Thievery Stole the Show

We attended the Thievery Corporation Concert at the Kennedy Center last week. It was a one night show and I was glad to get affordable tickets with great seats in the front orchestra!

We attended the first performance. It was the first time Thievery Corporation had played at the Kennedy Center. Their normal venues might be less-upscale concert halls. This performance was a collaborative effort with Mason Bates, the Kennedy Center’s Composer-in-Residence. It was part of the KC Jukebox, which is a studio-lab that experiments with blending acoustic sounds. This was the first time to my knowledge that Thievery Corporation had the accompaniment of a full symphonic orchestra. The conductor was Teddy Abrams, Director of the  Louisville, KY Orchestra.

Before entering the concert hall, we enjoyed a glass of wine with nuts on the Concourse overlooking the Potomac River. The weather was gorgeous, sunny, 70’s and breezy. You almost didn’t want to go inside. I wish I had taken a picture but it wouldn’t capture it entirely. Here’s the Center Hall instead.

Kennedy Center Hall 1_AIE Kennedy Center Hall 2_AIE

Upon entering the concert hall there was heavy bass, electronic music by 2 DJ’s out of Chicago, Striz and Justin Reed. The music was in keeping with Thievery Corporation’s style of mixed funk, hip-hop, ambient, soul, techno, lounge with an international-cultural-bent. After Mason Bates’ composition, The Rise of Exotic Computing, (with some Radiohead-phonic inspiration) was played by the NSO Orchestra along with a more classical Astor Piazzola (finale from Sinforietta), then the showstopper started.

I’ve been listening to Eric Hilton and Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation with their own genre of lounge-style-music for 20+ years but had never heard them live. I still enjoy their Jet Society CD they produced and the actual 18th Street Lounge DC venue, where I remember some of the best dancing to African-beat rythyms. Their music adapts and it never gets old. In fact, there were fans of all ages including those in my age group, who had even brought their teenage children for the next generation to discover Thievery. The symphonic arrangements only added to the full experience. They played a few of their classics like: Richest Man in Babylon, Sweet Tides, Lebanese Blonde (below – I love the sitar and trumpet mix with sultry singing) and others from their newest album, The Temple of I & I, which is heavily based on Jamaican beats.

This video gives real insight into their creative process while recording in KEXP studio in November 2016.

Here’s a great review of the performance we enjoyed from DC Metro Theater Arts, describing the perfect combination between club and concert hall. Everyone was dancing in their seat with lots of head-bobbing.

Here’s a composite of some video clips and photos I took of the performance.

There were so many good songs to share; however, you’ll see more professional versions in these below that present the songs in their best light. Both are sung by LouLou, who sings many of their songs and in other languages. Interestingly, the second video I recognize is filmed at the National Gallery of Art’s concourse. Cool!

You can view some behind the scenes photos from the concert on their Facebook Page.

Seeing the Depth of My Soul video. Makes me think of Scandinavia…

This audience photo by Rob Myers shows the view from the stage. This could have been after the second performance because I don’t recognize those who would be on the right side near us but I think I see myself, which is weird, and I remember them taking the picture.

Attendees at Thievery Corporation Concert DC on AIE

Afterwards, we ate at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Restaurant, which was pretty good and then walked around the entire center on the rooftop terrace. It was such a lovely night that we’re considering becoming Kennedy Center members.

Kennedy Center Terrace_AIE

Outside Kennedy Center_AIE

Catch Thievery Corporation at one of these upcoming tour dates. They’ll steal you away from the present surreal-real world, at least for a little while, with their music.

In the meantime, you can go to the 18th Street Lounge, where Thievery Corporation got their start, and is the namesake to their affiliate ESL record label. You can also enjoy some of the many restaurants around town owned by Eric and his brother, Ian Hilton. The Brighton is the latest, coming to the exciting Wharf Development this fall, along with other venues. But for now, The new Pod Hotel will host their Crimson Diner and View (opening in June & July) — another place to enjoy a good drink and dinner! Looks like a great view of the city too on the rooftop!

Pod Hotel DC home lobby on Art Is Everywhere

Pod Hotel home lobby

Crimson Diner_View_Pod Hotel_AIE

via Pod Hotel DC

Wharf Development Rendering via Washingtonian on AIE

via Washingtonian

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A Celebratory Week to Remember

Well it was a fun, celebratory week to remember — one for the recollection record books!

Easter Sunday started it off — after a month of prep with finally getting a new garage roof completed. We still have some refinement to do so I’ll have to post a picture later. My Clivia plant, also known as a Kaffir Lily, seemed to be waiting to bloom on this special occasion. How appropriate and really beautiful this African plant is. My father-in-law gave it to me with multiple “babies” as offshoots that I divided and gave to my sister and sons. I’m waiting to hear if theirs’ bloomed.

Kaffir Lily blooms on Art Is Everywhere

Other plants that are flourishing are on our roof. The two types of butter/bib and arugula lettuce are three times the size of this now and nearly ready to harvest. Snap beans, beets and cauliflower seeds are coming along. I’ll need to replant the carrots though.

Rooftop Garden GlowPear Containers on AIE

You can read more about these hydroponic GlowPear planters on Houzz, where we purchased a second one.

My husband was able to get tickets through his office to the National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC), which is near impossible since they are sold out already through July. There was a special viewing between 8 – 10 am midweek and I took my friend Liza. Although we needed Peter with us to enter, he decided not to attend in order for us to be able to when security discovered my miniature pairing knife in my purse that I had forgotten all about. Ugh!! They wouldn’t let me leave it with them so Peter took it back to his car and missed the museum opportunity but he’ll get more tickets. He also had a meeting that was going to shorten his time anyway and you really need a full day, as we discovered, to take it all in. We didn’t return home until 4:30. It took over 7 hours to go through at a leisurely pace, which you need to do to be able to read and process all the info. Fortunately, I had cleared my work calendar in advance. There is a tremendous amount to cover and the museum does a good job of showing viewers the progression of the African American history through three sub-terrain, what I call the “oppressive” concourses that move through the start of Slavery to Freedom > Defending Freedom and Segregation > Changing America 1968 & Beyond. Although there is still a sense of uncertainty at the end of the exhibit, one leaves with a positive appreciation of the African American history and all its accomplishments as well as the strength of the American Spirit.

The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American. — Lonnie Bunch (Founding Director)

NMAAHC museum building on AIE

NMAAHC museum

The first sense one has upon entering the museum is from the exterior grill work that suppresses the light, yet fills the space with ornamentation. It is supposed to recall the grill work in New Orleans that was made by slave labor and you do get a sense, especially in the lower galleries, of being in a cargo hold of a slave ship with only one way up and out.

NMAAHC grill work on Art Is Everywhere

You start at the bottom and walk through each concourse and move onto the next via ramps. There are no elevators or restrooms on any of these floors. If the intent was to be somewhat uncomfortable, then it works. There are, however, plenty of places to sit and rest, watch a movie, reflect or just take a break. I had to use the restroom and needed to walk all the way up while Liza rested. There was a placard at the top warning that once you exited you could not re-enter. I had to flag someone down to ask them if I could come back in. Although it wasn’t a problem, I can’t imagine the planners didn’t think this common occurrence through. It must happen a lot. There were hoards of people in line a this point and we were only half way through the exhibit. I hustled back to get a move on before it became crowded. It was starting to on the third concourse, especially when we visited the Emmett Till Memorial, where no pictures were allowed. This was a horrible event about a 14 year old African American boy who was lynched simply because some “white” folk were looking to make examples of blacks. The outcome is what sparked insurgence, uprising and riots, along with the tragic death of Martin Luther King. However, the final part of the main exhibit shows the progression of the African Americans to assimilate within the middle class, become major TV and music celebrities. In fact, America has a lot to be thankful for with their cultural contribution.

Colonial Slavery figures on Art Is Everywhere

Prominent Colonial historical figures including Thomas Jefferson and Mum Bet, who sued the State of Massachusetts to win her freedom and consequently abolished slavery in MA

Ashley's Sack 1 NMAAHC on AIE

This story is pretty heartbreaking. There were many that were but this one spoke to me.

Ashley's Sack 2 NMAAHC on AIE

It was interesting to note that at the very start of the Slave Trade, which was sparked by the sugar trade, Creole Africans were wealthy diplomats and highly sought after for their language capabilities and cultural knowledge.

Concourse 3 - 2 NMAAHC on AIE

Moving from Concourse 3 to 2

slave and free houses at NMAAHC on Art Is Everywhere

Juxtaposition between Slave House on lower Concourse 3 and Freed Slave’s own home on upper Concourse 2

Stereotypes at NMAAHC on AIE

Stereotypes in toys and paraphenalia

Segregated clinic hours at NMAAHC on AIE

These segregated clinic hours are hard to believe in this current time

Maple Leaf Rag on AIE

My parents used to dance to the Maple Leaf Rag

Angola guard station_interactive bar at NMAAHC on AIE

Angola Prison Guard Station and the Interactive “Segregation Bar” where you can follow a movement as if you’re a member

Soul Train on Art Is Everywhere

1968 & Beyond brings up Soul Train, which was big part of my childhood

Assimilating into Middle America on Art Is Everywhere

Assimilating into Middle America

Another Rat Pack Digs on Art Is Everywhere

The other Rat Pack Digs in Chicago

Foxy Brown and Sly and Family Stone on AIE

Foxy Brown movies still play on TV and notice Sly & Family Stone written on his piano keys

Main NMAAHC exhibit end on AIE

Main exhibit ends with highlights from the 2000’s like Hurricane Katrina and the Obama Administration, how could we forget.

We decided to break for lunch. The food at the Sweet Home Cafe was excellent! You could choose which regional fare you wanted to try. Of course I went right for the Creole Southern Duck / Andouille Sausage Gumbo but then changed my mind at the last-minute to get the Shrimp and Grits because the shrimp were gigantic! The meal was delicious and a generous portion! The dining hall was in the shape of the “ark” or museum Congo ship, yet each layer had vines growing in the indented, internal troughs. The back walls were mirrored to make the space look twice as large as what we thought it could hold. We didn’t wait around for that test because the buses of people were now streaming in.

Panoramic Mall view from the top of NMAAHC on AIE

Panoramic Mall view from the top

Looking down on the Gift Shop on AIE

Looking down on the Gift Shop

Reproductions of Mary Jackson's baskets in the gift shop on AIE

Reproductions of Mary Jackson’s baskets in the gift shop

After a much needed energy refresh, we tackled the top four floors. Similarly to the sub-floors, where you start at the bottom and walk up, we started in reverse at the very top and moved downward. We visited all the floors but only experienced three. There were elevators and escalators and restrooms on all of these. The top floor Culture Galleries was my favorite. It showed the importance of the African American culture in food, music, arts, fashion, and sports. I by-passed the last, but fully savored all the others. I was just as impressed with the exhibition layout as I was with the rich content. The first oval room had double display bays with the interior, bench-seating to the double-sided, wall-alcoves with a musical entertainment-video that changed visuals with the continuous music that wrapped around the top of the room. We moved from here to the Visual Art Gallery with primarily contemporary art (not my thing) to the Musical Achievement wing with Chuck Berry’s car greeting us at the entry. I breezed through the Theatre section and will have to go back.

Food & Culture greet you on the top 4th floor of NMAAHC on AIE

Food & Culture greet you on the top 4th floor. Chef Leah Chase is prominently featured with her Dooky Chase restaurant in New Orleans.

Earth Wind & Fire at NMAAHC on AIE

Earth Wind & Fire is one of my favorite bands highlighted in the Musical component

Allen Toussaint is mentioned in the Jazz sectionAllen Toussaint is mentioned in the Jazz section on AIE

Allen Toussaint is mentioned in the Jazz section

Level 3 housed the Community Galleries, where some of the main exhibit details were further explored. For instance, there was an entire room dedicated to Muhammad Ali, another section to Ben Carson, and another to the Military Experience. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see any recognition given to Clarence Thomas but did see Thurgood Marshal and Anita Hill mentioned in regard to the Supreme Court. There were also mini exhibits dedicated to Making a Way Out of No Way with progress in medical, religion and school, etc., highlighted.

We didn’t have enough energy to explore the Explore More Gallery on the 2nd level, which was mainly interactive exhibits. I popped my head in and saw one older white woman, who was the only one dancing to an instructional video by an African American dance troupe. Others were watching and encouraging her as if she was playing “Wei” by herself but doing a pretty good job.

We took an Uber home and had an interesting discussion with our American-Cuban driver, Marisol about the experience. Funny, we missed Oprah by one day, as she was there the next day to screen the Henrietta Lacks movie airing on HBO. I read the book several years ago and am interested to see the movie. It’s definitely a story that needs more exposure.

Earlier in the week, Peter and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by finally visiting the Trump Hotel to see how the Old Post Office was revamped. We had drinks in the main lobby, which is huge but well decorated. The main architecture and iron struts of the original building remained and painted gold. I liked the peacock, teal blue and green velvet seating paired with amber and gold throughout the expansive room. The bar wall was mirrored to the top and filled with clear glass decanters and glasses situated on dark mahogany shelving. Very impressive. Two large TV’s were playing Fox News. We were seated next to what had to be a bevy of beautiful friends of The Real Housewives of DC. No kidding. This was entertaining to say the least.

Trump International Hotel anniversary for drinks on AIE

Trump International Hotel anniversary for drinks. The ladies had left by this point.

Trump Hotel Bar area on Art Is Everywhere

Although the ambience was captivating, the service was off. We had to call someone over after 15 minutes. They gave us water and nuts without napkins and the hostess took our initial order. The place was nearly filled but not that busy. We sampled the signature cocktails, which were unfortunately too expensive at $25 – $29 and actually did not taste very good, which is too bad! We stuck with wine and cheese choices which were good and surprisingly affordable. All in all, it was a different way to celebrate an off-year; even though, there can be some improvements made, especially if you’re expecting the best.

Trump DC Hotel at night on AIE

Trump DC Hotel at night

Meanwhile, the rest of the week was enjoying the gorgeous spring weather. Even the cats seemed to relish this indoors and out.

Cats sleeping on AIE

This picture cracks me up. These cats sleep so differently.

Cats outside on AIE

Ingrid enjoys outside on AIE

Ingrid just turned 1 year old

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Butterflies Everywhere

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I like butterflies. Well, I’m finding butterflies everywhere these days. How appropriately so because of the upcoming transformative celebration of Easter this Sunday.

We host our annual brunch for about 50 folks, so this post will consequently be short. 😉

This is my recent butterfly find from Elle Decor, as they tend to be circling back in style. (Personally, I never thought they flitted out of style.)

Butterflies everywhere in style via Elle Decor on Art Is Everywhere

Butterflies in style via Elle Decor

You can find recent and previous butterfly references here.

Also, here are a few updates and worthy mentions:

 

  1. The Fearless Girl Statue will stay in place for at least a year — until February 2018. Let’s hope everyone gets so used to it that it becomes permanent.

2. If you haven’t read the book Hillbilly Elegy – A Memoir of Family & Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance, it is a worthwhile read with real enjoyment. It’s both eye-opening and exceptionally told (orated by the author) from the insider’s perspective that helps explain a large portion of America’s people and their upbringing while being one of the few to “make it” and find the American Dream. (Even Oprah read this book, or is at least shown in a photo with the book on her table.)

Although the memoir was specific to Vance, it was embraced as a personification of the everyday struggles of America’s white underclass, and it shone a light on issues including race and privilege in America.Deadline Hollywood.

This just learned — the book will become a movie.

Click this link to listen to a sample. It personally moved me with my father’s Kentucky roots and even some real life characters being similar in name. For instance, J. D.’s name and his sister’s are similar names to my brother, John D (named after my father) and my sister Lindsey. Even his first home town in Jackson, KY, is all too uncanny to me. Although he currently lives in San Francisco, is a venture capitalist, works with Steve Case, he has DC Gibson Dunn law connections. There were unexpected guffaw moments of hilarious laughter and equal shocks of sadness but if everyone read this, there could be signs of hope, which is a good thing for this time of year — and a perfect thing on which to end this post.

Happy Easter!

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Post Mardi Gras Mention

Another Mardi Gras has gone by but not without making a post Mardi Gras mention about several events happening recently.

First, with tribute to a Southern cuisine-mix and Mardi Gras, about which I’ve just hosted 2 fun dinners for friends. The first being for my Book Group two Tuesdays ago after my birthday weekend. To “prepare” 😉 Peter and I experienced the new Honeysuckle restaurant by Chef Hamilton Johnson because he features the unusual pairing of Nordic and Southern cuisine, and does it exceptionally well.

Honeysuckle-logo-food_AIE

The restaurant is in the former location of Vidalia a long-time DC classic. It’s chef was Chef Johnson’s mentor, so stands to reason he would follow suit, but in his own way. You still have to go downstairs to get to the restaurant but from the outside, you’re not sure it’s the restaurant or so upscale with graffiti-style murals of skulls and bones by Rick Bach on a bold red backdrop. The simple Honeysuckle name is on the outside black canopy entrance. The name doesn’t seem to jive with the theme. However, if you think about it, honeysuckle is one of the sweetest-smelling and hardiest flowering-vines in the South — one of my favorites. Honeysuckle also grows in Finland and is the main ingredient of one of their famous teas. In this case, the complexity of the sweet and flowery balances the hard-edge juxtaposition with the food and décor, maybe also just like the chef with his many tattoos. Chef Johnson is a master of combining complete opposites with creative, cooking artistry.

Chef Hamilton Johnson profile_AIE

This photo greets you at the bottom of the stairs

Honeysuckle2 interior_AIE

The restaurant interior is a mix of more murals on the ceiling, a vermilion colored back-lit bar with rotating images of Finland on a large TV screen. Dining areas and rooms are separated by themed rock stars with their large-scale portraits commanding a presence as some of Chef Johnson’s favorite performers. We ate in the Freddie Mercury elevated area. It was a gorgeous setting with shimmery white-capiz wallcovering that I recognized from Maya Romanoff. Mercury was wearing a bunch of bananas as a headdress, which seemed to downplay the elegance in a self-deprecating and appreciative way. Freddie Mercury Room Honeysuckle_AIE

I had mentioned to our waiter that it was my birthday and part of the reason for attending was to experience the unusual Nordic / Southern pairing. Being from New Orleans and that I’ll be going on a Scandinavian cruise to visit my Danish heritage, experiencing the combination was something I could appreciate. I’m not sure if this is how we received a complementary order of sweet breads from the chef. It’s not something I would have ordered but was the most delicious thing!

Honeysuckle_sweetbreads_AIE

The winter vegetable salad of pistachio, prune, meyer lemon, buttermilk, tarragon, buckwheat on butter lettuce served on top of the Icelandic dressing was something I semi-replicated for my book group dinner, with the addition of Southern grapefruit, mandarin orange segments, walnuts and cranberried goat cheese crumbles. It was delicious and I’ll do it again and again. (Good tip: put the dressing on the bottom to prepare in advance without wilting the lettuce)

Book Group Dinner version of Scandinavian_Southern style_AIE

My Book Group Dinner version of Scandinavian + Southern style – Mardi Gras colored flowers with Fleur-de-lis Iris & dragonflies connected to Norse goddes Freya

Scandanavian-Southern-salad_AIE

Winter Beet Salad version

Peter had the fois gras to start and the slow roasted Icelandic cod, rutabaga, chicken crackling, smoked roe, malted veloute. The seared sea scallops, pig tail tortellini, squash fondue, coffee-bacon jam, parmesan was initially calling my name but the waiter talked me into their pork special, which I am not sure is currently the same on their menu as the dulse rubbed pork tenderloin, cipollini, melted parsnip, roasted apple, kale, as mine had Icelandic dried seaweed. I won out with mine, which was rich and abundant. We finished by sharing the butterscotch panna cotta, oats, skyr creme fraiche, rum raisin, toffee meringue dessert, which was soft, light and divine! This is one restaurant where we will be returning, especially as the menu changes and our waiter informed us intends on being even more daring with the Nordic-Southern pairings.

Honeysuckle_cod2_AIE

Icelandic Cod

Honeysuckle Pannacotta_AIE

Luscious panna cotta for dessert

Then second Mardi Gras mention was a combination of this Southern theme with Nordic style to pay tribute to the book we read, God’s Daughter, Vikings of the New World Saga Book 1 by Heather Day Gilbert. Since I didn’t take pictures during my book group dinner, I replicated afterwards (see some above as well as below). I will be making some of the same dishes on Mardi Gras evening to celebrate our good friend, Steve’s birthday. Most years his birthday falls on Ash Wednesday or during Lent and he can never fully celebrate while giving up all drinking and sweets during this time. We thought the timing worth acknowledging with a dinner for the many times we’ve been treated.

Scandinavian Style_Creole Seafood Gumbo_AIE

Scandinavian Style + Creole Seafood Gumbo

2 Types of King Cake - traditional & Danish_AIE

2 Types of King Cake – traditional & Danish

Instead of the Nordic theme, this second dinner was full on New Orleans. However, unlike the typical seafood gumbo, like I did for the ladies, or with chicken and andouille sausage, this gumbo was made with scallops (Steve’s favorite and happens to be mine as well) from Peter’s New York Times recipes. Scallops are more New England than they are southern but this was a nice twist on a classic New Orleans recipe. Mark Bittman does a great job of simply making this recipe work. I also replicated the Southern beet salad.

Scallop Gumbo_Art Is Everywhere

Scallop Gumbo. This was delicious and maybe even better than the previous.

We had our 4th King Cake of the season from Best Buns. It is scrumptious with an almond base, traditional frosting and colored sprinkles and unlike others, not dry at all. Getting one from Calludah’s, which is where I would have ordered would have cost over 4 times as much, so not worth it when this is local and extremely good.

I was going to make a six layer doberge cake but realizing the work, we had scouted a local one at Del Frisco’s for my birthday and it was well worth the venture. However, we found a small chocolate one for Steve instead. Although 3 layers, it is just the right size from Wegman’s, which is where we’ve started doing most of our shopping with savings.

Del Friscos Lemon Doberge_AIE

Del Friscos Lemon Doberge Cake

personal chocolate cake_AIE

Personal Chocolate Cake

Birthday wishes_AIE

Making Birthday Wishes

Now that we’re starting the Lenten season, it’s nice to reflect back on the Mardi Gras abundance this year with many reasons to celebrate — with our own creative takes on ways to enjoy.

Picture perfect birthday day_AIE

Picture perfect birthday day

I’ll end with a pretty perfect pairing of Mardi Gras transitioning to the reflective time of Lent, sacrifice and service for others. Cleland Powell III, who is the vice president of Iberia Bank in New Orleans, was chosen as the artist for the annual 2017 Rex Proclamation (King of Carnival poster, which calls for all to participate in Mardi Gras). He is a self-taught painter and was selected for his talent. Normally, the artist would be paid 10 percent of poster sales for such an honor. According to The New Orleans Advocate, Powell is donating his profits to the Pro Bono Publico Foundation, the Rex foundation that benefits the city, especially its public schools. The article also mentions, his work is in good company. Previous proclamation artists include Dawn DeDeaux, Mignon Faget, Randolph Tucker Fitz-Hugh, Tony Green, George Schmidt, Jean Seidenberg and Tim Trapolin.

Rex Proclamation via The New Orleans Advocate_AIE

Rex Proclamation via The New Orleans Advocate

I still wear my Mignon Faget giraffe necklace from when I was in high school and Tony Green happened to have his studio across from my parents’ condo before they sold it to new owners who then sold it to “Brangelina.”

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The Curious Incident of the Dog is Delightful

We saw the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time two weeks ago. I just haven’t had time to write about it.

It was more than delightful; It was one of the best plays that I’ve seen!

It was a family affair with our older son and his wife joining us at the Kennedy Center matinée. We had front row seats in the third tier with these gorgeous starburst cluster-chandeliers above us.

kennedy-center-ceiling lights_aie

I had read the book by Mark Haddon and loved it. They were unfamiliar with the story line and it was interesting to see their heartfelt reaction for the first time. Libby teaches public high school students, so I thought she might appreciate the challenges for this teenager in the play.

 It was one of the most active and physical plays I’ve seen going from a somber moment to a super-energized cacophony. The book fully captivated me and the play even more so because it added the visual and auditory layer that the book couldn’t fully generate, except in your imagination.

Both the book and the play put you in Christopher Boone, the 15 year old protagonist’s head, as if you were the one who was experiencing what it is like to have Aspergers first hand. It is a dichotomy in that he is brilliant but unable to manage social situations easily. Everyday hectic living can present crippling sensory overload for him.

Christopher sets out to solve the mystery of the death of his neighbor’s dog, who he discovers is killed on the front lawn with a pitchfork. The adventure leads to revelations that even “normal” teens, much less adults, would be shocked to their core to learn. Because Christopher has Aspergers, a milder functioning form of autism, he takes everything at face value and in some ways is able to deal with the truth better than most.

curious-dog-play_aie

Just like when I read the book, I found myself getting uncontrolably emotional because you can’t help but be moved by Christopher’s accomplishments.

The entire set was a digital sight and sound box that was brilliantly used and constantly changing. I can’t really describe it more than let this video speak for itself — and even it doesn’t do the play justice. If you have the chance while it is on tour, it’s just something to see!

There’s a reason it has won 5 Tony awards!

Afterwards, we have a wonderful dinner at Centrolina in the new City Center area in DC. Piers company, Clark Construction, had built the project.

centrolina restaurant_aie

We sat at the table closest to the center dark wall

Centrolina drinks_AIE

Their special cocktails: a Negroni in back (without Campari) + Rimini in front with 2 different amaros, cachaca and pineapple. Both are excellent!

Views of CityCenter below.  city-center-gateway_aie

palmer-alley-city-center-dc_aie

plaza-city-center-dc-aie

Side note: Although there is so much, actually endless topics to write about, this blog may be posted 2 times a week after this post, due to the time involved to write, which I don’t have as much as I used to with other things taking some priority. Plus, I welcome reducing some of the load.

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More than Just Work at Métier

Métier is simply described on the restaurant website as a French word that means a field of work, an occupation that is someone’s area of expertise and for which he or she has received specialized training. Métier, the restaurant, is much more than just work. Although the chef’s expertise and the staff’s work goes into every aspect of the dining experience, they serve you a long-lasting memory of food-rapture and delight.

Before traveling for a needed getaway to Rhode Island, Peter and I were invited by our good friends to sample an evening reconnecting while experiencing one of the most delectable meals at Métier, Chef Eric Ziebold’s newest restaurant. I was fortunate that my ability to taste had just returned; even though, I still had the unfortunate and uncontrollable symptoms of coughing that I hope did not disturb the other guests.

The evening started with us “metro-ing” to the 7th Street, NW location near Mt. Vernon Square, in between Downtown and Noma (N. of Massachusetts Ave.). The area is undergoing a resurgence so not necessarily the safest place to be at night.

We were standing outside of the restaurant but it wasn’t apparent to us that it was Métier. The exterior was dark and easy to overlook. One had to walk into an alcove to open the door and at first we only saw Kinship written on the left side. Then we saw Métier written on the right.

kinship_metier-restaurant-exterior_AIE

Kinship, as it turns out is the “less fancy” version of Métier. There’s not a waiting list of months to get a reservation.

After passing through the unassuming doors of the black entryway near the still iffy-area of the Convention Center, we walked through Kinship, Ziebold’s a la carte version of Métier. It’s on the street level. We were directed to a “secret” elevator that brought us to the basement floor where Métier is located and where our friends were waiting. We had hand-crafted drinks, like The American Quarter, which seems to be a version of our favorite Vieux Carré. It has the perfect mix of Ambler Bourbon, Nardini Amaro Bassano, Gran Classico, Cointreau and Orange Bitters. The taste of their appetizer with the lemon verbena granita in a fresh herb consumé served in Japanese tea cups was the most interesting flavors to simulate the Chef’s version of summer. It was perfect on a hot day and that happened to be the last official day of summer. This was all served in the front salon, an intimate French Chateau looking room that could have been someone’s home.

salon_metier_Art Is Everywhere

We had our drinks and appetizers right here.

The dinner with wine pairings was exceptional. I just wish I could remember exactly what it was because they’ve changed their summer menu to fall and it’s no longer available on the website. [Be sure to read the Menu Stories about the chef’s inspirations.]

dining room_metier on Art Is Everywhere

We ate at the table in the front lower right corner

Our server asked us if we wanted to be surprised with the chef’s pics? We all agreed, however, I commented, “as long as it didn’t have sea urchin because the last time I had it at Restaurant Eve it was over the top and unpleasant.” The server said there was one dish that did have sea urchin but it was not the main ingredient and I said let’s go for it. Well, it was my favorite dish!

Fletan at Metier_Art Is Everywhere

I think this is the sea urchin! It’s mixed in the risotto and foam.

We have a history with Eric Ziebold’s interpretation of food. CityZen, which was in the Mandarin Hotel, is where we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. It has since closed, but I remember the experience. We had our private dining alcove, the food was superb as was the service and I couldn’t believe Radiohead was playing in the background, which just added to it being one of the best meals, with the only exception being the sea urchin, which coincidentally, I had forgotten that we also had that evening. What is it with chef’s and sea urchin? This time it was perfected. Funny, when the chef came to visit our table, I’m glad I didn’t have this particular recall detail, only that we had a wonderful meal at CityZen and proceeded to thank him for such a wonderful meal at Métier.

I had heard about Ziebold’s new restaurants but it’s rare when Peter and I get such incredible opportunities to experience. Our friend, Adele, had been calling for months. We are lucky for having been the ones chosen to attend. After I broke out the old-fashioned stationary to write our friends a thank you note, which was certainly the very least we could do to express our gratitude, I read this article, The $1,000 Date Night: Had D.C.’s Tasting-Menu Culture Hit a Tipping Point?, about the value meeting the cost of the expensive fine-dining experience. Other restaurants in DC are also testing this market. Ziebold is smart in having two restaurants that offer similar fare but different experiences. You really do get what you pay for.

We were even given the staff’s hand-written thank you note and a bottle each of their home-made vinaigrette with herbs from local farms. We’re going to have to have some friends over to use and celebrate ourselves.

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Métier Vinaigrette and our roof-top basil bounty. This only a small sampling. We have to make pesto this weekend!

I tried my hand recently at a home-made roasted beet salad. Not bad but I couldn’t compare with the above. Coincidentally, I learned two unexpected things in the process: 1) I didn’t know you could roast beets. I’m so used to steaming them. Roasting only took 15 minutes at 420 degrees and I tossed with mustard ginger and oil, so you can add other flavors. 2) If you freeze the beets, they don’t dye your hands red when handling. I learned this quite by accident. Our fridge temperature needs to be adjusted now that it’s no longer hot outside and consequently, many items inside froze a bit; the beets being some.

Next on the list is making pesto cubes with all the tons of basil from our roof-top garden.

roasted-beet-salad on Art Is Everywhere

Roasted Ginger-Mustard Beet Salad with Cheese and home-made spicy dill dressing dribbled with honey. This recipe was from the newspaper Food Section, so I can’t take credit for the concoction only the substitutes, of which there were many.)

 

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What the Doctor Ordered

A RHode Island Getaway

Now that I’m better and coming off my sick-leave, I had an opportunity to travel for an impromptu getaway to Rhode Island to visit family. It seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. It also seems like I’m not ready to give up the beach combing yet — just because it’s no longer summer.

It was right after the big marketing push for announcing new designs so I knew there would still be some work to do but I relished the opportunity to relax. We had Hurricane Matthew that is brewing in the tropics on our tail. We survived a harrowing drive all night in the rain where people were using their hazards because it was so difficult to see and trucks were spaying us with tire-mist and constantly coming in our lane.

Fortunately, my husband did all the driving and made reservations at a boutique hotel in Connecticut, just outside of New York City, right off the Merritt Parkway. This meant we only had 3 more hours to drive to RI and hopefully the morning would be better.

Don’t let the name or stark location fool you but the Hi-Ho is a pretty cool place, boutique indeed with its 70’s retro styling and Andy Warhol prints and Palomino pillows in the bedrooms. Old-fashioned phones and red high-top tables set the contemporary breakfast room decor. We had one of the best continental breakfasts with one of the staff making sure everything was fresh and filled and greeting all the guests warmly.

Hi-Ho Hotel on Art Is Everywhere Hi-Ho Hotel bedroom on Art Is Everywhere

hi-ho-bathroom-feature-wall_on Art Is Everywhere

Like this one wallpapered feature wall.

There was an interesting Barcelona wine bar/ restaurant to try that was attached to the hotel but we weren’t staying for dinner. We’ll have to go back! As it turns out, I believe this  is a chain restaurant and each location may make their own unique adaptations. At least when we want our Spanish-fare fix, we can go a little closer to us in Reston, VA, but may not be as good. The one at the Hi-Ho has cabanas and their own vegetable garden and their award-winning food looks exceptional. Another reason to go back. In fact, this may be our regular pit-stop on our way to RI. I’m glad we discovered it!

hi-ho-barcelona restaurant on Art Is Everywhere

Beach + Food + Family

We weren’t expecting the weather in RI to be in the 50’s! We mostly brought short-sleeved tops but layering with sweaters and jackets kept us warm while we attempted to catch fish in the surf. Although our luck wasn’t good, the striped bass were biting as others were more lucky catching them on the beach (and throwing them back).

We tried some new places for food, like 210 Oyster Bar & Grill as well as some old favorites, like Haversham Restaurant & Tavern right off Post Road (road to the beaches).

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210-oyster-bar-inside on AIE

Where we ate inside overlooking Salt Pond

210-oyster-bar-aerial on Art Is Everywhere

210-oyster-bar-outside-front on Art Is Everywhere

Front “tiki” bar to try in the summer

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Clam Cakes!

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“The Sham” as locals affectionately call it

haversham-restaurant-interior_aie haversham-about_aie

We were happy to have clam cakes in the off-season and see Green Hill in a peaceful state as all the transplanted vacationers had mostly packed up for the summer and had gone back to their other New England homes. The residents, however, and those who have long-time connections to the area were enjoying the calm. Everyone was friendly and was waving hello as almost a code that suggested we all have something in common for being here.

Here are some of the photos from our trip. Our (left) side of the beach had all the sand this time but this will change as the currents shifts from year to year.

Our sandy left side of Green Hill beach_AIE

Our sandy left side of the beach

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The other — rocky and seaweed right side. Our beach usually looks like this.

Notice this change as you turn the corner on AIE

You notice this change as you turn the corner. (Photo Credit – The Rev. Peter Spencer)

Algae covered rocks on AIE

Algae covered rocks (at low tide) harbor lots of wildlife

mussels-and-snails on Art Is Everywhere

Mussels and Snails

One of our favorite days was the very last, when we spent time walking in the Trustom Pond Wildlife Refuge. It’s right next door to these beach properties, which is wonderful that is protected from being developed and serves as a safe haven for many wildlife. In the summer, a big part of the beach is closed off in an attempt to protect the nesting grounds of the piping plover.

Trustom Pond on Art Is Everywhere

Right as we started walking on the first path by the field that leads you to the pond, we saw a bobcat — first time! Initially we thought it was a dog. It was sitting on the path looking at something (probably for dinner) in the clearing. Another couple coming our way walked around the corner and scared it but didn’t even realize it was a bobcat. They thought the strap on our binoculars was a leash and therein the bobcat was a dog. It simply turned around and walked into the woods. It was not very afraid but we picked up a large stick as we continued on our way.

One of our favorite spots walking back is the lily pad pod. This is where Peter caught a bullfrog and pretended to kiss it when our boys were younger. They were grossed out!

lily-pad-pond on Art Is Everywhere

Frogs are everywhere on AIE

Frogs are everywhere you look

Frogs are everywhere 2 on Art Is Everwhere

This time, we saw a beaver!

See the beaver in trustom pond on AIE

See the beaver?!

The pictures reflect for me the magic a much-needed break can bring. Getting back to Nature, sharing meals and the importance of spending quality time with family all leave lasting, life-sustaining memories.

Beautiful Skylit Boulders on Art Is Everwhere

Beautiful Skylit Boulders

Pear cherry tomatoes from our roof top garden to share on AIE

We shared our pear-shaped cherry tomatoes from our roof top garden.

Bird imprints left lasting impressions on window on AIE

Bird imprints left lasting impressions on the beach house window

Pics Appear as Paintings

After Vacation

If you’re like me, returning from vacation and going “back-to-school” this week is HARD! ;(

I so want the beach-living-life and living-in-the-moment with little to do to continue. If only I didn’t have to work….

Although our vacation was cut short by tropical storm Hermine, we had the most glorious weather for a 2 week getaway. I can’t complain that we were evacuated and caught one of the last ferries to Hatteras during the only day of rain.

Beach Sunset Ocracoke_AIE

Pics Appear as Paintings

Upon returning, I have tons of photos to organize and delete from my phone due to lack of storage. Yes, I cursed Apple and thought of that new Google phone advertisement that uses other phones’ “storage full” alerts just as you’re trying to get that single moment captured. It’s happened to me more than once! Just like the yeti crossing the forest, I almost didn’t get this picture of the Pamlico Sound on the most calm and perfect-beach-day, right before the storm and look what showed up!

Dolphin in Pamlico Sound_AIE

A shark in the water!

Actually, it’s a bottle-nosed dolphin, and not a shark but sure spooked me at first, especially after thinking about the many shark bites that have occurred in the Outerbanks in waist deep water, as I’m fishing in waist deep water. I’m used to seeing dolphin in the ocean, beyond the surf but still in moving water with waves. This is why I was surprised to see this one swimming with its mate in great arks while blowing water out their spouts, as they serenely swam from the sound at North Point, where the calm waters meet the rough Atlantic waves. I tried to capture this but alas, I really needed something better than an iPhone. If you look beyond the waves, you can see how calm the water was in the sound.

North Point Ocracoke_AIE

What I really wished I had was one of these fairly new photo apps that adds filters to your photos to make your pics appear as paintings. NPR questions whether it is “art”? Photography is an art form and choosing how to display one’s photograph adds to that description. They are not real paintings however and should not be misrepresented as such.

I personally don’t think anyone is doing that but instead sharing on various social media networks, for which they are meant.

Prisma translates your photos into various styles and those used by famous artists and Artisto works similarly for videos.

I loved these two examples, one of Venice, my favorite Italian city, and the NPR building, in DC, using Prisma’s appropriately named “wave” app for this post.

Venice Prisma App_pic as painting_AIE

NPR building with Prisma Wave app pic as painting_AIE

I have a lot more photos to share but want to try these apps first.

Kayaks Ocracoke_AIE

We kayaked to Teach’s Cove where Blackbeard hid but was caught and supposedly beheaded at this Springer’s Point Beach. The pathway through the woods is beautiful and creepy — what I call American Gothic and very True Detective-like.

Kayaks with Running the Storm Prisma app filter_AIE

Kayaks with the “Running the Storm” filter using the Prisma app

In the meantime, I’ve spread out all my collected shell treasures so I can make a wreath or something to visually enjoy rather than just adding them to storage.

Beautiful White Shells_AIE

Beautiful White Shells via Dinner en Blanc

Finally, I’ll end this post by relaying a funny story about one of our last nights in Ocracoke when we closed down Zillies while waiting in between bands of rain from the first tropical depression that threatened to evacuate us but fortunately, petered out. It was a good excuse, however, for more rounds. We met two NOAH researchers, who were there working on excavating the many shipwrecks off the coast. They recently discovered a German U-boat that they had been searching for for 8 years! I asked them when is the PBS documentary going to be aired? They weren’t too sure on that but did mention a story that was due to publish in the Washington Post the Sunday after we returned. Then they asked us, “What does one do for 2 weeks on Ocracoke?” That was an easy answer, “live in the moment” and enjoy the many different surprises this island always delights us with. This year it was Dajio’s for breakfast, shrimp fest and pizza and ghosts! (another story), as well as listening to new live music, like Barefoot Wade. He can do a mean island-man Led Zepplin and Red Hot Chili Peppers acoustic all with guitar and steel drums! Who knew? Here’s his Lets Slowdown as reminder to the hectic fall ahead. (Ocracoke is so hippy, but I love it!) 😉

When we returned, and finally went through the huge mounds of mail back home, we were lucky that I decided to restart the paper early. The article published on Thursday, the official non-resident evacuation day — the day described at the start of this post. We left the next morning since we weren’t being run out and enjoyed one last night in what I think was a haunted house, complete with a friendly-spirit, river-mink that visited us and had a beautiful sunset off the deck. Although, not the same as the Blue House, which we had to move from the second week, it was lovely in an odd, mid-century, kind of way.

Sunset at Faraway Oaks in Ocracoke, NC_AIE

Sunset at Faraway Oaks in Ocracoke, NC

Reflecting on my reply to the NOAH guys, one of whom I had seen several times over the years (Ocracoke is a small enough place for this to occur and start to get to know locals), it would be nearly impossible for me to live there and have to do work. There are just too many temptations to enjoy. I realize I gave them an answer that really doesn’t apply to their situation. Oh well, I hope I see them next year, as they mentioned they were parked by the island cemetery and I relayed the story about how our friend’s bike lights just randomly went out while riding by there and then he heard really strange sounds that weren’t just the wandering wild chickens. His cute but chatterbox 6-year-old son suddenly got verrrrry quiet, bringing his father a bit of eerie relief. The NOAH guys laughed and hesitantly said “no,” they didn’t need a “walk home” (– to their car) when I offered jokingly. Fortunately, we were biking home but in the rain and laughing all the way. This is when I wish someone had gotten a picture. Fun times I won’t forget.

The wooded path at Springer's Point Ocracoke_AIE

The wooded path at Springer’s Point, where ghosts have been seen.

Springer's Point path into the Ocracoke woods_ AIE

Springer’s Point path into the Ocracoke woods

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Graves in the wooded cemetery & single flower carefully placed

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Getting Your Southern Fare Fix

Before vacationing in Ocracoke, North Carolina, we tried out the new Hen Quarter restaurant, in Alexandria. It took over the old Austin Grill but is managed by the same owners with this new Southern cuisine concept. It’s a way to get your Southern fare fix, complete with porkbelly pops, down-home collard greens, fried chicken and some of the best fritter waffles you’ll ever taste and a very smooth-balanced mint julep. Now that’s something coming from a native New Orleanian and still one at heart!

Love their décor and their Southern phrases and charm:

“You’re like the butter to our biscuits…

…and whiskey that warms the heart”

and wouldn’t be the South without the, “Bless your heart” sign hanging.

fried chicken and biscuits_hen quarter_AIE

Classic Southern Biscuits and Fried Chicken

Belly pops prep_Hen Quarter_AIE

How they make their Belly Pops

Belly Pops as appetizers_hen quarter_AIE

Pop ’em in – porkbelly pops melt in your mouth

Here’s the play-by-play video with some good Southern, bluesy music too!

Egg Basket lighting_hen quarter_AIE

Egg Basket lighting that I’ll have to make someday. Love this idea!

Hen Quarter upstairs decor_AIE

Hen Quarter upstairs décor with wood plank walls that kinda remind me of….

Hole in the wall entrance at Captain Gregorys on AIE

You guessed it. It’s a hole in the wall entrance. The flag is the “doorbell”

Now we’re back to thinking of  mint juleps and….

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Bourbon flight but where’s the Pappy?

“Free Range Cocktails” (Hen Quarter’s slogan)

…but looking forward now to some much-needed relaxing days while waiting for the green flash at sunset. We haven’t seen it yet but keep hoping!

Pre sunset porch time_AIE

Pre sunset porch time

Sailboat view from dock on AIE

Sailboat view from dock

End of day starting on AIE

Sun Rays – End of day starting

Picture perfect sunset and kayaker in silhouette on AIE

Picture perfect sunset and kayaker in silhouette in Pamlico Sound

Ahhh, summer and cicadas, don’t want it to end…

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A 28th Way to Celebrate

Most people will say as they get older, or as their children get older, or as their wedding anniversaries fly by, “where did the time go?!” Well it’s true. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed. My husband and I celebrated our wedding 28th anniversary recently and have discovered what has become a somewhat traditional way for us to celebrate.

We had dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants. We’re lucky we can just walk down the street to Vermilion. This is particularly beneficial after a full Tasting Menu with wine pairings for each course. The dinner was delicious, as it never disappoints! I wish I had taken more pictures, especially of the black gnocchi which was divine, but after cocktails, champagne and the first wine, I wasn’t thinking any longer of taking pictures — just immersed in the moment of pure dining pleasure — as it should be.

Vermilion Artistic plating with a swish!_AIE

Artistic plating with a swish! These are our appetizers.

In fact, we love going to most all of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s eateries but we feel blessed to have Vermilion down the street, where we have been dining since its inception.

The service was exceptional, especially since I mentioned it being our wedding anniversary. Word spread from the bartender, where we had Vieux Carré cocktails in the lounge to start, to our waiter, who greeted us with a glass of sparkling champagne. It was an exceptional evening! And even though I may not remember the meal exactly as time meanders on, I have our menu to remind us of what a good meal it was.

Vermilion Wine Tasting_28th_ArtIsEverywhereSince this was our second wedding anniversary to celebrate this year, we also went to a relatively new restaurant, called Lapis. It’s located where the old Napoleon restaurant was in Adams Morgan. Peter and I had a fabulous tasting meal there too. We contemplated going to dance it off at the Black Cat because it was 80’s music but after walking the 18 blocks there, we felt like we got our exercise and would save our dancing for next month.

Roasted eggplant appetizer at Lapis_Art Is Everywhere

Roasted eggplant appetizer at Lapis

I think my last month of celebrations just extended to 2 months now — and with more on the way in May!

 

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