Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About arleneivana

  • Rank
  • Birthday June 23

Contact Methods

  • Website URL

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Logan Circle

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. At the risk of sounding overly fawning I just have to rave about our tour guide last week. We just returned from a trip to Italy, the highlights being our five days in the Emilia-Romagna region. For 3 days of that period we enlisted the services of Helena of Yummy Italy http://www.yummy-italy.com/ to take us on tours of producers, lunches, and a walking tour of Bologna. Helena prefers to have a conversation with her about what you're interested in and she makes a suggested itinerary based on your interests plus logistical matters (what's open, etc.). Tours are just with Helena and it's such a wonderful, intimate experience compared to larger tour groups we've done in the past. We had two wonderful sessions on the local wine, first learning about lambrusco, a style I vastly underappreciated until now, and another where she introduced us to pignoletto, our new favorite grape. Other days she took us to a acetaia for balsamic vinegar de Modena and a local dairy for parmigiano reggiano production. In all locations Helena provided wonderful context to the food, culture, and the history, plus went into detail about stringent requirements for each item to be produced under IGP/DOP certifications (including how to spot "fakes," such as it is.) With the exception of the acetaia, the two of us and Helena were the only others there besides the producers. Helena also took us on a rollicking tour of Bologna, buying us food at different stops for other products special to the region that we hadn't gotten to try yet. She also gave us a crash course in how to taste various products like the vinegar and wine (cramming things in your maw is not the ideal way to really appreciate foodstuffs, apparently). Helena is incredibly knowledgeable, cultivates a respectful relationship with her producers, is a true champion of Emilia-Romagna, and was generally just such a delight to spend time with. I wish there was a Helena for every vacation we took. I fully intend to join her in the future for a truffle hunt. (I wrote this originally for this wonderful site but intend to post it to her Tripadvisor page as well, in case you wander over there and think I'm some bot trying to up her rankings)
  2. The topic seems to have died and I hate to beat a dead horse but three observations: I've never waited hours for a table when I didn't plan for it ahead of time and have a nearby bar strategy in place. At that point it hardly feels like waiting, more like just the first step of a night out. I don't know anyone who spends that time just standing around outside. I agree that sounds like a colossal waste of time. I've had more trouble getting into high-demand restaurants that are reservation-only than I have restaurants that didn't take reservations. When I do get a reservation at these places often the times are no more convenient than if I'd just been allowed to show up and put my name in (i.e. 5pm or 9pm). Often It leads me to wonder who is getting the prime times...and what connections they have that I don't. The inconvenient reservation times becomes less of an issue at places that are no longer "hot" but then the same holds true for walk-in-only restaurants that have lost some of their shimmer. If you insist on hitting up something that is incredibly popular you will probably be inconvenienced in some way or other. That seems to make sense with most things, newly-released movies and winning baseball teams being two examples I can think of where high demand leads to annoying experiences in some form or another (not that DC knows anything about the latter.)
  3. Ages ago I posted a plea for recommendations for an intimate and special wedding reception dinner, then promptly got a job that has kept me off these boards far, far too long and I was never able to follow up. Two months ago my beau and our families enjoyed a magical dinner in Cityzen's wine library. I'd love to expound on the specifics of the dishes, but when you've just married your beau and you're plied with wonderful wine and plate after plate of sensuous food while watching an alert staff treat your vastly-deserving parents like royalty, what more is there to say besides: perfect. It was a perfect night. Thank you Cityzen. Maybe now that work is becoming more manageable I can finally return my attention to this great forum and actually post something about our honeymoon in Singapore and the Maldives?
  4. I hesitate to post anything like this because I'm quite convinced my mother tracks all my social networking activities for any hint on this matter but here goes: we're getting married. Yay! It will be very small (8 total including us) and our biggest concern is high quality food in an intimate setting. We thought about having it at an inn like Ashby Inn or Inn at Little Washington because we like the idea of everyone staying the night so we can all relax after over some drinks. Are there any other inns in about a 2ish hour drive that pay attention to the quality of their food? Another thought was the Mandarin Oriental or Park Hyatt in DC to take advantage of hotel rooms and wonderful dining experiences all under the same roof. I've also considered private rooms at Corduroy and Fiola but wouldn't know what to do after dinner if we did that...drinks at Poste and stay at Hotel Monaco? Thanks for any help, tips. suggestions, concerns, comments, prayers you have because I feel rather lost when considering all of these options. We're also hosting our friends at an open bar sometime after and if anyone has had a good experience renting a private room for 50-100 people in a DC bar I'd love to hear about it. Our only preferences are that my beau cares VERY DEEPLY about high quality beer and I care that they have something else besides beer (a good cocktail makes my heart flutter almost as much as my beau does.) Thanks everyone!
  5. I love any opportunity to suggest a great person and great business to the general public. We adopted our elderly chihuahua from A Forever Home, a rescue organization based in Chantilly, VA (which deserves its own thread), and being first-time dog owners we knew we needed some general obedience training in order to understand how our new pup worked. Toni Woods-Wilson offers both puppy and adult obedience classes in a group setting, as well as private training for those who need it. The classes were fantastic, Toni is patient and understands dog language and motivation to a degree that I found magical. In seconds she would have stubborn dogs obeying her every word. She's easy to approach for tough questions, plus she's just a lot of fun to spend an hour with each week. Within weeks our dog could sit, stay, walk on a lead and do a few other tricks. Plus at the end of the class you get a hilarious picture of your dog wearing a graduation cap (worth the money alone). She teaches classes at the Wagtime doggy daycare in Shaw as well as the Anytime K-9 space in SE. I cannot recommend her services enough. Arlene Fletcher
  6. I haven't been since I made my 2011 recommendations but you're following almost the same path that we took; we flew from Barcelona to Bilbao and then drove to San Sebastian. I won't give any specific food recs since my info is dated but I highly recommend the side trips from San Sebastian to Bilbao (about an hour away?) and to Hondarribia (40 minutes ish?) which was written up in the NY Times a few years ago. We had excellent pintxos in both places and they're wonderfully charming little towns. Like ktmoomau we also did the hop on hop off when we landed in Barcelona because who can think on practically no sleep? Sometimes I don't think those buses are worth it but i liked it for Barcelona since it can get you to most of the major tourist spots on a 2 day pass. It was also totally worth it to get La Sagrada Familia super early to be first in line since we're talking saving time on both a short ticket line and a short elevator line. We saw the lines on the hop on bus and realized that there was no way we were doing that. Plus the place wasn't packed with tourists and you could really stop and enjoy it. We were so worn out by the time we made it to Madrid I can't even remember what we did but I do know we took advantage of the free hours at the Prado and that I ended up loving the Reina Sofia more than I thought I would.
  7. We went last Saturday around 6:30pm and got the last three seats at the bar. The food menu is short and spanish - think olives, anchovies, tomato bread and hams - and everything we had was high quality and excellent. I don't recall seeing any "hot" dishes or pintxos, based on the press the owners have been doing I assume we shouldn't expect anything like that. There was a $10 sherry flight featuring three sherries or you could order all the sherries by glass ($6-25/glass) or bottle ($30+). The menu was organized by style and explained each style succinctly. Each sherry came with a small food pairing, for example, the fino with olives, the oloroso with walnuts, the pedro ximenez with a square of dark chocolate, etc. There were also a couple draft beers, a green apple gin & tonic on tap, maybe four or five sherry cocktails, and some wines. Derek and Chantal and two others were serving and we were lucky to have Chantal explain to us what we were drinking and the differences in process for each style. That being said I could barely hear her, partly because she talks so quietly and partly because it could get fairly loud inside. The space is really really lovely, with the feature being the long bar supplemented by a couple tables in the front and a back room that I didn't see but seemed to fit the many people who wandered in after us. Would be a lovely place for a pre- or post-dinner drink, or a light meal if you were so inclined. I can't wait to go back and wish it were open during the day so I could have a sherry with my afternoon reading. Edited to add: It's a few steps north of the 7th street entrance of the Shaw metro station, for those using that option.
  8. Anyone know of a local source for Pagoda brand Shaoxing rice wine? Attempting Fuschia Dunlop's xiao long bao over the next couple of days.
  9. I just saw them at Seasonal Pantry on Wednesday and only noticed because it was something I'd never seen before. Unfortunately the hours for the market are erratic these days.
  10. I'm speaking out of turn since I haven't been here and don't know what preciesly what they're referring to but there are sakes sold as singles in reusable jars with cute designs, sorta like those jam jars that were popular when I was younger. Maybe they're these http://www.sakediscoveries.com/blog/cup-sake-research-with-sake-samurai-at-ippudo/ ?
  11. My question is: what's wrong with being social media? You say it like it's a bad thing. Social media is defined by content produced by individuals on an easy(ish) to use platform that was designed to facilitate social interaction. Isn't that what we're doing here? Isn't that why this is in a forum format, in order to facilitate discussion among many users? As far as the the fact that this website does not "come into [my] living room" you're describing what some people would consider a feature, not a bug. For example, RSS has improved my life greatly because it means that content is sent to me instead of me having to go out and harvest it from individual websites. Maybe you don't see value in this, which is a fair opinion, but it's still a personal preference.
  12. Sundevich in Shaw tweeted they would be open at noon as usual today.
  13. Louisville, Frankfurt, Lawrenceburg, Bardstown Just did a solid portion of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, hitting up Four Roses, Heaven Hill, and Maker's Mark as well as Buffalo Trace which is technically not a part of the "official" trail. Our first stop was Buffalo Trace outside of Frankfurt, where most of my favorite bourbons are produced; it's worth calling ahead to book the Hard Hat tour which is 1-1.5 hours and takes you really in depth to all the buildings plus our tour guide was a third-generation employee who was really enthusiastic and knowledgeable. All tours are free and included tastings, we were poured some white dog, Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare as well as some creme liquor abomination that most everyone else seemed to enjoy. The woman there said that Pappy Van Winkle and the Antique Collection are usually released around mid-October for those who like their bourbons to cost a lot of money. Four Roses in Lawrenceburg was a bit of a sh*tshow, so much so that my companions took doubles on the tastings because no one was keeping track. To be fair they are in the process of building a new, larger visitor's center which will hopefully make it much more enjoyable. The tour was just okay, especially following the excellent example of Buffalo Trace, but it didn't help that their barrel storage facilities and distilling operations are 45 minutes apart so you could really only see one or the other depending on which location you went to. We were given tastings of the yellow label, small batch and single barrel; tasting and tour were gratis. By the time we made it to Heaven Hill in Bardstown we were toured out. Plus Heaven Hill tours cost money and the cheapest, fastest one was basically someone walking you through the visitor's center, an option that local friends said was especially lame. The gift shop had the best bourbon selection of others we visited but otherwise I can't say much more about this place. They won't even let you in the gift shop without checking in with some women at the front desk, even if you aren't taking a tour. Oh and you can't do any tastings without doing a tour, even though we offered to pay for the tasting. Bah humbug. If you've read Charles Cowdery's excellent, if a bit outdated, treatise on bourbon (and I recommend you do if you plan on doing the trail) you're familiar with Maker's Mark mythology-wrapped marketing scheme, an approach that carries over into their very slick tour. I wasn't expecting much but it was quite well done, even the tastings of Maker's and Maker's 46 were well-organized and beautifully presented. The best part was they were the only distillery producing while we were in town so everything was going full throttle. We even go to taste some of the distiller's beer that was percolating in the open-air fermenting tubs. Unfortunately it was Sunday and they weren't dipping the bottles in wax but if you're willing to pay a hefty premium on bourbon from the gift shop you can totally do it yourself. We declined. For those considering a visit soon, note that the Willet distillery is on the verge of opening to the public - a woman at Heaven Hill, which is just a half mile away from the Willet operation, advised that the official road sign for the distillery just went up this week. It looks like it'll be a fun addition. Having said all that, I'm now of the opinion that there's no reason to visit all these distilleries unless you're interested in the mechanics of distillation. All of them were pretty much just marketing operations and, unlike, say, going directly to a winery, the gift shops didn't have any bourbon you couldn't get at any good liquor store, PLUS we discovered the bourbons at these shops were always a few dollars more than the liquor stores. So unless you like branded sweatshirts and barware you could probably do fine just perusing the liquor shops or sitting down and working your way through the bourbon menus of Louisville bars and restaurants to get your bourbon fix. I'm amazed that some entrepreneurial soul hasn't opened the definitive bourbon shop in Louisville. Our searching was cursory so maybe we missed it? However the two stores we did visit were wonderful: Liquor World outside of Bardstown, had most every bourbon you can imagine and the owners try hard to get the rare stuff. The gentleman who helped us asked us about Bourbon bar in Adams Morgan once he heard we were from DC, apparently someone from Bourbon is a frequent customer of his. Here we found some Buffalo Trace Experimental and he had a couple other goodies on hand. We also visited Keg Liquors in Indiana, just across the river from Louisville, so that my mate could get hisThree Floyds fix (you can only get 3F bombers in Kentucky). They had some items from the BT Antique collection, as well as the Willet pot still and family estate bourbons. As for food we didn't do as much eating as we should've for people consuming so much bourbon. One dinner in Louisville was at Smoketown USA, a bbq place in the Smoketown neighborhood. It was fine is really all I can say; the proprietors were lovely, there was a gentleman performing tunes at the front and it was affordable. Lots of character, very soulful, family-oriented joint. Beer wasn't half bad either. Holy Grale is one of the few bars to participate in Zwanzee Day so naturally we had to make a stop for my beer-loving mate. There's nothing but beer but the selection is sophisticated and well-edited (read: shorter list than Churchkey but high quality). The food was the sort of gastropub fare popping up all over the place these days: scotch eggs and sliders and what have you. The pate and rilletes were unremarkable if you're familiar with Churchkey's wonderful charcuterie board but the pork belly sliders were an incredible, if a bit heavily salted. I stand by any place that uses pretzel buns exclusively for their bunned food. I regret not ordering more, it was intriguing enough to continue making our way through the menu. We needed lunch while in Bardstown so we ate at the Old Talbott Tavern, the sort of place that anyone would be familiar with as it sits on the main drag of the older part of downtown, looks like an old country inn, attracts tourists like flies and has a boring menu of safe favorites. We opted for the "bourbon bar" which looked like a depressing dive and had only a couple of customers, clearly just some locals enjoying some day drinking. We loved it. You could order *any* 5 shots of bourbon for $25, they had a decent selection and a knowledgeable bartender to administer them and between four of us it ended up being a great deal shared. I got the BLT which delighted me with fried green tomatoes in place of the traditional, their potato chips were made in-house and it was cheap and fast. No complaints here. Finally we tried two different bars to take ourselves on a sitting-in-place bourbon trail: Jockey Silks in the Galt House and the bar at Proof on Main. The Galt House has the air of a hotel on the old Las Vegas strip. Everything about it was horribly depressing but I'm not above recommending the bar since it was basically empty and they had a lot of bourbon. Having said that we quickly abandoned it for the ultra slick bar at Proof on Main, which had bourbon flights and some pretty tasty french fries.
  14. I don't think I can live another day without a juicer. I need to juice all the things. Anyone have any recommendations? A friend offered to sell me her Breville but I've also heard good things about the Omega brand.
  • Create New...