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Destination DC + Foodbuzz = Staycation in DC

A few weeks ago I received an email from Foodbuzz letting me know that they've paired up with Destination DC and would like to fly me in to participate in the "Washington, DC: A Culinary Capital." I was confused: I actually live in DC area, but decided to email Foodbuzz back and see if I could still participate. Not only did Foodbuzz say yes, but they also agreed to let me stay in the posh Liaison hotel, conveniently located steps away from my work.
I was on cloud 9! Three days and three nights of eating out in some of the best DC restaurants--I was ready for an adventure. I packed my bags (including exercise clothes in order to use the gym at Liaison), watered my plants, and set out on staycation of the lifetime!

I was greeted in my hotel room with an information folder with a hand-written note from Rebecca and Chris (my "chaperones" and "tour guides" from Destination DC), some beauty products, potato chips (that were left uneaten) and a large salty cookie from Teaism (♥!).

After a hard day at work (sarcasm!), I decided to take a nap before meeting the rest of the group for dinner. Before I tell you about dinner, however, let me tell you that I fell in love with the black-out curtains in the room and how much water pressure there was in the shower: little things make me happy!

Where was dinner, you wonder!? At Art & Soul, where Art Smith, two-time James Beard Award Winning Chef (who was also Oprah's personal chef), creates dishes using fresh and seasonal ingredients with a Southern twist.

I've been to Art & Soul once for an alumni happy hour and was looking forward to trying out the restaurant's dinner menu. I wasn't expecting to see Art Smith, whom I saw the night before on Top Chef, where he was a guest judge. But as soon as I made my way to our private dining room, there he was! Art sat at the table with us for several hours talking about food, travel, love and everything else under the moon.

After meeting the rest of the people on the tour including bloggers, freelancers and journalists, it was time to order drinks. I chose Savannah: vodka, African Nectar Tea and peaches. The cocktail was pretty, but lacked in sweetness. (Speaking of pretty, my photographs came out horrid, so I'm posting some photos courtesy of Cathy from GastronomyBlog.)

While we were chatting and sipping our cocktails, we were treated to a few passed appetizers. One of my favorites was a mini sandwich with fried chicken: you can't get more Southern than that.

(and another favorite: seared tuna appetizer)

And then it was time for dinner. I wasn't playing around: I wanted steak. And steak I got: Bone in prime ribeye with crisp fingerlings, creamed spinach and black pepper marmalade. I wish you could see the plate: it could have easily fed 4 people: don't worry, I shared my food with others.

The meat was cooked to order: medium rare and had a luscious pink center. It was tender, satisfying and my only disappointment was that the hotel room did not have a refrigerator, so I could not take my leftovers back.  The potatoes were tender on the inside and crispy on the outside: just as I like them. And the creamed spinach...well, that was just a dream. If you can't get your kids to eat vegetables, try luring them in with the creamed spinach.

After we finished the main course, the table was filled with dessert: one of each from the menu. My favorite ones were chocolate terrine with espresso gelato and popcorn brittle and strawberry cheesecake made with whole wheat crust and balsamic molasses.

This was such a wonderful start to what promised to be a great staycation. Stay tuned for more posts about Ethiopian food, Jose Andres' Restaurants, dinners at Birch & Barley and Belga Cafe, a tour of Dupont Farmer's Market and brunch at Blue Duck Tavern.

I leave you with a photo of a rooftop swimming pool at Liaison.


Gastronomer said...

The BBQ chips in our goodie bags were some of the best I've ever had. In fact, I ate the whole bag in 1.5 sittings. Delish!

Justin said...

that is so cool. why doesn't anyone invite me to stay in a swanky hotel nearby my office?

Velva said...

This food event rocks! Lucky you.

mary said...

Lawdy, this post makes me think I should join food buzz after all.

Delicious Dishings said...

Is that seared tuna on top of a fried green tomato? Yum! How nice to get a little staycation like that!

FOODalogue said...

Lucky you! What a fun opportunity. Now I want to go to Art + Soul!

nicole said...

Olga, I can't believe you got to meet Chef Art Smith! I'm going to dinner at Art & Soul for Restaurant Week 8/16 (right before my San Francisco trop @__@), and I can't wait! The espresso terrine looks absolutely delicious, hopefully they'll have it. The chicken sandwich apps look yummy too!

How was the area at night time?

I can't wait to see the next installments of your staycation!

Lele said...

Aagh so jealous! I'm hoping to get to Art and Soul for restaurant week!

Unknown said...

Wow, thats amazing, yesterday i got offered some free sugar and I thought I got lucky :P.
*kisses* HH

Julia said...

It sounds like you had a great time. The food looks delicious.

Fernando said...

Wow! I'm so jealous of you right now that I can hardly make myself write this comment :)

I've heard a lot about Art Smith's fried chicken, especially the one from Table 52 in Chicago. Apparently, it takes 3 days just to make it and he only serves it on Sunday nights.

Enjoy the rest of your staycation and I look forward to the rest of the posts/reviews!

The Duo Dishes said...

Lucky lucky lucky!

Kim @ The Celebration Shoppe said...

Shared you with my readers this morning! Those fried chicken biscuits... wow!