Happy Weekending!

Press for Champagne
I need one of these next to my pillow. 

Happy Weekend folks. What are you up to this winter’s-still-holding-on-but-officially-spring weekend? We’ll be hanging with the kiddos and then venturing into DC to see the legendary Rebirth Brass Band with some pals (thanks for the invite Linz!). Sunday, we’ll drive up to a wedding at NYC’s Four Seasons Restaurant (cue Bauhaus geekout- I’m such a nerd for this place). Our friends’ nuptials will be officiated by the incomparable duo of one James Lipton and one Betty Fussell (cue Actors Studio and culinary geekout). I have been dying to meet the iconic Fussell since my friend Amy D. so beautifully profiled her here and here. I pretty much just want to be Betty when I grow up.

Let’s hope the snow and wintery mix weather subsides, this time of year is such a tease. What adventures are you all off to?


What I’m Drinking:

Meryl and Stuart’s Signature Cocktail: “Wedding in Springtime” which, in Meryl’s words, features “bubbly Prosecco, the Italian aperitif Aperol, club soda, and a splash of rhubarb amaro, rhubarb being a harbinger of much-longed for spring!” Sounds delicious. 
A Few Things:

An award winning app that allows us all to catalog the family story. This is cool.

Julia’s trick to poach the perfect egg.

These wedges are both gold and Dr. Scholl’s- that’s my kind of shoe. Win win.

The best and fastest way to make a delicious scrambled egg taco.

What is means to “hold space” for the ones we hold dear.

7 Super Tuscan dishes that will take you right to the heart of Italia.

Just one of the reasons that Jimmy Fallon may be one of the greatest talk show hosts of all time. Love this guy- this is awesome.

The 5 things one woman learned when she said YES to her daughter for 24 hours.

A Lavender Eye for Spring? I like it.

18 Pinterest-staged photo fails- this is pretty funny.

These flowers! Spotted on The Yellow Table- I can’t stand it, so pretty I want to eat them.

I just ordered up this pretty floral skirt for spring. I never wear skirts- giving them the old college try again.

And just to send you off to the weekend the right way, here you go and… you’re welcome.

 

Cin Cin good people. Happy Weekend!

 

{Image: Elle Decor re: Lisa Golightly}

 

 

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Happy Weekend

The Crooked House of Windsor

Happy Weekend dear readers. Don’t you love this tea shop? The Crooked House of Windsor, one of the oldest still-standing tea houses in England, and that’s old. It’s on the list. I hope you are off to a tea-sipping, enjoyable weekend. As of Sunday, January 2015 will be forever over and done with- it’s so crazy how fast time flies. I’m not necessarily sad to say goodbye to January as a month but I am unnerved but how quickly this time thing operates. (take a breath, enjoy the moment- these are the mantras on continuous loop in my head). I never felt this way, at least not so intensely before I had children, now I am all too aware. What do you all do to combat the flying of our time?

What I’m Drinking:

Those of you who read my blog know I enjoy a glass of rosé throughout the year and especially in the winter, so I’m back on the pink juice. I’m currently sipping a rosé of grenache made by Elizabeth Spencer from the prettiest little town of Mendocino and it is killer. It’s juicy and chock full of bright cherry and strawberry fruit flavors- like a luscious strawberry jolly rancher without the sugar rush with a dry and finessed finish. If you don’t spot this one in your local shop, look for anything from Provence, rosés from Tavel and Bandol (my all-time favorite rosé region) will not disappoint. A little pink pickup is just what the dr. ordered during the dog days of winter.

A Few Things:

Ha.

These little scrapbooky photo journal books are awesome and can all be made via apps on your phone. I never print photos anymore and I certainly don’t make any albums, much less from our traveling adventures. I love this- so easy.

Mindy Kaling on Happiness- always happy to read or hear anything that comes out of her mouth.

For the love of Goop- steam your hoo-ha? Oh Gwyneth…

For all the Super Non-Fans: “How to Act During the Super Bowl”.

According to Gabrielle Hamilton, author and chef of NYC’s famed Prune, and all around badass, we should all be sipping savory teas. If she recommends it, I’m doing it. Have you read her book, Blood, Bones, and Butter?- so good.

Ha. A great follow up to The New Yorker’s How To Fall In Love with Anyone- this is funny.

Hilarious. A mom of two boys moonlights on Pinterest as a hipster mom with a sickeningly hip daughter named Quinoa basically making fun of people who dress their kids in jeans like this.

The awkward moment when Rashida Jones had to remind a reporter that she is black. Oy.

How Bogdanovich shot The Last Picture Show- one of my favorite movies. P.S.: Larry McMurtry was my dad’s college English professor- how awesome is that.

This will brighten your day. Take a minute and watch Ashley Bouder kick the shit out of Jerome Robbins’ “Fall” Four Seasons solo.

This escape to the Ojai Valley Inn is pretty swoonful. Girls trip?

The Blueprint for the best basic and go-to Viniagrette recipes. Never buy salad dressing again.

Good stuff for all of you 40ish year-olds- thanks for posting, Rashmi.

10 Foods to Boost Your Brainpower. I feel like there’s nothing new on this list , but it’s always ajeze good reminder.

Cocktails with DeNiro. I like how he rolls.

This pretty little fringe necklace is on my wish list.

Reno floor plans, if you’re into this sort of thing.

Fancy cheese plates for kids.

How to book a flight on the WAY cheap- because seriously, we can never have enough of these tips, right?

Drinking coffee before you work out? You may be on to something.

What Lies Beneath? Rare shots of a flipped iceberg.

Gold Cash Gold- the name of this new restaurant in Detroit is reason enough to make me want to plan a trip to the Motor City.

Making the most out of your Rotisserie Roast.

Alright Buzzfeed, you win- I’ll bite. If Disney princesses had realistic hair.

Paleo Schmaleo, I’m liking this a whole (grain) lot- ha.

Cin Cin ya’ll and enjoy your weekend! Bring on February, Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, The Academy Awards and all that jazz.

(Photo by: Phil Wiley)

 

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Happy New Year Good People

 

Happy New Year1

It’s a brand new year and I’m really a lot less upset about the end of the holiday season than usual. I’m jazzed for a clean, bright and fresh new start. Of course when I’m in the humdrum of my daily routine I don’t feel so fresh and so clean but still- it’s a new year and with a new year brings new ideas, new opportunities, new friends, new bites, new sips and new experiences. Bring it. I’m pretty much psyched for every moment I can get.

I’m not making a big resolution this year mostly because I never really see it through- lose 5 pounds- whatevs. I’ll do it if I do it. No, mostly I’m all about the fun this year. I just want to be present and have a blast with my kiddos, my family and friends. I’m inviting the fun people, let’s make some memories.

The first day of the year proved to be pretty predictable for me as I set to my calendar to start planning parties, getaways and full blown vacations. Sound trite? Maybe but all this planning business around food, friends and family is my happy maker. My 40th is this year and I’m taking a much awaited trip with my best girls. 7 of us from college, we are all turning forty within the year so we’ll celebrate together though we are geographically far apart. We span the globe living in Hong Kong, San Fran, Vail, New Jersey, Connecticut, Indiana and DC. We try to get together at least once a year but it’s rare that we can all gather together in the same place, this will be special. We cannot decide on where to go. It will be late July and we all have kids, so we can’t get away for too long (that means staying in country) and we probably don’t want to go anywhere south of the the Mason-Dixon line to avoid the heat factor. We are going back and forth- if you have any big ideas, please post them below. We’re thinking Northern Cali. or Nantucket…

What I’m Drinking:

This is E11even Wine. An awesome Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir for under $20. My new favorite from badass winemaker Andrew Murray. I had a glass of this last week at the famed Rose’s Luxury here in DC- by the way, we waited a whopping 3 hours for our table and I have to say, it was well worth it. The wine list is so good, I wanted to crumble it up into a ball and eat it. This was a great addition to our meal and a new fave plus it’s named after a line in This is Spinal Tap. My hubs and I modeled our 11 day rule after that very scene (we try not to be away from each other for more than 11 days at a time- we’ve kept to it in our 6 years of marriage). But I digress, this stuff is great.

A Few Fun Things:

These Leopard Flats. I know it’s winter but a girl can dream.

This Coq Au Riesling. I love a good chicken and I love a good Riesling. Win. Win.

This Poutine. French Fries and Gravy with Cheese to boot? Come on now.

This Blood Orange Shrub. I’m making this for my next dinner party- the better to awaken my guests’ palates with, my dear.

This Movie. I’m a big Rob Marshall fan- the guy is masterly in his musical theater ways. I think his Into the Woods is aces, plus I just love listening to those Sondheim lyrics. Talk about masterly. Die hard Sondheim fans have their panties in a twist about the changes made, but guys- it’s the film adaptation not another stage production. I think he done good. I laughed, I cried- it’s good stuff.

This Food Passport. I’m stealing this idea pronto. I love lists. The only thing I like more than a list is a Passport- so this is a duh.

This Wine Gifting Idea. Who doesn’t want a cute tea towel with their bottle of vino? Not just for any old host, this one’s for the one with the most.

This City. Because it’s always a good idea. My good pal Alana Stone just put out her Analogue Guide to the great city and she knows the deal. You bet I’ll be looking for some last minute deals to the City of Lights- winter is a good and cheap(er) time to visit.
Cin Cin and a very good start of the year to you!

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Monday Musings

RDV the goods
(wine tasting at RdV)

Ahh- the holidays. A new week of merriment. A new week of Christmas cookies and peppermint mochas. A new week of firsts for my little ones. We watched the classic Rankin & Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the first time last night and I have to say, Santa is kind of an assh*$e in that version. I hadn’t remembered it that way but he’s pretty self-involved. It’s funny when you find yourself looking at all of your favorite holiday to-do’s through your little one’s eyes- much is revealed.

Childhood nostalgia gone awry aside, I’ve been meaning to share a few tidbits with you all since we last met. After Anna Watson Carl and I hosted our Bubbly and Bites gathering at the darling Red Barn Mercantile, we ventured out into the Virginia vines to explore the juice making that is currently underway at Rutger de Vink’s famed RdV Vineyard. I have partaken of their 2 blends, the Lost Mountain and the Rendezvous and already counted myself in as a big fan (I included their Rendezvous in the lineup for our Anthology entertaining story), but had yet to visit the winery or vineyard. In a word- it’s stunning. The detail and thought that has gone into building the winery and planting the vines is truly commendable. RdV sports a cozy and rustic-meets-minimal tasting lounge. I say lounge because they have foregone the traditional tasting bar for a more relaxing den complete with cowhide, hand-crafted walnut stools and antlers over the roaring fireplace. The vibe at RdV feels exclusive without being so. Anyone is welcome, as long as you are cool with paying the $50 tour and tasting fee which I say is worth it as it includes a lengthy tour led by a Lucchessi boat-wearing, sassy tour guide/gal Friday at the winery, and a glass of Pol Roger bubbly upon arrival. Guests are welcome to stay as long as they please and while away a winter’s day in front of the fire with lovely views of the vineyards that were sure to be a tough grow. de Vink knew as much which is why he set his sights on the land. The rocky earth would indeed provide the perfect growing conditions for Bordeaux varietals that beg for impossible to farm anything but grapes soil. I’m sold. His stuff is great and he’s got top notch Bordeaux blender Eric Boissentot blending for RdV as well so they’re in good hands. If you live in or are visiting the DC area and appreciate good vino, make it a must-do on your list. Sign up for a tour/tasting here.

RDV

The other newsworthy tidbit I wanted to share was that the hubs and I were lucky enough to procure another invitation to the Kennedy Center Honors this year. There were no White House cocktails in the mix this year, but the show and gala were plenty. I mention this because the show itself was so exceptional that I highly recommend you all either set your DVR’s or watch it broadcast on CBS Dec. 30th. I’ve instructed all of my ballet students to tune in because Tiler Peck of the NYC Ballet gives perhaps the best performance of Balanchine’s Fascinatin’ Rhythm to date in honor of famed dancer and Kennedy Center Honoree, Patricia McBride. Not for nothing, my hubby agrees as does his dad- both of which have seen the variation danced dozens of times by different ballerinas including the magnificent Ms. McBride herself- that her performance is far and away the best they have ever seen. Tiler Peck KILLS it. Even if you are not a big dance fan- do yourself a big favor and watch her dance- she performs the solo with enthusiasm and technical prowess matched by unbelievable musicality and theatricality. I’m going out on a limb here and saying that I do believe Ms. Tiler Peck may be my favorite female dancer of all time (well her and Cyd Charisse). She has a way of not just executing difficult steps with effortless grace, but she’s got something much more important and elusive- she’s got moxie my friends- and that seals the deal for me. Oh, and Lady Gaga is pretty fierce tributing Sting- not to mention The Boss- say what! Just watch it, it’s pretty great.

Kennedy Center Honors
Donning our dapperest at the Honors.

 

And a few other things: 

-First things first: I’m all caught up with Serial- AHHHHH! Now what? I can’t believe how good this investigative journalism is- or maybe I’m just a sucker for Sarah Koenig. I dig that there are 5 million viewers trying to solve this crime all huddled around their SmartPhones or laptops, not exactly the picture of a Fireside Chat, but I love that people are listening to radio- a medium that still allows for our own brains to fill in the holes. The last episode airs this Thursday, if you have not fully succumbed to this phenomenon, do yourself a favor and Pod it up.

-We popped open a special bottle of Brunello brought back by my brother and sis-in-law from the Mother Country. This one’s special because the grapes are harvested to Mozart. That’s right, those lucky little vines are listening to Wolfgang day and night courtesy of several loud speakers set up in the vineyards- an on-going experiment in fellowship with the University of Florence and Pisa. Does it make a big difference? Only time will tell- this bottle was a bit young (and in truth, opened mistakenly by my husband as I was hoping to cellar it for a few years but c’est la vie) but I love the concept and it was complex and delicious. Next time I find myself in Montalcino, I’m hightailing it to Il Paradiso di Frassina.

-If you’re looking for a great sugar cookie recipe for those Christmas cookies- I’m loving this one from Food & Wine. We made it this morning. My only adaptation was putting in a full teaspoon of good salt- I like a bit more salt in my cookies.

-Homemade Peppermint Mochas via The Faux Martha- ’tis the season!

-We had the great pleasure of sipping some pink Krug this past weekend. We took my mom to Grape and Bean’s annual Champagne tasting where we were in for a treat. Not just one glass but two glasses of Krug were served- the Grand Cuvee and Rosé, not to mention the very tasty Janisson & Fils rosé brut and two grower champagnes of which I failed to jot down. That’s what happens when you get a bit of the bubbly in ya. One of the highlights of the evening beyond the bubbles, was Matt Carroll, a local Somm and current Master Somm candidate. If you’re shrugging your shoulders, just take a look at this doc to see what he’s putting himself through. He was fabulous, smart and most importanly, approachable.

-16 French locales that belong on every wine lover’s bucket list.

-If you’re looking for a new Insta feed to follow, look no further than my pal Vina’s feed. She’s the local foodie and head honcho of all things social media over at the Eat Good Food Group- the mecca of good eats in Old Town, so she knows her stuff and takes pretty pictures.

-22 times Jennifer Lawrence didn’t give a ___. And the love affair continues.

-And speaking of starlets, it’s always the right time for an Audrey Hepburn movie. If you’re queue is short on Audrey, here are a few more to add to it.

Happy Monday and Cin Cin!

 

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Happy Weekend!

 

Dad and I

Happy long weekend dear readers. It’s my Dad’s birthday today. He would have been 72. There we are above circa 1976 in that amazing wood paneled den. Love you Dad, you will always be the coolest. Miss you and your generosity, humor, big love, wisdom and sense of adventure every day.

I hope you are all off to some fun and adventure in the spirit of this holiday weekend. We’re hanging around these parts trying to gussy up this joint. It is taking for-evah. I failed to properly estimate the time it would take me to fully unpack and semi-organzie with 2 toddlers in tow. It’ll get done one of these days… or not. In the meantime, we continue to navigate through our basement and garage like we are the All-Stars of the last season of Hoarders. We’ll throw in a bbq somewhere this weekend amidst the constant disarray. That’s sort of what life is though isn’t it. Throwing in the fun stuff amidst the chaos- something like that.

What I’m Drinking:

Le P’tit Rouqin from Olivier Lemasson. This fantastic gamay is brought to me by Ian Cauble’s new venture, Somm Select. From one of my favorite importers, Louis/Dressner, comes this terrifically acidic and food friendly but still fruitalicious Loire gamay. Strawberries, lots of flinty and clay minerality and a hint of tobacco and spice pepper this beauty. A light-to-medium bodied red that is so so good. Check out your local wine shop for Louis/Dressner imports as this bottle has already peaced-out from Somm Select and can be a bit elusive. It’s only about $20- a steal, as much of the Loire Valley can be.

A Few Things:

This cool new wine business (as mentioned above). A Master Somm’s picks straight from his palate to your front door. Well, something like that anyway. I’m a fan. I was cheering for Mr. Cauble in the recent smart vino doc, Somm and think this is a bright new venture for the now lettered MS. He’s got a beautiful Bandol up at the moment.

3 Great Foodie Memoirs- I can never get enough of these things (if I ever have time to read that is, which is never- so strike that whole comment but these do look interesting).

This fun little feature on my girl Jessica Pariseau. I just saw her in Cabaret and she is on fire kids. Go girl- one of my favorite people.

Katie Parla’s Proust-inspired Questionnaire- the subject: food writer Alec Lobrano. I’m always in the mood for a Prousty questionnaire especially when it involves food and musings upon it.

Who needs a bar cart anyway? Not me with these little ones running around, that’s for sure. This looks pretty good.

How NYC’s neighborhoods got their names. Hmm.

This terrific article written by my good pal, John Carroll. He never disappoints- one of the funniest and sharpest dudes I know.

For bougie bohemians, Mara Hoffman launches her first home collection at Anthropologie. Eyeballs and feathers and arrows, oh my. This is a little too blogtastic for me, but I do like a random eyeball here and again.

Holy Smoky Flavors- 10 Brilliant Grilling Secrets from the latest of issue of Food & Wine. A newbie convert to the wonders of the grill- I can’t believe what I’ve been missing- I was thrilled to get this latest issue in the mail as it is pretty much entirely devoted to the good sport of grilling.

A behind-the-scenes look at book cover design from the bookish folks at Chronicle.

Funny. I especially like June Squibb and Gary Oldham’s reactions.

Cin Cin ya’ll and Enjoy.

 

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Happy Weekend!

beachy dreaminess

Happy Weekend dear readers. How much do you love this beachy photo? Taken by my dear friend, Amy Dickerson, I need this in my house- will have to talk to her about that. Follow her here for loads of dreamy inspiration.

To what great adventures are you off to this fine spring weekend? I am traveling home from that great big apple at the moment. I ran there and back in a day for some work and squeezed in a slice (or two), enjoyed a cold beer in Penn Station (what? how have I never done that before) and smelled a bunch of armpits as I did my best sardine imitation amidst the hubbub of the rush hour 1 train. Ah New York, I love ya so. This weekend- I am off to Lucketts. Only one of my most favorite days of the year- the annual Old Lucketts Store Spring Fair. Vintage Virginia nirvana- a little bit of Brimfield in our neck of the woods. I posted about it last year and I’m looking forward to discovering from some new/old treasures this time around.

What I’m Drinking:

This one’s a heartbreaker, a beautifully crafted lean Loire wine with killer acidity and lots of earth, herbaceousness, fruit, and a little spice- it’s damn near perfect- a chompy food-friendly Cab Franc from Chinon. A bottle with the classic goods, its got everything you want in your lean mean Loire red. Imported by Jon David Headrick who cut his teeth working for Eric Solomon, Headrick knows how to spot the real deal winemakers, the poets, the dreamers, if you will. This stuff is bottled dreaminess.

Here’s What I Get:

tasting note chiens chiens chinon

And you guessed it, it is on the list at Waterfront. On our market list that is, pick this baby up from our shelves and enjoy, or get it here. A beautiful food friendly wine, this will pair perfectly with your takeout Vietnamese.

A Few Things:

Creativity: The Perfect Crime? I hope so. I can never get enough of this guy.

My State’s prettier than yours. What’s in a name, or tourism slogan? Thanks for posting, Rashmi.

Dancers vie for coveted spots at SAB. I went there, I couldn’t wait to get out. It’s great and all and I’m beyond grateful for the experience, but I was much more comfortable in my hot pink character skirt and heels- a Broadway baby even as a wee lad.

Speaking of dancers, this Free People ad had what seemed to be the entire dance community in an uproar, the FB noise on this was unbelievable. If you’re friends with one of us (dancers, I mean) you undoubtedly saw it along with the scores of snarky comments. I feel sorry for the model but honestly, it is a pretty offensive and ridiculous ad. Just a word to the wise, corporate America please don’t mess with dancers because this is what you’ll get- a pretty hilarious parody by crazy talented dancer, J. Elaine Marcos. And… scene.

I just love these pretty floral and foliage faces from Justina Blakeney.

Clever and inspired pancake creations from a stay-at-home dad. Where does he find the time?

I can’t help it. I had to laugh.

These before and afters of organized closets and shelves give me agita. I know I will never be this organized but I like to look at it.

More importantly, India’s stunning election results.

Also important, how to throw a fabulous stress-free brunch.

Cin Cin all and Enjoy the Weekend!

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5 Best Bets Pre (or Post) Broadway

Pre or Post Broadway Bets

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently about NYC’s theater district is, “Where in God’s name can I get a good glass of wine?”- well, maybe not exactly in those words, but the point being, it’s tough to surf through the tourist muck and saddle up to a really good glass of vino around the Great White Way.

I used to work on the B-Way. It was my turf for years, and I did my fair share of bad-wine imbibing alongside my fellow hoofers who were more than happy downing their well made martinis. There are lots of  joints serving up a great cocktail, but finding a good wine list in these parts, doesn’t come as easy. Midtown’s got its fair share of blue-hairs and buses, but not a whole lot of Barberas.

Here’s what I know- my five go-to spots to thrill any oenophile.
Drum Roll please…. and Curtain Up:

5 Clinks Pre-Broadway

1. Ardesia: hands down the best and most interesting wine list in midtown Manhattan. These guys are true winos and know of what they serve. Mandy Oser hails from Le Bernadin so she packs a foodie punch and serves up some serious vino cred. I like this place so much I got a job here (I didn’t end up pouring here as we abruptly moved to Virginia- sigh). I always pop in whenever I find myself in the ‘hood. The list is always interesting with a great group of grower champagnes.

2. Caselulla Cheese & Wine Cafe: the cheese and the wine share the stage here- true co-stars, if you will. Stinky, soft, sharp- whatever your fancy, you’ll get your cheese on here with a perfectly-paired pour. Ask the somm here to pair you up so that you get the most out of your flavors. Try a Tokaji or a Madeira with your cheese flight- you won’t be disappointed by this list.

3, Marseilles: this spot has been a favorite of mine since the early aughts. The bar is cozy, boisterous and fun. The wine list is stellar (I used to sell wine to them in fact, by way of my former life as a rep for a small French importer). The wine director has a great nose and manages to sniff out some really rogue and unique picks here. Their sister restaurant, Nizza, next door is also always a good idea. It’s a smaller place and you can grab a yummy pizza with your vino, or better yet- try their Chicken Milanese with a bottle of the very reasonably priced Rosso di Montalcino- double win.

4. Kashkaval Cheese Market and Wine Bar: I adore this colorful little place, it has a special place in my wino heart. I used to live around the corner, and it was the closest thing I ever had to a Cheers. It’s casual, very local and completely unassuming but make no mistake, their wine list is a varied and thoughtful one. At the back of this cheese and Mediterranean market/deli, you’ll find a few tables. No reservations accepted, just hope you can find a spot because the word on this deli/wine bar is definitely out. Enjoy some fresh cheeses, dips and spreads with your glass of Alsatian or Greek white. It’s likely you’ll end up sharing your personal space with a Paulie look-alike from The Sopranos and a woman that resembles an extra from the set of Fiddler on the Roof- babushka and all. Kashkaval feels like real New York.

5. Bar Centrale: the wine list here is good. Not blow your socks off good, but it’s good enough and not really why you’re here anyway. I know this post is about where to get a good glass of wine (and you will get one of those here), but I have to include Bar Centrale as it’s likely that the star of the play you just saw will be sitting right next to you enjoying the very same glass of wine. It’s a little surreal and it’s a lot awesome. It’s small, it’s cozy and it’s for the Broadway babies in the know. Make a reservation if you’re popping in post-show and try to go mid-week, that’s when the show folk go out- not in the middle of their 5 show weekend.

*Another show folk spot not to miss if you like to saddle up next to the stars- Joe Allen‘s- always a good time old school-style- the walls are hung with the posters of Broadway’s most spectacular flops. A Tony-winning choreographer will inevitably be seated next to you- they have to eat too. Joe Allen’s is the real deal, one of my happy places.

Newcomer: Aldo Sohm: the top somm in the world opens his own place. A former Rockette runs the joint. Need I say more? This is a must. Eric Ripert’s right-hand wino curates a meticulously edited wine list that will make your mouth water just reading it. The place is both comfy and buttoned-up, the perfect summation of Sohm’s personality and palate. You feel very taken care of here, and you can kick back on the cozy (but tailored) sofa while sipping your Gruner. You’ll find lots of yummy Austrian picks representing Sohm’s homeland on the list. You cannot go wrong here. Period. Put it on your list.

Honorable Mention: Pigalle: this one may surprise some of you, as it sits on the ground floor of a Days Inn, and seems to cater to the theater-going masses, but this French brasserie is brought to you by the same folks at Marseilles and Nizza, and they know what’s up. While their wine list may not be the most innovative and skews a bit more to the middle, their selection is always good and the food very good and reliable. A plate of French fries dipped in their roast chicken au jus, paired with a Cotes du Rhone, is one of the greatest things on 8th Avenue.

Runner Up: Bocca di Bacco- a good little Italian restaurant on 9th Avenue with a more than good Italian wine list. If you’re into Italian wines, this is your place.

Cin Cin and Enjoy!

 

Photos: Ardesia top photo: Johnny Simon, Bar Centrale: Jessica Lin, Kashkaval: Robyn Lee

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A Restful Resolution

relax with a pointed foot

I love this photo. The dancers look so relaxed but as always- with a pointed toe. That’s my resolution. Slow down and move with grace and ease but with a pointed toe, so to speak. In other words, we can’t be totally at rest all the time right? But we can try to infuse our lives with a bit of calm while staying on point(e).

After a much needed break from le blog to enjoy the holiday season with the fam, I am back and ready to start this year up. First up, as always, the New Year’s resolution. I love making resolutions but like most of us, I rarely take them seriously enough to completely follow through. In fact, I can’t remember any year when at the end of it I said to myself, “Awesome, I totally nailed that resolution.” So instead of staying on that train- which we all know is the definition of insanity and I can’t much afford to go insane at this point in my life- I think I’ll hop another express- the Slow Train to sanity.

I’m not going to stress about the usual resolutions- diets, trying to be more productive, vowing to finally get organized, learning another language, traveling- all things that I would love to do more of (except diet of course), but let’s get real- I’ve got 19 month-old toddlers, a slew of jobs and gigs to tend to and a house to renovate (yay!).

Am I really going to get organized for once and for all? Listen, I don’t want to be negative but I do think it’s probably wise to be realistic and not set unrealistic expectations. I’ll try my hardest to organize my life but most of all, I’m going to try to take things slow and be an active participant in my life, not distracted but all of things on my plate. I recently read a quote on Pinterest that said, “My brain has too many tabs open.” My sentiments exactly.

This year instead of adding to the long list of self-improvements, I’m going to streamline and slow it all down, unplug and exhale (and inhale too hopefully). We’ll see how it goes. If I feel a bit more calm by the end of this year, then it all worked out great. If I don’t, oh well- that’s life right, and it’s all good and as it should be. I’m so grateful for all the blessings in my life. I really want to make a concerted effort to put the kibosh on over-planning every minute of our lives and just enjoy the moments as they happen- with a pointed toe, of course.

Oh yeah, and I might finally buy a juicer and make myself one of these every morning. I might.

What are your resolutions? Or what is your approach to resolutions? I’d love to hear. Happy Happy New Year!

{Image: Alison Jones}

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The (Cheek) Hangover

hangin at the white house

I’m a pretty smiley person by nature, but I’ve never known a true cheek hangover until now. Not that I haven’t had some seriously smile-worthy moments in life- my wedding, opening nights- but those were all infused with a myriad of emotions. This one was pretty much just all smiles all the time.

I don’t usually do posts like this, I like to share my opinions and ideas and mostly highlight the lives of others, but this one I just had to document. I had the tremendous good fortune to accompany my amazing father-in-law, Jacques d’Amboise, to the White House and Kennedy Center for the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors this past weekend. Cue self-inflicted pinch times ten.

Knowing that I would be Jacques’ guest to this event nearly a year in advance, I planned carefully, which is very out of character me (you know what they say about plans…). I carefully selected- with the help of my fabulous stylist-to-the-stars pal, Katy Robbins- my two Rent the Runway gowns literally months in advance. There would be two nights of events- the dinner at the State Department and the White House gathering/meeting the President and the First Lady followed by the Honors at Kennedy Center. I was all set with an Alice Temperley gown and a David Meister on the way for a grand total of $125- oh yeah, discount codes were in full effect.

Then came last Friday night. 8pm, tick tock tick tock, No UPS special delivery as expected. After a long wait on hold with the parcel service, I learned that the dresses would arrive promptly Monday morning. Hmmm. I’m royally screwed, I thought. My babysitter is out of town, Christopher is working and I’ll have to haul two toddlers to Tysons Corner and frenzily shop for not one but two expensive-looking but reasonably affordable black tie gowns. What the what?

I prepared to wake early Saturday and make the mad dash to Nordstroms. Enter the Norovirus. Around 1am on Saturday morning, my hubby came down with a severe dose of the stomach virus. If you’ve ever experienced this, you know how intense it is. It hits you like a ton of bricks and you are violently ill for a solid 24 hours. Saturday morning 10am and Christopher was starting to come out of his nausea-daze when I started to feel a bit wonky. By noon, it was clear that I would not be going to the State Department much less Nordstroms. At that point, I can honestly say however, that I didn’t much care. We had two toddlers to take care of as two very sick parents who were doing everything we could to keep them from getting sick. How that works with a crazily contagious virus, I have no idea. If you’ve ever tried taking care of small children while you feel ghastly ill, you can empathize. It was a rough day, maybe the toughest yet in my newbie parenthood. These are the days you really want your mommy.

Then that beacon of the week, Sunday morning dawned and all started to look a bit brighter. I didn’t feel great, but Lord knows I was going to that White House. I made the mad dash to Nordstoms, gave the saleslady my budget and after a heartfelt wince from her, she brought me dozens of dresses all of which only emphasized my post-baby bump that has no business being a bump at this point, it’s more like a lump- let’s call a spade a spade. She finally brought me one last dress- this one revelatory -to my dressing room. It was like the popcorn ceiling opened up and the Angels sang “AHHHHH”. I had to have it, it actually made my lump look kind of great. I dashed up to the register only to find out upon ringing up, that this was indeed well above my fantasy and idealized price range. Oh well, it’s the frigging White House, I mean come on. So, dress bought, baubles on, we are ready to roll.

kennedy center honors

Off we went. At 3:15 on the dot, Jacques’ appointed driver Carl rolled up into my modest little apartment complex’s parking lot to escort me down the slick ice rink that was masquerading as a sidewalk. I somehow managed not to take a dive, even in my 4 inch heels- and believe me, this momma does not wear 4 inch heels- not since around my 34th birthday anyway. I lost my tolerance for the self-inflicted pain caused by ridiculously high heels, so I had to kind of pat myself on the back for this one.

We arrived at the front gates of the White House and all I could think about was that scene in Dave when Kevin Kline drives up to that very same gate and convinces the guards to let him out. Here I was, at that very gates. What next? We were escorted after multiple security checks up to the White House. Now I’ve never been to the White House, never taken a tour and although I’ve always wanted to, I never got around to writing my Representative about that one. But this was much better, I had an actual invite, I was actually invited by the peeps at the White House- ok as a plus-one, but still.

Entering the White House for a party that it is throwing was a kind of dazzling, surreal moment for this American girl. Another “AHHHH” moment with the angels harking all over the place as I was handed a glass of champagne upon entering. I found myself sashaying down the perfectly decorated hallways in my lump-licious dress, bumping into the likes of Garth Brooks and Sam Waterston all the while with a ridiculously huge smile on my face. Mind you I was completely aware that I was striding down these said hallways with a giant smile on my face, but I couldn’t do anything about it. I don’t want to sound like a naive fresh-off-the-bus farm girl here, I’ve had my share of star-studded evenings and shared the stage with the likes of Hugh Jackman and Tony Bennett (dreamboats- both of them), but this was something entirely different.

Sitting in my little seat with my very own name imprinted on its little white card, I couldn’t believe I was surrounded by less than one hundred people waiting for the President and the First Lady to arrive. They fabulously strode into this little room and almost knocked me over, not literally but quite figuratively. There is a reason why people get elected to office beyond their politics, it’s that old charisma thing. It’s the same reason the Clooneys and the Pitts of the world are our mainstays- star wattage, people. Despite what you may think of them or their politics, the Obamas are stars.

Enter my very un-Presidential comment to the First Lady. Meeting Obama himself was fantastic, he is charming and genuine with a firm handshake and an authenticity that oozes from his sparkly white teeth. He thanked me for coming (uh- thanks for having me!). Meeting Mrs. Obama, I just blurted out, “You are too fabulous!”. She graciously replied, “Thank you” and also thanked me for coming. Seriously, I was kind of mortified and I still can’t believe I said that to her, not the most Presidentially-appropriate behavior to be sure, but honestly, she is- too fabulous. She dazzled in her jade green Marchesa off-the-should gown, she oozed grace and importance and honestly, she’s a modern day Goddess.

Embarrassing moment behind me (I had to have one), we continued to make the rounds and that’s when I found myself standing next the the D-O-double-G. Oh yeah, Snoop. He jokingly asked the Marine Corps band to play “Gin and Juice”- one of my favorite parts of the night. They didn’t comply, too bad- what a miss. I snapped a picture with the hip hop superstah and ta-dizzle-fo-shizzle, we were off to the Kennedy Center.

I arrived at my seat to find my darling hubby all dressed up in his tux complete with bow tie, which I’ve never actually seen him in- he was effortlessly tieless at our wedding. The drumroll began and the the curtain went up. Attending the Kennedy Center Honors is like attending one of the greatest mulit-artist concerts ever. You get opera, you get drama, you get dance, you get music, music, music. In a word, it’s awesome. It’s a proud-to-be-an-American kind of evening. The show airs on December 29th, and is one to watch. The standout of the night for me is the tribute to Billy Joel with a rousing and tear-jerking number by Garth Brooks and a beautiful turn by Rufus Wainwright, not to mention a great performance by Panic at the Disco’s Brendon Urie. Snoop absolutely kills in the Herbie Hancock tribute- don’t miss it.

We capped the night off with a dinner under the giant mod chandeliers in the main hallway of the Kennedy Center surrounded by some of America’s most inspiring artists and Washington’s finest. I had a blast yucking it up with the legendary Eddie Villella all evening and was once again dumbstruck to find myself shooting the sh*t with Billy Joel, who is one of the most down to earth, coolest cats around. After commending him for his career (with lack of anything else to stay, being completely startstruck) he replied, “Hey, I’m just doing what I love”. And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it.

Midnight struck and we were jolted back into our real lives remembering that we promised our sitter we would be home by 12:30. We dashed down the marble halls of the Kennedy Center like Cinderella running for her carriage, in this case our minivan, and raced home before the clock struck 12:30. We made it. No pumpkins here and the kiddos were all nestled snug in their beds. What a whirlwind, but how great to be back in our tiny home with our tiny bebes.

A night to remember and my cheeks still hurt.

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Happy Weekend!

happy weekend

Happy Weekend dear readers. These Kate Spade cards are rocking my world. If I didn’t do holiday photo cards, I would have these little beauties addressed and ready to send- seriously stylish and fun!

I hope you all enjoyed a warm and blessed Thanksgiving. We are laying low this weekend after all that cooking and holiday hoopla. We might try to catch a showing of Catching Fire, I hear it’s pretty good, have you seen it? Do tell. What are you all up to this weekend? Black Friday anyone? I can’t bring myself to do it although I am curious. Maybe I’ll pop my head in Walmart to see what all the fuss is about. Or maybe not.

House-hunting update: we got the house! Yippee- suburbia here we come. Even though I am a wee bit scaredy-cat about life in the ‘burbs, to be honest I’m completely psyched for a change and some real grown-up space. We will be able to do a bit of renovations too, so my 5,200 Pins will not go to waste. All Pinning and No House Makes Kelly a… well, you know.

What I’m Drinking This Weekend:

It’s that most wonderful time of the year so I’m breaking out the- what else- bubbly. It’s officially the start of the holiday season- hooray! It’s on baby, deck the halls and bust out the bubbles. I’m popping a fizzy rosé tonight, an Austrian Pinot Noir/Zweigelt blend. I usually find Austrian bubbles to be finessed and feminine, we’ll see how this one shakes out. Check back on Monday for my Tasting Note to follow. If this one’s a winner, at $15 it’s a perfect holiday party wine.
Huber Hugo Rosé Sparkling, $15

A Few Things Here and There:

A teal sink- fun.

Retail stores open on Thanksgiving? Is nothing sacred.

JLo- you betta Trabaja. This is awesome.

A great gift guide for the coffee geek in your life.

Cute kilim bench on sale.

Have a fabulous holiday weekend.

Cin Cin and Enjoy!

 

Photo: The Glitter Guide

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