Saturday, August 2, 2014

Photo Recap: Appetite: A Gastronomic Experience

Todd Gray & Ellen Kassoff Gray of Equinox Talk Salmon

Today was Day 2 of Appetite: A Gastronomic Experience... The "meat and potatoes" of Strathmore's inaugural food festival, held in between special guest appearances by Giada De Laurentiis (last night) and Andrew Zimmern (earlier this evening.) As if walking the 11+ acres of Strathmore wasn't enough, picture those same beautiful grounds covered with food trucks, musicians and thousands of exuberant foodies. It's enough to make you ask, "What does Strathmore have in store for us next year?"

Last night's happy hour and headliner performance by the always radiant Giada (I think she qualifies for one-name recognition, don't you?) was a hoot; but I need food, and lots of it. That's what today was for; and the folks at Strathmore didn't disappoint, producing a true Smörgåsbord of the first order. That means food (lots of tasty freebies provided by Whole Foods Market, and enough food trucks to cover even the pickiest of tastes.)

Lazy Girls, courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

There was no reason to walk away hungry from today's festival. Whole Foods saw to that, all by their lonesome. Their table of treats included a refreshing Beet Gazpacho, Radish Tartine with hand-whipped butter and New Day Farms micro greens (absolutely divine!) and simple wedges of mouth-watering watermelon with cheese... all absolutely FREE of charge.

The Culinary Nomad Food Truck

Normally I'd help myself to something from Strathmore's superb Prelude Café; but José AndrésPepe food truck was nearby... and how does one resist Mr. Andrés, even by proxy? I ordered his Pollo Frito (fried chicken breast with lettuce, piparra peppers, aioli & brava sauce for $11.) I walked back into Strathmore (sandwich in hand) earning audible oohs and aahs from jealous bystanders (so jealous, they didn't realize they could get their own... less than 100' away.)

José Andrés' Famous Pepe Food Truck

For the record, the Pollo Frito is almost as good as it looks; but it bears mentioning, this is a very messy sandwich (ask for lots of napkins.) Both the bread and chicken are lights-out delicious. Count on lots of tender meat, made even more flavorful thanks to the aforementioned piparra peppers (relatively mild, in terms of heat.) Unfortunately the combination of aioli & brava sauce is administered with a heavy hand, temporarily distracting you from bread, so perfectly toasted... you'll think you died and went to Heaven. By the time I was done, I needed a bucket of water and a sponge; although my tummy was in a state of temporary euphoria. Looking back, that's a trade I'm willing to make 99% of the time.

Pollo Frito Sandwich from Pepe

Strathmore did a great job in its food festival debut (Todd & Evelyn Gray was a terrific get too) and my mind is already running wild over what "could be" in the future. I'd love to see more exhibitors and more items for sale. Something with desserts (I have a sweet tooth) would be great too. Food trucks are a natural fit, and provide plenty of quality and variety. I still miss the Comcast Outdoor Film Festival; but Strathmore's Gastronomic Experience manages to maximize Bethesda's most marvelous venue... and you can't ask for more than that. Or can you? How does Sunday sound? Three days trumps two, doesn't it?

Live Music at the Backyard Theater Stage

All Things Olive

Delicious Samples from Whole Foods Market

More Delicious Freebies, Courtesy of Whole Foods

Free samples, courtesy of Whole Foods

Strawberry Lemonade with Reyka Vodka