- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

The Christmas season is in full poinsettia bloom, the Georgetown trees are alight, and the city’s restaurants are gearing up for holiday specials.

Visitors to Georgetown can enjoy the Festival of Trees displayed in about 50 retail establishments until Christmas Eve, with maps for self-guided tours to view the trees available at the Georgetown Visitors Center, 3242 M St. NW. Each retailer will donate a present for the silent auction to benefit the Children’s Hospital for work in cancer and blood disorders.

Another Christmas benefit will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Citronelle (3000 M St. NW) when Michel Richard and his staff host Sweet Hope, a Dessert for Toys Reception, to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. The event will feature the chef’s desserts and holiday music by the Georgetown Visitation Madrigals. Guests are requested to bring a child’s toy or game. Monetary donations will also be accepted at the door, with proceeds going directly to St. Jude. No reservations are needed; just come and bring a toy.

Poste Moderne Brasserie (555 Eighth St. NW) is hosting its first Gingerbread House Making Contest. Participants of all ages are encouraged to use their creativity in designing any type of pastry residence no larger than 16 inches tall by 16 inches wide by 16 inches long. The masterpieces must be dropped off at Poste between 8 and 10 a.m. or 4 and 6 p.m. Friday to Tuesday.

The houses will be on display next door in the lobby of Hotel Monaco from Tuesday until Christmas Eve. Visitors and guests of Poste and Hotel Monaco will be the judges. Prize winners will be announced Dec. 27. The gingerbread houses will be donated to the annual Miracle on Seventh Street event at the District Chop House (509 Seventh St. NW), when the restaurant hosts a Christmas Day dinner for about 700 local underprivileged children and their families. The gingerbread houses will be offered to the children to take home.

Youngsters can celebrate the holiday season this year with a children’s holiday baking class with DC Coast (1401 K S. NW) pastry chef David Guas from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The cost of the class is $50 per child and parent. For reservations, send an e-mail to Amy Allworth at amy.allworth@dccoast.com.

Chef Kaz Okochi of Kaz Sushi Bistro (1915 I St. NW) suggests giving friends a cooking class. Mr. Okochi arranges classes on Saturdays from noon to 2:30 p.m. A minimum of 10 persons is required for the classes, in which the chef teaches how to make sushi and sashimi and other traditional dishes. The cost is $65 per person, all inclusive.

Mr. Okochi also will help clients design a holiday menu for a seated dinner or buffet at home — $80 per person, excluding beverage — for 12 to 14 persons. For information on cooking classes and private catering, contact Kaz Sushi Bistro at 202/530-5500.

The final cooking sessions of the year at Ristorante Tosca (1112 F St. NW) will be held the next two Saturdays, when chef-owner Cesare Lanfranconi will teach classes in pastry making and traditional Italian Christmas cooking. The 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. classes cost $85 per person. To sign up, contact the restaurant, 202/367-1990.

To celebrate the Washington Ballet’s new production of “The Nutcracker,” the Willard Room in the Willard InterContinental Hotel (Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street NW) is offering special Willard “Nutcracker” suppers from 4:30 to 6 p.m. for those attending matinee or evening performances at the Warner Theatre. The suppers, $45 per adult and $28 for children, are available Saturday and Dec. 16, 17, 21, 22 and 23. Each child will receive a “Nutcracker” keepsake.

The lobby of the hotel will feature free music programs during the holiday season, and Round Robin barman Jim Hewes has created four new drinks for the season: sugar-plum toddy, winter therapy, snow queen and Round Robin hot noggin.

Festive cocktails are offered until Jan. 2 at Helix Lounge (1430 Rhode Island Ave. NW), Bar Rouge (1315 16th St. NW) and Topaz Bar (1733 N St. NW), featuring such drinks as Grandma’s apple pie cocktail, Santa’s little helper and silver bells.

Chef Ris Lacoste of the 1789 restaurant (1226 36th St. NW) is planning special Christmas Eve (4 to 10 p.m.) and New Year’s Eve (5 to 11 p.m.) dinners incorporating her signature dishes of rack of lamb, oyster and champagne stew, and Nantucket Bay scallops. (For reservations, call 202/965-1789.) Beginning Friday, the restaurant will be festively dressed with seasonal greenery, holiday flowers, antique toys and glowing candles. From Monday to Christmas Eve, the Washington Men’s Camerata and other carolers will entertain patrons.

Small Nanny Bay scallops from Nantucket Bay — gratineed with porcini mousse over a thin potato galette — also are a feature during their short November-December season at Restaurant Kolumbia (1801 K St. NW).

The Ritz-Carlton at Pentagon City (1250 Hayes St., Arlington ) will feature American caviars and a selection of vodkas and champagnes by the glass in its Lobby Lounge and Grill this month.

New Year’s Eve feasting and dancing will take place at Cafe Milano (3251 Prospect St. NW) at the restaurant’s “A Night in the Streets of Milan,” with a four-course tasting menu, a magician, Cher and Tina Turner impersonators, and party favors. There is no minimum for diners from 6 to 7:30 p.m., but thereafter, minimums are $250, $200 or $150 per person, depending on seating. For reservations, call 202/965-8990, Ext. 139.

Olives (1600 K St. NW) will feature an unlimited Tuscan-cuisine buffet New Year’s Eve from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The evening includes dancing, party favors, surprise gifts and an open bar. The all-inclusive price is $150 per person, $280 per couple. For reservations, contact Robert Hall at 202/452-1866.

Just in time for New Year’s celebrations, IndeBleu (707 G St. NW) 202/333-2538, will open in the Penn Quarter area Dec. 20.

The restaurant will feature a spacious lounge with a sunken cocktail den and a second-floor dining room specializing in French-Indian cuisine under the guidance of chef Vikram Garg.

Happy New Year to all.

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