July 20, 2017 at 5:53 pm EDT | by Kristen Hartke
Tasty temptations
summer dining, gay news, Washington Blade

Ginger Lemon Stack Cake will be featured at the Christmas in July event at RareSweets Bakery. (Photo by Scott Suchman; courtesy RareSweets)

As it starts to get toward the end of July, there’s a seemingly endless supply of Code Orange days while vacation time starts to dwindle away, making it increasingly difficult to get inspired to do, well, anything.

With that in mind, here’s a collection of a few ways to rouse yourself out of the stupor created by the mid-summer doldrums before autumn starts to make its first tentative appearances. Face it, lower humidity and temperatures sounds pretty nice right about now, but you’ll miss kicking back with a chilled rosé in your flip flops soon enough, so don’t let the heat keep you stuck indoors.

Put on your shoulder-baring best and head to Pamplona (3100 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington; pamplonava.com) for Sundresses and Sangria Day on Sunday, July 23 from 2-7 p.m., where you can sink right down into a frozen sangria or three. Try some of the pinxtos on offer, such as smoked mussel escabeche and butternut squash and artichoke caponata on crostini; there’ll be plenty of featured sangria by the pitcher, including roja, bianca, rosé, sparkling rosé or white, and a seasonal watermelon sangria. And, of course, frozen white and — our favorite — frosé.

If you are indeed longing for cooler days, then Meredith Tomason, pastry chef and owner of RareSweets in CityCenterDC (963 Palmer Alley; raresweets.com), aims to please with her Christmas in July celebration from July 24-29. You’ll find the bakery — decked out in full holiday attire and piping holiday music — stocked with special holiday-inspired menu items. The Instagrammable “Elves on Vacation” shortbread cookies are a standout, along with Tomason’s signature ginger and lemon stack cake, eggnog ice cream and frozen hot chocolate.

Chef and sommelier Danny Lledó is offering up a taste of Spain at Slate Wine Bar+Bistro (2404 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.; slatewinebar.com) on July 22-29 and Aug. 5, with his interactive dinner series, Dreaming of Dénia. Cozy up to the chef’s table for $45 per person ($25 wine pairing optional), where Chef Lledó will demonstrate his paella technique while serving up a five-course menu that reflect his Spanish and Portuguese heritage.

Some of the planned dishes include Figatell de carranc i sépia (crab and cuttlefish cake), Paella de Dénia (fish stock ‘bomba’ rice dish with calamari, shrimp and mussels), and a dessert featuring Profiterol, gelat de turró de Xixona i xocholat (house-made profiterol, turrón ice cream and chocolate ganache).

Get out of your rut by keeping an eye on the social media accounts (or sign up for email alerts) for i Ricchi (1220 19th St., N.W.; iricchidc.com), because any pleasant sunny afternoon could signal one of chef/owner Christianne Ricchi’s signature Pop Up Piazza Parties. The Dupont Circle restaurant’s patio is transformed on these random occasions to a neighborhood gathering, anchored by live music, complimentary cocktails and special tastings, making it a spontaneous way to while away a summer evening.

Did you know that Thursday, Aug. 3 is National Watermelon Day? Neither did we, but Lincoln (1110 Vermont Ave., N.W.; lincolnrestaurant-dc.com), Teddy & The Bully Bar (1200 19th St., N.W.; teddyandthebullybar.com) and Declaration (804 V St., N.W.; declarationrestaurant.com) are planning a plethora of signature watermelon cocktails in celebration, created by beverage director Tammy Vodinh. While the libations will be available for the whole month of August, you’ll find them for half-price on Aug. 3, including the Wicky at Declaration — a Watermelon Rickey made with Cuca Fresca Cachaça and a jalapeno-watermelon soda — and the Alpine Summer Punch at Lincoln, a shareable concoction of chamomile tea, watermelon juice and Dolin Genepy).

For a perfect glass of premium bubbly, tasty nibbles and spectacular views, there’s no better spot to be on Aug. 10 than the rooftop of the building that houses BLT Steak (1625 I St., N.W.; bltrestaurants.com). You’ll be greeted by beverage director James Nelson and sommelier Jamie Stevens, who will take you on a journey through different regions and varietals as part of their Wines Over Washington event. If you can’t make it in August, you can still catch the views and tasting on Sept. 14 and Oct. 12; $65 (excluding gratuity), make reservations by contacting Beau Monroe at 202-689-8989 or [email protected]bltsteak.com.

Finally, if you’d like to get your hands dirty — well, floury — then try to snag a spot in executive pastry chef Alex Levin’s class, Learn To Bake Summer Pies. The hands-on class will be on Saturday, Aug. 5 from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at Casolare Restaurant and Bar (2505 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.; casolaredc.com), and the $65 price tag includes lunch, a hands-on demonstration, and, even better, a freshly baked pie to bring home.

Levin will help you master pie crust techniques and focus on summer fruit fresh from the farmer’s market, and will even help create a personalized recipe just for you based on your favorite flavor combinations. Look for the class on eventbrite.com to register.


Kristen Hartke is a DC-based food and beverage writer; follow her kitchen adventures on Instagram, @kristenhartke.

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