Bon Vivant: (n) a person having cultivated, refined, and sociable tastes especially with respect to food and drink.

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Bastille Day Celebrations in DC

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Bubbly, Champagne, DC events, Drink Well, Events, Holidays

Looking to celebrate Bastille Day in style?  It’s one of my favorite excuses (like I need one!) to indulge in some of my favorite French delicacies. Tomorrow is the 227th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, so don your best red, white & bleu and raise a glass of champagne!

I’ll be celebrating at Michel Richard’s Central, which is featuring a special 3 course menu of french bistro faves for just $55. They will also be featuring specialty cocktail, wine and beer as well as live entertainment from the Blue Room Jazz Band!

Central

Central

If you prefer to celebrate with a special glass of vin Eno Wine Bar is offering a Bastille Day flight and 30% off all bottles of French wines.

For live French music, check out Café du Parc or Sofitel (register here!)

And for an all day celebration, complete with mimes, check out Le Diplomat, which will also be offering specialty cocktails and pastries throughout the day.

To celebrate at home, check out Weygandt Wines‘, superb collection of French wines.  They’re offering 20% off French bottles!

How will you be celebrating Bastille Day? 

cheers

 

 

 

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#LanguedocDay

Posted in: Bang for Your Buck, Bon Vivant, Bubbly, Entertaining, Event Planning, Holidays, Porch wine, Rosé, Seasonal Sips, Wine Recommendations, Wine Reviews, Wine Shops, Wine Tasting

The storm clouds in DC have finally given us a break and many people are planning outdoor entertaining for Memorial Day Weekend. What you may not know is that today is also #LanguedocDay.

Picpoult Edit

Wine “days” seem to be a dime a dozen these days, but what I love about this particular one is that it breaks people out of wine ruts and raises awareness about an unsung region in the Southwest of France that offers incredible quality at affordable prices.

 

When Wines of Languedoc approached me about reviewing some of their wines, I was excited- mainly because I happen to love them, but also because they were focused on quality, with only AOP (Appelation d’origine contrôlée) designated wines. Though the region is often known for its bulk wine production, only 10% of wine from the region receives AOP designation, meaning stricter sourcing and production guidelines, but also higher quality wines.

It also gave me an opportunity to invite some friends over to chime in with their own opinions! We took advantage of a gorgeous DC day and threw a garden party.

Ladies with Rose Edit
Wines from the Languedoc lend themselves exceptionally well to entertaining. They’re accessible wines in both flavor profile and price- 2 things that make them prime candidates for any party wine!
The bar set up for easy access for guests to serve themselves. Sparkling water and a carafe of cucumber lemon water keep guests hydrated!

The bar was set up for guests to easily serve themselves and sample all of the wines. Sparkling water and a carafe of cucumber lemon water kept guests hydrated!

On the menu:

Table Spread Edit copy

  • Homemade pimento cheese with ritz crackers- a must for any southern garden party!
  • Crudité platter with hummus
  • Orzo pasta salad
  • Fruit platter
  • Assorted olives, nuts, charcuterie and artisanal cheeses

Don’t forget:

  • To hydrate: I like to serve cucumber lemon water and sparkling water.
  • The bugs:  These pretty citronella candles give off a gorgeous glow while keeping the bugs at bay.
These citronella candles not only give off a gorgeous glow, they keep pesky bugs at bay!

These citronella candles not only give off a gorgeous glow, they keep pesky bugs at bay!

The wines:

All of these, with the exception of the Crémant, are available at Weygandt Wines.  They’ve been kind enough to offer readers 15% off if you mention this post! Stop by to stock up for any weekend entertaining you might be planning.
Cheers!

Cheers!

Montfin Corbieres $13.99

This wine offers lovely red fruit with some earthy undertones. I noticed plum, red pepper and leather notes with medium tannin and acidity.

 

Montfin Rosé $13.99

This easy going rosé was a crowd favorite on such a gorgeous day!  Dry, with notes of white peach and raspberrry.

Arbalète Coquelicots $17.99

This wine showed best after it cooled off a bit. Red fruit, a hint of baking spice and lovely earthy qualities.

Picpoul de Pinet $11.99

Crisp and light with notes of apple, pear and citrus.  This is a warm weather no brainer!

Saint-Hilaire Crémant de Limoux $15

This crémant was both festive and accessible at a fraction of the cost of champagne!  Crisp with notes of pear and soft floral notes.

Have you tried Languedoc wines?  If not, this weekend is a great opportunity to do so.  To learn even more check out L’Aventure Languedoc, a celebration of Languedoc AOP wines throughout June, coming to Seattle and Washington DC. Click here for more information!

cheers

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Outdoor Entertaining Tips from Robert Mondavi IV

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Champagne, Drink Well, Entertaining, Event Planning, Events, Helpful Hints, Porch wine, Rosé, Seasonal Sips, Tried and Trues, Wine Recommendations, Winemakers, Wineries and Vineyards

I recently chatted with Rob Mondavi IV, 4th Generation winemaker, from his beautiful waterfront home in Beaufort, South Carolina.  He had some great tips for outdoor entertaining as we come into the summertime entertaining season.

rosé on the porch

Mondavi pulls inspiration from California wine country, Europe, South America and Southern Coastal traditions, but his tips work well no matter where you live!

Check out some of his outdoor entertaining tips below and click here to see the full interview!

  • Green & Eco-friendly are trends that are easy to incorporate. Mondavi recommends recycled materials with longevity like Trex decking materials.
  • Make sure your guests have a place to set their drinks- you can even incorporate a cocktail rail into decking! Alternatively, set out cocktail tables or garden stools.
  • Plan intimate events, bigger isn’t always better.
  • Serve Bubbly! “It can mark a moment at the party.”
  • When it comes to food, focus on farm to table and sourcing local, fresh products.  I love visiting Eastern Market and Union Market in DC to pick up local, fresh ingredients.
  • Mondavi’s go to porch wine: Chardonnay! Aromatic whites and dry Rosés are also great options that are trending.

What are some of your favorite outdoor entertaining tips?

cheers

 

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A Sensory Delight

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Cocktails, DC events, Drink Well, Events, Foodie

It started with the invitation.  I’m a sucker for snail mail, but almost missed the chic and creative envelope hiding among bank statements and bills.  It was unlike any other industry event I’d attended and I was immediately intrigued.  The concept is simple, but novel in this age of social media.

enjoying the cocktai hour

Enjoying the cocktail hour

“You come. You see.  You eat.  You Facebook, Instagram, and tweet. You sip and nosh and connect, then post it to pay your check.”

Longview Gallery‘s industrial chic vibe met Mid-Summer Night’s Dream with fanciful and thoughtful details everywhere I looked. Live jazz played as guest mingled and got snap happy.

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Clever details everywhere: popup popcorn for a popup restaurant

 

I’m pretty happy with any party that starts with a tray of French 75’s being proffered at the door. After mingling and taking in the scene we were seated to a 4 course meal.

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Welcome cocktail: French 75

In a world where every one of life’s mundane details is snapped and documented,  Taylor and Hov Events decided to bring together an event worthy of being documented by foodies, artists and fashionistas from DC’s online community.  The result was extraordinary- everything from the welcome cocktails, design elements, to the food were snap worthy.

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Just one of the fanciful art installations

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It’s hard to make good food for a party this size- it’s even harder to make GREAT food.  Spilled Milk Catering pulled it off with a four course meal that had everyone raving.

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I’m excited to see what concepts this team pulls off in the future!

cheers

 

 

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Dîner en Blanc DC

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Diner en Blanc, Drink Well, Events

This time last week I was embarking on the dining experience of the year- part flash-mob, part gourmet picnic, Dîner en Blanc was a spectacular affair Washington has been ready for.  DC’s inaugural event has been 3 years in the making and took place during the 25th anniversary year of the storied French tradition.

On my way!

On my way!

Setting up our tablescape.  Photo courtesy of Justthebottle.

Setting up our tablescape. Photo courtesy of Justthebottle.

Originally a French affair among friends, the experience has morphed into an exclusive event held in over 50 cities world wide.  The basic premise: participants register through an exclusive system, don all white, and descend upon a secret location to dine on gourmet food and wine.

Having fun with friends in front of the Moët Ice Tower, official sponsor of the event.

Having fun with wine and food blogging friends in front of the Moët Ice Tower, official sponsor of the event.

These ladies are a lot of fun and all have great wine and food blogs! From left to right: Lisa, Christina, Laetitia, (DeB group leader), Katie, (DeB Table Leader).

The rules are strict- diners must adhere to guidelines regarding attire, table size, and more.  The event is not without some major effort on the part of participants (just try schlepping a table, 2 chairs, a 4 course gourmet picnic and table setting on the metro during rush hour!)

However, the end result is a one of a kind evening that balances food, wine, music, dancing, and camaraderie among friends.

Our tablescape

Our table

A toast with a friend, Jackie, from Bookalokal DC

A toast with a friend, Jackie, from Bookalokal DC

Sparklers at dusk, a 25 year old tradition!

Sparklers at dusk, a 25 year old tradition!

The menu:

  • Cheese Plate (from Sona Creamery)- this was great to share with friends!
  • Chilled Gazpacho topped with feta
  • Baby Arugula topped with seared sirloin, Parmesan, aged Balsamic Vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Macarons (from Sweet Lobby)
La Tur- an outstanding blend of cow, sheep and goat’s milk.   “Rachel” Semi-soft Goat’s milk cheese “Zamorano”- a hard sheep’s milk cheese produced in Virginia.  Similar to Manchengo, but a bit zestier

La Tur- an outstanding blend of cow, sheep and goat’s milk.
“Rachel” Semi-soft Goat’s milk cheese.
“Zamorano”- a hard sheep’s milk cheese produced in Virginia. Similar to Manchengo, but a bit zestier.
Marcona Almonds

(If you’re counting, yes, that’s five types of cheese;)

Bon Vivant Tips for Enjoying Dîner en Blanc:

  • Bring a container to keep your wine chilled
  • Bring ICE and lots of it.  The wines that were supposed to be chilled were not even remotely at serving temperature. Most of my ice had melted by the time I arrived.
  • Bring shoes for walking- I changed into heels after arriving
  • Once you’ve signed up with your “group”, there’s no changing it!
  • If you have a request or an accommodation, be NICE to the organizers.  They receive dozens of emails a day with people making various requests or even complaining.  I’ve heard that many of these emails were not so nice. Remember the old adage about honey catching more flies than vinegar!
  • Do a set up dry run.  Once I figured out how to assemble my table it was a breeze, but it took a while to initially figure out and I saw others struggling the evening of.  I also downsized to smaller plates and a lighter vase after my dry run. I cannot emphasize this tip enough!
  • Consider purchasing or renting a luggage carrier.  Although my trolley toppled a few times due to escalator bumps or curbs, it was collapsible and fit under the table, per DeB regulations.
  • While keeping things light and compact is key to successful schlepping, I was happy I packed a few of my favorite pieces to make my table a bit more elegant.  I compromised by renting lighter chairs, and chose to bring a silver champagne bucket and marble cheese board.
  • Things not to forget: hand sanitizer, bug spray, shout wipes or a tide pen, wine key, water, trash bag for clean up, portable cell phone charging device.
  • Depending on where you’re coming from, getting there can be a hassle.  Keep a positive attitude and relax.  The schlepping was more than a bit of a nuisance, but the pay off upon arrival was outstanding.
  • It’s great to sit with friends and be able to share food and wine, but remember to branch out and meet new people as well!
  • If you’re unable to register during the initial stage, reach out to an organizer to get on the official waiting list and monitor the message boards.  There are always cancellations and if you are vigilant, you will be able to purchase tickets from someone who is unable to attend.

champagne bucket chilling wine

Things I wish I’d done differently:

  • Prepared earlier.  This event happened to take place during a very busy period of work for me.  Day of, I was rushing around like a mad woman!  I definitely brought some of this on myself by not ordering a catered food basket.
  • Purchased a larger table.  I went with the Coleman Compact camping table, and at 27.5 inches square, I was wishing I had splurged on a 32 inch version (the max size allowed) to better accommodate my spread.

Vendors:

While I already owned most of the table decor, I did spend a considerable amount of time and money purchasing items from various vendors.  All told, I visited 8 brick and mortar establishments and made 2 online purchases to assemble everything I would need for the evening.  Although I likely could have rented or borrowed many of these items, it made sense for me to purchase items I plan on re-using since I plan on attending in future years.  When possible I took advantage of sales, but definitely splurged in other areas (namely: that cheese plate!). When possible, I purchased from local small businesses.

While some don’t understand the concept of paying to attend an event where you bring all your own supplies, food and wine, I feel that the $70 registration fee is quite reasonable given the permits, lighting, and particularly the entertainment.

Supplies & Decor:
Table Cloth, Rolling Luggage Cart: Amazon
Flame less Candles: Target
Coleman Camp Table: Walmart
Chairs: Fragers Rental
Flowers: Safeway

Our picnic basket- How lucky that my sister already had this on hand!?

Our picnic basket- How lucky that my sister already had this on hand!?

Attire:
Dress: Pinktini Fashion Boutique
Shoes, Purse: DSW
Fascinator: Amazon
Jewelry: already owned

The accessories for the evening. The event is as much about fashion as it is food and wine!

The accessories for the evening. The event is as much about fashion as it is food and wine!

Picture courtesy of Lisa Comento.

Picture courtesy of Lisa Comento.

Have you attended Dîner en Blanc? What are your favorite tips and tricks?

cheers

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