Tag Archives: brunch

#39. enjoy a French brunch

I’m a bit of a Francophile. And by a bit, I mean a lot. I consider myself French though I don’t have an ounce of French blood running through my veins. But I am fluent in croissants, good wine, delicious cheese, French jazz, French art, French films and la joie de vivre.

I will be going to Paris for the third time in just 8 short weeks (this time for my honeymoon!), and as this will only be my third trip abroad, needless to say there’s just a je n’ai sais quoi about the city of light that keeps pulling me back and keeping me from seeing the rest of the world. Maybe it’s because all that is perfect and wonderful in life is found right in Paris.

One of the reasons I fell in love with D.C. was because of its resemblance to my favorite city in the world. And it’s no coincidence either! D.C. was designed with the help of famed French architect Pierre L’Enfant. Throughout the city you can find broad-sweeping city streets and sidewalks, grand and intricate building facades, all an homage to Paris. There are also a good amount of amazing French restaurants in the city, so I thought it only appropriate to take a stroll down memory lane by including “enjoy a French brunch” on my 213 in 2013 list. Why brunch? Because it’s the best meal of the day obviously.

French art adorns the walls of Bistro la Bonne.

French art adorns the walls of Bistro la Bonne.

To make checking this item off the list even sweeter, I got to go to brunch with my study abroad BFF who happened to be in town visiting for the weekend. She and I tore up the streets of Paris for four weeks, so I found it only appropriate that we reconnect at a quaint French bistro for some Sunday morning brunch.

I chose Bistro la Bonne for our rendez-vous. It was quaint, and simple, and it reminded me of any number of bistros you’d find lining the streets of Paris. I didn’t go with Le Diplomate because I wasn’t interested in Disney Paris when I was abroad, nor was I interested in it now. I just wanted authentic, honest French food, and Bistro la Bonne did not disappoint in the slightest.

I know this looks like ordinary french toast, but its actually some of the best french toast in the world.

I know this looks like ordinary french toast, but its actually some of the best french toast in the world.

For the next two hours (because time is of no issue when dining like the French do), we sucked down bellinis and caught up on life, from new jobs to new cities to old memories while dining on the most incredible french toast I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, topped with fresh berries and Chantilly cream. And we piled on more carbs with garlicky, cheesy, butter potatoes au gratin, perfectly crispy and salty pomme frites and of course, a big ol’ plate of escargot.

Carbo-loading.

Carbo-loading.

How about a little snail for dessert?

How about a little snail for dessert?

The food was delicious. The drinks were bottomless. The company was the crème de la crème.

Overall, it was the perfect French brunch. I can’t wait for the next one – and this time, it’ll be in Paris.

#10. go to a comedy show

I’ve never made it a secret that I hate winter. I hate it with every bone in my body. This is mainly because: I hate pants. I hate the cold. I hate the lack of sun and ugly, dead, bare trees. So when winter rolls around I usually hibernate. I stock up on a few extra bottles of bubbly, become Redbox’s number one customer with my excessive movie rentals and live only in fuzzy pajamas and funny socks.

But with 213 things to cross off in 365 days, I don’t have the option of being a lazy bum for a quarter of the year. So I put on my furry boots, zipped my jacket up extra tight and decided I was going to make the best of the yucky, winter weather this weekend. I started Saturday morning with a boozy brunch with one of my new friends at Pulpo, a Spanish tapas restaurant with all you can eat and drink for $25. I’m immediately sold on anything involving bottomless booze, so the 45-minute metro ride was well worth it. The food wasn’t anything remarkable but the constant flow of mimosas helped set me up for the rest of the day.

I could have eaten 100 more of those pancakes.

I could have eaten 100 more of those pancakes.

Mike scooped me up from brunch once he was finished work and we started to make our way over to Temple Hill’s Roller Skating Palace to cross off my goal of going to a roller rink so I could spend a few hours pretending like I’m whirling around at Studio 54. Roller rinks are no longer the cool, hip places they once were in the 70s. Now they are just sad, dingy rundown warehouses situated between pawn shops and liquor stores. And Temple Hill Roller Rink was no different. We rolled up and saw that there was a line of sugar-induced children starting to wrap around the building. I immediately started shaking my head because the thought of being crammed on a roller rink with hundreds of kids hopped up on Mountain Dew made me want to run into highway traffic. So we decided we’re going back for “Adult skate” on Thursday. Stay tuned.

With our rollerskating plans now a bust, we had an entire evening to fill. I jumped on Groupon to see if there was anything to do that we could only pay half price for, and surely I found two remaining tickets available to Comedy Sportz, an interactive, “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” type show for only $7 a pop. Perfect. Another thing from the list I can cross off without spending a ton of money.

An awesome local comedy club and you don't have to spend an arm and a leg.

An awesome local comedy club and you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg.

We quick grabbed dinner at a place down the street called Fireworks – a restaurant that serves up yummy pizza and knock-your-socks off sangria. With about 10 mimosas sitting in my belly, I figured a glass of sangria couldn’t hurt. If anything, it would probably just made the comedy show more enjoyable since I’m a tough critic in the joke department.

After dinner, Mike and I found the comedy club and we were promptly seated in the front row, dead center. The overly peppy girl who sat us asked if we had ever been before, we shook our heads no and she goes on to explain that it’s a ton of fun and starts using words like “family-friendly” and “wholesome.” I looked at Mike in a panic as I began to watch the seats slowly fill up with old people, a family celebrating their 9-year-old’s birthday and a group of girls wearing turtlenecks (NO LIE.) What!? Wholesome, comedy!? I wanted profanity, sex jokes, things that would make your grandmother blush if she heard them. I’m talking wildly inappropriate, Louis C.K.-style. They must have included the family friendly part in the fine print. I rolled my eyes and thought “at least I only spent seven bucks” and hoped that my sangria buzz would carry me through the night.

life is too important

A man wearing a referee outfit comes out on stage, runs down the rules as its team vs. team improv and tells us how we’ll be involved in the show, from offering suggestions to being a part of the skits. He then goes on to “warm us up” and for the next five minutes I’m making tiger faces, Martian noises and awkward hand gestures towards complete strangers. It was so bizarre and yet incredibly freeing to stop taking myself so seriously and let loose. I looked like a total ass but so did everyone around me.

The show was almost an hour and a half long and it was surprisingly hilarious. I found myself with tears in my eyes a few times, doubled-over laughing and fully enjoying being able to shout out funny scenarios for the improvers to perform – from wrestling bunnies in a piranha-filled volcano to the North Philly version of Candyland.

It’s amazing how much fun you can have when you let your walls down. With how crazy and stressful life can be, sometimes all you need is a cheesy knock-knock joke to remind you that life doesn’t always have to be so serious.

#3. make a new friend

If you recall, a few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the difficulties I was having with making new friends in my new-ish city. I’m glad I wrote it because for the longest time, I thought I was some sort of loser or weirdo for not being able to dive into the social scene and cultivate a brand new group of friends instantaneously. A lot of people reached out and shared similar stories of how challenging it can be to make new friends after college, especially when in a new city (and some in a new country! I can’t even imagine.)

With the holidays approaching and overhearing everyone talk about their “super-awesome-uber-epic” New Year’s Eve plans, from flying to Miami to dancing the night away in New York City, I felt like a total dud because Mike and I didn’t really have anyone to ring in the new year with besides each other thanks to being broke and not really knowing anyone in the area. I threw a pretty decent pity party for myself for a solid day or two, cake and confetti included, as I whined that making new friends shouldn’t be this hard.

Call it an act of ultimate desperation, but I jokingly went on to Craigslist and told Mike I was going to find my “new best friend,” knowing that I’d probably just end up having a good laugh at the usual crazies that post listings about “lady friends into Sailor Moon and anime who are into lady kisses just 4 fun timez.”

I went through about 10 – 12 of those kinds of listings… reading them out loud to Mike as we laughed that at least we weren’t THAT weird. That’s when I clicked on the last post before closing up shop for the night. Something about being embarrassed to use Craigslist (hey, me too), loving wine, blogging, attempting to cook, cats, a love for Philly, studying in Paris, etc., etc. It was weird. It sounded like I had wrote the post myself with everything we had in common. So, I swallowed my Craigslist pride and sent a response email. The worst that could happen? I wouldn’t hear back and I’d pretend it had never happened.

The ultimate boozy brunch experience: bottomless bellini bar

The ultimate boozy brunch experience: bottomless Bellini bar.

But I did hear back. And after emailing a few times, we met for brunch.  And it was awesome. Between great conversation, a never-ending flow of champagne and shamelessly taking pictures of each other’s food, it was a perfect Saturday afternoon. If you haven’t checked out Urbana’s bottomless Bellini bar yet… GO! The food is okay… but let’s be honest, people brunch for the booze, not the food.

Pumpkin spice waffle with apple butter and peach bellini.

Pumpkin spice waffle with apple butter and peach Bellini.

On Friday I’m hosting my first dinner party down here with my very, very small, albeit great group of new friends. Slowly but surely, this new city is starting to feel like home. It goes to show you that anything is possible, if you have the courage to step outside of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.