Category Archives: Events

2018 Winter Restaurant Week(s) in (and around) Washington (DC)

It’s that time again.

Twice a year, in January – February and in August – September, Washington and its suburbs hold movable feasts known as Restaurant Weeks. The celebrations begin with Bethesda Restaurant Week, which this year includes 35 restaurants, and runs from 12 to 21 January. That’s followed by the big one, Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, which features 250+ restaurants and runs from 22 to 28 January. Then comes Alexandria Restaurant Week, from 26 January through 4 February, with 60+ venues.

Since some restaurants extend the celebration beyond the official RW dates, and many participate in both the Metro and more local RWs, “Restaurant Week” in DC is actually more like “Restaurant Month”.

The  Restaurant Week concept has its critics. Most restaurants offer limited menus, heavy on inexpensive mains like salmon and chicken. In some cases, ordering a restaurant’s ongoing “specials” can be a better deal than the one offered during RW. “It’s for amateurs,” a friend of mine once said.

But if you choose well and know what you’re doing, RW can be an excellent way to explore new places and revisit old favourites, all at bargain prices. Over time, researching, planning, scheduling, and enjoying RW has turned into my big personal project for January and August.

I’ll be posting my RW finds over the next three weeks.


More Game of Thrones Goes Postal — Giants and Direwolves and Dragons, Oh My

The British Royal Mail isn’t ignoring the non-human players of the Game of Thrones. In addition to the 10 contestants in the set of postage stamps that I wrote about yesterday, the Royal Mail is also issuing a sheet of stamps featuring some of the less hominoid characters in the Game.

There are direwolves, who are friends of the good guys…

…giants and dragons, who play both sides of the field…

…and, of course, the Big Bad himself, the Night King.

At the center of it all, the Iron Throne.

The stamps will be sold at UK Post Office branches starting on 23 January 2018, and are already available for pre-ordered on the Royal Mail website.

Game of Thrones Goes Postal

Imagine this: There’s been an incident in King’s Landing. Two or three royals die of festering paper cuts, a deranged pig farmer blows up the national cathedral, the Queen announces that she’s pregnant by her six-years-dead husband, flying monkeys attack the scarecrow, the tin man, and the cowardly lion, whatever. Just another day in Westeros, really, but you feel an urgent need to get word of the event to the Watchers at the Wall.

You go to your aviary, only to discover that your fastest, most reliable raven is lying motionless at the bottom of his cage, little claws in the air, pining for the fjords. What to do?

British Royal Mail to the rescue!

On 23 January 2018, UK Post Office branches will begin selling stamps celebrating characters from the world’s most popular TV show, Game of Thrones. Even better, the stamps are available for pre-ordered on the Royal Mail website.

The stamps depict 10 characters, eight of whom are played by British actors.  Here’s are close-ups of the individual stamps:

Beautifully done, aren’t they?

Downton Abbey — Party Like It’s 1925

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, which I’ve previously mentioned, has extended its New York run, and is now offering a new, interactive feature:

It’s 21+, and tickets are $225. The package includes:

  • A three-hour cocktail soiree with Edwardian inspired passed hors d’oeuvres and passed small plates menu
  • Unlimited bar featuring a Downton Abbey inspired cocktail
  • Access to the Exhibition
  • Exclusive screening of rarely before seen cast footage
  • A complimentary Downton Abbey: The Exhibition keepsake book
  • A complimentary media guide for touring the exhibition

“Guests are welcome to dress in their best Downton Attire. All waitstaff will be in period costume, providing service of which Carson would be proud.”

Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival II — The Food

And then there was the food.

The food at the Budapest Christmas Market is a long way from the Deep-Fried Peanut Butter Banana Cheeseburgers on sale at the Texas State Fair.

I could probably have dined here—and dined very well—every day I was in the city.

Here’s a small selection of what some of the vendors were offering:

It’s not too late! The Christmas Market lasts until New Year’s Eve, so you still have three or four days to get there. You can make it if you rush.

And there’s always next year.

Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival I — The Booths

The timing of my trip to Budapest wasn’t random. I wanted to be in the city during the Christmas Market season, which runs from 10 November through New Year’s Eve.

Many European cities have neighbourhood Christmas Markets scattered around town, and one big, internationally-known festival in a central location. In Budapest, that’s Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival, on Vörösmarty Square.

You can tell you’re getting close long before you arrive, because the smell of cinnamon and mulled wine fills the air. The site is overflowing with little wooden stalls selling all kinds of wintery things. It has a feel similar to that of a Renaissance Faire, or of an upscale arts and crafts celebration.

It looks like this:

On most days, the Christmas Market is open from 10 in the morning until 9 or 10 at night. As the sun sets, the lights come on.