Beyond the Books

Your Guide to student life

University Commencement speaker José Andrés is one of the latest celebrities to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in a video that included a dozen models, several champagne bottles, a pool and, of course, buckets of water.

The celebrity chef filmed his take of the viral fundraiser by the pool of the SLS Las Vegas Hotel and Casino surrounded by models in pink bikinis armed with champagne bottles and bowls of water.

Nominated by fellow chef Eric Ripert, Andrés tapped Al Roker, Gwenyth Paltrow and Craig Ferguson to complete the challenge before being splashed with water and sprayed with champagne.

Andrés then fell into the pool as onlookers cheered and applauded.

All three of Andrés’ nominees made appearances in a video the chef created as part of his commencement address this May.

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Comedian Tig Notaro performing at SXSW. Photo by Flickr user Mss Wright / CC-BY-SA 2.0

Comedian Tig Notaro performing at SXSW. Photo by Flickr user Miss Wright / CC-BY-SA 2.0

The Lisner lineup for the fall is becoming more and more appealing.

Last week, we learned Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg would speak at Lisner Auditorium in September. Now comedians Rosie O’Donnell and Tig Notaro will make their way to the stage Oct. 4, part of the Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival.

The festival, produced by Brightest Young Things and curated by Notaro, starts Oct. 1 and will feature a selection of comedians from D.C. and across the country.

Notaro, known for her dry sense of humor, has performed stand-up comedy on “Conan” and held roles on “The Sarah Silverman Program” and “Inside Amy Schumer.” O’Donnell rose to fame with “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” and recently signed on to be a guest host on “The View.”

Tickets for their comedy night start at $29.99 and are on sale now.

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It appears the torrential rains and flash floods have left the District – at least for the weekend. That means there’s no excuse to stay inside. Plan you weekend with these events in mind.

Friday

miss congeniality42: A Tribute to Coldplay at The State Theatre: If Coldplay tickets have always been a little outside your spending range or have sold out before you could snag them, a Coldplay tribute might be the closest you can come to seeing the band live. Head to the State Theatre to see 42, a tribute band devoted to all things Coldplay. Tickets are $13 and the event is 18+.

“Miss Congeniality” at the Rosslyn Summer Film Festival: Spend Friday night in Gateway Park to catch a free movie and bask in the clear skies. The Rosslyn Summer Film Festival is winding down, but Friday night will feature the Sandra Bullock classic, “Miss Congeniality,” as the second-to-last film of the season. The movie will start at about 8 p.m.

Saturday

“Gravity” at the Comcast Outdoor Film Festival: Check out another free movie Saturday night with the Comcast Outdoor Film Festival in Rockville, Md. Recent blockbuster “Gravity,” also a Sandra Bullock film, is the feature for the night. Gates open at 4:30 p.m.

#NoFilter at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue: Join YouTube sensations Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart and Mamrie Hart for their live comedy show #NoFilter. Known for YouTube channels “it’sGrace” and “MyHarto” and popular features like “My Drunk Kitchen” and “You Deserve a Drink,” these three ladies are sure to bring the fun and the jokes to the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.

Sunday

Synchroswim at the Capitol Skyline Hotel: Now’s your chance to dive into the world of synchronized swimming competitions at the Capitol Skyline Hotel pool. Four teams will compete Sunday evening in the competition that is rooted more in creativity than competition. Judges score based on overall execution and visual spectacle. There’s also a “Crowd Favorite” award based on applause. Synchroswim starts at 5 p.m., and admission is free.

Frontier(s) at DC9: If you’re interested in seeing some cheap live music Sunday night, head to DC9 for indie-emo band Frontier(s). Tickets are $10.

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The pork buns at Momofuku are one of the most popular menu items. Photo by Arnold Gatilao (flickr user arndog) used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

The pork buns at Momofuku are one of the most popular menu items. Photo by Arnold Gatilao (flickr user arndog) used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

David Chang gave us culinary news to celebrate this week: the celebrity restaurateur and owner of beloved New York City-based ramen joint Momofuku Noodle Bar will open a D.C. counterpart in the spring.

Chang told the Washingtonian that the space, a 4,500-square-foot hall in CityCenterDC, will also house a pop-in Momofuku milk bar and a trendy dessert cafe that dishes out creative cakes, cookies and pies. Look out for the Ritz cracker cookie and “crack pie,” both crowd favorites.

Though Chang anticipates a slightly experimental menu, he said D.C.’s Momofuku (Japanese for “lucky peach”) will serve his iconic pork buns. The stuffed-and-steamed, melt-in-your-mouth dough (pork belly, pickled cucumbers, hoisin sauce, sriracha, scallions) has inspired hundreds of copycat recipes from both amateur chefs and figures like Martha Stewart.

We’re also hoping he brings us nightly bun specialties, like options with brisket and shrimp that frequent his New York base.

While Chang said to expect “super-casual dining… I don’t want to make food for foodies,” he also told the Washingtonian he “[doesn't] really want to serve burgers either.” So what’s inspiring him of late? Spinach dip and chicken fingers.

Let the countdown to opening day begin.

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Photo by Flickr user Ted Eytan / CC-BY-SA 2.0

Photo by Flickr user Ted Eytan / CC-BY-SA 2.0

West End Cinema will host a tribute to comedic icon Robin Williams, who died Monday in an apparent suicide.

Famous for his impersonations, improvisational acting and sitcom-style humor, Williams starred in crowd favorites like “Dead Poets Society” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Starting Friday, West End Cinema will invite fans to celebrate Williams’ acting career by watching him in some of his best-known roles.

Aug. 15 to 21, the indie film hub will offer daily screenings of “Good Will Hunting,” “The Birdcage” and “The Fisher King,” three of Williams’ most lauded films. Each film will run twice per day during the week-long tribute.

For tickets and showtimes, visit West End Cinema’s site.

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Monday, Aug. 11, 2014 12:17 p.m.

A guide to D.C. Restaurant Week

For those in the city, Restaurant Week from Aug. 11 to 17 is a chance to (cheaply) test the D.C. area’s numerous gastronomic options. With $20.14, you can buy a three-course lunch, while for $35.14, you can enjoy a three-course dinner (plus drinks, tip and tax). 

Keep in mind when choosing a place to eat it’s better to avoid restaurants that serve tapas and small plates. While some of the best and most creative restaurants in the city feature smaller portions – think Zaytinya, El Centro, Oyamel and Graffiato – you’ll likely pay about $35 for three tapas year-round anyway.

Reservations across the city tend to fill up quickly, but below is a list of highly rated restaurants with offerings that range from Russian to Japanese to French and still have reservations available. If you are already here for the summer or came back to the District early, here’s your chance to dine away. Book reservations to a restaurant by clicking on its name, which links to its OpenTable page.

Gazpacho Photo by Flickr user cyclonebill / CC-BY-SA 2.0

Gazpacho is just one option available at 2941. Photo by Flickr user cyclonebill / CC-BY-SA 2.0

2941 Restaurant
Falls Church, Va. ★★★★½✰

It’s hard not to appreciate 2941′s undeniably stunning setting: small waterfalls, koi fish, lush trees and – oh, yes – a lake. All contribute to the restaurant’s charming and romantic ambiance. It serves contemporary American food influenced by flavors of the Mediterranean.

Expect hors d’oeuvres like tomato gazpacho and salmon tartare, while grilled pork loin and rockfish remain options for the main course. And dessert? 2941 takes a twist on the classics, serving black forest cake (cherry ganache, vanilla bavarois, Kirsch syrup and roasted cherries) and peach melba (brown sugar cookie, toasted oat ice cream, peach marmalade, raspberry granite and almond streusel), among others.

La Chaumiere
Georgetown ★★★★½✰

Take a break from the crowds (and typical fare) of the city at La Chaumiere, the Georgetown restaurant that looks more like a tiny French inn than the Friday night date spot it’s known to be. Other than its consistently high-quality food (La Chaumiere has won the Washingtonian’s “100 Best Restaurants” award 29 times since 1978), the restaurant’s stone fireplaces and wood beams make it feel cozy and intimate.

SEI Restaurant & Lounge
Penn Quarter ★★★★½✰

SEI is the glamorous Saturday night hangout spot you’ve always searched for but have never found. The space’s minimal white leather sofas and luxurious dripping crystal light fixtures are reason enough to book a table, but the food and drinks are also top notch.

Aside from the handcrafted sushi rolls and tofu bibimbap bowls, SEI offers a bevy of creative cocktails that range from Asian pear sangria to lavender margaritas and “liquid wasabi” sake bombs. For restaurant week, SEI has both a lunch and dinner special, so there’s no reason not to taste test the typically expensive lounge.

Pulled pork and fried green tomatoes at Acre 121. Photo by Flickr user justgrimes / CC-BY-SA 2.0

Pulled pork and fried green tomatoes at Acre 121. Photo by Flickr user justgrimes / CC-BY-SA 2.0

Acre 121
Columbia Heights ★★★★✰

This swingin’ country bar and restaurant also moonlights as a bluegrass and folk rock music hall on weeknights, taking a new approach to “dinner and a show.” In addition to entertainment value, Acre 121 offers some of the best barbecue in the D.C. area as well as more craft beers on tap than you can keep track of, making it a true Southern establishment. Fresh grits, chipotle BBQ and jalapeño cornbread are just a handful of the dishes that set Acre 121 apart from its more traditional neighbors in Columbia Heights.

Russia House
Dupont Circle ★★★★✰

Why dine like a college student when you can dine like a tsar? Russia House’s diverse menu serves traditional Eastern European fare: stuffed short ribs, sausage with black caviar, zapechionaya baranina (lamb chops with lamb confit and red dandelion greens), shaslik (marinated pork with rice, tomatoes, cucumbers and dill), chicken kiev (with classic Hollandaise sauce and tarragon foam) and Russian salads.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Russian dinner without vodka, of which Russia House has many kinds – more than 200 from across Europe. Order a single two-ounce shot for about $10, or drink your way across Russia with the Vodka Flight sampler, one of the restaurant’s more popular drinking options.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Prachi Vyas.

The last days of summer are quickly slipping away, so we’re highlighting only the best events to fill your schedule. That means chocolate tastings, comedy shows and loads of free movies.

Monday

Meiko + Alexis Babini at Jammin’ Java: The breathy vocals of singer-songwriter Meiko and the sunny tunes of Alexis Babini will meet at Jammin’ Java for a true match made in heaven. Plus, you’ll hear songs off Meiko’s newest album, “The Bright Side,” which features breezy beats and sugary lyrics about first love. Snag general admission tickets for $12, or get the VIP treatment for only $14. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Audrey: Her Life in Film: As part of their weekly summer series, “Audrey: Her Life in Film,” the National Theatre will offer a free screening of the Audrey Hepburn classic, “The Children’s Hour,” Monday night. It’s Audrey and it’s free, so you don’t really have an excuse here. But if you truly can’t make it, don’t panic. The theater will screen a different Hepburn film every Monday until Aug. 25. All screenings begin at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday

Dana Buoy at DC9: Check out Dana Janssen, member of the rock band Akron/Family, as he continues his latest project, “Dana Buoy.” The artist will perform songs from his newest EP, “Preacher,” an album written and performed entirely by Janssen himself that is marked by infectious pop beats and warm synths. Tickets are $10, and doors will open at 8:30 p.m.

Comedy at Vendetta: Have a good laugh at absolutely no cost at Vendetta, a local comedy club where talented stand ups from across the city get a chance to debut before a young and excited crowd. Doors for the 21+ show open at 7:30 p.m., and hilarity ensues promptly at 8 p.m. Feel free to head back any Tuesday night for this ongoing event.

Wednesday

Workout Wednesdays with Crunch Fitness: Score a free workout with Crunch Fitness at Franklin Park through DowntownDC’s “Workout Wednesdays.” The ab shredding will begin at 5:30 p.m., but arrive early in the park (13th and K streets NW) to check in and enjoy sponsor giveaways (A.K.A. more free stuff). Hint: New attendees, be sure to fill out the registration form online before heading over.

Wine & Chocolate at Cocova: Ever heard of a “chocolate happy hour?” You have now. Head to Cocova (1904 18th St. NW) for LUSH Wine & Chocolate Night from 5 to 8 p.m. this Wednesday. For a $10 cover charge, guests will enjoy a themed chocolate tasting – and an easy humpday pick me up. No RSVP necessary.

Thursday

Wildcat! Wildcat! at DC9: Indie pop trio Wildcat! Wildcat! will bring dreamy synth beats and dual vocal anthems to DC9, featuring Marley Carroll as the opening act. The band’s recently released debut album, “No Moon at All,” already has critics buzzing with praise. Get your hands on tickets now to find out why. They are $10 in advance and $12 at the door for the 9 p.m. show.

Free Films at the Heurich House Museum: Audrey Hepburn not your style? For Thursday’s installment of the “City Paper Summer Cinema” series, the Heurich House Museum presents the cult classic “Beetlejuice.” Head out to the museum’s garden with a blanket and some snacks. Sign up for your pass online, but be sure to arrive early for the first-come, first-serve seating. Garden gates will open at 7 p.m.

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Here are some cool things to do this weekend in the nation’s “coolest” city.

Jesse McCartney on tour. Photo by Flickr user JMac 054 / CC-BY-SA 2.0

Jesse McCartney performs on tour. Photo by Flickr user JMac 054 / CC-BY-SA 2.0

Friday

Jesse McCartney at The Fillmore Silver Spring: Did you miss Aaron Carter when he came to the District? Don’t worry, another teen icon is visiting town. Jesse McCartney will perform at the Fillmore Silver Spring for his “In Technicolor Tour.” Hopefully he’ll play those old favorites like “Beautiful Soul.” Tickets are $25.

DJ Pierre at U Street Music Hall: If you’re not looking to go all the way out to Silver Spring, stop by U Street Music Hall for music from dance producer DJ Pierre. Tickets are $10.

Saturday

House of Cards Filming: Yes, you read that correctly. The Netflix show’s crew will film motorcade scenes down Pennsylvania Avenue, Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue, blocking traffic but also giving you the chance to spot some of the action. Filming will take place between noon and 10 p.m., so be on the lookout.

houseofcards

Splash Park at Yards Park: Keep an eye on the weather, but if it doesn’t rain on Saturday (and you’re 21 or older), make your way down to Yards Park for this adult water festival. Complete with water gun fights, lawn games, pools and DJ sets, it’s sure to be a fun time.

Sunday

Twin Peaks at DC9: Check out the old-school indie rock band Twin Peaks at DC9 Sunday night. The band, originally from Chicago, is touring the country in support of its new album “Wild Onion.” Tickets are $10.

Velvet Underground at Velvet Lounge: It might not be Lou Reed’s famous rock band, but this collection of hip-hop performers is still worth seeing. Tickets are $5.

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Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 1:34 p.m.

‘Love locks’ will be short-lived in D.C.

Love locks on a bridge in Prague. Photo by Wikipedia user Nstannik / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Love locks on a bridge in Prague. Photo by Wikipedia user Nstannik / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Sooner or later, European trends make their way across the pond.

It’s no surprise, then, that people have begun to hang their own “love locks” on the District’s Key Bridge.

Couples across the world have placed locks on bridge railings and thrown away the key as a way of expressing their devotion. In Europe, where movies and television shows have helped popularize the practice, bridges have suffered under the weight of the locks.

In a quick effort to avoid any damage to the Key Bridge, the city will send out workers with bolt cutters Thursday to remove the few locks that have popped up along the railing.

It looks like lovebirds in D.C. will just have to find a different way to show their fondness. Maybe a walk around the monuments will suffice?

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D.C. just got a little bit cooler.

It’s still sweltering hot outside, but Forbes magazine has just named D.C. the “coolest city” in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol's Office under the Creative Commons License.

An aerial view of the D.C. landmarks. Public Domain photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol’s Office.

So D.C. is a cooler place to live than San Diego…Boston…even New York? Yes, according to Forbes, that’s exactly right.

Seattle and Austin came in a close second and third, respectively, in the business magazine’s “coolest cites” ranking. Boston came in 9th and New York snagged the No. 11 spot.

And, apparently, the process of determining if a city is truly “cool” is very extensive.

Forbes used six main criteria: entertainment, recreation and trendy food options per capita, racial and ethnic diversity, the percentage of the population between the ages of 20 and 34 and the amount of people moving to the city.

And while D.C. surely has plenty of entertainment options and has a thriving population of young professionals, no one seems to be very impressed with the new title.

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