Two New Favorite Spots in Geneva

I love going home to Geneva, Switzerland, partly because I feel like the city is the same as when I left it in 1995. I love going to the same places over and over again, and have written about my favorites both in National Geographic and here.

Yet, as I leave after three days in my childhood home, to go back to my adult home of Washington DC (go Nats!), I was thrilled to discover two amazing new places that I look forward to visiting again and again.

La Comtesse Champagne & Cocktail Bar

My sisters and I had an apéro there last night, with Mom. A 6th generation family business run by the lovely Anaïs Leconte, this elegant yet cozy bar is an expansion of the core business, which is making champagne. Highlight: the champagne cocktail list is the longest I have ever seen. I will need to go back many times to try them all! 

Le Decanteur

Nestled in the Quartier des Eaux-Vives, this modern Italian restaurant and wine bar is my new favorite. Amazing pasta, amazing Italian wine list. Luca Ragnelli, the owner and master chef, has been cooking since the age of 13, studied at the Ecole Hoteliere of Geneva, spent time in Parma, and worked at the Noga Hilton (now Kempinski) before opening his restaurant. My favorite factoid? One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is inspired and named after is aunt Tina.

Taking my own advice

On Saturday, I turn 42. And today, I received perhaps the best birthday gift ever: Sarah Akram herself told me I looked 30. “Good genes and good skin care,” I responded. When I then confessed that I didn’t remember when my last facial was, however, she did remind me that these facial treatments are a necessity to stay youthful-looking and that Botox does not replace the need for facials (Amen, sister. I preach this every day…).

Much like the cobbler’s daughter, while I work in the world of facials and skin care products, I do not take my own advice frequently enough. While the last time I had Botox was in June and the last time I used our Advanced retinol serum was this past Monday evening, I truly cannot recall when the last time I had a facial was.

With my birthday looming, I decided it was time to complement great home care with a really good facial. On the recommendation of a friend of mine who has particularly glowing skin (and I realize now somewhat naively) I called Sarah Akram Skincare to schedule a facial with the eponymous founder for mid-November. While I I thought this was lots of advance notice, I was gently told the next availability was January 30, 2020. “Not meant to be,” I thought, while putting my name on the wait list. Yesterday, the lovely Nyles called me back to let me know of a last-minute cancellation for this morning – so I rearranged my meetings, all the while thinking “totally meant to be, this is my early birthday gift to myself.”

Extravagant, yes. Worth every penny, absolutely. Akram is everything I love in a facial therapist: gorgeous with flawless skin, super knowledgeable about her craft, serious, friendly but not too talkative – and has magical hands. This treatment was 90 minutes of a beautifully balanced combination of technology (LED, microdermabrasion, cryo, something warm I forgot to ask about) and touch (the facial begins and ends with amazing massage). Akram uses products from Environ and Biologique Recherche, two brands I admire yet had never experienced firsthand (I did of course bring her some Alchimie to try).

I left with glowing, bright, plumped, rejuvenated skin (this photo is immediately post treatment, zero makeup) – ready to enjoy my last three days as a 41-year old and looking forward to 42 – and to my next facial at Sarah Akram Skincare, scheduled for February 2020.

Georgetown, How I Love Thee…

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending Carol Joynt’s Q&A Café. She interviewed Nancy Taylor Bubes, during a fabulous lunch at the Georgetown Club. (Read more about the interview here). There is hardly anything more Georgetown than that, and it reminded me how much I love this neighborhood I live in…

The sights

  • The amazing architecture, the row houses, the hidden gardens (and swimming pools), the cobblestones. Every time I walk down the street, I discover something new, beautiful, and captivating.  (Go on the House Tour and Garden Tour to discover some of these secrets…)
  • The Potomac, with its boat houses and rowers.
  • The trees, which change their dress with the seasons, and also look magnificent.

The tastes

  • Thunder: the best burger in Georgetown, and heaven if you like beer. Also, Bernard and Josh are possibly the most entertaining bartenders you will come across…
  • Peacock Café: the best fries in Georgetown, and my personal favorite lunch spot.
  • Bourbon Steak: the best Manhattan (other than the one my husband makes), and fascinating people watching if you want to see (foreign) Government-looking types in suits.

The smells

  • Georgetown Tobacco. Every time I walk by there, I am reminded of when my Dad used to smoke the pipe, and then Blue Gitanes… (shhhh, don’t tell him I told you).  
  • I even love the ginkgo trees around Olive street… stinky in the fall, yet so Georgetown.  

The sounds

  • The birds of Spring. They start chirping at 4:10 am, like an orchestra of happiness for things to come.
  • The sound of tennis balls hitting racquets on the courts of Montrose Park. There is nothing quite so civilized.

The feels

  • The community feel of the neighborhood, where people still say “good morning” and nod and smile to each other when walking down the street.
  • The international feel of the neighborhood, enhanced by the embassies nearby and the international Georgetown students.

Spring Rituals

Today is my first day of Spring. Finally, the sky is blue, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the flowers are blooming. After our Polar Vortex Winter, it feels like life is finally beginning anew.

I wrote earlier this year about the rhythm of the seasons, and once again I was reminded this morning, walking to and from SoulCycle, of how this natural cycle impacts my focus, and my activities.

Here are some of the ways I have begun to celebrate Spring, and how I will continue to.

  • I opened the windows in my house and let in fresh air. Simple, and glorious.
  • I cut 4 inches off my hair and I have never felt lighter. Thank you, Jason Snyder!
  • I cleaned out my closet, thanks to the inspiration of my dear friend Jennifer Mapp Bressan, who is constantly reminding the world that we need less clothing than we think we do.
  • I took a good look at my to-do list and got rid of two items that had been sitting on there since January; one task I (finally) completed, and one task I decided I was never going to complete and just deleted.
  • I switched my evening cream to the lighter Kantic Calming cream from what I use during the winter, our Kantic+ Intensely nourishing cream.
  • I had coffee in my yard, listening to the sounds of Spring, watching the sun rise over Georgetown, watching the world wake up.  
  • I incorporated abs in my exercise regimen, per the inspiration of my friend Anne who does 200 of them five times per week. This should be a year-round ritual (because summer bodies are made in the winter!), but for now, it will start as a Spring / Summer ritual.
  • I went to yoga. I don’t do yoga, but when my friend Kelly DiNardo, owner of Past Tense in DC, invited me. I figured at the very least it would help me get rid of the winter cobwebs in my body.
  • I finalized a new partnership for Alchimie Forever, which will yield its fruit a little bit later this season.
  • I still need to get my first Spring pedicure… I am hoping to make time this weekend to go to Mia Bella, my favorite nail place in New Orleans. 

How do you celebrate the first few days (weeks) of Spring?

Flashback to Warren Buffet – and his great advice

If you have seen me travel, you have seen me with a pile of magazines, going through them methodically, tearing out articles that seem relevant and of interest. Sometimes I read them immediately, sometimes I “save them for later when I have time.”

I brought such a pile of magazine tear-sheets with me to Tinos to read during my two weeks of R&R. And in the middle of them, somehow, I found very old notes (like from 11/14/2002 old!) about a speech I heard Warren Buffet give at the McDonough School of Business. I am not sure how these notes go into this pile, and I am not sure how they survived the last 16 years (!!) but they are timeless and still so very relevant today.

Buffet’s advice:

  • Do work you love and are passionate about.
  • Always follow the front-page test: if you don’t want your words or actions on the front page of the Washington Post, don’t say or do the thing.
  • Think about who your heroes are.
  • Don’t marry for money, especially if you’re already rich!
  • Don’t save sex for old age. (Yes, he did say that!)
  • Your life’s success is measured by who loves and respects you.
  • There is no such thing as “business ethics.” There’s just ethics.
  • Don’t pay attention to the economy. Focus on what is knowable and what is important.
  • Don’t be envious, it only makes you feel bad.
  • Run your business like it’s your only asset and you can’t sell it for 100 years.
  • Don’t be bought.
  • What you are later in life is determined today. Have good mind and body habits.
  • There are a lot of things you can’t control – but you can control the type of person you are.

 

DC, I love you

They say absence makes the heart go fonder. That is certainly true for me… after almost three weeks on the road, with 12 hours here and there in Washington, DC, I got back last night for 4 days straight. This morning, I woke up and my first thoughts were of the many reasons why I love the District (and Georgetown) so much.

  1. The monuments. Even with all of the scaffolding around it, the Washington Monument is jewel-like, in particular when it is all lit up at night. The list is long, I won’t mention them all…
  2. The cab drivers. In what other city is NPR the radio of choice for cab drivers, and where else can you have such insightful political conversations with them? I learn something every time I speak with one.
  3. The trees. The entire city is filled with trees… and today, they are the color of gold, copper, bronze.
  4. The security. There is something special about seeing the Secret Service or just some big security guys with earpieces outside the restaurant I am about to walk in to.
  5. The conversations people have. Invariably, they are educated, intelligent, hushed, and intense. And the conversations I randomly strike up with someone sitting next to me at a bar (see below for my favorites). Similarly educated, interesting, and enlightening.
  6. The running trails. Miles and miles of amazing running. The bridge loop. The C&O Canal. Embassy Row. The National Mall. The running trails, and the friendly (and numerous) runners.
  7. Town Hall. Ex-pat Louisianans come here for Saints games. New England Patriots haters are not welcome. The food is delicious. And their specialty cocktail, the Town Hall, is perfect to celebrate a touchdown or drown your sorrows following an interception.
  8. The Rye Bar, and its barrel-aged Manhattan made with Pennsylvania-based Dad’s Hat rye whiskey, Dolin sweet vermouth, and Byrrh quinquina. The restaurant at the Capella is just as amazing, topped only by the truly amazing service.
  9. Black Salt. I spend much time in Louisiana, where the seafood, the oysters, the shellfish is amazing. Yet (and even my Louisiana-born and bred husband agrees), Black Salt remains my favorite for seafood. And then, there is the fish market…
  10. Thunder Burger. Amazing beer selection, burgers worth dying for, and Josh the deadpan bartender, make this place a must.
  11. Peacock Café. When I need a French Kiss, or to feel like everyone knows my name, Peacock it is. And their fries are the best I have had in DC.
  12. Stachowski’s. As a European, it thrills me that the American city I live in still knows what it means to be a butcher, and to buy meat somewhere other than at the grocery store.
  13. And last, but not least, my amazing girlfriends who live here; you are my heroes, my sisters, my support network. You know who you are. Thank you.

DC, I love you.