Sunday, March 29, 2009


In the four years I've lived in the District, the only events that have matched the blooming of the sakura trees as a metropolitan obsession are the birth of Tai Shan and certain episodes of ObamaMania. Maybe it's the onset of warmer weather (though this weekend begs to differ), the renewed promises of Spring, loveliness and peace that natural beauty can inject into our hurried lives.

Our local restaurants, of course, take note of this and make sure that we feast with our mouths as well as with our eyes.

Chef Peter Shaffrath at the Hay Adams Hotel, across from the White House (where the Japanese Magnolias are currently blooming) has put together a five-course degustation menu of classic Japanese dishes ($60 per person, $90 with wine pairings) including miso soup, mushroom salad, short ribs, and a green tea sorbet.

The folks at Buzz, in Alexandria, are featuring Cherry Blossom cupcakes. They sell out every day, so get there early.

In Japan, Sakura viewing often involves sake or plum wine as a means to complement the experience. The National Park Service won't let you get away with it, but you can saunter over to the Kimpton Restaurants for some great cocktails:

- Firefly, in Dupont Circle, is featuring the "Sakura", made with cherry vodka, elderflower liquor, fresh grapefruit and white wine ($12.50). and The “Cherry Bomb,” made with cherry brandy and sparkling wine is also available for $9. The bar will also serve Hanami Ale for $6, a seasonal beer from Smuttynose Brewery made with natural cherry juice.

- Poste, in Penn Quarter, will be serving the Cerise en Fleur which is made with Skyy Infusions Cherry Vodka, shochu, St. Louis Kriek Lambic, aloe vera juice, and fresh lemon (available for $11). In the dining room, Chef Rob Weland, to my utter delight, will be serving cherry macaroons along with his petit fours.

- Urbana, in Dupont Circle, will be featuring a Cherry Sour ($11), which is made with vanilla infused Basil Hayden bourbon, sour cherry purée, sour cherry juice, sours mix and a cherry cotton candy garnish, crafted in the restaurant kitchen.

- Domaso, in Rosslyn, will take advantage of its view and serve "Bubbly Blossom" on the terrace. The drink, available for $11, is a mix of Prosecco and Campari.

- Jackson 20 in Alexandria will be serving Bloom ($11), made with Maker's Mark, elderflower liqueur, Heering cherry liqueurs, fresh squeezed lemon juice and guava nectar, muddled ginger and grenadine sink. The kitchen will also offer a 3-course cherry blossom inspired menu for $50. The menu will feature cherry elements throughout including pan-seared scallops with almond and cherry chutney and butter pan sauce.

- The Grille at Morrison House also in Alexandria, will offer an appetizer of cherry wood and tea smoked duck breast with frisée and cherry blossom salad in a cherry vinaigrette ($16).

Any more Cherry-Blossom honoring eats or drinks? Send us an e-mail of post it in the comments section.

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