Metro Weekly

Spotlight: Free opera, home-delivered comfort food, top LGBTQ reads, and more!

Our picks of the best arts, entertainment, and food options during the coronavirus shutdown

Anna Netrebko in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” — Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

METROPOLITAN OPERA’S FREE STREAMS

With its Opera House dark and its patrons quarantined at home for the unforeseeable future, New York’s storied Metropolitan Opera has opted to dip into its rich trove of “Live in HD” recordings of past productions. The goal, says General Manager Peter Gelb, is “to provide some grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times.

The Nightly Met Opera Streams series offers one free, encore presentation every night at 7:30 p.m. “for the duration of the closure.” It’s free and accessible by the public. Each opera remains available for 20 hours on the company’s homepage (it’s also available for a fee on the company’s on demand streaming service).

This weekend offers two works by Donizetti — the comic opera La Fille du Régiment, on Friday, March 20, and his historical tragic opera Lucia di Lammermoor on Saturday, March 21. This will be followed by the 2007 production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin starring Renée Fleming on Sunday, March 22. Next week brings an all-Wagner slate, starting Monday, March 23, with the 2016 production of Tristan and Isolde conducted by Simon Rattle, and continuing with four nights of the four epic works that comprise the composer’s signature Ring Cycle, as staged in star-studded productions last decade. Get there early, there’s a virtual line. Visit www.metopera.org.

Clyde's Cheeseburger

Clyde’s Cheeseburger

DELIVERING CLYDE’S COMFORT FOOD

Before COVID-19 — and as recently as last week — delivery wasn’t an option from any of the venues that comprise this iconic D.C. restaurant chain, which includes The Hamilton, Old Ebbitt Grill, and 1789 in addition to its namesake locations. Now, through Caviar, you can order Clyde’s classic Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, offered with fries and coleslaw, and its prized Cheeseburger, made with locally ground chuck from Cedar River Farms and served with the usual fixings and a side. Or you might go for The Hamilton’s popular (and comforting) District Wings, presented with two sides of Mumbo sauce, or Southern Fried Chicken, served on a Big Marty bun along with house mustard, honey hot sauce, and pickle chips. You can also place an order online for pickup if that’s your preference. It’s also worth noting that Clyde’s has extended paid sick time for all of its employees. Visit www.clydes.com.

WORTHWHILE LGBTQ READS

If days of Netflix chilling has left you feeling restless and you need something different to occupy your mind, look no further than the finalists for the 32nd Annual Lambda Literary Awards, announced last week. Organizers with the Lambda Literary Foundation note that some of today’s best-known LGBTQ authors and playwrights got an early boost in their careers by being honored by the Lammys.

Over 100 published works are nominated across 24 categories this year, ranging from fiction to romance, comics to science fiction and horror, and poetry to mystery, categories further divided into the sub-groups of the LGBTQ community. Playwrights nominated in the LGBTQ Drama category include Jordan Harrison for The Amateurs, Michael R. Jackson for the musical A Strange Loop, and Liza Birkenmeier for Dr. Ride’s American Beach House. The late Edie Windsor, Isaac Mizrahi, and Saeed Jones are among those recognized for their recently published memoirs. Other noteworthy titles include Samantha Allen’s Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States, the anthology LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia, and Brett Krutzch’s Dying TO Be Normal: Gay Martyrs and the Transformation of American Sexual Politics. The Lammys are scheduled to be awarded on June 8 in New York City. Visit www.lambdaliterary.org.

Chamber Dance Project

CHAMBER DANCE PROJECT’S ONLINE AUCTION

Last week, the Chamber Dance Project decided to cancel its March 29 gala, the young contemporary ballet company’s biggest fundraiser of the year. At the same time, the organization announced its first-ever online auction, open to the public, with the hope that total funds raised through the bidding process will go some way toward making up for the loss of the gala, responsible for more than 10 percent of its operating revenue.

The auction, which continues through April 2, launched with over 50 items with more being added daily. Among the highlights: Local theater tickets to everything from Summer: The Donna Summer Musical at the National Theatre to Fun Home at Studio Theatre to Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare Theatre; gift certificates to dine at refined local restaurants the Estuary and Blue Duck Tavern; four premium seats to a Capitals game complete with catering; several Michael Aram-designed furnishings; a weekend packaged excursion to New York City; and a couple of week-long stays at luxury resorts and spas in the Caribbean. Many of the items are offered with no minimum requirement, meaning the actual value could well exceed the winning bid. All bids are anonymous to the public. Visit www.chamberdance.org/auction to start bidding.

Bangkok Joe

BANGKOK JOE’S “FEEL GOOD” SPECIALS

A few days before the novel coronavirus became a pandemic and forced D.C. restaurants to suspend in-house dining and related offerings, Aulie Bunyarataphan, the owner-chef of Bangkok Joe’s, unveiled an impressive special “Feel Good Menu,” featuring appetizers and entrees that incorporate ingredients said to boost human health and the immune system, including classic Thai herbs such as ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and kaffir lime, citrus fruits, leaf greens, orange-color vegetables, high-fat fish, shellfish, and fermented beans.

Since the city’s restaurant closings, the large Thai restaurant with a view of the Georgetown waterfront, has scaled back its special offerings, including Bunyarataphan’s holistic menu. Several of the items are still available for pickup or delivery, including Tom Yum Chicken Soup with Thai herbs, mushrooms, and lemongrass broth; Winter Squash Potstickers made of butternut squash and sweet potatoes, and served with a spicy ginger/soy dip; and Chicken Basil Kapow with green beans, scallions, bell peppers, and garlic-chili-basil.

Bangkok Joe’s offers its own no-contact delivery service for orders over $30 with no delivery fee and 10% off the order. In addition, all orders over $50, including those for takeout, earn patrons another 10% discount to be applied to a future dine-in experience. Meanwhile, delivery is also available using third-party apps including Caviar, DoorDash, and GrubHub. Call 202-333-4422 or visit www.bangkokjoesdc.com.

Duplex Diner’s Classic Meatloaf

DUPLEX DINER GETS GRUBHUBBY

You can’t order a Lemon Squeeze — to say nothing of taking a trip to the Madonna bathroom — but signature menu staples including Pigs in a Blanket, a Broccolini Salad, a burger, and meatloaf can be procured from the 18th & U Duplex Diner (202-265-7828; www.duplexdiner.com) through the use of GrubHub and UberEats. You can also order takeout or delivery from the LGBTQ-owned institution’s sister restaurant a block away, Red, White and Basil (202-518-7021; www.redwhiteandbasil.com). The classic, affordable Italian-style restaurant offers traditional fare from Just the Pasta and Sauce and a Caprese salad with burrata, to Chicken Parmesan, Shrimp Scampi, and Vegetable Lasagna.

We recommend ordering through GrubHub, given that the company decided to waive the normal fees it charges its restaurant partners in light of the devastating blow that COVID-19 has dealt to the smaller, independent venues. The company also established the Grubhub Community Relief Fund providing additional financial help to its drivers and restaurants impacted by the pandemic.

PROVIDING RELIEF

Last weekend, Hook Hall reached out to the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) to become a partner in a multi-pronged approach to help those in the food and beverage industry, most of whom have lost their jobs, income, and livelihood in the wake of the coronavirus closures. The two organizations created a Coronavirus Workers Relief Fund that accepts donations for its work in helping those hardest hit or in greatest need in the industry and broader community, even in terms of basic supplies and meals.

Meanwhile, a number of compassionate, concerned citizens have launched a growing collection of lists and resources to further assist in the cause. In less than three days, the new public Facebook group “DMV Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19” grew to include over 2,000 users, partly drawn to the Google Doc “DC Coronavirus Resource Needs,” a list of over 50 self-selected individuals — “waitstaff, bartenders, small business owners, freelance artists, yoga teachers” — who “need their income supplemented.” Similarly, a few residents have also created the GoFundMe page, “DMV Restaurant Worker Relief Fund.”

And with the shuttering of all bars and nightclubs this past Monday rose another fundraiser specifically for bar staff, those who added their names and places of employment along with their Venmo or PayPal account for donations as part of “A DC Virtual Tip Jar.”

Do you have a suggestion for something we should Spotlight? Email us at spotlight@metroweekly.com.

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.

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