Events/Performances, Fun, Travel, United States

TJR and Knife Party at Echostage

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The masses getting sucked into TJR’s EDM vortex.

My exact Facebook comment to my friend’s check-in at Echostage, “TJR!  Holy mother of…” I later found out TJR saw that and it put me over the moon.

Last night was one of the best EDM shows I’ve ever been to, and I’m still smiling from it.  Never has Echostage put a better opening act, that could absolutely SMASH any hopes of Knife Party being able to top it.

Quite often, I comment to people about how I’m so over DJs mixing other people’s music. HOWEVER, there was something so infectious about TJR’s mixes, combined with his use of graphics, his energy, the lights/lasers/smoke, and the crowd’s response, that all of us were on a euphoric high for close to two hours (and we wished he could have kept going).  There wasn’t a moment when I wasn’t dancing, cheering, jumping up and down, and grinning from ear-to-ear.

Then came Knife Party…

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Last year, I heard their laser show was ridiculous, couple that with great hit after hit that they turn out, and I had to see this for myself.  It wasn’t a bad show but it didn’t wow me either (see TJR for more on why I think I might have had way lofty expectations).

The first issue was the time it took to recalibrate the soundboard and set up.  I’ve never seen a pause in between performances like that at a club.  It was definitely too much down time.  The second came down to it being a completely different style of music, so it was hard to shift into that mode of hardcore EDM.  As for their light show, they mostly did away with lasers, in favor of strobe lights, which if you’re sensitive to that, don’t go.  Even for me it was a lot.

They did, however, play some of my favorite hits, which you can watch below.

All-in-all, if these two acts come to your hometown, definitely grab tickets.  It’s completely worth it!  The rest of the videos can be found here.

And oh yeah, shout out to TJR for favoriting my tweet 😉

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Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Washington Nationals Opening Day 2017

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Every year I’ve lived in D.C., and so long as D.C. has had the Washington Nationals in our backyard, I’ve wanted to go to Opening Day.  There’s something so special about taking the day off work with a few thousand other people, meeting up with friends, having a few drinks (and plenty of ball park food), and watching one of America’s oldest sports.

This past Monday, April 3rd, my other half and I were lucky enough to snag two suite tickets to watch the game (in style).  We were even luckier to wander the stadium and run into friends, making it one of the most memorable games (and Mondays) I’ve been to (had).

If you have never been to a game here, I highly recommend it.  It’s one of the best baseball stadiums in the country!  Not only is the park itself so beautiful, but the surrounding areas of Navy Yard/Waterfront – are being built up to include some really great bars and restaurants.  Walking distance from the stadium, you can visit The Bull Pen, Scarlet Oak, Cantina Marina (my favorite, and where we ended up after the game), as well as many others.

If you don’t have time to explore the neighborhood, note that there are so many food and drink options to choose from, within the ball park, that you truly don’t have to leave.  Note that for those who are gluten-free they have two gluten-free stands in the park, including one by Centerfield!

Happy baseball season!

Events/Performances, Fun, Travel, United States

Partying With the Masses at Anjunabeats @ Echostage

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I will be the first to admit, I hate being in a crowded place with no viable way to escape.  It’s why I’ve always had a fear of festivals, and other venues, that require acceptance of no personal space.  It’s also the number one reason why I always opted for a table at  large venues.

But, this past weekend, as a last minute “sure, why not?” my other half and I went with some friends to Anjunabeats, General Admission at Echostage, and HAD. A. BLAST!!! There was something so infectious about being in a crowd, filled with happy (albeit, probably medicinally) people that were all there to have a good time and dance.  I also considered it a “warm up” to Dreamscape Festival in June 🙂

Check out some of my videos below:

While it was totally fun, and certainly a different experience, I’m looking forward to my table, overlooking Knife Party, this weekend!

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Compass Rose

Okay, while this wasn’t a date with my other half, it WAS a date with my girlfriend for her birthday!

Compass Rose has long been on my list of places to try in D.C. and it absolutely doesn’t disappoint!  It’s a place I definitely want to go to again and again – especially if I’ve got a hankering to travel to another country 🙂

Compass Rose’s menu is amazing – allowing you to sample small plates from all over the world, while being in an atmosphere that is reminiscent of any Western or Southern Asian countries.  Bonus points for them bottling and serving their own FABULOUS rosé!

My suggestions on what to order, especially if you have a soy and/or gluten allergy like we do:

  1. Pasteles (El Salvador) – ask for a side of rice, as opposed to the sides listed on the menu
  2. Broccoli Rabe (Italy)
  3. Bhel Puri Chaat (India)
  4. Asado (Argentina)

For dessert, we ordered an orange creme brûlée from Catalan.

On a gluten-free friendly scale, this place is a 10. I definitely recommend making reservations for this highly busy place!

Events/Performances, Fun, Travel, United States

DJ MLEM and Darude and Soundcheck

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Pretending like Darude wasn’t insanely awesome (he totally was).

On March 3rd, one of my favorite DJs from my college years (yes, I’m dating myself), came to Soundcheck to euphorically “bring the house down” and it was everything I ever could have hoped for.

Darude became a US icon in 2001 for releasing “Sandstorm”, which was one of very few EDM songs to hit mainstream airwaves in a time when pop music (especially boybands) was at a fervent pitch.  He, along with the likes of Armin Van Buuren, helped to create the “stickiness” of trance almost 20 years ago, which if you can remember back that far, all started to sound the same.

However, Darude, who needed to re-invent himself after massive success off of that one song, found a way to embrace “Sandstorm”, remix it… and then throw in live-recorded crowd-interactive hits that made us all stay until the very end of the night, to see what else he’d perform.

Check out some of my video clips below.  There’s a whole host of them on my YouTube Channel if you want to check out more of his new album.

NOTE: Scroll past the videos to read more.

Sandstorm Remixed:

Live-recorded “We Love DC” Crowd Chant, Mixed Into His Song:

One of Darude’s Newest Hits:

This post would not be complete without also mentioning the opener – DJ MLEM.  You guys have read many of my previous posts about my affinity for this up-and-coming EDM DJ, who has quickly found his own sound, to which is gaining a mass following.  His new mix, “Son of a Mix 004” has received rave reviews, and even got the attention of Darude, who danced in the crowd to DJ MLEM’s closing set.

This isn’t just a testament to MLEM’s work, but also to Darude’s fun-loving spirit, who spoke volumes by supporting an opening/closing act when no other veteran DJ has done the same.

If you have the ability to see Darude and/or MLEM perform, make it a must!

Fun, United States

Date Night: A Taste of Vienna

Every once in a while, we venture to the suburbs of Virginia to try some new places and get further away from the city (okay, and I was also dog sitting, and home decor shopping).  Yesterday, we took advantage of the day and enjoyed both lunch and dinner out, in my hometown of Vienna, VA.

With the explosion of the D.C. Metropolitan Area food scene, it’s no surprise that this little town has taken advantage of the growth.  Below are our experiences with where we dined yesterday.

Lunch – MOD Pizza

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There’s an old shopping strip mall that used to hold some of my childhood favorites: a local family-owned grocery store, a Chinese restaurant, and an old drug store with a malt shop in it.  Today, it houses a strip of great new, quick, restaurants that provide a little something for everyone – including MOD Pizza.

Per their website, back in 2008, The Svensons wanted a way to go out for pizza but not wait forever to get it.  Thus, MOD Pizza was born.  What started as one shop in Seattle, now has locations all over the US and the UK!

But what makes this story even better is their hiring practices.  Not only do they offer above minimum wage and full benefits for their employees, they also offer employment to special needs and second chance people.  It was this part that truly made me want to come back again, to support one of very few businesses that keep an open mind (and the pizza is great too).

When my boyfriend and I went into the shop, we were greeted by a very nice, very enthusiastic team.  They explained to us that you pay for the crust (yes, they had gluten-free), and all of the toppings are included in the price.  For $25, we got two 11″ pizzas and two bottles of birch beer.

The pizzas are cooked in 800 degree ovens, which means within 7 minutes of the order being placed, your pizza is ready to eat.  Even the gluten-free crust comes out perfect!  Note: If you don’t want to order in the store, you can order online, or through their app, and pick it up!

Gluten-free friendly score: 10

Dinner – Clarity

In an older business complex in the heart of Vienna, sits a new concept, called Clarity.  Jon Krinn – the famed chef who helped to establish 2941, and eventually Inox (which shut down in 2009), is the mastermind behind this new place.

Clarity marries a hometown feel with artisanal dishes for an upscale experience in a rather suburban area. We ordered the Belgium Endive salad with blood oranges, Pork loin with sweet potato, and veal with yukon gold mashed potatoes and mushrooms. (Note: the menu changes seasonally.)  We also ordered the “Espress” (an amazing Espresso Martini) and the “Not Your Mother’s Apple Pie”.

Overall, the experience was slightly above average.

What was great:

  1. The drinks – the bartenders do a phenomenal job with not just the creation of your drinks, but the cocktail menu as well.
  2. The service – the servers were all incredibly attentive and very nice

What made it not exceptional:

  1. We both ordered meat that should have been tender enough to slice right through but unfortunately, the meat wasn’t cooked to expectation and the knives were incredibly dull.
  2. The menu descriptions didn’t truly capture the essence of the dish.  For example, my pork loin had a very smoky flavor – not a favorite of mine.  I had no idea that was part of the dish.  I ended up eating very little of it.
  3. The space tries to be everything to everyone.  The lighting, decor, and layout lend itself to more of a mom and pop restaurant than an upscale place.

My suggestion: Go there for the drinks.

Gluten-friendly scale: 8

 

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Convivial

One of the most talked about restaurants in D.C. is sitting smack in the middle of the newly-developed Shaw district, and is a not-to-be-missed!

Convivial is the brain child of Cedric Maupillier who paired his expertise in French cooking with the light and “cheery” ambience foodies crave in the D.C. area.  The dishes are smaller, which means they are perfect for sharing 2-3 or if you are a light eater, can feel satisfied with just 1-2!

What We Ordered: Since we didn’t want to be overstuffed, he ordered the Friend Chicken “Coq Au Vin” (which he highly recommends) and I ordered the Quinoa (which I also recommend).  We also split the Creme Brûlée.

On a gluten-free friendly scale, this place is a 9 (mainly due to the slimmed-down menu).  I definitely recommend making reservations for this highly busy place!

 

 

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: RPM DC… for Valentine’s Day!

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Yeah, we’re the cheesy, in-love couple that made reservations for Valentine’s day… two months in advance!

Actually… that is the standard for RPM in D.C. – the new (ish), hip, upscale Italian restaurant that has taken the district by storm.  First established in Chicago by Bill and Giuliana Rancic, their upscale Italian concept made it’s way south to the already vibrant restaurant scene in the Nation’s Capital, and there are absolutely no signs of it slowing down.

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What to Order

Cocktails: Being the cocktail lovers we are, we each tried a different cocktail at the bar.  I chose the “Spritz and Giggles” (I don’t recommend it) and he chose the “Ten Cent Pistol” (we both HIGHLY recommend), prior to being seated at our table.

Wines: Once we were seated (in one of the best tables at the restaurant), I took a look through the wine list and was so deliriously happy to see Blackbird Vineyards, owned by the magnificent Michael Polenske, on the list of recommended wines.  Naturally, we splurged for the Paramour 2013 – one of the smoothest reds I’ve ever had.  It’s on the pricier side of the spectrum but well worth it (it’s also worth to check out their site and order in bulk).

Food: The biggest thing to note is that the food menu is designed to eat in courses.  All of the plates are small enough for two people, to enjoy more than one (usually 2-3), without feeling full.  We shared the prosciutto with peppers (this will “change your life” and is a must), the gluten-free pasta Pomodoro (big enough to share as a side dish), and the filet mignon (it’s cooked to perfection at medium and was absolutely amazing).  For dessert:

The green apple gelato with kiwi and the black cherry Panna Cotta are both highly recommended and just big enough to share!

This place is on the top of our list to go back to and on a gluten-free scale of 1-10, comes in at a 10!  We highly recommend you make reservations at least a month in advance for non-holidays.  Enjoy!

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Captain Gregory’s

Each weekend, my other half and I try to find a different place to eat and drink (I have a long list) in the D.C. area.  This past weekend, we headed to the following places in Alexandria, VA:

  • Haute Dogs and Fries (it’s gluten-free friendly with gluten-free buns) for incredible gourmet hot dogs – no picture, I was hungry
  • Sugar Shack (not gluten-free friendly but the boyfriend loved the variety of gourmet donuts) – no picture, my boyfriend was hungry
  • Captain Gregory’s (a speakeasy inside of Sugar Shack)

While I could easily write great things about all three, it was the last stop that left a lasting impression.

Why Speakeasies are the Places to Go

I love speakeasies because of the unparalleled, overall experience you get from the minute you’re at the door, until the minute you leave.  Usually established by craft cocktail masters, they understand the importance of immersing you in a different world, while ensuring what you are drinking is complete perfection.  The bonus: When the speakeasy has story.  (Read about why Captain Gregory‘s is in Sugar Shack.)

How to Get In

Once you’ve pulled the rum flag, right inside the front door of Sugar Shack, a wooden wall opens just enough for the hostess to make sure you have a reservation (yes, you need one to enter).

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The Experience

When you’re welcomed in, you notice that it definitely is an intimate place (it seats only 21 people at a time).  The decor is “old school nautical” with old, green velvet seating, tea lights, lighting the old wooden tables, and a rather large canoe, anchored to the ceiling.  Jimmy Buffet was softly playing out of the speakers, which at some point, I started to feel like I was on vacation (sign of a good weekend).

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When our waiter came over, he was thorough in going through the menu and their philosophy on their craft cocktails.  Their entire cocktail/food menu is redone everyday, which is a lot to plan for.  But what I loved more was that all of their syrups, juices, bitters, and other ingredients are made fresh each day.  Having once been “attached” to a bartender, I know how much work and care goes into doing this.  It’s what separates a drink at bar from a craft cocktail experience.

What We Ordered

Considering the menu changes everyday, there’s no way for me to recommend particular drinks or food. However, I will say that my drink (called D.A.R.L.I.N.G), which included lemonade, absinthe, lavender, as well as several other liquors and juices, was absolute perfection.  You’ll notice the lavender sprig and the elongated ice cube (about the length of a stick of butter) – even down to details, they got these drinks right (note the drinks are about $13 – $18 a piece).

As for food, considering I already had a gourmet hot dog, and my boyfriend had that plus an orange creamsicle donut, it was up to me to pick my dessert.  It’s been years since I’ve had Panna Cotta and they knocked this lemon-flavored one out of the park!

We were only able to be there for about an hour but definitely plan on coming back we highly suggest you venture out there as well.

Enjoy!

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: MGM National Harbor

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Last Saturday evening, my other half and I had a much-needed date night at the MGM National Harbor.  For us, it’s a 20 minute drive from home, which makes it ideal when you don’t want just dinner, and don’t necessarily want to venture out into cold weather to wander to your next destination, either.

However, in our quest for a date night, we learned a lot about when to go, where to eat, where to get drinks, and how to navigate the enormous amount of people that are there in the evening.  Below are my tips on how to make the most of your evening there.

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  • Make restaurant reservations far in advance. Our dinner reservation at Voltaggio Brothers Steak House was for 10:45pm because there was literally nothing left for this date, and I booked two weeks ahead for that time! Suggestion: Book a month in advance for the upscale restaurants.
  • There are people everywhere. The casino is built in an oval structure with an outer ring and a center circle.  All restaurants and shops are on the outer ring with the casino, bars, and lounges being on the inner circle (you have to go through security and show your ID before you can get in).  Unfortunately, traffic flow gets a bit bottle-necked at the two entrances into the casino area, with most people stopping to gamble just a few feet from there.  Given that it was a weekend, I expected it to be busy but not off the charts! Suggestion: Weekends (Friday – Sunday) are horribly crowded.  I’d suggest going on a Wednesday or Thursday night if it’s possible.
  • Lounges have dress codes. It actually made me happy because it weeded a lot of the people in the casino, out, as places like Felt expect you to be dressed up.  Suggestion: Dresses and heels for women; jeans, nice shoes, button downs, and a  sport coat for men.
  • Felt is the place to go for a drink… or a table.  Since there isn’t a club inside of MGM, this is about as close as you’re going to get to it.  If you have a large party of people who are going out to celebrate something, this is the place to get dressed up and go to! Suggestion: Save the lounge for closer to the end of your evening – especially if you want to escape the large crowds
  • Voltaggio Brothers Steak House is everything and more.  While I’m not thrilled with how our server handled my gluten allergy, the atmosphere, the food (try the filets, broccolini, and mashed potatoes), and the drinks (try the one from 1670) were absolutely amazing.  The restaurant can best be described as “Colonial Chic” – every, single, little detail was impeccable.  I highly recommend! Suggestion: If you have an allergy, tell them during booking, and make sure to remind them when you come in.  
  • The main atrium is decorated for a different theme for every occasion!  The Chinese New Year display (see below) was absolutely incredible to walk through.  Suggestion: Make stop here to view whatever they put up next.      

 

  • Shopping is light but they’re still opening stores!  Sarah Jessica Parker’s shoe store is currently opening (and like walking into my dream shoe closet), with many more to come. Suggestion: Come back in the next few months when more of their stores open!
  • Remember this isn’t Vegas. Restaurants and lounges close at 2am, per normal hours for the DMV.  The casino, however, is 24 hours. Suggestion: Maximize your time there.  If you can help doing dinner at 9m, followed by drinks, and gambling, it will ensure a full evening without feeling rushed!