Learning History & Culture of Bahrain with the New Ambassador

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On February 21, 2018, Photographer Nandor Nagy, enters into the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain joining ThingstodoDC Cultural Society and captures an evening of cuisine, film, art, and music in this Photo Essay. 

The Kingdom of Bahrain is an Arab Constitutional Monarchy located in Persian Gulf. It is one of most liberal cultural heritages worldwide, being home to many ethnically diverse inhabitants.

Bahrain’s rich history spans more than 5,000 years and has contributed in many ways to our current day society. Originally home to the Dilmun civilization, Bahrain is marked as  an important Bronze Age trade center which linked Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Also, in history, Bahrain is interwoven with the Assyrians and the Babylonians.

Presently, the Kingdom holds an excellent regional and international reputation for its efforts that aim to establish Peace, thanks to the pioneering initiatives of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Continuously seeking to enhance its cultural and civilized achievements as well as providing a diplomatic introduction, the Embassy of Bahrain invites young DC professionals to dine and network on a Wednesday evening and meet the New Ambassador, Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa.

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Photos Courtesy of Nandor Nagy

HIGHLIGHTS of the NIGHT
ARCHITECTURE: The Entrance of the Embassy of Bahrain building.
BAHRAIN DINNER
: Guests enjoying the Specially prepared buffet of Bahrain food.
HENNA ARTIST: Bahrain Henna artist transcribes beautiful pieces of art onto guests’ arms.
BAHRAIN CLOTHING: Beautiful and colorful detailed linens and garments.
BAHRAIN ART: Special paintings, artifacts, regional displays and more artistic work originating from Bahrain.
DIPLOMATIC GREETINGSee the New Ambassador and some of the diplomats from Bahrain!

Love to wanderlust? Ever want to step onto foreign soil for a night? Join ThingstodoDC Cultural Society to get a remarkable privilege of visiting various Embassies throughout the District.

La Soiree Champagne: More than just sipping bubbly at the French Ambassador’s Residence!

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February 6, 2018 from 6 p.m to 9:00 p.m, I attended La Soiree Champagne, an exclusive champagne tasting sponsored by the French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C, in its third year! This exquisite cocktail gala was held in the private residence of the Ambassador of France, Gerard Araud, in his presence.

At this party, I had the delightful opportunity to try the best champagne from France’s best, and also mingle with socialites, VIPS, high-ranking diplomats, and  DC event gurus ( Mers Woldemariam from Mers Events, and Greg Bland from ThingstodoDC.com, etc…).

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Jeanne Hoffman (Le Chic Geek), me, and Greg Bland (Thingstododc.com)

Before I came to the gala, I changed inside the dressing room of a TV station. This fitting room has the brightest lights, longest vanity mirrors, and the best outlet to hookup my 2016, pink, cone shaped curler. So I tried to curl my hair but failed miserably. I may have been using a bit too much Moroccan argon cream in my hair and that could be the reason why I have been failing the hair curl game. Due to the extra lighting in the fitting room, I was able to have my A-game on with my makeup use.

I decided to wear my lacy, cream coffee colored, cocktail party dress that I recently bought from Anne Taylor. I paired this dress with pink earrings from an Italian designer and silvery, sparkly, Badgley Mischka flats from Nordstroms. I am still on the prowl for the perfect gala purse since my shiny, black, Kate Spade purse has been getting a bit tattered here and there.

The drive was decent, given that I did hit some traffic after 5 pm. A great perk with getting my tickets ahead of time was having complimentary valet parking included in the package. There was street parking around the corner of the residence but the valet service was top-notch!

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French Ambassador’s residence

The party started at 6, on the dot! Before the doors opened,  a line formed of classically dressed guests in suits, tailored dresses, and well manicured hairstyles. Again, much like when I watched my very first Washington Film Institute film, I was star-struck by the attendees.

Walking through the expansive doors, I was greeted to regal oil paintings, historic busts (Ben Franklin, America’s favorite 100 dollar bill icon) and marble floors. Complimentary coat check was given to all guests and the rest room was conveniently placed by the entrance. Plush, velvet, red seats with a faux gold trimming was placed by the lobby area for guests to sit when they felt a bit woozy from all of the champagne sampling.  Neo-classical tapestries and featured works of art from collections of the Louvre museum  were plastered in different rooms.

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As someone who is petite in size (5’1), I measured out my samples to smaller tastes. There were approximately 6-7 bartenders dressed in tuxedos, cocktail dresses, or in prim black garb. Tables were neatly pleated with white cloth, and an endless supply of champagne glasses. Underneath the tables were champagne bottles and cases of Perrier (delicious carbonated water for those who needed to nurse any tipsy spells).

During the duration of my stay, I sampled the following champagnes:  Roger-Constant Lemaire Magnum Rose de Saignee  ($675 retail value), Roger-Constant Lemaire Cuvee Roger-Constant 2008 Limite ($485 retail value)Thienot Garance Vintage 2007,Canard-Duchene Brut Authentic,Canard-Duchene Rose Authentic, and Canard-Duchene Charles VII Blanc de Blancs.  In between sips, I drank as much Perrier as possible and nibbled on several appetizers and desserts. The popular drink of the night, according to several attendees, was the French 75 which was a concoction of champagne, citrus, and the finest cognac known to man. This was a strong drink.–so strong that I felt the effects after one sip.

Along with sampling drinks, The appetizers that I tasted  was the duck foie gras on toast, the black truffle squares, caviar on mini blinis, blinis with a citrus cream, and tomato, parmesan confits. Wherever I walked there was a kind server dressed to the nines, serving me all you can eat appetizers (made by the Ambassador of France’s personal chef). A part of me felt that I left the United States and was on an episode of “Rick Steves Europe” show.
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There was a room that was filled to the brim with French oil paintings from several centuries ago. A vast cheese, bread, and charcuterie platter was planted in that room and several party-goers nibbled in a finely tuned circle. 

Much of the crowd was easy-going and nice to chat with. I had a wonderful time getting to know several ladies, such as a notable travel blogger, a house wife in Frederick, the Ambassador’s right hand women, and a budding blogger who is already immersed in the DC philanthropic gala scene. Along with loving champagne, most of us had one, simple thing in common: we loved dessert!

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We all talked about how perfect these mini confections were. A popular choice was the mini chocolate sticks with the raspberry jam filling and my personal favorite was the mini canales (the mini brown mountains). Authentic french desserts are so hard to find in the D.C area so sampling them inside the confines of the ambassador’s home was a pure treat.

Speaking of the ambassador, he had a rousing speech in his foyer to a packed audience.  He spoke of how France’s economy has been strong for the past 6 years and how strong the country is given precarious times with the world. France has impacted the world, at large, through more than just champagne. France has contributed to creating jobs oversees, with enhancing the arts, and with massive contributions to the scientific world.

After the Ambassador of France concluded his speech, Denis Chazelle (a native of Champagne, France) and the Executive Director of the French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C, gave an informative speech on French-based businesses in the United States. He opened up his speech with a humorous joke pertaining to Nutella that had the crowd smirking.

Around 9:00 p.m, the crowd thinned out and several attendees waited outside for an uber. I had an arresting time, having my vision filled  to the sight of fine oil paintings created by Stephane Koerwyn, listening to airy vocals from Barbara Papendorp, eating only the finest foods that the chef to the Ambassador of France would make, and drinking top-notch champagne from France’s finest wine makers. This event was a true feast of the senses!

The French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C holds galas like this as well as similar events that promote networking, promote French culture, and promote businesses. Interested in learning more? Click here!

About the French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C

Since its founding in 1896, the French-American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) has been promoting and developing sound economic, commercial and financial relations between the United States and France.As a private, not-for-profit, commercial service organization (501(c)6), the French-American Chamber of Commerce is funded solely through membership dues, sponsorships, and proceeds from events and services.

The FACC consists of 19 U.S. chapters, all dedicated to supporting companies and organizations with bilateral needs and interests. Our members are businesses, organizations and individuals with a stake in French-American trade policy, economic relations and market developments.Founded in 1987, the Washington D.C. Chapter of the French-American Chamber of Commerce (“FACC WDC”) is committed to providing the highest level of service to our members.

Embassy of Armenia: A Refined Culture & Intellectual Society!

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Awhile back I was awarded the privilege and opportunity to see a lecture from his honorable Grigor Hovhannison (Ambassador) at the Embassy of Armenia on the country’s current political, cultural, economic, and social climate.

This was an exclusive event attended by fewer than 30 attendees ranging from philanthropic, international, legal, and political backgrounds. Attire was business professional since this networking event was designed as a business social. I wore a turquoise dress from Saks, silver strappy shoes from Nordstroms, and a basic business blazer from The Limited.

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Photo by Mike Braaten 

Often times by embassy row, parking can be quite a challenge. However, if you park after 5:00 p.m you have a better shot with street parking. I had a long commute so I decided to metro to Dupont Circle and walk close to a mile in the beating sun (this was a Summer event).

At the event, I was greeted warmly by volunteers from The World Affairs Council (they tend to sponsor spectacular embassy events) and had memorable conversation with socialites, embassy staff, and with some movers and shakers. The intimate surrounding made it much easier to learn and mingle.

The Embassy, itself, is housed in a beautiful setting that is multi-leveled, and beset with columns inside the quarters. Sculptures, life size paintings, an antique piano, and a refined bar was a welcoming sight when I walked inside the embassy’s cozy doors.

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Photo by Mike Braaten 

Before attending this event, I brushed up on basics about the country. Such as cognac being a popular drink of choice and lavash being a popular bread paired with sauces, meat dishes, and soups. Unfortunately, neither the liquor or the bread was available at the event. All was forgiven since Armenian red wine tastes like a liquor from the Gods and the shish kebob, veggie and meat dishes left a delicious after taste with me.

Before I chowed down like a lady, I listened to the ambassadors lecture on how Armenia is faring with the world.  The ambassador is a talented speaker. He was able to punctuate open dialogue on the Armenia’s state of affairs with great humor and verve. For example, he had a riveting  slideshow on famous Armenians.

Naturally, everyone laughed when Kim Kardashian was brought up and I was ecstatic he emphasized that a major bandmate from the 90s rock band System of a Down. The ambassador is way too hip and cool. For those of you who have missed this slideshow, check out this link to learn more about the top 100 Armenians who have changed the world.

His honorable Hovhannison educated the crowd in Armenia’s contributions within the United States and overseas for hundreds of years. Here’s some interesting facts:

1.) Chess is a mandatory course to take in most schools.

2.) Armenia was the first country to have adopted Christianity as its official religion.

3.) Armenia is one of the oldest wine producing countries in the world.

4.) The apricot is a symbol of Armenia.

5.) Cher (YES, the one and only) is Armenian.

I hope to visit the embassy again in the near future. There’s much I would love to learn about the refined culture of Armenia.

About World Affairs Council

The World Affairs Councils of America represents and supports the largest national non-partisan network of local councils that are dedicated to educating, inspiring and engaging Americans in international affairs and the critical global issues of our times. The network consists of almost 100 councils in over 40 states. Each non-profit, non-partisan council is autonomous with respect to their governance, financing and programming but share common values. Founded in 1918, it has grown to become the United States’ largest non-profit international affairs organization.

Beaujolais Nouveau and Beyond at the French Embassy

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Dating back several hundreds (possibly thousands of years ago), countries in Europe commemorate Fall Harvest by throwing a party that celebrates crop growth, success with the weather, and community. Lets fast forward to 2017 (more like 2018 since this is a Flashback Friday entry) and countries like France throw elaborate wine sipping parties that entail delicious beaujolais wine, charcuteries paired with pates, wine-infused coq au vin, as well as dancing, romancing, and art.

Alliance Francaise de Washington teamed up with French-American Chamber of Commerce to throw an enticing Fall Harvest event called Beaujolais Nouveau and Beyond that hearkened a few traditions from back in the day. Such as drinking copious amounts of fresh wine cultivated from the plumpest of grapes.  Money raised from this fundraiser directly went to their respective missions.

french embassy sherryn
Pictures courtesy of Nandor Nagy 

I had a magical time at the Beyond the Black dress fashion show not too long ago so it comes to no surprise that the past must repeat itself. I couldn’t help but have a wonderful time at this fundraiser.

For this party, I decided to wear my black, dotted, White House Black Market, cocktail dress paired with my silvery, strappy 4-inch heels that I found at Nordstrom rack. Parking was a breeze! There was free street parking along the embassy and I made sure I had my driver’s license out and ready. Embassy parties like this demand government-issued ids.

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Pictures courtesy of Nandor Nagy

The party was full of francophiles from all walks of life, philanthropists, young professionals, and food enthusiasts. As a whole, this was a friendly crowd. Guests were open to mingling and to throwing down knowledge of current affairs. Food was abundant for the first three hours of the event as well.

Imagine walking in to all you can eat pastel colored macaroons, apple glazed tarts, tortes (gateause as the French call cakes) accompanied by the finest dark roast french coffee; adjacent to the endless dessert table is a medley of charcuteries, aged cheeses, traditional French Fare; in the back of the mouth-ravishing tables is a long stretch of wine goblets just ripe for the taking. There was no limit to what you can eat or drink.

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Pictures courtesy of Nandor Nagy 

Art lovers who already had their fair share of scrumptious treats, were able to bid on a wide range of paintings, sculptures, and crafts created within and outside the United States. Prices ranged from $500 to $$$ but there was truly a laundry list of takers. I mean, who doesn’t appreciate fine, French art?

The dance floor was spun by a fun-loving DJ who mixed tradiational French music, dance, and even top 40 hits. Young and old danced underneath neon colored orbs in somewhat mashed up groups. What’s also great about the French embassy that some party-goers may not realize is that if your feet ache from dancing on 4-inch heels, there’s always an abundant resting corner not too far from the dance floor. The cushiony seats relaxed my achy self. French dance music somehow gravitates me to the dance floor more so than the average person.

One of my favorite DC party trends is to walk the red carpet and to take pictures (with props, of course). The embassy had professional photographers take glam-shots of all party-goers and I definitely had a ball with that activity.

The party set-up was detailed and precise. I look forward to next year’s “Fall Harvest” where I can simply imbibe wine and dance the night away!

About Alliance Francaise de Washington & French American Chamber of Commerce (DC Chapter)

The French-American Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC is a not for profit organization with a mission to support strong economic relations between France & the U.S., and promoting our member companies. Our Chapter is one of 19 French-American Chambers of Commerce in the U.S.

The Alliance Française de Washington, DC is dedicated to providing the highest quality of French language training through a multi-faceted approach that promotes lifelong learning and cultural dialogue in an increasingly multicultural society. For more than 60 years, the Alliance Française has been proudly serving the local community, offering quality programs, services and events in close partnership with community, educational and cultural DC partners.

Beyond the Little Black Dress: Francophile-Dream Fashion Show

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As a self-professed Francophile, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend and cover this exclusive Fashion show sponsored by Alliance Francais of Washington D.C. This sparkly event was held at the French Embassy on October 7, 2017. Beyond the Little Black Dress is an exclusive gem that D.C trend-setters and fashionistas usually attend.

Whenever I cover an exclusive event, my biggest worry tends to go to parking. However, street parking was abundant and free for this show.  I was quite surprised since Washington D.C is notorious for street parking conundrums (towed cars, hefty tickets, and usual antics).

Sherryn in red
Courtesy of Nandor Nagy 

As soon as I walked in, I was awe-struck by all of these glamazons decked in black attire.  Albeit, Black is the go-to color to wear to all D.C events. For a quick second, I thought I was covering a NYFW show in New York City due multiple fashionista, blogger, and press coteries spanning the party.

Beyond the Little Black Dress had an impressive VIP reception before the show. The reception included complimentary cocktails, goody bags, a silent auction and fun red carpet opportunities. The silent auction featured a Saks Fifth Avenue shopping spree, a hand-made silk couture dress, Parisian food goodie bags, and a romantic trip to Paris and Prague. My heart was totally gunning for the romantic trip to Paris!  Whomever won that bid is one lucky human being.

Models in Black
Pictures courtesy of Nandy Nagar

The show, itself, heralded remarkable D.C fashion designers and companies such as Zophia, Mindy Lam, Le Bustiere, SK Paris, and The Jarmal Harris Project. Lucky for me, the French embassy had both high-end coutour and red wine. I was able to savor aromatic notes of cherry while falling in love with Jarmal Harris’s golden gown ensembles being paraded by some of the most beautiful models I have seen in D.C.

Dani Sauter, founder of Blonde in the District, emceed the event to a packed audience. Her heartfelt words on confidence, inner beauty and on supporting designers who create fashion for women of different body types won the audience over. Her powerful words opened up the audience to some memorable eye candy.

I, as well as various bloggers on scene,  were mesmerized by Stephanie Jacek of Le Bustiere’s handiwork. Her European-inspired lingerie opened up a vortex of opportunities for black hued camis, bras, and undies to make a comeback. My personal favorite was the black, silk, lingerie suit paired with a floppy bunny eared-headpiece. Le Bustiere Boutique is located in Adams Morgan and I hope attendees of the show also check out her hosiery, corsets, and swimwear at her store. Her passion for fashion was quite evident that night.

Designer Mindy Lam, of Mindy Lam Couture, weaves swarovski crystals into her signature metal lace jewelry pieces. Her work has a fresh modern take on florals and vintage style. Much like a magician, she grabbed ocean colored blues, twisty metals, and shiny crystals and transformed these earthly wonders into an ensemble inimitable to most. Her pieces were highly sought after at the silent bid and can also be purchased at http://www.MindyLamCouture.com

One wouldn’t think of wearing aluminum dresses to a party but Stephane Koerwyn of SK Paris opened up this possibility after having several models parade in designs. His aluminum inspired dresses are designed to evoke emotion by allowing enough light to appear through varied forms and reliefs. His work has been displayed in several exhibitions over the past years in Paris, Brussels, London, and Washington DC.

After the show attendees were treated to iridescent macaroons, tarts, and mousse-based desserts in dainty cups from Michel et Augustin. Naturally, this delicious experience was paired with legendary teas from Kusmi Tea. I was privileged to have tasted the Anastasia (orange-blossom-flavored black tea with bergamot & lemon) and the Prince Vladimir (black tea with citrus fruits, vanilla & spices) and I can attest those two teas left a great impression with me.

About The Alliance Francaise De Washington DC

The Alliace Francaise de Washington DC is a 501cs membership-based, non-profit and non-governmental organization. The non-profit’s mission is to build connections through French language and culture. Beyond the Little Black Dress is the alliance Francaise’s largest benefiting cultural programs.