SUMMER RULES is a series where we ask people to share with us how they’re staying safe and sane during this very different summer season; from mask suggestions to soundtrack selections, we’ll take a peek into how others are making these challenging times work.
Today we’re delighted to be joined by Carey Tang, co-owner of Rooster & Owl, and RAMMYs (scheduled to take place virtually on September 20th) New Restaurant of the Year Finalist; she’s a self-professed workaholic and a mom, but she’s been keeping her cool (while pregnant!) with ice cream, family Sundays, reading and more:
How do you usually feel about summer, as a season overall, and how do you feel about THIS summer, by comparison?
I’m a DMV native, so I love that DC experiences all four seasons. From that perspective, I’m into DC summers: the cicadas singing, the afternoon thunderstorms, and the ridiculous humidity. This summer has been a challenge, of course; I have a two year old and I’m very pregnant, so balancing those factors with the incredible heat waves has been tricky.
What is your summer shaping up to look like? Is there anything in particular you’re actually looking forward to this summer?
We’re in a new workflow routine at Rooster & Owl, since we launched to-go in the spring and are managing a safe dine-in experience. We’ve nearly tripled our patio space and had to build a completely new infrastructure to support takeaway orders. We’re also excited about fall food awards season!
What are some of your tips for staying safe and sane right now?
Ice cream? Kidding (kind of)! What’s helped me is prioritizing and letting go of what simply isn’t at the top of the list. Usually that’s dishes, my inbox after 9pm, or declining a Zoom “happy” “hour” that would tax me more than boost me up. I’ve also loved a mini-routine Yuan and I have settled into: Sunday is our family day, and we order takeout for at least one meal (sometimes more than one because #sevenmonthspregnant). I love sharing the new experience with our daughter Nori, supporting local places, and learning from others on how they’re managing this paradigm shift in the guest experience. And of course we thoroughly enjoy the break from cooking!
Go-to summer wellness advice? Any spots in particular that have been helping you on that front?
As a bit of a workaholic and a mom of a little one, I struggle with self-care. Add the stress of owning a restaurant during a pandemic, mask wearing and pregnancy into the mix? Yikes! For skin care, I’ve relied on Ivy Wild; they’ve highlighted skin care routines that I can easily learn from and imitate and I love supporting a local shop. I’ve been fortunate to have had a complication-free pregnancy so far; this enabled me to keep up my running (slash waddling) routine. Trails that were previously too crowded with morning commuters and speedier runners are now much more open. You can find me on the W&OD, along the Potomac waterfront, or going in literal circles to avoid hills in my Arlington neighborhood.
Where did you get your mask from? And what, aside from that, has been your more or less go-to summer uniform?
My two favorite masks are from Adidas (super stretchy and breathable in this heat) and our custom Rooster & Owl masks. I’ve been taking full advantage of athleisure wear: joggers and belly-friendly v-neck tees that I’ll transition into nursing wear by this fall.
What (if anything) are you reading right now, and why do you recommend it? (Alternatively, just share a favorite book.)
I’m a big reader–I recently finished Ask Again, Yes, Mary Beth Keane’s 2019 novel. I loved it for its exceptional narrative prose. It’s unpretentious yet profound, modest but magical, and it sucks you in just as I hope for in a summer read.
Do you have a go-to summer hang-out recipe that still works for a socially distant gathering? And/or just a favorite general summer recipe that’s still a go-to, even now?
99% of what I prepare is toddler-friendly. My go-to is pesto from veg scraps like carrot tops and a ton of basil over whatever I have: pasta, roasted veg, potatoes, eggs, you name it.
What about a great summer cocktail or mocktail recipe?
I admire those who prioritize at-home mixology, but our year-round go-to drinks are coffee, Coke, boring old water, and milk for the kid.
What’s on your summer playlist this year, or are there three songs that are permanent summer favorites for you?
Cold War Kids – First and Big Sean – I Don’t Fuck With You ft. E-40
Where do you wish you COULD GO this summer, if there were no restrictions or safety risks?
My family has vacationed in Cape May, NJ, for generations. I would have loved to return there this year with my full extended family. Nori would have been just old enough to enjoy the beach with her cousins and I love the nostalgia and respite embodied in this sleepy, grounded Victorian beach town. On a grander scale, we’ve been dreaming of going to Italy!
And is there anywhere you’ve been safely going that you could recommend for people who live nearby? Any day trips or local spots worth mentioning, for example?
Any moment I’m not working I’m in mom-mode, and Nori is very into any body of water lately, the “ocean” as she calls it. We’ve a blast wading at the Occoquan State Park; it’s shady, not popular, and has a little cafe area to grab water, etc. Nori also thinks that you can see “dolphins and whales and baby ones, too!”
Rooster & Owl is located at 2436 14th Street NW
Kitchen opens at 5pm Tuesday-Saturday