Friday, July 29, 2011

Of GiltCityDC and what I love about Bethesda

 GiltCityDC launches on Monday, which is inspiring me to wax poetic about my own dear city. The site offers fabulous specials on events and happenings around town. Specials go up on Mondays and Wednesdays at 11 (they sell out FAST so don't dilly-dally) and I've got the inside scoop: Monday's deals will include The Palm restaurant and Toka salon..... Yes.

Ok, so back to Bethesda. There are two things  I especially love (well, three. I love Twitter, so please spread the word and tweet this post with a link and tags #cityscoop and @GiltCityDC)

I love to
1. Grab a meal or a happy hour at Mon Ami Gabi;
2. Watch a movie at Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema 

Yes, I write about shopping and the stores are fantastic, but honestly, so is the food, and who doesn’t like to eat?

I also love movies, and the theater is right next door to the restaurant, which makes for a perfect place to digest in peace. Plus the films are always fantastic (the arty, indie type Bethesdans love to love).

But first the meal.

Mon Ami Gabi has great steak frites—the best around. The frites are a perfect mix of crispy and tender and come lavishly piled up on the plate next to the steak. They provide the perfect foil to my steak au poivre's subtle spice. The beef is perked up by savory peppercorns with just a hint of sweetness from the brandy in the sauce. The tender butter lettuce salad makes a perfect starter with its dollop of goat cheese. If you’re really feeling decadent, order up a side of creamy cauliflower au gratin—you won’t be sorry. Dessert? This course is why we always came here to celebrate birthdays--the hot, gooey chocolate cake is to die for and profiteroles are too special to pass up. But hey, if you’re an early bird, don’t overlook happy hour. You can get a half-price bottle of wine and appetizers. On Thursday nights there’s live music.

What makes Mon Ami so wonderful is its “adult” atmosphere. The black and white tile and outdoor tables remind me of all the little bistros restaurants lining the upper West Side of Manhattan (thought I was going to say Paris?), which makes me feel like a grown-up and sets the mood for that arty film next door.

Ok, beloved readers I hope to see you at Mon Ami and I hope to see you Twitter, too. Please post a link to this post on Twitter and tweet, tweet, tweet it with tags #cityscoop and @GiltCityDC! Thank you so much.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Real shoppers relish the Dog Days

Dog days? This is nothing. Get serious. Next month is August and that's when the real thing hits: MidCity's Dog Days of August Sidewalk Sale on August 6 and 7. You need to venture out of MoCo and check out these fabulous stores and restaurants in the heart of our nation's capital. The MidCity (14th and U streets) was home to jazz in the '40s as well as to historical landmarks such as the Lincoln Theatre and Ben's Chili Bowl and made a stupendous recovery from its demise after the 1968 riots.

There will be over 100 stores, boutiques, restaurants and art galleries participating in this 12th annual event. And even more fantastic is the Studio Theatre costume and prop sale. That's gotta be worth the trip alone. Shops like Junction, Urban Essentials and Rue 14 will feature 60 percent off clothing and accessories.  Restaurants including Busboys and Poets, CakeLove and Policy will offer specials on food and drinks. Dog Days will also feature art, literature, exhibits and performances from Twins Jazz Club and The DC Center for the LGBT Community.  For more info about the area, please visit

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gilty Pleasures

If you love Gilt Groupe, the fabulous designer sale site, you're going to love Gilt City. Gilt City offers you great opportunities to try local boutiques, restaurants and attend movie premieres and other fun events (unlike Sin City, Gilt City is surprisingly guilt-free). Specially assigned local "curators" have edited and selected the packages and if you're like us, you won't want to miss any of the fresh new ways to start exploring your city--especially if a "staycation" is on your horizon this summer.

Today the site is featuring some pre-launch offers and most of the fabulous deals, including a shopping spree at Urban Chic with a $100 gift certificate, are already GONE. So get on it and sign up at The official launch is August 1.

Gilt City is also available in New York, Boston, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Tokyo with over 1.8 million members worldwide.  Gilt City will also be launching in three additional cities today: Atlanta, Dallas and Seattle.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The two best sales of the season...

1. Run, don't walk to Ginger. 50% off all summer styles. Yes, you can finally get that dress that nobody else will have and spend the rest of your summer (and very early fall) looking FABULOUS.

2. Make a list; check it twice. Friday the doors open to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Deep discounts on everything new for fall. I have my strategy ready, checklist in hand, Nordstrom card all ready to go. Use it  during the sale for extra member points. Prices go up Aug. 1.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bethesda Artist Market

by Benjamin Frey
Celebrate our local artists by attending the Bethesda Artist Market tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. See great arts and crafts and enjoy free entertainment all day. There is free parking in the Woodmont Avenue/Old Georgetown Road garage.  The event will be held on Norfolk Avenue between Fairmont and St. Elmo, three blocks north of the Bethesda Metro Center. For more info, visit

Jamie Agins

Jean-Louis Monfraix

Friday Bites: We love bbq when J.Dickey is doing the sauce

There's a new kid on the block, or should I say, a new sauce. But you've got to get out to MoCo's Sugarloaf Vineyard Saturday for wine, live music and  J.Dickey's innovative take on marinade and grilling sauces. Each jar is homemade and concocted from fresh ingredients. We especially love the "Sunday" sauce, a rich spicy mix and the newest flavor, "Aries," which we use to spice up everything from shrimp to chicken to salmon. But you can't tell from a description. You have to taste for yourself.  Plus, it's a great excuse to get out of town and enjoy the countryside tomorrow. Jay himself will be cooking up a storm at noon--brisket, pulled pork, chicken wings, pulled chicken, veggies and salads-- and offering a selection of his special sauces for sale. Here's your chance to try Sweet and Savory (just like the name says), Maryland (a local vinegary blend), Blackberry Habanero (nobody else will have this one at their bbq) and the thick, lucious Beer and Pecan. Better get 'em while you can.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Josh Ritter packs the house at Politics and Prose

Josh Ritter serenading his lucky fans during the reading
New Politics and Prose owners Bradley Graham and  Lissa Muscatine started their tenure off with a bang last week when musician Josh Ritter came to the bookstore to read from his first novel, Bright's Passage. As I approached the store looking for parking, the swarm of cars moving in and out of the lot sent me back through the neighborhood streets until I found a space. Silly me. I thought nobody would really know about him or that he wrote a book. Wrong. In one of the biggest readings the bookstore has ever seen, Ritter not only read from his book, he asked the audience repeatedly how he was doing and thanked us plebians for being there. Then to help put the book (which is about a WWI soldier and features an angel) into context, he'd pick up the guitar to sing a couple of songs with angels in them. Yes! The audience was rapt. You could have heard a pin drop.

And, in case you don't know Josh Ritter (and that's probably not possible), he never stops smiling. He's like a massive ball of brilliance, creativity, warmth and friendliness all rolled into one incredible human being. Not only did he read, thoughtfully answer every audience question and throw in a literary reference or two or three, he signed books for three hours. EVERY person got a personal greeting, a hug and the trademark grin. And during all of this, he never sat down. So, kudos to all of the store staff and owners for NOT closing shop and putting Ritter on the street--because, yes, he would have stood outside before he let one fan go home with their book unsigned. (One staffer happy to be working overtime for this occasion, said she would be ordering him an after-hours pizza.) And thanks to Josh Ritter for being able to provide so much inspiration and joy to so many people, not only by his music, but also just by his very presence.

The wait = 2.5 hours. The hug = priceless

...and conversation, too

Yes, for me and the other 200 people in the room, this was worth waiting for.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bananas! Rachel Zoe at Neiman Marcus

Look for Rachel Zoe's fall 2011 debut at Neiman Marcus this August. The celebrity stylist has added her own fresh twist to fall trends from military to fur to biker to ladylike LBDs, and considerably ramped up the style. In conjunction with the August launch, the store has been running an "Oh So Zoe" styling contest on their Facebook page, in which the lucky winner gets to meet Rachel Zoe. Here are a few of our favorite looks courtesy of Neiman's online catalog:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hot style in the city

And the Fourth comes marching in--and it promises to be a scorcher. I remember our neighborhood block parties with red-faced kids cooling down with giant water guns and adults running in an out of their houses for a sneaky respite from the heat. I'd be wearing some sort of quasi patriotic garb, and praying for snow--and cringing at invitations with the words "picnic" "pool" or "yard" involved. But this year we found these pretty ways to stay cool--and never let 'em see us sweat. Here are our faves from Ginger on Bethesda Row:
This Envi dress is a simple, uncomplicated way to  stay cool. Just add a pair of sandals and you're dressed.

The Joie dress takes it up a notch for a night out on the front porch or at a table alfresco downtown. 

Yoana Baraschi, my favorite. I want to put this on and never take it off.