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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 joined by Tea Ivanovic, Director of Communications and Outreach for Immigrant Food; she’s been staying grounded through tennis, wine and more:

How do you usually feel about summer, as a season overall, and how do you feel about THIS summer, by comparison?

I love summer. It’s the season of outdoor patios, rose wine, and early morning runs. This summer is very different from any other before and, like many people, I’m still figuring out what that means for any travel plans or weekend getaways.

What is your summer shaping up to look like?

Unfortunately, it’s mostly work, work, work. As COVID began to spread, our business was hit really hard, really fast. Faster than most, actually.  Because our place is close to the World Bank and the IMF – these organizations began sending their people home in mid February.  Since then, we’ve been trying to think outside the box by moving our Engagement portion to a virtual platform, establishing partnerships with like-minded organizations and individuals, and hosting a series of fun and interesting events. My summer has been all about Immigrant Food!

Is there anything in particular you’re actually looking forward to this summer?

Hopefully COVID cases continue to fall in the District, and we’re able to move to the next Phase of reopening restaurants and stores. I can’t wait to sip a rose on some of my favorite restaurant patios in town!

What are some of your tips for staying safe and sane right now? 

In terms of safety, I can give you a lot of specifics — our restaurant has taken all the courses required by the District of Columbia and follows best practices for food-service.   But I run a restaurant, so I can’t give any tips on how to stay sane!

Go-to summer wellness practice advice? Any spots in particular that have been helping you on that front?

Working out is a great way for me to find inner balance. I’m from Belgium and Serbia and came to the U.S. on a varsity tennis scholarship, so tennis is my go-to when I’m feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Other than that, a nice glass of wine to wind down the day always helps!

Where did you get your mask from? And what, aside from that, has been your more or less go-to summer uniform?

A friend gifted me an amazing mask by a local artist. It has a pretty and summer-y lemon pattern, I can tie it around my neck so it’s always on me, and I’m supporting local small businesses. Win!

What (if anything) are you reading right now, and why do you recommend it? (Alternatively, just share a favorite book.)

We [Immigrant Food] hosted an event with Washington Post columnist Jason Rezaian on our socially-distant patio a few weeks ago, where we discussed his take on Iranian foreign/domestic policy, Iranian culture and gastronomy, and how he was illegally jailed for 544 days and survived solitary confinement. He wrote a book about it, Prisoner, and I’ve been immersing myself in it.

Do you have a go-to summer hang-out recipe that still works for a socially distanced gathering? And/or just a favorite general summer recipe that’s still a go-to, even now?

Outdoor picnics with friends! I miss going out to restaurants and bars so much, but I’ve made it a tradition to once a week order from a great local place and go out on a picnic with my friends. Meridian Hill Park, Logan Circle, the Georgetown Waterfront, or recently one of our apartment complex rooftops are our go-tos.

What about a great summer cocktail or mocktail recipe?

At Immigrant Food, Chef Enrique Limardo and our kitchen team have been working hard to create a whole new list of summer drinks. Think White Summer Sangria with cardamom and cinnamon and exotic fruits, Mexican Micheladas, and the non-alcoholic Mint Limonana and Agua de Jamaica. Ever since these have been on Immigrant Food’s menu, they’ve been my go-to drinks!

What’s on your summer playlist this year, or are there three songs that are permanent summer favorites for you?

I’ve loved creating Immigrant Food’s playlist, and while researching I discovered so many amazing songs from around the world. You can follow the Immigrant Food playlist on Spotify! Some of my favorites? We added a few great Scandinavian rock songs, I love the Spanish Rosalia, and I’m a huge fan of Bosnian Goran Bregovic. 

Where do you wish you COULD GO this summer, if there were no restrictions or safety risks?

It was my five-year graduate school reunion in Bologna, Italy this May but that trip got cancelled. I’m day-dreaming about the Italian Riviera this summer!

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?

Virginia wineries. I always love driving out there, especially in summer, and sitting on an outside patio. Just check first if they’re appropriately socially distancing!

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