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Monday, February 06, 2012, 5:26 PM Last Updated on Wednesday, February 08, 2012, 3:52 PM
February 1, 2012
By Sharon Bosworth
I Heart Barracks Row
If February 2012 finds you in love and living anywhere near Barracks Row you are in luck. There is no better place to be if you want the perfect Valentine’s Day experience for you and your sweetie.
Let’s start with a Valentine’s Day surprise that will be cooked up by students from our first ever Culinary Education Crawl which was held on Sunday, January 29. The event was based on the premise that the fastest way to the heart is through the stomach. Ten Barracks Row Restaurants devised a one day cooking school curriculum. The chefs taught students how to make favorite dishes right off their menus and, with two weeks to V- Day, there was still time to go home and practice. We think their Valentines will be very impressed with dinner at home this year. But, don’t worry if you couldn’t attend, we are planning more learn-to-cook events like this one in the coming year. This year those who did come to class are home with their Valentines showing off their skills. Next year, it could be you!
The Culinary Education Crawl was created by Penny Karas, owner of Hello Cupcake, 705 8th Street, SE and hosted by Barracks Row Main Street. Hello Cupcake is a can’t-miss stop on Barracks Row when making up your Valentine’s Day itinerary. You’ll find classic Valentine cupcakes to take home in sweet packages that hold from one to one dozen of Hello Cupcake’s adorable creations. Or drop by with your Valentine on February 14th after dinner for coffee and freshly baked cupcakes for dessert. As usual, the big question for Valentine’s Day is whether to celebrate at home or with a night out on-the-town. Like Hello Cupcake our entire five block corridor can provide the smartest solution either way you go.
For a Fully Orchestrated Stay-At-Home Valentine’s Celebration
If you are looking forward to a fully orchestrated stay-at-home evening complete with champagne, then you must stop at Chat’s Liquors, 503 8th Street, SE, and have owner Bernie Williams introduce you to grower champagnes. Brand name champagnes blend grapes from many vineyards together to develop a uniform taste bottle after bottle. But small vineyards, or growers, many hundreds of years old, produce distinctive champagne adventures all at the same price as the big brands. You’ll taste the difference right away.
With new discoveries in champagne bubbling up, Valentine’s Day may be the perfect time to add to your collection of champagne flutes at Homebody, 715 8th Street, SE. A refined plastic-like substance cast in familiar barware shapes is making a debut at Homebody. These lovely, gleaming flutes are stem-less and non breakable making a stay-at-home Valentine’s romp through the house a much safer adventure. And, what is Valentine’s Day without risqué cards? Homebody has a full collection of these gems for co-workers, friends and loved ones. For the traditionalists, Homebody also features a full display case of locally made jewelry. For even more cards and gift options shop Groovy DC, which relocated last year to 323 7th Street, SE, right across Pennsylvania Avenue from Barracks Row.
When planning ahead for a Stay-At-Home Valentine’s Day, don’t miss the Preview Samples of heart shaped macarons at Sweet Lobby, 404 8th Street, SE. Drop by in the weeks before Valentine’s Day to taste the exquisite flavors available. Then order a special box of these decadent French inventions for your Valentine, all pre-tested by you. Gift boxes start at $9.20.
And, here’s another idea from the French who do know a thing or two about amour: perhaps a bit of role play is in order? Consider a French Country Maid outfit from Backstage Costumes, 545 8th Street, SE. However, if appropriate accessories are all that’s needed there are also red fish-net tights, saucy mini hats with pretty veil netting and lots of interesting garters. Then there are wear-with-anything-or-nothing-at-all head bands for $2.95: sparkling, antennae-like hearts will bob above your head as you greet your Valentine at the door. For an even more dramatic greeting add the almost-full-size, bright red Cupid ’s bow and arrow to your outfit.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pie for Your Valentine
To include the kids in Valentine’s Day, drop by the Playseum, 545 8th Street, SE. Plans are in place to run children’s baking events all day long in the Playseum’s kitchen. Special art projects will be available for kids the week before to guarantee everyone in the family is remembered with homemade Valentines.
If you are reading this, then it’s already February- still time to make big plans for a night out but don’t wait much longer. Many Barracks Row Restaurants will serve special fixed price menus for the evening but seating is limited. Chef Bart Vandaele of Belga Cafe, 514 8th Street, SE, is creating a signature five course European feast. Add in the wine pairing option for an elegant, $120 before-tip splurge per- person. For reservations at Belga Café call 202-544-0199. At Zest Bistro, 735 8th Street, SE, the $39.00 per person fixed price menu includes Oysters Migonette, Filet Mignon and, for dessert, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies. For reservations at Zest Bistro call 544-7171. Create-your-own fixed price dinner experience at Lavagna Ristorante Italiano, 539 8th Street, S.E. Select a three-course meal from their extensive menu of fresh appetizers, main dishes including homemade pastas and delectable desserts - all for $35.00 per person. Accompany with half price wines all by the glass for a memorable yet affordable celebration. For reservations at Lavagna call 202-546-5006.
Barracks Row For Valentine’s Day - Without Reservation
But what if today is February 14th, Valentine’s Day, and you have nothing for your Valentine- not even a card? There are still wonderful choices on Barracks Row. Make a run to Spring Mill Bakery, 701 8th Street, SE. You’ll find big heart shaped cookies with fun Valentine’s Day greetings: “Tweet Me” or “Yes” or “Send Me an E-mail” as well as small, heart- shaped Ganache Cakes and organic Cherry Chocolate
Bread. Or go for a gift certificate at Skin Beauty Lounge, 404 ½ 8th Street, SE. The special this month is a facial plus massage for $100, an experience to put a big smile on your Valentine.
If you are really a procrastinator and you are heading out the door to pick up your Valentine as you read this, make Barracks Row your destination- even without reservations a great dining experience is here for you to discover. There are over thirty fine dining restaurants to choose from - and one very unusual after dinner show. On February 14th at 8:00 p.m. The Ugly Mug, 723 8th Street, SE, is holding their Annual Meet a Marine Valentine’s Day Party. Ladies pay $1.00 to bid on a Marine and $10.00 (minimum) to buy a Marine of their choice for the evening. Come by and watch the fun. Who knows – maybe there’s a long term relationship in there somewhere! All proceeds from the Meet a Marine event go to Habitat for Humanity.
There is parking in the City Lot under the freeway for seventy five cents per hour, the lowest price in DC, with 3 hour limit after 6:30 p.m.
Barracks Row Main Street is a designated DC Main Streets commercial district. Barracks Row Main Street is funded in part by the Department of Small and Local Business Development.