By Betsy Rothstein - 05/07/07 07:38 PM EDT
Rep. Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) has a personal philosophy about celebrating any significant occasion. Make it memorable, she muses — make it something they won’t ever forget.
For Fallin, a large, boisterous affair is the norm, as was doing something as spectacular as renting a limo for her son’s 13th birthday.
Fallin celebrates her own birthday with a group of 25 friends and family members at a restaurant. Her favorite spot over the years has been Mama Lucia’s in Oklahoma City, now closed but formerly owned by a friend who has played trumpet at the White House, and for her on these special occasions.
Typical fare at these fests is beef-inspired.
“Coming from cattle country we tend to be steak and potato people, so just a really good cut of filet,” Fallin says.
From house parties and favorite restaurants to intricately thought-out plans, members of Congress and political notables around Washington, D.C., celebrate the important moments of their lives in a variety of ways. Like most people, some prefer loud, festive gatherings. For many lawmakers who lead impossibly busy lives, their idea of the best time is a quiet dinner at home — a rarity for a lawmaker these days with the five-day workweek.
Another idea of a memorable celebration for Fallin is getting her friend, a gourmet chef at the governor’s mansion, to visit her home to prepare an elaborate five-course meal.
Fallin tries to one-up herself when it comes to creating memorable moments. One year she hired a limo to take her then-13-year-old son and his friends to Celebration Station, a video arcade with bumper boats. In the same evening the limo took the moving party to the monster-truck races.
The next year, feeling the pressure of the year before, she rented a disco bus limousine and took the party to the state capitol and then home for a house party. The following year was even more shocking — she showed up in the carpool line of her son’s school in a Hummer. “My son was shocked,” she says.
When Jennifer Griffin, the Pentagon correspondent for Fox News, and her husband, Greg Myre, also a journalist, want to celebrate something special they go to the site of one of the most memorable moments of their lives — their wedding reception at the Clifton Inn in Keswick, Va., on Oct. 1, 1994.
“It has the most fabulous food,” Griffin gushes, explaining that the inn burned down two years ago but was rebuilt. “It’s a wonderful, historical inn at the foot of Monticello.”
National Public Radio spokeswoman Leah Yoon also has a favorite place.
“To celebrate my boyfriend’s graduation, he and I dined at Le Paradou, where we indulged in the nine-course tasting menu,” she said by e-mail. “My boyfriend rarely raves about anything, but afterwards all he could talk about for a week was our dinner at Le Paradou.
“Chef Yannick Cam amazed and delighted us with each course, which combined artistic expression with exquisite flavors. The foie gras terrine with apricots melted in my mouth with that rich, buttery texture. Finally, don’t even think about leaving the restaurant until you have ordered my favorite dessert, the chocolate beignets, or, as my boyfriend called it, ‘the big nuts.’”
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) loves to cook a standing rib roast for special traditions — eating at home and cooking is preferred to going out.
“In my family we usually do things at home,” Tubbs Jones said. “My late husband and my dad liked to eat at home. I celebrate by cooking.”
The congresswoman, however, is not above venturing out to celebrate. “One of my favorite restaurants is Ruth’s Chris,” she says. “I like ribeye, french fries and a salad. My favorite dessert is bread pudding and the only place I’ve had it really, really good is Commander’s Palace in New Orleans.”
The congresswoman raves about her mother’s German chocolate cake, but hasn’t had the nerve to try and replicate it.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) went all out for his wedding anniversary two years ago by taking his wife, Josephine, on a Carnival cruise on the Mexican Riviera. Other celebrations are no less festive. “Sometimes we even break out the guitars,” he says.
Franks is earnest about his celebrations. “I’m sure it sounds political, but to me celebrating is getting together with loved ones and being grateful to be alive and being part of the greatest enterprise in freedom in the history of mankind,” he said.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) has a celebratory ritual. Each year she and a bunch of women friends have a dinner party. “We always make a pot of sauce,” she says. “This way when we have a couple of glasses of wine we don’t worry about what’s in the oven.”
For Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) the choice for a celebratory venue is clear — Utah Oodle, his family’s favorite Chinese restaurant in Ogden.
“They have wonderful fried shrimp,” he says. “It’s terrible for my cholesterol, but it’s wonderful. There is such a thing as bad Chinese food in Utah.”
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