Dining & Nightlife
When I think of a 5-star culinary gem, I usually don’t think of a tiny strip mall by the freeway and a bill that’s under $200. This is what makes Papilles, my new favorite French restaurant, so endearing. Inspired by the bistronomique movement in Paris (uptown food meets downtown vibe), Papilles is one of the few places you can enjoy a rich gourmet meal and a fantastic bottle of wine for just under $60 a person—then stroll home in jeans and sneakers. (OK, I wore red Pour La Victoire pumps last time, but still.) (more…)
I’ve been strongly anti-Valentine’s Day for a long time. There’s just so much pressure associated to the holiday, regardless of whether you are in a relationship. Pressure to make sure you live up to the expectations levied by Hallmark, movies, friends, and (maybe) your significant other. Truthfully, I’ve always believed that if you are in a “loving” relationship, V-Day shouldn’t feel that different than any other day. Which is not to say that a dozen lavendar roses or artisinal French-imported chocolates should be expected everyday, but you should feel “loved” all the time.
As for people not in relationships, I don’t think we should allow a holiday to make us feel bad about ourselves. I’ve read that February 15th is the single greatest day for filing divorces. So rest assured that not all the couples you see out and about on February 14th are happy, and there’s probably some chick fuming about her 11:15 PM V-Day reservation to the Olive Garden (per Zooey Deschanel’s SNL skit.) So let’s make this V-Day a way to be good to yourself instead. A few ways to treat yo’self below:
Cupcakes, I just can’t seem to quit you. Last night, I chose them over Fashion Week by going to the NYC grand opening party of Georgetown Cupcake. Putting their own twist on the adage, “If you make it in NYC, you can make it anywhere,” sisters Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne of Georgetown Cupcake say, “If you can bake it here, you can bake it anywhere.” Throwing their hat into the crowded ring of cupcakeries, the duo and Kardashian favorite are opening their first store in SoHo (official opening day: Saturday, February 11th.) Despite already being open for three plus years, block-long lines are still a mainstay at their already existing locations. When I visited their Georgetown outpost last week, I waited in line for 30 minutes and the tourist behind me asked, “Are the cupcakes worth it?”
Judging by the shoulder-to-shoulder crush of ladies and pink tutu-adorned girls (who sipped milk out of champagne glasses) at last night’s opening party, the answer is a resounding, “Yes.” Even when stacked against NYC favorites (Sprinkles, Billy’s Bakery, Sugar Sweet Sunshine), Georgetown Cupcake bring a little something different to the table. Georgetown Cupcakes are a little richer and decadent then their NYC cousins, with a focus on high-end ingredients (example: the specified usage of Valrhona, Callebaut chocolate and madagascar bourbon for flavoring.) Their everyday menu contains not just one, but three varieties of chocolate cupcakes with a choice of either ganache, whipped, or vanilla frosting. They also mix it up every month with an ever-changing variety of seasonal cupcakes. Snacking from amongst the minis offered at last night’s shindig, my favorites are the densely flavored Peanut Butter Fudge, salty and sweet Salted Caramel, and Vanilla Birthday Cake. Their heart-bedecked Red Velvet cupcakes are a perennial favorite for Valentine’s Day and many a DC bride. And yes, they deliver all over the U.S.
The sisters generously gave each party guest a half-dozen NYC customized cupcakes (pictured above) and a cookbook full of recipes I can’t wait to try out/create a fire in my kitchen. Georgetown Cupcakes are located at 111 Mercer Street (between Prince and Spring.) You can also catch a behind-the-scenes look with their show, DC Cupcakes, airing on TLC Fridays at 10 PM EST.
A few weeks before the holidays I was introduced to Dig Inn, a market to table “fast food” restaurant that New Yorkers might categorize as a “work day lunch spot.” Having been a freelancer for a while now working from home, I’d kind of fallen out of the loop with lunch spots for office professionals and was eager to check it out. As it turns out, Dig Inn is the reincarnation of Pump Energy Food, a lunch joint that I did used to frequent while I was working an office job. Pump was originally created for the New Yorker that craved healthy and nutrient rich foods- but the flip side was that it actually had that healthy (no butter, low sodium etc) taste. Dig Inn also serves healthy fare- but with the philosophy that being healthy doesn’t mean depriving yourself- but rather eating dishes prepared with fresh, high quality, wholesome ingredients and making smart choices. In other words, the food at Dig Inn taste delicious but are still made with a conscious effort to be good for you.
Everyone’s been asking, “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?” Well, chances are I’m going to ring in 2012 at my favorite haunt of late: Bodega Hollywood. It’s one of the few stylish spots in the heart of Hollywood that will have no reservations, no dress code, no insane prices and no obnoxious clientele. Instead, it will have a DJ and a complimentary midnight round of champagne (yay).
Not your average wine bar, Bodega Hollywood is one of the few places in the area that successfully combines an uptown look (think The Standard) with a downtown vibe (your friend’s loft apartment). Two blocks south of the W, it’s a place where you can sip one of 12 reds or whites on the menu and groove to the sounds of Radiohead’s Reckoner while Sixteen Candles is silently projected on a wall in the background. (more…)
Most travelers to Portugal no doubt have Lisbon on their list of must-visit cities. But it’s actually in Lisbon’s outskirts that lies the real gem of the country. Sintra, located just forty minutes or so away, has long been the summer and vacation destination of centuries of Portugal’s monarchs- and for good reason. Nestled between the Sintra Mountains and the Atlantic Coast, this colorful city- also a UNESCO World Heritage site- boasts a charming downtown and centuries of rich culture and history all set amongst a lush natural setting. And it’s this jewel that Penha Longa Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort calls home.
Last night, I caught a glimpse of the always-gorgeous Jamie-Lynn Sigler with Joe Jonas, as well as Dominic Monaghan, while sipping champagne at the ultra-chic, intimate Sayers Club in Hollywood. The occasion: a private celebration of the GQ November music issue and the new GUESS online miniseries with the fashionable, Brooklyn-hip-hop-style-inspired Theophilus London, who gave a special live performance. Also in attendance were TV stars and hosts galore, such as 90210′s Shenae Grimes, and of course GQ Luxury Advertising Director Brendan Coolidge Monaghan.
Check out the miniseries exclusively on the GUESS Facebook page. And thanks to GUESS for inviting us to this amazing event!
Much like people, certain cities have an indescribable indie cool-factor. Austin, Texas is one of those cities, with serious street cred for the live music scene, its fervent support for local artists, friendliness, and laidback vibe. Mention Austin to anyone and inevitably the response will be, ‘OMG, I LOVE that city!!’ or ‘Is that where Friday Nights Lights is filmed?’ The answer is yes, and clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. I took the opportunity to form my own opinion for New Year’s, trading NYC and its overpriced, crowded, cold bars for breezy Spring temps in the midst of January, let’s-just-have fun demeanor, and uniqueness. I wish I had gone for South by Southwest, but there’s always Austin City Limits! Below, some of my favorites from checking out the town: (more…)
San Francisco is one of the best dining cities in the country so almost every time I visit, I’m always looking for a new place to try. While there are new trends and restaurants constantly opening in the city, I think there’s something to be said for a true classic- an oldie but goodie. That’s why during my last trip, I made a point to visit One Market, a Michellan starred restaurant located at one of the most recognizable addresses at the top of the San Francisco Embarcadero. (more…)
Tucked away in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, the Ember Room is my answer to the inevitable question asked of NYC residents by non-NYC dwellers: “I’m going to see (insert name of show) tonight, where should I go eat pre/post dinner?” With its clubby atmosphere, sleek décor, and smooth pan-Asian/fusion menu created by celebrity chefs Todd English and Ian Chalermkittichai (of Kittichai fame), it’s a great way to give your guests the experience of a chic, Meatpacking-ish restaurant without having to venture all the way to 12th avenue.
I’d request to sit upstairs, where you can gaze at the hundreds of shiny, brass Chinese temple bells hanging from the ceiling as you sip on Asian-inspired cocktails and tease your appetite with starters like the Thai Pastrami meatballs–a slightly sweeter take on the traditional salty beef meatball with a tamarind glaze, coconut and dash of thick yellow, Chinese mustard. (more…)