THE WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB BLUE RIBBON FOR FIRST PRIZE IN THE NONSPORTING GROUP
If you returned home to DC from the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, the Super Bowl of dogdom, where two of your dogs had won best in their group and made it to the final "Best in Show" round, what would you do with the Blue Ribbons? Ellen Charles hangs hers on a lamp. At least for tonight. She's just back from a very winning week in New York, with two big fat Blue Ribbons -- one for Jewel for winning the hound group and one for Honor for winning the non-sporting group. Best in Show, in a tough final round, went to Banana Joe, a scruffy little affenpinscher. Tonight Ellen said both Jewel and Honor will continue to compete. So, on to next year.
And then off to celebrate Westminster and Chinese New Year at Shanghai Lounge on Wisconsin Avenue, where the restaurant's owner brought out her adorable dogs, two miniature poodles. Ellen has four poodles at home, at least. Of her 20 some purebred show dogs, most are poodles. Jewel is her only American foxhound and Honor is her only bichon frise.
The dinner at Shanghai Lounge was a winner, too. Szechuan spicy green beans, spring rolls, Kung Pao Shrimp, Ginger Chicken. What stands out about the food at Shanghai is the freshness of the vegetables. Also, there's a remarkable absence of grease in the texture of all the food. The owner said she hopes to start delivery in the next month or so. What a gift for Georgetown if that happens.
Thank God for Mondays with friends! Right? I needed a triple dose this Monday night and I got it at Bourbon Steak, with Daren Thomas, Rachel Pearson and Roger Whyte, The occasion was to celebrate Roger's leaving the Washington Performing Arts Society to go out on his own as an event production mastermind. Also, he's director of events for the newly rehabbed Power House in Georgetown. This is a powerful event space.
I first became acquainted with it when PR impresario Robert Keith Gray had his offices there, and christened the building the Power House. Later, it was the offices of Herb Miller's Western Development Corporation. It langored recently but apparently has been rescued by Roger and his team. If you are a party person, then expect to enter its Grace Street doors sometime this year. And if you want to reach Roger to book it for a whatever, his number is 202-584-0062.
Geez, I don't know whether I have permission to post his phone number, but then he did give me his card and he didn't say it was "off the record." And he is in business!
Daren is head of development for the WPAS, Rachel is on the board. These three get together and it's nothing but drink, yack, drink, yack, drink, yack. In other words, a good time with serious dish.
When we parted I headed home but they each went off in different directions for various liaisons. MPTT.
Only in Washington. Ed Nixon, Richard Nixon's younger brother, at the Mayflower Hotel bar with Harry Shearer, who portrays Nixon in a British television production, "Nixon's The One." Shot this after we attended Richard Nixon's 100th birthday party. A dear friend, Harry traveled to DC from Santa Monica to be my date for the occasion. It was a reunion of the Nixon Administration, or at least those who are still with us. Harry and I ended up in the Mayflower Bar with Nixon, Steve Bull, Steve's wife, former Navy Secretary John Lehman and others from that time. Oh, what a night.
Fred Thompson and Harry Shearer, the only two professional actors at the dinner, "professional" being the relevant world. Fred's a long-time friend, and a sports fan, and so we talked RGIII. What he had to say will be on washingtonian.com tomorrow.
Henry Kissinger at the pre-dinner cocktail party. Later, after he ended the conversation, I asked him who he had been talking to. He said, "my former secretary." Kinda sweet. When I wanted to talk some more, he said, "walk with me." And I did, because it's one of the great "I'm in charge" lines. I then used it twice myself over the course of the evening. "Walk with me," and they did.
Happy 21st Birthday to my son, Spencer, and a million loving thank you's to his godmother, Jean Perin, for hosting his birthday dinner at The Inn at Little Washington, and to his godfather, Patrick O'Connell, the Inn's chef and owner, for creating a memorable, sensational and delicious birthday dinner.
The meal began with Louis Roederer Cristal and caviar and danced on for seven more elegant and inventive courses ... and that's not counting the assortment of groovy canapés we devoured before dinner in The Inn's "living room."
We were joined by some of our dearest friends, who all go way back with us: Ellen Charles, Sally Hosta, and Beverly and John Fox Sullivan. (John is also Little Washington's mayor, and we sat at "the mayor's table.") Collectively we gave Spencer a birthday gift of a trip to Las Vegas, with one TBA traveling companion. That went over well, to say the least.
The menu included these dishes: A Shot of White Bean Soup with Truffled Grilled Cheese Sandwich; The Mayor's Oyster Slurpees; A Tin of Sin; Nantucket Bay Scallops Sautéed with Curried Cauliflower, Sultanas and Garlic Chips; Olive-Crusted Chesapeake Bay Rockfish with Artichoke Tortellini in an Orange Pernod Essence; Spencer's Halloween Pumpkin filled with Pumpkin Risotto and the Season's First White Truffles from Alba; Pan Seared Duck Breast with Seared Foie Gras and Red Wine Poached Pear.
There were sumputous wine pairings for each course, including a Grand Cru white Burgundy and a white Châteauneuf du Pape and the showstopper, a DRC Echézeaux from Spencer's birth year, 1991. Howard bought the bottle for Spencer's 21st and it had been resting in the Inn's wine cellar all these years, waiting for this occasion. It was as magnificent, earthy and palate-boggling as this wine can be, and took me back to so many, many meals with Howard and a bottle of DRC. It was our first date wine, with many more to come over the next 20 years. His favorite, though, was Echézeaux (with La Tâche not far behind). So, as we sipped this wine, Howard was with us at the dinner.
There were many toasts through the meal, and the telling of stories of how we all met, and memories of Howard and recollections of Spencer's variety of markers along the path of growing up. And gift giving, of course. Spencer had gifts from Texas for everyone, including a Stetson for Jeannie and a "Longhorns" sweat shirt for Patrick and a Texas t-shirt for John, and hats and bracelets for Beverly, Ellen and Sally.
From gift-giving it was on to dessert. Pumpkins played a role twice in the meal. And here's the backstory: Spencer's first overnight at The Inn was when he was 5 weeks old. There have been dozens more visits over the years, but the one he mentions the most often is the time we spent Halloween there, when he was almost 2-years-old, and Patrick served him pasta in a pumpkin. Thus the pumpkin risotto in a pumpkin/squash. Also, when the birthday cake was rolled out under a sugar dome, it was revealed to be adorned with marzipan pumpkins and to be made of pumpkin spice cake.
Searching through photo albums, I found some photos from the very dinner where Spencer had the pasta in a pumpkin. It's notable that he was also dressed as a pumpkin ....SPENCER, AT ALMOST 2-YEARS-OLD, HAVING PASTA IN A PUMPKIN AT THE INN
I can't begin to count the ways Patrick and Jeannie have been good friends to Spencer. And I should point out how the same can be said for his absent godparents: Harry Shearer and Judith Owen and Sahm Doherty Sefton. A very happy memory is a two week boat trip, organized by Howard when Spencer was 4, into the Everglades and up the West Coast of Florida that included Harry, Judith and Jeannie.
It was midnight when dinner began to slow toward conclusion. There were many hugs as we said good-bye to Patrick, the staff and to Jeannie and Sally, who were headed back toward Middleburg. As unbelievable as it may sound, given all we'd consumed, the Sullivans, Spencer, Ellen and I returned to the Sullivans, where we were spending the night, for nightcaps of rare Kentucky bourbon. It was so much fun. What was most remarkable was that this morning, when I woke up around 9, I was able to walk and talk.
Rachel Hayden, who is one of the managers of The Inn, made a booklet-style menu for the evening that included a lot of photos from over the years. Photos of Spencer with Howard. Photos of Spencer with Patrick. Photos of Spencer and me at various Inn meals and overnight stays. On the back cover was the photo above, of Spencer having a father-son breakfast at The Inn. I love that photo. Below is another favorite. It's Spencer and me on The Inn's back terrace, in the spring after Howard died. It reminds me of the safe haven Patrick provided for us; a place to be together and feel secure.
Okay, so I went a little app-tastic tonight at Susan Rappaport's Halloween party at her Georgetown home. I played with a variety of iPhone apps. As I said to one guest after another, "just think of me as the party clown who makes balloon animals." Like many people I'm somewhat uncomfortable at parties. Taking photos is a form of conversation.
Since most of the guests were friends they played along but they did act incomprehensible when I said things like "i'm running this shot through Dynamic Light" or "I've hashtagged the party." High of the night was my colleague Sophie Gilbert tweeting to let me know she was proud of my "hashtagging." She knows I'm a remedial hashtagger.
The food was delicious, per usual chez Rappaport. A great big pot of homemade Texas style chili, accompanied by fixin's and corn bread and corn chips and salad. Plus a bartender and a full bar.
Playing to no stereotypes, please, it was a boffo party, and so what if some of the time people were speaking in French? It was Halloween. Georgetown can't overturn itself entirely, now, can it? Gosh, I hope not. But know this: even brainiac socialites can reveal their inner ghoul and howl for a night. And know this, too: in this era, call someone a socialite and they take out a contract on you. There aren't many authentics left, but they do dwell in caves in Georgetown.
In dedicated pursuit of a totally chill Hurricane Sandy day away from the office, I convened with friends at Clyde's for a "hurricane lunch." From the looks of all the others who showed up we clearly weren't the only Georgetowners with this idea. With Nathans long closed, when it's weather I think "Clyde's." I'm of a generation that goes out when the wind blows or the snow falls. Maybe that's because I spent my formative years in Manhattan, or maybe because of sailing, but regardless: if it's safe,(and sometimes even if it is not) it's cool to go out and embrace the weather. Weather is one of the few elements we can experience that is timeless. Maybe that's why I've always loved sailing. It's timeless. Name the centurty and they had the same weather.
But back to today and lunch and drinking. After going out once in the morning and getting entirely soaked to the bone I pulled out my ancient foul weather gear and rallied some neighbors for another assault on what has been, so far, relatively moderate weather. At least in Georgetown. Winds gusting to maybe 20 at noon. That's not fierce weather.
Has anyone ever told you we widows stick together, especially when an ill wind blows? Well, we do. So Faya Causey (head of Academic Programs at the National Gallery of Art) and I made a plan to have a "hurricane lunch" at Clyde's and then we expanded it to include some actual married people, my good friends and across the street neighbors, Sam Harrington and Debbie Weil. Sam is an actual medical doctor and I have to commend him for keeping morning hours today, even though many patients canceled. Imagine if you were the patient who wanted to keep the appointment? Wouldn't you have been amazed and delighted that the doctor actually showed up? Exactly.
What did we have at Clyde's? Hmmm. To be honest, a few of us started with a bruised martini straight up with olives. Not the doctor, though. Sam and Debbie had grilled salmon, Faya had a huge and beautiful chopped salad, and I had steamed lobster, a deal at $18.
We sat in the bar. I always sit in the bar. Even though I met my husband in the back room at an after hours party I still prefer the bar. I remember coming to that bar at age 14 in my cheerleader's uniform after being on "It's Academic" at Channel 4. My best girlfriend and I went totally rogue -- or so we thought -- and escaped the bus home to Mount Vernon to go wander in Georgetown. It never even occurred to us that we would stand out as peculiar wearing those short little pleated skirts and cropped jumper tops. (Oh, the fantasies of a dozen horny men at the bar, right?)
What can I say at this point? Enjoy the storm to the extent that it's possible. Me? I wish I were on a mooring in a safe harbor. You've really never heard music until you've heard the sound of halyards slapping a mast.
Clyde's manager, Dave Delbene, said they would close at 5pm this evening. Not for lack of customers but because staff have no way to get to work with Metro shut down. I think we'll hear that same story throughout the area over this next 24-48 hours of storm drama.
Whenever I'm fortunate to be in Austin, and soon after I arrive, I hunt down a meal at one Mexcian or another -- Chuy's, Torchy's, La Condesa or Fonda San Miguel, to name only a small sample. Small because there's so much good Mexican food in Austin (good food in general, actually). But when I depart for home, for Washington, I always say, "at least we have Oyamel." That's because Oyamel comes as close to the real thing as anything we have in DC and possibly the Mid-Atlantic. Dinner tonight was another example of Oyamel getting it done.
A friend and I had dinner plans. After last night's incredible feast at "Chefs for Equality" my preference was something small and light. But since we share Austin as a passion it seemed only right to go to Oyamel. The drive across town in rush hour was a bitch matched only by the challenge to find parking, but once parked, once inside the restaurant, once in a booth, and with a Margarita in hand, all the stress slipped away. We were in an Austin kind of vibe. Of course we pigged out on salsa and chips and then the tableside guacamole -- extra spicy -- and a first course of ceviche. That was followed by black bean soup, grilled diver scallops, crisp pork belly tacos, chicken with green sauce and, one of my personal faves, the gazpacho salad. "This is so good," he said with each course. "I had no idea you could eat like this in Washington."
Along the way manager Michael Iglesias brought us a couple of tiny cocktails (really, in the prettiest little glasses) that he explained were Oaxaca Sours from their special "Day Of The Dead" menu, (and note, that "Day" is November 1). Floating in the foam on the top were tiny grasshoppers, which my friend crunched into with satisfaction. Call me a wimp. I just haven't gone there yet.
I don't know how we had room for dessert, but we managed to find that centimeter of our stomachs that still had breathing room. It helped a lot that both desserts, Dulche de Leche and Flan, were relatively light and freshed by fruit.
In reviewing my photos, all shot with the iPhone 4s, I was reminded of a woman who stopped me on the street one day. She said she is a regular reader of this blog, "but I miss your photos with the other camera." Well, I do, too, but it's tough to carry around the Canon, which I call "the big boy" for a reason. Still, the iPhone 4s flash never does justice to food. Please allow for what these photos lack. The food looked as beautiful as it tasted.
I did wear my Old Gringo's to dinner, but I didn't need to. Oyamel transported me to Austin (and Mexico) regardless, as it does with every meal.
NOTE: Other Mex I like - Bandolero in Georgetown (ask to sit by the window, where it's quieter and brighter); in Del Ray there are two, Los Tios Grill and Taqueria el Poblano; and recently at Rosa Mexicano near the Harman Center I had some very good guacamole and margaritas.
This is what it looked like from Row B on Thursday night when a brawl broke out between the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs. There was a first brawl that subsided, and then just as it subsided, there was another brawl, which is what I recorded above. According to Davey Johnson it was started when there were some words between the Cubs bench coach and the Nats 3rd base coach, Bo Porter. Note the ump that gets knocked over. If you look to the right you'll see Ryan Zimmerman keeping a hand on Bryce Harper, to hold him back from getting into the fray. It was like an older brother looking out for his younger, more volatile sibling. Two of my faves, Michael Morse and Jayson Werth, were right in the middle, ready to rumble. In it's own way, kinda adorable.
I went to the game with three of my Washingtonian colleagues, above, l-r, Harry Jaffe, Shane Harris and Luke Mullins. We had an absolute blast. Eating, drinking, cheering, jumping up and down, yelling, and repeat. A great night at the ball park. We won 9-2, which prompted some of the Cubs repressed frustration.
Bring on the play-offs and Go Nats.
There are so many hard parts to the death of Henry von Eichel at his home in Austria on Monday at the age of 64. One of them is that now begins the time when I won't be able to introduce people to Henry, to watch their delight in meeting him and getting to know him, and then thanking me later many times over. Instead, myself, and his many other friends, will have to learn to tell of Henry in a way that shows him, brings him to life, gives as much dimension as possible. All I have for now are photos I'm finding in my archives. Here are some of them, shot mostly in Georgetown, where he also had a home. I hope to find more photos.
The photo above accurately captures the sunny, serene and sweet atmosphere at the Washingtonian staff picnic this afternoon. We were on the banks of the Severn River, just outside Annapolis. The menu was grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, plus potato salad, pasta salad, corn salad, fresh watermelon, cookies. There was a fierce game of baci, kite-flying, and room to roam. Water sports were available, too, though I don't know whether anyone kayaked or sailed. There was a good, brisk breeze. Basically, an altogether good afternoon.
It was a romantic Saturday night of music, French champagne and desserts from Baked & Wired at the home of Simon and Ruth Jacobsen. The featuered entertainment was Dan Ruskin, pianist, singer and storyteller, who you can catch lunchtime at the Prime Rib. He put on a stirring performance of Cole Porter and other romantic standards, and an especially arresting deconstructioin of "Begin the Beguine." The guests in the room will never hear that song the same way again.
I've attended this musicale before, and it's a night of dreamy tunes, of course, but also white floors, white walls, white flowers and white wine. The Jacobsen home, on 28th Street in Georgetown, as one might expect from an architect, is show enough ... even before Ruskin takes to the ivories. At least a couple of times a week Simon and his father, Hugh Jacobsen, have lunch at Prime Rib at a table that is practically hitched at the hip to Ruskin's piano.
Out on the town last night with good neighbors Sam Harrington and Debbie Weil. We celebrated the end of a long work week at Jack Rose Dining Saloon. Much fun, good food and drink, interesting people. We were joined by owner Bill Thomas and resident whisky czar Harvey Fry. (Do read Todd Kliman's Harvey Fry profile) Nonetheless, home before midnight, using Debbie's Uber account (worked like a dream). Rest much welcomed. I have to work tonight and tomorrow night, so ... I'll be able to watch the Ravens-Patriots game, but only a half hour of Giants-49ers. Now, if the latter goes into overtime, I'll return home in time for that. I'd like both games to go into overtime, and I know who I hope wins. But, please, no comments; we all have our faves.
So grateful for my NFL app. I'll be sneaking looks under the table.
Earlier this week a lovely luncheon on behalf of Washingtonian's "Washingtonians of the Year." It was held at the Willard Hotel. My table mates included John Derrick, former head of Pepco, Doug Wheeler, Arthur Cotton Moore, Victor Shargai, Jaylee Mead, Terre Jones of Wolf Trap, Joy Zinoman of Studio Theater. In addition to the current honorees, the room was filled with past honorees. Everyone at my table - with one exception (me) - had been a past Washingtonian of the Year. Very cool. Wonderful stories of heroic and good works.
It was one of those rare occasions where one feels a great sense of community, and local living, completely apart from the federal government.
This photo captures what Christmas morning looked like to me, way out in Virginia, in Rappahannock County, after a great long wonderful and late night with friends at The Inn at Little Washington. We got to bed at 2 o'clock in the morning, joyfully pickled with Champagne and Meursault, and after sitting on a top-of-the-roof deck to admire the incredible array of stars. It was a special way to usher in December 25th. At midnight we sang Carols. In this photo you see The Inn's sheep in the foreground and The Inn in the distant background.
What was Christmas Eve dinner? Let's see: Popcorn hallowed with layers of shaved Black Truffle, Foie Gras rolled in jingles of Black Truffle, jolly Oyster "Slurpees," merry Maine Day Boat Scallops with Gnocchi, and merry Maine Lobster, wintry Tuna "Wellington," seasonal Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Duck Breast, fruit, Stilton, and many sweets. I think some egg noggy Bourbon was in the mix, too.
Thus an early morning walk before a cheerful Christmas morning country breakfast - yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, fresh juices, eggs benedict, bacon, sausage, croissants, toast, muffins, home made jams and preserves, country butter, coffee.
Congratulations to Paul Wahlberg, former chef at Nathans, who opened his Wahlburgers burger place today near home in Hingham, MA. His business partner is brother Mark Wahlberg.
After Paul left Nathans he and his wife returned to the Boston area. For a while he was back in the restaurant biz, and then for a while went on location to cook for his actor brother (sound familiar? as in "Entourage") and then returned to Hingham to open his own place, Alma Nova (named after Mom, Alma). Alma Nova is next door to the prototype Wahlburgers.
I hope for Paul that this is just the first installment of his burger business. Go Paul! Open one in DC. Then, Top Chef!
My New York Social Diary column today, my last for now, begins in Austin, returns to DC, and then up to NYC and Greenwich. A good week, in other words. Read it all here.
So, with that, I'm off to work at Washingtonian.
Bill Dean reduces the Georgetown boredom factor by half. A gentleman friend who was with me on July 4th - at Bill's annual party - wrote today to report that a woman we met is the new Playboy centerfold. When Bill introduced us he said she had just posed. She is on the right in the above picture, which I pulled from the archives, and, if Google is to be trusted, her name is Amanda Cerny.
It's not at all surprising that Bill, my neighbor and friend, who owns and runs the M.C. Dean electrical engineering company, would have a friend who is a Playboy centerfold. He is hosts incredible parties, as I've written about on New York Social Diary. Whenever I am a guest at his home I assume most of the women are centerfold models. Actually they are all so young it is almost shocking, but not really. Life is good at the Dodge Mansion.
Bill seems to enjoy life a lot - life and friends.
Donald Rappaport's funeral is today. It's a private family affair. There will be a public memorial service in October. He died Friday at his home after an illness. A long-time Georgetowner, good friend to many, bon vivant, and husband of Susan, father of three, grandfather to five. Susan and Donald were familiar faces in Washington, Paris and on Martha's Vineyard. Not a bad life, dividing one's time between those three locations. He was 84-years-old.
The Rappaports entertained a lot and their dinner parties -- all their parties, for that matter -- could be counted on to be relaxed and gracious. Susan looked out for the food while Donald made certain the wines were superb. Here's one I included in my New York Social Diary column: Spring Supper at the Rappaports
Don's official obituary from The Washington Post:
Born November 21, 1926 in Brooklyn, NY, the son of Percy and Regina (Youle) Rappaport. He grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. Mr. Rappaport served three years as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Information Officer of the US Department of Education, appointed by President Clinton in 1997. Was an active board member of DC's Meridian Public Charter School and a founding member of FOCUS. Also was treasurer of the Committee for the Republic, a salon of intellectual thought and ideas.
A partner in the accounting firm Price Waterhouse & Co, from 1963 to his retirement in 1988. He joined the firm in 1949, and worked most of his career in Philadelphia, transferring to Washington in 1983, to head the firm's division serving mid-sized and growth businesses. In 1983, he received a Mayor's citation for the work he did to improve the business climate in Philadelphia. Mr. Rappaport also was chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education in the 1970s.
Before that, he was appointed by Philadelphia schools chief (and later Mayor) Richardson Dilworth as assistant superintendent for Finance. Dilworth commented that he liked the combination of a "liberal accountant" for the job.
Mr. Rappaport was an avid sailor and runner. At 80, he was the oldest participant in the 2007 Cherry Blossom 10-miler in Washington. He was a man of utmost integrity, had a zest for life, was an avid reader, traveler, intellectual.
He leaves scores of true friends in Washington, Philadelphia and Martha's Vineyard, where he summered for more than 30 years. A longtime Democrat, Mr. Rappaport worked on many local, state and national political campaigns. In the 1980s, he was budget director for the presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis. He also was a member of the Democratic National Committee's small business council. He also served on a number of civic and cultural boards, lending his financial expertise to a variety of causes.
He graduated from Yale University in 1947, attending on the Navy's V-12 program. He completed two graduate degrees at University of Pennsylvania, an MA in economics in 1948 and an MBA from the Wharton School in 1949. Mr. Rappaport served his country during the Korean War as a Lt. (Jg) line officer aboard the Destroyer Henderson in Korean waters from 1950-1952.
The family suggests memorial donations to the Meridian Public Charter School, 1328 Florida Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20009.
A splendid birthday dinner last night at Fiola Da Fabio Trabocchi with my son, Spencer, and his Godparent, Harry Shearer, who was in town for a screening of his documentary "The Big Uneasy." Wow what a good meal. Fabio had been out in the 'burbs, and then went to New York, and is now back with us, in Penn Quarter, and if you love good Italian you should make tracks there as soon as possible.
We started with compressed watermelon that was infused with Balsamic vinegar. A treat. Then a plate of Burrata with tomato compote. Another treat. They serve irresistible rolls with a small bowl of equally good olive oil. For a second course Spencer had steak tartare while Harry and I shared a plate of fresh hand cut spaghetti with white summer truffles. Delicious. The entrees were risotto with cod for Spencer and Harry and I had black cod. The cod was maybe a touch more sauced than it needed to be, but the sauce was excellent. An altogether light and satisfying course. Dessert was, naturally, chocolate, a couple of different ways, including one with a birthday candle!
The room is light and bright. The fieldstone wall fronting the kitchen, with windows and white curtains, is an appealingly rustic touch. I'd like white table cloths, but that's me. The bare wood tables feel out of synch with the overall decor, amplify the noise, and seem more American luncheonette than world class Italian. But, again, that's me. The wood is gorgeous and beautifully varnished. The chairs and banquettes are entirely comfortable. You'll linger. Good glassware, good flatware and good service. Our server, who moved here from southern California, couldn't have been more attentive.
Sunday afternoon. Work done. Push back from the desk. Friends arrive. Off we go to Cafe Milano for a birthday luncheon...for Patrick Lawley-Wakelin and for me. A whole lot of fun. Multiple Milano "naked martinis" plus ham n' eggs. At an adjacent table, Francesca Craig, out with a couple of her young men friends. She joined us after they departed. Lunch lasted three hours. Maybe more. Martinis, bubbly, Limoncello, espresso...
Georgetown is challenged with few good places to eat, and Cafe Milano too often gets a bad rap as a complicated place to visit (known and you're treated well, unknown and the opposite), but with so few choices in the village, Milano is a civilized repast. Just push through. Speak to Laurent Menoud, the manager. He's reasonable. Heck, even I get attitude there and I'm a fairly regular customer. Just push through. It beats a chain any day,the food is good, and sitting on the terrace is a unique Georgetown pleasure. Laurent's an ace. He'll take care of you. My only complaint, and it's really only this one, is the wines by the glass list. It could be better.
I'm a big believer in celebrating birthdays, and so especially happy that I was able to have this interlude today with Patrick and Sally Hosta. My birthday is tomorrow. Patrick's is next Friday. The day you were born matters. That's when you landed on the planet. Don't be timid. It's all about you. Seize the day.
Last evening, as I was privileged to join hundreds of them at the Kennedy Center, I couldn't help but think, "Ushers are people, too." I say that because so often ticket holders storm the theater and regard the usher as a help or hindrance but rarely as a person with a story to tell. All of the Kennedy Center's hundreds of ushers were gathered in the Atrium for their 17th annual "appreciation" dinner. It was a big crowd.
They were out of their red jackets and dressed up in their party clothes as a dozen or so were honored for 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service. Those being honored for 40 years have worked at the performing arts center since it opened. Among them Frances Chastang, who invited me as her guest. It was a delight to be there for her, because Frances always has been there for me, whether at Dean and Deluca, where she worked until her recent resignation, or stopping by my house to show me how to trim the roses, or going way back, to when Howard was dying at Washington Hospital Center, and in the last days she showed up with food for all of us keeping vigil. She's known my son since he was a stroller baby.
There were remarks from officials. There were usher jokes. You know, like the hundredth time you get asked for directions to the bathroom but keep on smiling. There was an awful lot of camaraderie. Hooting and hollering as each honoree was announced.
I talked to ushers to the left and right of me. Many are retirees. Many just want to be in the room for opera or ballet, and this is the way to do it. They get paid to be in the theater. Some are second generation ushers.
Frances works the opera house. That's her love. She also works the Presidential box when Potus is in the house. Her BF, Tom, also is an usher. That's where they met!
I miss her smiling face at Dean and Deluca. She was an asset to the store, and there's a marked void with her no longer there. I met her on the day the store opened, eons ago, when they had a swanky opening party. She's been in our lives ever since. By her desk in D&D's basement she kept marks on the wall tracking Spencer's growth from knee high to 6' 4". I spent so much money at D&D because of Frances. Now I don't go in much anymore, but I'll go to the Kennedy Center more often.
Next time you're there ask your usher how long he or she has been on the job. You'll be amazed. Incredible job loyalty.
My regular Monday New York column has a little something for everyone, beginning with the American flags distributed throughout Georgetown this past weekend. Interesting where one ended up. Also Washington Kastles tennis begins today down at the team's new stadium on the Maine Avenue waterfront, where a week ago I boarded Jeff Pfeifle's yacht Sea Loafers for a lovely cocktail gathering, a prelude to surgery for Jeff's friend, Adam Mahr. Reluctant to give up the watery theme, I also attended a fascinating gala for explorers and exploration hosted by, (who else?), National Geographic Society, and featuring a humble James Cameron. Read it all here on New York Social Diary.
Holidays are about family and in my family one of the biggest holidays of the year is also a birthday. Today is the xxth birthday of my sister-in-law, Martha Joynt Kumar. Happy Birthday, Martha.
Last evening her husband, Vijay, and sons Zal and Cameron, plus other family and near and dear friends, hosted a dinner celebration. The feast included tuna tartare, marinated beef, grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, wine and champagne. We were 19 in all, and we partied til midnight. The weather interrupted plans to dine al fresco, but by the time birthday cake was served the sky was clear, temp pleasant, we lit a lot of candles in the garden and hung out.
We wish you a Happy America's Birthday, too.
My evening began at 5 o'clock, with a meeting to talk about my future. Then Scott Sforza picked me up and we drove downtown to a party on the rooftop of the Hay-Adams Hotel hosted by Jim Justice, owner of the Greenbrier Resort. They served excellent Woodford Reserve Mint Juleps. The purpose was to introduce new train travel between Washington and the Greenbrier. One guest said, "I hope they'll use an Acela engine." I don't know about that, but however you get there the Greenbrier is a great getaway.
After I returned home and changed there was time for a walk along the Potomac. That's when I caught the pic at the top. It's the photo of the day.
My friends Jean Perin and Sally Hosta hosted a lovely book party for me yesterday evening at Jean's incredibly beautiful home in Upperville, VA. The party was on her southwest facing terrace, overlooking the Mellon estate, which amounted to acres and acres of lush green. Fortunately, the rain held off until almost all of the 72 books were sold. The few left already have been claimed. So, a huge success.
Sally prepared a range of delicious finger foods. The guests were more than 50 of Sally and Jeannie's "hunt country" pals, including several women who sat with me for a spell to tell me their own marital stories. Intriguing. Confidential.
Later, Sally, Jeannie and I headed into Middleburg for a delicious dinner at The French Hound. Thank you, S & J.
I suppose in the end we didn't really care whether we sold much, and we were happy to sell whatever we did sell, because the party was such a fun Georgetown party. Bill Donohue's O Streeet neighbors stopped, including Parking Enforcement's "Officer Stark,"
Emmy and Harry from Georgetown Dinette, David Friedman from Susquehanna Antiques; Bob Woodward stopped in with his daughter, Diana; Nicholas Sheetz; Andrew, Jonathan, Kathy O'Neill, recently arrived from Shelter Island, Susan Rappaport, Ande Tomasso (formerly of Georgetown, now Bethesda), and so on, plus co-hosts Myra Moffett and Randy Roffman.
We had good sales but there are still some fine nautical and lacrosse prints available -- EXCELLENT FATHER'S DAY GIFTS -- that would handsomely adorn the walls of a den, library, seaside abode, yacht club or office. The prices are fair. I say FAIR. Basically, cost. The America's Cup triptych by Tim Thompson is especially nice and with elegant framing.
We had quite a spread of food, including fruit and cheese, cashews, Goldfish, Pringles and crackers, accompanied by French rose wine, French white wine, Heineken and Stella Artois beer, rum and coke, water. Haha. It couldda been the Edgartown Yacht Club.
Those who showed up included friends, of course, but also fans of Nathans and readers of this blog. (Thank you very much). One man bought "Innocent Spouse" and proceeded to begin reading it right there, in a comfortable chair. We liked that a lot. He was able to recommend it to new arrivals.
No one ever seemed to know precisely when the party was supposed to begin or end, so we sorta started at 3ish and went to almost 8, fueled by fresh Mojitos. They were very popular. I think only Myra and I stuck with wine.
Again, please think about buying one of the prints. Bill will have them in the shop for a few days. You can phone him at 202.965.1165. One guest considered them her Christmas shopping.
First off, thank you to the folks who made today's Q&A Cafe a sell-out. And thank you for buying so many books. And thank you for coming out in the brutal heat. And very big thanks to neighbor and friend John Donvan.
My day began with a walk, a work out, a blow dry and then an early arrival at the Ritz Georgetown to be photographed by USA Today, which was easy and fun, especially thanks to the air conditioning. Then we did the Q&A, and mucho mucho thanks to the smooth as silk Mr. Donvan for such an engaging interview (audience opinion, too.)
Then on to the challenging part of the day: an outdoor photo shoot with the London Sunday Times with New York photographer Martha Camarillo. They wanted to shoot me with the Nathans building in the background. I wasn't crazy about that idea, but it was their shoot and so long as I didn't have to stand in the same block as the Nathans building I was like, whatevs. However, Martha and her team arrived at Dulles and got set up outside Benetton and did not exactly factor in temps of 100 degrees. But they were so dedicated and sweet and into it I just stood there trying not to faint.
Thank you to the Benetton staff for letting me duck into their shop for a/c breaks between "poses." Gave me an excuse to invest in a couple of discounted rockin' tank tops.
Martha and her team were out in the heat more than I was ... but, man oh man, look how cool she is?
All the above photos, except for the last, are by Sally Hosta ... spotted in background above.
In my New York Social Diary column today, a wee bit on DSK in Georgetown and a whole lot more on my whirlwind week in NYC for the launch of "Innocent Spouse. Read it here.
The Q&A Cafe interview with Christopher Kennedy Lawford will air on Friday May 17 at 8 pm on DCN, channel 16. We discuss his life, his addictions, his recovery and it's all good. Please tune in.
Author, interviewer, and photographer. Read more...
Here is information for book clubs that have chosen Innocent Spouse: Book Club Discussions...