and poke around for a sec on your way home from work. Openings are always the best time to come, when you can meet the artist, and sip wine while you browse. Enjoy!

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by January 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

From Kathryn Ciano. Follow her on Twitter @katciano. Email her at  kathryn[AT]


Mochi, grill, bake or put it in your soup. (Luis Gomez Photos

Hi there, Borderstan. I’m Kat, and I’m new here. I’m pretty excited to contribute to Borderstan – you’ll see mostly talk about music, laws and their local impact, galleries and real estate coming from me.

But not today. Today we’re talking about food. Because food is one of the best things Borderstan has to offer.

Ever since a friend introduced me to mochi – frozen balls of pounded sticky rice, often filled with jelly or ice cream – in Los Angeles last year, I have been on the hunt for the sweet treat in DC.

As a topping, mochi is pretty common; Mr. Yogato and Yogenfruz regularly offer mochi balls as a soft serve topping. And while mochi topping is delicious, my mission is more specific. I’m looking for doughy mochi pockets, filled with ice cream and frozen into balls.

Free-standing ice-cream-filled mochi is hard to come by in DC. Trader Joe’s has it, and Whole Foods will carry it on request. Thankfully, a couple of Borderstan establishments also sell mochi.

Where to find mochi in Borderstan:

  • Hana’s Japanese Market (2000 17th Street NW). Hana’s is one of those perfect ethnic shops you find out in the wilds of northern Virginia, but that tends too often to get priced out of DC. The shopkeepers are sweet and are there to please. When I went inquiring about mochi, two employees wound up helping me, rapidly speaking in Japanese as I dug through the freezer shelves. In addition to mochi, Hana’s has kimchi, seaweed for wrapping sushi (for sale much cheaper than at Yes! Organic Market), and more sauces, snacks, produce and cuts of meat than I can identify.
  • Mr. Yogato (1515 17th Street NW). Mr. Yogato carries just mochi the topping – pencil-eraser sized rice cake balls with a consistency just a little denser than the tapioca balls in boba tea. Tart yogurt is my favorite, but this spot carries a number of unique flavors, including watermelon and salted caramel (“scotamel”). Mr. Yogato is such a cool place it’s worth a visit even if you’re not into mochi. You can play trivia games to get discounts. Or let them stamp your forehead (“Mr. Yogato stamped me!!”) and get a discount.
  • Lovely Yogurt (1017 U Street NW). This is the place to go for a choice of dairy or vegan yogurt varieties. Mochi here is the same topping variety Mr. Yogato carries – try it on Lovely’s New York cheesecake yogurt.
  • Trader Joe’s (1101 25th Street NW). Okay, this one’s not Borderstan, but TJ’s still needs a mention on any mochi list. TJ’s mochi is like Hana’s – ice cream-stuffed rice balls. Don’t even bother with TJ’s chocolate mochi; focus instead on the much tastier strawberry and green tea flavors. Perfect.

Hopefully I will be able to add to this list as my search continues! Email me at Kathryn[AT] or tweet @katciano if you’ve spotted any mochi I’ve missed.

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