Need to jump-start the sweetness? Head to ACKC Cocoa Bar, which also has truffle-makng classes.
Mon, Dec 27, 2010
32 Ideas for Love in Washington
From dining to hotels, don't miss these great nights out when it comes to matters of the heart (and soul) for the next three months.
In a city where affection can sometimes be seen as a sign of weakness, how do we celebrate love? Well, with a creative touch. From chocolate classes to full-moon hikes, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite things. The only problem is that Valentine’s Day isn’t nearly long enough to do all that we love. So this year, extend the holiday for a month—or three. And whether you’re giving one of the following to yourself, your friend, your lover or your dog, we bet you won’t get any complaints, even in April.
1. Joy of Motion (5207 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202/362-3042; additional studios in Bethesda, Md., and on H Street, NE). If you’re looking for a reminder of how good it feels to be alive, get your heart pumping with a dance class. Try beginning hip-hop, Afro jazz, street jazz or zumba, which combines salsa, merengue, cha cha, flamenco, belly dance, hip-hop, cumbia and samba. Individual drop-in classes are $17; discounted class cards are available.
2. DC Coast (1401 K St., NW; 202/216-5988). Calling all men: Executive chef Brendan Cox and pastry chef JJ Minneola will teach you how to cook a divine three-course meal, including a decadent dessert. Class includes lunch and wine pairings. Feb. 12, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.; $75. Contact Jillian@pas sionfoodhospitality.com for reservations.
3. First Class (1726 20th St., NW; 202/797-5102). Some of our favorite classes for the year ahead: “Conquer Your Clutter” with the Clutter Surgeon (Jan. 22; $45; we heard that two people with cluttered lives met at this class—both were late—and got married); “How to Up Your Charm Quotient” (Jan. 25; $39); and “Persuasion: The Art of Getting What You Want” (Jan. 27; $39).
4. National Arboretum (3501 New York Ave., NE; 202/245-2726). There’s always something blooming at the Arboretum, even in January. This living museum is giant and breathtaking: 446 acres of trees, shrubs and plants, with walkways, a bonsai museum and perfect spots to picnic. Monthly lectures, workshops and full-moon hikes ($22).
5. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (703/417-8000). When it’s warm, it’s thrilling to stand under the flight path at Gravelly Point Park and watch planes come and go. But when the mercury dips, we prefer to watch from the old Terminal A, where a terrific display of photos shows the Airport during different eras. Date night: Pick up a hot drink from one of the Airport concessions and enjoy this little aviation haven.
6. Glen Echo Park (7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Md.). Dating back to 1891, Glen Echo is a former amusement park on the Potomac, now home to one of the best dance halls in the region. Regular social dances and classes are offered in the historic Spanish Ballroom in waltz, swing, contra and salsa. No prior footwork and no partner necessary. Wear layers in the winter, because the dance hall isn’t heated, but trust us—you’ll warm up in no time, and the place is usually sweltering by 10 p.m. Tickets $5–$20.
7. Theodore Roosevelt Island (off the George Washington Memorial Parkway). We still marvel at this island, smack in the middle of the Potomac River, just across from Georgetown and the Watergate, yet tranquil and serene. Enjoy a picnic by the memorial, lose track of time on a bench, run the trails or hike around with a hound, taking in the smells and sights. It’s hard to get lost, but it’s easy to fall in love.
Let Them Entertain You
8. West End Cinema (2301 M St., NW; 202/419-FILM). We’re so excited about this new art-house cinema that we’ll even sit through the previews. The theater opened last fall, and since then, the three screens have been filled with new releases and remastered classics. Plus, what’s not to love about the full bar and snacks like baklava? Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and $8 before 4:30 p.m.
9. Harman Center for the Arts (610 F St., NW; 202/547-1122). It’s not often that you get to rock out with The Washington Ballet, but this is an opportunity at Sidney Harman Hall that you shouldn’t miss. In “Rock & Roll,” TWB will perform three ballets set to the music of the Rolling Stones and Beck. Feb. 16–20; tickets $20–$87.
10. Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater (1101 6th St., SW; 202/544-9066). Visit the Arena to see how architect Bing Thom brilliantly enclosed the existing theaters under one breathtaking, modern roof—it’s, dare we say it, sexy. But we also encourage you to catch inaugural-season performances, including the Edward Albee festival, for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (Feb. 25–April 10) and “At Home at the Zoo” Feb. 25–April 24).Tickets $61–$91. (Discounts for students and under 30; half-price tickets 30 minutes before performances, based on availability.)
11. Woolly Mammoth (641 D St., NW; 202/393-3939). MacArthur Grant recipient Luis Alfaro adapts the ultimate story of forbidden love, “Oedipus El Rey,” which weaves a tale about a juvenile delinquent who rises above the L.A. barrio to become a king—though his passion for one woman violates a sacred law. Feb. 7–March 6; tickets start at $30. (Discounts for guests under 25, and the first two shows of any performance are pay what you can.)
Gifts That Bloom and Twinkle
12. Tiny Jewel Box (1147 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202/393-2747). At one of Washington’s favorite treasure chests, you can spend a couple hundred dollars or a couple hundred thousand.
13. Caruso Florist (1717 M St., NW; 202/223-3816). This century-old family business carries about 80 varieties of flowers, but in February, long-stemmed roses (one dozen, $75 and up) trump all. Just don’t be like the guy who ordered them and asked that the flowers be cut off. Owner Phil Caruso placed the stems in a box with baby’s breath. The card read: “You’ll have to work for the blooms.”
14. Garden District (1740 14th St., NW; 202/797-9005). Don’t get us wrong—we adore flower deliveries—but we also appreciate flowers that have a chance of lasting as long as the relationship. Shop here for the striking anthurium ($8–$16), a houseplant with heart-shaped leaves and bright pink heart-shaped flowers.
For the Love of Good Eats
15. Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery (1515 Courthouse Rd., Arlington, Va.; 703/243-2410). You know his pastries and his DamGoodSweet cookbook. Celebrated pastry chef and New Orleans native David Guas opened Bayou Bakery this fall, and what better place to spend Mardi Gras—or any other day? Find home-cooked Southern dishes (gumbo; red beans and rice), plus Cuban sandwiches, breakfast biscuits and hot beignets. For Valentine’s Day, don’t miss Guas’ layered red velvet cake, chocolate pralines, root beer floats with two straws and heart-shaped Heavenly Hash—can you say fudge, pecans and marshmallows all in one?
16. Ted’s Bulletin (505 8th St., SE; 202/544.8337). From the team behind Matchbox, Ted’s is an old-fashioned diner, with milkshakes in a dozen flavors ($5.99). They also come in grown-up versions: Bailey’s Carmel Macchiato, Grasshopper, White Russian and Spiked Thai Coffee ($7.99). If you can agree on a flavor, they’re the perfect size to split, and they’re even better while watching black-and-white movies and cartoons on the diner’s big screen.
17. Michel (1700 Tysons Blvd., McLean, Va.; 703/506-4300). One of our favorite celebrity chefs has done it again: Michel Richard recently opened Michel at the Tysons Corner Ritz-Carlton, featuring innovative modern French cuisine. Entreés include skate in brown butter, mustard rabbit, salmon with lentils and duck a l’orange. For Valentine’s Day, Richard will offer a chocolate heart with rose-flavored mousse, topped with rose petals. (To read more, see our review on page 28.)
18. Tabard Inn (1739 N St., NW; 202/331-8528). One of the coziest spots in the city is a seat by the fireplace at the historic Tabard Inn. Go for the brioche French toast ($10) in the morning, the petite duo of barbecue duck sandwiches ($12) for lunch or the seafood gumbo with house-made andouille sausage ($26) for dinner. Or enjoy a cocktail while you listen to live jazz every Sunday, 7:30 p.m.–10 p.m.
19. Senart’s Oyster & Chop House (520 8th St., SE). Back in the day (1913–1939), the Senart family ran an oyster house downstairs and lived upstairs in this 15-foot-wide rowhouse. Now, restaurateur Xavier Cervera is re-establishing an oyster house, plus chops. The newest restaurant—slated to open in January—on Barracks Row has a 30-foot bar and a menu filled with fresh crustaceans and classic sides. Watch the oyster shucker as you discuss whether oysters are an aphrodisiac. Entreés $15–$30.
20. Hill’s Kitchen (713 D St., SE; 202/543-1997). If you’re into kitchen DIY, Hill’s is your answer. You will find an assortment of cookie cutters (including D.C. monuments), plus heart-shaped bake-and-serve dishes ($19.99–$24.95), heart-shaped fondue for two (heated with tea lights, $9.95) and an adorable red teapot with white polka dots ($24.95).
21. Dangerously Delicious Pies (1339 H St., NE; 202/398-PIES). Just like Patricia Arquette in “True Romance,” after we see a movie, we like to get a piece of pie and talk about it. Actually, we like to get pie anytime, and now you can on H Street—slices or the whole darn thing. Open late, daily pies updated online, and, yes, they deliver and now have a roving pie truck for walk-up sales.
22. ACKC Cocoa Bar (1529C 14th St., NW; 202/387-COCO; smaller location in Alexandria). D.C.’s first cocoa bar continues to indulge us with hot cocoa drinks named after divas and starlets (the “Lucy” is named after fiery Lucille Ball, infused with chipotle peppers and cinnamon). You’ll also find seasonal truffle flavors, handmade confections and hand-decorated chocolates. Special for Valentine’s Day: Juliet and Romeo cocoa drinks and novelties like chocolate-oriented spa products. Year-round: truffle-making, chocolate-tasting and chocolate-and-wine-pairing classes ($35–$60).
23. Gaylord Hotel (201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Md.; 301/965-4000). National Harbor may be less than 10 miles from downtown, but it feels far away, making it a perfect mini-getaway. Special romance packages ($269 per couple) include one night, champagne, breakfast for two, 20 percent off spa services and access to the fitness center and pool. And even better: If you book your Friday or Saturday during your anniversary month, you get a free upgrade, free dessert and free second night. Both packages are offered through July 31, 2011, based on availability.
24. Rouge (1315 16th St., NW; 800-738-1202; other participating Kimpton locations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia). We’re especially excited about this Valentine’s promotion, because we’re wild about the Kimpton robes. During the month of February, the “Isn’t It Robe-mantic” package includes one night, two Kimpton animal print robes (yes, you can take them home) and breakfast in bed. Rates start at $300.
25. The Homestead (7696 Sam Snead Hwy., Hot Springs, Va.; 540/839-1766). Every weekend at this historic golf and spa resort offers a trip back in time. Try the carriage rides, nightly dancing, fireside reading, fly-fishing, biking, hiking or sitting on the grand porch rocking chairs and doing nothing. In February, enjoy one night in a suite, champagne and roses, a rose petal turndown, dinner for two and breakfast buffet for two. Rate is $590 per night, based on availability.
Love Your Body
26. Bliss Spa at the W (515 15th St., NW; 877-862-5477). We adore Bliss because they understand one simple truth: It doesn’t get any better than spa and chocolate. Double-chocolate pedicure (60 minutes; $70) includes a hot chocolate milk skin-smoothing soak—a chocolate fête for your feet, with a chocolate treat served on the side.
27. Equinox Spa (4905 Elm St., Bethesda, Md.; 301/652-1078; additional location in Tysons Corner). This new Bethesda location (which features Kiehl’s products in the locker rooms) has a facial for those who already have enough gold baubles and bling. The luxurious 24K Gold Facial ($165) incorporates a gold collagen mask, which helps moisturize and tone the skin. Just what we need in these blustery, dry months.
28. Mandarin Oriental Spa (1330 Maryland Ave., SW; 202/787-6140). One of the best in-city getaways is the Oriental’s spa. During February, the spa offers a “couples treatment” in a hotel suite converted into a spa haven. Treatment options include facials and massages, and couples will go home with a spa gift. Call for details. Prices start at $240 per person.
For Our Four-Legged Friends
29. Metro Mutts (508 H St., NE; 202/450-5661). Just a bone’s throw from Union Station, the area’s newest and healthiest pet store, with natural, vegetarian and vegan products. We let our pooches sample the freeze-dried cheddar cheese treats ($10.99), and our hounds can’t keep their paws off them. CycleDog leashes and collars ($23–$30) are made from inner tubes (the collars have a bottle opener on them—you never know). Also: locally made Fred Fred leather collars and Max & Ruffy’s vegan dog treats.
30. Lazy Dog Art (703/798-036 or lazy email@example.com). We hate to break it to you, but there’s no doggone way your pup’s going to “sit” for a portrait. So commission one with Lazy Dog’s Susie Hooban, and she’ll paint from a photo, capturing your dog’s personality in acrylic. Portraits are on canvas, ready to hang. Sizes range from 6 x 6 inches to 24 x 24 inches; check website for pricing.
31. Pets2Vets (877/311-4P2V). Maybe you can’t buy love, but you can set the stage for great companionship when you donate to P2V, which matches dogs from the shelter with active-duty service members, military veterans and emergency first responders coping with the stress and trauma of service. We all know pets make us calmer; imagine how they help those with PTSD. A donation of $25 can provide a leash and collar for a service member’s new pup, and $60 also provides bowls and a crate.
32. Bev Hollis Photography (615-414-2903). If there were a dog version of the J. Crew catalog, we know veterinarian Bev Hollis would be behind it. She shoots gorgeous photos of dogs at their homes, on location at D.C. monuments or at her 23-acre Purcellville farm in Loudoun County. Fees start at $275 for a mini-session (90 minutes) and $500 for a signature session (up to three hours, including props).