Saturday, October 11, 2014

Photo Recap: Taste of DC - Day 1

George kicks up his heels at the 4th annual Taste of DC

Mother Nature tried her best; but even she couldn't dampen the mood at the fourth annual Taste of DC along Pennsylvania Avenue earlier today. Day one was a huge hit, with hundreds (seemingly thousands) waiting in line to try delicious tastes from 70 local restaurants and food trucks (we managed to hit four ourselves, with more on the horizon tomorrow.) Live music (on two stages) and Ben's Chili Bowl World Chili Eating Championship (won by competitive eater extraordinaire Joey Chestnut) only added to the fun. Taste of DC continues tomorrow at noon (through 7:00 PM) with clear skies in the forecast.

In case you missed it, Chestnut won the Ben's Chili Bowl contest by scarfing down 1.875 gallons of chili, just ahead of last year's champion Bob Shoudt (1.625 gallons) and Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas 1.1875. It was Chestnut's second overall title (he won the inaugural contest in 2011) and solidifies his hold on the #1 world ranking, according to the International Federation of Competitive Eating (yes, there's such a thing.) I may never eat chili again. Speaking of eating, I managed to squeeze some in (without the pressure of competition.) Scroll down to read some of our mini-reviews. Check back later for day two summaries: Fingers crossed for short lines at The Carolina Kitchen and today's most popular destination Latin Grill. I'm getting hungry all over again.

Game time at Comcast XFINITY

Shooting hoops at Comcast XFINITY/NBA TV

Free Hummus, courtesy of Sabra

GoodBrotha Clyde at Stella Artois Beer Garden Music Stage

The Muddy Crows at Wine Stage

British Airways Pre-Flight Dining Menu

Ripple's Marjorie Meek-Bradley talks Italian meats

Abe the Matador!

George and Abe pose with fans

Appliance Builders Wholesalers

BGR The Burger Joint

District Doughnut: Two bucks for a mini doughnut is steep; but DD's Brown Butter (cinnamon dough, tossed in cinnamon sugar with brown butter icing) is mighty tasty, and darn nice to look at too. Truth be told, it could be one of the best doughnuts in DC. This calls for further investigation: A trip to 749 8th Street, SE for a full-size version, appears to be in order.

Brown Butter Mini Doughnut from District Doughnut

Carving Room: Great set-up (order taker in front of the stand = smart) and best menu card, by a country mile. I wanted to order all four items, but stuck to a $1 Cigar (fried spring roll, stuffed with Moroccan spiced ground beef) and a delicious Mini Corned Beef ($5, 21-day wet cure on rye with mustard and a thick pickle on top.) The sandwich was amazing, but pricey for basically 1/4 of a $12 sandwich without fries or slaw. The good news? I can't wait to visit their brick & mortar home near Mount Vernon Square.

Mini Corned Beef at Carving Room

$1 Cigar from Carving Room

Sophie's Cuban Cuisine: Three cheers for not raising prices (each empanada costs $2) and a standing ovation for serving 'em HOT! These full-sized treats ranked as the day's best value, and the Beef Patty... the day's best bite. Wish I could say the same for the Chicken Patty, but shredded, zestless chicken isn't my idea of tasty (stick to chunks please.) Not quite on par with Panas, but delicious all the same.

Sophie's Beef Patty

Sophie's Chicken Patty

Tapas Truck: I'm not a big fan of food trucks; but $3 for a sample size Corn Fritters (Sweet Corn Nuggets, served with Cilantro Lime Sauce) was too good a deal, to pass on. Great crunch, and I love the presentation (a la an ice cream cone) but be careful of the sauce, which overwhelms the fritters (especially on top.) It's applied generously, and adds a bit too much tartness for its own good. Cut the sauce in half, and we're talking a home run. Super fast (and friendly) service too. I can't wait to try the Shrimp Pil-Pil tomorrow ($9 with Garlic Fries.)

Corn Fritters from Tapas Truck