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Celebrating Food Event

A few months ago, I received an email from Les Dames d'Escoffier inviting me to their Celebrating Food! Seventh Salute to Women in Gastronomy event. The line up of guests and workshops sounded like fun, the price for the day ($95) was doable, but I just did not want to attend solo.

I decided to email a bunch of my food-loving friends and see if anyone was interested. Luckily, Quinn said yes! (Read her  recap here.)

Never mind the fact that I only had 5 hours of sleep (went dancing the night before), and a long Metro ride all the way to Shady Grove, and that Quinn and I were waiting for each other at different Metro stations, I was thrilled to attend this event, and eventually Quinn and I found each other, registered and were ready to check out the breakfast selection.

Unfortunately, we were a little bit late and there was no coffee!!! You can see my very sad face that Quinn captured for her update! Instead, I had tea, Greek yogurt with fruit and a chocolate croissant.

The keynote speakers were Carla Hall and Nongkran Daks. Did you know Carla was the first chef I assisted at Sur La Table!? She is just as high energy, friendly, knowledgeable and fun as she comes across on Top Chef. Nongkran Daks is the owner and Executive Chef of Thai Basil in Chantilly, VA and has appeared on Bobby Flay's show (LOVE him).

After the introductions, Quinn and I attended our first workshop: Trucs of the trade. The workshop featured Carol Cutler, Sheilah Kaufman (who I've assisted multiple times at Sur La Table as well), Nongkran Daks, Katherine Tallmadge, Kathy Gold, Susan Holt and Janis McLean.

Nongkran showed us how to juice a lime using the edge of your knife: for the love of god do NOT do this at home!!

Nongkran also said that you can use the leftover of juiced limes and lemons and rub them on your heels to make the skin softer. You know what? I tried it at home, and it really does work!!!! Great for the Spring and Summer season.

Our second workshop was Food Writing With Flavor. This is definitely something I can improve for the blog. Sometimes (ok, most of the time) I just write little captions for my photos, instructions on the recipe and add a question for the readers (you!) at the end. This workshop was quite eye opening, but everything will require practice, patience, practice and time.

The workshop was held by David Leite (3 times James Beard Award winner who wrote The New Portuguese Table, and has published his work in multiple impressive publications), Domenica Marchetti, an author of two cookbooks and contributor to Washington Post, NPR, etc; Joe Yonan (see the photo below), editor of the food and travel sections of the Washington Post and Bonnie Benwick, Deputy Editor of the Washington Post Food Section. I actually met Bonnie several years ago when Washington Post came into my apartment to teach this Jewish girl how to cook pork properly.

 Basically, it's important to write about what you know and have passion for. Joe Yonan recommended writing memory pieces (something that you remember from your childhood, something that has touched you deeply, influenced you, etc.). Domenica spoke about writing from a journalistic point of view, asking questions, observing details, listening carefully and being accurate. She said writing needs to be visual, concise, funny and important. David spoke about having a voice, using active verbs, and that writing wasn't simply putting down the words you would use for speaking.  And finally, Bonnie gave us the don'ts of writing (overusing adjectives and adverbs, assuming the audience knows basic things, trying to write like someone else, forgetting to re-read your earliest pieces).

After the second session, there was lunch!!! Quinn and I met up with Sally (who I met through a few other DC food blogging events) and met a brand new blogger Jenny. We walked around tasting different offerings, sipping wine, and chatting.

First thing first, Blanc de blanc sparkling wine from Thibaut-Janisson Winery in Charlottesville, VA. It was light, sparkly, and I said "yes" to an offer of a second sample! Boy, did it go to my head fast.

Then I sampled a few cheeses from Cabot. Unfortunately, Quinn gave up cheese for Lent, and had to be satisfied with a few money saving coupons. 

Next on the menu, I tried chocolate bark from BlackSalt

And guess who was a big sponsor of this event? CHIPOTLE! I've loved them ever since I visited Anna in Dallas 8 years ago and tried Chipotle for the first time.

Moving on to a bit fancier food, we tried fresh mozzarella and cured meat from il Canale.

Then I tasted rice and chicken curry from the owners of Indique, Indique Hights and Bombay Bistro. 

I need to cleanse my palette, and had a scoop of pear sorbet (not pictured) from Moorekno's Ice Cream.
This photo of me is courtesy of Quinn. You can see my newish camera and my awesome silver bracelet :)

Next, I tried the sticky rolls from Hawthorne Fine Breakfast Pastry. It was hard to choose just one dessert from the variety they offered, but my choice was a good one!

And I can't forget the wine! These wines are imported from Souch Africa. Of course I loved the Riesling, but what surprised me the most is that I really liked their Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004. It wasn't as bitter and dry as some of the red wines I'm used to...perhaps I'm developing my taste buds? Most likely, this was just a really good bottle of red wine.

After all the food, it was time for more workshops. And as if I wasn't tipsy enough, Quinn, Jenny and I took Mixology workshop. You see, I don't really drink much, and when I do, I go for pretty sweet cocktails.

This class opened my eyes to many things I normally would not try. And after trying them, I must admit I'll stick to what I like :)

Below, you see hands of Gina from PS7 mixing a lovely creation using poached pears (and their liquid), Scotch,  and Balvene.
Here are the three cocktails we've tried. As you can see, I did not drink too much because they were rather strong for me, but they did taste good.

We also attended a workshop about restaurant reviews. But I'm getting too tired of writing this recap, so I'll leave you with the photo of Rainbow Rose, something we had with chocolate at the end of the event.

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this entire experience! I also ran into Amy Riolo, another Chef I worked with at Sur La Table, Amber Pfau (who has a PR restaurant business), chatted with Carla Hall (who remembered me!!!) and just loved listening to people who are passionate about food and are able to make a living from it.


Shaw Girl said...

Sounds like it was a great event! I'm going to try that lime/lemon trick at home!

Quinn said...

Fabulous review! How are your pictures so much closer than mine? We have the same camera?!?!?

Unknown said...

Nice recap, Olga. Good pix, too (except for a certain one....)

nicole said...

This looks like it was a lot of fun!
I will definitely go next year~

K said...

Great recap- thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

So much fun! My friend told me about this event and I kind of wanted to go but of course I couldn't with my busy mom schedule :(

Joie de vivre said...

What a fun event! The picture of you with your little ice cream is so cute. You're right, that bracelet is fabulous.

Unknown said...

Why would anyone ever give up cheese? I couldn't do it ;-)

Delicious Dishings said...

Sounds like a fabulous event! And that's so neat that you knew Carla before Top Chef.

Love your bracelet!

Lele said...

I'm so glad Carla is as nice as she seemed on TV! What a cool event. Now that I'm back in the DC area, I'm going to have to keep my eyes out for delicious things like that!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

You looks good. Silver bracelet rocks....and a great outing!