Amy Goodman, D.C. style expert, on her local holiday traditions


“A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre is one of Amy Goodman’s favorite traditions. Picturedm Clinton Brandhagen, Richard Poe and Teresa Castracane in the 2006 production. (T. Charles Erickson)
December 14, 2011

In 2004, Amy Goodman left her job as a fashion correspondent for InStyle magazine in New York and moved to the District for love. The transition wasn’t exactly smooth.

“I was the new girl in town so I threw an elaborate, lavish dinner for 50 people,” she recalled. “I cooked for three days straight until my hands were literally raw.”

She learned her lesson: “I’m all about the intimate gatherings now. No more than eight people, and it’s even better with six.”

Goodman, 38, writes for magazines on topics from parenting to fashion design and penned her first book this year: “Wear This, Toss That!” (Atria), a compilation of practical shopping and beauty tips. She also appears frequently on the “Today” show and “The View.”

She shuttles between New York, Los Angeles and McLean, where she lives with her husband, two children and yellow Lab Kiloi, a twist on the Japanese word for “yellow” and a nod to her Asian heritage. (She is half Japanese.)


Amy Goodman, a longtime vegetarian, hangs glass vegetable ornaments on her tree every Christmas. “It’s symbolic but also beautiful,” she said. (Marvin Joseph/WASHINGTON POST)

This season, her survival guide includes crafts fairs, a little baking and taking her daughter to the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner for the Nutcracker Tea.

Favorite dishes: I’m all about healthy holiday dishes that are light yet rich. I make a champagne-roasted chicken dish that is easy, filling and the meat melts in your mouth.

When I’m entertaining, one of my signature moves is to offer guests little shooters right when they walk in the door. I line a silver tray with mismatching shot glasses filled with butternut squash ginger soup. It’s meant to be consumed once and put down, but I’ve learned to make extra over the years!

Childhood traditions: A lot of people in Washington are from elsewhere or are passing through, so it’s nice to have little tastes from home. I make dishes that are a nod to my heritage, like my mother’s signature stuffing, which is made with sourdough bread, water chestnuts, black olives, apricot, Grand Marnier and wild Japanese mushrooms. It’s very San Francisco and always a hit.

I love having Cowgirl Creamery downtown, too, because they have the best local artisan cheese. They actually hail from the Bay Area near where I grew up, and the D.C. store is the only one on the East Coast.

The tree: I’ve become a huge advocate of chopping down your own! We go to Ashcroft Farm in White Post, Va., and the kids have a blast. Almost all of the farms in the area offer free hot cider or hot chocolate with marshmallows and most are dog-friendly. The Douglas fir is my favorite tree because it gives off the best fragrance.


Goodman loves tea and recommends Tea Forte’s Warming Joy collection ($8). (Tea Forte)

We decorate with glass vegetable ornaments. I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 20 years, so it’s symbolic but also beautiful. Everyone always told me that you can’t have glass ornaments if you have children, but we love them. We add a couple of new ornaments every Christmas, and it’s how we map out the years.

The tree-topper: I have a straw angel that is entirely too small for our tree but was gifted to me several years ago and is close to my heart. She’s very simple. Whenever I look at her, I’m reminded that even though the holidays have become so stressful and commercial, it all boils down to a simple concept: celebrating family and a warm home.

Dream dinner guest: Marc Jacobs. I wouldn’t mind dissecting his creative genius while praying that some of it rubbed off on me.

In Kiloi’s stocking: Something edible that can be consumed on the spot. He’s an advocate of immediate consumption.

Holiday indulgence: I love tea and the tradition that surrounds it. As a child, I studied tea ceremony in Japan. The Stonehouse Tea Room in Leesburg has afternoon teas where they serve finger sandwiches and sweets. You just need to make a reservation. For something more formal, the Ritz Carlton in Tyson’s Corner hosts a Nutcracker Tea. A professional ballet performs a condensed version of “The Nutcracker” while you eat scones and sweets. It’s on the pricier side, $70 per person, but wonderful for a holiday treat.

Go-to hostess gift: I like to give hosts a present for the morning after. My new obsession is local honey (I have Garcias Pure Apiary from Herndon and Virts Hives from Leesburg in my pantry) so I’d bake some biscuits or scones and wrap them in a basket with a jar of honey and some pretty butter spoons. Then, give it to the hosts to consume the morning after the party. Think about it: You’re exhausted from entertaining all night and you wake up to a breakfast treat already made for you? Now that’s a gift.

Best gift ever received: My husband gave me some custom-made earrings from Shah and Shah jewelers in Farragut Square. They’re a local, family-owned business, very old-school glamorous.

Shopping list: One of my favorite gifts this year is a hand-painted scarf wrap by an artist, Lorie Burnett, available at Appalachian Spring. It’s great for a stylish girlfriend and gives you just enough glam. I have one myself that I bring with me everywhere.

I’m also loving crafty jewelry by August Nine Designs [www.augustninedesigns.
com
]. The designer, based in Richmond, is a woman named Austin Titus, who I met at an art show at National Harbor. She makes the most exquisite pieces with natural stones and reclaimed materials.

Beloved D.C. traditions: I always attend a seasonal show with my daughter. This year we’re going to see “Billy Elliot” at the Kennedy Center. I’m not the jeans-and-T-shirt type when it comes to the theater because I think it’s inappropriate, so we get dressed to the nines and have a ball.

Of course, “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre is a must-see at least once, but if you’re financially overwhelmed, check out [the Kennedy Center’s] Millennium Stage. They have a band coming Tuesday called the Last Train Home, a folk and country band, which will be playing their best roundup of holiday classics. It’s an early show, starting at 6 p.m., which is a plus if you have school-age children like me.

Holiday survival tip: Many online retailers participate in a free shipping day on Dec. 16 (www.freeshippingday.com). Make your list in advance and go nuts.

For the kids: The Sackler Gallery and the National Museum of African Art have in­cred­ible gifts and books for children. If you can’t make it down to the Mall, the National Gallery of Art has an online shop full of art-inspired gifts for children. As a bonus, every item is listed with appropriate age ranges to help guide you in buying gifts for your relatives.

Time-saver: The absolute must-have pie is from Bayou Bakery in Arlington. This year, the bakery has four special holiday pies that all celebrate Southern cooking. The Smoky Sweet Heat Pecan Pie has bacon, cane syrup and cayenne pepper along with the regular pecan pie elements. There is also a bourbon chocolate pecan pie. This is a perfect example of something we’d all love to bake but don’t have the time to, so ease up your load a little. It’s okay to subtract to celebrate the season.

Living Well is a new series introducing Washingtonians who live stylishly.
Next week: Brightest Young Things founder Svetlana Legetic.

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