Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Many Tastes Of DC

It was great being in Annapolis the same weekend as the Taste Of DC food fair. And I was lucky to be able to go with someone like S(on), who has no funny eating restrictions or strange requirements. He's just someone who revels in and relishes food like I do!

There are two good ways to taste lots of food. The first is to be with lots of people and order many different things OR the second way is to be with just one YOUNG MAN. Gosh, they can eat a lot. You can order tons of things, taste just a little and have him finish the rest, which is exactly what I did.

Each place was required to have “a tasting plate” for $3 or less, as well as more robust offerings at higher prices. S warned me in advance that he wanted to get one thing from EACH place and that I should be prepared with plenty of one dollar bills. 

The admission was $8.99 online. (It would have been $10 on the day) and there were around SEVENTY food purveyors and also 30 beer and wine stands or stations. The admission was much less than other food events I've been to, but here you had to pay for each dish. 

Can you guess how many separate food items we actually got? We had a couple of things on our own, but mostly we would order something, I would have a bite and he would finish it. So how many food stations did we visit - out of 70? One more piece of information – these were not TASTES; they were small servings. There were 3 meatballs on a plate, for example, or one filled tortilla or a quarter of a sub type of thing. Also, and this turned out to be good, the alcohol sales were a complete mess.

I know there are restrictions on selling alcohol, but it was all arranged in such a dumb way. First you had to get a wristband after your ID was checked, which was fine, but they were out of them at the first booth we got to. Then the line was ridiculously long at the next place. And THEN the alcohol-desiring public had to stand in another REALLY huge line (can you say over a hundred people?) to buy VOUCHERS, with which to purchase the wine and beer. 

Does that mean that you had to know in advance exactly how much wine or beer you would be tasting? How annoying is that! The food situation - mixed between stands and actual food trucks - was beautifully organized. The booze? NO! As a result, we had a dry day, which probably meant we could eat more, but no fancy beer or wine, no hard cider and no sangria. >:-O  

(You’re still supposed to be thinking about how much we ordered. I’ll get to that in a sec.)

We did one really smart thing. We got there at ten to 12, which I wouldn’t have thought was that early. Apparently, DC’ers are not early risers. We were literally the first people there, except for the actually workers. We just walked in, no one looked at our tickets and we surveyed food truck after food truck and stand after stand of glorious food with NO ONE else there. Our first 5 stops were in the first 12 minutes. There were no lines (because there were no people) and we could pick and choose easily. You may notice that we ordered an (over)abundance of pork. I didn't realize it at the time, but I guess that's what looked the best.

This is what we had and the order in which we had it:

Half Smoke with Chili Sauce, Mustard and Chopped Onions

Half Smoke with Chili Sauce
Lemongrass Chicken Taco. The lemongrass made this taco taste so fresh and light.     

Lemongrass Chicken 
Logan’s Sausage Mexican Chorizo with tomato and onion. OMG, this was my favorite thing of the whole day. The chorizo was spicy and robust with a crisp roll that held all its greasy goodness. It was so good that we each had one, so I'm counting this as two things. 

Mexican Chorizo
Sorry, I didn't get the name of this next place:

But the Grilled Lemongrass Pork Sandwich was sensational. It could have used a splash of something though. 

Grilled Lemongrass Pork Sandwich
The Pork Carnitas from Chupacabra of tender marinated pork topped with onions and cilantro were SO good. The taco itself was good too and there were TWO of them!

Pork Carnitas
This Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cole Slaw done in a North Carolina, vinegar based style was not our favorite. We thought the cole slaw tasted (and looked) weird. But maybe we were getting porked-out. 

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Maple Bacon Banan-za Frozen Custard
I tasted NO bacon. I guess the banana was too strong. But it's Shake Shack, so it was awesome!

Maple Bacon Banan-za Frozen Custard
     Station 4
Charred Octopus with Potato Confit
This may have been the best cooked item of the day. The octopus was plenty done, but it didn't have an ounce of rubberiness about it. It was absoluteness sensational. These folks at Station 4 can cook!

Charred Octopus with Potato Confit
Waffle with…chicken? This was disappointing. Good waffle, but whatever was on top was overcooked and bland.

Waffle with…Chicken?
Oreo Cheesecake Parfait
This was pure deliciousness in a plastic rectangular cup. It was just the right size. The Oreos were a perfect foil for the smooth and luxurious cheesecake. A winner.

Oreo Cheesecake Parfait
Mini Meatballs
See what I mean about these servings being more than "tastes"??! This was a BIG portion. Excellent traditional meatballs.

Mini Meatballs
Mini Poutine  
Sorry, poutinesquers, I just don’t get the appeal, but S liked them. Let's not forget that S likes everything, though.

Mini Poutine
Ginger Molasses Cookie on the top and Chocolate Chip Cookie on the bottom, sandwiching Vanilla and Pumpkin Ice Cream. 

Captain Cookie, I love you! What could be more fun than building your own ice cream sandwich? The cookies were big and chewy and the ice cream was excellent. It's lucky I live nowhere near the Captain.

Build Your Own Ice Cream Sandwich

Red Velvet Cupcake 
Red Velvet ain’t my thang, but it looked cute. S liked it.

Red Velvet Cupcake 
You have one more chance to guess. What do you think? 

The complete tally is...fifteen items (if you count the chorizo twice). That sounds a little pathetic, doesn't it? Between the two of us, we only managed to eat 15 little plates of wonderfulness. 

I have no defense. We had what we wanted and that was it. Maybe it's not bad if you consider that the servings were way larger than tastes. And mostly everything we had was awfully good. 

It was a perfect end to a perfect couple of days. Next time maybe we'll try to crack the big two-oh.            


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I could do some serious damage in a situation like that. I wanted most of what I saw you have.

If you're serving chicken with a waffle it's supposed to be FRIED. At the very least do it PA Dutch style and cook it with cream sauce.

If building ice cream sandwiches is your thing, you should try Smush, the "dessert deli" on 40th St. You get two giant bread-shaped cookies of your choice, a block of ice cream "meat", a slice of fudge cheese, sandwich toppings are things like fruit or potato chips, and your condiments are chocolate sauce, caramel, nutella, etc. Just go on an empty stomach.

Anonymous said...

Ben's Chili Bowl is an institution here in DC. My experience is that it looks and smells good, but after eating it you kinda wish you hadn't.

Sue said...

Get your one dollar bills ready and I'll tell you when I'm going the next time.

I never heard of SMUSH!!! It sounds amazing. I just looked it up and people say it's great, but they're always out of things. :-(

That's really funny, Tom.
I have to say that I had no such regrets at the food fair. I have great memories of just about everything.

Nikki said...

Wow, that's a lot of food... you two did great! LOL And as far as poutine goes, your portion didn't look like it had gravy on it. Or if it did, it was a miniscule amount. Gravy is what makes it. And your chicken & waffle looked ... :-/ bad. Always make sure the chicken is fried if it comes with a waffle. And being dipped in honey doesn't hurt :)

Emily said...

Is Shake Shack in DC too? THAT would have been my favorite!

I can't believe there was no one there in the beginning. I love that you didn't have to fight people for the food! We went to Taste of Chicago this summer and it was awful.