Almost a week ago (yeah, yeah, I'm late) I had the serious pleasure of attending Taste of the Nation DC, a charity event supporting the eradication of childhood hunger. Originally I had signed up to be a volunteer at the event, but some unforeseen circumstances prevented me from making the mandatory orientation session. At the last minute I entered to win two tickets through Foodbuzz, the online food community (see the ad banners to the right?) and lo and behold, the food gods answered my prayers! I put on my roomiest all black outfit and set out for a night of gluttony in downtown DC, all for a good cause of course....
(pictured below: Georgetown Cupcake cupcakes and Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT)
The event was held at the National Building Museum, which was a very dramatic setting. Huge Corinthian columns set the stage for DC's best restaurants to dole out some extremely flavorful treats. Oh, and let's not forget the beverages- DC's best mixologists were shaking, stirring and pouring up a storm. Below are Rachel Sergi and JP Caceres of Againn, followed by Owen Thomsen and an unidentified member of the DC Bartender's Guild (dedicated to the preservation of classic cocktails).
There were far too many amazing things eaten at an alarming rate for me to fully describe them, but I did take note of some of the highlights of the evening. I think I would be a decent reporter, except when food is involved- unfortunately my notepad and Nikon got way less use than I had intended.I did manage to stalk down a few "cheftestants" from the last season of Top Chef. Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT and Mike Isabella of Zaytinya were both in attendance- Bryan was cooking and Mike seemed to be just hanging out. Either way, their presence was a great way to draw attention to the night and get some press going. Anyway- on to the dishes!
Best Dish of the Night:
Vanilla infused pork belly with date puree and bay leaf crumble from Trummer's on Main
This was the best thing I ate all night. I told the chef that it was my favorite thing and he explained that the belly was braised for 72 hours and injected with vanilla... then I told him it was so good that it hurt my feelings, and he seemed amused and kind of confused. The point is, it was GOOD.
Meatball with polenta from Central
Beet macaron with foie gras dust and fennel pollen from VOLT (pictured below)
Braised short rib with pickled ramp and porcini puree from Charlie Palmer Steakhouse
Seared scallop with mini spanikopita roll from Kellari Taverna
Rock Shrimp Roll with Saffron Mayo and fennel from Occidental Grill & Seafood
Espellette Spiced Wagyu Flank Steak from BLT Steak
Something amazing with "garlic glass" on top from Vidalia (I believe it was sous vide flank steak?)
Salted Caramel Cupcake from Georgetown Cupcakes
The Buried Life from Chantal Tseng of Tabard Inn
This concoction was a mixture of heradura reposada tequila, black tea soda infused with roasted rosemary, agave syrup, fresh lemon juice and black lava salt. Yeah. Really. It was DELICIOUS.
The Gilded Tigerlilly from Rachel Sergi (and JP Caceres) of Againn
As far as I can tell, this was Plymouth Gin, Chambord, gingerbeer, gingersnap(?) and GOLD DUST. Yeah, GOLD DUST. It tasted expensive, and that's how I like it. Honestly I don't know any more than that, but I don't think this really needs explanation.
Overall, this was a very well-organized event. Stations did not start running out of food until a couple hours in (unlike many similar events I've attended) and there was a great variety of restaurants and cocktails to choose from.Overall, I had a great time- next year I'll buy a ticket and you should too!
For more information about future events in your area, see some of the information below or visit the website at www.tasteofthenation.org
(pictured below: Mike Isabella of Zaytinya and Top Chef and friend...thanks for letting me interrupt your conversation to take this pic. You guys rule!)
From the Press Release:
With nearly 17 million children nationally and 23,887 children in Washington, D.C. struggling
with hunger, Taste of the Nation promotes awareness of Share Our Strength’s efforts. Since
1988, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $73 million for organizations in the United
States, Canada and abroad, including more than $1.5 million in Washington, D.C. Local
beneficiaries include Capital Area Food Bank, D.C. Hunger Solutions and Mary’s Center.
About Taste of the Nation®
Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation® is the nation’s premier culinary benefit
dedicated to making sure no kid grows up hungry. Each spring and summer, the nation's
hottest chefs and mixologists donate their time, talent and passion at nearly 40 events
across the United States and Canada, with one goal in mind: to raise the critical funds
needed to end childhood hunger. Taste of the Nation is nationally sponsored by American
Express, Sysco, Food Network, Brown-Forman Corporation, S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural
Mineral Water and Stella Artois. Since 1988, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $73
million. Funds raised in 2009 supported 135 organizations in the United States, Canada and
abroad. To purchase tickets or to get involved, visit TasteOfTheNation.org.
About Share Our Strength®
Share Our Strength is a national organization working to make sure no kid in the U.S. grows
up hungry. We weave together a net of community groups, activists and food programs
to catch children at risk of hunger, and surround them with nutritious food where they live,
learn and play. We work with the culinary industry to create engaging, pioneering
programs like Taste of the Nation, The Great American Bake Sale, Operation Frontline and
A Tasteful Pursuit. For more information, please visit Strength.org.