Monday, July 7, 2014

Washington Social Diary

The view from our table at Fiola Mare restaurant. The fireworks are set off from near the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. In the distance, Watergate and the Kennedy Center.
by Carol Joynt

As I write this on July 4th weekend, my mind is on food. This holiday is always a standout because it celebrates freedom with gratitude, parades, fireworks and, from sea to shining sea, family feasts of classic American fare. Juicy grilled hamburgers, hot dogs smothered in relish, mustard and onions, smoky barbecued chicken, sweet steamed lobster, buttery corn on the cob, blueberry pie and, among spirited mixologists, red, white and blue cocktails.
July 4th celebrating at Fiola Mare in Georgetown. In the background is the welcoming Georgetown Waterfront Park that runs along the Potomac up to Key Bridge.
We watched the fireworks (we being my son, Spencer, his girlfriend, Kate Davis, and Travis Donnell, visiting from Houston) from a table at Fiola Mare restaurant, where we had a terrific view of the Potomac, the Kennedy Center and the show in the sky above. There was other eye-candy, too. Nearby sat none other than that handsome rake Thomas Crown, aka James Bond, and in real life Pierce Brosnan, having dinner with his son. Like most patrons, they stepped outside on the terrace to watch the fireworks and then returned to their table to finish dinner. A few locals chatted them up, but mostly the movie star was able to enjoy some privacy.

Our meal was a lovely mix of oysters, clams, mussels and other shellfish, some pasta and salad. We remained well after the fireworks, getting a sugar fix from sorbettos, pudding cake and chocolate.
Pierce Brosnan, on the left, is chatted up by a local while also catching the DC fireworks from Fiola Mare. He dined there with his son.
At Fiola Mare, rare Japanese clams with citrus and flowers.
Earlier we got our hamburger and hog dog fix at Bill Dean’s annual July 4th party, which is reliably an amusing frolic at his Georgetown mansion. The bartenders at the several bars were young women in bikinis, generously pouring as much Veuve Cliquot as wanted. There was a deejay on the terrace by the pool.

“This party is ‘Southern Charm’ meets South Beach,” said one guest, looking at the young men and women dressed as much for Folly Beach as Ocean Drive. Though not a reality show — yet — Bill’s social life and parties are routinely recorded by (his own) still and video photographers. Few of his guests are shy before a camera lens.
Bill Dean, with his friend Caroline, at his annual July 4th pool party at Dodge Mansion, his home in Georgetown.
Bill balances his serious partying with a serious day job — president and CEO of his family’s MC Dean engineering company. They do important secret stuff for the Defense Department, and other federal and private clients. At the party I asked him who does his advertising. “We don’t advertise,” he said.

Bill always invites the neighbors, and we wink at each other because our dress and/or ages give us away. “You must be a neighbor?” Nod. “You must be, too.” Nod.
Up on the roof, Spencer Joynt and Kate Davis, on the right, with two new acquaintances, friends of Bill's who also are sisters. Bill Dean's guests dress for the pool, but in their own way.
As well as inviting colleagues and friends, Bill Dean also invites all the neighbors, who enjoy the food, the setting and watching the goings on.
A member of Bill Dean's security team keeps an eye on things. Dean owns the MC Dean electrical engineering company. Look them up, they do high security projects for the private sector and government, from DC to Iraq and other parts of the world.
The life of Bill Dean; after his July 4th party on land, Bill and a few female friends boarded his yacht, Moksha, to watch the national fireworks from the Potomac river. Later he planned to head to the Chesapeake Bay. Photo courtesy of Neil Cain.
Mark Furstenburg is a baker and a good one. He’s won culinary acclaim, from here to James Beard and back, and has the distinction of introducing artisan bread to the nation’s capital 24 years ago. He should be a rock God to anybody over age 50 who believes work is a virtue and experience matters and that careers don’t have predictable end dates. Mark is 75 years old and just opened a stunning new business: Bread Furst.

The baker, starting fresh. Mark Furstenberg in his newest DC bakery, Bread Furst.
As a friend who has watched Mark through the high and lows of three previous businesses, Marvelous Market, BreadLine and G Street Food, it’s fair to observe Bread Furst is the culmination and combination of all his experiences and allows him to share his very clear and informed views of what a sophisticated neighborhood bakery should be. It’s nestled snugly in a long, narrow space on Connecticut Avenue in residential upper northwest Washington. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. It fits in well, but Bread Furst would be at home in New York or Paris, too. 

I’ve been three times, so far, and anticipate frequent visits to come. Mark and I visited each time but on my first visit we sat at a small bistro table to talk about food and friends.

He was enthused about a recent party that was hosted by Daniel Boulud for DC chefs at La Piquette, the restaurant of Daniel’s good friend Francis Layrle.  The purpose was to mark and celebrate Daniel’s opening his first DC restaurant in September. There was much camaraderie. Proud papa Daniel, he said, showed off photos of his new baby, Julien.
Mark prepares a cup of coffee before sitting down for conversation.
The master observes from a polite distance.
Furstenberg welcomes friends to his new business.
Over iced coffee, Mark Furstenberg contemplates being back in business, his fourth in DC. He's having a good time with hope the neighborhood will embrace him.
Mark spoke fondly of Phyllis Richman, author and former Washington Post restaurant critic, who is a dear friend of his and who he credits with launching the era of  food sophistication and innovation in DC and quite a few careers, too. (Including his own). Phyllis was at the Boulud party.

Michel Richard was also at the Boulud party. Another of his Mark’s close pals, Michel has had a challenging time of late, not the least of which were scathing reviews for his New York restaurant. Mark didn’t tell me this, I’d heard it elsewhere, but Michel has told people he is packing up in Manhattan and returning to Washington. The hope, and Mark hopes this, too, is that Michel will open a new restaurant here, possibly re-open his acclaimed Citronelle, and reclaim his status as the city’s king toque. It’s his for the taking. He’s been missed.
The view into Bread Furst, arriving from its back door, where there is plenty of parking.
What makes a great bakery feel even more cosmopolitan? The details.
Flour and flowers at Bread Furst.
I couldn’t leave Bread Furst empty-handed. My small haul was a beautiful loaf of Challah, sesame seed bagels (I’d heard they were special), cherry cobbler, breakfast brioche sparkling with a sugary top crust, raisin swirl pastry, and for dinner, a pint each of jerk chicken and salad of snap beans, peas and edamame. I planned to eat light, but I did feast my eyes on Jambon Beurre sandwiches, strata, pulled pork barbecue, blueberry pies and the classic Canele. Next time and the time after that.

Bread Furst
4434 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC
Fresh challah.
The morning treats: bagels, French rolls, muffins, ciabatta.
Warning: the Bread Furst version of this French classic is addictive.
Pickles are showing up at all the best food emporiums. Furstenberg says this is a first (heh heh) for him.
Cheese and charcuterie.
When friends visit, Mark says, "have something. What do you want? Get something, please." The triple chocolate cookie was a good pick, though the Canele called, too.
Celebrating the holiday spirit in cookies.
Here are some other recent memorable food experiences:

• With Spencer and Kate we were three on a weekend food field trip to Baltimore that started with lunch at Woodberry Kitchen. The menu at Woodberry is stacked with temptations. I chose Morning Flatbread (farm eggs, maple sausage, buttered potatoes, and cheddar cheese) and with it a glass of very cold Argyle brut. If you go, be sure to check out the swimming pool across the street (whoa!) and also stop by Woodberry chef/owner Spike Gjerde’s new and nearby butcher shop/bistro, Parts and Labor. This Baltimore getaway included a shopping stroll through Fell’s Point and wrapped with drinks, truffled popcorn and photo ops (ours, plus a wedding) on the Four Seasons Hotel terrace, overlooking a sunny and breezy Inner Harbor. The hotel is a favorite. We wrote it up for NYSD (Baltimore Social Diary, 3.18.13) in March of last year.

Woodberry Kitchen
2010 Clipper Park Road
Baltimore, MD

Parts & Labor
2600 N. Howard Street
Baltimore, MD
Four Seasons Hotel
200 International Drive
Baltimore, MD
A colorful famly-size table at Woodberry Kitchen.
Iced mocha coffee at Woodberry.
Morning Flatbread, a feature of the brunch menu at Woodberry Kitchen.
Spencer and Kate at Woodberry Kitchen.
Kate Davis, thrilled with her grape sorbet.
The swimming pool across the street from Woodberry Kitchen. It belongs to a condo, but chutzpah could probably get you a chaise. Baltimore makes a specialty out of repurposing industrial buildings.
The entrance to Parts & Labor, the butcher shop/restaurant recently opened by Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen.
Inside Parts & Labor, in the market area.
The restaurant section of Parts & Labor.
The back bar at Parts & Labor.
Fresh bread at Parts & Labor, because there's never too much fresh bread.
The setting at P&L is light-filled and relaxing.
Cocktails and photo ops on the waterfront terrace at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore.
On the Four Seasons terrace, lots going on but the groom and bride appear to have eyes only for each other.
• The word is well out there that Le Diplomate is a “must” visit when in Washington. Now more than a year old, it has the advantage of a hot location and sparkling ambience plus really good service. Last week was my first visit since New Year’s Eve and not much has changed; it remains a treat. Spencer, Kate and I were joined by a long-time friend, Adam Mahr, the bon vivant businessman who owns A Mano, an elegant tabletop and gift boutique in Georgetown. (Another “must” visit when in DC.)  We feasted, literally. Keeping with the season, we started with a giant platter of shellfish, followed by salads and steaks and frites, and a buck wild dessert order: everything on the menu.

Le Diplomate
1601 14th Street NW
Washington DC

Wednesday evening at Le Diplomate it rained heavily, but that didn't deter some stalwarts from remaining outside.
Inside, a scrumptious seafood platter.
The clean plate club. CJ, Adam Mahr, Kate Davis.
• Our trio made a return visit to another culinary hit, Rose’s Luxury near the Marine Barracks, for drinks at the upstairs bar. We had a happy reunion with chef Aaron Silverman, glowing with success, telling us that his new Private Roof Garden is sold out well into the future. I take this as a sign both of his deserved popularity but also a resurgent economy. The Roof Garden is a single seating of one party of 8-10, $125 per person, not including booze, tax or tip. When available, reservations are taken 3 weeks in advance and only online. If you snag a booking, please invite me.

Rose’s Luxury Roof Garden
717 8th Street SE
Washington, DC
Upstairs at Rose's Luxury is the bar and also the Private Rooftop Garden.

Follow Carol on twitter @caroljoynt