Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Last winter, during a particularly grueling patch of work, one of my colleagues turned to me, with a look of extreme exhaustion on her face, and asked, "Do you know what my dream aspirations are in life? If I had my way, I'd be a folk singer and grow my own vegetable garden." I was sort of flabbergasted at the difference between her dream and her reality -- she's an expert on health care and education policy, not so much known for her green thumb.

But I loved, and still do love, that she's passionate about such different things.

Sometimes I, too, picture something radically different for myself. I'm in a kitchen -- that looks like the one above, of course :) -- making a meal for 12...and getting paid to do it. Something along the lines of Meryl Streep's role in It's Complicated.

I'm not so interested in this idea to pursue it at this point in my life, but I still love to daydream, doesn't everyone?

A step back in time

Over the weekend, Mt. Pleasant opened a historic home to the public for a very special viewing of 1841 Park Rd NW. This grand, historic property was built in 1906 as a fantastic example of the Georgian Revival architecture popular at the turn of the century. Only two owners had called this place their home over the last 100 years. The second family, after relocating to Philadelphia, put this 7 bedroom, 5 full bathroom home on the market for more than $2 million, and unlike most listings at this price, held an open house on Sunday afternoon.

My husband and I have walked by this stunning home more times than I can count and longed to know the history of its owners and the property. What a treat to have a sneak peek!

Walking through the spacious gardens, I could picture 'old Washington' when the city's roads weren't paved, there was no A/C in the dreadfully humid summers and everyone knew their neighbor.

I wandered into the house's carriage houses, which were granted landmark status and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and I pictured small children playing hide-and-go-seek with one another in all of its private nooks and crannies.

I stood out on the veranda and looked out over much of Park Road and imagined what it must have been like to welcome guests from all over the neighborhood to a glamorous Christmas Eve party.

It was a magical home, no doubt. I just hope that the next owner loves and cherishes it just as much as the first two did.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mendoza, Argentina

Ahh....take me to Mendoza, Argentina, where red wine is plentiful and exceptional landscapes envelope you.

(via Greta Mininni's Flickr photos)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's all good in black and white

Photos courtesy of the tremendously talented Hedi Slimane, former fashion designer of Dior Homme for Christian Dior.

(via lost)

Pared down perfectly

You know, I'm not a big fan of Victoria Beckham's style. Skin-tight outfits aren't really my thing, but this combo, on the other hand, is a new Beckham that I can appreciate.

When it's 60 degrees outside and you're heading out to meet friends at a wine bar downtown or around the corner at your favorite pizza place, I'd wear this, head to toe. I wouldn't change a thing.

(via B. Jones)

Monday, April 19, 2010

New gastropub

On Friday night, we went out to dinner with some friends to a new upscale pub downtown called Againn. Being the old foggy that I clearly seemed to have turned into, I didn't know anything about it. Thank goodness our dinner-mates are foodies. They'd been before, they loved it and they were right -- it was really, really good.

I walked in and immediately felt like it was the sister restaurant of Brasserie Beck and there's a reason for it -- the firm that designed Beck also took the plunge with Againn.

So as you can imagine, there's this back-to-basics-with-a-little-flash, sort-of feeling to the place. The space felt expansive, but warm. (Can you tell I liked it?)

Now, the food....

The oysters were divine. The salmon was the best I've had out in my five years in D.C. and the glass of red I had from the Rhone Valley was, well, dangerously delicious!

Grab your girlfriends or your significant other and go. You'll love it.

(Images via Washingtonian)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Before/After bathroom

Celine recently renovated her bathroom space and I love the results. Simple, lovely, with a touch of that farmhouse feel I love.

We, too, have a very outdated, rather grungy upstairs bathroom that one day I'd like to renovate. This is the style I'd like to incorporate.

(via bonjour!)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Work tote

After that last post, it's time for a pick-me-up and nothing does it better than a great find on Etsy (thanks, as always, to Joanna Goddard for this one).

This is the absolute perfect bag for work and weekend play. If only the price ($200) were a bit more reasonable, I'd bite.

(via Rennes)

The reality of our food culture

I watched the first two episodes of Jamie Oliver's new Food Revolution series on Hulu last night and as a result of what I saw, I couldn't sleep a wink.

Does it shock and sadden you to see a group of bright elementary school kids look at a bunch of tomatoes and not have a clue what they are?

Does it alarm the hell out of you to see school children being served pizza for breakfast?

Does it piss you off to see the amount of fat and sugar these kids are being served on a weekly basis?

If the answer is yes to all of the above, then you may feel despondent like I did last night. We are literally killing our children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of every seven low-income, preschool-aged children is obese. Repeat that to yourself. Kids are obese before they're even in 1st grade. It's despicable and horrifying.

If a child reaches such a point with his or her weight, turning back becomes incredibly difficult. One study found that approximately 80% of children who are overweight -- not obese -- at aged 10-15 years were obese adults by age 25. These kids face heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, not to mention social discrimination by their peers.

So the natural reaction to all of this is to ask who's to blame. The answer, of course, isn't an easy one. Schools, FDA dietary guidelines, fast food, parents' poor choices, advertising, time constraints on family meal times and a lack of education about healthy eating habits all share the burden of this terrible reality facing our country.

Thank goodness we have people like Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama who are raising awareness of this issue.

On an individual level -- whether we're single and making our own individual food choices or we're parents -- the most important thing we can do is get in the kitchen. I know it's not easy for a lot of parents -- they work long hours and have more demands on their plate than they feel like they can meet, but we have to say goodbye to the easy choice of fast food and microwaveable meals. Of all of our priorities, the health of children should come first.

It's time to start cooking.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Grilling whole fish

2009 was the year of the whole chicken and the suckling pig.

2010 is -- I've now decided -- going to be the year of the whole grilled fish.

The BESTWAY market in Mt. Pleasant sells a fantastic array of whole fish from skate to trout to flounder to things I can't name, nor have ever heard of, and they're all at a great price point.

I bought two red snapper, some lemons, fresh cilantro and red potatoes yesterday to take on this new culinary adventure. I was envisioning a low key evening on the patio with the dog, my husband and, of course, a Dogfish ale, all alongside a perfectly grilled red snapper.

As for the fish, the prep work was far simpler than that for the chicken and the pig. I just sliced a few lemons and a handful of cilantro and stuffed them inside the cavity of the snappers. After rubbing the fish with good salt and pepper, I squeezed fresh lemon juice all over them and ended with a healthy drizzle of olive oil.

Done. Now you let them marinate for at least an hour.

In the meantime, I chopped up some red potatoes, dressed them with dried thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil and roasted them for about 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Super easy side dish!

I used my cast iron grill pan for the fish, setting the heat on low to medium. Alice Waters recommends that for every inch thick your fish is, grill that bad boy for about 10 minutes. In this case, I left the fish on the grill -- turning fairly often so that the skin didn't get stuck to the surface -- for about 12-15 minutes. I think 10 might have done the trick, but as is the case with the first time around on these sorts of experiments, I wanted to be extra careful.

The end result was totally delicious and perfect for the 80 degree weather. And in hindsight, grilling the snapper was just as easy to make as a simple red sauce pasta. The greatest time requirement is simply marinating it.

This will definitely be our new summer dish for this year.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Getting older

This woman looks exactly like my Granny, from the hair to her glasses to her attire.

Given the setting of this photo, I couldn't help but recall that the one place I could always find Granny when I came for visits was the kitchen.

She wasn't a great cook and I don't think she enjoyed it very much but in spite of her mediocre culinary skills her saving grace was her oven-roasted potatoes. I don't know what she did to those little suckers -- maybe it was the touch of rosemary or the kind of salt she used -- but my sister and I begged for them at each meal. Literally begged. And then when they appeared on the dining room table in a serving dish we salivated like puppies. Just when Mom took her eye off of us, we'd throw our hand in the dish and grab a few. Classy kids, huh?

While we certainly embarrassed Mom, Granny loved it.

Now that I've taken up cooking, I know full well how much I'd love it if someone literally couldn't keep their hands off my finished product. I would be flattered to no end!