Friday, April 29, 2011

Things to Do: Red Bull International DJ competition

Just received this event from a friend and had to pass it on.

On Tuesday, May 3 from 8:00PM - 11:00PM, the international DJ competition Red Bull Thre3Style is coming to the Nation’s Capital to test the skills of the top party DJ’s. In the ultimate battle scenario, nine DJ’s will take turns stepping up to the tables to determine who can rock the dance floor the hardest combining three different music genres in 15 minutes.

Competing in the night’s party are DJ JAHSONIC, CAM JUS, DJ PRICE, JEROME BAKER III, DJ 2-TONE JONES, DJ CUZZIN B, DJ PETEY C (winner of Red Bull Thre3Style Pittsburgh) plus the winning DJ’s from Red Bull Thre3Style Boston and Brooklyn.

The winner of Red Bull Thre3Style will take home a $1,000 prize check and the top two finalists will get a chance to compete in the US national finals in Las Vegas.

Hosting the night's festivities will be rapper and famed emcee Akrobatik of the hip hop collective The Perceptionists. Special performance by Rich Medina.

The best part is admission is FREE!!! Open to those 18+ years and older.

U Street Music Hall
1115A U Street NW
Washington, DC 20009

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Things to Do: West End Cinema

I'm a movie buff but over the last couple of years, between work and other activities I haven't been able to go to the movies as much as I used to. I'll catch a movie here and there at one of the many film festivals held in the area and go see one of the new releases every once in a while but it's not like how it used to be.

During the month of February, Living Social offered a promotion called Flirt Fest during the week of Valentine's Day. One of the offers, was tickets for 2 to the new West End Cinema. I figured this was my chance to try out a new theatre and check out what new films were out there.

I decided to check the place out on a Friday evening with a friend. There were several indie films and documentaries playing but we ended up seeing The Fighter. We bought our tickets from an animated gentleman who told us they had the best popcorn in the city. I typically don't order popcorn but I figured why not. They also had bar that served a nice selection of cocktails along with tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. Since it was cold that evening, we both ordered hot chocolate with a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream. What could be better?

We walked into our theatre as soon as we were told we could enter and took a seat right in the middle. It was definitely cozy in there. I would guess the theater could hold 30-40 people at best. Although I'd been to other theatres that screen the same types of movies, I'd never been in a theatre so small. The whole time I kept commenting on how cute it was. I definitely felt like I was watching the movie is someone's private home theatre, not that anythings wrong with that, in fact it added to the charm.

I'd have to say the best part was how clean the place was and how friendly the staff were. For such a small theatre they have an ample amount of movie available. Also, their website is incredibly easy to use. You can view the descriptions, check out trailers and purchase tickets online. West End Cinema is definitely a hidden gem, can't wait to catch another movie there.

West End Cinema
2301 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20037

Monday, April 11, 2011

Things to Do: ACKC Wine & Chocolate Tasting

A few months ago I came across a deal on one of the many deal sites I follow, What's the Deal, for a chocolate and wine tasting at one of my fav spots called Artfully Chocolate & Kingsbury Confections (or ACKC for short). I'd been to ACKC on a number of occasions and thought this would be a great opportunity to learn more about two of my favorite things, chocolate and wine.

A girlfriend and I purchased the deal and went to the tasting on St. Patrick's Day. The tastings are held on Thursdays, usually 2 times each month from 6:30 - 8:30PM. I arrived a little early so I scoped out their latest chocolate additions mainly Easter-themed candies then grabbed a seat at the bar.

Around 6:25, I noticed the area where the tables were started to fill up so I quickly grabbed a seat for my friend and I right at the front of the class. The wine and chocolate tasting began with one of the owners Mr. Kingsbury giving us an overview of ACKC. He then handed out a listing which included 6 wines and each was paired with 2 different pieces of chocolate. While, he did a lot of talking about the origins of each hand-selected chocolate and the accompanying wines, it was very interactive. Fast-forward to about glass #4, the crowd began to liven up and everyone began laughing a little more boisterously.

After the tasting, there was a significant amount of chocolate left over that we were able to have. I think most of us ended up going to the chocolate shop to purchase more of our favorites from the night. I'd have to say mine were the tiramisu and a white chocolate one with dried strawberries. Just the thought of those is making my sweet tooth tingle.

I had a great time with my friend and we truly learned a lot. I'd highly recommend it for a group of friends or even for date night. In general, ACKC is a great spot to just enjoy a glass of wine, some chocolate and take in the scenery as there's painting all around, click here to see my review from last year. During the warmer months, I suggest sitting outside at one of their patio tables and do a little people watching. Logan Circle always has some interesting sites.


1529 14th Street NW

Washington, DC 20005-3785


Friday, April 8, 2011

Restaurant Review: Litestars

A few weeks ago, I saw a promotion online about a new restaurant called Litestars. It's conveniently located near my job so I purchased the offer and headed over one day during lunch. According to Litestars website their mission statement is as follows: We pledge to provide our customers with healthier and tastier food choices prepared with fresh ingredients resulting in a meal with less fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates and sugar contents.

It's a fairly large place and on my first visit it was pretty empty. They have a sizable assortment of food from tarts (or tartlets as they call them), salads, and SoupDrinks.

The first time I went there I had absolutely no idea what to get but the staff allowed me to sample whatever I wanted to help me make up my mind.
The great thing about Litestars is just as their name states, everything there is very fresh and light. They also don't use creams, sugars, or sodium.

At first, I was like this going to be interesting, while I enjoy eating healthy I'm still big on the way things are seasoned. They do have a season "salt" substitute which is very tasty in the case your food is missing a little something.
While there, I met the chef, a nice woman with a a thick French accent. She was very pleasant and asked me how I'd heard about the place. I ended up getting the mango chicken salad that also had walnuts and cranberries in it over a bed of crisp greens. I grabbed a bottle of this carbonated water with not a drop of sugar in it. I was a little skeptical at first but it ended up being delicious and quite refreshing. The mango chicken salad itself was tasty and I liked the mix of the sweetness of the mango and the saltiness of the walnuts, I could've done without the leafy greens as they didn't really add anything to the meal. Another bonus is they are very accommodating so you can customize your salad the way you like it.

Since then I've been back a few times and tried the Turkey Tartlet and a Roasted Tomato tartlet along with a soybean salad. I will say if you're looking for a huge, weigh-you-down kind of lunch spot this isn't the place for you. Everything they have is light and healthy, you definitely won't leave there feeling stuffed. It's definitely a place you'll either love or hate. I'm proud to say, I love it.

They offered a Groupon about 2 weeks ago, ever since the place has been pretty busy during lunch. I hope others take a liking to this place because I'd hate to see this concept not survive.

Insiders Tip:
Before I forget, if you're a social media buff like I am and use Foursquare, everytime you check-in at Litestars you'll receive 30% off of your meal. Don't forget to flash the cashier your phone, it's as easy as that.

2101 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Restaurant Review: Founding Farmers

A few weeks back, one of the people I follow on Twitter posted a tweet about Founding Farmers having a viewing party at their restaurant. The chef had been featured on a show called Meat & Potatoes on The Food Network and they invited everyone to come out to watch it at the restaurant's bar and enjoy some complimentary appetizers.

I'd heard many rave reviews about their sister restaurant, Farmers & Fishers, so of course I jumped at the chance. We arrived around 9:30, the viewing party was scheduled for 10:00, and the place was still pretty full. We decided to grab a seat at the bar. The first thing I noticed was how spectacular it was. They had every type of liquor you could possibly imagine with an ample collection of infused fruits sitting in large containers. It was way past happy hour and a week night so I decided to pass on drinks and ordered an appetizer and meal instead.

The menu had so many great options, it was hard to decide. While driving over I perused the menu and was all set on getting the Southern Fried chicken salad but somehow ended up ordering the Shrimp and Grits instead. My friend and I ordered the skillet cornbread for an appetizer. It came out in a matter of minutes, which was perfect because I was famished. It was so delicious I could've easily eaten the entire thing by myself, despite how large it was, but had to save room for the food.

Shortly after, our meals arrived. Both of our meals looks incredible. I admit I was jealous of my friend because he ended up ordering the Southern Fried chicken salad I had originally planned on getting. His salad was like nothing I'd ever seen before. There was 3 huge pieces of golden brown, fried chicken sitting on top of a bed of crisp greens, with avocado, red onions, chunks of bacon, cherry tomatoes, cheddar, topped with a mixture of honey mustard and ranch dressings. I took one bite and knew that would forever be my staple choice on their menu. While my shrimp and grits were also very good, that salad was hands down the best thing I've eaten in quite a while. Truthfully, I've had better shrimp and grits elsewhere but I enjoyed the fact that the shrimp was very fresh and I like their farm-to-table concept. The grits were also very smooth and creamy and not at all gritty, which I'm not a fan of.

Let me not forget to mention the other appetizers we sampled during the viewing party. They had their signature Bacon Lollis and fried green tomatoes. Being that I'm a true lover of bacon, when I saw bacon I stopped eating myown food and had to get a taste. They were large slices of bacon (just the meat) with a coating of brown sugar and cinnamon served on a stick. Had I not already eaten so much already I would have taken a handful, but I didn't want to be greedy. Then the fried green tomatoes came around and I fell in love. I've had them on a few occasions from other places but was never all that impressed. These on the other hand, were breaded in cornmeal and the green tomatoes were perfectly tender. I've never experienced anything like them.

Not only was the service excellent and the food impeccable, when the check came we didn't even cringe. I was shocked at how affordable our meal was and we both even ended up with leftovers to have for lunch the next day.

Since then I've been back once and can't wait to go back many more times. Hopefully, next time I'll be able to make room for dessert.

Founding Farmers
1924 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20006

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Things to Do: National Geographic Events in April

Just came across a few upcoming events at the National Geographic Building. In addition to having numerous events, they have traveling photographic exhibitions that are completely FREE to peruse. They also have a cafe with outdoor seating for you to enjoy the warmer months.

Frances Mayes: Every Day in Tuscany April 12 -- Frances Mayes, best-selling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, has recently published Every Day in Tuscany, about her renovation of a 13th-century house in the mountains above Cortona. Enjoy her Italian memoirs as she converses with National Geographic Traveler editor Don George. The event will be preceded at 6:30 p.m. by a reception featuring recipes from Every Day in Tuscany.

Here On Earth, National Geographic April 20 --Tim Flannery, internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer, and conservationist, has discovered more than 30 mammal species and earned the title Australian of the Year 2007. He wrote the best-selling book The Weather Makers. His new book Here On Earth offers the message of hope that we are equipped more than ever to improve our relationship with the planet on which our biological, economic, and cultural futures depend. Co-sponsored with the Embassy of Australia.

Melali: The Drifter Sessions. Live Music Event April 30 --Join us for a look at the exhilarating and pioneering surf film Castles in the Sky, followed by a conversation with legendary surfer Rob Machado, filmmaker Taylor Steele, and composer Jon Swift about the intimate relationship between surf films and music. Then dive into another Steele/Machado collaboration, Melali: The Drifter Sessions, which will be accompanied by live music by the Melali Sessions Band.

Creativity Through Quilting April 30 --Discover your creativity at this free quilting event, with influences of traditional African American quilting that can be traced back hundreds of years, many believe quilts were used to guide freedom-seeking slaves to safety on the Underground Railroad. Participants will learn how to create traditional fabric block pattern design, a quilt symbol that’s been used on the Underground Railroad.

Learn more:

National Geographic
1600 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

Monday, April 4, 2011

Things to Do: Tudor Place (Georgetown)

Last week, during the Cherry Blossom festival a friend of mine told me about an event, Bubbly and Blossoms, being held at a historic home called Tudor Place. I did a little research to see what this place was all about and decided to go see for myself.

We arrived at Tudor Place on a Thursday evening for the event and were warmly greeted by some of the home's volunteers. The admission price was $10 for nonmembers and included unlimited cherry mimosas, in honor of Cherry Blossom season, several different types of beer and wines, and heavy hors d'oeuvres. We were only expecting the cherry mimosas so the snacks were a welcomed surprise.

Shortly after, we took our bubbly and ventured outside through the home's gardens to make our way to the main house. The gardens were beautiful and they even had a few Cherry Blossom trees in bloom. I couldn't help but imagine it to be the perfect setting for a spring wedding.

Once inside the main house, everyone was incredibly friendly and each of the volunteers knew the ins and outs about the history of the house, the furnishings, and the former owners. I learned some intriguing facts about the house namely that it was built for the granddaughter of Martha Washington (as in the wife of the 1st President of the United States) and several notable from the history books had been guests there. Another interesting thing is the furnishings inside of the house were all actual pieces acquired by the homes' past owners, not replicas like many of the other historic homes you visit these days. For more on the history, click here.

Tudor Place hosts events frequently which are open to the general public along with house tours. You can also rent it out for meetings, children's birthday parties, picnics, private teas and of course weddings. The pricing is incredibly reasonable. Some of their upcoming events include Yoga in the Gardens (Fridays at 10AM May-September), Mother's Day Tea, Fourth of July Ice Cream Social, plus many more, to see a listing of upcoming events click here.

I'm definitely planning on going back in June for their next Tudor Night event, see below for more information.

Tudor Nights: Bellinis in the Garden Thursday, June 2 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Enjoy the abundance of nature in the Tudor Place gardens! Nestled through the formal north gardens are lemon, fig, and pear trees. Wander through the grounds while sipping the featured cocktail, fruit Bellinis.

Tudor Place Historic Home and Gardens 1644 31st Street NW Washington, DC 20007 202.965.0400