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Excursion: Capital Hiking Club @ Dellinger Gap, WV — 6/20/15


Dellinger Gap to Trout Pond
Hiking with Capital Hiking Club

I’ve done many hikes over the years with Capital Hiking Club. With over 20 hikes since 2009 to choose from, none were more interesting than the one on June 20, 2015.

Capital Hiking Club has been organizing hikes for 77 years. Every Saturday, regardless of season or weather, they host a hike, most often in Virginia or Maryland. You catch the bus in DC (or designated Metro stops in VA or MD), ride to the hike location, trek one of the two trail options, drink beer and eat snacks at the end, and drive back. It’s a good way to meet people and a great option to explore the surrounding area if you don’t have a car.

Within the last couple years, they moved their sign-ups to Meetup.com, to make the process more efficient and easier to manage for the hike organizers.

I highly recommend checking it out if you like to hike.

Capital Hiking Club
Virginia, Maryland and DC
Saturday (Weekly)
8:00am (bus pick-up in DC)
$25 members ($28 non-members)


Trip Report – Dellinger Gap to Trout Pond Recreation Area, West Virginia — 6/20/15

Music Park: Jaga Jazzist @ Black Cat — 6/21/15

Jaga Jazzist & Sinfonia Rotterdam @ Motel Mozaique 2013
Martin Horntveth performs in Rotterdam in 2013. (Photo by Marcel van Leeuwen)

Jaga Jazzist, the eight-piece nu jazz group from Norway, closed their set at the Black Cat Sunday night with a tranquil piece of music called “Washington, DC Skyline.”

Well, it was actually called “Oslo Skyline,” but the group’s composer Lars Horntveth has been redubbing it after each city in which his collective performs as they have embarked on a U.S. tour in support of their new album, Starfire, released June 2.

Running over a leisurely 5 minutes, “Oslo Skyline” is a snappy, brassy jazz tune that might not be unlike the end result of a composition by Henry Mancini in the ’60s had he been armed with a synthesizer. The track appeared on the band’s 2005 album, What We Must, which was released just after the band’s last DC appearance 11 years ago.

And so it was a rare treat indeed for an ardent group of enthusiasts to bring the Cat to half capacity Sunday and to listen intently to compositions from the new album, which run anywhere from 7 to 14 minutes roughly. With numbers generally running that long, Lars and company managed to fit in about 10 compositions in about 90 minutes of stage time, performing three out of five selections on the new album and revisiting past favorites, particularly from What We Must and 2010’s One-Armed Bandit.

The band opened their set with the sweeping “Starfire,” the title track from the new album, clocking in at about 9 minutes. In so doing, Jaga Jazzist set the tone for a sparkling instrumental cascade of resplendent horns and guitars.

Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star (S. 11, Ep. 3) — 6/21/15


Alex McCoy in Food Network Star, our DC choice to win this thing! (Photo courtesy Food Network)

We’re back with an update on the third installment of Season 11 of Food Network Star, where we’ve been cheering on DC hometown Chef Alex McCoy, one of 10 contestants to compete in this episode.

Alex again survived to fight another day, avoiding elimination in this reality show contest, where chefs must demonstrate some cooking chops as well as camera skills. In avoiding elimination, Alex kinda slipped up in one challenge and then bounced back in a second challenge, which has been a bit of a pattern for him recently!

This third episode of the 11th season was called “Trendy Dinner,” and Food Network Star hosts Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis explained that their television network sometimes focuses on trendy or flashy food. So for the first challenge, the chef contestants faced the task of making photo-worthy food that would compel them to taste it from the picture, following the trend of young diners posting picture of their meals on social media.

Alex answered the challenge with crabcakes, giving some love to our area state of Maryland. But to remind folks he’s “the sandwich guy” in the competition, Alex made crabcake sliders — specifically, crabcake sliders with sambal remoulade and rocket radishes.

And the crabcakes looked terrific! Until Alex capped them with the buns, obscuring the yummy crabcake from view.

Food Park: Grand Opening @ Claudia’s Steakhouse — 6/19/15


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Executive Chef Brad Race sets the pace at Claudia’s Steakhouse. (Photo courtesy Bulldog Public Relations)

Claudia’s Steakhouse (1501 K St. NW, DC) opened to the public Friday, merging classic American-Latin fusion with a high-end steakhouse in a setting certain to please K Street lobbyists and downtown diners alike.

In a grand opening preview party last Thursday, Executive Chef Brad Race greeted guests personally as he dashed from table to bar to kitchen to ensure that everything was just right.

Formerly executive chef at Spike Mendelsohn’s Bernaise, Chef Brad was clearly suited to the new steak concept, opened by restauranteurs Claudia Rivas and Charles Adams

Grand opening guests dined on steak skewers with red pepper, salted cod balls, a generous assortment of charcuterie and cheeses, and empanadas while sipping champagne at the restaurant’s preview.

Claudia’s Empanada was a particular draw. It’s a crispy small plates item served tapas style featuring steak, olives, raisins and egg bundled in a tortilla. It represents the sort of dish that Race and Rivas seek to spotlight at Claudia’s Steakhouse: classic American with authentic Latin twists.

Those empanadas and the steak skewers sampled by guests were absolutely delectable.

“The essence of Claudia’s food preparation is rooted in my family tree that dates back four generations,” Claudia Rivas said in a statement. “I am creating a genuine dining atmosphere and want to share the tastes and influences of original Latin cuisine. Claudia’s is not just a sit-down dining experience, it’s an all-evening affair.”

Hailing originally from El Salvador, Ms. Rivas inherited her passion for cooking from her grandmother, Julia Aguilar, a professional chef. Ms. Aguilar imparted recipes with influences of El Salvador, Argentina and the Caribbean to her granddaughter.

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The dining room at Claudia’s Steakhouse. (Photo courtesy Bulldog Public Relations)

At 7,500-square feet, the steakhouse has a seating capacity of 300 and a maximum occupancy of 400. Large parties can reserve two private dining rooms that can accommodate up to 120 people for events like fundraisers, birthdays, and receptions.

With a design by Grizform Design and Adams Restaurant Group, the restaurant space serves as a bar and lounge as well as a formal dining spot. It’s sleek and modern and comfortable enough to be welcoming with a minimalist design that avoids being too stark. The design incorporates Italian Murano glass wallpaper, snow white quartzite ledgestone tiling, modern furnishings with leather royal back chairs, and red leather bar stools.

For more information on Claudia’s Steakhouse (including its menu), visit http://www.claudiassteakhouse.com.

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Brad Race and colleague at work at Claudia’s (Photo courtesy Bulldog Public Relations)

ParklifeDC attended this event as a guest of the establishment. Should you like to invite us to attend your establishment’s event, please contact us via email at parklifedc AT gmail.com.

Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star (S. 11, Ep. 2) — 6/14/15


Chef Alex McCoy (Photo courtesy Food Network)

Well, a personally busy week last week kept me from chatting about the latest episode of Food Network Star until now, but now I’ve got a bit of time to update the progress of Chef Alex McCoy on the second episode of the show’s 11th season shortly before the third episode airs tonight.

Alex avoided elimination quite handily in the second episode with a terrific display as a “Comeback Kid.” He and the other 10 contestants faced two challenges — making a quick dinner from leftovers and then baking a sweet and savory dish for assessment by top patry chefs.

The chef did pretty well in the first challenge but blew everyone away in the second, in part by carefully listening to the feedback from Food Network Star hosts Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis.

In the first challenge, Alex prepared a fried rice with the ingredients found in the refrigerator offered to contestants. Each contestant, including Alex, presented their meal in a 30-second video. Although Alex did well, Bobby and Giada dogged him a bit for going off theme, as Alex has presented himself as a “sandwich guy.” Alex explained that sometimes he wants something different when he comes home from a day of making sandwiches, and Bobby Flay suggested Alex could simply explain that.

However, the judges actually enjoyed late night fried rice. Bobby said, “I thought it was flavorful; I thought it had spice to it.”

Don’t Miss: Huey Lewis and The News @ Warner Theatre, 6/23/15


Huey Lewis and The New

Huey Lewis and The News have been together for 36 years and they are still going strong. So strong, they will play for us at the Warner Theatre on 6/23/15.

Their songs were essential listening for my second decade of life.

Even when their popularity waned in the 1990’s and beyond, I caught them live for the first and only time in 1996. Time to rectify that.

In the past 15 years, Huey Lewis and The News have released two studio albums, the latest one a tribute to the music of Stax Records.

I have not listened to either of those albums, but I’m sure Huey’s voice and The News’ sound, including R&B and soul influences, make them a worthy entry into their discography.

For me, I still go back to the classic hits of the 1980’s. ‘Power of Love’ and ‘If This Is It’, of course, but I always enjoyed ‘Heart of Rock & Roll’, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ and my favorite, ‘Walking On a Thin Line’.

Let’s relive the classics! Tickets are still available.

Huey Lewis and The News
Warner Theatre
Tuesday, June 26
$53 and up
All ages

Live Review: Morrissey @ Echostage — 6/17/15

Morrissey admirers reach for their hero at Echostage on Wednesday.

“We were supposed to be here previously, and we couldn’t make it,” Morrissey said at Echostage Wednesday night. After a dramatic pause, he added, “The suicide rate in this band is very high.”

Speaking in reference to several cancelled shows in the DC area over the past several years, the latter part of that statement was offered as sardonic consolation to the audience via a bit of typically morbid humor from the Poet of Manchester, who actually then proceeded to put on a damn fine show.

The very very full Echostage was held rapturous as Morrissey and his longtime band (all of whom are hale and hearty despite his witty offering) dove into a robust set of 19 songs and one encore. The set focused heavily on rather good new material by Morrissey from the album World Peace Is None of Your Business — an odd album to be certain as it is not widely commercially available at the time of this writing due to a fallout last year between Morrissey and his label.

Regardless, Morrissey’s concert performance was entertaining in its own right, and what better way to get to know new songs than to enjoy them live? And more than enough people knew the lyrics to numbers like the title track “World Peace Is None of Your Business,” which revisits typical Morrissey themes of economic inequality and government suppression.

Music Park: Men Without Hats @ World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, Pa. — 6/15/15

Men Without Hats @ YDS (NXNE 2011)-13.jpg
Ivan Doroschuk leads Men Without Hats during a performance at NXNE 2011.

The audience got the message and the message was clear in Philadelphia on Monday, June 15: Men Without Hats are still great.

Vocalist Ivan Doroschuk was in fighting trim at the World Cafe Live as he paraded through his band’s greatest hits as well as selections off a 2012 album, Love in the Age of War, recorded with his relatively new bandmates.

Knowing that the crowd would enjoy a good thing when it heard it, Ivan opened this show with a stripped down, ballad version of “Safety Dance,” which brought surprising poignancy to the old favorite.

Don’t Miss: Jaga Jazzist @ Black Cat, 6/21/15

Jaga Jazzist (Photo courtesy Motormouthmedia)

I have to confess that I wasn’t that familiar with Norwegian collective Jaga Jazzist until the release of their most recent album Starfire on June 2 via Ninja Tune.

As their name implies, Jaga Jazzist is all about rather progressive jazz. They have embarked on a North American tour in support of their new album, and they come to the Black Cat on Sunday, June 21.

Jaga Jazzist has eight members, but its core is a trio of siblings — Lars, Martin and Line Horntveth. They started the band in 1994, when Lars was 14-years old. As the main songwriter for the group, Lars recently sought inspiration outside of Norway. In December 2012, he moved to Los Angeles.

“Inspired by the space around him, the size of the sky above him, the endless light flashing past as he drove round the city at night, he began composing the new suite of works, which would become Starfire,” according to a press release on the album.

The other members of Jaga Jazzist would visit him to record in his home studio. Once the rough album was complete, Lars took it back to Oslo to finish it.

The result is ornate, intricate pieces like “Oban.” Watch Jaga Jazzist perform “Oban” in a recent Oslo session:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJPplqqZBqE]

Tickets are available online and at the door. Nashville musician Peter Barbee, aka Among Savages, opens for Jaga Jazzist.

Jaga Jazzist
w/ Among Savages
Black Cat
Sunday, June 21
Doors @7:30pm
All ages

Music Park: Prince + 3rdeyegirl @ Warner Theatre — 6/14/15

Prince jams at the Warner Theatre on June 14. (Photo by Karrah Kobus / NPG Records)

Hey, we all agree: Prince is awesome. He’s funky, and he rocks the house in live performance. And he did as much in two sold-out shows at the Warner Theatre on Sunday as part of his series in the Hit & Run tour.

And so, yes, we’re going to talk a little about Prince. But Prince wants us to talk a bit about his backing band, 3rdeyegirl. So let’s talk about them first.

I actually first attended the Rally 4 Peace at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore on Sunday, May 10, and then I caught the late 11pm show at Warner Theatre this past Sunday, June 14.

In both performances, 3rdeyegirl were really quite great. They add fire to the overall show, and they hold down specific numbers on their own. Guitarist Donna Grantis often takes the front of the stage, literally leaping into action as she thunders away on her guitar. She did as much for the opening number Sunday night — “Plectrumelectrum,” the title track from their 2014 debut album with Prince. “Plectrumelectrum” is an instrumental track that gives the audience a chance to see 3rdeyegirl in action as the band gets warmed up. Donna is always in the minute, and her axe is really sharp.