‘Tis the season… the season of gratefulness, and the season of giving. While I think about holiday gifts year-round, which makes the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas much less stressful, shopping for everyone on my list is top of mind right about now. Finding the perfect gift for everyone really is one of the most satisfying things ever. If you are stuck buying yet another tie for your father, here are some out of the box ideas that will bring a smile to even the “hardest-to-shop-for-person-ever.” (I have three of them on my list …)
For your significant other: Erotic Poems by E. E. Cummings. (With the promise of a live reading by candlelight)
For your dad: Smartphone Film Scanner. (So all of those pictures of you as a baby can make it to his phone instead of being relegated to a cardboard box at the bottom of a closet)
For your mom (in particular if, like mine, she loves art and espresso): Damien Hirst cup and saucer set.
For your sister (or sister-in-law): a gorgeous sparkly fold-over clutch that will take her from day to night. (Monograming it makes it even more special)
For your best friend (or for your mother-in-law who has everything), this hand-beaded silk chiffon bib necklace is the perfect accessory, and it won’t be one that all of her friends have.
For your co-worker, the most beautiful candle from the unique NYC boutique Aedes de Venustas, which smells as delicious as it looks.
For your secret Santa: a bottle of Bourbon and these will for sure help him/her stay warm throughout the winter.
They say absence makes the heart go fonder. That is certainly true for me… after almost three weeks on the road, with 12 hours here and there in DC, I got back last night for what is going to be 4 days here straight, and remembered the many reasons why I love DC so much.
1. The monuments. Even with all of the scaffolding around it, the Washington Monument is jewel-like, in particular when it is all lit up at night. The list is long, I won’t mention them all…
2. The cab drivers. In what other city is NPR the radio of choice for cab drivers, and where else can you have such insightful political conversations with them? I learn something every time I speak with one.
3. The trees. The entire city is filled with trees… and today, they are the color of gold, copper, bronze.
4. The security. There is something special about seeing the Secret Service or just some big security guys with earpieces outside the restaurant I am about to walk in to.
5. The conversations people have. Invariably, they are educated, intelligent, hushed, and intense. And the conversations I randomly strike up with someone sitting next to me at a bar (see below for my favorites). Similarly educated, interesting, and enlightening.
6. The running trails. Miles and miles of amazing running. The bridge loop. The C&O Canal. Embassy Row. The National Mall. The running trails, and the friendly (and numerous) runners.
7. Town Hall. Ex-pat Louisianans come here for Saints games. New England Patriots haters are not welcome. The food is delicious. And their specialty cocktail, the “Town Hall,” is perfect to celebrate a touchdown or drown your sorrows following an interception.
8. The Rye Bar, and its barrel-aged Manhattan made with Pennsylvania-based Dad’s Hat rye whiskey, Dolin sweet vermouth, and Byrrh quinquina. The restaurant at the Capella is just as amazing, topped only by the truly amazing service.
9. Black Salt. I spend much time in Louisiana, where the seafood, the oysters, the shellfish is amazing. Yet (and even my Louisiana-born and bred husband agrees), Black Salt remains my favorite for seafood. And then, there is the fish marke t…
10. Thunder Burger. Amazing beer selection, burgers worth dying for, and Josh the deadpan bartender, make this place a must.
11. Peacock Café. When I need a French Kiss, or to feel like everyone knows my name, Peacock it is. And their fries are the best I have had in DC.
12. Stachowski’s. As a European, it thrills me that the American city I live in still knows what it means to be a butcher, and to buy meat somewhere other than at the grocery store.
13. And last, but not least, my amazing girlfriends that live here; they are my heroes, my sisters, my support network. You know who you are.
DC, I love you.
This past Saturday was my birthday. This means many (fun) things, in particular that I enjoyed lots of bubbly. In reading my birthday cards and Facebook messages, I smiled at how many actually mentioned Champagne. It runs in the family: my mother is known for having Champagne in her veins instead of blood, and well, my sisters enjoy it just as much; it must be genetic.
Maybe it’s a European thing, but we have never reserved Champagne for New Year’s Eve. Indeed, Champagne is as common on our house as wine … Next time you head to the wine store, bring home a bottle of Champagne for one or more of these reasons:
§ In addition to the previously proven benefits of Champagne, we now know that two glasses of champagne per week helps prevent age-related memory loss and the onset of dementia.
§ Champagne is a great pairing for a number of foods, beyond oysters and caviar. Did you know that Champagne and fried foods go fabulously well together? Also, open champagne when having brie or other soft cheeses, buttered popcorn, salami, smoked salmon, stuffed mushrooms, fruit-based desserts, shortbread cookies, even macaroni and cheese. Why? The acidity in the Champagne cuts through the fat content of these foods.
§ Bubbles are fun! Champagne makes everything more festive, including a random Monday evening.
§ Champagne glasses are fun to collect. I like mine in pairs. I have 6 pairs of 2s, not 12 matching ones. My favorite? Sterling silver Champagne glasses. They hold the cold of the Champagne longer, and make it taste better.
§ Champagne is to wine like red is to lipstick. My mom always told me, when you are having a bad day, put on a bright red lipstick, and everything will get better. It works every time. Champagne does the same. Don’t wait to have something to celebrate to have Champagne … have it just because Champagne makes everything better!
Don’t know where to begin? Here are some favorites with which you can’t go wrong:
§ Veuve Cliquot Rose is possibly my favorite among all Champagnes, pink, bubbly, crisp, and perfect. .
§ Veuve Cliquot Brut is also a favorite, preferred by Champagne purists.
§ For something softer, sweeter, and more dessert-style (and my father’s favorite), Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial is the way to go.
§ Finally, of all of the sparkling wines, I am partial to Prosecco, perhaps because of my Italian roots. The best, and one of most affordable brands out there is Rotari.
So why let’s celebrate the fact that today is Monday, and have a glass of Champagne. Just because.