Father’s Day At The Grill Room

Father’s Day is celebrated differently across the world.  In America, a woman named Sonora Louise Smart of Arkansas inspired the national observance of Father’s Day.  The story goes that Sonora lost her mom when she was a teenager and she helped her father, a farmer by the name of William Jackson Smart raise all her younger brothers.  Her family eventually moved to Spokane, Washington and after witnessing all the things that her Dad did for her and her siblings, Sonora decided to approach a local Church organization and ask them to help her recognize the fathers in their community.  June 19, 1910 was the first official Father’s Day celebration. (Read more here).

Yesterday, Capella Washington, D.C. hosted the first ever Father’s Day celebration at The Grill Room.  One guest I had the pleasure of speaking with was John Oliver Smith of Lima, Ohio.  He is the father and stepfather to eight children – seven boys and one girl.  As I sat with John on the outdoor terrace, enjoying a delicious Chesapeake Egg Benedict, I was reminded of how history repeats itself in many surprising ways.  John represents all the father figures, who are patriarchs that give so much of themselves to make others happy.  It was a pleasure to sit down with him and get to know his family and honor and appreciate the love our father’s bring to each and every family across the world.

The Grill Room

During our breakfast, John spoke happily to me about how the outdoor seating on the C&O canal felt very European, much like sitting along an Italian canal, or sipping coffee at a Paris café.  “The whole ambiance had a city vibe but was tucked away in such a quiet and luxurious location, with unbelievable architecture,” says John.  I couldn’t agree more and was so delighted that he was able to relax and enjoy this special day in such a peaceful and gorgeous setting.

If you were not able to be here to celebrate this past weekend, there are plenty of other opportunities.  I highly suggest looking into the Fourth of July special, with rooftop views of the firework show at the National Mall!  To see a description of this package and specials for this year, click here.

Singapore’s National Day

Just around the corner is Singapore’s National Day!  Recognizing the day we gained independence, the holiday falls on the 9th of August and is day unity throughout our island nation.  This year we will be celebrating Singapore’s 47th Birthday.

People display their national pride with songs, flags and private celebrations.  But it is the much-anticipated National Day Parade that gets the most attention.

Floats are adorned with Singapore’s most beloved icons.  Military and civilian contingents march in unison and with passion.  There are even exhilarating air displays by fighter jets, as well as a fireworks spectacle.  The multi-ethnic performances, which incorporates traditional instruments and dance, reflects the harmonious mix of cultures that make Singapore unique.

This National Day, my family and I will be spending time at home enjoying local multi-cultural delicacies for lunch such as chicken rice, Satay (Malay barbeque meat skewers), chicken curry and a variety of Nyonya Kueh (Local desserts and cakes).  After that at about 6 pm, my family, along with the rest of Singapore, will tune in and watch the National Day Parade live on television. I am so excited!

The staff at Capella Singapore originate from various countries throughout the world, including France, Germany, Sweden, Holland, China, Philippines, Myanmar and India (just to name a few).  I love hearing about their excitement and anticipation of Singapore’s National Day festivities (some even plan to attend the parade live!).  It is this coming together that really captures the spirit of Singapore and its diverse inhabitants.


Tamales On Candlemas Day

Through my writings in the past you may have learned that Mexico is full of religious festivities and family celebrations.  Here, in fact, Christmas celebrations are not over yet; they conclude on February 2nd, when we celebrate another important holiday: Candlemas day.

Candlemas falls forty days after Jesus’s birth, and is celebrated by Catholics as the the “Feast of Purification” or as the “Presentation of Christ at the Temple.”  In Mexico we celebrate this day by going to the church and then gathering with family and friends.

Tamales are a traditional Pre-Columbian Mexican dish.  In Mexico we have over 200 different varieties of tamales.  Back in the day they were cooked with sweet chile, tomato and seeds, mixed with beef, turkey, pheasant and quails.  Today some are sweetened with molasses, others spiced with mole.  Some are plain, others filled with meats or vegetables.

In its essence, tamales consist of masa (a type of starchy corn dough) that has been wrapped in leaves, then steamed or boiled.  Some come bundled in cornhusks, others in plantain or banana leaves.  My favorites are tamales with huitlacoche (corn smut), with chicken in a green sauce, corn tamales, and tamales with potatoes.

Tamales require hours of preparations.  My family would gather for ‘tamaladas,’ and everyone contributed to the cooking process.  All that teamwork helps explain why tamales are a synonymous of family, love and holidays.

I wish you a wonderful Candlemas day.  Enjoy your tamales!  And please don’t forget to tell me which are your favorites!

Tamales Del Día De La Candelaria

A través de mis artículos pasados han visto que México tiene muchas fiestas y celebraciones familiares. Aquí, de hecho, las celebraciones navideñas no han terminado; concluyen el 2 de febrero, cuando celebramos otra fiesta importante: el día de la Candelaria.

La Candelaria se celebra 40 días después del nacimiento de Jesucristo, y es recordado por los Católicos como la “Fiesta de la Purificación” o como la “Presentación de Cristo en el Templo”. En México celebramos este día asistiendo a misa y después reuniéndonos con la familia y amigos.

Los Tamales son un platillo precolombino tradicional en México. Hay 200 tipos de tamales. Anteriormente eran cocinados con pimiento, tomates y semillas, mezclados con carne de res, pavo, faisán y codornices. Al día de hoy algunos son endulzados con saborizantes y algunos condimentados con mole. Algunos solos y otros rellenos con carne o vegetales.

En esencia, los tamales consisten de masa de maíz envuelta y posteriormente hervida al vapor. Algunos se hacen envueltos en hojas de maíz y otros en hojas de plátano. Mis favoritos son los tamales de huitlacoche (hongo del maíz), los de pollo en salsa verde, y los tamales con papa.

Los tamales requieren de horas de preparación. Mi familia se reúne en “tamaladas” y todos contribuyen en el proceso de cocinarlos. Todo ese trabajo en equipo explica por que los tamales son sinónimo de familia, amor y fiesta.

Les deseo un maravilloso día de La Candelaria. Que disfruten sus tamales, y no olviden decirnos cuáles son sus favoritos!


Beloved Christmastime

The holiday season is upon us! This is my absolute favorite time of year.  I love to spend time with friends and family, enjoying all the season has to offer.  Food of course is central, including almond cookies, Christmas biscuits, gingerbread, seasonal chocolates, mulled wine and the list goes on and on.  But, what makes this time of year extra special are the traditional Christmas markets.

During the holiday season the streets of Düsseldorf are transformed into winter wonderlands.  Stalls are set up where vendors sell holiday treats, handcrafted gifts and traditional holiday decorations.  There is nothing more wonderful than spending an evening strolling through the festively illuminated markets with a mug of mulled wine in hand.  In my opinion the best Christmas market is located in the market place and is not to be missed!

This year, the markets are open from November 17 through December 23.  Tours are scheduled that lead participants through the festively decorated streets of Old Town, complete with storytelling, holiday poetry and other themed surprises.


(Auf Deutsch)

Geliebte Vorweihnachtszeit

Die Vorweihnachtszeit hat begonnen! Meine favorisierte Jahreszeit. Ich liebe es, diese Zeit  mit Freunden und der Familie zu verbringen. Dabei spielen natürlich die saisonalen Leckereien wie Printen, Lebkuchen, Spekulatius, Weihnachtsschokolade oder Glühwein (die Liste ist endlos) eine ganz besonders große Rolle. Aber was diese Zeit so besonders macht, sind die traditionellen Weihnachtsmärkte.

Während der Vorweihnachtszeit verwandeln sich die Düsseldorfer Straßen in ein Winterwunderland. An den Ständen verkaufen die Händler weihnachtliches Naschwerk, handgefertigte Geschenke sowie traditionelle Weihnachtsdekorationen. Es gibt nichts Schöneres als abends über die festlich beleuchteten Märkte, mit einem Becher Glühwein in der Hand, zu schlendern und sich die Stände anzuschauen. Meiner Meinung nach sollten Sie den Düsseldorfer Weihnachtsmarkt am Marktplatz auf keinen Fall verpassen!

Dieses Jahr sind die Märkte vom 17. November bis 23. Dezember geöffnet. Organisierte Stadtbummel durch die festlich geschmückte Altstadt begleitet von weihnachtlichen Geschichten, Gedichten und weiteren Überraschungen verwandeln die Stadtführung in ein weihnachtliches Erlebnis.

 (In English)