Friday, February 27, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
It's Cupcake Madness! Click here for the bracket and the judging sheet. Check out previous contenders Red Velvet and Couture Cupcakes.
Cakelove was the original. Before cupcakeries were a dime a dozen, before Sex and the City made cupcakes flirty and commonplace, Warren Brown had a dream. He was a government worker, droning on at a job he didn't like, and during his free time, he was baking cakes. His coworkers reaped the rewards of his after-hours experiments as he adjusted butter and sugar levels, coming up with perfect butter cream and seductive, layered combinations.
Monday, February 23, 2009
The vanilla and cinnamon one ended up actually being my favorite of the three -- the icing was light and airy, a highly whipped cinnamon-flavored buttercream. The chocolate cake with raspberry struck me as too sweet, and the chocolate brownie one was dense and rich -- delicious, but not a perfect cupcake, more like a good brownie. Also, at $3.65 these were the most expensive cupcakes on our crawl.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Comments from my team included "not a fan," "not a fan of control, but enjoyed red velvet and peanut butter frosting," rather have a milk chocolate frosting," "chocolate peanut butter delicious," "peanut butter icing delicious, red velvet good, cake mediocre." Overall, Red Velvet scored low marks for value and size, and average marks for cake, icing and creativity. The composite score was 2.5 out of five.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Over the past year there has been a glut of cupcakeries opening, and I have meant for the longest time to get to the bottom of which one is best. For once and for all, who has the best cupcake?! Can Baked & Wired hold its own? Or do the upstarts Georgetown Cupcake, Hello Cupcake and Red Velvet have it beat? Can CakeLove, DC's original cupcakery and the one that spawned all the imitators, still compete? Or has the old-timer been replaced?
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Eye of the Tiger. If It Makes You Happy. Take Me Home, Mountain Roads.
Friday, February 13, 2009
And so for Kate's birthday, of course, we had to hit the Carlyle Club. A few short steps from the King Street metro, you, too, can glam it up and be transported back to the 1936, Fred-n-Ginger, supper club glory days.
Alright, so it wasn't quite as classic as we'd pictured it and we were among the most dressed up and glam-ready. But, the table were clothed in white, the waiters were clothed in maroon vests and bow ties, the martinis were dirty and the band was big.
Funny thing about the band -- while it did throw in a foxtrot and a tango or two, its repertoire was all over the map. Pink, The Eagles, Cher (!), Frank Sinatra, you name it and they can and did play it. And the great thing is the crowd is nearly nondiscriminating, they cut the rug to any song the band will play. The crowd was all older than us, and for the most part really good dancers -- one gets the feeling they are all regulars and may even had met in a ballroom dancing class of some sort. For the rest of us Ginger wannabes, well, we muddled through as best we could, cheek to cheek and with only the occasional toe-step.
We did not have supper, and truth be told, I couldn't even bring myself to try a cocktail (I was at a work conference last week that pushed my liver past the bounds of human decency), so I cannot vouch for any of the creature comforts. But our group had a fabulous time, and I think this would be a great date or night out for any couple or group of friends who feels like dressing up and breaking out of their usual rut. Gene and Rita would be so proud.
Monday, February 9, 2009
So...there's good news, and then there's bad news.
The good news is that the Ford's Theater renovation is complete, and it is beautiful. The lobby is light and open, with lots of glass and shiny grey and white tiling. There's a fancy gift shop where you can buy Abraham Lincoln bobbleheads and huge novelty pennies that cost $6 each. There's information on the walls about the history of the theater. Lincoln's great coat will be on display in the lobby shortly (though you can see his blood and the bullet that killed him here). And the theater itself is beautiful, with a beautiful ceiling, a broad and newly done stage and yes, comfortable seats. For those of you who had been to the old Ford's Theater, you'll know that comfortable seating is a huge upgrade.
And it is pretty remarkable to sit in that comfortable seat and look up at the box in which Lincoln was shot. The history is mighty and duly appreciated.
But now for the bad news...the play they're re-opening the theater with is really, really bad.
I was offered the chance to see a free preview of "The Heavens are Hung in Black" last week. In the spirit of my new year's resolutions, I went with it. And, like the lesson I learned with the Iranian film festival, when you indiscriminately do things that are free, sometimes they are no good at all.
Where to start? The show lasted three hours (with two intermissions) and had not a scrap of dramatic tension throughout. It told the story of the months between the death of one of Lincoln's sons and his issuing of the emancipation proclamation. There are interminable dream sequences in which Lincoln rather heavy-handedly debates whether or not to free the slaves with various historical figures, but all along we know exactly what he's going to do and so these dream sequences just feel like they're Art. Art with a capital "A" as in "I have something very important to say" (doesn't the best art often say something very important without announcing itself so loudly?).
The non-dream sequences benefited from very good acting. The cast overall, Mary Lincoln in particular, were all good, they just didn't have much to work with. The scenes with Lincoln, his Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and his Secretary of State William Seward -- his team of rivals you may have heard something about -- were devoid of any sense of urgency or any aspect of, well, rivalry. And Lincoln, known for his intelligence and his bons mots, makes so many quips in the face of every possible situation that Act 2 feels an awful lot like an episode of "The West Wing: 1862."
There's also an extended scene in which Lincoln stumbles upon a group of actors rehearsing Shakespeare. This gives Lincoln an excuse to expound on Hamlet and how he is a tragic figure who spent too much time equivocating and ultimately died in the pursuit of truth and justice. My head hurts from all the hitting over it.
But perhaps the most offensive bit was at the end, with an overt shout-out to Barack Obama himself, a reference that could have been left unsaid. Because we are all pretty aware that Lincoln emancipated the slaves and now we have a black president. But thank you for drawing that line for us, we might have missed it otherwise.
Phew, I've had all that anger bottled up for a week now, and it feels good to let it go. I do encourage you to pop your head in and see the new digs, but do not stay for the show -- hopefully the next one will be better. And I promise that Thing 138 will be more fun. It features 100% more dancing, and that's a good start, right?
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
In that vein, I offer you Aatish on the Hill (warning: that site may give you seizures). A friend and I visited this Pakistani and Indian tandoori joint in an effort to find inexpensive and gluten-free food. The restaurant isn't the greatest one you'll ever go to, but the food was good, the service was very attentive (free rice pudding!) and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we caught up over plates of spiced and fragrant curries.
We ordered the botti kabab -- tender grilled pieces of lamb which we dipped in cool raita -- and shared that to start. And we ordered matar paneer (Indian fresh cheese and green peas in creamy curry) and aloo saag (potatoes cooked in spinach with sweet spices) and ate them with rice until there was nothing left. I love paneer, how it takes on the flavors surrounding it, kind of like tofu, but heartier and squeakier. And I love the sweet spices of Indian spinach, the cinnamon and clove and cardamom, and the creamy softness of the spinach.
Did this meal rock my world? No. But it was good, inexpensive food served with sweet and attentive service, and we did practically lick the plates the clean.