By Lori McCue
November 15, 2017
As host of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Ari Shapiro is used to talking at length about a variety of subjects, but if you really want to get him going on a tangent, just bring up his neighborhood, D.C.’s LeDroit Park. “I love my neighbors,” says Shapiro, 39. “A few of them were born and raised in LeDroit and are now senior citizens. We look out for each other.” (Among Shapiro’s other favorite things about LeDroit: It’s walkable to nightlife but not too noisy, and it’s close to Union Market.) It’s no surprise, then, that this journalist will start and end his perfect day close to home.
I would probably roll out of bed and walk to Big Bear Cafe, where I would sit on the patio under the grapevines and people-watch. Then I’ll do some shopping at the Bloomingdale Farmers Market and go back to my place with whatever friends I’ve met along the way and make brunch. I love to improvise with whatever looks delicious. Mountain View Farm is one of my favorite [vendors at the market], and they grow fresh ginger and fresh turmeric. If you just put some farmers market grapes and some of that fresh ginger in a pot and cook it down a little, you get this intense grape ginger syrup, and if you mix it with soda water and gin or even champagne — we’re having a perfect day here — it’s a really delicious fall cocktail.
After saying goodbye to them, I’d hop on my bike. Rock Creek Park is closed on the weekends to vehicle traffic so you can just ride all the way up. This is one of the things I love about living in D.C. — within 15 minutes of being downtown, you can feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside. I go all the way north, loop around to the west all the way back into Georgetown. It takes maybe two hours. Instead of meditating or going to therapy, I go for a bike ride.
My day definitely includes a nap. I can remember when I was a little kid my parents telling me, “Someday people will try to tell you that being a grown-up means smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, but the real way you’ll know you’re a grown-up is when you want to take naps.” And they’re absolutely right. I love a nap: It feels like the most self-indulgent thing in the world to say, “My time is mine to do with what I please, and what I’m going to choose to do with my time is spend an hour unconscious.”
Alex Levin, who was my college roommate, is a pastry chef for a restaurant group in town that includes The Riggsby and Alta Strada and Tico. I’ll probably go to one of his restaurants with friends and eat one of his delicious desserts. It’s an early dinner because I’m going to go to the theater. I’ll see whatever looks great at Studio Theatre or Woolly Mammoth or Arena Stage or something like that. I like to be able to sample a few things each season at each of them.
And then late night on my way home I will meet a friend for a nightcap at Royal. It feels like a neighborhood bar: They have really good cocktails, it’s rarely overcrowded and they have some nice small bites. D.C. has so many great offerings all over the city, but on my ideal day I’m probably going to stay close to home. I like to spend my money at places in my backyard.