Scandinavian Midsummer: Feast the Night Away

Diet Simple (June 2011, LifeLine Press) Swedish cuisine is the ultimate “nouvelle” cuisine. It is simple, fresh, and is naturally local and seasonal. It’s elegant, yet down-to-earth, which is also a perfect description of the Swedish people, and even Swedish design. I’ve had a life-long love affair with Sweden, its culture, cuisine and people. I’m so grateful that finally the world has caught on that my beloved Sweden is a recognized culinary destination. The daughter of a Swedish mother and an American father, I’ve been visiting Sweden since I was a little girl. During my regular visits, I soaked in every possible aspect of Swedish food and cooking. I took many fishing trips in the North Sea on my Uncle Olle’s small motor boat. I received early lessons on cleaning, smoking, grilling, pickling – and any other method one could name – of preparing fresh fish. I was raised in the Swedish culinary tradition. I’ve picked wild blueberries, strawberries and mushrooms in the Swedish archipelago, then watched as my grandmother (Mormor) and Aunt Ingrid prepared treats with the bounty. Growing up, I and my mother dined regularly on crepes with lingonberries and cream – one of my favorite dinners (though now I use yogurt instead of cream! Naturligtvis!). I’ve delighted in all the unique foods my family introduced me to: the grainy rye breads, the special cheeses and yogurts, the smoked reindeer meat, the delicate, sweet, and tiny Swedish shrimps, caviar, crayfish, and of course, meatballs and lingonberry sauce! If you are not a Swede or Scandinavian, you may not know that this is the most special time of year. For weeks on end the sun never sets in Sweden’s summertime. It’s daylight round-the-clock. Every ear, during one of those “white nights” – the Friday nearest the 24th of June – the nation turns out to feast until morning. After long winter months of what seems like never-ending darkness, sun-starved Swedes join the rest of Scandinavia in celebrating the summer solstice – the year’s longest day. Swedes call the celebration Midsummer Eve. It is more than just a holiday, however. Midsummer Eve, often lasting through Saturday – and sometimes the whole weekend – is the national excuse for the biggest parties of the year. The revelry is non-stop. Beginning Friday morning, families gather to set the scene. Every spare piece of furniture is moved outdoors, setting up a festival atmosphere. Large wooden crosses are turned into maypoles decorated with flowers, ribbons and leafy branches. The maypoles are raised, and hours of dancing, singing and community wide camaraderie get under way. By late afternoon the revelry has served its purpose. Gnawing hunger has prepared the celebrants for the main event: the feast, Sweden’s famed smorgasbord. Smorgasbord is a Swedish invention and is literally a table of open-faced sandwiches. Though its origin was a simple array of hors d’oeuvres, smorgasbords today are exhaustive buffet-style spreads, the Swedish version being the best known. There are appetizers, salads, main courses and desserts. The dishes signal summer’s first harvests: freshly clipped dill, tender root vegetables, fish and other seafoods, and strawberries grown in the country. There are cured ingredients, as well. Pink rolls of cured salmon are wrapped around dill sprigs, with yellow mustard sauces and peppercorns alongside. There is marinated herring and coarse salt, as well as dill and other pickles. Dairy products also are important, including eggs, cheese and cream. The traditional drink is aquavit, Swedish vodka spiced with anise and caraway. It is served in tiny schnapps glasses. The Midsummer toast, which loses something in translation, usually amounts to a unanimous gulp followed by a chant of “rah, rah, rah, rah.” Actually, preparation of Midsummer food usually begins a couple of days before. Local fishermen stack their just-caught salmon in rickety wheelbarrows, roll them into town and go door to door displaying their wares for inspection by anxious cooks. The fish are carefully examined in solemn transaction, the cook – usually my Grandmother - signaling the final selection with an abrupt, “This will do!” The fisherman nods, satisfied, and carries the fish to the kitchen where it lands on the table with a thud. The smell of the sea enters the house with the day’s catch. The best knife has been sharpened for this moment: the start of Midsummer Eve cooking. SWEDISH RECIPES Aquavit and Marcus Samuelsson’s Gravlax Club Sandwich (excerpted from Diet Simple (June 2011, LifeLine Press) This sandwich is such a popular item in Aquavit’s café that it is never off the menu. It combines the velvety textures of guacamole and gravlax, with the crispy nature of iceberg lettuce and great chewiness of whole grain bread. If you want to make this sandwich and don¹t happen to have any gravlax on hand, you can substitute smoked salmon with equal success. I've used this recipe at parties. Just cut the sandwiches into smaller appetizer size sandwiches, into quarters, and place a tooth pick through all layers for easy grabbing. It’s always a hit. Makes 5 sandwiches. 2 avocados Juice from 2 limes 1/2 medium size red onion, finely chopped 1 medium-size ripe tomato, finely chopped 1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped 8 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper 10 thin slices of whole grain wheat or rye bread 5 thin slices of Gravlax 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce 1. Mash the avocado with a fork and add the limejuice. Add the chopped onion, tomato, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro and toss everything to mix well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. 2. Toast the bread slices lightly and let them cool. 3. Place a slice of gravlax on a slice of bread. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the avocado mixture over the gravlax and sprinkle with shredded iceberg lettuce. Cover with a second slice of bread. Repeat with the remaining bread slices and gravlax. 1 Gravlax Club Sandwich: Calories; 300, Total Fat ; 15g, Saturated Fat; 2g, Cholesterol; 5mg, Sodium; 740mg, Total Carbohydrate; 38g, Dietary Fiber; 15g, Omega 3 Fatty Acids; 0.82 g, Protein; 11g Gravlax 2-1/2 pounds fresh salmon 4 Tbsp Sugar 5 Tbsp Coarse Salt 1 Tbsp White Peppercorns, coarsely ground 1 Bunch Fresh Dill Lemon and additional dill for garnish Mix sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside. With half of the dill, cover the bottom of a shallow baking pan just slightly larger than the fish. Pour two-thirds of the sugar, salt and pepper mixture evenly over the dill and place salmon on top, skin side up. Cover the salmon with the remaining mixture and remaining dill. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for two days (at least 24 hours). To serve, scrape off the marinade, slice fish thinly and roll. Garnish with lemon pieces and dill. Serve with mustard sauce on the side. Serves 8 to 12. Mustard Sauce 1-1/2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Dill 3 Tbsp Gulden’s Mustard 1 Tbsp Sugar 3 to 4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil All ingredients should be at room temperature. Place mustard in a small bowl, add sugar. Blend in the oil slowly. Add the dill and mix thoroughly. SIDEBAR: Nordic Food Days June 19 to 26, 2011 The embassies of the Nordic countries are bringing five of the world’s best chefs from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Among the events: Nordic Jazz and Cuisine on the rooftop of the house of Sweden in Georgetown on June 19, and June 21 to 26: Nordic Restaurant Days at select DC restaurants. For more information, go to: I will see you there! By Katherine Tallmadge, author Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations (LifeLine Press, June 2011), designs personalized nutrition and wellness programs for individuals and companies. [gallery ids="100023,100024,100025,100026" nav="thumbs"]

Madama Butterfly Comes to the Washington National Opera

Spring is on its way to Washington. And if we need a sign of spring—and a beautiful, highly anticipated one—we’ve got the Washington National Opera’s “Madame Butterfly.” Puccini’s enduring, tragic opera, although critically blasted in its first version over a century ago, has proven to be perhaps the one opera in the canon that is loved even by those who say they hate opera. “Madame Butterfly” kicks off the second half of the WNO season Saturday, February 26 and runs for a phenomenal 14 performances through March 19, with two world-renowned sopranos sharing the role. “I would guess that maybe along with ‘Carmen,’ ‘Tosca’ and ‘La Boheme,’ ‘Madame Butterfly’ is probably one of the most recognizable and beloved operas, and probably lands on more schedules than any other,” said Christina Scheppelman, Director of Artistic Operations at the WNO. “Certainly it’s popular. That’s why there are more performance dates. But it’s a great work of art. Let’s face it, it has brilliant, gorgeous music, and like the others mentioned, they’re tragic, romantic stories. If you don’t cry in ‘Madame Butterfly,’ you’re perhaps not quite human.” “Madame Butterfly” kicks off the latter part of a season as part of a trio of high-profile operas and other events, and it’s bound to seem just a little bittersweet. On July 1, the WNO will enter into a contract with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which will affiliate the two organizations, a move that will strengthen the missions of both organizations, according to officials from both groups, and will certainly be a boon for the WNO in terms of financial stability. But it remains a major change in a time of major changes at the WNO, after the announced departure of Artistic Director and renowned singer Placido Domingo back in September. Domingo has been the face of the WNO since becoming Artistic Director in 1996, as well as serving as General Director for the last eight years. In addition to “Madame Butterfly,” two other operas are on the spring menu, and of particular interest will be “Iphigenie en Tauride,” by Christoph Willibald Gluck, a company premiere for the WNO. This show also offers a chance to see and hear Domingo as the great performer that he is, in the starring role as Oreste. “This is certainly a highlight of the season,” Scheppelman said. “It’s always a major occasion when Domingo performs here, and I’m sure that it won’t be the last time.” “Iphigenie en Tauride” is rooted in Greek tragedy. It is the story of Iphigenie, the high priestess of Taurus, as she is faced with impossible choices—often the case in Greek tragedy and opera (see “Madame Butterfly”). But the opera, with its soaring, emotional music has enjoyed a renaissance of late, and the WNO is catching the crest of its wave. “Iphigenie en Tauride” will have eight performances, May 6 – 28, and “Don Pasquale,” the great comic opera by Donizetti, will be performed for eight performances, from May 13 – 17, with James Morris in the title role. Thereis also the Placido Domingo Celebrity Series, in which contemporary and rising opera stars get a chance to perform solo. It kicks off this weekend on Sunday with tenor Juan Diego Florez and continues with the great Welsh Bass Baritone Bryn Terfel, conducted by Domingo on March 12. But it’s “Madame Butterfly” that will be the chief attraction in town, which is expected to get big audiences with its tragic, super-romantic theme, its heart-breaking arias, its exotic and historic setting. Here’s the scoop, in case you don’t know: a handsome 19th century American naval officer named Pinkerton, hungry for a variety of romantic experience, lands in Nagasaki and meets Cio-Cio-San—the butterfly—a young, naïve teenage Geisha. He makes her his temporary wife. She is rapturously in love—always a perfect state of mind for singing arias—but Pinkerton, a cad of the highest order, departs with promises to return, leaving Butterfly behind, with a child. Eventually, he does return, but with an American wife. The climax is about as sad as things can get, and therefore musically and emotionally perfect for audiences. Two of today’s most acclaimed sopranos, Ana Maria Martinez and Catherine Nagelstadt, will be performing the title role during the course of the WNO run, each with special qualities and gifts. This is Naglestad’s debut as Butterfly, but she is a veteran of Puccini’s operas, and it’s the second time around for Martinez. Tenors Alexey Dolgov and Thiago Arancam share the role of Pinkerton. Domingo and Philippe Auguin will conduct, and Ron Daniels directs. Scheppelman has seen numerous performances of “Butterfly” over the years, not counting rehearsals. “It never gets old. It never fails to move the heart,” she said. “Certainly, companies inevitably will put it on their schedules. It’s a great audience draw, and it’s a demanding opera for the performers.”

7-Up Emerald Punch

When I was a child my mother had a punchbowl that came out on special occasions, usually around the December holiday season. The snowy white centerpiece and matching glasses where formed from Indiana milk glass molded into a leaf pattern. The cups had little red hooks that were used to hang the glasses on the side. The collection was rounded out a ruby red clear plastic ladle. It was back in the 1970’s, my mom would dress in a polyester pantsuit with flared legs and my dad would wear a plaid sport jacket with wide lapels and an even wider necktie. Mom would make Chex mix from actual cereal and the adults would nibble on deviled eggs, Jell-O salad and Ritz cracker hors d’oeuvres. While the men would stick to beer, the ladies would ladle out brightly-colored drinks with floating garnishes. If I was well-behaved I would be treated to a small cup of watered-down punch to enjoy before I was sent to bed. It sent me off into a slumber where I dreamed of hosting my own parties as an adult. When the punchbowl wasn’t in use, I begged to play with it. Unlike most young girls who hosted tea parties with their dolls, I threw lavish cocktail soirees with my eclectic group of plush animals, including an alligator, a blue elephant and a smiling watermelon. (And you thought the bar in the original Star Wars was weird.) Punchbowls were a popular entertaining vehicle for people in my parents’ generation. But the origin of punch dates back hundreds of years. According to Wayne Curtis’ 2006 book “And a Bottle of Rum,” the English made punch in India as early as 1673. The name punch most likely came for the Hindu word panch, meaning five. Ancient punches were forged from five ingredients traditionally tea, lemon, sugar, water and arrack, an Asian spirit distilled from palm sap. My mom’s punch recipe came curiously enough from 7-Up. During a recent visit, while sifting through mom’s recipe books, I came across a stained and well-used magazine insert tucked away in a cookbook. The small advertising brochure cheerily entitled “Merry Punch Bowl to You!” featured four punch recipes with photos - each in a distinctive hue – red, green, yellow and orange. The ad copy was notable dated, proclaiming, “Gay parties just naturally center around a sparkling punchbowl,” and touting 7-Up as the “magic ingredient.” Like many recipes of that era, the components concentrated on canned and premade ingredients. The 7-Up was measured in 7 oz bottles, a far cry from 20 oz super-sized single serving plastic bottles of today. However the recipes weren’t that different than the original five-ingredient “panch” formula. Just for fun during the Thanksgiving weekend, my mom and I whipped up a green batch of 7-Up Emerald Punch. We garnished the colorful mixture with pineapple rings, maraschino cherries and mini-marshmallows. We dragged out the punchbowl from storage, decorated the table festively and talked about holiday memories. This time though we left the polyester in the closet and I stayed up to finish the last glass. 7-Up Emerald Punch 1 can (46 oz) sweetened pineapple juice. 4 cans (6 oz) limeade ¼ cup honey 1 bottle gin (1/5 gallon) 12 bottles (7 oz each) 7- Up Combine pineapple juice and concentrate in punch bowl. Add honey; stir. Add gin; then 7-up. Add a few drops of green food coloring if desired; add ice. Garnish with fruit. Ingredients to make punch may be purchased at Dixie Liquor, 3429 M Street in Georgetown.

Weekend Round Up April 28,2011

Here is what’s going on this weekend, straight from the Georgetowner’s online events calendar. And as always, we encourage you to get involved with your community by uploading your own events or any we may have missed. Georgetown House Tour Hospitality Suite April 30th, 2011 at 10:00 AM FREE For All To Attend Join The Georgetowner Newspaper for our Hospitality Suite to Benefit the The Georgetown House Tour on April 30th. From 4-6PM, enjoy cocktails, Hors d' oeuvres, and a day full of special events. Hosted By Canal Group Builders The Georgetown Social Editor, Mary Bird Address Boffi Studios 3320 M Street NW Washington DC 20007 Dataklysmos: Multidimensional Sculptures April 30th, 2011 at 06:00 PM Irvine Contemporary announces Dataklysmos, an exhibition of new multimedia sculptures by [dNASAb]. [dNASAb] (who goes by "Disney") is a Brooklyn-based artist who constructs complex, multidimensional works that visualize the world of data and the materiality of digital technology in new ways.Opening reception 6-8 p.m. Address Irvine Contemporary 1412 14th Street, NW Family Stories: Daughters, Mothers, and Bubbes May 1st, 2011 at 01:00 PM 202 265 6280 We invite to you portray your beloved daughters, mothers, and bubbes in skits, scrapbooks, videos, song and dance routines, or whatever your imagination can conjure. Exhibits will be open from 1-5pm. Treasure hunts for the kids. Address National Museum of American Jewish Military History 1811 R Street, NW Washington, DC 20009 [gallery ids="99660,105639" nav="thumbs"]

Weekend Round Up May 12,2011

Maddy's Day --- May 13th, 2011 at 12:00 PM Maddy's Bar & Grille will donate 100% of the day's profits to benefit breast cancer research at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Bring your friends and grab lunch or join us for happy hour as we raise money for breast cancer research at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center on May 13. 100% of the day’s profits will be direct to breast cancer research at Lombardi. It will be a fun filled day with great food, drinks, and music. Maddy's Bar & Grille 1726 Connecticut Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20007 (2.5 Blocks North of the Dupont Circle Metro) 5th Annual Potomac Wildlife Art & Decoy Show --- May 14th, 2011 at 10:00 AM The Community Foundation of Charles County’s 5th Annual Potomac Wildlife Art & Decoy Show is a free art and decoy exhibit celebrating the Potomac’s natural beauty. The show directly benefits the community. Donations to the Community Foundation are appreciated. Wildlife art and decoys on display, Potomac Decoy Collectors Association exhibiting antique duck decoys for show and sale, free decoy identification and appraisals, and decoy competition will be held. 10am-5pm College of Southern Maryland 8730 Mitchell Rd–Business & Industry Bldg, Conf Center La Plata, MD 20646 The Land That I Love --- May 14th, 2011 at 05:00 PM May 14 – June 3 "The Land I Love" by the Piedmont's premier landscape artist Tom Neel,opening May 14, 5 – 8 PM. Acclaimed for his strong sense of color and composition, Neel’s rich oil paintings are known to capture the best of the Piedmont region. Opening will feature live jazz by the Brian Litz Trio and wine by Barrel Oak Winery. See our website for calendar of upcoming events. Live An Artful Life 6474 Main Street The Plains, VA 20198 “Innocent Spouse- A Memoir” --- May 22nd, 5-7PM You’re invited to an evening with Carol Ross Joynt on the publication of her new book, “Innocent Spouse- A Memoir” Enjoy a reading, discussion/Q&A and a meeting with the author and have your booked signed! Music and Refreshments will provided. All proceeds from the sale and signing will benefit the new Georgetown Public Library under the direction of the D.C. Public Library Foundation. There is no charge for this event but seating is limited. To R.S.V.P call Anna 202 727 4943 Black Hall At Potomac and O Streets in Georgetown (Adjacent to St. John’s Church) Venus in Fur --- May 25th, 2011 at 08:00 PM A comedy-drama that explores the complex relationship between sex and power. Reality and fantasy, strength and weakness, pleasure and pain all blend together in one of the smartest and funniest plays in recent years. The Milton Theatre 1501 14th Street, NW Washington, DC 20005 National Sporting Library & Museum Book Fair --- May 28th, 2011 at 10:00 AM Saturday, May 28, 2011, 10 am – 5 pm, the Library will host the NSLM Book Fair. Six authors are scheduled to talk for 20 minutes then sign books, beginning at 11:00. The authors are: Rita Mae Brown, Kate Chenery Tweedy and Leeanne Ladin, Tim Rice, Bill Woods, and Norman Fine. Booksellers will be on hand and the authors’ books will be available for purchase. Check for details in early May. The National Sporting Library and Museum 102 The Plains Road P.O. Box 1335 Middleburg, Virginia 20118-1335 Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m [gallery ids="99672,99673" nav="thumbs"]

Weekend Round Up May 19,2011

“Innocent Spouse- A Memoir” --- May 22nd, 5-7PM You’re invited to an evening with Carol Ross Joynt on the publication of her new book, “Innocent Spouse- A Memoir” Enjoy a reading, discussion/Q&A and a meeting with the author and have your booked signed! Music and Refreshments will provided. All proceeds from the sale and signing will benefit the new Georgetown Public Library under the direction of the D.C. Public Library Foundation. There is no charge for this event but seating is limited. To R.S.V.P call Anna 202 727 4943 Black Hall At Potomac and O Streets in Georgetown (Adjacent to St. John’s Church) Venus in Fur --- May 25th, 2011 at 08:00 PM A comedy-drama that explores the complex relationship between sex and power. Reality and fantasy, strength and weakness, pleasure and pain all blend together in one of the smartest and funniest plays in recent years. The Milton Theatre 1501 14th Street, NW Washington, DC 20005 National Sporting Library & Museum Book Fair --- May 28th, 2011 at 10:00 AM Saturday, May 28, 2011, 10 am – 5 pm, the Library will host the NSLM Book Fair. Six authors are scheduled to talk for 20 minutes then sign books, beginning at 11:00. The authors are: Rita Mae Brown, Kate Chenery Tweedy and Leeanne Ladin, Tim Rice, Bill Woods, and Norman Fine. Booksellers will be on hand and the authors’ books will be available for purchase. Check for details in early May. The National Sporting Library and Museum 102 The Plains Road P.O. Box 1335 Middleburg, Virginia 20118-1335 Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m Free Memorial Day Weekend Events at the Navy Memorial --- May 30th, 2011 at 10:00 AM | Free and open to the public Memorial Day Weekend Events featuring Rolling Thunder, a performance by the Rock Band Fourmanchu, commemorative wreathlayings and a traditional Navajo dance Address United States Navy Memorial Naval Heritage Center 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20004

Weekend Round Up April 21,2011

With the sun shining, there’s no reason not to hit the town. Here is what’s going on this weekend, straight from the Georgetowner’s online events calendar. And as always, we encourage you to get involved with your community by uploading your own events or any we may have missed. Family Fair in Georgetown! April 22nd, 2011 at 10:00 AM Members: $8 (per child), Nonmembers: $10 (per child), Adult Chaperones: $5 Tel: 202-337-2288 Kids on spring break? Celebrate spring at two of Georgetown's historic house museums, Dumbarton House and Tudor Place! Children of all ages make their own delicious treats at both houses, including ice cream sundaes and chocolate houses! The family fun continues with children's games and crafts. This program serves as a great introduction to our great Summer Camp Program, Georgetown Summer History Weeks. 2715 Q Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007 SMJO – A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald featuring Kim Nazarian & Phil Woods April 23rd, 2011 at 08:00 PM Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra featuring vocalist Kim Nazarian and saxophonist Phil Woods. Tickets: $55 Gen. Admission. Blues Alley Jazz Supper Club 1073 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. VINIFERA WINE BAR & BISTRO EASTER SUNDAY EXTRAVAGANZA April 24th, 2011 at 11:00 AM $45 per person for adults $20 per person for children 12 and under Tel: 703.234.3550 This Easter, Vinifera continues its tradition of inviting families to enjoy a petting zoo provided by the Leesburg Animal Park and Sunday brunch. Guests can visit the baby lambs, ducks, bunnies, goats and beloved long haired llama on Vinifera’s front lawn. Executive Chef Bo Palker will serve a delicious three-course meal of classic dishes and gourmet twists. There will be three Easter egg hunts for children ages 12 and under at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., and a visit from the Easter Bunny himself. 11750 Sunrise Valley Drive Reston, Virginia 20191

Weekend Round Up

Check out what’s happening around town this weekend with The Georgetowner’s interactive calendar. Looking for an excuse to get out of the house, or know of an event so exciting you just have to share? You can do both at the Calendar. Hamtdaa: Together April 1st, 2011 11:00 AM 703-875-1100 Hamtdaa: Together features the work of renowned visual artist and Arlingtonian Gankhuyag Natsag, whose Tsam dance masks, ceremonial costumes and paintings speak to Mongolia's ancient traditions and contemporary experiences. Accompanied by a multi-faceted program of performances, workshops, films and community celebrations, this exhibition is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. March 3- May 1,2011 Address Terrace Gallery 1101 Wilson Boulevard Arlington, VA 22209 Save Bristol Bay In Washington, D.C. April 2nd, 2011 at 11:00 AM Tel: 202.331.2120 Trout Unlimited with the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association is bringing Bristol Bay's salmon and story to our nation's capital for a delicious weeklong celebration of our nation's last great wild salmon fishery. Over 20 DC-area restaurants will be featuring wild Bristol Bay salmon on their menus from March 27 - April 2 as a way of showing that they value Bristol Bay's salmon fishery and want to see it protected from proposed mining development in the Bristol Bay watershed. Artini 2011 April 2nd, 2011 08:30 PM Celebrate with the 1869 Society at the culminating ARTINI benefit, where your votes for D.C.’s favorite artini will be revealed. Taste the 12 artinis crafted by the competing mixologists. View the Corcoran’s collection, including the works of art that provided the inspiration behind each artini. Enjoy dancing and music by DJ Neekola, a beer and wine bar, and a cocktail and dessert buffet. Tickets and pre-registration required. Address Corcoran Gallery of Art 500 Seventeenth Street NW Washington, DC 20006 The Royal Wedding Breakfast & Viewing Party April 28th, 2011 09:00 AM $40.00 Tel: 202) 974-5566 In celebration of the upcoming marriage of His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales, K.G. to Miss Catherine Middleton, luxury bridal boutique Carine’s Bridal Atelier and The Ritz Carlton Washington D.C.will offer guests the opportunity to watch the “Wedding of the Century” in style at a Royal Wedding Breakfast & Viewing Party. Guests who wish to stay over, the night before can enjoy a Royal Wedding Overnight Package. Address The Lobby Café located in The Ritz-Carlton 1150 22nd Street NW Washington, D.C. 20037 [gallery ids="99626,105146,105144" nav="thumbs"]

Perfect Pies

We've scouted the town to bring you our picks for the best pizzas in D.C. Whether you're after a traditional recipe or something with true pizzazz, Washington's contributions to America's favorite food stack up easily to the best efforts of New York or Chicago. Best Margherita Pizza: RedRocks Firebrick Pizzeria Columbia Heights (1036 Park Road) Perhaps it would seem bizarre to discover that a converted brothel out of Columbia Heights has emerged as one of the area’s tastiest pizza destinations, but RedRocks makes no apologies — nor do they have reason to. While their base of operations is the corner house of a modest residential block, with an interior recalling a speakeasy, their traditional Neapolitan pies exemplify the culinary history of their Italian ancestry. RedRocks gets the Downtowner’s vote for best traditional margherita pizza in the city. The selling point here is the crust. Their dough, prepared fresh daily, is a blend of imported “Caputo 00” Italian flour, the finest milled grain widely recognized as the world’s best pizza flour. Thin yet crisp, bubbly and slightly charred, the wood-fired crust has an extra pinch of salt to help the mozzarella and fresh tomato erupt with flavor, wholly fulfilling the aromatic anticipation. The liberal use of basil leaves, tossed whole onto the pie, adds an herbal flourish that cools and refreshes the palette. The menu has a wide array of choice vegetarian options, notably the “Pizze Bianche,” with roasted eggplant, goat cheese and pesto. The umbrella-cluttered patio, almost as large as the interior seating area, makes for ideal summer dining. Their Monday night special, half price bottles of wine, is another draw. This one is not to be missed. Pizza with a Kiss & a Kick: Moroni & Brother’s Restaurant Petworth (4811 Georgia Ave.) In 1991, José and Reyna Velazquez were dishwashers at Pizzeria Paradiso, having just come to the US from El Salvador. They worked their way up to head chefs there, perfecting the craft of the wood-fired, brick oven pizza. Almost 20 years later, Moroni & Brother’s brings together their native and entrepreneurial influences, serving traditional Salvadoran cuisine by day and gourmet pizza by night. Though the restaurant is only three years old, one might assume upon entering that Moroni & Brother’s has been in the neighborhood for decades. There is a local complacency to the dim atmosphere and unpretentious décor, the brick oven behind the small bar toward the back, unromantically wedged between towers of pizza boxes and aluminum shelving. Their pizza, however, is as robust and tasty as they come. Although José maintains that his pizza is strictly and traditionally Italian, his Salvadoran roots betray him — much to the delight of pizza lovers. The crust is thick, soft and mellow, with a touch of sweetness that complements the fresh vegetables and frequently utilized spicier toppings. The Diavola, one of their best sellers, is lushly topped with spicy sausage, red onion, sweet peppers and jalepenos — not the most traditional Italian pie, but a damn good one. Other noteworthy additions include the Explosive, with spicy salami, black olives, and hot pepper flakes, and the Bianca, with oregano, parsely, red onion, pine nuts and parmesan. Moroni & Brothers is yet another reason to keep an epicurean eye on Petworth. Best Lunch & By-the-Slice Spot: Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza Columbia Heights (1400 Irving Street, Suite 103) Pizza by the slice is difficult to find outside of New York City, but Pete’s New Haven has introduced it to the District with serious verve. Sitting on top of Columbia Heights Metro and selling a wide, creative variety of pizza by the slice at a great price (starting at $2.50), Pete’s is the ideal place to stop for a quick bite or a tasty lunch. New Haven-style Apizza (pronounced “ah-Beets”) is a lesser-known, yet thoroughly distinct style of pizza. “The focus is on the crust,” says Dominic Palazzolo, assistant manager. It has a characteristically thin crust that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The pizzas are enormous — 18 inches in diameter — and the slices hold their shape when picked up, without folding over and spilling. The toppings are just as noteworthy. Their best seller, “Edge of the Woods,” is heaped with ricotta cheese and spinach and blanketed with crispy fried eggplant. This pie is a signature, unique to most any pizza experience you are likely to have. Their “Staven,” a twist on the traditional pepperoni and sausage, comes with caramelized onions, red pepper flakes and whole roasted cloves of garlic. The Sorbillo is another rare treat. The “birthplace of the pizza,” this rectangular crust is filled with salumi and mozzarella, and topped with a healthy dollop of ricotta. Though perhaps most impressive of all is that Pete’s New Haven has gluten-free pizza on the menu. The dough is made with tapioca starch and chickpea flour. “It’s a great feeling for us,” says Palazzolo of the gluten-free pie, “to be able to provide pizza for people who haven’t had it for upwards of five to 10 years.” As a family owned and operated restaurant, it is a mission of Pete’s New Haven to support other small, local businesses. Their soda fountain sports only Boylan Soda, a New Jersey-based organic soda company. Likewise, many of the ingredients and toppings are organic and locally grown. With a new location in Friendship Heights opening this week, there’s plenty to go around. Best Dining Experience: Il Canale Georgetown (1063 31st St) Just off M Street in Georgetown, Il Canale has fashioned a reputation for serving up authentic Italian cuisine and thin crust gourmet pizza. It is in a comfortable location by the C&O Canal, far enough removed from the bustling traffic to feel secluded and intimate. Sitting in the small patio on the antiquated brick sidewalk, the atmosphere alludes to a small Florentine eatery. Inside the décor is chic and modern. The waiters are well informed of the restaurant’s mission, and delight in discussing the menu and culinary traditions with customers. It is a good place to enjoy good food. This is not to detract from the food itself. Steeped in the richness of Italian tradition, there is a reliable consistency in the confidence with which each dish is prepared. Even the table bread comes with an excellent dip of olive oil, pepper flakes, marinated garlic cloves and rosemary. Their Neapolitan pizzas have fluffy, substantial crusts, well browned on the outside. The tomato sauce is ripe, tangy and fragrant, and the buffalo mozzarella tastes farm fresh, absorbing the strong, fragrant basil. The resulting pizza is a perfectly balanced work of craft. Artisanal pizza at its finest. Best Pizza after the Game: Matchbox Chinatown (713 H Street), also Capitol Hill (521 Eighth St. S.E.) and Rockville, MD (Fall 2010) The four guys behind Chinatown’s Matchbox — New Yorkers Perry, Ty, Mark and Drew — make no bones about the wide ethnic influences on their menu, a sort of neo-Mediterranean-Southwest-American blur. Believe us, it’s no detriment. Delightfully labyrinthine floor plan, professional, friendly wait staff and wood-and-glass-intensive décor aside, the menu alone is enough reason why Matchbox has earned loving nods from foodies across the city since it opened in 2002. While the uninitiated may come for the traditional entrees, spend your energy (and hard-earned cash) on their pizza, fired expertly in an 800-degree wood oven and served up as a 10- or 14-inch pie. We tried the veteran “spicy meatball” pizza, a regulars’ favorite from day one, featuring pureed garlic, bacon bits, crushed red pepper and halved meatballs over a layer of fresh mozzarella. Simply superb. The low, smoldering spice is enough to satisfy the discriminating three-alarmer, but won’t overpower those who prefer a milder flavor. Also delicious was the coppa and arugula pie, termed quasi-vegetarian (and truly so, if you forego the ham) and topped with decorous rounds of charcuterie, Roma tomatoes and a lush bundle of Mr. President’s favorite green. Expect a generous smoky carbon taste from the crust. Matchbox is also known for their mini-burgers, minimal wine markups (a bottle of 2006 Duckhorn merlot will run you a very reasonable $76) and respectable selection of craft beers. If you’re not making a beeline here after a Caps or Wizards game, you’re just plain missing out. Best Place for Pizza and a Brew: Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont Circle (2003 P St.), Georgetown (3282 M St.) If you’re a local, you’ve no doubt caught wind by now of Paradiso’s legendary pizza. If you’re especially plugged in, you may even have learned it goes better with one of their painstakingly selected craft beers, most from breweries so indie you’ve probably never heard of them (Yeah, we did just say that. Please forward outraged complaints to our editor). Add in a casual, community atmosphere with Hendrix and Johnny Cash blaring overhead, and you’ve got a recipe for a night (or lunch) out that can’t fail. First, the pizza: The brainchild of virtuoso chef Ruth Gresser — who once held court at Dupont’s Obelisk — Paradiso’s spin on Neapolitan pizza (they call it “Tuscan”) flaunts a puffy, airy brown crust loaded with astonishingly fresh tomato chunks and Italian cheeses ranging from Parmesan to pecorino (and, of course, mozzarella). We recommend the “Atomica,” a moderately spicy spread of salami, briny black olives and pepper flakes. But let’s be honest: you can’t really steer yourself wrong here. Pies come in 8- or 12-inch sizes. Then there’s the beer. When you finally navigate through the dissertation-length beer list, you’ll find yourself frothing at the mouth with questions (wild yeast ale or Flemish sour?). Or maybe it’s thirst. You may also be a bit overwhelmed, so if you’re still at a loss, ask one of the very knowledgeable servers to get you started. From there, start exploring. The two Paradiso restaurants boast nearly 30 taps and 300 bottle varieties between them with amazingly little overlap. They also rotate their brews every two weeks, so exercise patience with all your might; you’ll get to try them all in due time. Don’t miss a chance to stop by the downstairs bar on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. All drafts are half off, making for, arguably, the best happy hour in town. Most Authentic Italian: Two Amys Cleveland Park (3715 Macomb St.) The one trouble with Cleveland Park’s most famous pizzeria is just that — it’s famous. There’s a reason the atmosphere is packed and boisterous, and it likely has to do with the crowds thronging at the doorways on the weekend just to get a seat. But trust us, it’s worth it. On a Saturday night, a party of four should have just enough time for a quick stroll to the National Cathedral before their table’s ready. Once inside, sit down and take in the Spartan, quaint décor — rub your hands along the bare wood bench tables, dish out a little red pepper from the square jar and order yourself a stemless glass of montepulciano. If you’re with your sweetheart, head to the back for a half pint of Moretti beer at the woodplank bar, over which cured meats deliciously hang. The menu at Two Amys is quick to point out that the restaurant abides by Neapolitan pizza standards outlined by the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), the Italian quality assurance standard (and you thought it was just for wine!). Sink your teeth into a bite of their signature Margherita Extra and you won’t be surprised it gets a stamp from the Italian brass. Lovingly floated on a chewy, slightly salty crust are impeccable chopped tomatoes, creamy, essential buffalo mozzarella and ripe cherry tomato halves for good measure. If you’re feeling adventurous, order a little arugula on top and tuck in. The pies are served unsliced, so have your knife and fork at the ready, and keep your “bellissimas” to a low volume.

Paws in the Plains

The Plains, the sleepy, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it country town visitors must wend through to get to Middleburg from I-66, jumped the gun last weekend on celebrating the proverbial “dog days” of August. Not that Adam, Annie, and a few dozen other shelter dogs were complaining. The July 24 “Dog Day in The Plains,” despite the oppressive heat and humidity, gave the Middleburg Human Foundation in Marshall, VA a chance to strut a number of its furry residents before the public. In all, the event lured in around 60 locals and out-of-towners with the prospect of ice cream, a raffle, a dog-themed puppet show for the kids (“The Barker of Seville”) and, of course, a chance to meet a few doe-eyed, lovable pooches in need of a good home. Not bad for a town with just one main road, which was practically melting that day. “As hot as it’s been, people have really come out and supported us,” said Linda Neel, who thought up the event as a fundraiser for the shelter. Her husband Tom, with whom she owns the art and design gallery Live an Artful Life, was more blunt. “Pretty good for a billion degrees,” he joked. Not surprisingly, ice cream sold fast and shade was a valuable commodity. In all, the three-hour event managed to raise an estimated $1400 for the rescue organization (the official total is still being counted), which relies on help from over 100 volunteers on its four-acre farm to manage its community of rescued pets and livestock, which includes everything from dogs and horses to more unusual critters, including donkeys and chickens. Perhaps more importantly, the gathering provided a venue for the shelter to show off photos and profiles of the animals under its care, and arrange live, in-the-flesh meetings with dog lovers who turned out that day (naturally, there’s no better way to get a pet adopted than to set up an aww-mom-can-we-keep-him scenario). Foundation President Hilleary Bogley was happy with the day’s results, saying that in a time of diminished financial contributions by the public, extra visibility always helps. “I hope it turns out to be an annual event,” she said. Her canine companions seemed to make an impression, too. A two-year-old puppy, Annie, was on her way to being adopted by that afternoon, pending a little paperwork — Bogley, the court-appointed humane investigator for Fauquier County, is known for her thorough background checks to ensure adoptees are headed for a responsible and loving family. The shelter also passed out fliers urging fans to vote in a contest that would make it a prominent feature in the upcoming mutt flick “Smitty” with Mira Sorvino. (Voters can visit and click on the red banner.) Dog day, indeed. [gallery ids="99177,103194,103197" nav="thumbs"]