April 27, 2018 I had an exclusive invite to cover the 2018 Creative Coalition’s Right to Bear Arts gala held at the Mayflower hotel in Washington D.C. This was during the White House correspondent party season where all the top journalists and communication aids are seen schmoozing with a fine wine and gourmand chicken kebab.
What I particularly love about this gala is the mission behind it. The Creative Coalition works tirelessly to work with national leaders on Capitol Hill on protecting federal funding for the arts across small and undervalued communities across the United States. This issue transcends party lines and brings value back to our communities in that the arts cultivates creative thinking skills in children, independent thinking, modes of expression and higher self esteem. Peer pressure and cyber bullying is at an all time high in schools, and the arts can instill confidence, and solidify individuality among-st kids from various backgrounds. The arts empower artists, creatives, and free thinkers to do what they love.
In recent news: funding was briefly threatened around May/ June of this year but the Creative Coalition is pleased to announce that the House of Representatives as of July 2018 stood behind the Right to Bear Arts (#RightToBearArts) in properly funding the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). Now, it’s up to the Senate to fully pass this bill. The house passed the Fiscal year 2019 Interior Appropriations Bill and approved $155 million for the NEA. House members voted down the amendment by a vote of 114-297.
For this gala, I wore a White House Black Market black dress and a Kay Unger intricately designed velvet blazer. FYI, I don’t think I would ever sell this Kay Unger blazer because Victoria Justice (From Nickelodeon’s “Victorious”) and Tim Daly (President of the Creative Coalition) liked it a lot!
I drove straight from work and fought monstrous traffic to get to this event on the dot. Street parking was scarce so I shelled massive bucks on garage parking a block away from the hotel. I was nervous about this event in particular because my favorite actress as a young teen was going to be featured at this red carpet event.
I will admit, I was obsessed with the WB’s Roswell in the early 90’s and Liz Parker played by Shiri Appleby is my favorite. The first time I met Appleby was at the Roswell 15 year anniversary showcased by the ATX Television Festival in Austin Texas. Not only was I right in front of Snooki when she gushed her love of Roswell at the panel but when I first saw Shiri Appleby outside the panel, I dont know why but I cried so much. Because of her character, I also kept a diary and that ended up helping me become a more creative writer. She was so sweet and gave me a big hug!
So yeah, it’s a big deal seeing Appleby again and I hoped not to cry again as an older adult.
So when I saw Appleby again as an older adult, I asked her if she remembered a young woman who cried when she first saw her at the 15 year Roswell anniversary and her eyes teared up and she not only gave me a huge hug, but took me aside and ensured I have a one on one interview with her for Sharing the Details. I had to admit, getting VIP treatment from one of my favorite actresses was a personal highlight for me.
I not only had an exclusive interview with Shiri Appleby (UnReal, Roswell, Life Unexpected) but I also had exclusive interviews with Victoria Justice (Victorious), Tim Daly (Madam Secretary), Sara Rue (Popular, A Series of Unfortunate Events), Steve Howey (Reba, Shameless), and Nicholas Gonzalez (The Good Doctor).
Exclusive Interview with Shiri Appleby (UnReal)
Before my interview with Shiri, she was joking around with popular character actor, Richard Kind (he’s that guy you see in every 90’s movie).
SD: Tell us more about your production company?
SA: We sold our first show and that will be announced soon. We’re very excited and it’s just been such an empowering experience. I have been going on at for almost two years. I am starting to figure out how that works. And I feel that I have the opportunity to build a company and with giving other women opportunities. I have been sitting at meetings with other women and they are doing the talking and selling themselves. And they are getting the opportunity. It makes me feel like it’s the greatest thing in the entire world. Like, we (women) need to keep going forward.
SD: So how do you empower women to get into leadership roles?
SA: It’s all about having the confidence. I work on it every day too. It’s all about having the confidence to speak up.
SD: What were the challenges as an actress and director for the recent season of Unreal?
SA: The hardest part was that we shot in Vancouver and my family was in Los Angelas.
SD: What are your thoughts on the Roswell Reboot?
SA: I am like: Ahhhhhh! I am so excited! I want to Reboot ours.
SD: And I have heard you are working on a Roswell reunion?
SA: I am working on it.. I am working on it. We’ll see..
Exclusive Interview with Sara Rue (Series of Unfortunate Events)
SD: Would you ever do Idiocracy 2?
SR: In a heartbeat but I actually think we are living it… so I probably don’t need to do it.. But if they (creators of Idiocracy) ask me to do it than I will.
SD: Can you tell me more about your new series A Series of Unfortunate Events?
SR: The show is based on the Lemony Snickets book series. I feel so lucky to be a part of this production. One thing that is so brilliant about it is so beloved by kids 5 years old to 70 years old. The range of fans that come up to say they binge watched the series. Literally, a 4 and a half year old at my daughter’s daycare to someone just about to become a grandfather is really exciting to me. I also love to play the character I play. She’s a librarian who turns into a real bad ass. I was real proud to play her.
SD: What are your hopes in congress passing funding for NEA (National Endowment of the Arts)?
SR: Our hopes is for them to increase the funding. There are so many kids that feel that they don’t belong. This is why I am here. So many kids are bullied and feel they don’t belong and they cant find their community until they step foot into a theater, or in an art class. These kids need a teacher who can really inspire them with a music class. The arts can really make a person blossom into who they are going to be.
Exclusive Interview with Nicholas Gonzalez (The Good Doctor)
SD: So what your thoughts on Congress passing more funding for the arts?
NG: Before coming in, I thought this was going to be more difficult. That maybe our argument was going to fall on deaf ears but we have a lot of support with the Republican legislatures who said this kinda the way it goes each year. That each year they fight to keep funding and slowly get it all back in together. It ultimately it was something I felt comfortable walking away from.
SD: How do the arts strengthen the economy and build the community?
NG: In just the numbers you hear banded together. Every dollar that is put towards the arts you get seven dollars back into the local economy. When you invest in your community, you are investing in their welfare. The arts are responsible for a lot of that.
Exclusive Interview with Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
(TD:Your jacket is really nice. What is it? SD: It’s velvet..)
SD: How do the arts strengthen the economy and communities at large?
TD: It’s a fact that the arts strengthen the economy and communities. There has been data collected for decades about this. That the economic impact of the arts can be assessed that for every dollar invested by the NEA that seven dollars goes back to the economy. It’s a winning investment. I used to think that was enough of an argument to stop there. I would take those odds to Vegas just like that. However not everyone believes in that and I am not sure why. Could it be a fear in the arts that it’s hard to quantify in other ways? Certainly, the arts are the second largest export from the United States. The arts are a huge strength to our economy.
I am here with the Creative Coalition and I am the president of this organization and we’re a bunch of people who are successful actors. A lot of us are known in television and in film and it’s important to me that people understand that I am here to advocate for artists and I am not here advocating for Hollywood or for Broadway. We have no stake in this game and we have nothing to gain. What we are advocating for is the NEA which gives grants to every congressional district in the United States of America. These small towns who would other wise have no access to arts are who we are fighting for. Not for places like LA, NY or Miami or Chicago. Those cities are fine. Little towns, especially children, need to be exposed to the arts.
Exclusive Interview with Steve Howey (Shameless)
SD: Tell us about your new show?
SH: This new show is based on a movie I did called Game Over Man. The show is doing well, it was fun. I am also on a show called Shameless that’s on Showtime and we go back in a few weeks for our ninth season.
SD: In your opinion, how do the arts strengthen the economy and build communities?
SH: As you know, for every dollar you donate to the arts the community gives back seven dollars. There’s also a ridiculous amount, like seven billion dollars comes out of the artistic community back into the states. That’s why, it’s a great investment. And the budget that we are going for is only a $150 billion dollars and we’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in return. But the more macro answer to it all is that the arts are so important because we are talking about the development of the human spirit.
Exclusive Interview with Victoria Justice (Victorious)
SD: Tell us more about your “Girl Up” Non-profit?
VJ: Girl Up is an amazing organization. This organization empowers girls across the globe and helps provides girls with clean drinking water, school supplies, education and to provide a safe space and community for these girls who wouldn’t have that otherwise. You know that I am all about girl power and it’s something that’s super important to me. I actually wrote a song for them a couple years ago and I went on tour and played the song during the show. We had little girl booths so people can donate and get involved with the organization. The song kinda became the Girl Up theme song. So yeah, it’s a great cause.
SD: Do you keep in touch with the cast of Victorious?
VJ: Yup, we all do keep in touch, occasionally. Not as much as I like to. I guess everyone is in different places and living their own lives. Being an adult. It’s just a different time now for each of us. We definitely do try to support each other whenever we can which is really cool. Yeah, we do still keep in touch.
Feel free to donate to the Creative Coalition right here.
About Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition was formed for the charitable and educational purposes of bringing together artists and entertainers to learn about pressing issues so they can better inform and influence the community and nation. The Creative Coalition:Sponsors forums for the discussion of central issues such as education policy, violence in America, the role of the media, campaign finance reform and other topics of broad concern. These events ensure a balanced approach that always includes concerned and informed members of the creative professions.Tackles issues of direct importance to the arts and entertainment community, including First Amendment rights, public funding for the arts, and arts education in the public schools.
On Thursday, April 12, 2018, contributing writer, Moraima Bambaren, joins young professionals at the Embassy of Bangladesh for a ThingstodoDC Culture event that celebrates Pahela Baishakh, the traditional New Year day of the Bengali people.
I was lucky enough to attend Pahela Baishakh, the traditional New Year Festival of Bangladesh, held at Embassy of Bangladesh (3510 International Dr NW, Washington, DC 20008). As part of my New Year’s resolution to take full advantage of all the cultural events DC has to offer, I knew the Embassy of Bangladesh would be a great start!
I learned so much about the culture and even learned how to say Happy New Year or Shubho Nabobarsho!
This year’s Pahela Baishakh will be celebrated on April 14 in Bangladesh and on April 15th in the Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura. The festival is traditionally celebrated with processions, fairs and family time. In fact, Mangal Shovajatra, a mass procession that begins at dawn on the first day of the Bengali New Year, was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2016. In lieu of a procession, the embassy gifted attendees with several performances that celebrated the rich tradition of Bengali music and dance. Beautifully dressed women and girls took over the main stage after the ambassador’s greeting to the guests, giving way to other artists who sang and performed for the delighted crowd.
This year, Pahela Baishakh was celebrated on April 14th in Bangladesh, and on April 15th in the Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura. The festival is traditionally celebrated with processions, fairs and family time. In fact, Mangal Shovajatra, a mass procession that begins at dawn on the first day of the Bengali New Year, was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2016. In lieu of a procession, the embassy gifted us with several performances that celebrated the rich tradition of Bengali music and dance.
For those of us who are unfamiliar with Bangladesh, here is a course on history 101: Located in South Asia and bordering with India and Myanmar, Bangladesh formed part of British India up until the partition in 1947. It then became a province of Pakistan and eventually became an independent nation in 1971. Their culture is immensely rich due to its long history in the region and enthusiasts can find influences of Islam, Hindusim, Buddhism and Christianity in their music, dance, art and craft, language and festivals.
Women, men and children were dressed in magnificent, colorful garments: men wearing smart dhoti kurta, women and girls in bright saris; I apparently missed the memo and wore a simple blue jumpsuit from J. Crew. After the ambassador’s greetings to the guests, several artists took over the main stage and performed traditional dances and songs for the delighted crowd.
As you can see above everything was just colorful. The clothing, children’s arts and crafts and decoration was vibrant. After the dancing and music ended, it was time to eat. The culinary fare of Bangladesh has similarities to North-East Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. On Pahela Baishakh, Bengali natives enjoyed festive foods that include panta bhat (watered rice), and Hilsha dishes – Hilsha is the national fish of Bangladesh and is incredibly popular in South Asia.
I have to confess I don’t normally like spicy food and the few times I have been to restaurants that served South Asian or Middle Eastern food, I ended up eating the naan, which in my opinion is one of the best breads out there. But because of the few libations I had at the open bar, I knew I had to eat something and the food smelled delicious! And I’m so glad I did! I ate slightly spicy rice, baked eggplants and fish. Other guests savored the food as you can see below. Plates were packed with food!
In addition, I was also lucky to meet Ambassador Mohammad Ziauddin, who emphasized in his speech towards the packed crowd, how the rapid growth of Bangladesh in the international political and economic sector.
It was definitely a happy celebration and now that spring is (almost) here, I look forward to exploring the world by attending and writing about more embassy events in the comfort of my new home city: Washington D.C.
About Things To Do DC
Things To Do® is the premiere organization for young professionals to socialize and network. With a membership of over 175,000, we produce a wide variety of original, interactive social, educational and cultural events that enrich your social and cultural experiences.
On Saturday, April 21, 2018, contributing writer, Moraima Bambaren, joins young professionals at the Embassy of France for a ThingstodoDC Culture event that celebrates Monte Carlo through European style Casino games, a French Bar, and dancing to top 40’s hits from Europe’s nightlife scene.
I first fell in love with the French language when I first took Madame Wiesandanger’s class in high school. Ever since then that love spawned into a deeper appreciation for French culture, whether it’s with the world-famous cuisine, the wine selection, the arts, the history, and the music. My love of the country of Liberté, égalité, fraternité, still endures.
As a proud Francophile, I like to be apprised on related festivals and events. Imagine my surprise when I found out about the Black-Tie Monte Carlo and European Gala sponsored by ThingstodoDc.com! In my opinion, themed parties are the best kind of parties. I am always “Black-Tie” ready. My closet is filled to the brim with long, gala-worthy, dresses that have never seen the light of day.
And finally, I’ve always dreamed of attending a James Bond movie themed (preferably Casino Royale) party. This day was a long time coming.
The Monte Carlo event was a night full of European glamour: champagne that overflows, decadent chocolates and desserts, ballroom dancing in a luxurious venue and casino games sans real gambling. So I dug through my closet for a black and gold BCBG dress, found my highest black heels and applied Chanel lipstick to complete the French look. Here’s a Fun fact: Did you know that BCBG stands unofficially for Bon chic, bon genre (good style, good attitude).
After a quick Uber ride, my date and I arrived “fashionably” late due to technical difficulties with his bow tie. We breezed through security and followed elegantly dressed men and women into the embassy where a long table filled with desserts welcomed us. Why yes, Marie Antoinette, I think I will eat the cake.
After we nibbled on desserts, our second stop was the Champagne bar where a long line of wine-connoisseurs waited patiently for their turn to imbibe a drink worthy of royalty. Champagne and cake in hand, we walked into the ballroom where people were waltzing under soft, romantic lights.
We later visited the blackjack table, where, apparently, I am an ace at. Viva Las Vegas, here I come! Attendees were having a blast betting at the blackjack table and with craps. What made this excursion even more enticing were the hundred dollar chocolate coins passed around.
After winning several hands, I decided to explore more of the venue. All of a sudden, I came face to face with two gentlemen who look like they came straight from the Scottish Highlands. As a big Outlander fan (Starz show, watch it), I knew I had to take a picture with them. Look at them rocking those kilts!
I would have loved to take more pictures of all the beautiful people that attended but my phone’s camera wouldn’t do them much justice.so I settled on a selfie, and cake and champagne pics. Not pictured was the delicious Bordeaux wine and refreshing 1664 beers that were available at the open bar. Overall, we had a great time. We met fun people and, magically, ended the night with a dance underneath soft, beautiful lights.
On Wednesday, April 25, contributing writer, Moraima Bambaren, joins young professionals at the Embassy of Peru for a ThingstodoDC Culture event that delivers the thrill of Machu Pichu and the majesty of Lima.
“A picture is worth a thousand words”, and it is through pictures that those who are dis-empowered and marginalized are given a voice said Andres Longui, a Peruvian artist. He has been a long-time advocate of sharing camera operative knowledge and use for years. Longui has provided cameras and technical instruction to children and adults in rural communities in Peru so they could document and share with the world their experiences.
The result, a collection titled “Ojos Propios” (Translated: Through their Eyes) can be seen at the Peruvian Embassy in DC.
Thingstodo.DC and the Peruvian Embassy hosted a cultural Evening at the Embassy of Peru and as a fellow Peruvian, I was eager to set foot on Peruvian soil. Attendees enjoyed a night of diplomacy, art, music, dance ensembles, and of course, Peruvian cuisine.
In 2017, Peru was named the “World’s Leading Culinary Destination” for the sixth year in a row by the World Travel Awards. Therefore, I cannot be labelled as biased when I say that Peruvian food is the best in the world.
The Embassy of Peru, located by Dupont Circle, situated in the Embassy Row Homes, regularly hosts cultural events. I do have to admit that Peruvians do know how to throw a party.
Doors opened at 7:00 pm and once again, I breezed through DC traffic by using Lyft line and arrived on time. Guests were warmly welcomed by the Cultural Events Secretary of Peru, who also asked us to tour the embassy and visit the Ojos Propios. exhibition.
William Gentile, a professor at American University and a visual journalist, said Ordinary citizens of the world now hold extraordinary power thanks to photography. Peruvians aged between 9 to 59 years old were given tools to record their everyday life. The results were breathtaking. Last year, Peru suffered some of the worst flooding in recent decades due to the sudden warming of the Pacific Ocean. I previously volunteered and worked for a disaster relief program that mitigated this situation and helped communities affected by the flood.
Pictures that captured this tragic event showed Peruvian citizens endurance during rough times and the strength behind a family bond.
Meanwhile, dinner was being served. The menu included: beef empanadas; Lomo Saltado (a stir-fry of beef sirloin, tomatoes, onions, served with french fries and rice), Aji de Gallina (shredded chicken in spicy sauce); and Dulce De Leche Churros closed the meal as a sweet conclusion. A wide selection of Peruvian wine also accompanied dinner. Guests also had the great opportunity to try Pisco Sour, the country’s national cocktail.
After the glorious feast, event organizers gathered guests in the main lobby. The Cultural Events Secretary gave a brief speech on the country’s cultural diversity. Diversity influenced Peru’s cuisine, music, and the arts (especially with dance).
And that is when the party really began. Performers dressed in colorful costumes erupted the dance floor with dances from the Andes and the coast of Peru.
Attendees were loving it and clapped along as the dancers engaged into a rendition of the Huaylash, which in Quechua (a spoken language from Peru) means “Youth,”. Huaylash is a dance about and a males pursuit for the females’ attention. The male dancer demonstrated his youthful energy and strength while, obviously, the beautiful woman was not very impressed by her suitor.
After the wonderful performances, guests snapped photos with the dancers. If you asked nicely, you could even pose with one of their fantastic hats.
The party ended way too soon! If I am ever in the mood for good food and music, I know I can always go back to the Embassy of Peru.
Gracias Peru for a great night!
May 5, 2018 Sharing the Details teamed up with Purple People Media to exclusively cover this year’s Virginia Gold Cup (Steeplechase races) at Great Meadows, located in The Plains, VA. Attendees paid around $100 upwards to several thousands (beyond VIP) to attend this Spring tradition and Social event. Pets are not allowed to this event but children under 12 years old can get in for free! Races were also held rain or shine.
Every year, around 45,000 horse (or what I like to call HAT) enthusiasts attend the Virginia Gold Cup to watch hurdle and timber races, Jack Russell Terrier races, participate in the tailgate contest, make massive bets, smoke the finest cigars, and participate in the most creative hat contest known in the DMV area.
Did you know that The Virginia Gold Cup is one of the nation’s largest steeplechase races? The event is held every year on the same day as the Kentucky Derby and is attended by celebrities, socialites, visitors from around the world. This is also one of the Washington, DC region’s largest and oldest outdoor events.
The Virginia Gold Cup event was created by eight athletes who met at the Fauquier Club in Warrenton, Virginia and organized a four-mile race alongside the the nearby hunting countryside on April 3, 1922. This short race was what inspired the first Virginia Gold Cup race.If you want to learn more about the history of the Virginia Gold Cup, click here.
For this event, I knew I had to dress to impress. So I bought a floppy, white, hat and a floral dress from Nordstrom. I also had a gut feeling that traffic was going to be a bit of a head ache so I decided to add an extra 30 minutes to my trip (instead of 1.5 hours, this drive averaged around 2 hours). The Great Meadows park is an hour west from Washington DC and not accessible by public transportation. For those who don’t want to drive up, Lindy Promotions hosted a bus trip.
Great Meadows is a 380-acre field events center and steeplechase course located in the heart of Virginia’s Piedmont countryside.
The park grounds were massive. I parked in lot area 4, around the South Rail and was fortunate to be able to pick up a map before the event. Much emphasis of the map was placed on where to get to your next betting booth, and for novice gamblers, here’s some tips courtesy of TripSavvy and Virginia Gold Cup on How to place a bet.
- Win: The horse must finish first
- Place: The horse must finish first or second
(you collect the amount for second)
- Show: The horse must finish first, second or third
(you collect the amount for third)
- Exacta: You must pick the horses that finish first AND second in exact order
- Trifecta: You must pick the horses that finish first, second AND third in exact order
As I was walking through the course, I noticed there were around 30 vendors selling food, hats, cigars, and beyond! Men and women, alike, smoked cigars in an old-timey-fashion way much like those films you watch in a Turner Classic movie.
Wearing a decked out hat: flowers, curly-cues, and even some Cinco de Mayo inspired flare, was the best way for women and men, alike, to express creativity, tradition, and one’s innate desire to make conversation. Fashion magazines time and time again often advise to always wear a statement piece whenever you go to a social or a gala in order to spark ripe conversation. It was really easy to make conversation at this social because the conversation starter was right above everyone’s heads.
The Jack Russell Terriers were so cute! Watching several of these pooches race made my heart swell. This was a popular race for ladies, such as myself, since these dogs were oh so adorable. Aside from pup watching, I knew I needed a drink to quench my thirst.
After much conversing with notable bloggers, local celebs and even a few socialites, the most popular drink was the mint julep. I had one hand crafted by notable bar- artists from Harry’s Gastro Pub located in VA! This was the first time I ever ordered a mint julep and this may be one of my favorite mixed drinks of all time. Drinking this elixir made me think of something crisp like a fresh glass of sprite yet think of the first bite of a York Peppermint paddy. This drink inspired me to eat more goodies from Harrys!
Harrys was one of the catering sponsors for this event and I have to admit, I do love their food! The cucumber & smoked salmon with lemon cream cheese, bon bons, caramel brownies, avocado and shrimp ceviche, smoked wings, Gochuchang wings, and burger sliders with cheddar cheese won my heart and soul.
Another popular drink and also the official sponsor of the Kentucky Derby was Woodford Reserve Whiskey. All you really need is a few shots and you will feel ready to predict a winner on the first and last race of the day.
Speaking of winners, the big winner of the 93rd Virginia Gold Cup races and the big winner of $100,00 was Casanova-bred Zanclus, bred by Sara and Bruce Collette. Kieran Norris, a Virginia-based jockey, rode the winning stallion. Second in line was Le Chevalier, bred by Julie Gomena and ridden by Gerard Galligan. Ebanour, the clear favorite to win this year and the two-time defending race winner, placed fourth this year.
About Virginia Gold Cup
The Virginia Gold Cup is a non-profit that started in 1922 that holds Steeplechase Racing to support the sport of steeplechase. Steeplechasing in Virginia has been a way of life since early Colonial times when the horse was the primary way of transportation, farming and war. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson met in sporting competition over fences. Organized steeplechase races have run in Fauquier County since 1844.
On Friday, April 13, 2018, contributing writer, Moraima Bambaren, joins young professionals at the Embassy of Georgia for a ThingstodoDC Culture event that delivers the Spirit of the country of Georgia through refined sips, swirls, and slurps of several different kinds of wines.
As a recent DC transplant from Atlanta, Georgia I still get homesick sometimes. Spring has clearly sprung down South and i’m not within reach.
So when I read on ThingstodoDC website about a wine tasting event held at the Embassy of Georgia that has wine connoisseurs comparing wines from both my home state and the country of Georgia—I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I get a taste of home and I get to learn more about the specialized dry white and red wines from the Caucasus region.
The wine tasting was held on a Friday and the weather was gorgeous: High 70s’ and clear skies paved the way. Luckily for me, I was the only person riding the Lyft pool (normally the car gets crowded) and, miraculously, traffic was light en route to the beautiful, classically built home of the Embassy of Georgia. I arrived well before 7:00 pm and waited outside along with other wine enthusiasts. We all were ready for some much-needed Friday fun.
After diplomats greeted us at the front lobby, we were escorted to the “wine tasting” room. As soon as I walked inside, I immediately spotted a few bottles by Habersham, an award-winning winery located in Helen, Georgia. Habersham winery is widely recognized as one of the oldest, and largest winery in the state. Later on in my taste-adventure, I learn that my sweet southern wine could not compete with Georgia’s (country) wine-making tradition and history.
Georgia (country) is located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Did you know that many empires tried to possess this piece of land due to its strategic position in the fabled Silk Road? Historically, the country boasts of being the first homeland to Europeans after archaeologists discovered the oldest human skull in this region of Europe 1.8 million years old.
Similarly, several archaeological discoveries point to Georgia as the birthplace of wine. Ancient wine vessels made of clay, bronze and silver, and also vine seeds have been found and analyzed to be 5000 years old. Konstatine, our wine expert at the embassy, informed guests of this fact and brought artifacts such as traditional Georgian wine ladle made out of 2 pounds of pure silver (an amazing Ebay find) to share.
Guests passed around the Azarpeshi, a silver wine ladle from the 19th century, use for large Georgian feasts such as weddings and community festivals. Guests took several selfies with the ladle, transporting themselves a few centuries back.We also learned that Seperavi is the leading red grape variety in Georgia, the name translates to “the place of color.”
In total, attendees sampled 2 red wines and 1 white from both the state and the country. After this tasting, I can agree with why journalists have declared dubbed the country of Georgia as the California of the Caucasus.
The embassy also fed guests delicious Georgian entrees and desserts that paired well with my new favorite red wine, Manavi.
Embassy of Georgia Tasting: Georgian (Country) vs. Georgian (State) event made such a great impression with me! The wine, food, culture and people inspired my friend and I into booking our next trip to Georgia, the country and not the state.
April 27, 2018 I had an exclusive invite to cover the second annual Toast to the First Amendment, sponsored by the National Restaurant Association, Real Clear Politics, The Beer Institute, and The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
The Toast to the First Amendment is held at the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) swanky office which is beset with multiple bars, an outdoor veranda, a picture booth area, and multiple food stations fit for even the most discerning food critic.
Activities started around 6:00 p.m with rousing speeches made by Real Clear Politics co-founder Tom Bevan, National Restaurant Association’s executive vice president of public affairs; Cicely Simpson; and The Beer Institute’s CEO and president Jim McGreevey.
Various journalists, PR execs, media personalities, food industry movers and shakers came together on the eve of the White House Correspondence Party. Attendees had the privilege of sampling an array of rare and unique beers, bourbons, scotch, malts, rum, and various other liquors.
I came around the time people were relaxed and simply lounged on the outdoor veranda, and inside by cushion-y seats along the major liquor and beer tasting areas. I took a Lyft from the Mayflower Hotel (1 mile) and got there at a decent time. I wore my Kay Unger, green velvet, floral embroidered blazer and a White House Black Market dress. I was having so many issues with my hair that day that not even dry shampoo or an Instagram filter could save the way it looked.
Before I took the elevator up, I was greeted by the sweetest people ever! Naturally, they work for Real Clear Politics (RCP) so I am not surprised by their genuine nature.
One of the RCP employees told me that Sean Spicer as well as other notable political figures made an appearance at this party. I asked how the crowd took him, and I was told that despite how he is viewed on the media, he’s a very cordial and friendly guy. He was around taking pictures and making all sorts of conversation with attendees. Politics aside, I regretted not getting to this party on time!
I was also told to try the burgers, they were legit made medium rare and that’s an uncommon thing when you go to a food-oriented party. Once I came to the right floor, I took a picture, sampled a few limited edition beers (oh my goodness, I am still remembering this really nice pale ale I drank), and scoured the floor for the best bites to munch on.
As a major foodie, I have to report on what I ate (or better yet, pigged out on).
I made a short but memorable trip to the chicken lollipop station and tried the following chicken lollipops: buffalo chicken, korean bbq. chimichurri, corn flake, and thai flavors. My personal favorites were the chimichurri and the korean bbq.
After I ate enough at the first station, I went to the second savory station and gobbled a medium rare cheeseburger slider, and later tried the pork bao buns (kohirabi, cucumber, bean sprout, cabbage slaw, spicy gochuchang mayo) and sampled the Hawaiian Chicken Sliders ( pineapple, chili, lime relish). I did pair these savory bites with beers from Cape May Brewing, and Great Lakes Brewing.
I made a long trip (not a quick trip since I love tacos) to the Taco station and ate Branzino Tacos (cilantro pesto), Braised Pork Belly Taquitos (charred onions, shishito peppers), and Beef Empanadas. I paired these savory treats with tequila, rum, and really nice bourbon shots.
For dessert, I had a pistachio ice cream pop with a white chocolate coating and snacked on a few carrot cake pops. My diet was thrown out the window that day because the NRA is reputable for crafting memorable bites. I was as equally impressed this year as I was last year. Here’s last year’s recap, so click here!
Along with eating enough food to feed a small village, I noticed a lot of fan fare made for local and national media celebrities. Three ladies circled this handsome, tall, analyst from Fox News and stayed with him for my entire duration at this party. A few CNN employees were drinking white wine, chilling on the comfy chairs outside, and laughing. Some of the ladies wore the cutest, color-blocked, dresses I have seen that night.
Overall, I had a wonderful night. I also think the media guests had a spectacular time given the laughter and jovial conversation I heard all around.
About The National Restaurant Association
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is the largest foodservice trade association in the world*—supporting over 500,000 restaurant businesses. In partnership with our state restaurant associations, we work every day to empower all restaurant owners and operators to achieve more than they thought possible.
About Real Clear Politics
Founded in 2000 by two news junkies from their Chicago apartment, RealClearPolitics grew out of a passion for combing the internet for the most interesting political stories of the day. Tom Bevan and John McIntyre wanted a site that contained the most pivotal information on the day’s need-to-know issues. It wasn’t long before they discovered they weren’t the only ones with this desire. Today, RealClearPolitics has grown from an intelligent aggregator into a comprehensive media company – RealClear Media Group (RCMG) – encompassing 14 specialty areas of coverage, original reporting from our staff of seasoned reporters, live events, the well-known RCP Poll Average, and original video.
About The Beer Institute
The Beer Institute, based in Washington, D.C., represents the $350 billion beer industry – an industry that includes over 5,000 brewers and more than 2.2 million American jobs. The Beer Institute is a national trade association for the American brewing industry, representing both large and small brewers, as well as importers and industry suppliers. Our organization, founded in 1862 as the U.S. Brewers Association and reorganized as the Beer Institute in 1986, represents the beer industry before Congress, state legislatures and public forums across the country.
About Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
The Distilled Spirits Council is the national trade association representing the leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits in the United States. The Council guards the sector against higher taxes and works diligently to reduce trade barriers across the globe, while supporting policies that increase adult market access for spirits products, provide greater convenience and choices for adult consumers, and encourage responsible and moderate consumption. The Council is a go-to resource for sector data, changes in public policy, cultural acceptance programs, U.S. spirits exports to foreign markets, and alcohol and science.
April 24, 2018, I took a short but sweet trip to Japan. I didn’t necessarily spend $$$ on plane tickets or had to cull out my vacation time either. Instead, I parked my car inside a garage by CityCenter DC ($10.00 evening rate) and took a short uber ride to Drink Company’s Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar located on 1843 and 1841 Seventh Street, NW, Washington D.C. For this mini excursion, I wore my Anne Taylor, black and white stripped dress, and basic blue flats.
The bar first opened up March 1 and ends its run April 29, 2018. This floral-lush- haven full of Japanese-inspired cocktails attracted a steady crowd during its first run. When the shop first opened up in March, attendees purchased $20 tickets in order to bypass the long lines. If residents wanted to save cash but grab a spectacular drink, many would go to the bar on a Monday, Tuesday or a Wednesday—lines were non-existent on those days.
The bar decor was indicative of the blossoming relationship between Japan and the United States and of the many reasons why DC resident flock to the tidal basin every year—to see beautiful cherry blossoms vibrantly welcome Spring into the area. I noticed that one-thousand paper cranes adorned one wall facing the more lush-side of the bar. Naturally, I figured guests can make a wish because making 1k origami cranes yields but one, sweet, wish according to Japanese tradition.
Moreover, around 90,000 individual paper and cloth blossoms inhabited the ceiling, the sides, and certain cross sections of the pop-up bar. Once attendees decide to meander farther than the entrance of the bar, a garden wall covered with pink yellow,purple and white flowers hug the top lining of wall and a leafy, astro-turf blankets the rest of the wall. Fluttering, cloth-like, butterflies around globular orbs of light make a spectacular impression– especially when you take the perfect selfie.
Having eye-popping decor is one thing, but it’s all about the drinks by the end of the day.
The drinks are more than just food coloring and a lonely red cherry topped in a small glass. Beverages available to try range from English tea with a shot of vodka, miso-infused rum with coconut, sake, Japanese sodas and Japanese beers. Of course, the ever-so popular Maneki Neko Tiki mugs were brought back this year as well as cocktails such as Chu-hi, and the I Call Yoshi which transformed in 2018 into the Alpha Predator, Godzilla drink. The drinks, much like Spring, represent a time for change.
If you are feeling a bit hungry after downing a couple cocktails, there a wide-range of Food items to try such as Japanese snack cookies, gyoza dumplings, Katsu, and soybeans snacks.
Once you walk past the manga-lined wall, you see an anima-tronic Godzilla that blows colorful smoke in the air and makes robotic screeches. I swear if that Godzilla was alive, it would easily eat me in one bite. Artist Andrew Herndon designed this cinematic masterpiece, fyi.
The bar to the right of Godzilla, evoked a Japanese alley-way vibe with strewn lights, cryptic decorations and late night street cuisine. Drink Company named this bar Tokyo’s Memory Lane.
The Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar was made up of 2-3 bars. Each bar represented an instagram-worthy shot for patrons. Despite the $20,000-$30,000 shelled out on this bar thematic scheme, pop-ups were created to instill a sense of curiosity and wonderment for attendees– much like a new restaurant opening up but without a heftier price tag.
When the Miracle at 7th street first opened up (this bar, much like the Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar, overtook Mockingbird’s space) I was floored with the drinks, attention to pop-culture, and the shrine devoted to all things “Stranger Things”. With this incarnation, I am even more enchanted with Drink Company’s eye for detail and erudition for knowing so much about the relationship between the U.S and Japan.
The next Pop-Up bar theme will cover the royal marriage between a Hollywood actress and a crowned prince, May 19, 2018. The Royal Marriage Pop-Up Bar is opening up May 4, 2018 in honor of the upcoming nuptials between Megan Markle and Prince Harry. I know I am extremely excited about both the bar and the upcoming wedding!
About Drink Company
Drink Company is based in Washington D.C. and owns the Spirited Award-winning Columbia Room, and PUB (Pop Up Bar). Well known for showcasing the Miracle at 7th Street, Super Mario, Game of Thrones, Cherry Blossom and Royal Wedding (May 4, 2018) pop-up bars. Feel free contact this award winning company here.
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On July 30, 2017 Jeremiah Theatricals presents a Concert Performance of an original musical show “Esther, Sweet Esther”, sponsored by Du Plain Global Enterprises, Inc., at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
Sharing the Details and PIXofDC were invited to attend a one-night-only gala event fundraiser in the ballroom of the historic National Press Club in Washington, DC. What made this night special was that it included a live concert performance!
Mirroring the Biblical story of an orphan turned ancient Persian Queen and based on a book by Jeremiah and Wendy Ginsberg, Esther, Sweet Esther is an original show with music and lyrics by Jeremiah Ginsberg. The story is about a heroic woman, Queen Esther, who courageously saves the lives of Jewish people — her people — and conquers all the challenges coming her way! She defeats her nemesis, Haman, the man with the little square mustache. The performance is an opera and broadway-esque vibe with comedic and thrilling moments, keeping the entire room engaged in watching such a historic event unfold.
The cast of ten talented and vocally trained performers, along with having the composer as the narrator, brings the story to life. Singers stand in front of a large screen backdrop that serves as a setting to the tale each time the image changes. The performance is in two parts and the arias are vivid and ever so moving. See for yourself in the video of highlights below!
The overall theme of the show is to promote cultural understanding of Israel and the Jewish people. Through songs, Esther, Sweet Esther takes a stand against anti-Semitism and inspires hope for those persecuted. A fun fact of the night is that a portion of ticket sales are tax-deductible! If anyone purchased tickets to the show, they receive a tax-deductible receipt from Jeremiah Theatricals.
So who made this all happen?
Jeremiah Theatricals also known as Jeremiah Ministries, Inc., is nonprofit corporation dedicated to creating and presenting uplifting Biblical stories through music and theatre. From the early 1980s, Jeremiah and Wendy Ginsberg have written and produced four Biblical musicals: Mendel & Moses, The Time of Mendel’s Trouble, Rabboni and of course, Esther, Sweet Esther.
Du Plain Global Enterprises, Inc, is an international Public Relations and Special Events company that represents a variety of media and cultural organizations that began from 1995. Founder Jan Du Plain is a renowned Embassy Liaison and integral part of PassportDC and as well as for the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center, participating in the 300 international events that are mandated by U.S. Congress annually.
The National Press Club is the leading professional organization for journalists and photojournalists. Members can participate in activities that build their skills, through services that meet the changing needs of worldwide communications and through social events that build a community in the district and across the nation and world. The Club is where news is shared and stands as advocate of press freedom and the First Amendment: Freedom of Speech.
Miss the event last year? That’s all right because Esther, Sweet Esther Returns next month!
Coming to Washington, D.C. again to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s Independence Day, selections of the musical will be performed by six amazing singers at The Trump International Hotel. The event is on Monday, May 21, 2018, 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM (Light refreshments with the cast & creative team after the presentation.)
While Tickets are free, they must be obtained in advance. Seating is limited
For an invitation, contact: Jeremiah Ginsberg (954) 263-9127
See you there!