Hands down, the best meal I have ever had in D.C. (and probably in my life, with the close competition of a leisurely, indulgent lunch with my parents at the Tour D’Argent in Paris — but come on. Paris always wins.) was at Jose Andres’ Minibar in Cafe Atlantico. Minibar is a six-seat restaurant within the larger Cafe Atlantico establishment that features two seatings a night and is notoriously difficult to get into (it took my fiance and I weeks — you have to call every morning at 10 a.m. for a reservation exactly a month out, and you almost never get through). But the wait is well worth it — the food (30 mini-courses featuring playful takes on classics — their “Philly Cheese Steak” is a brioche roll piped with parmesan cream and wrapped in Waygu beef!) is phenomenal and interactive. The chefs prepare each delicious morsel right before your eyes and instruct you in how to best enjoy it. I was thoroughly entertained and engaged for the entirety of the seating. But if you never make it to Minibar (it will set you back a pretty penny…yikes), no fear: Andres has a host of restaurants with more moderate pricing, all of which feature modern twists on Spanish/Mediterranean fare, and all of which are incredible. My fiance and I love the guy’s work so much, we’re having our rehearsal dinner at one of them AND we happen to have attended a festive wine-tasting there last night! Ole!
Jose Andres’ cookbook — buy it at Amazon for $23.10
Inspired by his creativity in the kitchen and last night’s tour of Spanish wines (Verdejo is the new sauv blanc in my book — and I’m a huge sauv blanc enthusiast), this post will be an imaginative trip to Spain, full of flamenco flourishes and salsa sexiness. First: a perfectly festive, ready-to-dance, cha-cha-cha red dress by Valentino ($1,497, The Outnet):
All eyes will decidedly, most definitely be on you in this rojo number. Complete the look with these kicky shoes ($131, Endless):
(Don’t you love how the embroidered accents are reminiscent of the piping on a traditional matador jacket?!)
Of course, some dramatic, shoulder-sweeping danglers are in order. Why not “grab the bull by the horns” with these glam Kenneth Jay Lane earrings ($210, Net-A-Porter)?
And, for pure senorita flair, throw on this be-petaled clutch by Sondra Roberts ($99, Sondra Roberts):
(Psst. Magpie Maven Olivia Palermo was spotted with one of Sondra Roberts’ floral clutches. Makes you want it even more, doesn’t it?) A Sonra Roberts clutch would also pair excellently with this off-the-shoulder Halston Heritage dress — my, Halston is the label of the moment! — on sale for $291, ChickDownTown:
Spruce things up with these Miguel Ases chandelier earrings ($350, Max and Chloe):
and perhaps these Kate Spade Lucia pumps ($275, Nordstrom):
Love how the flower resembles the carnation-behind-the-ear. And if you think you might be cool in the evening breeze, I love this inexpensive little pom pom accented scarf ($7, Old Navy) — why not buy them in a variety of colors for a little pop?
If it’s significantly chilly (a friend and fellow blogger — her blog is exquisitely written! — lives in Argentina and continues to mention how freezing cold it is down there!), a bolero is perfectly appropriate for the occasion. This Oscar de la Renta wonder is lovingly crocheted just for you ($504, The Outnet):
If you go for it, make sure you glam up the rest of your look to avoid the dowdy librarian vibe — it’s a tricky line to walk, but I think it can be done, especially if you keep your dress form-fitting and slightly va-va-voom. D&G’s classic bustier dress (available every season in different iterations) would be an ideal option. I snagged a periwinkle/blue shaded version for the honeymoon — it’s body conscious in all the right ways.
If you’re dressing for a special occasion, you might kick up the dazzle factor with this silk version of the bolero by See by Chloe ($164, The Outnet) — available not only in glossy black but a bombshell champagne/nude:
For something a bit less formal (yet a bit more daring), I like the idea of this “poncho” style dress by Jen’s Pirate Booty — “The Senorita.” I’ve seen a billion and one celebrities photographed in it (everyone from Vanessa Hudgens to Alessandro D’Ambrosio) and it looks positively fetching in a “Oh this? I just pulled this on because I had nothing else to wear but still look fabulous” kind of way. Fetch your own for $115 at Madison L.A.:
I like the idea of wearing it with a loosely wrapped brown belt and some brown leather t-straps during the day, but, if you want to dress it up, simply pair with shoulder-grazing danglers, like these Kendra Scotts ($110, Max and Chloe) and a pair of fun sandals — whether flat (Paloma Barcelo, $180, Net-A-Porter) or high (Lanvin, on sale for $454, MyTheresa):
Because the dress is so busy, keep add-ons to a minimum. Just some simple studs (black or pearl will do — something like this Kate Spade pair — on sale for $29, Nordstrom) and a sleek black clutch ($245, Kate Spade):
And, if you dare, tuck a little rose hair adornment behind the ear. Ban.do has some incredible versions up for grabs (and not all of them are as huge as the editorialized versions below — around $130 apiece, Ban.do):
If you’re still not convinced, just check out Chanel’s uber beautiful ad campaign from spring/summer 2010 for inspiration (I drool):
(Anyone else amused by the fact that the male model featured here, Baptiste Giabiconi, looks startlingly similar to Karl Lagerfeld himself? Hm. And YES, the female model in the bottom shot is the one and only Claudia Schiffer. Hot.)
So throw your hat in the ring and test it out! Viva Espana!