A Colorful (and Chatty) Guide to the D.C. Scene

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Books. Their covers. Never judge 'em. You know the drill.

The old adage rings especially true in the case of "Eat.Shop.Washington DC," (Cabazon Books, $14.95), a hip new travel guide for hungry shopaholics. Underneath its drab little burgundy cover, the guide offers 192 pages of ravishing photographs and colorful maps, steering readers toward a smartly edited selection of independent bakeries, bistros and boutiques in Washington, Arlington and Alexandria. (For some reason, Maryland hot spots get the cold shoulder.)

The writing, however, is colorful in all the wrong ways. Chicago-based author Anna H. Blessing certainly knows her way around town, but rather than actually describing these establishments, she trots out a random stream of personal anecdotes. Her description of the sticky buns at Murky Coffee begins: "My brother-in-law is a serious baker. By serious, I don't mean to say that he is serious, but what comes out of the oven on his clock is extremely serious." Uh, okay . . .

Still, don't let Blessing's blathering discourage you from fawning over her wonderful snapshots. Captured by her lens, the wrap sweaters at Pua Naturally are practically begging to be touched, and you can almost smell the scallops at Mie N Yu, above.

Pictures. A thousand words. You know that one, too.

-- Chris Richards

© 2006 The Washington Post Company