Ottoman Taverna - A true Turkish delight!

Ottoman Taverna is the latest restaurant by restaurateur Hakan Ilhan in the Mount Vernon triangle neighborhood, where he also runs Alba Osteria and L’Hommage Bistro. Hakan runs over 20 restaurants, eateries, and gourmet markets in the area, but he waited a long time before opening one fashioned after his own Turkish roots. Why, you ask? He wanted to get it right.

And get it right he did!

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A taste of Turkish street food at Simit + Smith

What looks like a bagel, feels like a pretzel, and is actually a bread?  Enter the “simit” – a sesame crusted bread that is popular in Turkey, and the main attraction at new bakery “Simit and Smith” in Georgetown.

In Turkey, the simits are street food, sold from carts and enjoyed with a cup of tea, and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. 

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Springtime and the sipping is easy at The Gibson DC

Springtime and the sipping is easy at The Gibson DC

With this glorious spring weather, I can’t help but yearn for drinks on the patio!

The Gibson is one of the best cocktail bars in the city, and its patio is NOW OPEN, making for the best of both worlds! I recently tried a few of the seasonal cocktails at their spring menu unveiling, and can happily say I will be enjoying some spring cocktails on their patio again very soon!

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Safari in Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya - A Photo Feature

Safari in Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya - A Photo Feature

Although it's been over 3 years since we went on an epic trip to Kenya, we still talk about it on a regular basis and are ready to go back there in a heartbeat!  That trip was filled with many unforgettable experiences, with a highlight being our 3 day safari in Maasai Mara National Park. It's hard to explain what an amazing experience it truly is so I'll just share some photos with you instead. 

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Takoda DC - Rooftop beer garden, whiskey bar, and modern American food

It seems as if there is a new restaurant opening in Shaw every other day! I’m definitely not complaining. The newest addition to the scene is Takoda –  a rooftop beer garden a modern American menu.

What’s in a name? TAKODA is a Native American name that means “Friend to Everyone” – and that’s what they are aiming to be and based on my first experience there, I am definitely happy to be their friend!

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Kyirisan: Chinese-French dining in Shaw

Kyirisan: Chinese-French dining in Shaw

I’ve been eagerly anticipating Tim Ma’s first DC venture – Kyirisan to open in the Shaw neighborhood after hearing so much much about Chef Tim’s other restaurants – Water and WallChase the Submarine, but never having been to either of those. So when Kyirisan opened last week, I knew I would have to visit soon.

Kyirisan (pronounced kyr –i-sahn, a combination of Chef Tim's childrens’ names and a generational family name) is in the Shay building on 8th St, and is a Chinese –French bistro. What does that mean? Chef Tim is of Chinese heritage, but trained in French technique, and Kyirisan is a blend of exactly that – Chinese flavors and French methods!

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Brunch at SER restaurant - Simple, Easy, and Real Good!

Brunch at SER restaurant - Simple, Easy, and Real Good!

For me, brunch is all about indulgence – drinking mimosas, eating all morning, probably still recovering from being out a bit too late the previous night, things that are not part of my normal routine on a day that isn’t the weekend.

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A sweet buzz at the Fairmont Washington - 3 ways to try their rooftop honey

A sweet buzz at the Fairmont Washington - 3 ways to try their rooftop honey

During my recent stay at the Fairmont Washington, I learned of their rooftop honeybee hives, from which they harvest honey to use.  This is not the hotel’s first foray into sustainable farming – their beautiful courtyard is already home to fresh herbs and edible flowers that are used in the hotel’s culinary programs and at the Juniper restaurant.  A few years back, as the Fairmont looked into new and creative ways to enhance their sustainability program, the honeybee program was initiated and is now being done in many different Fairmont properties across the country and internationally. 

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The Fairmont Washington DC - luxury, local, lovely!

The Fairmont Washington DC - luxury, local, lovely!

For most of us, a true escape from daily life is all the luxury we need, and this can come in many shapes and ways. And this is why I loved getting the chance to spend a night at the Fairmont Washington hotel recently, as it allowed me to enjoy the city as a visitor instead of a resident – I could escape reality without leaving the city I call home!

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An overnight stay on Lake Titicaca's Amantani Island

An overnight stay on Lake Titicaca's Amantani Island

From Uros, we spent about 3 hours on the water going to Amantani Island.  On this ride is when you get an appreciation for the size of the lake and the gorgeous water! It was a beautiful morning and (thankfully) the water was not choppy at all – perfect for getting some sun and then a nap before reaching Amantani island for our overnight stay.

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Exploring the Uros floating islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru

Exploring the Uros floating islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru

When planning a trip to Peru, Lake Titicaca is not always at the top of one’s priority list. Peru normally brings images of Machu Picchu or the Nazca lines, but the lake definitely deserves to be right up there! The lake is the highest navigable (by commercial craft) lake in the world – at 12,500 feet above sea level, and is the largest in South America, at over 8000 square kilometers. Sitting at the border between Peru and Bolivia, we started our exploration of the lake from the commercialized port city of Puno in Peru.

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Hungry in DC: The "Balkan experience" at Ambar DC

Hungry in DC: The "Balkan experience" at Ambar DC

We can all agree that DC is a smorgasbord of global cuisine, but there are not too many places for Balkan cuisine!  Enter Ambar.  Ambar has been open for a couple of years now, serving up Balkan specialties, in tapa style small plates. When they opened, I had a fantastic meal with friends trying out the cuisine for the first time. I recently went back for dinner, and although I’m not too familiar with Balkan food, I can definitely say this place has turned me on to it!

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Signature banana bread at The Mayflower hotel

 Signature banana bread at The Mayflower hotel

The Mayflower is one of the most historic hotels in DC – it has been home to Presidential Inaugural balls, the spot for the power lunches of power lunches, scandal and gossip, and is known as DC’s “second best address” (the first being the White House, of course). But it is also known for something else – BANANA BREAD. Yep, the hotel has been making banana bread since the 1950’s and it has become one of the hotel’s signature items, used in the hotel’s turn down amenities, served in the hotel’s Edgar restaurant, and even as dessert at many weddings in the hotel!

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Hungry in DC: Alfie's, a Thai street food popup

A Thai Traveler’s bar. What the heck is that? Everyone knows Thailand is has been a popular traveler destination for many years now. I’ve never been, but apparently there are plenty of “expat bars” all over the country, owned by expats and locals alike, but with a diverse traveler customer base. That’s what Alfie’s is going after – a funky, fun bar where everyone and their stories are accepted, with some kickass food.

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Experiencing 24 hours in bohemian Barranco, Lima

Barranco is Lima’s bohemian, funky neighborhood. It is artsy, creative, laid back, trendy, and mostly non-touristy, which made me love it even though we spent less than 24 hours here. Read on for ideas on how to spend 24 hours in this neighborhood. 

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February Fun - Superbowl and MardiGras!

February is a short month, but there’s lots of good stuff going on – Superbowl, MardiGras, Valentine’s day (eek, but oh well), and the Oscars to end the month. And when I mean good stuff, I mean good food and drink specials all around! Read on to find out where to celebrate!

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A mini guide to beautiful Bermuda

My friends and I have this New Year tradition where we jet off to someplace warm after Christmas, bring in the New Year together, and then get back to routine. Come September/October, talk starts again as to where we are headed that year. Over the last few years we have been to Miami, Key West, Mexico, Honduras, and this year we landed on Bermuda.

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#FoodCulture - Turkish Tea and Coffee, featuring Ankara DC

Turkish coffee and tea are well known for their robust flavors, and the preparation and consumption of coffee and tea are both integral to Turkish culture and daily life. After enjoying a fantastic brunch at Turkish restaurant Ankara with endless cups of tea, and a cup of strong Turkish coffee complete with fortune reading, I was curious to learn more about the importance of coffee/tea in Turkish culture. I sat with Erin Gorman (co-owner along with her husband Utku Aslanturk), to learn a bit more about this …over a cup of tea, of course!

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Pennsylvania 6 DC - Calling all seafood lovers!

Pennsylvania 6, an American restaurant that specializes in seafood, is now open for lunch and dinner in their brand new location across from Franklin Square. I tried their lunch recently, and can only say– you are in for a TREAT!

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A taste of Oaxaca at El Centro DF

If you are looking for margaritas, micheladas, tacos, tortas, or other Mexican deliciousness with a great atmosphere, then you probably already know that  El Centro DF is a good bet. I’ve visited several times and have always really enjoyed myself whether for happy hour or late night (bring back the pork carnitas tortas late night!)

What you may not know, however, is that Chef Richard Sandoval (of El Centro, Zengo, Masa 14 fame) and his corporate chefs visit a different region of Mexico every year to research the culinary heritage of the area, and then come back and incorporate dishes into the menu at El Centro to showcase the diversity and flavors of Mexico.

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