Brunch-lovers flocked to Washingtonian’s sold-out “Brunch & Bloodys” event on Saturday, March 21, at the Toolbox Pilates Art Studio in Dupont Circle. Guests indulged in bottomless brunch bites including fried chicken and waffles by Café Rue, crepes from Crepe Love, and meatloaf egg sliders from Ris. Party-goers paired their delectable treats with Bloody Marys, mimosas from the Celebrity Cruises Mimosa Bar, Grapefruit Harvest Abita, and Belvedere’s Wild Berry Lemonade specialty cocktail. Buffalo & Bergen won the “Best Bloody Mary” challenge with their creative and delicious Bloody Mary “Lox’d & Loaded,” which featured an "everything spice" Bloody Mary garnished with a bagel and lox.
Participating Restaurants: Amphora Restaurant; Astro Doughnuts; Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar and Eatery; Buffalo & Bergen; Café Rue; Crepe Love; District Donut; DGS Delicatessen; Heckman’s Delicatessen; La Tomate; Leonora Bakery; Mason Dixie Biscuits; Old Angler’s Inn; Peregrine Espresso; RareSweets; Ris; The Coupe; and The Diner.
All photographs by Michael Bennett Kress.
Washingtonian hosted an Anti-Valentine’s Day Singles Soiree on February 14 at Penn Social. The area’s most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes participated in an ice-breaker game provided by A Little Nudge and competed for love in Singled Out DC by District Trivia. The contestants of the dating show—Patrick Leddy, Evin Lipman, James Majewski, and Kristen Anderson—were given a gift certificate to South Moon Under to dress for their first dates as well as a free round of drinks provided by Penn Social. Partygoers took festive photos in the photo booth by Tickled and enjoyed Jameson, Blue Moon, and South Moon Under branded cupcakes by Sprinkles.
Alexandria Public Schools teacher Ryan Suto was lucky today's schedule only featured administrative meetings. Suto, who teaches English as a Second Language, ducked out of work at 1:30 so he could get to Penn Social and raise a glass to the DC Council's vote approving the use of city funds to assemble the land for a new stadium for his beloved DC United soccer team.
"Luckily, since there were no classes today, it was okay," he said, wearing one of the freshly minted T-shirts United was giving out at the door.
Nearly an hour after the Council voted unanimously to spend up to $150 million on the nine-acre site on Buzzard Point in Southwest, United players and front-office staff walked into the Penn Quarter bar, trailed by their most fervent supporters, in celebration of a public-private partnership designed to produce the most expensive stadium in Major League Soccer history. The 20,000-seat venue, which could open in time for the 2017 season, is being touted by DC's politicos as a signature achievement in economic development.
"Vamos!" said Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, whose push to remove a land swap with the development firm Akridge for the Frank D. Reeves Center at valuable 14th and U streets, Northwest, actually complicated the stadium deal in its final steps.
"This is a great day for the District of Columbia," said Council member Jack Evans, a longtime proponent of stadium development deals.
But a repeat of the apartments, condominiums, offices, shops, and restaurants that swept through Navy Yard after the construction of Nationals Park isn't guaranteed. A $200,000 study published last month on the stadium's cost and potential benefits stated that "Buzzard Point is highly unlikely to repeat the rapid large-scale development boom."
Still, United's most die-hard fanatics are offering to jump-start the investment. Back in June 2013, when DC officials and the team first announced the stadium plan, Donald Wine suggested that he would move to Southwest DC so he could live just blocks from soccer.
"That's the idea, now it's a reality," said Wine, an attorney and a member of the Screaming Eagles, a fan club that gets rowdy in the stands at RFK Stadium, the crumbling, 53-year-old American football coliseum in which United has been stuck since entering MLS in 1996.
As for Wine's fellow superfans who skipped work today, they feel their team is closer to equal footing with Washington's franchises in more popular American sports leagues.
"We're like the Green Bay Packers of MLS," said Jayme Thysell, a government contractor who moonlights as the drummer for the Screaming Eagles and other supporter groups.
Okay, but the Packers are operated as a nonprofit public trust in a small city in Wisconsin. United is in a major East Coast city and is owned by Erick Thohir, an Indonesian media billionaire with holdings around the world.
"I'm talking about earning trophies and tradition," Thysell clarified. "DC United fans, we act more like a small-market team."
He might be on to something there. While many players from the Nationals, Wizards, or Washington's NFL team might be easily recognized around town, soccer players can slip in and out of a crowd without much notice (I didn't realize till well after the event that the short blond guy with whom I exchanged brief pleasantries by a buffet table was actually forward Chris Rolfe, who scored six goals in 21 games during United's 2014 season). Thysell did have one idea to build United's profile around Washington, though it's unlikely the team would go in for it.
"What this team needs is a bad boy or a diva," he said. "I don't want a Ray Rice, but we need that bad boy to get in the news so the team gets in the news."
There might have been a malcontent somewhere in the building. The fire alarm went off about 3 PM, forcing the team's players and hangers-on to evacuate the basement bar and head back into the daylight. The all-clear sounded ten minutes later.
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.
On Wednesday, December 3, guests celebrated with Washingtonian at On The Rocks, our annual whiskey and fine spirits festival, held at Union Market’s Maurice Electric Warehouse. Party-goers enjoyed spirits from Heaven Hill Distilleries, A. Smith Bowman Distillery, Lyon Distilling Company, Virginia Distillery Company, Bulleit, Beam Suntory, George Dickel Distillery, Van Gogh Imports, and more. Windows Catering provided delectable fare, including a mac and cheese bar, a slider station, fried chicken bites, and shrimp skewers.
Presenting sponsor Bentley wowed guests with its luxurious vehicles, allowing them to experience the cars from the driver's seat and pose for photos. This event would not have been possible without Bentley and our other valued partners Amaryllis, Windows Catering, Digital Lightning, MyDeejay, and Social Light.
Click through the slideshow for more photos from the event.
Participating Spirits: A.Smith Bowman Distillery, Angel's Envy, Beam Suntory, Bulleit, Catoctin Creek Distillery, George Dickel Distillery, Green Hat Gin, Heaven Hill, Lyon Distilling Company, Papa's Pilar Rum, Top of the Hill Distillery, Van Gogh Imports, Virginia Distillery Company, and WhistlePig.
Guests came out to celebrate the premiere of the new Westfield Montgomery on Thursday, November 13. Attendees were greeted by Westfield’s valet services and escorted into the event by Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and James Bond characters. Once inside, party-goers enjoyed cocktails from MET Bethesda’s on-tap Martini Bar and indulged in numerous hors d’oeuvres, including a raw bar and carving station. After the event, guests were ushered into the new ArcLight Cinema to see a special showing of Casino Royale.
The theme of this year’s 26th annual PEN/Faulkner Foundation Gala was “danger,” but it could just as easily have been, “Whither the tuxedo?” The organizers of the prestigious literary event made a strategic sartorial decision: to drop the time-honored black-tie dress code in favor of business suits for men and cocktail dresses for women. While many of the men at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Monday evening seemed to welcome the relaxed standards, one in particular, master of ceremonies Calvin Trillin, was not so sure. “I have mixed feelings about the change of dress,” he said, “partly because of the negative effect it has had on my tuxedo amortization.” Nonetheless, the writer and humorist wore a dark suit, blue shirt, and yellow tie.
The change of dress even prompted Mary Haft, the gala’s co-chair, to send out an e-mail reminder on Monday morning: “Although Cocktail Attire is printed on invitation, know that this is a departure from years of the tradition of Black Tie.”
While Trillin focused on the change of dress code, the 12 writers and two DC students who were honored at the event stayed with the theme at hand: danger. David Baldacci, the author of more than two dozen best-selling books, who lives in Vienna, Virginia, recalled a three-day research experience he had training with the Army Rangers at Fort Benning in Georgia. He spent time on a sniper range, “got rolled over in a Humvee,” trained for a parachute jump, and did the required Ranger fitness course, “which, four years later, I am still sore from.”
Piper Kerman, well known for writing the memoir that became the acclaimed Netflix prison series Orange Is The New Black, said she has known a lot of danger in her life. “I have accepted crosstown rides from strangers in Washington, DC. I jumped off tall waterfalls in Indonesia with no certainty about how I would land,” she said. “I have carried bags of dirty money across international lines at the behest of a drug kingpin,” which is how she ended up navigating “the dangers, great and small, that wait for every person inside our enormous American maze of prisons and jails.” She served 13 months at Connecticut's Danbury prison for money laundering and drug trafficking.
Elliott Holt, a DC-based writer, discussed her memory of when a 15-year-old high school freshman who sought shelter under a tree was killed by lightning when a sudden storm blasted a lacrosse game at St. Albans School in 1991. She was not the only speaker to reference the Washington area—the two student-authors who were honored, Daniela Shia-Sevilla of the Duke Ellington School and and Rachel Pyfrom of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, both wove Metro into their essays on danger.
Each year, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation honors a dozen established writers with the literary prizes, as well as recognizing two students from the Writers in Schools program. A component of the gala occasion is that the established writers spend time with student writers at DC public schools. In addition to Baldacci, Kerman, and Holt, the other writers who were honored this year included Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier; Mitchell S. Jackson, whose most recent novel is The Residue Years; Rachel Pastan, whose novels include Alena, Lady of the Snakes, and This Side of Married; Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who has published 19 books, including the short-story collection Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club; Madison Smartt Bell, who wrote the Haitian Revolution trilogy, All Souls Rising, Master of the Crossroads, and The Stone That the Builder Refused; Adelle Waldman, whose debut novel is The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.; and Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson, who wrote the nonfiction bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns.
The 237 guests who attended the cocktail reception and readings were also treated to a seated dinner of roasted autumn vegetables, organic baby chicken with roasted fingerling sweet potatoes, and a rustic apple tart paired with Acacia Carneros Chardonnay and Beaulieu Vineyards Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon.
John Hauge, one of my dinner partners who had just been to a black-tie gala the night before, was among the men who welcomed PEN/Faulkner’s new dress code. He said business suits were simply easier because many of the male guests come to the event directly from the office. Such is modern gala life in the city.
Food truck lovers made their way to Washingtonian’s Truck It! in the St. Luke's parking lot at 15th and P streets, Northwest, on Saturday, September 28. Guests enjoyed tastes from our top-rated food trucks and other family fun. Participating trucks included Brandon's Little Truck, Meggrolls, Mighty Dog and Acai, Mesob on Wheels, Taste of Eastern Europe, and DC Ballers. Attendees sipped Warsteiner Oktoberfest while picking pumpkins from Whole Foods and enjoying chili and cornbread from Occasions Caterers. Kelly Collis from 94.7 Fresh FM's The Tommy Show brought the party with the station's music.
Kevin Spacey made Frank Underwood proud on Tuesday night, illustrating that in Washington, as in the entertainment industry, the show must go on. The House of Cards star sang his heart out from the stage of the Harman Center, even though it was clear something just wasn’t right. Backed by an orchestra that filled the stage, he performed some of the greatest hits of the American songbook, but the occasional high note was more croak than croon. After only two songs he confessed to the audience that he had a frog in his throat, hinting at a cold.
During the speaking parts of the show, Spacey spoke quietly. Later, a guest who sat in the front row, said, “I could barely hear him. He was really pushing himself.” Another guest noted his voice was “a little raspy.”
A sore throat was not going to deter Spacey from this occasion, called Kevin Spacey in Concert, his second big bash in Washington to raise funds for his baby—the Kevin Spacey Foundation. Last year, the fundraiser consisted of a seated dinner at the Mandarin Hotel. This year, it was a sold-out lavish stage show and an after-party at Poste in the Hotel Monaco that, according to one organizer, raised more than $700,000. Both events featured Spacey singing his favorite songs, fondly remembering his mentor Jack Lemmon, and dropping the occasional reference to Underwood, the devious and (more-or-less) fictional character he portrays in the hit Netflix series, House of Cards.
“It’s been a helluva lot of fun portraying Frank Underwood through the past couple of years,” Spacey said, commending his character's abilities to get others to fall in line. “This man is passionate and dedicated, the supreme salesman.” He called the concept of the evening, raising money for arts education programs, and the show and party, “Frank Underwood’s guide to philanthropy.”
Fittingly, the evening’s co-chairs were bipartisan—House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.* Other co-chairs included Hunter and Kathleen Biden, Jill and Nathan Daschle, Lyndon Boozer, Melissa Maxfield, Ted Sarandos of Netflix, Charles Segars of Ovation, and British Ambassador Peter Westmacott and his wife, Susie. Adrienne Arsht served as the event chair. The Spacey Foundation, founded in 2010 in England, where Spacey was artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre, provides young artists with scholarships, grants, and other learning experiences.
Spacey made it to the after-party, was reportedly in every way the good sport, and stayed until the end, past midnight, though the same guest who had watched him from the front row of the concert observed, “he was clearly not feeling good.”
There’s this for anyone who had face time with Spacey on Monday night: If you end up with a cold, you can say you got it from an Academy Award-winning actor, the President of the United States, or both. In true political tradition, his spokesperson would not confirm or deny a cold.
*This post has been updated from a previous version.
With Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in the room, it had to be a routine Washington party, right? Then what about Felicia Beefeater and her red silk, feathers, and ample bosom? Felicia, also known as A.J. Dronkers, was one of the drag queens on hand, all done up as belles of the ball (and, fortunately, not as the governor's friend Hillary Clinton). Since many guests wanted photos with them, the drag queens owned the loud, frolicsome, food-and booze-saturated night at the third annual LGBT Chefs for Equality feast. However, it was McAuliffe who was the official featured attraction—on hand to underscore the evening’s theme of “Virginia Real,” in support of marriage equality in his state.
The party of 500 guests had been underway for two hours when McAuliffe bounded down the stairs of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel into a ballroom that felt like midnight at U Street's Town Danceboutique, which is why it is easily one of the most fun—and delicious and intoxicating—charity fundraisers of the fall season, maybe the whole year. Raising funds for the Human Rights Campaign, it successfully lifts the ubiquitous food trough event into an orbit all its own, where even the celebrity chefs in attendance—and most are on hand—call it a command performance. Two years ago the featured speaker was Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, after that state approved same-sex marriage. This year it was McAuliffe's turn. From the raised deejay booth in the middle of the ballroom, and during a rare moment of relative quiet, he declared that Virginia is “going to have marriage equality. As governor . . . I promise you that.”
The annual summer Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington awards gala (a.k.a. the RAMMYS) is about the business of restaurants, but Chefs for Equality is all about the men and women who do the cooking, pour the wine, and mix the cocktails. They showed up to oversee the dozens of food “stations” representing the city’s top restaurants and bars, and another 23 chefs paired up to cook and serve seated dinners to folks who paid $5,000 per table. There was one table of 16 that cost $16,000, but they also got double the chefs, including Fabio Trabocchi of Fiola and Fiola Mare, Patrick O’Connell of the Inn at Little Washington, Eric Ziebold of CityZen, and Frank Ruta. Baker Mark Furstenberg of Bread Furst (where Ruta cooks) stood by, slicing his signature crusty bread for all nine of the private tables.
While tricked-out tables were hubs of culinary creativity, there’s always one table that is earns the title of "most buzzed-about." This year it was a table all the way over in the corner presided over by chefs Peter Chang of Peter Chang's China Cafe and Scott Drewno of the Source. “Where’s Peter Chang? I want to see Peter Chang’s table,” was overheard often in the crush of the crowd. Who was the lucky guest who claimed the Chang-Drewno table? “Conrad Kenley, a wine connoisseur,” said the evening’s organizer, David Hagedorn. “If he and his girlfriend are not off in some exotic location drinking incredible wine, they are at dim sum brunch at the Source.”
For the mere mortals who paid $150 per ticket and who didn’t have a private table, it was still a feast of extravagance, starting right at the front entrance where Red Truck Bakery’s Brian Noyes was serving up blueberry cake and moonshine cake—and moonshine, a big jar of it that he gladly opened and served to the brave takers. Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground served a salad of snakehead fish; Mockingbird Hill’s Chantal Tseng produced a cocktail called Grapes of Wrath made with rye, sherry, coffee, and absinthe; Jack Rose Dining Saloon served pimiento cheese and prosciutto on a buttermilk biscuit; and 1789’s Ryan Westover served red velvet wedding cake, as part of a larger presentation of wedding cakes, with an obvious nudge-nudge to Virginia.
The food item of the night, though, was easily foie gras. Le Diplomate was one of several restaurants serving the luxury item, its signature foie gras parfait. However, Le Diplomate’s general manager, William Washington, was spotted making a beeline to the Red Hen's table, where chef Michael Friedman was serving foie gras “tiramisu.” Washington stepped right up: “I’m told that of everything here tonight, this is the one.” We can't argue.
One of the most grown-up occasions on Washington’s fall social calendar is the annual Symphony Ball at the Kennedy Center. At this year’s ball, more than 700 guests gathered—coiffed, pulled, powdered, and dolled up in evening gowns and black tie, having paid $1,000 per person to attend. (Or more: A “Maestro” level table for 12, plus the concert and other perks, cost $50,000.)
The evening of performances, by violinist Joshua Bell, soprano Kelli O’Hara, and the National Symphony Orchestra, led by maestro Christoph Eschenbach, served as a “welcome to Washington” for the center’s new president, Deborah Rutter. And a nice welcome it was: The ball raised more than $1.4 million.
An event this cultured and expensive is, of course, subdued and well-behaved. Kennedy Center chairman David Rubenstein, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Catherine and Wayne Reynolds, orchestra board chair Jeanne Ruesch, board members Tina and Albert “Sonny” Small, Sidney and Jay Johnson, Bitsey Folger, Ann and Vernon Jordan, Mary and Mandy Ourisman, Congressman Jim Moran, and the ambassadors of Brazil, Finland, Germany, Nigeria, and Thailand were all in attendance. A little graying at the temples is to be expected. Even baby-faced Bell is 46 years old.
The ball is also surprisingly relaxing. As always, Eschenbach started the show by leading the orchestra in a season-opening and rousing national anthem. The audience stood and sang along before sitting back to hear Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” as well as works by Saint-Saëns, Ravel, Johnny Mercer, and Barry Manilow.
“It’s great to be back with this incredible orchestra and maestro,” Bell said after arriving on stage to booming applause.
He dedicated a piece, “Ladies in Lavender,” to Rutter, saying he had performed the soundtrack for the English film of the same name “about two great ladies . . . and we wish her many great years ahead.” When the number was over, Rutter walked to the stage apron to shake Bell’s hand.
Before the concert guests enjoyed cocktails and canapés on the terrace overlooking the Potomac River, with a backdrop of a rather painterly late-September sunset. At intermission came Champagne on the box tier. After the performances, the grownups regrouped in an adjacent tent—made much less tent-like with beautiful flowers and lots of candles—for a French-themed meal, Champagne, and dancing cheek-to-cheek.
Find Carol Ross Joynt on Twitter at @caroljoynt.