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Washington, DC

April 11, 2012

As I mentioned last post, I traveled to Washington DC this past weekend for my future sister-in-law’s bachelorette party. The weather was gorgeous and the city was lively and intriguing. I loved walking through block after block of tree-lined streets edged by stately, well-maintained row houses, many of which had lovely, leafy gardens. The city reminded me a bit of Charleston and Savannah in that way: homes and gardens so well-cared-for that you’d almost swear no one actually lives there and they are kept up purely for the benefit of ogling tourists.

Naturally, since this was more of a bachelorette weekend and less of a city tour, my photos are not an excellent representation of all to see and do in our nation’s capital. But, I do have some restaurant suggestions from this visit and a previous one last May, as well as a creative bachelorette party game that could lend itself to most any theme and group.

First, I think Dolcezza (front window pictured above, left) is a must-do for anyone who likes gelato, sorbet, or coffee/pastry places. The menu consists of almost 20 flavors, handwritten on panes of glass hung at the back of the shop behind the ice cream counter. Both times I’ve been, there seem to be just as many sorbets as there are gelatos, which is nice for plant-based or vegan folks. You can drool over the weekly menu if you click “stores” at the top of their homepage, then on a specific location. These artisanal treats are handmade daily with mainly local ingredients from nearby farms. Amazing.

The photo above is my two-flavor pineapple mint and orange honey cardamom cup. Other eye-catching options this trip included Thai coconut milk, Meyer lemon vodka, and Valrhona chocolate amargo. Thankfully for those of us with busy schedules and limited time in town, Dolcezza has very generous hours, open from 7:30 or 8am to 9 or 10pm daily.

If you like breakfast or French/European eateries, may I recommend L’Enfant? It is a small, adorable, Parisian-style cafe/bar that serves brunch, dessert crepes, dinner, and cocktails. Our waiter had a thick French accent and endearingly said things like “That is a good consideration,” and “I will leave you for a few more seconds to decide.”

I had the spinach and gruyere crepe. I must say, I don’t think I have ever had a thicker or more substantial crepe shell. It was slightly chewy and much sturdier than the typical thin, flimsy wrap, almost like a pleasing cross between a tortilla and a crepe. Iced coffee was served in tall, fancy glasses, and you can see the beautiful yogurt parfait at the top right of this post. I am not typically a person who enjoys breakfast restaurants (or crepes for that matter), but this was a really nice experience and I would return without hesitation for both the atmosphere and food.

Other restaurants recommendations I’ll mention based on where we ate with my brother and his fiance this visit and during last spring’s are:

  • Brasserie Beck: not particularly vegetarian-friendly, but a comfortable fine dining atmosphere with an interesting menu. Listed among the small plates, I noticed warm bacon granola as well as tempura fried pickles served with citrus aioli. I was perfectly happy ordering an better-than-average salad and a fantastic Brussels sprouts “side dish,” so there are plant-based options if you are willing to think outside the box. Their specialties seem to be an incredible beer list and mussels.
  • Oyamel: very creative, unique Mexican cuisine, featuring sauteed grasshoppers and tequila in a taco, cactus paddles, and plantain fritters among other intriguing combinations. The atmosphere is lively and fun, and my family enjoyed our evening there very much. We left stuffed.
  • Art and Soul: describes itself as “modern, regional cuisine with Southern accents,” and I fondly remember the thick corn hoecake topped with roasted red pepper and goat cheese that I had there a year ago. The menu is mouth-watering, and the atmosphere is sophisticated, cosmopolitan, white tableclothed fine dining. Art and Soul made Wine Enthusiast’s “America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2011″ list, and the cocktail menu looks tempting too. I think they had me at “fig-infused bourbon.”

One thing I can tell you based on my limited experience is that if you visit Washington DC, you will probably eat well.

Onto the bachelorette party game, which I will go ahead and include in this post because I don’t think it is enough material to warrant it’s own, and because in a way it does go along with the character of Washington DC. The bride-to-be’s morning outing was golf/argyle-themed, which was perfect for the weekend of the Master’s tournament in a preppy city.  Everyone was required to wear at least one item of argyle, and someone found a child’s plastic golf club to carry around. (One daytime game revolved around that club- a prize for anyone who convinced a man to stand behind the bachelorette and “teach” her how to putt with it.) We also did the trivia game I mentioned from my sister’s party last summer, with the addition of the bride having to answer a question about the groom every time a friend answered a trivia question about her incorrectly.

But the new and fun center of the festivities was a basket full of lightweight foam golf balls. All party guests were encouraged to write truth/dare items or questions on the balls with think Sharpie markers. For example, “What was your funniest/most embarrassing dating moment?” or “How many boys have you loved?” You get the idea. We carried around the basket and markers all day, so people could add to them whenever inspiration struck. We used the balls as “punishment” when someone got a trivia question about the bride wrong, and later just starting going around the table taking turns choosing one to do. Obviously, you could easily adapt this to any bachelorette party theme depending on what cute item you choose to write on and what bag or container you carry them around in. Instant fun, and it is easy for the game to take on the personality of the group- it can be as tame or risque as you want it to be, and fit the character of whatever city you happen to celebrate in.

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