Friday, December 30, 2011

Our favorite posts of 2011

Urban Daddy's Jeff Dufour with baby Owen

by Janet Donovan

Ok, we think Owen had something to do with this post.  Taken in July at P.J. Clark's, the story went like this: "Is Urban Daddy's Jeff Dufour thinking what we're thinking?"

Courtney Cohen reads from "Go the F**K to Sleep"
by Author Adam Mansbach

Contributor Wendy Gordon weighs in.....

Yup, it's food porn........

Chef Enzo Fargione

Photo credit: Wendy Gordon
Additional photo credit: Michael Palmer

Enzo Fargione’s new restaurant Elisir opened on Wednesday.  We’ll eat to that!  
With a dining area that boasts an open kitchen complete with live feed video for those who may not have a true ‘window’ seat and a bar area that offers such specialties as an exclusively bottled ‘sparkling Negroni,’ as well as a wine list that is not only approachable, but has some really good bargains, this new fixture on 11th Street is coming on strong.

Elisir offers a 7 and a 10 course tasting menu at the dinner hour(s) as well as a la carte offerings that highlight Fargione’s facility with both flavor and presentation.  

At lunch, the restaurant has more of a bistro feel, with a simpler a la carte menu and a limited selection of plates at the bar.  

Service is attentive and friendly; the staff is completely knowledgeable; the room is clean and light wood and glass comfortably contemporary.
An opening day lunchtime repast included everything from soup to nuts, albeit not necessarily in that order.  The menu is extensive.   Ladies and Gentlemen: not to offend, but prepare for the ensuing ‘food porn….’

Every good meal starts with bread.  While normally this is an accompaniment, and so often eschewed by diners anxiously awaiting their other courses, not here.  From a tomato focaccia to sundried tomato to garlic and olive oil, we found ourselves fighting not to ruin our appetites with that alone.  

An array of artichokes and a silky, brilliantly mild Buratta served on grape leaves and adorned with fried basil leaves and prosciutto followed.   

A garbanzo bean soup was more a stew—a hearty plate of perfectly cooked beans with a mountain of thinly sliced fried onions on top—the textures melding perfectly with a warm clear broth.  Beet salad was replete with goat cheese as well as (and here come the nuts, folks) delicately flavored pine nuts, adding a crunch and distinctive flavor.

Pesto linguine was al dente as it should be, with tender fried calamari dotting its surface.   While most people would be full at this point, MY group was just beginning—nothing but intrepid.  Go us! 

Entrees:  Meat, fowl and fish.  Chicken was uber moist and served with an earthy wild mushroom ragout that tasted of autumn.  

Porquetta  brought piles of this traditional dish which was moist and topped with broccolini—perfectly cooked—both the meat and the vegetable.  Salmon was served, again, with lightly fried basil leaves.  

But wait!  There’s more!   Did someone say “dessert?”   Hello, lover!  

Photo credit: Michael Palmer
While most people would be ready for that ‘one wafer-thin mint,’ our group was poised to dig right in.  A creamy panna cotta with caramel and apples, not to mention homemade ice cream and richly light whipped cream and a symphony of lusciously layered chocolate cake finished off the meal.

Photo credit: Michael Palmer
We can’t wait to go back for dinner, although we may need a backhoe to cart us home.  
Elisir is located at 427 11th Street N.W. and is open for lunch Monday-Friday from 11:30-2:30 and dinner 6 days a week—Monday-Thursday 5:30-10:30; and to 11:30 Friday and Saturday.  Reservations can be made through or at the website

 Human Rights Campaign Dinner

Cyndi Lauper
Contributor Donna Shor goes with Cyndi Lauper.....

Can't beat that!

and photos by Neshan Naltchayan are FAB....
Video by Janet Donovan

President Obama strode to the podium at the Human Rights Campaign Gala at the Convention Center, saluted the crowd celebrating progress in human rights and the recent New York gay-rights decrees, then broke into a broad grin.

“I appreciate the chance to join you tonight.   I also took a trip out to California last week, where I held some productive bilateral talks with your leader, Lady Gaga.   She was wearing 16-inch heels.  She was eight feet tall.  It was a little intimidating.”  Full transcript here.

It was a night of speeches and declarations:  Wisconsin representative Tammy Baldwin declared she was going to run for the senate.  Betty DeGeneres, Ellen’s mother, declared she was proud of her daughter.  Both Sarah Jessica Parker and Mayor Bloomberg declared themselves proud and happy about New York.

When Cyndi Lauper went onstage she said there had been many speeches,  but “I’ve come to perform.” Then. looking wistfully toward the speaker’s corner, she darted across the stage and struck a pose as if about to begin a speech.

Thinking better about it, she went back to her spot to sing her heart out, belting “Girls Just Want To have Fun” and her other hit songs, climbing down from the stage into the audience, then climbing up on furniture.  The crowd loved her, roaring approval.

Boyish and Greyson Chance - a discovery of Ellen's - played the piano and sang.

Seen: Tipper Gore, DC Mayor Vincent Gray, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, Hilary Rosen, former Sen. Harris Wofford, OPM Director John Berry, Congessman Earl Blumenauer, Congresswoman Betty McCollum. and DC Councilmember David Catania.  

Mayor Bloomberg made a curious point by suggesting you go tell all your conservative friends that they should welcome the gay rights laws because people can now live without worries of government intrusion in their lives, the bane of all conservatives.

Watch the event here:


Sean Penn looks for breathing room at Funny or Die party.

David Corn and Sean Penn

Contributor Brendan Kownacki goes with Sean Penn.......
er.....he was actually looking for "smoking" me on that.....

Last night fans of the comedy website Funny or Die gathered to celebrate The White House Correspondents' Dinner weekend with a mix of Washingtonians and Hollywood stars including John Hamm, Sean Penn, Chace Crawford, and Zach Galifianakis

Penn kept mostly to himself once he anchored in the corner of the packed VIP tent, causing a brief stir when he tried to push open the locked fence surrounding the venue. The crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder and it looked like Penn was ready to climb over the fence if it meant some breathing room. 

Also on hand was star of the upcoming Hangover Part II, who said he was "thrilled to be back" in DC as he maneuvered through the crowd. Cooper is an alumnus of Georgetown University, where he graduated with a B.A. in English in 1997.