Speakers Table

Dinner with the President on N Street

October 4, 2011

Last Friday night my good friend, Georgetown resident Dr. Jim D’Orta, hosted a fundraiser for President Barack Obama at his home in Georgetown. An emergency room physician by training and a successful businessman, Dr. D’Orta lives in the house formerly owned by Pamela and Averell Harriman. This was the house from which Pamela Harriman ran what was colloquially called ‘Pam PAC’ in the 1980s when the Democrats were out of office and out of power. It was where Bill Clinton first met many of those who would later support him in his race for the White House in 1992. He rewarded Harriman with the position of Ambassador to France. She later died in Paris of a stroke while swimming in the Ritz Hotel pool. Harriman is known as the premier courtesan of the 20th century. An amazing woman who I first had the pleasure of meeting  when she and her last husband, former Governor of New York Averell Harriman, co-chaired a fundraising roast for Bella S. Abzug (D-NY) to retire the debt from her losing 1976 Senate race. The roast was held at Window’s on the World atop the World Trade Center.

President Obama speaking to the guests (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) President Obama speaking to the guests

Official co-host for the evening was Jim’s cousin Barbara Broccoli, producer of the James Bond movies. The attendees were a mix of people from the theater community, business community, and were a mix of gay and straight. There were actually two events in one. There was a reception upstairs for those contributing $10,000 and a reception and dinner for 50 at tables of ten downstairs where guests were asked to anti-up $35,800 a couple. Each guest got the opportunity to have a picture taken with the President. The President then spent time with the dinner guests and was both gracious and eloquent. He talked of what he has accomplished in the first three years and what he hopes to do in the next five. The President spoke for about 15 minutes and then had an easy give and take conversation with topics ranging from finance, bringing our troops home, to healthcare and campaign strategy. The President quoted Mario Cuomo, “You campaign in poetry but govern in prose” as he talked about the difference between campaigning and the more difficult role of governing a nation with two wars and a financial crisis. The partisan crowd was easy to charm and the President did that as he spoke about the need for Democrats to join together in this crucial election which he believes is a fight for the future of America.

Liz Calloway (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Liz Calloway

Guests at the dinner included Broadway Producer Bill Haber and his wife Carol, asset manager Jim Roumell, tech CEO and politico Rick Stamberger, and Human Rights Campaign activists Barry Karas, Dana Perlman and Terry Bean. Guests were treated to entertainment before and after dinner from the incredibly talented Liz Calloway who sang the best version of the song ‘Memory’ that I have ever heard. Liz sang this for years on Broadway in CATS. The dinner was catered by Café Milano with an impressive chocolate dessert with the Presidential Seal in white chocolate. It definitely was an evening all attendees will long remember.



Written by Peter Rosenstein

Click here to share your thoughts.

The kickoff with the Tour de France

October 2, 2011

Skip the bikes, add five glasses of wine, and you’ll have the Tour de France for a sophisticated palate without the physical exertion. On Friday night, wine lovers, wine enthusiasts, and those new to the wine game gathered at La Maison Française (in The Embassy of France) to attend the first of four tasting classes offered by Le Studio this season. The program’s leader and renowned wine journalist Claire Morin-Gibourg, along with educator Vincent Morin and sommelier  and  wine connoisseur Philippe Marchal, presented five wines.

The group enjoying the Tour de France one region at a time (Photo by: Judith Beermann) The group enjoying the Tour de France one region at a time

The trio kicked off the evening with a glass of delicate Champagne Taittinger Brut La Française. Spoiler alert: this was definitely the table favorite. With its heavy Chardonnay presence (over 40%, twice the normal amount used in a standard cuvee), the buttery notes, and the light and dry mouth feel started the tasting with a bang. 

We then continued onto Bourgogne/Mâconnais where we sampled a 2008 white Burgundy from Pouilly Fuissé Domaine Ferret. The Domaine’s location is set in one of the most diverse appellations with a wide spectrum of rocks and soil. The mineral and chalky overtones of this terroir in the wine were a true representation of a southern Burgundy.

Chris Addison of Georgetown’s Addison-Ripley gallery enjoys a glass of the Savigny les Beaunes 1er Cru la Dominode Louis Jadot 2007 (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Chris Addison of Georgetown’s Addison-Ripley gallery enjoys a glass of the Savigny les Beaunes 1er Cru la Dominode Louis Jadot 2007

We stayed in the Burgundy region with our next wine, but traveled to the Côte de Beaune province to Savigny lès Beaunes. The vineyard is set between Beaune and Pernand, and third in production of red wine in the Côte de Beaune area. We sampled the 2007 1er Cru la Dominode Louis Jadot. The wine had a true Pinot taste with a black pepper finish, a perfect spicy end to our Burgundy stop.

What’s a wine tour without hitting Bordeaux? The Pomerol Christian Moueix 2006, while not the best year (admitted by Vincent Morin), was deep in color, and rich in nose. While we were slightly disappointed with the flavor, we were assured that we would not be disappointed with a change of year.

Our tour ended in Rhône at the Châteauneuf-du-Pape to sample the 2007 Château Mont Redon. The wine consisted of four different grape varieties that each brought out a different feature of the wine. The Cinsault grape emphasized the fruitiness, the Grenache spiced up the wine, Syrah added the structure, and Counoise (not found in any other blend) enhanced the alcohol and added a degree of acidity.

Georgetown Smile’s Dr. Peretz enjoyed the tasting with Emilia Pawlowski (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Georgetown Smile’s Dr. Peretz enjoyed the tasting with Emilia Pawlowski

The wine experts were thorough in their presentation of each wine, and passionate about their subject giving us pairing suggestions and tasting techniques to enhance our wine experience. After the tasting, guests were invited to indulge in the cheese and charcuterie buffet, and try some our own pairing creations.

The program has four classes remaining. October 18th will be all about Burgundy, November 10th will consist of wines from the Loire Valley, and the last class on December 1st will indulge in Cognac Hennessy.

Marie-Helene Zavala pictured here with the assortment of cheese and charcuterie available after the tasting (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Marie-Helene Zavala pictured here with the assortment of cheese and charcuterie available after the tasting

“The great thing we are doing this year, is inviting actual winemakers from these regions,” says Vincent Morin. “We are hoping this will add an extra element to these classes so participants can interact and talk with the people who actually make the wine.”

All the wines tasted were made available at a discount through Bassin's Mac Arthur Beverages.

Classes are $75 per person and can be purchased at La Maison Francaise.


Written by Hillary Leeb

Click here to share your thoughts.

D.C. Council luxury tickets need to go

September 28, 2011

Next Saturday, Oct. 8, the Washington Capitals start their regular season. Under a sweetheart deal arranged by our elected officials, Councilmembers and the Mayor enjoy two free luxury suites in the Verizon Center. A similar sweetheart deal has been arranged with the Washington Nationals. The late owner of the Verizon Center, Abe Pollin, gave the Mayor access to a suite as a thank-you for $50 million dollars the District put into renovations to the arena. A second suite was given to the D.C. Council once Councilmembers demanded their own.

Bob Kabel, Chairman, D.C. Republican Committee (Photo by: D.C. Republican Committee) Bob Kabel, Chairman, D.C. Republican Committee
These so-called "free" luxury tickets are provided to our elected officials each year and famously caused a rift between former Mayor Adrian Fenty and the Council in recent years. Obviously, the luxury suites are a distraction for our elected officials, not to mention an invitation for more ethical problems. Like moths to a light, some D.C. Councilmembers compete for premium events and just can't help themselves from talking about it.

While the NHL regular season hasn't started, that didn't stop Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander. Councilmember Alexander, who is up for reelection, offered her free pre-season Capital's tickets on Monday night to any takers on her Twitter account.

You would think, under any normal circumstance, the practice of shelling out free luxury tickets to elected officials would be perceived as an ethical conflict, not to mention their easy conversion into election-oriented currency. Why should Councilmembers get free tickets when the rest of us have to pay for them?

Paul Craney, Executive Director, D.C. Republican Committee (Photo by: D.C. Republican Committee) Paul Craney, Executive Director, D.C. Republican Committee
Last week, the Council voted to raise taxes. Some Councilmembers used excuses that they needed to raise taxes for the sake of the "have nots" of our city. Others claimed there were no good alternatives but to raise taxes. Never mind the fact that they were voting to raise taxes when there was a projected surplus. Or the fact that Councilmember Michael Brown used taxpayer money to redecorate his office and Councilmember Vincent Orange floated the idea of pay raises. Moody's Investor Services and Fitch Rating placed the city's credit outlook from stable to negative.

It would be hypocritical for Councilmembers, to reverse course, a week after raising taxes for the "have nots" and hold onto the tickets. The D.C. Republican Committee sent a letter to D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown and challenged him to use the powers of eBay and auction off each and every ticket to raise money for the District. The letter to Chairman Brown encouraged him to deposit the proceeds into the General Fund. If some Councilmembers want to raise taxes, it is only fair they share a small sacrifice and sell the tickets for the public's good.

District residents deserve to be spared of the nonsense that seems to engulf our elected officials every year. Moody's may have downgraded the District's outlook but Chairman Brown can easily use eBay to upgrade our finances. We hope he will use this opportunity to permanently end this absurd practice and help increase our city's dwindling reserves.

Authors Bob Kabel and Paul Craney are Chairman and Executive Director, respectively, of the District of Columbia Republican Committee.

Click here to share your thoughts.