May 21, 2013 by Ariana Guy
Following accounts of State Department Operations Center and State Department Panel provided by guest bloggers Melanie Gilbert and Ben Kenzer, respectively.
May 14, 2013
We visited the Department of State the same day we went to Health and Human Services; but I didn’t write about them in the same blog because I have absolutely no concept of space and time. Just kidding! Actually, the following information had to be approved by State Department officials, which took a while; but makes this blog even cooler, in my opinion. Prepare yourselves for a state-approved, internationally-accepted piece of writing … if you can.
At the State Department, we had the incredible opportunity to learn first-hand about how the Operations Center of the Department of State functions thanks to Alexis Sullivan ‘04 and James Jay. A 2011 video made for the Operation Center’s 50th anniversary showed us footage of how employees handle calls on a daily basis, which could be from US citizens, foreign leaders, U2’s Bono, or the Secretary of State himself. When a crisis hits, this 24/7 team is there to gather and disperse information to the necessary people as quickly as possible. This team is pulled from the best and brightest in the Department and its members are from a variety of backgrounds. After this site visit, it was obvious that working for the Operations Center is definitely challenging, but important because this unit is crucial to the State Department and allows the United States to enact necessary national security policies. Alexis even shared that she was in the “quarterback” seat of running the Ops Center when several important events have occurred.
After learning about the Operations Center, we experienced a wonderful presentation from a State Department panel organized by the Chief of Staff of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Sarah King with Adnan Kifayat, Deputy Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Heather Lanigan, Office of Middle East Transitions, and Jason Starr ’06, Iran Officer in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Around the Secretary of State’s conference table, the panel discussed the impressive cultural exchange programs organized through the Department of State that include nearly 100,000 participants each year, as well as the important global connections the US fosters via public diplomacy. We at the W&M DCSI were particularly interested in State Department policies on the “frontier” of public diplomacy—programs that seek to engage with the public in nations such as Iran and Venezuela. The panel was candid, enlightening, and extremely insightful towards the W&M DCSI’s goal to elucidate the complex inner workings of US security policy.
I’ve wanted to work at the State Department since I graduated high school. Unfortunately, the competition is proving a bit too competitive and I have yet to be an intern there. However, visiting the site actually made me feel better, as I felt as though I have something to aspire to. Maybe one day I’ll be running around the Operations Center, struggling to give assistance to a distressed diplomat – or maybe I’ll be meeting with fellow State Department officials, procuring some kind of plan to reduce the Iranian threat. Even if I never end up at State, I can at least say I’ve been behind-the-scenes and greatly respect the work that this institution does. It’s extremely important that we emphasize culture, language, and history when dealing with others – and I can say for sure that the Department of State incorporates all three factors (and more) in the context of their foreign relations. All the better for us!
May 21, 2013 by Ariana Guy
Following Account of HHS visit provided by guest blogger: Darice Xue
May 14, 2013
The second day of the Institute was geared toward a discussion of how epidemics affect national security concerns. We visited the Department of Health and Human Services’ Operations Center, where there were employees from various departments (including the CIA and the Department of Defense), contributing to the efforts of tracking disease and ensuring the well-being of American citizens. The room was equipped with countless computers and a wall made up entirely of television screens (think of a highly-sophisticated version of Hollywood Squares). An emergency briefing cut our visit a bit short – but I have to admit, it was cool to be in the midst of the fray.
We really got to see the Operations Center at work; I was impressed by the amount of precision exhibited by the Health and Human Services’ team: every news station was featured on the myriad of screens – and I could see that employees were covering multiple countries, making sure no health concern went unnoticed. Basically, this team makes it extremely difficult for the U.S. to be surprised or unprepared for most anything. From our discussion, we were able to explore the roles of both civilian and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps analysts working within the department and see how HHS coordinated information between departments to send in fast and efficient responses to global health crises.
Washington D.C. is not all about epidemics, however – it’s about the contacts! In the midst of our travels between site visits, we experienced classic D.C. in that you’re likely to have chance run-ins with people who are from your past and doing great things, today. For example, as we were walking to HHS, we had the great fortune to bump into a friend of Professor Floyd: Jamie (Bay) Nishi ’04, now with Devex. On the spot, she briefed the class about her current job and offered to serve as a resource for us in the future. William & Mary friends are everywhere! And luckily for us students, those friends double as valuable contacts.
May 17, 2013 by Ariana Guy
Following account of Ghost Army viewing provided by guest blogger Kelsey Sakumoto.
As the sun rose over our nation’s capital, the William & Mary National Security Fellows were preparing for the first day of the institute. We dodged government employees and tourists, braved the blue line to Farragut West, and rushed through crosswalks to arrive, promptly, at the William & Mary Washington office – where sandwiches, pasta salad, chips, drinks, and an assortment of desserts waited for us. After taking full advantage of the free food, we proceeded to learn all the specifics about being part of the William & Mary D.C. Summer Institute program.
After reviewing safety, networking techniques and academics, we proceeded to break off into our corresponding programs and start class. Professor Floyd wasted no time in starting our discussion regarding national security. We went over the readings due for that day, which questioned the definition and norms of national security, setting us up for future discussion regarding the different aspects of national security. The class was fast-paced and dense with information, as we deliberated current events in addition to our previous knowledge of governmental operations and foreign affairs.
We then traveled to a private screening of The Ghost Army, a PBS documentary that detailed the incredible story of deception and bravery that helped the Allies trick Hitler’s army. Nineteen veterans recounted how the Ghost Army used inflatable rubber tanks, pre-recorded sounds and fake radio dispatches to mimic troop movements. Their disguise was so masterful that the unit completed 20 battlefield deceptions without being discovered by the Germans.
Afterwards, our group met with Ghost Army veteran Jack Masey, self-described “liar and deceiver,” and director of the film, Rick Beyer. Roy Eichhorn, a former Director of Research with the US Army Combined Arms Center, who helped declassify and publish the story, also attended the Q&A session. The talk ranged from anecdotes to the larger discussion of deception as strategy. Eichhorn noted that even with new technology, deception remains a key military tactic, a testament to the power of individual creativity.
The day was chock-full of information and interesting perspectives—a theme sure to continue throughout the summer. The challenging, authoritative presence of Washington, D.C. inspired feelings of intimidation, but also those of excitement as I began to imagine myself outside the context of school and in a city that demands confidence and limitless resolve. As we made our way back to the Buchanan apartments, I pondered how we all may transform in some way this summer: whether it is in regard to self-assuredness, independence, or just knowing the city better. We are definitely growing up, and I am so glad that Washington, D.C. – a city that attracts the best of the best – will be part of that experience.
May 16, 2013 by Ariana Guy
Hello! My name is Ariana Guy and I am a rising senior at the College of William & Mary, majoring in Government with a minor in French Studies. I am the blogger for the William & Mary D.C. Summer Institute for National Security because I enjoy writing and am incredibly excited to document everything this program has planned for us students.
A mere four days after leaving the hallowed grounds of William & Mary, I set off to Washington D.C. for the National Security Summer Institute. Yes, I was still tired and slightly muddled – thanks to two intense weeks of finals; however, once the Washington Monument came into view from my car window, I smiled in delight as I came to realize that this summer would be filled with unforgettable sights, people, and experiences. After moving into my luxurious Buchanan apartment – complete with five friendly roommates – my parents and I set off to explore the Crystal City area. I was most excited to see a Chick-fil-A no more than one street over from the apartment building, along with a Coldstone Creamery, Corner Bakery and a Starbucks (of course). There were a myriad of other restaurants and attractions; but this is a blog, not a travel guide – thus, I shall act accordingly.
Looking at the syllabus for the first day of the National Security Institute, I saw that we were going to spend a large amount of time getting introduced to the program and start our course on national security – taught by the very knowledgeable and D.C.-savvy, Professor Kay Floyd. After our academic discussion, I then read that we would be meeting the directors and engaging in a private viewing of the film, Ghost Army. I could see that it was going to be a full day, so I went to bed at a reasonable hour, eager to find out what the next day would bring.
Upcoming blogs will showcase different students each time, giving every National Security Fellow the opportunity to describe a specific event or speaker. I will be adding the names of these contributors at the end of each blog.
May 8, 2013 by Kaitlin Noe
I’ve already dedicated quite a few lines to complaining about the size of legal airplane luggage. I think it can be pretty universally agreed that it is not anywhere near sufficient for transporting a semester’s worth of supplies to a European country. What I didn’t consider, however, is how I would transport all the experiences and accumulated debris of a semester in Europe back stateside. As the countdown to departure reaches an anxiety-inducing 4 days, I face the final question: how to condense it all into one standardized checked luggage bag? All the days trudging through biting wind as rain seeps in through the growing holes in my black flats, my hood pulled low as I seek cover inside the nearest boulangerie… Or the nights when I turn the corner past the arab au point, between the curving marble buildings and spiraling black bannisters, find a spot to lean against the cold stone and watch the Eiffel Tower glitter as I wait for my friend to let me in…The Wednesday lunches when the Iéna marché is open and I walk through several blocks of friendly merchants calling out to me to not be shy, to come look at their fresh cheese, meats, crepes, clothing or African art, and I smile and walk to my favorite kebab stand to order a chicken kebab for 2,75. …The smell of the boulanger’s full roast chicken in the morning on my walk to work, the warmth of a Nutella crepe in my hand as I hike up the curling paths of Montmartre to Sacre Coeur, the feeling of arriving at the metro platform to a blinking ’00′ and a train pulling up just in time to meet me…These things don’t fit into airline regulated suitcases. So, I present to you, the seven places in Paris I want to pack with me for the flight home.
1. The Grand Mosque of Paris.
I may have fallen in love. Despite the fact that the men who work here are sometimes even slower than Parisians (a feat), the exotic architecture is outstandingly beautiful. Parts of the mosque itself are available to tour, yet somehow I always seem to be drawn to the courtyard tea room and restaurant that are attached… Killer couscous served by the pot, mint tea (I’ve always said Middle Eastern restaurants have the best tea around), and for dessert, an entire platter of fantastic assorted pastries. Having not the slightest clue what each one is, we have developed a simple rule to select the perfect pastry: the less appetizing it looks, the better it tastes. Counter intuitive, and hasn’t failed us yet.
2. The Lapin Agile
What felt like one of the most typical perfect French nights. A little pink building tucked into the side of the hill in Montmartre, Lapin Agile is one of the original Parisian cabarets. The kind of place that all the little artists would go during the heyday of Montmartre’s artsy youth. It has an original Picasso hanging casually on one of its walls and a livre d’or chock full of artist sketchings and signatures confirming its importance to the creative elites. They still do shows – a quirky blend of musical and theatrical – put on by boisterous and animated actor/singers. Sitting there, listening to them sing out the old classic “Aux Champs Elysées”, tucked into their dimly lit cave of a performance room and sipping on their house cherry wine, I was immediately under their spell. We stayed until the show closed down at 2 am and wandered our way to the metro singing “rockin’ at the Lapin Agile”. Perfect night. Life goal is to be best friends with all of the performers one day.
3. Butte Chaumont
This place is not French. It’s not Parisian. To enter this park is to leave the neatly ordered rows of flowers and perfectly cut grass of french gardens and enter the jungle. A jungle filled with young children hopping around rocks lapping up ice cream cones, hundreds of “bobo” french lounging across the steep hills like a festival, and hidden caves dripping stalactites. And an odd monk-temple-looking thing. I dedicated (along with what seemed like all of the youth of Paris) the entire duration of the first warm day in Paris to claiming my patch of grass there and gorging on sun-warmed baguettes and Camembert with strawberries. Careful, though, or a twenty foot black hole crevasse will swallow one of your flats and you will have to do a 40 minute metro commute home with only one shoe…
Perhaps one of the best things about Butte Chaumont is that when you finally climb your way up to the Monk-temple-place, and clamber out onto the jagged rock-cliffs, you have a view of the city that looks like this:
4. Bar Dix
The only sign on the outside of this bar is the number ten written in what looks like white chalk on the black painted exterior. There is only one thing on the menu—pitchers of sangria, medium or large. They only take cash, exact change preferred, and when your sangria pitcher drips a sticky mess on the table, a plump little old man who insists on wearing tiny black round sunglasses even indoors comes around with a ratty sponge to wipe it down. The whole bar is decorated with a kind of art nouveau theme, dark and romantic and so hidden-feeling. It’s actually fairly well-known but the bare front, the straightforward attitude, and the funky interior make you feel like you’ve found a secret gem.
5. The Seine at Night
Magical. Addicting. Breathtaking.
6. The mysterious Thai place near my classes, the boulangerie down the street, La Durée, and Omnibus Café
…I really like food. I also realize I am probably cheating by putting all four of these places under number 6. Oops.
7. The Lord of the Rings Tower
This tower, as my friend Christina recently informed me, is the most useless monument to transport anywhere. It also has absolutely no relation to either the Lord of the Rings books or movies. But my very first week abroad, lost and bumbling around the streets of Paris, I stumbled upon this tower and without thinking exclaimed, “That looks just like the tower from Lord of the Rings!” (I am very cool). I must have developed a strange attachment to the tower in that moment, because ever since it has been a landmark to find my way, a site to meet up with friends, and a strange anecdote to share with my friends visiting from other cities. So admittedly it is probably completely useless, but it makes my list.
Good ol’ states, here I come! Trading baguettes and fromage for a good burger and some Mexican food…Hope Air France can handle this luggage.
April 29, 2013 by Sarah Nicholas
This week, I sat in on and conducted interviews for the first time. One common trend: dead silences. I was shocked at the number of people who ran out of things to say, or the people who seemingly had no personalities, or the people who wanted the job so badly they embarrassed themselves. It’s okay to be excited about getting a job, and it’s okay to show that excitement in the interview.
I honestly think that people stress too much before interviews. I have friends who have studied for hours, done copious amounts of research, or bought a new suit. They put so much energy and focus into the company they want to work for and “saying the right things” that they forget about themselves. You are the one with the interview. The company genuinely wants to hire you, if for no other reason than being able to stop the hiring process (trust me, it’s a tedious and frustrating process).
The whole point of an interview is to successfully market yourself to an organization, from a business to a school or even a social club. Certainly, you want to make a point of what you can contribute and how hard you will work and how dedicated you are, but you also want to be a real person. I would never want to hire a machine; if I wanted one, I would buy another computer. Managers look for team players, people capable of getting along with each other without stirring the waters. 40 hours a week is a long time, so it’s best to be amicable and happy.
There was more than a handful of irrelevant questions – just because you “ask a question” doesn’t mean you’re getting the job. Certainly, you should always have questions prepared. Correction. You should always have relevant questions prepared. Asking about money, hours, or logistical issues should not count as your questions. Asking about your interviewer’s background is always a good start, or ask for suggestions on “what you can do to improve”. Be prepared to elaborate on your past experiences; that’s expected. Be capable of relating your resume to the position you are applying for, establish yourself as a real person and not just a piece of paper.
And please, please I beg of you, please, have a personality. Do not retreat into your shell. Do not sit in silence. Act like you want the job, even if you don’t. Smile. Make them laugh. Tell them something interesting about yourself. Have a conversation in a foreign language. Dress appropriately – you don’t have to wear black and grey in every office setting. Make it personal.
April 29, 2013 by Andrew Schwieder
At William & Mary you have choices in how you want to use your meal swipes (Sadler, the Cafe, or Market Place?) and your Dining Dollars (OK, so pretty much just Domino’s). At St Andrews the system is a little bit different, the dining halls are within residence halls (at least you get to know your hall mates!) and your portions are, ahem, moderate if you rely upon just the hot dish. During lunch and dinner, you have a choice between three hot main dishes, two meats and one vegetarian, and these portions are fixed. However, there are also four hot vegetable/grain sides available and if you love potatoes then you are in luck because you get them at every single meal. In addition, there is a salad/pasta bar, vegetable soup, fruit, juice, and, most importantly, a coffee machine. Just like anywhere else, at StAs there are the good days (korma chicken, Irish stew, or beef stroganoff) and the bad days (lamb tangine, pork belly, or ‘hamburgers’). Also, a small aside about haggis, it’s often served with something like chicken and I wasn’t a believer until I tried it for the first time last week, but now I would highly recommend it.
Of course it’s also possible to go into town to get food and if you know where and when you can do it affordably. For instance, on Sundays there are often specials for students because businesses know that dining halls don’t serve Saturday or Sunday dinner (e.g. Bella Italia half price entrees on Sunday). And then there are the supermarkets, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, both carry basically your bare essentials and how much you spend is directly proportional to what you are willing to put your body through. 12p Ramen? 60p shepherd’s pie? £1 20 pc. ‘Chicken nuggets’? All are available for us broke uni students, that is if you can deal with the pitiful look that you will get from the store clerk when they are ringing you up. And then again, if you’re in a rush, there’s the meal deal, £3 for a sandwich, crisps and a drink, ideal for a lunch between classes or if you’ll be at sports practice all day.
Another important aspect of StAs’ cuisine is the late night eateries or more commonly known as “drunk food.” Every student who has ever gone out here has a preference, and there will be frequent discussions on why so-and-so goes to Empire, Dervish, Courtyard Pizza (the best one), or Rendezvous. For most, Dervish takes top spot and, indeed, almost every weekend night you will be hard pressed to get your chicken burger in under 20 minutes. On a brief personal note, for me, I would recommend going anywhere BUT Dervish mainly because of my experience there on Halloween. I got into a little bit of a tiff with the proprietor because he refused to serve me the pizza I had paid for (the receipt was in my hand). It’s true I was a little inebriated and dressed as a banana but still I WANTED that darn pizza. But again, no matter what your favorite, your nights at StAs will almost always end at one of those four eateries because what’s better than cheap food after a night out?
April 15, 2013 by Andrew Schwieder
One of the activities that I picked up at William & Mary was rowing and I loved it. Coming to St Andrews there is a bit of a difference. We have to row in Perth which is about an hour away by car (which I also drive sometimes…on the wrong side of the road) and the weather is not really conducive to rowing. Some days it will literally be snowing while we’re on the water and the water could potentially be frozen if it wasn’t moving. Then there is also the fact that we don’t have a dock, not at all, if you want to row you have to walk yourself into that freezing water to launch the boat.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are definitely perks too. Over spring break we took a trip to Kastoria, Greece where we got to train at a facility that has produced several world class rowers in recent years. We rowed basically right into the town, nestled in between several breathtaking mountains. Plus our hotel had a spa—yes the trip was amazing. Then we were also supposed to get the opportunity to row on the Thames but snow and wind cancelled the race. There are also the weekly socials on Wednesday where all sports teams meet up in the Student Union in their respective uniforms and go berserk. (The rowing onesie may be revealing but at least it isn’t a Speedo.) And of course, Thursday morning practice isn’t tough enough if you’re not nursing a hangover.
April 2, 2013 by Erin Spencer
The month of January and February were particularly tough for me. After first starting my Lionfish Project proposal in August, I had finally turned in my final submission to the National Geographic Young Explorer’s program. Throughout January and February, all I could do was wait.
I first learned about the program while interning at National Geographic over the summer. I became acquainted with some Young Explorer Grantees during the Explorer’s Symposium in June and became absolutely fascinated with their work (read more about the Symposium). In the coming months, I was on the Young Explorer’s site daily, pouring over the different research and exploration projects. There were experienced filmmakers, archeologists, climbers, anthropologists, ecologists, and photographers. I clicked from page to page in a state of awe, mostly thinking to myself, “I am so out of my league”.
But I decided to pursue a grant anyway. I emailed the Young Explorer contact at Nat Geo with my idea to get some feedback, made countless appointments with professors to get advice, and read up on every Grantee I could find. For the next five months, my project shifted and grew constantly. I cold-called research stations and scientists in the Florida Keys and spent hours online trying to figure out the logistics of the project. The Nat Geo contact said that the top thing the review committee looks for is that you know what you’re doing, and I was hellbent on proving to them that I had thought this through.
After a few late nights and a fair amount of stress eating, I submitted my proposal and began the waiting. That month or so was torturous, and I know I wasn’t the easiest to deal with…my friends were counting down the days until I heard, just so I would relax. The email came at 1pm on a Wednesday, just before I had an appointment with a professor of mine. While waiting outside his office, I started yelling and crying and hyperventilating all at once as I read the words, leading my professor to bolt out of his office in a state of confused panic. I had never felt so relieved and excited in my life—mostly because I never remember wanting anything more than I wanted this grant.
Since I got the email, the real work has started. I went to DC to meet with my contact at Nat Geo, have spent hours working on designing business cards and my website, and have had to finalize the logistics of the project. Although it’s a ton of work, especially on top of my schoolwork, I couldn’t be happier. I’m pursuing something I love while being supported by an organization I’ve respected my entire life.
One year ago, as a starstruck intern at the Explorer’s Symposium, I told myself I wanted to be a National Geographic Explorer. And now, thanks to the help of my parents, professors and friends, it’s actually happened. I am unbelievably honored and grateful to embark on this journey with their support.
Want to learn more about the Young Explorer’s Grant Program? Check out their website.
March 25, 2013 by Sarah Nicholas
I set a goal for myself this semester: to eat at as many of the local cupcake shops as possible. Each neighborhood is home to many “boutique bakeries,” each of which specializes in special flavors, classes, décor and atmosphere. I’m proud to say that in the last 2 months, I’ve had at about a dozen different cupcakes from 5 different cupcakeries.
Taking it from the top, we had the pleasure of visiting Red Velvet in Gallery Place during our orientation back in January. The W&M in Washington staff and our entire class had the opportunity to mix, whip, stir, bake, and learn to frost their signature red velvet “Southern-Belle” flavor. It was a group effort to make over 3 dozen cupcakes, and frosting them put our artistic skills to the test – being an arts-based semester, this was an early start to fully immersing ourselves in the arts scene in Washington. Red Velvet is known for using the freshest, “healthiest” ingredients (albeit it is difficult to find a “healthy” cupcake), including huge blocks of cream cheese for their signature whipped icing. I have since made a trip back to Red Velvet for their “Black Velvet” vegan, gluten-free chocolate cupcake. If I hadn’t read the sign myself, I never would have guessed this rich treat would be vegan AND gluten-free.
Inauguration Day prompted a visit to Georgetown Cupcake, the famed bakery of TLC’s “DC Cupcake” television program. I indulged in yet again another red velvet cupcake, this time decorated with a gold-plated, fondant presidential seal honoring Obama’s re-inauguration. The tiny shop usually has a line down the street and around the corner and offers the cheapest cupcakes in the city ($2.75 each), but I disliked the gritty consistency of the cream cheese frosting when compared to that of Red Velvet. An experience, certainly, but probably not worth huddling in the cold for hours.
A sunny February weekend prompted yet another trip back to Georgetown, this time for some light shopping and a quick stop at Sprinkles. A cramped little shop on K Street, Sprinkles actually originated in LA and is relatively new to the DC cupcake scene. I got the vanilla coconut cupcake, vanilla cake with coconut cream cheese icing lightly dusted in coconut flakes. A bigger cupcake, the cake was moist and fluffy and not overwhelmingly rich. Less than 5 minutes away from rival Georgetown Cupcakes, the shorter line and friendlier atmosphere were enough to make me return a second time, this time for a strawberry cupcake complete with a light coat of strawberry cream cheese frosting.
As the Community Advisor in this semester’s program (a class of all females), I hosted a Valentine’s Day cupcake movie night. We ordered a dozen cupcakes from Hello Cupcake in Dupont Circle, which we divided and sampled together. My favorites were you tart! (lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting), chocolate strawberry (a Valentine’s special, chocolate cake with strawberry icing topped with a chocolate-dipped strawberry), carrot cake (a classic), and samoa (a cupcake spin on America’s favorite girl scout cookie). Between the five of us, we devoured the entire dozen, resulting in a series of stomach aches (I supposed the Chipotle burritos before didn’t help our cause).
Alex, one of my beloved roommates, treated us to yet another dozen cupcakes from Lilly Magilly’s, a bakery in her hometown, Gaithersburg, MD, a suburb of the city. I scarfed down a Chocolate Ganache, chocolate cake with a generous serving of vanilla icing coated in a dark chocolate shell with a small fondant flower. Up next was a seasonal cupcake, Pumpkin Spice, which was muffin like in texture. It was so delicious I ended up eating a second for breakfast the following morning.
In honor of Roxane’s birthday, the W&M in Washington staff treated us to a mix-matched box of cupcakes. In “luck of the draw” style, I randomly selected a yellow cake cupcake, thinking it might be lemon, a personal favorite. Instead of a citrus treat, the cupcake turned out to be a banana muffin, complete with vanilla cream-cheese frosting. Upon further research, I discovered this was the “Vanilla Gorilla” from Hello Cupcake. Not my personal favorite, but an interesting surprise!
I found myself this past weekend wandering around the Penn Quarter when I stumbled upon Crumbs, a very very small bake shop with very very big cupcakes. For those of you looking for a place to sit and eat cupcakes, Crumbs is not the place to go – there’s only two chairs! After a long process of elimination (the St. Patty’s day cupcakes were hard to resist), I finally picked the “Mudslide” – a chocolate cake cupcake with cappuccino cream filling, frosted with a coffee cream cheese frosting rolled in chocolate chips and topped with Oreo cookie crumbs – quite the chocolately treat! First off, this cupcake was massive. I quartered it and took it to go, eating it over the course of a few hours. It was incredibly rich (might have been the candy) but the cake itself was fluffy. It was by far the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had – I will be going back ASAP to break from my diet and splurge on another.
With the exception of the snow right now, spring has sprung in the city, meaning the cherry blossoms are finally here! We were lucky enough to get tickets to the opening ceremonies, which included some amazing performances by award winning Japanese pop stars as well as Andy Grammer! The best part came in the form of – you guessed it – cupcakes! Cherry cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake were given to all attendees; a vanilla cake with cherries folded into the batter, topped with cherry cream cheese frosting and a beautiful fondant blossom!
Hopefully I’ll get the chance to eat many more cupcakes in the second half of the semester – I’m also planning on running outside more often now that springtime is here, just so I’m not made of cupcakes! Upcoming: Baked and Wired, Sticky Fingers, and more!