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It Was a Marvelous Market

March 17, 2015

Has it really been that long? "Closed for 25 years,” Daniel Mermel of Sivan Properties reminded me today, but I still miss Neam’s Market.

Mermel’s private, family-owned, third generation real estate business purchased the property from the Neam family last month for $6 million after a deal with another developer fell through. The roughly 10,000 square foot lot (with an approximately 6,000 square foot building) had been home to Marvelous Market from 1990 until 2014.

Sivan Properties is exploring two avenues regarding the property’s future use. They’re consulting with CORE and Overmyer Architects, two award-winning, Georgetown-based, architectural firms about designs that utilize the property’s current mixed use zoning. And, says Mermel. “We are maintaining an ongoing discussion with the Georgetown BID, residents and business owners in the neighborhood to elicit their ideas for prospective tenants.”

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

In the meantime, Sivan has agreed to donate the use of the parking lot for the upcoming French Market, an annual Georgetown community event sponsored by the Georgetown BID.

When Jack Neam died in 2009, T. Rees Shapiro wrote a wonderful article in The Washington Post.

“The fruit section, which always had plump berries and crisp pears in stock, no matter the season, once inspired nationally syndicated columnist Art Buchwald to compare it to a jewelry boutique and declare that "Mr. Neam . . . is to fresh fruit what Bulgari's is to jewelry."

“Blessed with an exquisite taste for precious perishables and exotic delicacies, the family filled the market with more than 60 varieties of imported cheese and 24 kinds of mustard. They carried Mennonite wheat flour, litchi nuts and papadum, a wafer-thin Indian bread.”

“For more than 40 years, Jack Neam ran the most expensive market in the world. Neam's Market, a family business at the confluence of Wisconsin Avenue and P Street in Georgetown, was the have-it-all grocery for Washington's establishment before Dean & DeLuca and Sutton Place Gourmet became part of the culinary vocabulary.”

Jackie Kennedy had a charge account at Neam's while her husband was president, but he cut her off for spending too much at the market.”

It was worth a walk down P Street to see Nancy and Henry Kissinger carrying Neam’s bags. The Mellons, the Harrimans, and the Vanderbilts shopped there too.

Neam’s was in the 1985 film “Heartburn,” and director Mike Nichols chose Jack (over his brothers) as a butcher serving Meryl Streep. "He used to say Meryl Streep co-starred in his movie," said his daughter, Amelia Neam.

Here's hoping the new occupants of 3215-3217 P Street will enrich our neighborhood in the spirit of Neam’s.

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Salamander In The Snow

March 10, 2015

Ada Polla, Judith Beermann, Heidi Kallett, Karin Tanabe, Zena Pollin, Cathy Alter and Heidi Creel Rodgers (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Ada Polla, Judith Beermann, Heidi Kallett, Karin Tanabe, Zena Pollin, Cathy Alter and Heidi Creel Rodgers

All the meteorologists told us to stay home. It was a blizzard out there. But we had to get to Salamander! You see, three months ago, our Georgetown-based book club decided we deserved our first overnight retreat, a luxurious home away from home setting for our monthly ritual of serious drinking, and wry critiquing. We were unanimous, it had to be Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg. Booked for early spring, we expected sunset cocktails on the terrace, swimming and riding before the must-experience spa facials and deep massages.

The View (Photo by: Judith Beermann) The View

It was Currier & Ives that greeted us. And the 168-room resort was full! Apparently everyone else had to get there too.

Ok, we’d have to improvise. Donning turtleneck sweaters and knee-high boots, we compared our tales of a blistery commute (and one evasion of a traffic ticket) beside a crackling fire. Our champagne kick-off started at 9:00 am (we left early).

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch. In the Gold Cup Room, while tempted by specialties more indigenous to the Piedmont Region, I opted for the sushi.  So glad I did. No wonder that’s the chosen specialty for an exclusive Sushi & Red Burgundy Dinner charity event on April 13th.

Making Salamander Bears and Dogs (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Making Salamander Bears and Dogs

Did I mention that in addition to official members of book club, we brought along a five and seven-year old and a nine-year old Yorkie. While we were busy drinking and congratulating ourselves on our bravery, the recreation staff was effortlessly entertaining the little ones with Make-a-Bear (and Dog), indoor swimming and an assortment of games and snacks.  

After a brief nap in our well-appointed spacious rooms complete with fireplaces, footed bathtubs, balconies and welcoming chocolate-covered strawberries, we reconvened to the library for book talk and an aperitif.

Crystal Markie and Chris Edwards (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Crystal Markie and Chris Edwards

The snow had stopped. The meandering roadways completely shoveled. By now, we were on a first-name basis with everyone from the spa director, recreations coordinator, concierges, many of the guests, and very soon, the amazing chef de cuisine (Chris Edwards), restaurant manager (Alioune Ndiour), and dining server (Crystal Markie).  

Agnolotti (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Agnolotti "San Leo"

I knew we’d have a wonderful time. Many of my friends had already been and raved about the place. But I was not expecting the truly exquisite meal that awaited us in the Harrimans Room. Instinctively the seven of us ordered different first and second courses. The result, we managed to taste almost everything on the menu. 

Heidi Kallett conferring with Alioune Ndiour over Risotto Fritters (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Heidi Kallett conferring with Alioune Ndiour over Risotto Fritters

Chef Edwards came to our table and explained the inspiration behind his mix of international and locally sourced farm-to-table cuisine. Having trained under culinary titans Ferran Adrià (elBulli), Fabio Trabocchi and Todd English, this native Virginian continues to pay tribute to his mentors with every dish. Each night that can be up to 600 meals!

I had what turned out to be the chef’s personal favorite on the current menu (it changes seasonally): Agnolotti “San Leo”(hand-made dumplings  stuffed with fresh ricotta cheese spiced with cinnamon and lemon zest served over wilted Swiss chard) and Seared Georges Bank Sea Scallops with brown butter-roasted cauliflower, pantelleria capers, golden raisins, and iberico ham.

Seared Georges Bank Sea Scallops (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Seared Georges Bank Sea Scallops

As you can see, the number of ingredients in each dish are numerous and rarely repeated.  And that goes for everything on the extensive menu. The Rare Seared 64 Day Dry-Aged Beef Carpaccio with mustard greens, carmelized garlic sauce, prawn crackers and key lime was a most memorable exotic surprise.

I must mention the Risotto Fritters, a signature dish we all enjoyed, but none more so than one particularly discriminating diner. With an extensive and impressive wine menu, we wanted to honor the region and selected a smooth merlot from Equations, Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville. I had a delightful, crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Merlin Cherrier.

Baked Alaskan (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Baked Alaskan "Fireball"

We didn’t have room but we had to sample the Baked Alaskan “Fireball” made with cinnamon-chile ice cream, original red velvet beet cake and huckleberry mousse. Wow!

After a night cap and sweet dreams (assured by two pecan-butterscotch scones awaiting us in our rooms), we awakened to clear skies.

Off to the races, Well not exactly but off to the Equestrian Center to meet the nine permanent equine residents who majestically give guests the scenic tour. This morning they were romping in the snow.  

It doesn’t get any more picture postcard than this.

We’re booking our summer retreat now. And in the meantime, next time you're there, look for The Hunt by Jan Neuharth (our livre du mois) tucked into the library book shelf.

At the Equestrian Center (Photo by: Judith Beermann) At the Equestrian Center

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Bonhams Best in Show

February 8, 2015

A Westie harpsichord player by Thierry Poncelet (Photo by: bonhams.com) A Westie harpsichord player by Thierry Poncelet

It was a party for 'Friends of Bonhams With Dogs' Sunday and a preview of 25 paintings from Dogs in Show & Field, an auction of fine art dedicated to dogs.

Nick and Holly Ruffin with Mac and Henry (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Nick and Holly Ruffin with Mac and Henry

In advance of the February 18th auction at Bonhams New York (timed to coincide with the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show), Managing Director for Bonhams Auctioneers in Washington DC, Dr. Martin Gammon welcomed canines and their art savvy owners for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.

"We thought it would be fun to bring a few paintings here," said Gammon as he navigated with Bear through the floors of his Georgetown townhouse/gallery to mingle with guests.  "This special pet-friendly auction preview (also held in New York) benefits the American Kennel Club Humane Fund, which provides grants to domestic violence shelters and breed rescue organizations throughout the country.

The sale will feature works for collectors at all levels and from a variety of media, including paintings, prints, bronzes, ceramics, and 'Dogiania,' such as collars, jewelry, books and other related ephemera.

Buddy (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Buddy

Works by noted dog and sporting artists from the UK and from the US include dogs from all of the American Kennel Club acknowledged groups: Sporting, Herding, Working, Terrier, Hounds, Toys, and Non-Sporting.

Martin and Bear with Mary Blanton and Scout (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Martin and Bear with Mary Blanton and Scout

The auction will preview at the Madison Avenue galleries of Bonhams New York, 14-17 February. A complete catalog for the sale is available online here.


Steady by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Steady by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait

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