Monday, December 22, 2014

Washington Social Diary

The Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn is the city’s prettiest.
by Carol Joynt

Whether the abode is grand or humble, the ornamentation elaborate or simple, Georgetown dresses itself up for the holiday season.  Windows, fences, doorsteps, and just about every door (including the basement backdoor of a church) get a wreath. These images are all from within about two blocks of my house, with the exception of the Capitol dome (under renovation and looking like something out of Interstellar). My personal opinion is that, year after year, this Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn is the city’s prettiest — proving Congress gets something right.

My friend and neighbor Elizabeth Powell sent this urgent message: “I want to pass along an incredible tip! I popped into Dog Tag Bakery this morning and it was not only delicious but an incredibly moving experience. As you may know, the bakery is entirely run by veterans who are completing a work-study program at Georgetown. The bakery is BEAUTIFUL, the coffee is YUMMY, and the pastries and breads are DIVINE. Of course, above all, the mission is heroic on all levels.”

I’d heard of Dog Tag back when they bought their building for a reported $2.7 million in July 2013, starting the process of an expected $1 million renovation. I wrote a story for Washingtonian magazine, because, yes, it was a notable project — a real world opportunity for wounded warriors to study and practice small business entrepreneurship. What made it happen was a union between a proven entrepreneur and philanthropist, Connie Milstein, a Jesuit priest, Father Rick Curry, and Georgetown University, where Curry is director of the Academy for Veterans in the School of Continuing Studies.
Father Curry, center, and Connie Milstein, beside him to the right, join in at the ribbon/bread cutting at Dog Tag Bakery's opening.
The way the program works is that a dozen veterans and their spouses enter a year-long course of study at GU. The student bakers work at the shop during the day and are on campus, and in classes, in the evening. “We want to give the disabled vets and their spouses the full experience of running a business,” Father Curry told me. “We’re recruiting from Walter Reed Medical Center” and from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, he said, adding that the opportunity is open to any qualified person who is interested in entering the program.

Connie Milstein doesn’t come to this solely as the money. She actually has a line of cookies, Connie’s Cookies, and brownies and biscotti, created to fund charities, and a record of supporting veterans programs. She is on the board of Blue Star Families (as well as the National Symphony Orchestra, Ford’s Theatre, and the Washington National Opera) and oversees DC’s elegant and historic Jefferson Hotel, which she owns as part of her Ogden CAP Properties, a Manhattan-based luxury real estate company.
Father Rick Curry and Connie Milstein, outside Dog Tag Bakery.
I don’t know Milstein but a mutual friend, who is with her often, describes her as indefatigable and serious about all the projects and programs she supports. Overall, though, “Connie’s philanthropic priority is our military service men and women and their families. She is passionate about them.”

Dog Tag is in a building just off the C&O Canal and adjacent to the central Georgetown intersection of Wisconsin and M Streets. It’s convenient also to the Georgetown Waterfront Park along the Potomac River.
Dog Tag Bakery in the early morning, open with hot coffee and fresh baked goods.
Dog treats inside, water bowl outside. Just opened and dressed up for the holidays.
The Dog Tag building has an interesting culinary history.  In the 1970s it housed a virtual indoor farmers market, Hudson Brothers, where — long before this kind of shopping became routine — patrons could buy farm fresh produce, craft cheeses and other dairy products, and quality meats butchered on the spot. When Hudson Brothers folded, in came acclaimed New York pastry chef Dieter G. Schorner with his Patisserie-Cafe Didier, an instant hit which featured the kinds of delicacies he made famous at Le Cirque and now teaches to students at the Culinary Institute of America.

After Dieter moved back to New York, two other restaurants gave the space a try before it sat empty for quite a while, a victim of the recession. Nonetheless, the provenance of the building is food, glorious food.
Staffed by veterans who are entrepreneurs-in-training, Dog Tag Bakery is in the center of Georgetown's commercial district. 
A bright, cheerful spot for friends and families. 
We visited Dog Tag on the way to work the other day. It is a bright and cheerful place, a good place to go with friends, family and especially children. The staff are happy to see you and serve you. We longingly eyed the jars of Connie’s Cookies — you can buy them there or through mail order — but since it was morning we went for a savory scone. There are croissants, bagels, muffins, and baguettes, quiche and sandwiches, everything you would expect in a full-service bakery.

Not to be forgot, there are Dog Tag treats for the dogs as well as a water bowl outside.

Curry gets the last word: “I think we’re going to do very well and we’re going to help a lot of disabled veterans.”

Dog Tag Bakery
3206 Grace Street NW

All kinds of bagels at Dog Tag Bakery.
You know you want at least two.
Muffins in the foreground, cheese scones in the background.
Connie's Cookies and biscotti. The label also makes brownies. 

My friend Brian Noyes probably never thought it would come to this, asking me to please not write something about his Red Truck Bakery at the holiday season.

On the right, Red Truck Bakery owner Brian Noyes, with Patrick O'Connell, chef/owner of The Inn at Little Washington, at a party for Chefs for Equality.
It had been my plan this week to tip my pen to his incredible pecan and mincemeat pies, iced cookies, acclaimed moonshine, chocolate and apple cakes, and “Bobby’s Breakfast,” as a good idea for holiday mail order gifting and receiving.

But then The Washington Post did a profile of him, here, and the deluge followed.

“They were coming from everywhere,” to his corner bakery in the heart of rural Warrenton, Virginia, he relayed in an email. “I looked out the window this morning to see a sheriff’s deputy directing traffic into the bakery.”

Okay, Brian, you get your way. Red Truck is still worth a mention and a few tasty photos, because there’s no other time of year to show off a good mincemeat pie, and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

Red Truck Bakery
22 Waterloo Street
Warrenton, Virginia

Red Truck Bakery's mincemeat pie — whole ...
... and a slice.
A personalized berry pie from Red Truck. 
Red Truck Pumpkin Pie … made with a loving infusion of caramel.
Some of my favorites from Red Truck — cakes, breads and iced cookies.
Photographs by Carol Joynt.

Follow Carol on twitter @caroljoynt