Music, The Features, We Love Music

We Love Music: Yelle @ 9:30 Club — 10/11/14

About two-thirds of the way through her set, French pop siren Yelle strides up to a platform to situate herself between the two drummers comprising her band.

Performing the bright electropop song “Tohu” from her new album, Complètement fou, she picks up a disco ball and holds it in her hands before her. Laser-like lightbeams crisscrossing the stage until this point changed direction to target the ball.

The lights scatter from the disco ball. The resulting light shower rained out over the room and the audience, and everyone was dazzled.

Yelle followed up the theatrics by bouncing right into the popular “Safari Disco Club,” the title track to her second album.

Indeed, light tricks or no, the sold-out audience was consistently dazzled by Yelle when she stopped by the 9:30 Club on Saturday, Oct. 11 in a tour supporting the latest album, released last month.

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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Spike Mendelsohn of The Sheppard

Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery

Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery

We’re revisiting our Capital Chefs feature with a series by music reporter Mickey McCarter. A lot has been happening recently in kitchens in D.C. restaurants, and Mickey takes a look into them from his usual seat at the bar in this series, which runs weekly on Thursdays.

Back in April during the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, Spike Mendelsohn cooked a whole pig for a feast. He used the pig’s head to make a 10-hour cheese head broth for a soup.

About halfway through, musician Jack Johnson wandered into the kitchen to check out Mendelsohn’s work. A long-time admirer of the folk rock surfer, the chef was over the moon, happy to share secrets of the soup with Johnson and his wife.

Soon, everyone ate the pig, and sat around a fire while Johnson played the guitar for hours. Afterward, they ate the soup.

“That was a pinnacle moment of my life where I got to meet a guy that I’ve always looked up to for numerous reasons,” Mendelsohn told me.

The happy encounter was no accident. Mendelsohn and 14 other chefs had gathered outside of San Francisco for the boot camp dedicated to bolstering the advocacy work of chefs and musicians.

“Not only did I meet him, but I was there as a peer of his. We were there to learn about the same thing and share ideas. As the weekend progressed in boot camp, we sacrificed a pig. It was part of the learning process of where food comes from and what is a good way to sacrifice a pig and what is the wrong way to sacrifice an animal for food.”

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The Daily Feed, The Mall

The NGA French Galleries Reinstallation

Photo courtesy of jcm_DC
Four Dancers
courtesy of jcm_DC

Last weekend the National Gallery of Art reopened the Nineteenth-Century French Galleries, which contain works by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Modigliani and Picasso.

The gallery now organizes the paintings thematically and provides textual panels to help visitors understand the reasoning behind the new groupings. In addition, thirteen of the paintings have been restored.

I went last Saturday and was blown away by both the beauty on display and the enthusiasm of the visitors around me. In fact, I was so amazed by the Cézanne pieces that I ran out of time and missed Monet. However that shouldn’t be a problem: the NGA’s price tag (always free) and nearness to Metro mean I can always…Gauguin. Yes, that’s a little Post-Impressionist humor for your Friday.

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Make a Toast to Champagne Day!

Photo courtesy of
‘Look, A Champagne Cork’
courtesy of ‘[F]oxymoron’

Today is the second annual Global Champagne Day (that would be #ChampagneDay for the geekier drinker) and there are several ways to celebrate this most auspicious occasion around Washington.

At Proof, rare and wonderful Champagnes will be available – at every price-point from $10 to $60 per glass. Wine Director Sebastian Zutant’s selections include Jean Moutardier Rosé, Jacques Selosse Initiale, Louis Roederer Cristal 2002, and Salon Le Mesnil 1997 – only the 36th vintage of Le Mesnil to be released in a century.

If just a glass of Champagne is not enough, Marcel’s will be hosting a special French meal of three courses, each paired with a special Champagne, for $100. Reservations are available by calling the restaurant at 202-296-1166.

Of course, it is always Champagne Day in my heart.

Essential DC, Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Et Voila!

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People look at me quizzically when I tell them that one of my favorite restaurants in DC is in the Palisades. Most people give me a little head tilt and say, “I don’t know where that is?” “Yeahhhhh,” I always sigh. “It’s above Georgetown, towards the Potomac. Totally inaccessible, but I SWEAR OMG it is worth the trip up there for Et Voila!”

I’m sorry I’ve kept it to myself this long… I’ve uh…been busy and stuff. Plus the restaurant is super tiny, and if you knew how good it is, you’d be there filling up my seat. Call me selfish, whatever, I can take it. But I’ve finally cracked and the secret is out: Et Voila! is delicious, unpretentious Belgian food, and you should go. Don’t have a car? Get yourself a Zipcar, grab your bike out of hibernation, strap on the rollerblades, call up your ex, do whatever it takes. Even (gasp) take the D6 bus! I mean business.

So all this gushing, but you’re sitting there staring at your computer screen asking what IS Et Voila!, exactly? Located along Macarthur Boulevard, this French/Belgian gem doesn’t look like a whole heck of a lot from the outside. But once inside, I always feel like I’m in London, or even Paris. The wait staff speaks almost exclusively French, and the close, cozy interior always has a buzz about it.

Chef Claudio Pirollo and Pastry Chef Mikael Cornu have built an accessible menu full of well executed classics. Et Voila!’s Web site quips, “Chef Pirollo was named “Best Young Chef in Belgium” in 1994 and served as the personal chef to the Irish Ambassador for the past six years.” And not for naught. The menu, full of staples like mussels, french onion soup, foie gras, is in a word impeccable. The brunch menu isn’t to be taken lightly either – Belgian waffles, of course, but brunch favorites such as eggs benedict with smoked salmon, leek quiche and croque madame come out to play. The quiche has a flakey, buttery savory crust, and every detail right down to the cheese in the quiche shine through. Continue reading

We Love Food

We Love Food: Willow

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Willow Bar & Restaurant by Addison H on Flickr

I have been known to insult Ballston from time to time. I have a deep fond love of Arlington, but Ballston seems to me to be all high rises, chain restaurants and it’s kinda got a mall. But places like Willow make me take it all back. Tucked in the bottom level of an office building, Willow is a gem of a restaurant with fresh, local, sophisticated food and perfect service.

I’ve become a regular at Willow. I’ve taken my friends, my parents, I’ve gone there for drinks, for restaurant week dinners. I basically love it for it’s calm refined atmosphere and unblemished menu. The crowd errs on the slightly old to very old side, I see some grey hair every time I go. But then again I’m never there for a scene, so this has never bothered me – if I wanted a scene in Arlington I’d go to Eventide or Liberty Tavern. I come to Willow to take a deep breath. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Photo courtesy of
‘Passion, lower section’
courtesy of ‘lepiaf.geo’

Looking for something new and different to do tonight?

Head to the French embassy starting at 6:45 for a Midsummer Night’s Parisian Dance Soiree, where you can learn to tango (yep, it takes two, but you don’t need to bring a partner) and dance the merengue and Viennese waltz. And of course they’ll have French wine, to make that dancing thing a little easier.

Advance tickets are required.

Entertainment, Food and Drink, Music, Night Life, Special Events, The Daily Feed

Rock the Casbah Embassy

Photo courtesy of
‘Yann Tiersen 27′
courtesy of ‘Shadowgate’

Last night’s US premiere of musician and composer, Yann Tiersen, marked the opening of the season of events hosted by the ‘La Maison Française‘ (or “The French House“) Franco-American cultural exchange at the French Embassy. They are scheduling event’s throughout the summer and vary their selections from music (jazz, folk, classical, and rock) to other performances (cabaret, opera, theater) and are held in a very intimate setting on the grounds. If the actual quality of the performance isn’t enough, remember, this is France, and a complimentary wine tasting ensued after the performance (I only wished for cheese and bread to follow!).

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The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Ice Sheets, Ice Cubes


‘Broken ice sheet’, courtesy of ‘another sergio’

This Wednesday, while the Environmental Film Festival has DC thinking green, the French Embassy will hold a talk on Polar Deserts and their Secrets.

They’ll discuss research being done in Antarctica on climate change, biodiversity, and human adaptation. In fine French form, they’ll follow the 6 p.m. lecture with cocktails. (RSVP to deputy-cnrs@ambafrance-us.org)

That’s the spirit! Let’s hear more bad news about the planet, then steady our nerves with a drink.

Food and Drink, We Love Food

We Love Food: 2941

Photo courtesy of
‘Bottle Necks’
courtesy of ‘christaki’

2941 is a lot of things. Gorgeous: with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. Delicious: From a beef tartare amuse bouche to a delicious lemon dessert our meal was rich, creative and certainly french-nouveau. It was also Expensive. Capital E. Matt first took me to 2941 for my birthday, we heard great things about Anthony Chavez’s pastries and headed over for wine and dessert. That alone was a bajillion dollars, so we were hesitant to try dinner there, knowing tasting menus ranged from $55 to over $120 per person. We’re meager young professionals, trying to live off a lobbyist/PR and a teacher salary, folks. So when we heard word 2491 was having a $44 tasting menu in honor of Obama, we rushed to make reservations to finally taste Chef Chemel’s actual dinner food.

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Food and Drink, Night Life, We Love Food

We Love Food: 1905

Dining Room at 1905

The stretch of 9th from U Street to the Convention Center makes for an interesting walk. It’s a very exciting time to live close by, with development evolving in a truly organic way. From the Little Ethiopia of Etete, Chez Hareg, Habesha Market and Queen of Sheba, to glorious grimy dive DC9, past the beautiful boys at BeBar, vegetarian haven Vegetate, on down to the weirdness of the Convention Center’s cold empty glass. All along are pockets of blight, boarded up houses mostly owned by Shiloh Baptist Church.

On this fascinating street has dropped 1905, a small second floor bistro. The vibe is rather like visiting a quirky friend’s dinner party, whose decorating style is rustic opulence on a budget. On weekdays it’s a relaxing spot for a quiet candlelit meal or drinks at the cosy bar. On weekends the communal table ramps up and it’s far livelier, with live jazz on Thursdays at 10pm. Whichever you prefer, the staff is committed to making sure everyone has a good experience and keeps a friendly atmosphere.

The menu features kicked-up bistro and comfort food with a French twist. Like the space, it’s small, and I wonder if it will change seasonally. The standout for me is the “Grilled Merquez with Polenta and Piquillo Peppers.” I’ve had it twice and it will be hard not to have every time. Having comforting polenta and spicy lamb sausage together – well, it’s like kissing a shy boy and finding out he is a bad boy. Seriously, that’s my metaphor and I’m sticking to it. Continue reading