Monday, December 13, 2010

Things to Do: Watkins Park Festival of Lights

Growing up I remember my neighbors going all out for Christmas.  We'd walk through our neighborhood to check out the nicely decorated houses and see which of our neighbors successfully outdid everybody else.  We even strolled around as a group singing Christmas carols, boy have times changed.

Now for the holidays, when I look around and I may see one or two houses on my way home that have decorations and lights, and I live in the suburbs.  What happened?  Every year when I'm feeling a little holiday spirit deficient, I head to Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

This year Watkins Park celebrates it's 24th Annual Winter Festival of Lights.  It's a driving tour and only costs $5 per car.  You slowly drive throughout the park which is filled with various displays of lights.  It's fun for a family visit or even a date.  Typically, I'd say the drive takes about 20-30 minutes depending on the day and the traffic. See below for more information.  

Friday, November 26, 2010 – Sunday, January 2, 2011
5:00 - 9:30PM (nightly)
Watkins Regional Park301 Watkins Park Drive (Rte. 193)
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
301-699-2456

http://www.pgparks.com/Festival_of_Lights.htm

Find Today's Daily Deal on Your City's Best Things To Do at Groupon.com!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Things to Do: Holiday Gift Market

The Ninth Annual Holiday Gift Market: Celebrate the Season

On December 15 and 16, join the National Museum of Women in the Arts and experience shopping in the great hall from a select group of women artisans and designers including jewelry, international crafts, gifts, personal accessories, and home accents. FREE admission to the museum and gallery tours will be available.

Hours
December 15, 2010 10:00AM – 8:00PM
December 16, 2010 10:00AM – 5:00PM 


National Museum of Women in the Arts
1250 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005-3970
202-783-5000

http://nmwa.org/

Monday, December 6, 2010

Things to Do: Chris4Life Holiday Bar & Bazaar

Passing along a holiday event, benefitting another one of my favorite charities...

Join Instructions Apparel this Wednesday, December 8, 2010 from 6:30-8:30PM for their Holiday Sales Event with the Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation.  Whether you are looking for something special for your upcoming holiday parties or the perfect gift for the man in your life, Instructions Apparel has something just right for you.

RSVP to theartofdressingwellevents@gmail.com 


Hudson Restaurant & Lounge
2030 M St NW
Washington, DC 20036
http://www.hudson-dc.com/


www.theartofdressingwell.com
 
Instructions Apparel

Friday, December 3, 2010

Things to Do: Holiday Wine Soiree

A fellow tweeter, Melanie Spring, aka @Sisarina, came up with an amazing idea. She's hosting a FREE blind wine tasting at her office in Bethesda, MD.  The event/tweetup will be held on Sunday, December 12, 2010 from 5:00-9:00PM.

All participants are asked to bring 1 or 2 bottles of wine ($8-$25).  The labels will then be covered to allow guests to do a "blind" taste testing and vote on their favorites.  After the event, all of the participants will receive a listing of the top choices, along with how much each of the wines cost and where to buy them.  Additionally, food will be provided by Chef Tony's Restaurant in Bethesda.

For those of you who tweet, use the hashtag, #DCTweetup...
"#DCTweetup is a ‘non’-networking event for locals to put a face to a Twitter handle. It’s a relaxing evening of networking with your neighbors, local business owners and meeting new friends. This is not your typical ’state what you do & hand over your business card’ event. #DCTweetup is for the introverted & extroverted alike to share in great conversation, relationship-building and fun."

For more information and to register, http://dctweetup19.eventbrite.com/

Sisarina Headquarters
4925 St Elmo Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
240.479.9743

http://www.sisarina.com

Holiday Party: Stepping into the Season w/ Step Afrika

I admit I've been a little out of the loop over the last month or so with my thoughts focused elsewhere and I've neglected to play the role of social butterfly but don't worry I'm back in full force for the holidays.

Well, it's that time of year again.  Time to spread a little holiday cheer, by doing a little schmoozing with friends, family, and coworkers.  Why not take some time out to support a worthy cause or two?

Recently, one of my favorite local dance groups, Step Afrika, sent an email saying they are having their first Holiday Party called "'Stepping' Into the Season."  It will be held on Wednesday, December 8, 2010 from 7:00-10:00 at the Washington Design Center.  There is a suggested donation of $20 and it will entitle guests to hors d'oeuvres, music, raffles, a cash bar, and swag bags (who doesn't love swag!!)

For more information, click here.




Art Gallery at the Washington Design Center

300 D Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Restaurant Review: Market 17 (Ft. Lauderdale)

Market 17
When I first arrived to Ft. Lauderdale, while in the taxi headed for our resort, I noticed a restaurant by the name of Market 17.  It looked like a quaint little place and there was a sign saying it had just opened in October.  In DC, I always love trying places within the first few weeks of their opening so I jumped at the opportunity of trying this new restaurant.

Later that evening, I Googled them and was glad to see they had a clean, fully-functioning website, which seems to be rare among newer restaurants for some reason.  Since, I'd already made reservations that evening for YOLO, I decided to schedule something for the next day.

We arrived around 8:00PM to a scene that was the total opposite of YOLO the night before.   It was very low-key, not at all crowded.

Within moments of being seated we were warmly greeted by our waiter.  He explained to us that the restaurant was based on a "farm to table" concept which meant they dealt with local farmers for everything from the vegetables to chicken, beef, fish, etc.  There were so many options, and each of them was paired with an interesting selection of ingredients which made the decision even harder.

I would have to say I was most surprised by their extensive wine list, they have over 350 different varieties.  I really liked the fact they offered their wine by the glass in 1/2 glasses which made it extremely affordable  to try out a few, my first glass was only $4.50 which is unheard of in DC, even during happy hour.

When it was time to order our waiter came over and I still had no idea what to choose since everything on the menu looked so yummy.  I ended up starting with ceviche, because I  love it and when I read that was custom-made, I knew it was something I had to try.  What an experience! The snapper and shrimp I chose were so fresh, they could've been caught that same day and I wouldn't have been surprised.  The other ingredients created such an excitement in my mouth, I ohhed and ahhed the entire time.  I can still taste it.

I ended up ordering the chicken breast with potato risotto, mushrooms, onions, walnuts and a sherry vinegar pan sauce.  When it came out I didn't even want to touch it.  I have a thing for meals that are nicely plated.  When I took my first bite of the chicken and risotto, it tasted as beautiful as it looked.  It was tender, juicy and seasoned to perfection.  My coworker had the poached Maine lobster served in a rich basil and cream sauce with collard greens.  I took a small bite of her lobster and I'd have to say it was amazing.

Lastly, I was full but had to try some dessert.  They had chocolate cake on the menu and it came highly recommended by our server so of course I had to try it.  Like the other dishes the dessert came out so beautifully plated I didn't know where to start.  The cake was coated with a cylindrical layer of milk chocolate, topped with cream and chocolate shavings.  That dessert was so good, I could have easily demolished the entire thing but I was so full, I settled for eating the cake but leaving the chocolate coating.  Our server commented on it but I was find with it, it was just enough to keep me satisfied.

After dinner our server gave us a tour of their "Dining in the Dark" room a concept that apparently is big in Europe and has a small following of restaurants in LA and South Beach (Miami).  It was a small glass enclosed room with large, curtains to keep all light out.  Those who dine in the room as seated at one of the 3 tables and serves from a tasting menu.  The trick to it is you eat completely in the dark which is supposed to heighten your sense of taste.  I need to check around and see if they have any places like that in the DC area because it's definitely something I'd love to try.

Although I don't live in Ft. Lauderdale, I have a feeling Market 17 could definitely be one of the city's Hidden Gems.  The food was amazing and the service could not have been better.  Hopefully, I'll make it back down that way soon!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Restaurant Review: YOLO (Ft. Lauderdale)

Last week, I spent several days in Ft. Lauderdale for a mix of business and pleasure.  We stayed at the Marriott Harbor Beach which is a fabulous oceanfront resort with several restaurants and plenty of outdoor activities.  Although the resort is designed to provide its guests with everything they needed, we decided to venture out to a few local restaurants.

YOLO
Our first stop was at a restaurant called YOLO. (YOLO stands for "You Only Live Once")  We pulled up to the restaurant at 7:00PM on a Wednesday to a vibrant scene.  The driveway leading to the entrance hosted several high-end vehicles including a Maserati and a Bentley.  When I saw this I knew I'd chosen a great place.  The weather was beautiful so we asked to be seated outside.  I was so glad I made reservations well in advance because we would never have gotten a seat.

We were seated and immediately our waitress came over and informed us of the specials and took our drink orders.  I ordered The Devil's Hammer, a drink that contained Patron Tequila and Bourbon infused cherries.  What drew me to it, besides the fact I'm a lover of Patron, was because on the menu it said in bold "Limit 3". If they had a limit, I figured it had to be good and it was. 

We began by ordering the meatball sliders topped with blue cheese.  While, I'm usually not a fan of blue cheese, these sliders were absolutely delicious.  The cheese was very mild so it complemented the sauce on the meatball very well.  The meatballs were so tender and juicy, they just melted in my mouth.  Next we had the YOLO chips, which were handmade, thick-cut potato chips with blue cheese, bacon pieces, and truffles. They were also very tasty and filling.

By the time my entree arrived I was already pretty full but of course I made room for crabcakes. They were lightly breaded, just the way I like them, and the portions were huge, I didn't even know where to start.  The only thing I didn't like was they were very heavy-handed on the sauce.  The crabcakes already had a different kind of topping, the sauce they were sitting in was overkill.  It came with a huge side of shoestring french fries and green apple slaw.  Both were great but again the portions were huge so I barely ate half of the plate.
Overall, I enjoyed the food, drinks, and the atmosphere.  It definitely seemed more trendy like something  you'd find on South Beach or even LA, not Ft. Lauderdale at all.  It was definitely a welcomed surprise.




 


YOLO Restaurant - You Only Live Once
333 E. Las Olas Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301-2259
(954) 523-1000
www.yolorestaurant.com

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Savvy Deals: Village Vines

Recently, I learned about a new website called Village Vines.  Village Vines is somewhat like a OpenTable.com meets Groupon.  Members join for FREE and have a chance to get great discounts on a number of popular restaurants.  You book your reservation online, pay a $10 fee, and you'll receive 30% off of food and beverages. 

The biggest advantage is you do not need to bring a coupon or print out with you, the discount will come off automatically on your bill.  (Hint: Fellas if you want to save a few dollars on your next date, this is the perfect way to do it.)

Village Vines provides discounts to popular restaurants in Washington, DC, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The statement below was taken from their website.
VillageVines gives food lovers access to preferred pricing with their city's most popular restaurants. We make your dining experiences more convenient and more affordable, and we do so by partnering with the best dining establishments – from the restaurant icons to the up and coming gems.

If you haven't tried VillageVines, give it a try for FREE.  Please accept my invitation below:
http://tinyurl.com/villagevinesDC

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Heineken Inspire Tour Hits DC

Last week I was forwarded an email about an upcoming event hosted by Heineken.  Although, I'm not much of a beer drinker it seemed to be an interesting event that I had to be a part of.

The email describing the event said something to the effect that it was for influential Washingtonians and they we were being invited to attend a (complimentary) 3 course dinner at Acadiana as part of the Heineken Inspire Tour.  I love the food at Acadiana and I'm all about networking so I quickly sent in my RSVP.

On Thursday morning, I finally received a response saying I'd been confirmed for attendance.  When I followed up with the other young ladies, including the one who originally sent me the email, I found out I was the only one who had received confirmation.  At first I was a little bummed because I really didn't want to go by myself since it seemed kind of exclusive but I figured hey why not.

The invite noted early arrival was suggested and the dinner would start promptly at 7:30.  Due to traffic caused by Howard Homecoming and people in town for the Stephen Colbert & Jon Stewart Rally, it took me nearly 30 minutes to get there from right down the street. 

When I arrived, I was told the event was being held in a private room and proceeded to the back of the restaurant.  After making my way through the crowd of 50 or so young professionals, I realized I didn't see a one person I knew which is strange for me considering DC is so small.  Soon I ended up making eye contact with a gentleman who I later found out was on the production crew for the night's events and he provided a little more insight as to what to expect for the evening.  He also introduced me to his coworker who produced Erykah Badu's Window Seat video. 

They were serious about the event being for the influential and some of DC's movers and shakers.  I met a variety of people from Heineken's Director of Corporate Responsibility (a field I'm looking to get in to) to the chief of staff for a well-known Congresswoman.  We were treated to a lavish dinner which included 3 choices of entrees, shrimp and grits, duck, or steak.  Dinner was rounded out with a dessert topped with Heineken, I had to pass.  All in all, it was a great networking event.  Apparently, it was the last stop for this year, glad they decided to save the best for last!

On Saturday, Heineken hosted a day party at LOVE night club that featured Rick Ross, The Clipse, Wale and special guest Erykad Badu.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to use the 2 free tickets (they gave each of the dinner guests) but I heard a great time was hard by all.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Things to Do: Spy at Night Tour

One of the best parts of living in the Washington, DC area is being surrounded by so many forms of cultural entertainment, most widely-known are the museums.  Everyone has heard of the Smithsonian Institution and their collection of museums and art galleries, all of which are free and open to the public.

In addition to the Smithsonian, we have several others but some of my favorites are the Newseum, the National Museum of Crime & Punishment and The International Spy Museum.  Although these three are not free, they are definitely worth the cost of admission.

The Spy Museum is one of my favorites because I'm very inquisitive and I love a challenge. I'd been the Spy Museum before but it wasn't until recently that I found out they have so much more to offer than just general admission and self-guided tours. They also have several other "experiences" including Spy in the City, Spy at Night, Operation Spy and Spy City Tour (which is a scavenger hunt that takes you around Washington, DC).

Recently, I went on a date and he decided on the Spy at Night / Operation Spy package.  I thought it was a great idea so I was game.  We arrived there a little earlier than the scheduled time and they allowed us to walk around inside of the museum for about 30 minutes before our scheduled start time.  They have many intriguing exhibits and the museum features the many espionage tools that exist, past and present. 

Fast forward to the tour,  It began with a small group of about 14 of us being briefed by a "spy". We were told we had a mission to complete and throughout the hour long journey, we operated cameras, listened to wire taps, disarmed bombs, and even did a little running.  I won't go into much more but it was a lot of fun and made for a great date.  At the end, they give you a refreshing a cocktail prepared by one of the bartenders from Zola, their neighboring restaurant. 

If you're looking for something fun to do in the city on a Friday or Saturday, make sure you check out the Spy at Night tour.

International Spy Museum
800 F Street, NW
Washington DC 20004

202.eye.spy.u
http://www.spymuseum.org/

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Restaurant Review: Masa 14 (Left A Bad Taste Again...)

During the early part of the summer, I had heard a lot about Masa 14, one of the newer restaurants located on the 14th Street Corridor.  I'd heard so many wonderful things about it so I decided to try to host my 30th birthday happy hour & fundraiser benefitting the March of Dimes there. 

I contacted the events staff about 2 months in advance and told them what I was planning.  We went back and forth via email for about a week, then the person kept telling me that he would have to ask his manager if he could accommodate my party.  My request was quite simple so all I really needed was a yes that date is available or no.  All I wanted to do was have 20-30 people and to order several platters of food for my guests to enjoy.  After, several days of not hearing anything, I decided to look else where. 

Finally, I received an email indicating that they would not be able to handle my request.  To this day, I still don't know why 1) they couldn't accommodate 20-30 people when it's a huge space and 2) why I had to go through all the rigmarole. (I ended up having my event at Local 16, they were extremely accommodating and it went off without a hitch.)

After that Masa 14 left a bad taste in my mouth and I vowed to never support them...that was until last night.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wegmans Comes to Prince George's County

Today, October 24, at 7:00AM, marks the opening of the newest Wegmans.  It is located in the newly developed Woodmore Towne Centre off of 495 (Exit 17) and 202 in Lanham, Maryland.

The people of Prince George's County, MD, a largely African-American suburb of Washington, DC, are excited about this highly anticipated new grocery store along with the other retail outlets that will be coming to the area soon, including Costco and a JC Penney (I'd prefer a Bloomie's or Saks but that's better than nothing).  Best Buy opened the last week of September, which was much needed after the closure of Circuit City in 2008. 

Growing up in Prince George's County, my parents were always forced to shop elsewhere, mainly across the bridge in Virginia, to find department stores and supermarkets that were of a higher quality than those offered to residents of the county.  Now, many years later we are finally getting something no other surrounding area has, Wegmans, and everyone is excited. 

While a new grocery store may not seem like much, Prince George's County has been without for so long it's nice to see we are finally being afforded the same opportunities as other affluent communities in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

To read the press release for the Wegmans Woodmore opening, click here.  To learn more about the Woodmore Towne Center development project, click here.

If you aren't familiar with Wegmans here's a little blurb I pulled from their website.
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., is a 77-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The family-owned company, founded in 1916, is widely recognized as an industry innovator. For 13 consecutive years, it has ranked high on the FORTUNE magazine’s list of “The 100 Best Companies to Work for,” placing #3 in 2010. 

Wegmans
9001 McHugh Drive
Lanham, MD 20706
240.487.5400

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Saks Fifth Avenue - Key To The Cure 10/21

It's that time of the year again!

Join Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase, MD as they celebrate their annual Key to the Cure (KTTC) event. 

On Thursday, October 21, from 6:00- 9:00 PM, join prominent members of the community, local socialites and most importantly, cancer survivors from the Washington, DC area, including Tanya Snyder, wife of Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.  It will be an an evening of shopping, entertainment, and tasty cuisines from local restaurants.

This weekend, Saks will donate 2% of sales during the shopping weekend, up to $500,000, to Suburban Hospital. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Can't attend your local KTTC event (either here in MD or around the country), you can still purchase a t-shirt.  The 2010 KTTC t-shirts are available now at Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase.  Proceeds benefit women's cancer programs at Suburban Hospital!  To purchase the t-shirt online, click here.

Photo Credit: KTTC Co-Chairs Maura Fitzgerald Shannon and Linda V. Courie modeling the specially designed Donna Karan 2010 Key to the Cure t-shirt. 

Saks Fifth Avenue Chevy Chase
5555 Wisconsin Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD

Monday, October 18, 2010

Slice of Life & Free Pie Tastings - October 19-22


Just heard about this great holiday fundraiser that will benefit Food & Friends, a local charity that provides meals to those in need in Washington, DC and the surrounding communities.

Slice of Life is the only area pie sale allowing you to purchase your Thanksgiving pies while making an impact in the lives of thousands in need in your community. This large-scale bake sale is in its 4th year. As a supporter you can purchase pies for you and your family, as gifts for friends and for us to deliver to our clients on Thanksgiving Day. (This excerpt was taken from the Food & Friends website)

As an added incentive, for every pie that is purchased it will provide a full day of meals for one of their clients.  According to their website, in 2009 nearly 5,000 pies were sold. What a great cause! 

In addition, they are offering free pie tastings this week!  See below for the locations and times.


FREE PIE TASTINGS (as listed on their website)

Tuesday, October 19th
Outside the Marriott at Metro Center (12th & H, NW)
11:30am - 1:30pm


Wednesday, October 20th
Outside the CVS at
6 Dupont Circle

11:30am - 1:30pm

Thursday, October 21st

Downtown Silver Spring (
Ellsworth Drive
near Potbelly's)

11:30am - 1:30pm

Friday, October 22nd
Outside of Logan Tavern
(14th & P, NW)
5:00pm - 7:00pm

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, why not help out Food & Friends by purchasing a pie or two for this worthy cause?  For more information and details, please visit: http://www.foodandfriends.org/pie

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Things to Do: Beach Bums & Bellinis is Back!!!

Just heard that Beach Bums and Bellinis is back for the months of October and November.  If you are not familiar with it, it's a weekly event held on Sundays in the morning.  Each week a different exercise instructor will teach an hour long class and afterwords you will be served brunch on the rooftop of the W Hotel. 

Classes fill up quickly, as I learned during the summer, so if you see a class you're interested in taking, my advice is to register ASAP.  See below for more information, taken from the W's website.

Escape to the W Washington D.C. rooftop Sundays this fall for our next round of wildly popular Sunday brunch and fitness sessions: Beach Bums & Bellinis: Jetset Edition! Get your bum in jetset shape, as each week you'll be entered for the chance for a stay at one of eight W properties around the world: W Vieques, W Barcelona, W Hollywood, W South Beach, W Mexico City, W Santiago, W Istanbul and W Montreal.   WHAT? 
A series of exclusive fitness classes on W’s rooftop hosted by lululemon athletica ambassadors from the capitol's premier studios followed by a rewarding bottomless bellini brunch overlooking the White House. Each session will be inspired by a W city.

WHERE? W Washington D.C.’s rooftop, 515 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

WHEN?  

Class: 10:45AM - 11:45 AM
Brunch: 12 noon

HOW MUCH? 

$49 per session (Tax and gratuity not included for brunch)To register and find out the more specifics about the classes being offered, click here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Restaurant Review: Cafe Atlantico

Just realized I never posted some reviews from Restaurant Week (RW). 

I made reservations for Cafe Atlantico for the Friday of RW. Ended up meeting one of my friends there at 8:00 for our reservation and both of us were starving.

When I arrived there was a huge crowd of people inside and out on the side walk.  The hostess informed us  that there would be a wait and that we were welcomed to wait by the bar.  Since it was so crowded, that was not really a viable option so I found a little nook near where the valet guys were and we stood there.  Soon others followed our lead and that area got a little crowded too. I was glad when we finally got a seat.

Around 8:45 we were seated and since we were way beyond famished, we quickly surveyed the limited RW menu and ordered.  My first dish was the "beetsteak" tomato salad.  It was an interesting mix of flavors but nothing special.  The second dish was the pork cheeks served with rice and pureed black beans.  It wasn't seasoned how I liked it but once I mixed in the incredibly spicy pepper sauce that was on the plate (see photo #2 the red spots on the right side of the plate) it made it more flavorful. 

The first two courses weren't all that impressive, so I hoped the dessert would make up for it.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  I ordered the chocolate cake with some lime flavored whipped topping and vanilla ice cream.  Didn't really like the pairing of the cake and lime topping so I stuck with the ice cream.  The cake wasn't as moist as I liked so I ended up eating the cold stuff instead.

I would definitely have to say I was severely disappointed.  One of my friends swears Cafe Atlantico is one of her favorite restaurants, wish I could've said the same.  It was surprising as well since I love the other restaurants that belong to the Think Food restaurant group (Zaytinya, Jaleo, Oyamel). 

Maybe I'll give them another try one day, when it's not Restaurant Week.  Not a fan of restaurant that severely limit their menus and "create" dishes that they wouldn't normally serve.  On a more positive note, seems like it would be cool for happy hour, when it's not so crowded since they do have tasty mojitos.

Food C
Ambiance B
Service B-


Cafe Atlantico
405 8th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 393-0812

Monday, October 4, 2010

Restaurant Review: Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar

Before I start this post, all I can say is I don't know why I had never been to Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar before last week.  That place was absolutely amazing! 

On a Friday evening, I went with a friend who was in town from LA to Sonoma. It's located on Pennsylvania Avenue SE between 2nd and 3rd Streets.  If you're driving by and blink you'd easily miss it. 

When you walk up to the building it's evident that it's an old building and has historic DC charm.  There is a small area for patio seating in the front that can accommodate about 10 people, since it was brisk we decided to take our chances to wait inside for a seat inside.  Once you walk in you're greeted by a huge fully stocked wine bar on one side and a beautiful exposed brick wall on the other.  There is also a large staircase that leads to the upstairs more lounge like area.  It was reserved for a private party so we didn't have a chance to check it out.

Since it was a Friday night and we didn't have reservations, there was a wait but we found a seat at the bar and enjoyed a glass of wine.  The wine list by the glass and bottle were very extensive and offered us many options to enjoy.  While we waited, the incredibly friendly hostess walked over to us every 10 minutes to give us an update on the status of our table, which was nice because that never happens.

Once we were seated, we could barely focus on the menu because of the food that was arriving at the table next to us.  Everything looked so good, we didn't even know where to begin.  Eventually we decided on a few things. For our appetizers we shared an arugula salad with goat cheese, bacon, beets with a bacon vinaigrette and the house-made meatballs in polenta.  From the first bite we were in love, not with each other, but with the food. Within a matter of minutes, both plates were empty.

For the main dish he had the Braised Beef Ravioli with potato and mushroom marmalade and I had the North Carolina Shrimp & Grits.  The beef in the ravioli was very tender, well seasoned and melted in your mouth.  The shrimp, which were more like jumbo prawns, were grilled to perfection with light seasoning and the grits were so smooth and creamy.  We polished off both dishes and were pleasantly full.  I didn't have room for dessert so I ordered a nice, ice-cold glass of Moscato d'asti, which was by far one of the best I've ever had.

To top things off a group of middle-aged men all dressed in black suits caught our attention.  We both speculated they were part of a musical group.  Apparently it was one of their birthdays and they sang the most impressive rendition of Happy Birthday that I'd ever heard in my life.  They followed up with another song where they harmonized like nobody 's business.  I definitely would have paid to hear them sing like that again.  I'm sure that isn't a frequent occurrence but it made a wonderful night even better. 

Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar is truly a hidden gem and I will be making it my point to make sure more know about it.  Nothing is better than attentive service and food that is to die for. Just thinking about it is making me want to make my next reservation.

Food A+
Ambiance A
Service A

Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar
223 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20003
202.544.8088
http://www.sonomadc.com/

Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 30th #FightBreastCancer


If you are on Facebook or Twitter, I hope that by now you've heard about the Susan G. Komen For the Cure #FightBreastCancer initiative.  Beginning September 30, at midnight (EST) to midnight October 1, they are kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month by asking everyone to visit www.69-seconds.org and sign their petition.

Additionally, they've included several statistics that can be used to update your Facebook/Twitter status or blog.  On Facebook and Twitter make sure to include the hashtag #fightbreastcancer.  The goal is to promote awareness.  Everyone has been affected by cancer in one way or another, all it takes is a moment to make a further increase awareness about this dreadful disease.  Will you do your part?

Here's more information about the initiative...

Why 69 seconds?
Because that’s how often a woman dies of breast cancer somewhere in the world. A statistic we’re trying to change. It’s also about how long it takes to #fightbreastcancer by choosing to drive change, share support or educate at www.69-seconds.org.

We hope to mobilize millions to take 69 seconds to #fightbreastcancer AND break the Guinness World Record for Most Widespread Social Network Message in 24 Hours.

How can you join the fight?

  1. Visit 69-seconds.org and take action!
  2. From the website, change your Facebook and/or Twitter status to one of the following:
* Every 69 seconds, a woman dies of breast cancer somewhere in the world. #fightbreastcancer at http://69-seconds.org.
*
Today is not about raising funds. It’s about raising virtual voices around the world to take action in 69 seconds or less. Visit http://69-seconds.org, post #fightbreastcancer to Facebook and Twitter or blog about it before midnight and help turn the virtual world pink.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

October 2: March for Jobs & Justice

Just forwarding along information about the upcoming March for Jobs & Justice.


In this, the Centennial year of the National Urban League, we've asked Americans to take the I Am Empowered pledge to help close the gaps on education, employment, housing and health care. On October 2nd, one of the biggest progressive rallies in decades, focused on these goals, will happen in Washington DC.  Will you mark with us for jobs and justice?

The National Urban League is partnering with more than 150 progressive organizations and tens of thousands of people like you to mobilize the nation in the name of economic empowerment. We're joining human and civil rights groups, unions and trade associations, non-profits and religious groups, and many more.

The rally begins at 12:00PM at the Lincoln Memorial and ends at approximately 4:00PM.  Buses and carpools are being organized from every corner of the country for this incredible event. Will you join us?

RSVP:
http://iamempowered.com/10-2-10-%E2%80%93-march-for-jobs

The nation has just begun down the path of economic recovery, and without the support of committed partners like you, we could lose the progress we're beginning to make.  Join us in the fight to put Americans back to work and pull this country back together.

As the country recovers from economic collapse, the National Urban League has been at the forefront in finding solutions to the jobs crisis.  As then-President-Elect Obama prepared to take office, the League submitted an economic stimulus plan that included a temporary public service employment progam aimed at creating up to 200,000 jobs in urban areas. The League's 6-Point Plan for Job Creation calls for direct funding to states, municipalities and public employers. We've been called upon time and again to provide Congress with our unique perspective on the employment challenges facing America's urban communities.  The One Nation rally is a significant opportunity for us to make our voices heard.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Things to Do: The Science Behind the Cocktail

Stop by the International Spy Museum on Thursday, September 30th from 6:00 - 8:00PM for a FREE cocktail making class.  See below for more information from their website.

From beakers to blenders, you’re invited to explore the science and art behind the cocktail. Find out how specific gravity, surface area and pH levels play a role in creating the perfect cocktail.

The evening kicks off with an entertaining and informative presentation on the cocktail and finishes with hors d'oeuvres, cocktails and hands-on demos. The Science Behind the Cocktail, brought to you by Canadian Mist and hosted by The International Spy Museum, is open to anyone 21 years of age or older.*

To register for this event please click here.

Restaurant Opening: Cuba Libre DC - October 1

When I first heard about Cuba Libre coming to DC, for some reason I was sooo excited. While, I've never been to their other locations in Philadelphia, Atlantic City or Orlando, I've heard countless rave reviews about their food and drinks.   Since, I'm a lover of all things Latin of course I had to book a reservation to be one of the first to try it out, review to come next week.

The DC location was initially scheduled to open during the middle of summer but due to unforeseen circumstances, the opening date kept getting pushed back.  I hoped they would be open in time for my 30th Birthday celebration, but it didn't happen. 

When I was initially trying to plan my birthday festivities, I contacted Emily Jarmuth, the Director of Sales & Local Marketing, who has provided me with follow-up over the last few months and I truly appreciate her keeping me in the loop.

I'm so happy to share that they will finally be opening up for "limited business" on Friday, October 1st.  As of today, reservations are completely booked Oct 1-3, but the other days are still open.  They are offering discounted prices off of the dinner menu for the first 2 weeks, 50% the first week and 25% the second.  See below for part of the press release.

Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar Announces October 1st Opening with Introductory Prices at Dinner
Nuevo Cubano newcomer offers a welcoming discount for guests during opening. Washington, D.C. (September 20, 2010)― Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar is excited to announce the preview opening of its new DC location in Penn Quarter will begin October 1st. It will open with a new menu specifically developed for Washington by Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot. Guests of the inspired "Nuevo Cubano" restaurant can also look forward to a 50% discount on their dinner from October 1st until October 7th. Then from October 8th-13th, guests can enjoy a 25% discount before the full price menu begins on October 14th. This special savings only applies to the cuisine (beverages will be offered at full price) during this preview period and is available at dinner service only, which is served daily from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m.

Cuba Libre
801 A 9th Street (corner of H Street), NW 

Washington, D.C.
202.408.1600 http://www.cubalibrerestaurant.com

Monday, September 27, 2010

Things to Do: DC Goes Blue Week

Recently, I came across a post about DC Goes Blue Week.  Hopefully, I'll make it to an event or two to support this worthy cause.  Read more below.

Chris4Life and the Colon Cancer Alliance created DC Goes Blue Week to help bring greater awareness to colon cancer.  The week long awareness campaign celebrates survivors while stressing the importance of getting screened for colon cancer, which is treatable when caught through early screening. 

To help bring more awareness to the cause, a number of local restaurants and locations are holding special events this week, below is just a few of the specials taking place:

9/27 - Madam's Organ - Happy Hour from 5 PM to 8 PM
9/28 - Twins Jazz - Jazz Night at 7 PM
9/30 - Henry's Tap Room - Happy Hour from 5 PM to 9 PM


For the full list of events and more information about screenings, visit their official site.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Save-The-Date: NEA Hosts Opera Honors

As a member of Generation O, a program for young adults ages 18-35 who are interested in opera, from time to time I receive special offers to attend free Opera events.  It's FREE to join Generation O, for more information click here.

Join them on October 22 as the National Endowment for the Arts hosts the Opera Honors Awards Ceremony & Concert at the Kennedy Center.  Tickets are FREE and will include tribute performances by opera greats.  Read more below.

National Endowment for the Arts

NEA Opera Honors Awards Ceremony & Concert

Friday, October 22, 2010


Kennedy Center Opera House

6:15 PM — A conversation with the honorees
7:30 PM — Awards Ceremony & Concert


Reserve your FREE tickets online today!

Tickets are now available for the NEA Opera Honors Awards Ceremony & Concert. Don't miss your chance to honor opera legends Martina Arroyo, David DiChiera, Philip Glass and Eve Queler as they receive their NEA Opera Honors in a FREE awards ceremony and concert.

Artists performing in tribute to each honoree include Richard Croft, Leah Partridge, Marian Pop and Dolora Zajick, all performing with the Washington National Opera Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Philippe Auguin. Jazz musician and composer Paquito d'Rivera, and arts leaders Brett Batterson, Sarah Billinghurst, and Ira Siff will present the awards. Stunning testimonial video tributes round out the evening, featuring career retrospectives and interviews with some of opera's leading personalities.

Reserve your FREE seats today at
www.dc-opera.org, or call WNO Audience Services at 202.295.2400 or toll-free at 800.US.OPERA. Phones open at 10:00 AM. Limit four (4) tickets per person. Seating is reserved, and complimentary tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shopping for a Cause: LIFT & Neiman Marcus

Neiman Marcus and LIFT have teamed up to spotlight LIFT’s important anti-poverty work in communities nationwide and preview fall fashion trends.  On Thursday, September 23, the two will co-host preview parties for Neiman Marcus’s “Current Event” across LIFT’s regions.

The events—in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC—will feature music and complementary drinks, as well as wine tasting, makeovers, and other perks (variable by city).  Guests will hear from LIFT’s leadership teams in each region and have the opportunity to visit with LIFT volunteers. LIFT would like to thank Neiman Marcus for being an outstanding partner in the fight to alleviate poverty for families nationwide. For full details and to RSVP, see the information below or visit
LIFT's website
.

The event is free of charge and open to everyone!


Boston

Neiman Marcus Copley Place
Thursday, September 23
6-8PM
Contemporary Sportswear, Level Two
Please RSVP to:
(617) 585-6008 or
rsvpboston@neimanmarcus.com


Chicago
Neiman Marcus Michigan Avenue
Thursday, September 23
5-7PM
Contemporary, Third Floor
Please RSVP to:
(312) 694-4072 or
rsvpmichiganave@neimanmarcus.com


Philadelphia
Neiman Marcus The Plaza at King of Prussia
Thursday, September 23
6-9PM
Contemporary Sportswear, Level Two
Please RSVP to:
(610) 962-6208 or
kristin_lynch@neimanmarcus.com


Washington, DC
Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie
Thursday, September 23
6-8PM
Contemporary, Level Three
Please RSVP to:
rsvpwashington@neimanmarcus.com

    

Monday, September 13, 2010

Charitable: Seniya Fleming Cell Phone-A-Thon

A friend sent this to me.  If you live in the Washington, DC area and are able to attend please do so.  If not, the family will be accepting donations.  Please read the touching story below.

We are a charitable organization comprised of the friends and family of SeniyaFleming, the first child in the world to be documented with an extremely rare syndrome. We have come together to form the SeniyaFoundation, Inc. to raise funds for future diagnosis and treatment of medical illness as well as for her general care. We need your help to achieve this goal. Seniyawas born with only part of her Chromosome 1 gene, which is passed down from both parents.

Both of Seniya’s parents have all of their genes but due to this missing information in her DNA, Seniya has:

•holes in four of her heart valves
•fused arms (her arm and forearm bones are fused so that she has no elbows)
•no thumbs with an extra finger tip on her right hand
•a cleft palate such that her tongue rests in the back of her mouth, making it hard to breathe, chew, and drink. Due to these unexpected challenges, Seniyahas spent a lot of her life at John Hopkins Hospital.

At only two years old, Seniya has undergone:
•quadruple bypass heart surgery
•unsuccessful surgery to create a thumb from the extra finger on her right hand Seniyais now confronted with the beginning stages of facial deformities, which are likely to cause blindness. To correct these deformities and prevent blindness, doctors will have to operate in an area that contains her facial nerves. Therefore, the surgery could also lead to blindness and/or could also cause Seniyato lose her ability to smile.

Despite everything that Seniyahas endured in her first two years of life, she continues to laugh and give love to everyone. However, as she grows, her medical needs will increase. As you might imagine, Seniya’smedical condition requires much time and attention as well as many resources. Unfortunately, Seniya’sneeds has necessitated to full time on the spot care and attention that has resulted in her mother having to leave the workforce and her father to hold down several jobs in order to support their family of six.

The situation is further complicated by Social Security’s denial of the benefits to which she is entitled. At this time, we are seeking contributions to assist the family as they continue to try to provide for Seniya’sneeds without the benefit of public assistance.

This is why the SeniyaFoundation, Inc. would like to invite you and your friends to come out and participate in our Cell Phone-A-Thon by expecting and accepting our call on your cell phone that we will be making on:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
6:00PM
New Community of GOD In Christ
12435C MattawomanDrive
Waldorf MD 20601

We will need volunteers to come out to the church and help make calls to the individuals in their contact list and request donations this support will help the family make this Cell Phone-A-Thon a success. If you are willing to volunteer and own a laptop please bring it with you to help with the processing of the donations.
 
If you cannot make it, you can also make donations online via Seniya'swebsite: www.helpingseniya.org

Thursday, September 9, 2010

CBC: Political Fusion Networking Social & Reception


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

6:00PM - 9:00PM

*NEW LOCATION*
Midtown Lofts 1219 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

Cost: FREE

RSVP Required: http://www.politicalfusion.eventbrite.com/
Complimentary Desserts & Drink Specials

Invited Guests Include: Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Hill Harper and CBC Members

Partnering Organizations: National Black Graduate Student Association, Women. Politics. Media., Red Carpet DC, E.S.T. Unity, The Dale Consulting Group, Apathy Remedy, Exemplary Editing, The Actorvist Project, Acts of Faith in Love & Life, and Hell in a Handbag

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Things to Do: March of Dimes & Saks Kick-off Event


Join the March of Dimes - National Capital Area and Saks Fifth Avenue on Saturday, September 11 from 3:00PM - 6:00PM.  A $25 reservation fee is required, but includes a $25 Saks Gift Card along with a special 15% off coupon. 5% of sales made during the day will benefit the March of Dimes.

The event will include a champagne/cocktail reception (cocktails made by the Signature Chefs Cocktail Chair Gina Chersevani from PS 7’s) and Georgetown Cupcakes. Immediately following at 4PM, will be an exclusive World of Burberry Fashion Show with guest models to include the wives of Washington Redskins, Washington Capitals, the owners of Georgetown Cupcake, Chef Rock Harper, the March of Dimes very own Annie Boutin-King and Jackie Ludden and more…

If you are interested in attending, please RSVP by calling 703-269-1206 or email heather_shawmenis@s5a.com to reserve your spot.

Saks Fifth Avenue
Tysons Galleria
2051 International Drive


McLean, VA 22102
703-761-0700

Friday, September 3, 2010

Things to Do: Massage for the Cure 9/14

In case you haven't heard about this...

On September 14th, take the fight  personally with a $49 massage.*

$15 from every massage during our one-day event will go to the local affiliates of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

Take the Fight Personally


If you don’t know someone with breast cancer, consider yourself both lucky and rare. In America, one in eight women are ultimately diagnosed with breast cancer. This can be scary to think about, but not impossible to overcome. For the last six years, Massage Envy has held Massage for the Cure to benefit the local affiliates of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. With the help of our dedicated therapists and caring clients, we’ve raised over $1.4 million for breast cancer research. And that’s just the beginning.

Due to the overwhelming response we’ve received, this year over 100 additional centers will be participating, totaling over 620 Massage Envy locations nationwide fighting for a cure. During our one-day event on September 14th, our goal is to raise $500,000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. This may sound like a lofty mission, but with your help we can turn breast cancer patients into breast cancer survivors.

How To Make An Impact

To be a part of Massage for the Cure, simply call your local Massage Envy starting August 14th and make an appointment for a $49, one-hour massage on September 14th. Massage Envy works directly with local Komen affiliates, so 100% of the funds raised during our one-day event will be used for education, screening and treatment programs in your local community.

Why Susan G. Komen for the Cure®?

When Massage Envy founder John Leonesio went searching for the right charitable partnership, he had two stipulations: The charity had to be passionate about their cause, and the cause had to be one that our clients truly cared about. When John came across Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, he knew he had found the perfect match. "Too many women have lived in fear of breast cancer for far too long", John stated. "It is my hope that our annual event will raise awareness about the importance of early detection and early treatment so we may help those diagnosed with the disease increase their chances of survival."

The Massage Envy family is proud to partner with a charity that challenges us nationally while funding local breast cancer programs. Moreover, we are overwhelmed with the support we’ve received from our guests and members. Your dedication to the fight against breast cancer is as appreciated as it is inspiring.

Appointment are limited, schedule your appointment today by clicking here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Save-The-Date: Junior League's Beauty, Baubles & Bubbles Event

I just learned of an upcoming event that sounds like it will be a great time.  The Junior League of Washington (JLW) has partnered with Neiman Marcus to host a beauty event and fundraiser.  Join the ladies of the JLW and friends for a night of beauty to benefit A Capital Collection!

Beauty, Baubles & Bubbles: A Neiman Marcus Beauty Event
Thursday, September 9, 2010
6:00PM - 8:00PM

Cost:
Tickets are $25 online in advance and $35 at the door. To purchase tickets click here.

Proceeds will go towards promoting literacy through community-based programs in the greater Washington metropolitan area. Bring your friends and coworkers for an evening of makeup consultations, special gifts, cocktails, appetizers and gelato tastings. Neiman Marcus will also give away a special piece of designer jewelry at the event! Beauty, Baubles & Bubbles is open to everyone.

Neiman Marcus @ Mazza Gallerie
5300 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20015