Thursday, December 28, 2006

So, What Did YOU Do This Holiday?

Who me? Oh, nothing. NOTHING at all. Ok, well, I exaggerate a bit. I slept. A LOT. I read. A LOT. I ate. A LOT. What I didn’t do A LOT of is drink nor exercise. I suppose one “x’s” out the other, so I am even in that regard. In any case, when you are high up in the mountains, where the temperature is about 30 degrees F, where the winds freeze the water tearing from your squinting eyes before it even hits your red cheeks (NFL fans, think "Frozen Tundra"), where cell/wireless service is the poster child for the latest Cingular dropped calls commercials on a LUCKY day, where the term “high speed” literally means going 15 miles above the 65 MPH speed limit on Rte 68 and where “broadband” may in fact be an accepted term for an all girl instrument group: there really IS NOTHING to do. And I loved every minute of it.

This is not to say I spent the festive holiday season holed up like a crazy recluse. No, I was lucky to have much time with my wonderful parents and family out near Deep Creek Lake, MD. Away from the hustle, bustle, and rats racing for first place. I had been looking forward to these days and nights for so long, you cannot imagine. I know, it sounds crazy coming from me, whose nights are most people’s days and whose calendar sometimes has more engagements per evening than is physically possible to experience until cloning becomes legal. (It is for BUSINESS, I swear!)

“R and R” means PEACE and QUIET which for me, translates to: catch up on reading, movie watching and of course, sleeping. Because for five full nights, I had no social adventures to report to you readers, I thought I’d share with you my reviews and recommendations for a few books I got to check out.

Extraordinary Women – Fantasies Revealed: Produced by Ilene Leventhal and Francine Levinson, Photos by Clay Blackmore, Text by George Nicholas (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35.00). This was a gift from my dear friend Elaine Leibsohn. A gorgeous coffee table book, this 144 page colorful piece showcases 58 women of accomplishment who portray their true hopes and dreams. The cover has the beautiful Ann Curry from The Today Show whose fantasy is to be a Humanitarian. Also included in the 58 are locals like jewelry designer Ann Hand (To Sing Mimi in La Boheme at the Met), wife of Ben Bradlee and media extraordinaire, Sally Quinn (Chanteuse), Marie Johns (Bistro Owner), who was the CEO of Verizon DC as well as a recent Mayoral candidate, and Lynda Carter (Olympic Gold Medalist), who’s name goes hand in hand with the most gorgeous super heroine ever, and who is married to lawyer Robert Altman. These are just a handful of the fun delights you will find in this fabulous book. Local photographer Clay Blackmore, does his artistry more than well (I have had the privilege of working with this portrait master on a shoot for a past Washington Life Magazine piece.) This awesome hardback is priced at a mere $35.00 and proceeds benefit the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs of Washington DC.

The Phony Marine: Jim Lehrer (Random House, $23.95). I picked up 2 copies of this clever novel (personally autographed) one for my father and one for me, at the last Nathan’s Q & A of the year, featuring Jim Lehrer himself as the luncheon guest. Carol Joynt does a wonderful job of interviewing her media friends and accomplished journalists, especially those who come prepared to sign their recently written books. The authors are more than happy to stay, chat with the luncheon attendees, and autograph books. This makes for an easy gift, and a fun way to meet these successful interviewees, who would normally be seen to we regular people on TV and computer screens, Time magazine, or national newspapers.

Lehrer’s writing style offers the reader an intelligent story, while not getting too far into details, so it moves right along. It is only 206 pages and because Lehrer is an accomplished novelist, it was pure enjoyment to read and I myself wanted to wander into Border’s for another one of his works. The premise is based in DC (I love books like that, we can RELATE!) and tells of an ordinary man, Hugo Marder, who buys a Marine’s Silver Star medal on eBay (legal) and begins to wear it (not legal), all the while, noticing how differently people treat him now that he is a “hero”. Next thing we know, Hugo researches how to BECOME that Marine hero (physical appearance, walk, clothing, talk, and knowledge of Vietnam War) so that everyone will believe he truly IS that Marine hero, even those who have actually served our country. Anyone knows, especially in Washington, falsifying someone who earned a medal like the Silver Star in the armed forces is NOT an easy task … pick up this book and find out what happens to Hugo!

The Collectors: David Baldacci (Warner Books, $26.99). Oh my goodness, can I say – Baldacci is my favorite author. He has been for the past several years. I have read pretty much all of this local (Alexandria, VA) writer’s works. He bases his books mostly around the local metro area and is a political suspense, spy, espionage novelist, who, for at least me, is so engaging it is hard to put his books down. Where Lehrer doesn’t get so caught up in minute details, Baldacci is king. This can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on what mood you are in. His books can take some quiet and concentration, but hey, if you always wanted to learn about the history of pretty much anything political, the CIA, the NSA, how to be a con, how to beat a con, all while wondering how close to “true” are his stories (I mean, how much can you trust the government after reading these books?), I say go all out Baldacci.

In The Collectors, his characters take you on a roller coaster of adventure, entwining you into their lives, secrecy and risk taking til your heart is beating and you are at the edge of your seat. His most recent book is a continuation of his last publication, The Camel Club (whose major character, Oliver Stone, gets more play time in The Collectors). I am still reading The Collectors, but I can tell you, if you read the previous book, this is a more fun read, as it introduces a con artist, Annabelle Conroy, into the Club’s life, and starts with the assassination (if you read a lot of Baldacci, political assassinations are a plenty) of the U.S. Speaker of the House. Get ready to jump on this roller coaster, where the characters who are collectors, wind us from the casinos of Atlantic City, through the streets of DC, to the historic tomes of the Library of Congress, to the stark whiteness of the U.S. Capitol. The not so smart characters take us to their deaths and the smart ones- to their prize.

I hope you get a chance this holiday season to read at least one of these picks, whether while jetsetting to a fun destination, laying on a tropical beach, lounging by a ski lodge's cozy fire, sitting in a Georgetown Starbucks, or just relaxing at home by yourself. Turn off your phone, grab a drink, and totally escape. Enjoy!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall, Who is the Furriest One of All?

For a town that is so P.C. (ok, we have had a FEW hiccups in that department here and there) it is shocking to be invited to an event where the theme is “Come Party With Us Wearing Your Favorite Fur” or some variation of that, but the main gist – of the “Fur Ball” is WEAR FUR.

I have to admit, I am not one for themed parties. I have a hard enough time trying to decide what to wear to run into CVS, so for someone like me, who has limited time to venture all over DC to shop for a costume that fits a particular decade, country, holiday or otherwise, a themed party can be challenging. I can deal with color themes (Red / Pink / Black) pretty well (if we stick to those colors!). Lucky for me, the fur theme happened to fit into my wardrobe. I found something rabbit in the back of my closet. And I do own very few pieces. (PLEASE don’t compare me to Madonna who was recently chastised by PETA for wearing a $70,000 chinchilla. For one thing, I don’t have $70,000 to spend on a coat. Secondly, if I did, I wouldn’t. I have read how awful the process is to kill the little animals. I read the coat was made with 40 pelts. Maybe she can adopt a chinchilla to make up for it. Or go into fur rehab.)

The night started at Café Milano, or Cafeteria Milano, as I sometimes affectionately call it. Not because it has a cafeteria menu, but rather because the clubby atmosphere reminds me of an office building's upscale cafeteria. You walk in, see everyone at their regular tables, come over sit, chat, double kiss, say hi, what is new, who else is here, did you hear the latest, blah blah blah, just like you would in ye ole office cafeteria. (The Palm has that same feel.) Of course, the main difference in the comparison is, Milano brings in a constant celebrity clientele. Not too many office building cafeterias can claim that. I was meeting with my friend Rafael, and he was introducing me to a wonderful couple who are friends of his to discuss some potential business down the road. They own a luxury car rental company called Pure Exotics. We had great fun there, and eventually decided to move the party over to Blue Gin, where THE FUR BALL was already in full gear.

And was it ever furry in there. And very festive. And VERY crowded. And VERY VERY hot. I suppose the mild 50 degree weather doesn’t typically motivate us to wrap ourselves in animal skin that brings our own body temperature up to about 100 degrees, but we all pretty much tried to stick with the theme. Everyone and their mothers, brothers, sisters, and fathers were there. It was a true party. Jamie Hess and his host committee had invited pretty much everyone and they all pretty much showed up. At one point in the night, I heard one attractive young woman who was beginning to “glisten”, ask her friend, “Do you think this could be a fire hazard?” I think it was at that point I had to sneak out and grab a cab. I love Blue Gin, it is one of my favorite night spots (I held my 5th Annual Birthday Bash there this summer.) and they have to be happy with the business they did last night. I think everyone had a fabulous time, fur and all, even though within a few minutes of being in there, everyone started stripping off their “theme”. We hope next year it will be a bit cooler outside AND inside so we all can stick with the fur – but if the host committee wants to change it to a more P.C. theme that fit the season, remember what I said about your basic colors? Think Red and White and Green ... just a thought!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Well, not if you count the super mild weather we've been having in DC and the spotting of some pasty white untoned legs on some shorts wearers the other day, but certainly if you try to venture into Tysons Corner, Georgetown, or a Target parking lot at any time during the morning, afternoon, or evening. And forget about getting in to eat anywhere. ‘Tis the week for boisterous holiday office parties! You, who just want to eat with a friend after a full day of shopping, head to the bar or a fast food place. You may be waiting in line for a week for a table.

(*Pictured - me, Victoria Michael, Cindy Jones - photograph by Sarah Rosenwinkle)


Last week I tried to forget about the repeating ads for everything "½ off" in every store, the crowded malls, restaurants and roads that reminded me that the commercialized Christmas season was already here. Instead, I concentrated on looking at the gorgeous lights and decorations (I pretend I don’t see any plastic lit up Santa’s on people's yards) up and down the neighborhoods, M Street and in beautiful office buildings. But I was still missing that one kicker of a moment that really sets me into “Christmas Mode” (when terror strikes me that I have done no shopping, basically.) And that came upon a midnight (well almost by the time we left the gala) clear – at the Kennedy Center for the Choral Arts Society’s Annual Christmas Music Concert and Gala.

First, friends and I met up at the Four Seasons for their annual holiday party, where the theme was “Roaring ‘20’s / Depressionesque”. It was a fun theme, with boas, and hats, and tons of food and drinks, and they had obviously spent a lot of time creating a very festive atmosphere. Tiffani Cailor, who runs public relations for the hotel, was our hostess, looking beautiful as usual. We then had our group sprint over to the Kennedy Center, where we met up with the rest of the crew. Cindy and Evan Jones had graciously invited us. It was Victoria Michael, Lacey Kirstein, Lynly Boor, Paola Domenge (Tiny Jewel Box), Paige Bishop (Capitol File), Sarah Rosenwinkle, Jason Binn (CEO of Niche Media) and me.

The concert was held in the Concert Hall. It was filled to the brim with attendees. The choir sang absolutely gorgeous, lovely Austrian Christmas music which fully placed us in the holiday spirit. The orchestra was the American Youth Philharmonic, their Maestro Conductor, Luis Haza, and they were outstanding (I played the clarinet when I was younger in the band, so I had total appreciation for these kids). Norman Scribner, Artistic Director, did a fantastic job of putting the concert together, and was able to get the audience involved by not only turning around from the conductor stand and conversing in a jovial way, but by asking us to join the choir and sing along. Now, I don’t sing (I could make a dog cry) and out of respect for those around me, I kept my mouth shut. However, I did enjoy listening to those in the audience, whose life long desire was to stand in the Kennedy Center and sing their lungs out, do just that.

The nicest thing about this event, was that it was very elegant. There were stunning gowns, men in white tie with their tails, men in black tie with festive bow ties, and every jeweled color represented in dresses. There were furs galore, diamonds, rubies, emeralds. It was a gorgeous painting of people. After the concert ended we went to the Silent Auction and cocktail party held on the Rooftop Terrace. There we mixed and mingled with the rest of Washington DC society and after that, we headed to the sit down dinner. The table was fun and of course, everything was beautifully decorated. The most hilarious thing was, the main course plate was AUSTRIAN. Basically, it was cabbage, beef, and potatoes. It fit the entire night’s theme really well, however, it just didn’t go with my appetite. I was starting to feel like I was part of the Von Trapp family by the end of the night.

Monday night’s concert was exactly what I needed to kick start me into “OMG, it is REALLY HERE!” It IS here, but then it will be over before it even started. I can’t wait to go back up to Deep Creek to see my parents, hopefully there will be a few flakes falling (as it is so much colder up there) while I am in the country.

I wish everyone who reads this, a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and Safe Holiday! And NO, I still haven’t decided what to do for NYE – HOWEVER, Aspen may be in the picture … Apsen Peak Magazine’s NYE party with Seal and Heidi Klum - hmmm… more to come - but first I have to find rummage through the closet - FUR BALL IS TONIGHT!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

It's December 18th -Do YOU Know What You Will Be Doing For New Year's Eve?

Ahh, the unavoidable, undeniable stress of the holidays in Washington, DC. The parties, the shopping, the traffic, the parking lots, the shopping, the credit card debt, the shopping! And this is BEFORE we adorn our silly black plastic hats and blow our crazy horns while watching Ryan Seacrest, or whomever it is this year, reciting the countdown in Times Square. Well, forget about all the Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza stress. Let’s pack that all away for a few minutes and tuck it in a nice box, wrap it with a velvet bow, and stuff under the tree. Trust me, it's not going anywhere. It will still be there when you are done reading this.

Let’s concentrate on New Year’s Eve, or NYE, as I like to call it. This city has so many choices, SO many activity choices for this holiday. There is not one hotel, restaurant, club, lounge, large socialite homestead, or suburban cul de sac, that is not planning SOMETHING special for YOU to attend on NYE. This situation can be a confusing for many. It can become a dilemma for most. It can be equated to the woman who goes to her stocked full designer closet and exclaims, “I have nothing to wear! What shall I do!? Go out and buy something new?” Well, for some Washingtonians, that is exactly what they do. They jump on a plane and head elsewhere to ski, sun, or party in the entrance of the new year. For others, they start the search process for the local party – probably right about now.

Since I have celebrated in just about every way imaginable during my 30 something years, I came up with a few tips for those of you in the midst of deciding what to do for this monumental evening of saying “Farewell 2006, and Helloooo 2007!”

1. Decide what “MOOD” you are in for NYE. Are you feeling like a party? Or do you want something romantic? Do you want to keep it low-key? Do you want to ring in with an intimate group or do you want to be with the rest of Washington DC and their mothers? Do you want to be in jeans and a sweater or in a cocktail dress/tuxedo?

2. Figure out a realistic BUDGET. Most places do “all inclusive” but remember travel fare from home, place to place, and back home, or your hotel accommodations. If it is not "all inclusive" realize you WILL be paying extra for and food/alcohol. Don’t forget tips, or other miscellaneous expenses during the night. And if you are going to HOST the party, definitely determine and stick to your budget as best you can. Hosting can be extremely expensive, even without the travel and hotel cost. Food, beverages and decorations aren’t cheap (and you may need a carpet steam afterwards!)

3. Determine WHERE. Do you want to celebrate in your neighborhood, downtown, or out of town. Do you want to stay in a hotel, get home, or pass out at your friend's house who is hosting the party?

4. Once you have decided 1, 2, and 3, WHO will be in your immediate group? Just your significant other, or just your friends? Just the girls, just the boys, or both, or couples? Be cognizant, if you graciously invite 3 couples, then your sister who is single, she may feel like the odd one out. Or maybe she’ll run off and leave you at midnight with a hot guy she met on a dance floor.

5. There are several placed to go ONLINE to help you narrow your choices down. DCCompass– an online video website about what goes on around the city, will have promotions for about 10 places in the District that will go up later this week. DC About is non-video site to check out for text, links and suggestions. And of course, you can always check out the Washingtonpost.com city guide.

6. Pick up any NEWSPAPER or LOCAL PUBLICATION this week and next and there will be NYE specials plastered everywhere.

7. Call places you’ve always wanted to check out and ask what their NYE SPECIAL is. If it is a hotel, make sure you ask about their dinner / entertainment / room / brunch package. If it a standalone establishment, ask if they have an arrangement with a close by hotel. (i.e. Fly Lounge is offering a package with Topaz Hotel .)

8. If you have friends who have mentioned being on a HOST COMMITTEE for an event, check with them, perhaps there will be a whole group of friends going, or you can create a group to go to dinner pre-event. (I am actually on the host committee for the opening of Napoleon in Adams Morgan. The owner of Café Bonaparte, Omar Popal, is hosting his new restaurant lounge's "opening night" on NYE.)

9. MULTIPLE PLACES? You may want to limit yourself to one place for the evening, but don’t feel like you have to. If you choose a fun place downtown where you know there is another fun place within walking distance (cabs may be a hard find or you may have a car service, or take the Metro) book a table or tickets to the place after dinner. Variety is the spice of life! Just remember, when you are already IN the place that may have dinner, then dancing, consider yourself lucky. You are already there, and don’t have to worry about walking through weather or standing in line.

10. BOOK EARLY AND OFTEN. This is the week that everyone is starting to figure out their plans. Places in DC get booked quickly, and typically, since there are “specials” and a lot of folks come in to the District for this night, you will be in major competition with a lot more people. In fact, book more places, and if you want to cancel, most places have a 48 hour cancellation policy. Just don’t forget to cancel or else your card will most likely be charged. Also, make sure you make your travel arrangements when you book your restaurant, bar, club, hotel or way home. Car services fill up quickly and they are at a premium this holiday if you wait! And oh, if you have CHILDREN and no nanny, make sure you find a babysitter ASAP.

11. Last but not least, RELAX, ENJOY, HAVE FUN AND REALLY CELEBRATE SAFELY! We made it through 2006! Washington DC has a place for anyone and everyone to celebrate, no matter, who, what mood, where you want to go, what your budget is - you can find it in this city. And if you truly decide that this holiday is not for you because you don't want to wade through masses of people, make reservations, worry about what to wear, or who to go out with(remember, we still have the Christmas pressure to deal with) – I say, hey, TAKE IT EASY, stay at home with your significant other, best friend (s) or yourself, get some great movies, some bubbly, make a nice meal and relax. At least you won’t be greeting 2007 with a massive hangover in a hotel room trying to remember who you kissed at midnight!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Four More Years! Four More Years!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much of a green thumb. I can’t keep a cactus alive much less grow a fern. Heck, I could probably kill ivy. So, when I know I was actually physically THERE the day a seed was planted, and four years later, it has grown into something big and wonderful, you cannot imagine just how truly ecstatic I feel.

This December marks the closing of four full years of growth, prosperity, and success for my little seedling turned into a big redwood tree, the Potomac Officers Club (POC). I was THERE for the first teeny weeny event years ago, when Jim Garrettson, the Founder and President, asked me to “help out with registration”. “Pamela, its winter, its dreary out, most of these executives don't have a job right now (remember winter 2002? Something about a bubble bursting?) and we need a nice smiling face at the registration table!” Well, four short years later (where DOES the time go?) of hosting now nationally known speakers on a monthly basis to address the area’s top level CxO’s, who are members of this elite business executive private networking club, we are proud to say we ready for year FIVE.
(oh – and I moved quickly from the registration desk to promoting events, getting speakers, and finding members and sponsors. Jim knew I was a sucker for those types of responsibilities.)

*(Photo by Victoria Prouty - pictured from left to right: Paige Bishop, Keri Meslar, Jason Campbell, me, Kyle Mody)

We celebrated our success of 2006 and almost half a decade of hard work together (we now have 500 members and have seen the likes of Jack Welch, Bob Dole, Chris Matthews, Gary Forsee, Bob Johnson, Carly Fiorina, Jim Kimsey, and more speak monthly) at the gracious home of Roger and Kyle Mody. Roger Mody is a POC Board member. We had a lovely fun party where POC members came, drank some holiday cheer and ate delicious bites, laughed with each other, posed for pictures, and enjoyed the outstanding Christmas decorations that adorned the Mody home.

Typically, we have a “Headline Speaker on a Headline Topic”, however, a holiday party didn’t match that theme, so we had invited the “Headline Quarterback” of every week’s Washington Post, Redskins Jason Campbell. Jason, who again, I had heard was just a stand up class act guy, was just that. In person, he is tall, extremely handsome, EXTREMELY handsome (can I say that just one more time?), EXTREMELY handsome – he should be a spokesperson for something, I tell you. And he was just nice as can be. He came with the newly crowned Miss DC, USA, who I found out through asking, is DIFFERENT than Kate Michael, the woman I know, who is Miss DC, Miss America. So confusing these beauty pagents! And I heard on "Imus in the morning", yes, I was watching MSNBC this morning, that Trump may be taking the reigning Miss USA’s crown back. Apparently, she has the weakness for the party and the alcohol, which is a no-no as Miss USA, especially is you are UNDERAGE. Yes, she is 20. Oops. Apparently, it is ok if you are Lindsay Lohan, to run around and whoop it up in LA and NY night clubs, but not if you have a crown and are basically owned by The Donald.

I digress, the point is, the evening was just absolutely wonderful. It was fabulous to see old friends who have been supporting the POC and our group for years, who have helped to make this executive club the success it is today, by sponsorship, membership growth, continuous membership, and other wonderful things they do.

We look forward to FOUR MORE years together! (sounds like a political campaign, but its true!) And thanks again Keri Meslar for bringing Jason to us last night. And special thanks to the following for great support and showing last night: Fernando Murias, Paige Bishop, Tim Jessell, Jeff Houle, Jim Speros, Tien Wong, Charlie Thomas, Bob Kipps, Gabe Battista, Bennett Zier and so many others.


For more information on how to apply for membership to the POC - please visit the website: Potomac Officers Club

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Shoot for the Moon and You Just May Land in the Stars

Last night was the “StarChefs Rising Stars Revue” held at the National Housing Center Atrium on 15th Street, across from the Madison Hotel. StarChefs.com is publication for “culinary insiders”. Those in the industry are very familiar with the magazine, while those who may be the typical layperson, like me (I LOVE great food and wine and those who can create such, though I am no where near the definition of a “foodie”), may have never been introduced to it until last night.

I was a guest of DC Modern Luxury (thank you Peter Abrahams, Publisher!) who was one of the sponsors. If you were one of the 500 attendees at last night’s extravaganza, you would have hopefully walked out with a full stomach and one of their holiday magazines that were handed out as a complimentary gift.

We started with the early VIP reception. That was really nice to be able to walk through the Atrium and check out what chef was where, and get a good lay of the land. Some of the winners represented were: Eric Ziebold (CityZen, in the Mandarin Oriental, who came from the prestigious French Laundry), Heather Chittum (Pastry Chef, Dish and Notti Bianche) , Tony Conte (Oval Room), RJ Cooper (Vidalia), and Todd Thrasher (Bar Chef, Restaurant Eve and the PX). Many more winners were represented and each had a wine or beer that was to be paired with their dishes.

Now, I LOVE the idea of walking around, talking, tasting and learning, especially with these culinary masters, who were sharing THEIR time AWAY from their own employers on a Wednesday evening during the holiday season. That was just fantastic! And to have wine experts near each station set up (as the chefs and sous chefs worked away) with a wine that went so well with each dish’s taste, was just a fabulous idea. I’d say the only challenge that didn’t make this the most perfect event, was the issue of eating and drinking at the same time. Because this was a “walking” event, and because the wine glasses they handed out to each attendee were no teeny weenies (which we were all happy about!) it became a bit cumbersome to actually do what they wanted us to do: PAIR the food with the wine. I may not make it on “Survivor” for longer than 5 minutes should they put me on a deserted island with crazy people, but my instincts and survivor skills in a situation like last night, allowed me to spot a place near the back where my friends and I could stand, but our glasses down, and eat somewhat comfortably, without spilling on each other or ourselves. (Ok, maybe that is not the most noble of the survivor skill sets, but this is the life I lead! One must be able to be deal with all situations presented, especially when it comes to tasting a fabulous oatmeal ravioli and a silky cabernet sauvignon!)

As I was getting fuller and fuller as the night went on, so was the Atrium. The place was filling with foodies, industry folks, media, and those who just have a love and curiosity of this great city’s Master Chefs. Victoria and I headed over to OYA, to get there prior to the “industry people only VIP party” that was scheduled to start around 10ish.

The VIP party filled up quickly, and we ran into some more fun people – but I had to call it a night. Something about eating incredible dishes for four straight hours and drinking wines and champagne was making me very sleepy (and OYA is dark and comfy with the fireplaces built into the walls), so I headed home.

StarChefs.com (based in New York) tours the country and comes back to DC every two years. They meet with about 60 or so different chefs to decide on their winners in each category. The criteria in rating come from not only the dishes themselves, but how the chef interacts with the community and the establishment itself. It is a really cool idea, especially for Washington, DC, to be a part of this celebration of how wonderful our own chefs are. Years ago, we have lagged behind major markets in the restaurant and fine culinary world, but over the past several years, with so many new places opening, we are really attracting top grade chefs and restaurants. I heard on WTOP, over the next year, 900,000 new restaurants are expected to open in 2007 + in the U.S. We look forward to some fantastic new ones in the DC region, but until then, we congratulate the fine ones who were winners last night!

For more information on StarChefs.com please check out click on their name to get to their site!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's All Greek to Me!

Among the jewels of this fine Capital city are the gorgeous embassies, fascinating Ambassadors, and the receptions and events each have on a continuous basis. I was fortunate to be a part of such an event Monday evening.

A great friend invited me to join him at the recently constructed Embassy of Greece on Massachusetts Ave, right next door to the original Embassy. The Embassy is able to use both buildings, depending on its needs. The event I attended was the exhibition opening of “Hidden Children in Occupied Greece”, presented by H.E. The Ambassador of Greece and Mrs. Alexandros P. Mallias, as well as The American Friends of the Jewish Museum of Greece. This emotionally moving exhibition tells the tales of 11 children who were hidden and protected during the Holocaust by Christian Greek men and women who risked their own lives. It will showcase from December 11 to January 10th at the Embassy and will continue to tour the U.S.

The attendees who gathered for the reception were treated to remarks by the Honorable Paul Sarbanes, who will be retiring after 5 long terms of serving the State of MD, the Honorable Richard Ben-Veniste, who may be best remembered as the Assistant Prosecutor and Chief of the Watergate cover-up trial, but his remarkable career carried him to being appointed to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the U.S., which issued the 9-11 report in July of 2004. There were several other notables (including Greece's Tourism Development Minister, Fanny Palli-Petralia) who made outstanding speeches and allowed us to not forget the horrific deeds of the Holocaust, especially in occupied Greece. We were also educated on facts (58,000 Jews were murdered during the Holocaust in Greece) and we were able to celebrate the bravery of those who risked their own lives and families in order to help the Jews who hid within their very homes.

I think the most moving moment came when Moissis Konstantinis, a Holocaust survivor, who flew in from Athens that day and was scheduled to fly out that evening, got up to the podium and addressed us in Greek (with a translator). He was wonderful, it brought tears to my eyes to hear his story, as a child who was told to be quiet and hide, and was scared moment after moment, who had to move from place to place at night for fear of death or even worse. That is a great courageous man with a story most cannot even imagine. Konstantinis is now the President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece.

We continued next door to the original Embassy for the reception after the presentations were over, where I was able to shake hands with Senator Sarbanes, the Ambassador and his wife and a few other dignitaries. The Greek theme of the evening was not yet to be over! We then skipped over to a favorite Greek restaurant, Mourayo (Greek for "a fisherman's safe harbor", you'll love the sailor theme!), on Connecticut Ave. YUMMMM. I have eaten there a few times prior, but each time I devour each delicious course with velvety wine. The owner is always happy to recommend if there are questions.

Seriously, if you are looking for a fabulous Greek restaurant with excellent service, an intimate comfortable ambiance, and food that is out of this world, with a straightforward wine menu, I recommend Mourayo, but I also recommend you come with an empty stomach! And definitely ask for suggestions from the wait staff, each are quick, informative, and happy to educate. I went home chuckling to myself that night - I had more Greek lessons in a few hours than my four years as a Tri-Delt at Penn State!

Monday, December 11, 2006

From Gowns and Bubbly to Helmets and Boos ...

Sunday was quite a long full day. It started with a brunch for about 250 elite fashionistas of D.C. (and some men who were dragged a long, but certainly had a reason to enjoy during the fashion show), including Michelle Fenty, the Mayor Elect’s wife, at Saks Jandel up in Chevy Chase. My friend Cindy Jones and her husband, Evan (who is the co-founder and now retired CEO of Digene) and their friends Ardis and Doug Eby were hosts to a fashion show of gorgeous gowns, furs, suits, and some brightly jeweled kaftans by THE Mark Badgley and THE James Mischka. The couple, who have been dressing first ladies, the red carpet and women in between (who have means for a $5,000 gown), were there to meet and greet in person. Also, 10% of the proceeds purchased that day went to the Research and Discovery Fund at Children's Hospital.


(*Pictured above compliments of photographer Russell Hirshon - Left to Right: Mark Badgley, Cindy Jones, Ardis Eby, and James Mischka.)

The fashion show was to showcase their 2007 Spring/Summer line – even before our first snow! But you know how the fashion world is – you need to get your order in so you can be the VERY first to wear the gown to a spring ball. Or, at least say you ordered it so no one else can after you. That would be embarrassing – (well, for the other lady, after all YOU put in your order first!) The line was absolutely stunning, and worn well by the local models. Some drew ooo’s and awww’s, especially when the furs came out. Even I was salivating, remembering when I got to model a gorgeous Carolina Herrera gown for a past issue of Washington Life – the price tag was a mere $3,890 – and a dress you really could only wear ONCE. But, like one loves art, one watches the awesome dresses swish and sway past like a fine moving painting. It was truly enjoyable.

Once that was done – we jumped into a car service and headed to the second half of the Eagles beating the Redskins. Sigh. And it was sooo close too! It was a really pretty day, and I love sitting on the Owner’s Level because again, it is fun to see everyone you know, or run into those who you haven’t seen for a long time, the food is wonderful the suites comfy, the service impeccable, and its kind of like old home week.

Actually, it was funny; I DID run into a guy I knew from my years at Penn State. It was kind of awkward, because he was obviously with a girl. He and I had had one of “those” types of relationships, so it was a bit strained when we saw each other. He is a great guy, it was just weird. And we both couldn’t concentrate more on what type of cheese/meat/veggie we wanted to put on our plates fast enough, rather than the “so what is new, how have you been, blah blah blah” type of conversation. Don’t you love those situations?

Too bad for the close score of the game. ALMOST … and really was sad the way everyone booked out of there at a minute left – talk about fair weather fans. And all though the title of this post says "...Boos" - it was actually pretty silent when the crowd left, like a march to our deaths. So crazy how different the feeling is in the stadium when the Skins Win versus Losing. However, if one goes to the infamous "5th quarter" on the Club level, it doesn't matter whether there is a W or an L, it is all craziness down there. Yes, for those who can't get Dewey Beach out of their systems quite yet, this is heaven.


Luckily, we were able to book Jason Campbell, who I hear is a class-act, for Thursday’s Potomac Officers Club Holiday Party, at the private residence of Roger Mody (Thanks Keri Mesler of the Redskins!!). That will be quite interesting – and we’ll have a few other Skins represented, old, new, and my friend Larry Michael. Hopefully, we’ll bring them some holiday cheer! I am sure I’ll write all about it Friday – more to come!

Friday, December 8, 2006

Are You a Tai Pan?

Last night I had the privilege of helping to create a nice group of folks who were to be part of a Focus Group that would give ideas, suggestions, and feedback on a presentation of the Mandarin Oriental’s “vision” of Tai Pan. Tai Pan (Chinese for “Supreme Leader” and a great novel by James Clavell, by the way) is going to be the Mandarin Oriental D.C.’s exclusive, membership only, lifestyle club. The goal is to have this club be so unique, it will compete with no other clubs in the city. The amenities and privileges members will experience will be extensive and special, second to none. The future club’s name was chosen because the Mandarin Oriental wants the members of this club to "Tai Pan's", each in their own right: Entreprenuers, industry leaders, and those who are at top of their league.

We all have visions and ideas and before we take them to market, the smart thing to do for any serious idea, is to gather a group of your “test market” and sit them down to discuss what this vision is, just how realistic it is, what in the plan should be altered, added, subtracted, etc. This small focus group did just that.

Spencer Yeo, my new friend who is the Director of Marketing for the Mandarin Oriental, had asked me to reach out to some of my contacts. (Luckily, I know some awesome people from my 5 years with the Potomac Officers Club and ExecutiveBiz.) Spencer is from London, has had numerous years with the hotel abroad, and came here to help take this young property (only 3 years old now) to its next level.

The group included Fernando Murias, Managing Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Rafael Fagundo, CEO of Xcalibur, Jim Speros, President of Chalk Media, Bill Hall, Partner at Winston & Strawn, John Tsiaoushis, owner of Cloud DIning, David Ogden, owner of the Dog Den Golf in Pinehurst, NC, Scott Stephens, President of the Push Group, Madi Nassasri, Principal of Nassasri Consulting, and Arash Shirazi, President of Deep Dish Productions. It was a conglomerate of friends of various backgrounds, ages, industries, experiences, and locations of homes and offices. All had one thing in common though, they each had an interest in luxury, VIP treatment, and exclusivity, both from an individual and business standpoint.

I was really happy the way each mixed and mingled with each other (some hadn’t met, so it was a great networking opportunity) but truly I was so happy that they were able to come together and attend this function (of course, as the Mandarin Oriental always does things first class, there were lovely drinks and the food, OH the tastings, were out of this world, their sushi is awesome!) in the Living Room on the 6th floor, where the new Tai Pan club will be located. And again, all first class: each participant walked out with a lovely bottle of pinot noir that the hotel’s sommelier chose, in a gorgeous box.

So, it was a rather low-key productive evening, spent with fine company and a gorgeous setting. It will be interesting to see what the results are from the focus group. Everyone was excited to see what / when / how Tai Pan will launch. In the meantime, I am more than happy to go back to spend time at the hotel and get some holiday cheer with friends in the lovely Empress Lounge, eat more sushi at Café Mozu and a need massage from their Spa (hey, the holidays brings stress! any excuse for a massage ...).


Wednesday, December 6, 2006

So, Leo DiCaprio, Are Diamonds STILL A Girl's Best Friend?

Well ONLY if your life depends on it – or so one would think after viewing the newest and controversial film of the Bedford Falls production company (Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskowitz) “Blood Diamond”, at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring last night.

I don’t get out to see movies in the theater that often, usually only for special screenings. (However, I love sitting inside watching movie after movie in the comfort of my own home or others. Perhaps I have an aversion to not being able to control the pause button for my “fill in the blank” breaks.) So when I DO have the privilege of being held captive in a dark cozy theatre (the Silver Spring AFI is undoubtedly one of the best places for these viewing pleasures) it certainly is a time to remember.

The night started with a fun intimate cocktail party hosted by Capitol File at Ceviche in downtown Silver Spring. Ceviche is located upstairs (and not so easy to spot with the naked untrained eye) on Ellsworth Ave, which is basically the main drag in between the “town center”. As an aside, if you haven’t been to Silver Spring in the past few years, you MUST visit. Not the easiest place to get to, but it is a world away from where it was 6 – 8 years ago. There are tons of new upscale shops, restaurants, and boutiques with theaters, parking, and unique outside artwork, thanks to Doug Duncan and the moving in of Discovery Communications.

Ceviche is one of the many establishments that the local Latin restaurant developer, Mauricio Frago-Rosenfeld (Mate’, Gua Rapo, Chi Cha and 2 more to open up in Arlington soon), operates quite well. The food is delicious and the design of course, as all his places have, has a sexy Latin vibe. The drinks – well, last night, one HAD to try the themed “Blood Diamond Marguerita” which went down quite well.

The special guests of the evening included Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskowitz themselves. The guests included friends of Cap File and AFI Theater, and some from the jewelry and diamond world (can you say Ronnie Mervis?). Little did we know the true “in your face” controversy we were about to see play out on the big screen.

“Blood Diamond” came unfortunately for the diamond industry, right in time for Christmas and the holiday season. Let’s just say, as we were walking out of AFI, a lovely woman who had an association with the jewelry industry said “If there were a hat or basket right by the door, I think each of us would throw off our diamonds.” And mayb you would too after seeing the horrific history portrayed during recent years in the now peaceful Sierra Leone, Africa. The utter disregard of human life and the way rebels captured and brainwashed young boys was truly disturbing. According to this movie, all this done in the name of these “conflict” diamonds. I am not going to give the story away, but I will say that I, along with others who saw the movie, now have our eyes wide open, not only to the diamond industry, but to the continuous troubles Africa has and the massive amounts of death, destruction, violence, and refugees that exist today.

To comment on the movie itself, I have to say that while I was not impressed with Leonardo DiCaprio and certainly less impressed with Jennifer Connelly, the Oscar MUST go to Djimon Hounou, who plays opposite DiCaprio. The setting is gorgeous, the action is gripping, the story has you at the edge of your seat. I give it *** out of ****.

At least I now know to ask next time I purchase a diamond (have no idea when that will ever be) if the diamond is a “conflict” diamond. Then again, it is kind of like asking if the fish in a restaurant was line caught or if it was farm raised or if your beef was grain fed. How do you really REALLY know? As a consumer, it is up to us to ask these questions and hope that the answers we receive, all the way safe in our restaurants and retail stores, are true, real, and honest. Needless to say, at the very least, Zwick and Herskowitz bring an education to the industry, and really it can turn into an opportunity for diamond dealers and retailers to say “We do not tolerate conflict diamonds”.

And in case you are wondering if diamonds are STILL a girl’s best friend? I guess, go check out the movie yourself and let me know!




P.S. (I did hear somewhere that environmentalist activist DiCaprio was so disturbed by what he saw during the filming of this movie, that he is getting very involved in helping refugee camps and children.)

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

And I thought campaigning was over!


Finally, we have been able to take a much needed rest away from watching intense political campaigning. Up until Election Day, we thought of little else, especially in this region. This spring however, I will be hitting the campaign trail.
This morning I met with Beth Gorman and Katie Good of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. They are so terrific and I am lucky to have the opportunity to work with them this upcoming spring. Paige Bishop, my friend who publishes Cap File, kindly nominated me to run for Woman of the Year during the Spring Campaign. That means for 10 weeks after the kick-off, up to the end of the gala in June, all nominees will be competing against each other to raise the most amount of money for the L&L Society. Basically, each dollar raised equals a vote. I told Paige I HAD to win. (I am not competitive at ALL.) She said – “Why do you think I nominated you?” oh … the pressure!

I am truly honored and excited to be a part of this Spring 2007 campaign and will keep up to date progress posted on this site. At the end of January we will have the first get together where all of the candidates will meet for the first time (we are now secret to each other), we will meet the Boy and Girl of the Year who have been chosen for the 2007 campaign, we will start to get acclimated into the program and of course, we will get a chance to “size up the competition.” Some of the folks that I know who have been super successful and very involved, and whom I hope to work with closely, are Dave Dorros, Marsha Ralls, Ray Regan, Miriam Pollin and of course, Paige. This is going to be quite the challenge and I cannot BELIEVE that it is December already. Where DOES the time go?

In the meantime, check out the site on the campaign and all the great works this Society does for these awful blood diseases. The unfortunate reality is, the older we get, the more people we know who have been affected by cancer. We hope they all can survive and all though the percentages are not always high, at least through research, funding and advanced technology, the chances of survival are greater. We all know someone who has beat the disease, or is going through the treatment, or sadly has passed on from the cancer. I hope to learn a lot during this campaign. It is a tough topic to think and talk about, but it is one that through awareness, like the Man and Woman of the Year Campaign, we hope to someday beat.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Ice, Fire, and a Dog of a Wine

Victoria had gotten a suite at the Verizon Center for the Caps game through a friend (she had a personal interest in going, as she is from upstate NY, the Caps were playing Buffalo) so the group was her, our dear friend Philippe Cousteau, who for once, was in the country, and is the Founder of Earth Echo International and Paige Bishop, our friend who publishes Capitol File Magazine.

We had a blast at the game - yes, the Caps ended up winning, but I have to say, there were many confusing moments that go to this day, unexplained to me. I mean, I can pick up the Post and read what the heck happened, but what I want to know, is why don't they explain to the fans what is happening DURING the game? I don't understand. {I love going to Caps games partially because I love supporting our home teams, but also to support a great mentor to me, Ted Leonsis, and finally, the games are held at the Verizon Center which is so easy to get to - and there are tons of places to go prior to the game and after. (favorites: IndeBleu, Zengo, Rosa Mexicano, Zola, Zaytinya, Clydes, Oya, District Chophouse)}

Now, hockey moves so quickly, if you turn your head for a second, you can miss so much, and it isn't like football, where you are shown again and again the replay. And the refs don't have a mic so they can tell you what is going on when it comes to penalties, and who is accountable for what. There was a huge fight that broke out and there was some major time out and several players from both teams were in the mix. Two were booted from the game and two were dumped into the penatly boxes for a long time. We just sat there dumbfounded going "What? Who did what? What happened?" I have this feeling that they don't do replays on the screen b/c that will just make the fans of both teams go nuts and fights will break out in the stands - those die hard hockey fans are crazy! I saw 2 guys get removed b/c they were throwing beer into the crowd in front of them. They were not Caps fans, we are much too classy for that! But I did notice there were just as many Sabres fans as Washington fans last night. I didn't realize there were so many transplants from upstate NY.

The placed seemed pretty packed, which is great to see now. Finally! The fans are really coming out to watch this fun sport. From my perspective, it seems like the Caps staff are really getting out and meeting the fans, marketing themselves, and connecting the team to the community, which is wonderful to see. And it helps to have Alex Ovechkin too, who just started his own AIM page on this AOL social networking site. (click on his name to go to his page)

We left early, because we had reservations at one of my favorite places, the beautiful OYA restaurant. I love that place - we sat near the roaring fire in the sleek white walled dining room. It has such a cozy appeal, and the food is out of this world. Paige informed us that they had revamped the menu, but either way, the chef has found his way to my heart - and stomach. After way too much food, but definitely a lot of laughs and more bubbly and a wine that we were introduced to that has a name that I shouldn't write, however, it is published on the wine menu, so I guess I can share - it is called "Bitch". Yes, that is right, you didn't read wrong. "Bitch". It actually was a pleasant grenache, light bodied and went well with my sushi. I just want to know, how often that wine is ordered, and how awkward is it for someone to ask for it from the waiter, or what if you had your Mom order it? That would be quite interesting. "Yes, we'd like to order a bottle of the Bitch for the table please." I suppose there are worse names, but we did find that to be quite comical. The Bitch Grenache gave me a wonderful ending to a great evening and week!



Me? Wear a sign on my back? That's just LUDACRIS!


Unless of course, it is done at the request of the vivacious, energetic, enthusiastic, passionate (and fellow Leo, we Leo's have much admiration for our people, as you can see) Kate Roberts, the Founder of YouthAIDS. This past week marked World AIDS week, and Friday the 1st, was World AIDS Day. Kate and others ran around all day on Friday wearing taped messages on their backs stating everything from shocking statistics to eye catching phrases and anything in between. The point of course, was to gain attention from the general public and the campain is called the "Kick Me" campaign. (very clever!) Why was I wearing one? Well, I wasn't running around all day like the rest of the YouthAIDS staff, but I gladly accepted the tape onto the back of my dress (my sign said "Kick Yourself if You Are Not Doing Something About AIDS!") at the small, intimate reception Friday night held at the new PS7 Restaurant, to thank the ultra hip, performing artist Ludacris. (*pictured above, Marshall Stowell, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Kate Roberts) Please note: The "Kick Me" Campaign ends Dec 15th - YouthAIDS needs to raise $10,000 by that date. For just $10 you can sponsor a participant. Click here to help the cause: YouthAIDS.

Ludacris (who is from Centreville, VA) is a YouthAIDS Ambassador, and spent the entire week running all over the country, from city to city, speaking out in urban areas to young people about why it is sexy and cool to live a healthy lifestyle, to practice safe sex, and the awful statistics of the HIV/AIDS emergency. The real cool thing about YouthAIDS as in organization, is that they are masters at cause related marketing - they work with celebrities and use videos, musicians, new media and things that young people think are "hip" - in order to get their message to their market. Not only do they get their message to their market, they get their market to further their message by getting them involved. Now THAT is cool!
The event was held at the gorgeous fairly new PS7 Restaurant near the Verizon Center in the bar lounge area. So, those folks who were there by chance for a cocktail in the sleek bar that evening, were treated to an extra special treat. There were about 20 or so of us that are involved with YA, including new funders like Fernando Murias, and Scott Stephens and his wife, and long time supporters, like Rick Rickertsen and David Sutphen, who runs Viacom in this market, with his boss. DC Modern Luxury Magazine's Publisher, my dear friend Peter Abrahams was there to help coordinate the venue, support, bring a photog, and of course, he had a few of the "hot off the presses" December Holiday DC Mag issues to pass! All were there to shake hands with Mr. Shake Your Money Maker.
Luda showed up to meet and greet, shake hands, share the floor with the lovely Kate to thank all those involved and talk about how he got recruited by YA, and of course, a bit about his round the country tour. As Kate said "We dragged him literally all over the country, city to city this week in honor of World AIDS Week! He is exhausted!" Luda graciously lended his popluarity and celebrity to talk to young people and was happy to end the week in DC.
After some pix were taken and everyone met and chatted for a bit - Luda jumped in his car service to head for the airport where he could rest peacefully on a plane to LA (home).
I confess, I thought my only interaction with Luda would have been my "run in" with him at this year's White House Correspondents Dinner After Party at Cafe Milano sponsored by Cap File Magazine. It was so darn crowded, I was standing with my back to him, as his entourage took him through from the back, as I lifed my bubbly glass to my lips, someone bumped so hard into me, that my champagne flew all over me. As I turned to give the clumsy rude whomever it was my best "mean girl" look - much to my surprise - I was face to face with Ludacris himself! He said "Oh! Sorry" and I said "No worries, no problem, just champagne, I am fine! It is ok!" and by the time I was done my blabbering, he was way off in the crowd, never to be seen again (except on the big screen and small screen and every magazine page, and radio station). Until Friday night. So, of course, when I leaned over to shake his hand and exchange pleasantries - I actully put down my glass of bubbly. Hey! you never know ...

Saturday, December 2, 2006

What does it take to be Famoso?


"Famoso" - (masculine) which is Italian for "famous" is also the name of the new sexy, loungy, restaurant bar concept on Wisconsin Ave in the fancy high-priced Chevy Chase shopping district. We Americans seem to be obsessed with the idea of fame (some even more so than money) that the title of this establishment appears to be very appropriate. (I once dated a man who said he'd rather be rich than famous, however, he is very rich and actually quite infamous.) The challenge however, is that while this place has the recipe for success: gorgeous design, sexy vibe, excellent food, one of the most well know and best maitre d's in town, Ralph Fredericks, a great chef, wonderful service - the missing ingredient is the perfect visible exposure on the street. Famoso faces the parking lot of the stores, NOT the Wisconsin Ave busy street. In essence, in order to BE "famoso", the restaurant needs a little assistance. That is where their PR person comes in, and when he asked Victoria to help him, she turned to me to partner. (pictured - Victoria and me Wed at Famoso thanks to Aidah Fontenot!)

So, we decided to throw a little Introduction to Famoso cocktail party last Wed evening. We put our A lists together (and if I left off anyone, which I always do, I am always sorry, however, my database needs some major cleaning up) sent out a slick email invite that was developed by their PR guy, and next thing you know, we had a super turnout of cool, attractive, interesting people who vibed very well with each other and the place. There were about 100 + who mixed, mingled, tried awesome appetizers, red and white wine, beer, and the exciting signature dish - their table side made risotto, that flames up from this wooden massive bowl when vodka is thrown in, a match lit, and the performance brings "ooo's" and "ahhhh's" (reminds me faintly of Benihana, only Soprano style). We got great feedback - and the biggest comment was "If you hadn't thrown this party, we would never have know this was here!" which made Victoria and me very happy. I am sure we will get a lot of folks coming back. I was especially happy to introduce Ralph, the Maitre D' to my friend from Microsoft, whose office is right down the street. Now that may be a great goldmine for them.

We and some other girls stayed for dinner, and wow, we were stuffed, but the cuisine left little to be desired, except an immediate bed to fall into. It was an exhausting, but productive evening and we were so happy to have been a part of the success. I will be back there again soon - but here is the link to check it out. If you go, tell them you heard about it here! Famoso

Oh - and to answer the question about what does it take to be famous? In my humble opinion - Talent, determination, drive, courage, hard work, knowing the right people, sacrificing a lot ... OR, you can just make a crazy video of yourself and post it on youtube.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Another night out in DC - with the Charlotte Bobcats ?


So, last night was the big 1 year anniversary of the magazine Capitol File which was held at the new National Portrait Gallery across from the Verizon Center. As usual, the ladies, Paige Bishop, Kate Gibbs, and Jayne Sandman put on a party to remember! The venue was magnificent, gorgeous, breathtaking and stunning, and had just enough room for 800+ of Capitol File/Niche Media's F and F. Last year, their launch party was held at the newly renovated GT Four Seasons. They always seem to be lucky and smart in getting venues that are new in some way, so it kills 2 birds with one stone. The challenge with this place however, is that the acoustics and flow to the museum don't play well into 800 people having cocktail conversations trying to run into everyone they have ever seen and haven't seen or never see or want to see in DC NOR does it play well into when Niche Media's head, Jason Binn, is trying to get everyone to quiet down, as he looks down from the 2nd floor (which is about 30 feet up, or so its seemed ) balcony on one wing, so he can introduce some VIP's and of course, the woman of the hour/night, Iman, the cover girl who was receiving the Cause Celeb award. Iman looked STUNNING of course, but again, trying to get the masses to be quiet in the middle of that type party, presents quite the challenge. I say, everyone should be quiet, CF invited you for a party, you should be able to keep your mouth shut for 10 minutes all night!


*Pictured: Victoria, Chuck "Dirty Hands" Koch, Me, Cindy - courtesy of THE Pat Ryan- thanks Pat!

The word at the party was "The after party is at Posh" ... Posh is the new supper club concept owned by Bob Johnson (see, I was leading up to the Bobcats!) and whose super exclusive Black Card (no, not the harder than rock, can slice and dice you weapon Am Ex Black Card that we all covet) is the way to your life as a VIP. Well, at least it is your way to getting upstairs at Posh. Only 200 (?) are being given (or should I say earned) out to the right people who can spend lots of money or at least bring people who can spend lots of money, bring celebs, bring the bucks, bring the exposure to this restaurant and club. It sits across the corner from the old convention center and across from the Grand Hyatt, where Ortanique used to be. I have only been there 2 times, the first, for their grand opening and as with all grand openings, there in lies kinks that need to be worked out, but by the 2nd time, the DC Magazine 1 year anniversary party (see a theme here?) they seemed to have gotten a lot better. Tom Sietsema didn't give them a great review, however, I thought the party was fabulous.

So last night, as the girls were walking in, the boys, as in Bob's boys, as in the Charlotte Bobcats, were walking out - and next thing you know, after a few ways from across the bar, winks and smiles (they were the ones doing that to US! really!) they were riding the elevator up to the 2nd level with us. Yes, someone had pulled out the Black Card, so we were ushered by past the Elevator Guardsman. Next thing you know, we were drinking, dancing (can't everyone dance to Michael Jackson after 5 glasses of bubbly?) and of conversing with these charming fellows who were really really really tall and who were in town for their game tonight against the Wiz.

So - onto the next venue. You know this town needs to constantly be on the move, so 1, 2, 3 places to go in one night is just enough, sometimes more ... and we all jumped in cabs. The entourage consisted of my friends, my NEW friends, the Bobcats, and Josh Sagman (face/manager/promoter of Posh) and a few others. We headed to Fly (shocker) where Chuck "DJ Dirty Hands" what a name - had made it back in time to host the after- after party of the Capitol File traveling partiers (and he looked great - amazing what a razor can do!) And it was all fun and games ... more dancing (I am sure everyone was getting better and better and grooving by midnight) and bubbly, celebration and flirting. Yes, all fun and games til SOMEONE LOSES A $12,000 DIAMOND STUD EARRING. oh ... did I say that? well, it certainly wasn't me. If I had one of those, I think I'd be a 7' tall NBA player. I looked over and about 5 of these guys had their phones out with their lights looking on the floor for what seemed to be to me at the time, a contact lense. No, our friend wasn't going to pick up the phone and call 1-800-CONTACTS the next day. I guess it is all relative, but I think that would put a damper on my spirits, heck, I cry when I lose a $30 earring. Well, not cry, but I am not happy. So, I figure with his salary, my $30 = his $12,000 ...maybe? So - he was seriously upset. His buddies helped for a bit, then gave him encouraging words like "Not like you bought it anyway!" and "You can get another one - it is just an earring" and "Here, take this tequilla shot". Ah, love friends like that. So encouraging. And I wonder how they will play tonight, after their night out in DC ... too bad I will miss the game, as I will be enjoying a private exclusive dinner with someone exciting who is a YouthAIDS Amabassador, at PS7 Restaurant. More to come on that!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why am I doing this?

I have been asked "Why are you doing a blog?" "What are you going to write about?" and in fact I have had several people ask me to write about certain topics, such as dating, the social scene in DC, and tips for being single in DC.

The reasons why I have decided to start this blog are many.

1) Since I have such an "adventurous" almost "accidental tourist" type of social life, I have always loved to laugh and share my stories in an entertaining way to my friends and family. After each of the stories, I will almost always get a "you need to write a book!" comment. Now, I have yet to get to that point, but this is certainly creating some content, (and of course, there will be many many things in the book that I cannot write in this blog) and gets me in the groove of writing down the "adventures".

2) Through a blog, I can finally have a place where I can direct friends and family to the stories, happenings, people, places, things, humorous situations, without writing it through multiple emails or phone calls. Not that I don't want to socialize with my f/f, it is just easier to get everyone reading the same material at THEIR leisure.

3) There are so many philanthropies, events, and non-profit work I am involved with, so I wanted a place where I can promote and write about these wonderful people and organzations through personal interaction, not through canned media writing. I will have pictures and links to sites to help positively promote these groups that I love.
4) Since I am much more involved with clubs, restaurants, and events now - this is an excellent place to promote and write about my experiences with each. This is not a place to bash establishments. This is all about REAL, but positive experiences.

5) OK- the best part for last. Yes, I WILL MOST CERTAINLY be threading in my social commentary as a single, 30 something, professional woman in DC. I have to write about my dating experiences - and my past thoughts, my curiousness of the men vs. women in DC and my perspective on the whole dating scene here.

I hope you will enjoy, laugh, not take it TOO seriously, and feel free to comment in a nice way :-)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

To Wine, Dine and ...

Enjoy the company of 8 awesome people on a Monday night at one of my favorite places (where I don't get to too often, need to change that!) Charlie Palmer's on Constitution. Last night I had the privilege to be one of the invitees of the WPAS Wine Tasting Dinner. Neale Perl, the President, and Tony Lewis, a WPAS Board member, President of Verizon for DC, incoming Chair for the DC Chamber of Commerce, musician AND wine afficianado, invited this small group of wine lovers to enjoy each others' company, the amazing cuisine of CP's and of course, the awesome wines that attendees brought. Big cabs were among the favorite. I am a total wine lover (as well as bubbly), however, I have yet to understand the intricasies of true wine tasting. I have a tendancy to be a bit more simpler than that. My motto is "if it tastes great - drink it!"

I was learning a lot as my once pearly whites were getting redder and redder and the night was going on longer and longer, and my tummy was getting bigger and bigger. I was learning a lot about the rest of the group, and as I was learning about the "nose" of the wines, the "legs" of the wines, and and silkiness, complexity and more. It felt like I was learning about a some fabulous fantasy woman!

I have to say thanks to Tony and Neale - it was one perfect way to start the week off - but now, the bar has been set so high, I may have to just go for McDonald's the rest of the week ...

The Simple Life ...

During the wonderful weekend up in the far away mountains of Western Maryland, farmland, and blue skies, fields, and Ford and Chevy trucks, I had some really nice moments to spend with family, nature, and reflection. It is truly amazing how once you remove yourself AWAY from the cliche' of hustle and bustle, you really can decompress and sort of "figure things out" so to speak.

I really realized how important it is to take time to spend with your family. I cannot believe how amazing it is when I look at my parents, I can't believe how they are now really older. And how each day, is a day that I should think about them, be happy that they are still alive, be happy that they are in my life still, and really really value them. Same for my brothers and sisters. I laugh at how we all act the same towards each other STILL, but yet, we are all so much OLDER! When did we turn into real adults? or have we yet? In any case, I am really glad to have the opportunity to have a super family - which I truly value.

Now onto the great stuff - was able to head up to Fallingwater up near Nemacolin PA. That was an incredible experience. Frank Lloyd Wright was SO way before his time. I had always thought that building was designed and built in the 60's - but no, the 30's. And during the Depression. The facts on the numbers and dollars that were given during the hour tour, were stunning. Both the main house and guest house are in great shape, however, the main house went through a major foundation renovation a few years ago (it was entrusted by the only son of the Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.) because it was starting to fall. I learned a lot about architecture. I totally suggest getting up there to check out the gorgeous historic landmark home. And while you are up there, why not check out the well-known spa and resort, Nemacolin. That whole area is so beautiful and easy to get to from Washington.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Viewing the calendar for next week ...

Since this is a slow week, I thought I'd look into the calendar for next week to see what wild things lay ahead. (and since I am going to see my parents near Deep Creek for Thanksgiving and will be going through a much needed detox and breathing in the fresh country air, I KNOW I will be ready to play and be busy next week!) I think we are trying to go to the Redskins game with friends at their suite on the owner's level. That in my humble opinion is THE best way to view the game. Oh sure, you may feel like - "I could be doing this from the comfort of my own home, why the hell did I drive all the way out to BFE for THIS?", (and yes, Snyder takes a helicopter - we can't all own a losing football team and be buddies with TomKat.) BUT the fun thing is, seeing all the interesting people (my friend's suite is next to the Kimsey/Ramsey/Rales/Robert suite, and they ALWAYS have fun people). Plus, there is heat, so in the cold, you are not freezing your rear end off. And then you can go suite hopping - and visit other friends. And hey, V physically ran into cutie pie Troy Aikman during the Dallas game. There are always celebs running around (the dude who played the Pres in 24, who is in the Unit and Allstate ads and my bud LR).

Then Monday - I think I am headed with some WPAS friends to Charlie Palmers for a major wine tasting YUMMMM! Cannot wait for that! but prior I know I am supposed to hit Pizza Paradisio on M to tape their beer tasting event for DC Compass. That should be fun!

So Tuesday - L-1 Identity solutions has some event at the Spy Museum that I RSVP'd for - I have to relook at the invite again, but the list on the committe was quite impressive. Robert LaPenta and Joe Paresi are big corporate successes. I know JA is having their big event, but didn't RSVP for that. So hard to be in 2 (3, 4) places at once.

Wed night is our Famoso (Chevy Chase Collection, above M Cafe) cocktail reception. 6 -7:30, V and I are hosting about 100 or so of our dear friends to introduce them to this fabulous Italian restaurant. Our buddy who used to Maitre D' at Cafe Milano is now there. Carmelo I think his name is. He is a sweetie pie. Funny, he always puts his glasses on top of his head.

And finally Thursday night is the Capitol File 1 year anniversary party. I checked the host list for this event (that Iman will be attending) and I want to know WHO WASN'T (besides me) on the host committee!?! Very impressive - National Portrait Gallery - should be a show! and Friday is World AIDS day - I know Kate Roberts has something awesome planned for this ... more to come as I get DETAILS!

A very successful evening!

So - last night, thanks to the sponsors GrantThornton, Holland & Knight and MorganFranklin AND to our buddies from Lincoln Holdings - Jack Davies, and Raul Fernandez, and of course, the Brian Muir, (SUCH A HOTTIE! too bad he is MARRIED!) and the Mystics Curtis Symonds and player Nikki Teasley, the ExecutiveBiz ExecutiveConnect Happy Hour was a SUCCESS! We had around 180 people - I think the "pre-holiday" spirit and the fact that Tysons Corner is a nightmare to get out of, certainly didn't hurt! Jack is hilarious - first, I cannot even believe he made it there. He told Raul and me he had been on a major bike ride to Mount Vernon, then had to come back to Georgetown and then back into the black hole of Tysons Corner. I was totally impressed that both he and Raul stayed for the long haul too! they are such great guys.

Of course, we had to continue the party (yes, in Tysons Corner) headed to the Palm (best Happy Hour place to get rowdy in Tysons) and some of continued to cocktail, eat and make merry. Luckily, I had enough sense to get outta there by 11 pm - as did the rest of the crew. However, my wild hair wanted to go out more - and unfortunately, none of my crazy friends were to be found! H was a date with some girl and they were out whooping it up at Fly (got the lowdown today) and the rest of my friends were either on their way home (hence the comment - you should have called me 20 minutes ago!) or they were AT home or they were in a place of fun that I could not catch up to, which is all for the best. And you know - once at home, it is SO hard to go back out, so that was a blessing in disguise to throw some jammies on and snuggle in bed. and YES alone AGAIN! With V out of town, my fun degree has suddenly shot down - but at least I am getting sleep!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My well needed spa experience ...

So my dear friend Brian Williams of Viget Labs, gave me some super advice on blogging - thank you Brian (note, Brian's clients include entertainers like Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Kenny Chesney, Shania Twain and more -his web company is awesome) - we shall see how I develop this blog! One tip was pictures pictures pictures ... oh boy! don't worry - I will be sure to post many pix - these adventures are best recapped with photos, all though, some may be a bit much for THIS site ;-) will have to wait until my "tell all" book ... ha ha.

Yesterday I had the most awesome experience at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Spa. I had been chosen to be one of a group to try out the new treatments at the Spa. Wonderful Spencer Yeo (director of marketing) had put me on the invite list and I was treated to 2 hours of the "Taste of Traditions" experience. WOW. first, the spa itself is beautiful and very orientally inspired (wonder why) and very serene and soothing. My girl came to get me and the experience started with us in private room and she was kneeling in front of me doing the foot cleansing relaxing treatment while I sipped tea in my comfy robe. I was kind of laughing to myself - here is this lovely blonde girl doing the Asian submissive act on here knees in front of me, while here I AM THE ONE WHO IS ASIAN. Very ironic. Now that would have made for an interesting picture. Then was the fully body scrub, followed by a shower (in the room) that she drew for me (can you draw showers? or just baths? anyway, she started it for me) and then after drying off, it was back on the table for a full TO DIE FOR body massage with these gorgeous scented oil. I chose the Oriental oil flavor. They have Arabian, Mediterranean and something else, can't remember. All smelled wonderful, but I liked the jasmine in the Oriental.

Trust me, after the weekend I had over the past few nights - I NEEDED to get rid of my toxins! I was like jelly after she finished me with a mini-facial. yummmm... totally recommend - here is the link to check it out ... http://www.mandarinoriental.com/hotel/535000004.asp
Thank you Spencer! I am a new woman ... for now...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Week of November 13th 2006

Since this is my first attempt at blogging, I may be a bit conservative. Basically, I am building this site to talk about the "adventures" that my friends and I experience on a daily, nightly, weekly basis. I have been told numerous times that my life should be turned into a book - have a true tendancy to write my friends in email form of my "adventures", so now, this is an even easier way to get the fun out. Some names will have alias' to protect the innocent (and not so innocent!)...

Last week, the fun really started on Tuesday night, met my friend G up at the new spot at the Collection at Chevy Chase, Famosa. V and I will be helping to promote this new "hotspot" which is really a nice establishment. Because the location faces the parking lot away from Wisconsin Ave (next to Bvlgari) it needs more visibility and exposure through parties and promotions. Actually, we are hosting an event next Wed the 29th, a nice cocktail event for friends and business executives. G left after a martini (or 2?) and V and I headed next door to the Bvlgari event that was benefiting the Museum of Women in the Arts. Now that was an interesting and different crowd. Gorgeous pieces of course, and ran into some fun people from my past and maybe my future ... more to come on that ... Didn't stay TOO long - V and I had to get all the way back to Arlington for my dear friend C's party. C is hosting a party every month on a Tuesday for invited guests only. I was sure it would be quite the INTRIGUING crowd. And when I say intriguing, I mean pretty much all "hottie" girls and women that he knows. What do you know!?! I was right - well, at least in the beginning. And it was funny - I was the only loser in a business suit. The rest of the ladies were in jeans and cute exposed skin tops - with some exceptions of course. It was a pretty crowd - catered, lots and lots of the right kind of drinks - BUBBLY! my favorite ... can't get enough of the VC :-) By the time C finally got out of the shower to greet his guests, there were about 50 people there I think - the music was pumping and the crowd was starting to get rowdy. Some people were holding issue with the music - it came from C's play list, which included some not so "hip" pieces. aka 8-6-7-5-3-0-9 - JENNY! Then one friend decided to do some breakdancing in the bar room and his drink went flying - luckily, there was someone there to clean it up ... this IS a brand new condo for goodness sakes! To our happiness, more hot guys came in - smokers were on the balcony in the freezing cold, I think I had way too many glasses (or cups) of VC and next thing you know - we were off with 2 girlfriends to Play ... got there, no one was there. Well, no one too interesting - so we decided to hitch up with a guy friend we knew and head to Fly ... seriously, the 2 of those places should have either a shuttle or a tunnel to each other! The crowd goes from one to the other all of the time ... or, I particularly stay at one, versus the other. Depends on how I feel or who is there that interests me.

So, off to Fly - one of our girlfriends was going to meet her male counterpart of the moment (I guess, I never can keep up these days) and we run into him on the street with 2 other girls and his friends. Nonetheless, that was quite the moment of uncomfortableness. V and I and 2 other friends (male) decided to head into the depths of Fly - where we ran into P, our friend who works with models. He had a table, (seriously, that place, you need to either have a table to sit and not have to be run into by RP's or, you can stand by the bar and be protected, but otherwise, on a super crowded night, if you stand in the middle, and why would you do that, you run the risk of being burned by a ciggie or having some drunk spill on your designer label clothing, or even worse, being HIT on by some nut, who you told last week to go to H-E double hockey sticks) and was with other girlfriends of ours.

Now that was a fun night and NO, I went home ALONE as usual ... (the theme of my life!) only to be topped by Thursday evening - started by attending a DC Scores event at the Dodge Mansion in Georgetown. THat was so sweet, was able to get a photog from the Georgetowner there. Great organization, met some cool people. Then V (my partner in crime) and I headed to the Four Seasons to get some nourishment and vino ... then a dear friend F and his partner came and picked us up to go back to Play (are there only 3 places in town? Play, Fly , Blue Gin!) for a girlfriend's birthday party. Craziness ensued ... I promise ... that was a nutty night. Activities of shots (ok, only ONE for me), bottles of VC, and dancing on those benches - thank goodness they are hard and can take the heels of my boots and spikes. That place was SO crowded. I am sure the fire code was violated 100 times over. With that, I had to give myself the hook and take myself off stage right. Once outside, I was like ... hmm... now what? So - I called my buddy P, who was a bit tipsy, enough to think he could take his glass of champagne out - which I told him he certainly couldn't - and we headed to- guess where!>! Fly ... where we danced and closed the place down. Now that was another adventure b/c of conversations there, but will remain for now, undisclosed - but again, got in a cab and was HOME in bed at a decent hour :-) I say, any night I am in before the lights come on in a club is a GREAT NIGHT.

Friday night - met friends at District Chophouse before meeting P at the Verizon center. C had awesome seats for the hockey game. they were playing North Carolina - and were losing when we left at the end of the 2nd period. But we had PLACES to go! First, had to run to Zola for some sustenance (again) and then cabbed it to BLUE GIN. Why? b/c we were on the list for the PRIVATE JOEY DEGRAW and CHRIS BARRON (from Spin Docktors) concert! When we got there, there were about 10 or 15 people - we of course jumped on the best spot - right where the band would be playing. C had purchased a table (with lotsO bubbly!) ... they had set up the bottom part of BG for a comfy concert. I was totally impressed. More people started coming in - they were being super strict, as it was for a small private concert. When it was all said and done, there were probably about 75 people there.

So, we are sitting there, and I kept having to tell people that our table was taken, but these seats were open. Next thing you know, these dudes come over and just sit down. C and I were like - hmm. I have a feeling they may be "roadies" or something, b/c one guy had a crazy hair cut and a hat - and they were a bit comfortable with themselves. Plus, I was checking out this one guy, he was older, had some scruff, and was wearing this crazy outfit. He was wearing a pink button down with a gray tie, bleached jeans, WHITE WHITE tennis shoes, and his shirtsleeves were rolled up. I was like - who the heck is that? And they kept ordering red wine, which hey - no roadie orders that. or do they? anyway, yes, turns out the HOTTIE sitting next to me was JOEY himself... and I was chatting away with him. He was so cute. I had asked him why they were drinking red wine (actually, I said, you are the most sophisicated band I know) and he said, "Everyone gives me vodka and shots - it is great when I stick to red wine!" With that comment, I had to give him and his band some champagne! Pink Oxford was Chris Barron, who was the original Spin Docktor. He was AWESOME. Got a standing ovation - it was all acoustic. They are SO talented. The band smoked and drank while they played, it was totally cool. (I wonder, how can you maintain your voice when you chain smoke? and also, Joey told him he does VOICEOVERS for A&E channel ... how does THAT work? isn't it a bit gruff ? mmmm ... must do some recon work).

The bad thing is - the crowd TALKED AND TALKED while they were playing. So rude... what can you do though. F got up and told everyone to SHUT UP! but no one listened. of course. The funniest part of the night was when F told me that Chris and Joey asked if the 2 "groupies" up front had been planted. I said What groupies? and he said my friend and me. I was SO offended - seriously MOI? a groupie? for a group I had never heard of? maybe now for LR, but that is IT! geez ... so after they were done, everyone got up and danced and drank more and had an awesome time. I have to give it to Blue Gin - they did a bang up job for this concert!

Saturday night - oy - I am exhausted now ... was part of the wonderful private dinner that Joe Robert had for his son Joey who has come home from 4 years serving our country as a Marine and grueling tour in Fallujah. That was at Cafe Milano, (where I lost my new silver hoop earring, pisses me off!) and it was for about 75 people or so. Soooo nice. Really beautiful and touching, lots of toasts, wonderful food and fun company. interestingly, everyone was at long tables, and we were kind of split -if you looked at the dynamics. I was at the Girls table, (there were a few boys with their girlfriends) and the BOYS were at the Boys table, then there were tables of mixed groups, and the Head Table - but it was funny to see how everyone sat. pretty much the same crowd that I had been seeing for the past few nights. Then Joe had rented out the top level of Blue Gin for the group plus more and it was SO nice. He paid for open for 10 - 2 am. That was so generous of him - it was really a fun and great event. It was decorated and had a nice crowd - a lot of whom I had no idea who they were. With that - I gave myself the HOOK again - and grabbed a cab home. Where I then decided it would be a super idea to heat up left over pizza and eat it ... ugh! more to come ...