by Borderstan.com June 3, 2013 at 9:00 am 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.

"Sweet"

The Sweet Lobby. (Laetitia Brock)

Have you been to The Sweet Lobby yet? It’s one of my favorite spot for Macarons in the District. This week, the Eastern Market boutique is celebrating its second birthday by giving us birthday gifts. Starting today through Friday, June 7, the pastry shop will be giving out a different treat to patrons who stop by The Sweet Lobby. It’s worth a trip to Capitol Hill.

All you have to do is like them on Facebook, pick up an anniversary cards, which will be distributed throughout the week, and get it stamped for a different free specialty item very day of the week.

Pretty sweet right? The giveaways are: Monday 3rd June – free eclairs; Tuesday 4th June – free shortbread; Wednesday, June 5, free cupcakes; Thursday, June 6, free Madeleines; and last but certainly not least on Friday, June 7, free Macarons!

It gets even better. Get your card stamped each day for a chance to win one of five amazing prizes, including the Grand Prize of a full selection of catered treats by The Sweet Lobby, for you and 20 friends! Wish me luck and happy birthday to The Sweet Lobby!

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by Borderstan.com May 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm 0

"Sofitel"

Not to miss at Sofitel Lafayette Square. (Laetitia Brock)

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

Memorial Day is just around the corner and with that the (un)official kick-off to pool season in many of DC’s apartment and condo buildings, mine included. That means I need to start watching what I eat, which isn’t easy these days. I mean, I love to eat out and there’s practically a new restaurant opening every other day; how am I ever to fit into my bathing suit comes Saturday?

Which is why I love that the Ici Urban Bistro, located in the French luxury hotel Sofitel Lafayette Square, is currently offering a calorie conscious menu. Last fall, the restaurant introduced a new De-Light menu, developed exclusively for Sofitel Hotels by Thalassa Sea & Spa. De-Light by Sofitel is offered at Ici Urban Bistro in conjunction with their regular menu and offers well-balanced, low-calorie meals without sacrificing any of the taste.

Right now, I must say, it’s quite an appealing option for someone like me who loves to eat out without feeling guilty afterwards. But, on top of the wonderful De-Light menu, there’s another reason why you should head to Sofitel’s Ici Urban Bistro right now: a special traveling exhibit of 25 photographs by famous French photographer Gilles Bensimon, former international creative director of “Elles.”

“Elles” is a magnifique exhibit celebrating 25 beautiful and powerful women in the arts and entertainment industry. The stunning black-and-white pictures of Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Catherine Deneuve, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Tina Turner have never been seen by the general public before so they’re quite a treat (also, extra inspiration to order the De-Light menu!).

The exhibit launched in New York right around International Women’s Day earlier this year and will remain in Washington, DC until June when “Elles” will head to the Sofitel hotels in Chicago (July/September) and Beverly Hills (October/December). The exhibit is also a good reminder of Accor (Sofitel’s parents company)’s commitment for women to represent 35% of its hotel managers worldwide by 2015. A great goal if you ask me.

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by Borderstan.com May 6, 2013 at 2:00 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.

"Bike"

DC Bike Robot Ride. (Courtesy DC Bike Ride)

Parisian duo Daft Punk is back in my playlists with the release of the first single from their highly anticipated new album “Random Access Memories.” Now the whole album doesn’t drop until May 21, but DC Bike Party is given us a little something to help us wait in the shape of a robot-themed Daft Punk bike party. This is pretty much just (techno) music to my (French) ears!

The details? The DC Bike Ride Robot Ride will take place May 8 and depart, like most other DC Bike Rides, from the middle of Dupont Circle at 8 pm. Riders are encouraged to channel Tron (Daft Punk composed the score for that soundtrack), grab some reflective tape, glow in the dark gear and some DIY robot helmets to bike along a mobile DJ in a pedicab, who will play a mix of Daft Punk hits, of course.

For those who just want to watch, the eight-mile course will be released 24 hours in advance. Or you can head to The Brixton for the after party and stay up all night for good fun, stay up all night to get lucky.

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by Borderstan.com May 6, 2013 at 9:00 am 2,072 1 Comment

"Backyard Barbecue"

Hill Country Backyard Barbecue on the lawn in front of the National Building Museum. The downtown location is at 410 7th Street NW.(Laetitia Brock)

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

The beach is so last year… this summer, we’re going country. The New York Avenue Beach Bar will not be back this summer, but DC is getting an outdoor backyard barbecue instead. Hill Country Barbecue Market, the Penn Quarter Texas barbecue restaurant, kicked off Hill Country Backyard Barbecue on the lawn in front of the National Building Museum Friday evening.

The weather was pretty perfect for outdoor dining Friday night and a few clever diners had BYO(P)B… brought their own picnic blanket, which came in very handy since the available picnic tables and bales of hay were all taken up pretty quickly. No need to BYOB anything else though, Hill Country Backyard Barbecue serves beer and signature cocktails such as Sangria, Texas Tornado and a Hill Country Cooler.

The menu is kept pretty simple and will change daily. On Friday, options included a pit-smoked brisket and pork spare ribs. All entrees are $10 and come with a choice of sides. The food is not made on site, but prepared at the restaurant and transported to the backyard barbecue.

Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue will be open Wednesday through Friday from 4 to 11 pm, Saturday from noon to 11 pm, and Sunday from noon to 9 pm. On Friday and Saturday nights, there will be live music. Hill Country Backyard Barbecue is located behind the Verizon Center on 5th street between F and G streets.

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by Borderstan.com April 22, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

"Le Diplomate"

Le Diplomate is truly French. (Laetitia Brock)

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

The writers here at Borderstan have been tracking the progress at Le Diplomate pretty much since it was announced that Stephen Starr was taking over the former Laundromat building at the corner of 14th and Q NW. Well, it’s finally here!

The 260-seat brasserie soft opened last week and it’s been swamped every night. We’re talking a good hour wait unless you show up right at 6 pm (or even better managed to get reservations). That didn’t stop me from stopping by twice last week to check it out.

LeDiplomate_OutsideSunny_Borderstan

The patio on Q Street. (Laetitia Brock)

So far my first impressions are really positive and Le Diplomate gives out a truly authentic French vibe. I guess you could argue that it’s easier to get it right when you have the full weight of a large restaurant group like Starr Restaurants behind you, but Cuba Libre shows that it’s doesn’t always work out.

Oh, and it helps, of course, that Stephen Starr already owns a very successful French restaurant, Parc, in Philadelphia. But let’s get back to Le Diplomate.

The Space: Bright, Open, Spacious

Starting with the space. I’m not a fan of the very scantily clad ladies on the walls of the women’s restroom (if I want to see boobs, I have two of my own.) The men’s restroom has pictures of half-naked women. So why can’t the women’s restroom have pictures of half-naked men, like Estadio, for example? But that’s pretty much the only negative.

BeerLeDiplomate_Borderstan

Kronenbourg on tap. (Laetitia Brock)

The restaurant is bright, open and spacious, with a large bar area and a great patio. I love, love, love the Ricard tables, though I don’t love the $10 price tag on a glass of a pastis as much (in France, it’s more like €2). I love the bistro style tables on 14th Street, and can’t wait to sit there, a cup of La Colombe coffee in hand, reading Le Monde (they have copies of international newspapers and gossip magazines inside) and munching on a croissant once Le Diplomat starts breakfast service soon.

And I adore the “blanchisserie de chemise” (that’s French for laundromat) green room. What a nice way to pay hommage to the building’s previous life!

The Food: Spot On

Now let’s talk about the important stuff: the food. So far everything I’ve had has been spot on. I had to ask for extra bread (the bread is really good by the way) to soak up all the flavorful broth from the moules frites. I pretty much cleaned out the little dish of homemade mayonnaise. It’s so rich but so good.

I devoured the steak frites AND the hand-chopped steak tartare. I believe you can tell a lot about a restaurant by its raw meat, especially when it’s topped by a raw (quail) egg. I loved tasting the lamb shank and the tête de cochon and I can’t wait to try more!

SteakFrites_LeDiplomate_Borderstan

Steak Frites. (Cecile Remington)

So far, I haven’t felt like trying any of the desserts. I’ve just had the most amazing Cherry Clafouti at Café du Parc the other day, and quite frankly, my sweet tooth and I have pretty high expectations when it comes to French desserts.

Crème brûlée, tarte tatin, baba au rhum, pot de crème, those are all pretty typical French bistrot desserts but they seem a little basic to me and I want something different. I’ve seen their pastry chef post some pretty pictures on twitter though, so I have hope there’s more coming…

The Drinks

If I’m not impressed with the dessert menu, I do love the wine, beer and cocktail selection. The wine list isn’t too intense or long, but there’s something to pair with every dish on the menu as well as carafes of house wine (from La Vieille Ferme). There’s also original cocktails with French names that are kinda hard to pronounce but sound really fancy.

I mean, who wants to order a pressed grapefruit or a head to head when you can ask for a pamplemousse pressé and a tête-à-tête? It would help though if they could train the staff to understand them when people like me pronounce them with French accents.

Finally, I love that they have Kronenbourg en tap, pastis and coffee from La Colombe Torrefaction. Like Stephen Starr, La Colombe’s homebase is Philadelphia, though the owners (a Frenchman and an American) met in Seattle. They too will be expanding into the D.C. market soon when they open a coffee shop at the end of the year at 922 N Street NW, next door to Rogue 24. I’m looking forward to that, too!

I headed back to Le Dipomate for brunch on Sunday so I might have some updates. In the meantime, have you been to Le Diplomate yet? If yes, what did you have? What did you think?

A true French experience.  (Laetitia Brock & Cecile Remington)

A true French experience. (Laetitia Brock and Cecile Remington)

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by Borderstan.com April 10, 2013 at 8:00 am 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.

"Coffee"

Some local Caribou Coffee shops will become Peet’s Coffee and Tea. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The Minneapolis-based Caribou Coffee announced its plan to close 80 locations next week and to convert 88 others into Peet’s Coffee and Tea shops.

Luckily for Borderstan coffee drinkers, two of our Caribou locations, at 1800 M Street NW and 1101 17th Street are not closing, but they will be rebranded as Peet’s Coffee and Tea shops in the next 12 to 18 months, with employees at both stores having the opportunity to reapply for their jobs.

Plans for the Caribou Coffee Shop at 14th and Rhode Island NW have not been announced by the company. The building is being redeveloped by Abdo.

The move comes just four months after Caribou was acquired by German firm Joh. A. Benckiser, which had also acquired Peet’s Coffee back in 2010. It will be interesting to see the transition, as Peet’s stores have a more upscale ambiance (and slightly higher prices) than Caribou with its laid-back, lodge setting.

I personally will miss the daily trivia questions, not that I ever got many of them right.

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by Borderstan.com April 8, 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.

Game of Thrones

The Whole Foods on P Street NW has a “Game of Thrones” beer on tap. (Laetitia Brock)

Okay, I’m probably a week late with this post, but better late than never right?

I was on the hunt for a bottle of the seasonal Cherry Blossom Capital Kombucha. I thought it would be a good topic for this column, and I thought I might be able to find a bottle at Whole Foods Market on P Street.

I didn’t. But I did find something else pretty exciting: “Game of Thrones” beer on tap at the store’s bar. So, drink a Lannister!

Upstate New York brewery Ommegang announced earlier this year that it was teaming up with HBO’s popular fantasy franchise to create a series “Game of Thrones” beers. The first one, a 6.5 percent ABV blonde called Iron Throne Blonde Ale came out just in time for the March 31st season’s premiere of the show.

You can grab a 16-oz pint tonight with some friends and drink while discussing last night’s episode. Or, you can purchase a growler and have friends over next Sunday to watch the latest episode.

The Whole Foods growlers come in two sizes: 32 oz and 64 oz. Each retail (empty) for $4.99 and then it’s an additional $12 for a small fill of “Game of Thrones” beer and $24 for the bigger one.Oh, and if you’re wondering about Capital Kombucha’s Cherry Blossom drink, I did end up finding it at Pleasant Pops.

While I enjoyed trying it out and absolutely love the beautifully label (designed by Torie Partridge of the appropriately named Cherry Blossom Creative, I must say I’m still not sold on kombucha, overall. So I might stick to the “Game of Thrones” beer for now.

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by Borderstan.com March 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.

Today is the first day of Passover. Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew) commemorates the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt and is observed for seven or eight days. During that time, Jewish Kosher dietary laws become more challenging, and even those who do not keep Kosher are expected to at least refrain from eating leavened food products such as pasta or bread.

The reason for this is rooted in the story of The Exodus: when Jews escaped Egypt with Moses, they were in such a haste that they did not have enough time to wait for their bread to rise before heading out into the desert. As a result, Matzah or Matzo, a pretty tasteless unleavened bread, is the star  of the Passover kitchen.

I personally do not observe Passover, but I can’t resist all the boxes of Matzo that suddenly pop up in my grocery store in the weeks leading up to Pesach. And beyond the basic Matzo Balls, there’s a lot of ways to use Matzo in fun and simple recipes. Here are three of my favorites.

Matzo Crusted Salmon

"matzo"

Matzo Crusted Salmon. (Laetitia Brock)

Ingredients: Two Servings

  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard (I used old fashioned Maille mustard with grains, but any Dijon would work)
  • 1/2 tbsp plain yogurt (mayonnaise would work too but plain yogurt is healthier)
  • 2 boneless salmon fillets
  • Half a matzo cracker, crumbled

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil or canola oil spray. While the oven heats up, whisk together mustard and yogurt.
  2. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Brush each fillet with the mustard mixture then sprinkle crumbled Matzo over them, pressing it down to make a crust.
  3. Transfer salmon to greased baking sheet and bake until just cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  4. Serve with steamed vegetables.

Matzo Pizza

"matzo"

Matzo Pizza. (Laetitia Brock)

  1. Just spread some of your favorite tomato sauce (around 3 tbsp) on a matzo. Top with some shredded mozzarella (around 3 tbsp) and graded Parmesan (around 2 tbsp) and bake at 400 degrees F, directly on oven rack until cheese melts, 6 to 7 minutes.
  2. Once out of the oven, top with the toppings of your choice (try to avoid pepperoni though… and while we’re on that topic, check out Buzzfeed’s hilarious list of Passover food fails such as a fried egg, basil, mushrooms or anchovies.

Nutella S’mores 

My personal favorite. It’s pretty much a regular s’more but with Matzo instead of Graham Crackers, and Nutella instead of chocolate.

"matzo"

Nutella S’mores. (Laetitia Brock)

  1. Start by breaking the Matzo into squares (that can be tricky).
  2. Melt the marshmallows in the oven; it’s pretty quick under the broiler.
  3. Spread the Nutella on a square of Matzo — since the Matzo isn’t sweet like the Graham Cracker, you might want to put a little more chocolate.
  4. Top with the melted marshmallow and sandwich with another square of Matzo.

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by Borderstan.com March 11, 2013 at 4:05 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.

"Film"

The festival runs through March 24 at various venues, including Borderstan locations. (Courtesy of festival)

The 2013 Environmental Film Festival will showcase 190 films, at 75 venues across the city — including many venues right here in Borderstan, such as the Embassies of Australia and Argentina, the Carnegie Institution for Science, the new New York University building and the National Geographic Society. Many of the screenings are free and most include a discussion with the filmmaker.

This year, rivers and watersheds have the spotlight, though the films cover a wide variety of eco-friendly topics, in a variety of formats from a “duckmentary” about, you guessed it, ducks, to a short film about a community garden in Soweto, animated stories on constructions sites and invasive species and even feature films with big name Hollywood superstars.

My Favorites

Here are some of the films I am looking forward to seeing during the festival.

  • Meerkats 3D, noon, 1, 2 and 3 pm, March 16, $7 tickets available at National Geographic Society. I mean, it’s meerkats in 3D, what more can I say? The film is 42 minutes long, so it sounds like a great film to bring the kids.
  • The Anacostia River & Riverside Stories, 1:45 to 3 pm, March 17, National Museum of American History, free, no reservations required. This series of six short films (we’re talking 5 to 10 minute long here) focuses on the Anacostia River, as you probably guessed. One of the short introduces audiences to Gabe Horchler, a librarian who boats to work everyday… interesting mode of transportation right?
  • Now, Forager, 7:15 pm, March 17, $11.50 at box office at the AFI Silver Theater. This film de-romanticizes the foodie movement by following a New Jersey husband and wife mushrooms forager team struggling to make ends meet. Ann Yonkers co-executive director of FRESHFARM Markets will introduce the film.
  • Nothing Like Chocolate, 6:30 pm, March 18, Howard University’s Digital Auditorium in Blackburn Student Center, free, no reservations required. Narrated by Susan Sarandon, Nothing Like Chocolate tells the compelling story of Mott Green, founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company Cooperative as he pursue his vision of creating a great tasting, ethical artisanal chocolate. In short, politics meets chocolate.
  • Potomac: The River Runs Through Us, 6:30 pm, March 18, Sidwell Friends School, free, no reservations required. This 27-minute film brings awareness to the Potomac, that seemingly dirty river Washingtonians cross and drink on a regular basis. It is followed by a screening of another film, Chattahoochee: from Water War to Water Vision and a panel discussion with the filmmakers and Bob Irvin, president of American Rivers and Hedrick Belin, president of The Potomac Conservancy.
  • A Thirsty World, 7 pm, March 20, $5 tickets at the Embassy of France. First of all, the screening of this FRENCH film takes place at my favorite embassy… but most importantly, the film was directed by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand of “Earth from Above” fame. Filmed in 20 different countries, it’s about water and promises to be visually stunning.
  • Bottled Life, 6 pm, March 21, University of the District of Columbia, Building 41 room A-03, free, no reservations required. Another film about water, this one just sounds really interesting, documenting the booming business of bottled water by focusing on Swiss brand Nestle. I just found out while looking up the film, that Nestle makes both Perrier and San Pellegrino. Who knew?
  • Harmony, 7:15 pm, March 21. Free with RSVP at theCarnegie Institution for Science. The big star of the film (that would be HRH Prince Charles) is not making the trip to DC, unfortunately, but filmmakers Stuart Sender and Julie Bergman Senders are… they’ll discuss their movie, which provides a new and inspiring perspective on how the world can meet the challenges of climate change globally, locally and personally.
  • Otter 501, 10:30 am, March 23, $7.75, call 202-966-3464 to reserve tickets at the Avalon Theater. Other than Meerkats in 3D, can you think of anything cuter than an otter? The answer is actually yes. Two otters. One is an orphaned baby otter. The other is her “adoptive” otter-mom. Both leading busy life raising the cuteness level at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • To the Wonder, 8:15 pm, March 23, $11.50 at box office at the AFI Silver Theater. Not only does this romantic drama by Terrence Malick feature Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem, but it also starts in Paris… bonus points! Why is it showing at the Environmental Film Festival? Ben Affleck plays an environmental inspector. Good enough reason for me.
  • The Fruit Hunters, 6:30 pm, March 24, free, RSVP required, at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Turns out Bill Pullman really, really likes fruits. I do too! Plus, the film also has a Paris connection… having just won the Grand Prix at the 30th edition of the Festival International du Film de l’Environnement last month.

Any films I didn’t cover that you’re looking forward to seeing?

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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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by Borderstan.com February 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0

"dc"

Looking north up 14th Street NW and over Thomas Circle: Enjoy the view from the Donovan House. (Luis Gomez Photos)

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

Virginia is for lovers, Maryland is for crabs and DC is, well, not a state. At least not according to the folks at Flip Collective, who failed to include DC on its list of how autocorrect describes each of the states in the nation. DCist, however, is going with “broken.”

Broken or not, the District just recently landed on top of another list – one for unexpectedly romantic cities. So, Virginia may be for lovers, but DC is for romantics!

What makes DC a romantic city? For starters, it’s hard to beat those pink cherry blossoms. Walking around the Mall at dusk when the tourists are gone and the monuments bask in an aura of artificial light is very lovely, too.

And yes, there’s Georgetown. Its cobblestone streets and “up-and-coming restaurant scene which provides plenty of options for dinning for two” get a mention in the article. Our little part of town doesn’t get much love, but I think there’s no shortage of romance right here in Borderstan.

Starting with the restaurant scene; if Georgetown’s restaurant scene is “up-and-coming,” then Borderstan’s is blossoming like the pinkish trees that line the tidal basin every spring.

Favorite Spots in the Neighborhood

But restaurants aren’t the only spots with romance. Here are some of my favorite romantic spots around the neighborhood.

  • The Lounge at Tabard Inn, especially in the winter when you can share freshly fried doughnuts during brunch or sip cocktails by the fireplace while listening to live jazz every Sunday.
  • Those a little more adventurous than doughnuts and jazz can escape to 1920s Paris over Absinthe at one of 1905‘s window booths.
  • If you’re more of a nature person, what’s more romantic than a picnic in the park? Grab a sandwich at SunDeVich and relax on the grass at Logan Circle. Or just fake it by getting cozy on the swing at Firefly underneath its signature “tree.”
  • Georgetown’s cobblestone streets are lovely, yes, but I find the Spanish steps in Kalorama just as romantic. And the cascading pools of water at the Italian inspired fountain at Malcom X/Meridien Hill Park are romantic enough for one of our own contributors to use them as the backdrop for her wedding.

There’s something to be said, as well, for the choice views of the Washington Monument from the 12-acres park, which sits on a hill overlooking all of downtown. That’s another thing Borderstan residents find charming about this part of town: the view.

While in my humble, Parisian opinion nothing beats the view of Parisian rooftops, the DC skyline is lovely, as well, especially when paired with cocktails at Donovan House.

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, where do you go to find romance in Borderstan?

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by Borderstan.com February 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm 0

"shoes"

Another step forward for DC. (Laetitia Brock)

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

While you were busy slaving away in your cubicle, a Guiness World Record was broken in the area.

Today in DC, National Geographic Kids set the record for the world’s longest chain of shoes. Over 16,000 running shoes were laid out in the courtyard of the National Geographic Society at 17th and M Streets NW, covering a total distance of 3.2 kilometers (that would be 2 miles).

After witnessing the record for the world’s longest Cuban sandwich while I was in Tampa for the Republican National Convention, none of these seemingly weird records strike me as strange anymore. So, “Woohoo DC! We now hold the world’s longest chain of shoes!”

But better than that, the shoes, many of which were donated by artists and athletes like Taylor Swift and Eli Manning, will be now be mashed up into a material that will become the surface for soccer fields and playgrounds thanks to Nike’s Reuse a Shoe program.

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by Borderstan.com January 30, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

"Cheese"

CheeseBowl 2013. (Laetitia Brock)

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

No matter how hard I’ve tried, I just can’t get into American football. Okay, to be fair, I haven’t tried that hard — though I did go to a Redskins game once.

"Cheese"

(Laetitia Brock)

I know the Super Bowl is coming up this Sunday, and I must confess I don’t really care. I don’t even care about the halftime show or the commercials. But this year, cheesemonger Carolyn Stromberg is giving me a reason to pay attention to the big Maryland-California showdown. Or at least to a Maryland-California showdown. Being French, I will pay attention to a cheese showdown.

Carolyn Stromberg, of Seasonal Pantry and Righteous Cheese fame, is staging a Cheesebowl at her Union Market outpost. I’m sure the playoffs were grueling, but only two teams remained!

"Cheese"

(Laetitia Brock)

Competing for team Maryland is a Monocacy Ash cheese from Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Co., paired with a Belgian white style Stillwater Cellar Door beer. Team California is the surprisingly paired aged Vella Dry Jack from Vella Cheese and dark Stone Smoked Porter from Stone Brewing Co.

Neither team really has a strategy for winning; patrons decide the outcome of this 2013 cheesebowl. Whichever $7 pairing sells the most before the February 3 kickoff gets the trophy.

Now these are rules I can understand. If only football was this easy.

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by Borderstan.com December 10, 2012 at 10:00 am 2,061 0

"A&D bar"

A&D at 1314 9th Street NW, is the area’s newest neighborhood bar. (Laetitia Brock)

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

Cheers to A&D, Shaw’s Newest Neighborhood Bar, at 1314 9th Street NW!

Can you think of a more perfect day to open a new bar than repeal day? Me neither! Since the Passenger always gets so crowded on weekends and there aren’t many good watering holes (yet) around the convention center, I was thrilled when I heard that Daniel O’Brien and Ali Bagheri were expanding their domination of the corner of 9th Street and Naylor Court NW with a new bar.

The pair that brought us some of the city’s best sandwiches and one of DC’s most popular supper club is branching into bar food and craft cocktails with A&D Neighborhood Bar. During the soft opening on Wednesday, December 5 General Manager and mixologist Evan Cablayan came around to each table to welcome us and ask for our patience as they fix some of the kinks inherent in any new business.  I was too busy sipping on a very generously poured and potent 54th cocktail to notice anything.

The craft cocktail menu is fun and original. Daniel O’Brien’s commitment to locally sourced ingredients is evident here too, with DC’s own Green Hat Gin and Loudoun County’s Catoctin Creek Distilling Company rye making an appearance in two cocktails: the A&D and the Winter Julep respectively. My choice of libation for the evening, a potent combination of 1776 rye, dark rum, Angostura cherry syrup and orange bitters, came in a rather large mason jar and was a perfect accompaniment to the beef tongue reuben.

I’ll have to go back a few times to eat and drink my way through the menu of locally source small plates (I’m especially intrigued by the poutine chips but so far I like what I tasted! And what I saw as well.)

DC-based creative agency Design Operative did a great job updating the former Lamont Bishop Gallery, integrating the ornate ceiling and hardwood floors into just what a neighborhood hang out should be: a modern, inviting space, where everybody will probably very soon know my name!

A&D Neighborhood Bar is located at 1314 9th Street NW, near the Convention Center metro station (and very close to the future Market at O Street development). It’s open from 5 pm to 1 am Sunday through Thursday and 5 pm to 2 am Friday and Saturday.

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by Borderstan.com December 3, 2012 at 2:30 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.

"holiday"

Leopold Bros’ Cranberry Kir Royal. (Laetitia Brock)

Since I didn’t grow up celebrating Thanksgiving, I’m still attempting to understand the holiday and make it mine in some way. The best way I have found so far is by taking the traditional ingredients and dishes of the holiday and giving them my own French twist.

That translated into a sweet potato gratin dauphinois one year, or a pumpkin crème brûlée dessert for example. This year, I didn’t do much of the cooking but I was in charge of cocktails and drinks. I came across Leopold Bros’ New England Cranberry Liqueur just in time for Thanksgiving, during a tasting at Bell Wine and Spirit  I stumbled upon.

In France, we typically start a holiday or celebratory meal with an apéritif like champagne or light white wine. As soon as I tried the bright crimson, sweet Cranberry liqueur, I knew it would make the perfect apéritif, mixed with a dry bubbly.

I was right! The simple Cranberry kir royal is not only easy to make but it’s also perfect to serve as a festive cocktail throughout the holiday season. Simply mix 1 to 2 oz of Leopold Bros New England Cranberry Liqueur (available in half or full bottles in our area at West Dupont Circle Wines & Liqueur, Bell Wine and Spirits, Modern Liquors they can order it for you in case they don’t actually have it in store) with 3 to 4 oz of brut/cava/prosecco or any other chilled sparkling wine.

And voilà, you have a bright sparkling cocktail to toast the holidays! You can also garnish it with some frozen whole cranberries or use white wine instead of sparkling wine to make it a regular cranberry kir. Or you can just drizzle some on vanilla-pecan ice cream. Cheers!

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