Deer Valley 2017 (aka Flight from DC)

Washington, DC area locals know that every four years in January, it is best to leave town, no matter who has been elected president.  Downtown DC is shut down for security reasons, traffic is even more horrible than usual, and the kids get a day off of school.  We fled town for Deer Valley at the invitation of some friends.
Locals in Deer Valley tend to flee to other destinations because this is the first weekend of Sundance.  But if you can find a place to stay (and thanks to our friends, we did), the slopes are empty.  In addition, Friday saw an additional 4-6 inches of snow, and the conditions were perfect for skiing.  (I say this as if I have knowledge and expertise, but I am merely parroting those who do.)  Our friends are expert skiers, but they were gracious enough to keep the kids company and ski at their more rudimentary level.
Neither Jim nor I ski so we spent the days grocery shopping and cooking meals and walking through Park City.  Marcus had spotted the actor who plays Turk on “Luke Cage” at the Salt Lake City airport baggage claim while Jim and I caught part of the Women’s March in Park City and spotted the actress, Olivia Wilde, on the streets right after the march ended.  Park City is a cute town with interesting art galleries, jewelry stores and bookstores.  Many of the art galleries had been converted into theaters for Sundance, but there were still enough to make for interesting window shopping.  And thanks to Sundance, the people-watching was especially fascinating.
And just to put things in perspective, when we mentioned to the Park City locals that we were fleeing DC because of the inauguration, the typical reaction we received was, “Oh, right, that’s this weekend.”  Proving yet again that the center of power is economic and not political.
Thanks to our wonderful friends, the weekend was perfect and filled with the 3 Fs—friendship, fun, and food.

Inn at Little Washington December 2016

Another one of our annual traditions is to go to the Inn at Little Washington after Christmas and spend the night.  While Jim and I usually do it with just the two of us, this year, we took the kids.  (I know—I want to come back in my next life as one of our kids, too.)
The Inn was kind enough to sit us at the kitchen table, which made the entire experience even more memorable.  Unlike many kitchens, especially in New York, the kitchen at the Inn is quiet and serene, at least on the surface.  The stress and tension are definitely there, as it is in every high-end restaurant kitchen, but yelling and profanities are not acceptable behavior.
We started off with a family favorite—truffle popcorn.  As much as I love every dish at the Inn, there are times when I think that the truffle popcorn is all I need to keep me happy.  It truly elevates popcorn so that you’ll never be happy with the movie theatre version again.

truffle popcorn

Next up, was the amuse-bouche.  We were treated to the chip-and-dip served on an (inedible) stone.

In addition, there was a bite of pork belly served with a hoisin sauce.

pork belly

And, finally, there was a brioche with a quail egg and quince jam.  Everything was quite delectable.


Next up was an oxtail consommé with a miniature grilled cheese sandwich studded with black truffles.  The oxtail consommé used to be part of a regular dish on the menu, and it was one of my favorite dishes on the menu.  This taste brought back a lot of lovely food memories.  Virtually any savory dish can be improved upon with the addition of black truffles, and the grilled cheese sandwich was no exception.  Heavenly.

oxtail consomme & grilled cheese

Another Inn favorite that is no longer on the menu is the fire and ice—seared tuna served on a bed of cabbage “noodles” topped with cucumber sorbet.  We took advantage of its availability that night.

fire and ice

Our son had the carpaccio of lamb loin with caesar salad ice cream.  It’s a favorite of his.

lamb carpaccio

The mousse of foie gras with sauternes gelee and red plum preserve is another family favorite and is often ordered when we are at the Inn.

foie gras mousse

Another past menu item that made a brief return was the roasted pheasant with cabbage

roasted pheasant

Jim took advantage of white truffle season and ordered the spaetzle “risotto” with a poached farm egg and white truffles.

white truffles galore!

Our daughter had the pan roasted lobster with tomato butter, spinach, and garlic custard (among other things):


The pan-seared diver scallop with artichoke puree, capers, and tomato tartare was excellent,


And the Inn always does a fabulous job with its version of roasted duck topped with foie gras and served with pickled cranberries (which were amazing!):

roast duck

Here is the delicious pork jowl with braised red cabbage and walnut ravioli:

pork jowl with walnut ravioli

The most amazing dish they served us in an evening of amazing dishes was a black truffle, which they had roasted in the ashes of the fireplace in the kitchen.  It had been wrapped in foil and was warm and sat in its own lovely truffle juice.  It was then sliced and served over a simply dressed salad with the juices poured over it.  Those truffles were one of the most wonderful things I have ever put in my mouth.

roasted black truffles!

Desserts included the painter’s palette of sorbets,

the chocolate mint fantasy,

a chocolate hazelnut mousse tart,

and a honeycrisp apple tart.

While the food is definitely delicious and artistic and memorable, the service is even more exceptional.  The staff always looks happy to see us (they are excellent actors all!), and we are treated like valued guests.  We already are looking forward to our next trip there!

A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre

We have an annual holiday tradition of going to see “A Christmas Carol” (this predates our time in Washington, DC and kids, for that matter).  The bonus of seeing it in DC is that the play is performed at Ford’s Theatre, leading to the kids’ worst nightmare—a cultural event AND an educational event rolled into one.
The tradition has morphed into one where we go with the same family every year and enjoy dinner beforehand.  (We were trying to remember how long we’ve been doing this together, and it has been at least 10 years.)
This year’s dinner was at Zaytinya, a Mediterranean tapas restaurant.  The food and service were excellent.
There was a new Scrooge this year in the play, for the first time in many years.  This resulted in some apprehension amongst those in the family that dislike change (not to mention names, but the Y chromosome ones).  The actor who played Scrooge is Craig Wallace, and he was excellent—totally scary as the pre-repentant Scrooge and completely believable as he morphed into the repentant Scrooge.  The rest of the cast, many of whom have been in this production for years, was also excellent.  And Tiny Tim was terrific—he enunciated his lines clearly and was adorable.
We have enjoyed every single performance of “A Christmas Carol” over the years, and many of the lines from the play have made it into the family lexicon.  But, more importantly than the quality of the production, the play serves as a reminder of what we all should aspire to be.  (Just to be clear, the aspiration should be to become the repentant Scrooge.)  🙂
And so, as the holiday season draws to a close, we echo Tiny Tim’s words, “God bless us, every one!”

The Art of the Qur’an Exhibit (Freer Sackler Museum)

For those of you looking for something to do over the holiday break in the Washington, DC area, I highly recommend The Art of Qur’an exhibit currently being shown at the Freer Sackler Museum. There are over 70 Qur’ans on display, most of them beautifully illuminated. Many are over a thousand years old. (The oldest one is from the 8th century.)

Most of the Qur’ans on display have never been seen outside Turkey as they were the property of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. To learn more about the exhibit, go to

The exhibition is on display through February 20, 2017.

Best Buddies Miami 2016

We were in Miami this past weekend attending the Best Buddies gala.  Best Buddies is a non-profit that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with friendships, jobs, and leadership development.  The annual gala in Miami is always a fun event to attend—both in terms of helping a very worthy cause and because Miami has some of the best people watching ever.
This year’s theme was rock-and-roll.  There were Michael Jackson and Prince impersonators who were quite talented.  There was also Guns ’n’ Roses impersonators, which we had to ask about as neither of us were ever Guns ’n’ Roses fans.



Bohemian rhapsody


Santana’s surf & turf

Elton's piano

Elton’s piano

There were several celebrities attending, but the one I got a photo with is Nolan Gould, who plays Luke in “Modern Family.”  He is a super nice kid, very personable and low-key.

Kesha was the entertainment, and while her voice leaves something to be desired, she puts on a fun show.  She also was quite lovely to talk to.  I especially like her since she admired my necklace (which is a piece of meteorite).
The weather was perfect—around 80 degrees and breezy.  We spent some of the weekend going to the Wolfsonian, a museum specializing in propaganda materials (seems somehow very apt right now) and walking through one of the outdoor malls.

We also had a tremendous meal at Bazaar, one of Jose Andres’s restaurants, but more about that in a later blog post.

Disneyworld and an 18th Birthday

In the category of “How to Make Me Feel Really Old” falls the 18th birthday of our daughter (I assume our son’s 18th birthday will fall into the category of “How to Make Me Feel Really Really Old.”)
Our daughter elected to celebrate this momentous occasion of being able to sign legally binding contracts by spending it in Disneyworld.  Fortunately, her birthday coincided with a school 3 day weekend, which made it perfect.
We managed to spend time in all 4 parks, although Magic Kingdom received the brunt of our attention.  It makes me feel all warm and gushy inside to know that this now 18 year old young woman still loves Disney and still loves the Magic Kingdom.  (She may still turn out to be a serial killer, but at least she’ll be a serial killer who loves Disney.)
We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, so we woke up each morning to the sight of giraffes, zebras, and other wildlife right outside our balcony.
High points of the trip include:
— being at Magic Kingdom when the park opened at 7:00 am

early morning at the Magic Kingdom

early morning at the Magic Kingdom

— getting a how-to-be-a-warrior lesson from Mulan in the China pavilion at Epcot

— being entertained by Dara Vamp at The Brown Derby

— seeing the parks decorated for Christmas



Happy 18th birthday, sweetie!!

Halloween 2016

We have a Halloween family tradition of over 10 years of inviting ourselves over to a friend’s house who has considerably more trick-or-treaters than we do (given that have zero).  The kids decided (very reluctantly) that they were too old to go trick-or-treating by themselves and contented themselves with giving large amounts of candy to the kids who came by.  But, of course, costumes are a must.

Jim’s office offers prizes to the best costume and does a Halloween lunch in full costume every year.


And we are a family consisting of a Loki, Willy Wonka, Steven Universe, and Nerds.


Hope your Halloween was as much fun as ours!

Sense and Sensibility (Folger Shakespeare Library)

Our daughter and I attended the Folger Shakespeare Library production of “Sense and Sensibility” last night. (Jim is, to put it in an understated way, not a devotee of Jane Austen, describing her works as nothing but “yakety yak”). Needless to say, he was not invited to come to the play.

Adaptations of Jane Austen’s works can generally be lumped into two categories: period melodramas that take every word written by this brilliant author as proclamations from the deity versus lighthearted comedies (a la the movie “Clueless”) that recognize the works for what they are—satiric commentary on societal foibles.

This production of “Sense and Sensibility” definitely falls into the latter category. The set is creatively imagined, with the furniture mounted on wheels so that the actors move quickly and ingeniously to new positions to mark a different setting. Several of the actors play dual roles, marked by the wearing or absence of glasses or a ruff (the highlight is the actor who plays Edward Ferrars also playing his drunken younger brother). And the aisles of the theatre are also considered fair game in this staging.

The production is lighthearted, well acted, and does not take itself too seriously. It is high energy rather than languorous, impetuous rather than deliberate. We loved it (despite all the yakety yakking).

“Sense and Sensibility” is playing at the Folger through October 30 (

Restaurant review: Chef Mavro (Honolulu)

Chef Mavro is one of our favorite restaurants in Honolulu. While some of our other favorites have gifted chefs who serve excellent food, Chef Mavro has both those requirements, and the dishes are always beautifully presented. We try and go twice on every trip and alternate between the 6 course menu and the 4 course menu.
This is the four course menu, where the serving portions are a bit larger than the 6 course menu, and it is every bit as delicious.

We started with the amuse-bouche: white bean mousse with duck confit rillettes. We could have cheerfully made a meal out of the rillettes.



All of us opted out of the squid course and substituted it with black truffle risotto. Black truffles. Risotto. In the hand of a master. Need I say more?


black truffle risotto

The next course was onaga in fisherman’s bouillabaisse marseilles-style, with rouille & croutons. The “crouton,” served with a spicy garlic aioli, was completely scrumptions.

onaga bouillabaisse style

onaga bouillabaisse style

The meat course was herb crusted niman rack of lamb, served with tomato, zucchini, eggplant & bell pepper à la monégasque.



It was accompanied by a side dish of extra virgin olive oil caper mashed potato. I don’t particularly like mashed potato (it’s a texture thing), but this was scrumptious.

mashed potatoes

mashed potatoes

The palate cleanser was a watermelon-champagne gelée.


And, finally, the dessert course. A peach flambé, with peach, lemon chiboust brulée & sablé, and a blueberry compote accompanied by crème fraiche with a pernod accent and fennel pollen. It was a perfect finish to a lovely dinner!

peach flambe

peach flambe

Water Gun Fight (aka Enjoying the Summer)

Our rising 9th grader (or, more accurately, our 14 year old son) decided that what was needed to make the summer more fun was a water gun fight with a bunch of friends.  He cleared the date and time with us, issued invitations to his friends (by text, of course), and on the appointed day, another eight 14 year old boys and girls showed up all ready to do battle.  (Most appropriate for a Quaker school, we thought.)

Weaponry and ammunition were provided:


I can’t guarantee that a good time was had by all, but I can guarantee that EVERYONEwas sopping wet by the time the battle was over.



As our son described it, “Best day ever!”