In only two days, you can do a ton of fun things in DC, even if, like me, you're there for a family function which precludes much formal dining out. In other words, while still fulfilling my obligations, I was able to sip and snack in style, see a great play (the brilliant Tom Stoppard's Rock 'N' Roll at the always-excellent three-stage Studio Theater complex), view edgy art, gawk at celebrities and stumble upon a political protest in front of the White House.

Penn Quarter, which is near the White House and includes the Verizon Center, is a great area to hang out. After seeing a Marcel Duchamp photo show at the always-fun National Portrait Gallery, I literally just crossed the street for refreshments at Zaytinya, where I had a grape vodka and ouzo cocktail, outstanding fried mussels with an intense walnut sauce and shared these snacks.

Zaytinya's best-ever, homemade, air-pocketed, light yet crusty pita bread; a flatbread with haloumi and Greek tomato sauce; and house-made sausage with lots of garlic and orange zest in it, served with black-eyed peas.

A few blocks from Zaytinya I sated my sweet tooth at the Red Velvet Cupcakery, one of the rare places of its ilk I actually like (most cupcakes are far too sweet for me).

These cupcakes are light and feature frostings that are not made grainy with excessive sugar.