Category Archives: To Explore

DC Dinêr en Blanc 2016

On August 27th 2016, DC looked a little different. Thousands of people dressed in white walked to a secret location. The occasion? Dinêr en Blanc.

What is Dinêr en Blanc (DEB)?

It started 30 years ago in Paris. The concept is an elegant picnic located in a secret location in the city.

DEB Feels?

To be honest I was a little overwhelmed with the process of preparing and a little underwhelmed when I finally made it to the event. I thought it was bougie AF but it was picture perfect. Overall I’m glad I did it. At the end of the day it’s about creating memories. I can now say, me and 3000 of my “closest friends” had an all white picnic by the Lincoln Memorial. Rise and Revel, Right?

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How can I make attending DEB an easy process?

I’m going to provide you with 10 tip to make sure you’re not overwhelmed like I was.

10. Age group: 21 and over and no pets

9. BYOE: This event BRING YOUR OWN EVERYTHING (BYOE). I would be prepared to spend some cash.

8. Entrance fee: It is $37 per person + $8 membership + $8 transaction fee. You CANNOT purchase a single ticket, meaning, you have to bring a date. Total amount $90

7. Alcohol: Okay so remember when I said you have to bring everything, well everything except alcohol.

  • You are prohibited to bring alcohol on site, instead you have to purchase it through a DEB vendor. Sorry it’s not free at least $16 per bottle.
  • They do check bags at the entrance and confiscate bottles that obviously look like alcohol. However you can bring your own water and juice 😉😉.

6. Supplies: Gotta be all white.

  • Table has to be between “28 and 32”. It okay if it’s an inch or two bigger.
    • This can be rented from DEB or purchase on Amazon
  • 2 chairs
    • This can be rented from DEB or purchase on Amazon
  • Picnic Basket or White Bag
  • Table cloth
    • This can be purchased at Ross, Amazon or rented from DEB
  • 2 Napkins
    • This can be purchased at Ross, Amazon or rented from DEB
  • Food 😋
    • DEB provides the option to purchase a catered meal ( I opted out )
  • White table decorations
    • This can be purchased at Michaels, Ross or rented from DEB
  • 2 white non disposable plates
    • This can be purchased at Ross, Amazon or rented from DEB
  • 2 sets of non disposable cutlery
    • This can be purchased at Ross or rented from DEB
  • 2 wine glasses or champagne flutes
    • This can be purchased at Ross or rented from DEB
  • Bottle opener for wine
    • This can be purchased at Ross
  • Bottle of water
  • Trash bag
  • Ice or chiller aka ziplock bag and some ice
  • Cart to carry supplies
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My table decorations

5. What doesn’t have to be white: 

  • The table  ( it will be covered with a white tablecloth)
  • The picnic basket or bag ( hide this under the table)
  • Cart

4. Dress Code: Elegant all white outfit and no accents (they’re pretty strict about this). You can get costume-y if you like

3. Groups: You will be assigned to a group and each group has 2 leaders. On the day of DEB you will meet the leader at a designated location. They will guide you to the event’s secret location

2. Travel: Be prepared to walk with all of your stuff. I ubered to the group leader’s location. The walk from that location to the final destination was about a mile.You have to carry everything to the site even if you rented. So I recommend wearing comfortable shoes

1. Volunteer: If you love planning events and organizing, you should definitely volunteer. As a volunteer you and your date get in free and a fee bottle of wine. Two of my friends volunteered and their task included: providing information to guest via email, answering questions regarding the event, sending  reminders and guiding a group to a secret location. Once they made it to the site they  were free to party.

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Here a link to the official video for DEB DC 2016

Well that’s all folks Au Revoir

Revelation 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;

 

D.C.’s Best Food Trucks

….according to moi

One of the best things about living in the city is easy access to all sorts of food. Between celebrity chef’s grand openings, concept pop up restaurants, and lines that go around the block for the newest “it” thing, you really cant get bored. So here in the city who needs a drive through? For quick, tasty, quality made street food & international cuisine hit up a Food Truck.

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Swlizzler: Self imposed with the task to #MakeHotdogsGreatAgain these guys are serving up some of the best hotdogs (and French fries!) in the city . The recipe I cant get enough of is the Leonardo Dog Vinci : House made pesto, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and  balsamic glaze on  a grass-fed all beef hotdog, cut into their signature “swizzle” shape and served on a pretzel bun. Trust me when I say its EVEN more delicious than it sounds. Be sure to spend a little extra to get the flavorful hand cut parmesan truffle fries  with your order. Being the French fry enthusiast that I am, I’ve grilled a few of them on what the secret to making their fries so delicious is , and I may or may not have gotten the answer, but you’ll have to ask them for yourself. The guys on the truck are super friendly, & not to mention cute; Check them out on Instagram to find out where the truck is daily @SwizzlerFoods.

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TaKorean – Started out as DC’s first and most popular Korean taco truck. I love this place, the food is great and its affordable. Especially if you stop by on $2 Taco Tuesday. Described as a delicious combination of Korean flavors with a Mexican twist, they’re serving up tacos , rice bowls and slaw bowls  with ingredients like kimchi , spiced kale , organic soft egg, avocado crema , lime crema, sriracha , fresh cilantro, and more , on your choice of protein or veggie/vegan options. Ask one of the servers which toppings go best with which protein and they’ll enthusiastically tell you “I recommend them all!“. In addition to the truck you can find them 6 days a week at Union Market as well as in the Twelve12 complex in The Yards near Nats Stadium. IG: @TaKorean

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DC Empanadas– DC’s only mobile gourmet empanadas, with literally dozens of beef pork , chicken and vegetarian options you can easily find one or twenty empanadas perfect for you. Each one is handmade and filled with flavor. Favorites include El Toro:Chipotle Beef, Onions, Garlic, Cilantro, Black Beans, Cheddar Cheese & Corn, Executive Order – Bacon Cheeseburger with Grilled Vidalia Onions , and Pollo de Primavera– Diced White Meat Chicken Sautéed with Onions, Potatoes & Cilantro tossed with White Wine & Latin Seasonings. They have a rotating menu so you can always expect something you haven’t had before. Check twitter or IG @DCEmpanadas for their most up to date location daily & When you order at the Union Market location : buy 2 empanadas get one free(11-2pm)!

There are so many unique food trucks in DC this list could go on and on, if you want to try them all  here are some fun events where you can find a bunch in the same place. Wednesdays at NoMa Summer Screen, Fridays outside of Jazz in the Garden,  & Monthly at Truckaroo @ the fairgrounds

Cava Mezze in Capitol Hill

Nestled among the dozens of international cuisine restaurants located in Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market is Cava Mezze- a Greek inspired tapas style restaurant.

cava mezze

The interior is dark wood and dim lighting, making for a casual, but romantic atmosphere, depending on how many penny mimosas your neighbors had during bottomless brunch.

The complimentary starter is a basket of  pillowy warm pita and bowls of delicious harissa, olives, and oil  to dip them in.

pita and dip
pita and dip

Since sharing is suggested we split three dishes between the two of us, and none of them disappointed.

Lamb chops marinated in lemon and olive oil, served atop crispy potatoes (read: seriously delicious french fries) .

lamb chops and crispy potatoes
lamb chops and crispy potatoes

Lollipop chicken legs fried and drizzled in honey and walnuts. Hands down my favorite and a good choice for anyone who enjoys foods describes as: sweet, savory, crunchy and awesome.

lollipop chicken with honey and walnuts
lollipop chicken with honey and walnuts

Mini gyros with tzatziki, tomatoes, onions and fries inside ( yes fries inside)

mini gyros
mini gyros

Also don’t miss the Saganaki, aka Flaming Cheese dish, which is brought out in two small cast iron skillets, then set ablaze table-side and put out with lemon juice.

flaming cheese
flaming cheese

 

Tip:When the weather is nice you can request to sit on the rooftop and enjoy a nice view of the city

Cava Mezze Capitol Hill, 527 8th St SE, Washington, DC

Alley Fun

Tucked away in a Philadelphia alley is a swanky little restaurant/bar called Sampan/Graffiti bar.

entrance of the bar
entrance of the bar

Me and my classmates went to Graffiti bar after we finished the first year of our masters program. You literally have to walk down a dark alley to get to graffiti bar but you are pleasantly surprised with great appetizers, the best music play list ever, and oh how could I forget, the fish bowls!

During happy hour all appetizers are $4 and the fish bowls are $20.

I took a peak inside the restaurant and it also looked pretty cool.

Sampan

If your in Philly you should check it out! It’s located on 124 S 13th Street.

Here is their lovely website

And if you are new to the city, every Wednesday all summer long, there is a event called Sips. Center City District bars and restaurants offer $5 cocktails, $4 wine, $3 beer and half-priced appetizers. Click the link below for all the restaurants that participate.

SIPS

 

 

 

 

D.C: Hidden Garden Oasis

When you need a break from the everyday hustle and bustle of city life check out The Mt St Sepulchre Franciscan Monastery. Hidden away in Brookland (northeast D.C.),  it’s ” The most impressive DC site you’ve probably never head of “.  This expansive garden welcomes visitors (believers and non believers alike)  to come, stroll, reflect, and admire its hidden sculptures, prayer gardens, and trials. You’ll even encounter various Holy Land artifacts and  eerie replicas of tombs,  as well as a peaceful underground grotto. Not to mention there’s adorable chipmunks entertaining themselves among the flower beds.

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letters and prayers left for the Virgin Mary in her tomb replica

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enjoying the garden with the bf
enjoying the garden with the bf

This is the perfect place to visit for some quiet time , or to enjoy a book on a nice day.

find it : 1400 Quincy st NE

 

 

Urban Butcher- The Taste Your Buds Will Never Forget

Urban Butcher is the most tasty splurge I’ve probably ever eaten. After passing the large, glowing windows off of Georgia Ave in downtown Silver Spring and seeing the antique tables, plaid shirted waiters, and chalkboard backing several times in one week- a few friends and I decided to have dinner at the boutiqey restaurant last night.

Upon first walking into Urban Butcher, I felt like I had been transported back to my temporary home of LA. The restaurant has about four different sections that feel like their own room and space. The front of the restaurant feels purposefully (and beautifully so) a bit undone, while the back room is bright, painted in a spring yellow and lit by hanging lights. Breaking up the front and back of the house are the butcher shop which is lined in glass and all white contrasting the dark and wooden bar area.

Our waiter was just as hipster as the restaurant, but he knew his stuff, offering us their specialized drink menu with serious Old Fashions and The Butcher’s Negroni (which you kind of have to have). As for our meal, Urban Butcher is one of maybe three restaurants I know that you could get anything on the menu and be pleasantly surprised/satisfied. Nothing is bad. Nothing is even just good. Everything tastes like a bit of heaven.

The steak frites are moist and seasoned all the way through, which you get to experience while it melts in your mouth. The beef empanadas are spicy, toasty, and delicious. I ordered the house burger with bacon and artisan cheese. It was so good, I’m not sure I’ll have another burger again for a long, long time. But, for me, nothing tops the Ahi Tuna. It was so fresh and so juicy. The seasoning was strong but not over powering. I could have eaten about three cups of it and I don’t even like fish.

So the next time you need to impress your foodie date, or just want some damn good food, head over to Urban Butcher for a taste your buds will never forget.

Night Market

This one is for all the foodies out there.

The Food Trust, a non profit organization in Philadelphia, kicked off their annual Night Market festival May 15th 2014 in Old City Philadelphia.  Night Market is a food festival that has over 300 food vendors and it is located throughout different areas of Philly.  There is tons of food, alcohol and music. It’s pretty much a huge block party.  If you missed the kick off, don’t worry, they keep this going all summer long.  The upcoming dates are:IMG_6422

JUNE

When: June 19th

Where: West Oak Lane 72nd and Ogontz Ave.

Time: 6pm -10pm

AUGUST

When: August 14th

Where: Lancaster Ave and 35st

Time: 6pm -10pm

OCTOBER

When: October 2nd

Where: Chinatown

Time: 6pm -10pm

To get the best experience out of Night Market, I recommend these 5 tips.

1. Come on time, maybe even early. Everyone in Philly seems to attend night market. I got to the festival at 6:30pm and there was a pretty decent crowd, but by 8:00pm the crowd was almost unbearable. Crowds also mean long lines, but the lines move pretty quickly.

2. Come with cash. The website does say credit card is accepted, but none of the trucks I went to took credit.

Korean BBQ Taco edamame taco Vietnamese tofu sandwich
Korean BBQ Taco
Edamame Taco
Vietnamese tofu sandwich

3. Bring Friends and lots of them. Its a party, you can’t have a party without friends. Also having your friends stand in separate lines and order for the group is a great divide and conquer strategy.

Put the rum in the coconut and mix it all up
Put the rum in the coconut and mix it all up

4. Expect to spend at least $30 or more. Most of the food was priced at $10 or above. Which I personally found pretty expensive because all of the food trucks in my area are waaaay cheaper. I was able to find some really delicious food for $5, but those lines were the longest. I’m not sure if the prices are different depending on the location. But if your really interested in sampling everything be prepared to spend a decent amount of money.

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Bacon Mac and Cheese from We Figs

5. Avoid driving.  As I said earlier it gets really crowded. Your best bet is to take transportation or walk.

Be sure to check out the Night Market website for more information and to see the list of vendors.

Have Fun!

The hardest part is letting go

….and it really hurts to hold on.
Lessons in love or  on the flying trapeze? Well for today’s intents and purposes we’re talking about truths learned at the Trapeze School New York in Washington D.C.

outside

If you’re like every other 20-30 something female, you grew up with Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw as one of the voices of your generation. And if so, you likely remember the episode “The Catch” where our fearless Carrie makes the leap in both love and off the trapeze.

Carrie-Bradshaw-Trapeze

I had the chance to visit this very same trapeze school (which has locations in NYC, LA,  DC, Boston, Chicago and Puerto Rico). If you’re a first timer class starts off in “ground school” but before you know it you’re belting up , chalking your palms, and creeping up a ladder that you’ve given the benefit of the doubt to at best .

inside

Now you’ll find yourself 2 stories up looking down from a mere 2×6 platform, one hand on a support handle the other reaching as far as you can muster for the trapeze bar, truly wondering if this is the moment when you will plummet to your untimely demise. Of course this is impossible as there’s a very soft and sturdy net directly below, but still…. Like I said, this is the hardest part. Letting go,  mentally and physically and allowing yourself to soar.

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me taking the leap

The Trapeze bar is made to ensure grip, so its easy and difficult to hold on to it at the same time. If you don’t already have “rough” hands I’d suggest paying for a pair of grips at the desk to ease the discomfort. Swinging through the air is a trill once you get past the jumping. The enthusiastic instructors, who can also be seen performing in shows and festivals, give you constant instructions for what to do at each and every moment; Including back flips and letting go entirely to be caught by another. Some people  will really surprise you with their advanced skills, but no worries, everyone moves at their own pace, and everyone starts out shaky. And it really is an easygoing good time.

trapeze tricksStill feeling weary about the height? Not sure if you should give it a try? I’ll leave you with these words from the one and only Miss.Carrie Bradshaw:

“When you’re young, your whole life is about the pursuit of fun.
Then, you grow up and learn to be cautious.
You could break a bone or a heart.
You look before you leap and sometimes you don’t leap at all because
there’s not always someone there to catch you.
And in life, there’s no safety net.
When did it stop being fun and start being scary?
I decided it was time to leave fear behind and have some fun”

Tips if you go: call in and use this discount code to the 20% off your first class: NSJ20

4th st SE & Tingey st (by the Navy Yard)

The Bacaro Challenge

The scene is cozy and modern with the wood tables and floors combined with the chalkboard wall- a wall that acts as more than art while displaying the wines of the day in a unique fashion. This was not my first time in Bacaro, the little wine bar that opened in 2008, but tonight I came for a special purpose.

People all over USC’s campus rave about the $20 all you can drink special that happens any night of the week here at Bacaro. Okay, you caught me, I only know like three people at my school right now! But those three people really really like it.

The drinking special is pretty straightforward: you can choose from any of the house wines and then you get two hours to drink as little or as much as you like. What I didn’t know going into this was that this is not the kind of deal someone with no self-control should attempt. There should be warning signs or the waiter could maybe let you know this is a dangerous game. Now that I think about it, the waiter tried several times (kindly) to bring us water. We clearly screamed back to her by the last hour, “We only want wine! No water!” Oh well.

 

The special includes champagne, house red, beer and a Sangria that my friends deemed the “take yourself back to the wonders of preschool” Sangria for its juice-like taste. A complimentary plate of bread and cheeses come for the table and that’s about all the food you’re going to need unless you decide you want to pay a pretty penny for tasty but also tiny dishes.

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I had devised a plan to fully enjoy Bacaro’s $20 for 2 hours drink special prior to my arrival that night. The plan began as just a running transcription of the night, and turned into so much more. So what follows below are a few of the fun drinking games you can try for your future. Although parts of the night are a bit cloudy, I truly enjoyed the scenery and the company of this little wine bar.

http://www.bacarola.com/

 

THE GAMES:

The Shatner:

Star Trek reference

Any time someone in the group yells ‘Shatner’ throughout the night, one has to over act whatever you were doing.

Never Have I Ever:

This timeless game had to be played. We’re like fifteen at a sleepover right? No? We’re in grad school? Huh? Oh no.

To Draw:

Basically for this game, anything goes. You know what would be most fun for your group of friends. For us, we chose portraits of friends and attempts at the United States of America. Those masterpieces are below.

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Spoons for brunch!

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Every  once in a while a D.M.V (DC.  central MD and northern VA) native travels over to the dark side  otherwise known as Baltimore. Baltimore gets a bad rep over on this side of town but the truth is , there are several neighborhoods in Baltimore that are great for day trips , good eats and a little culture and a lot of bar hopping.  And I don’t just mean the harbor. Im talking Canton, Fells Point and today specifically  Federal. Hill.

Over the weekend we checked out Spoons Cafe, in historic Fed Hill. Its a quaint coffee bar with a pretty tasty brunch menu.

Federal Hill contains a phalanx of bars and restaurants, the newly renovated Cross Street Market, funky, locally owned shops and is located within walking distance of the Inner Harbor and downtown.

The dining room is not too over crowded and the wait-staff is super friendly and personable. Our waitress grabbed a chair and sat down with us to take our order. Not to mention she was funny and a self proclaimed bacon connoisseur. My feeling is that with their menu , made up of your bunch staple foods with a sweet or savory twist, you cant go wrong with any choice.  To name a few…

  • Cheesecake stuffed french toast
  •  Egg-in-hole toast aptly named “Raven’s Nest”    Go Ravens!!
  • Break-ing-fast Burrito stuffed with scrambled eggs, black bean chili, spinach, cheddar, salsa verde, sour cream potatoes and chorizo
  • Fried chicken biscuit with honey butter
  • Crunchy french toast dipped in corn flakes with choice of buttery rum sauce or maple pecan syrup
Chai Tea Latte
Chai Tea Latte
Fried Chicken Biscuit with honey butter
Fried Chicken Biscuit with honey butter
Big Spoon Omelette bacon, ham, tomato, onion, potato, cheddar, parmesan
Big Spoon Omelette bacon, ham, tomato, onion, potato, cheddar, parmesan
O nuts
O nuts

Whatever you get make sure you have a little dessert before your entree and enjoy some O-NUTS: Baltimore-style cinnamon beignets topped with powdered sugar

spoons doorway

  24 E. Cross Street Baltimore MD

spoons spoons