It has taken a few years, but the District has made it onto some of the big food and drink road tours and festivals (think Lamb Jam and Cochon 555) so now there’s a wider variety of flavors for locavore food-lovers to discover. And slowly, we are seeing the arrival of underrepresented international cuisines on chef’s menus. You can count on one hand the number of Turkish restaurants in D.C. and yet Turkey is a country with an incredibly rich, ancient cuisine. This is changing as new restaurants make inroads on D.C.’s culinary map with the opening of Ankara on May 19. Beverage brands, restaurants, food purveyors, and wineries are all devising more engaging ways to introduce consumers to their fantastic food and drink, so keep reading this weekly column find out what’s happening in D.C.’s dining scene.
ABV: DC’s Leading Libation Festival
If you’re happy when you’re drinking clap your hands — ABV has arrived. Hosted by the beverage dudes from Neighborhood Restaurant Group, Greg Engert, Jeff Faile, and Brent Kroll are throwing a party on Saturday, May 16 from 3 to 8 p.m. at Canal Park and they are serving the good stuff. If it’s rare, premium, or hand crafted they’ve got it—seven smoking spirits, 20 primo wines, and 35 artisanal brews. General admission tickets are $65 and VIP tickets are $85. To help soak up some of that alcohol, munch on snacks like smoked pork or brisket sliders, chicken wings, and hot dogs.
American Lamb Jam: D.C.
Combine Iron Chef with a rock concert and food festival and you have American Lamb Jam 2015. Sponsored by the American Lamb Board, this tasting event and cooking competition pits chefs against each other across five cities to see who can win the title of Lamb Jam Master. Covering the weekend of Friday, May 15 through Sunday, May 17, the festivities include a range of events, seminars, and tastings that cost $60 to $150 per person. Attendees get to vote on the best lamb dish and can sample locally prepared artisanal foods, brews, and wines while watching butchery demos, meeting shepherds, concocting their own spice rub, and meeting local chefs.
Ankara Grand Opening
Turkish cuisine is one of the world’s three royal cuisines with a deserved reputation for transcendent food that is sophisticated, replete with complex flavors and textures, and wholly distinct. If you want to explore this ancient cuisine, let the Aslanturk family be your guide. On May 19, 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. they will be your hosts at the grand opening of Ankara Restaurant, their new restaurant celebrating classic and contemporary Turkish food. Good food and hospitality can be found at their new digs at 1320 19th Street NW. Please RSVP by email by Friday, May 15.
Culinary Tour of Mexico with Pati Jinich
Pati Jinich is a woman of many talents: Mexican chef, cookbook author, cooking show host, and cooking teacher, but she also epitomizes the warmth and hospitality of Mexico. Her cooking and tasting seminar, Culinary Tour of Mexico , is always a popular ticket because Jinich is an engaging storyteller, and she opens a window into the heart, soul, and culture of Mexico via its ancient cooking traditions. While you taste Jinich’s wonderful food at the event — hosted by Smithsonian Associates — she will share the beauty of Mexican foodways, by region, explain why certain ingredients, spices, and techniques are used for certain dishes, and reveal the history and significance of each recipe. Join the fiesta on Thursday, May 28, 2015 from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. Tickets are $35 for Smithsonian Associate members, $45 for non-members.
CURED: Central Virginia Bacon Festival
Are you ready to eat yourself into a bacon stupor? Because that’s a very real possibility if you attend CURED on Saturday, May 30, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Charlottesville, Virginia. Sponsored by Starr Hill Brewery, and Rock Barn and this is one culinary event worth the drive from D.C. The brews from Starr Hill are the perfect thing to drink with a surfeit of sausages and cured meats, and if there were butcher super heroes, the guys at Rock Barn would get their own comic. Farmers, brewers, cider makers, and award-winning chefs are all gathering to celebrate the bounty and creativity of central Virginia’s food and drink artisans. General Admission tickets are $30 ($35 if purchased after May 15), VIP tickets are $60, with all proceeds benefitting Local Food Hub, in Charlottesville, “a nonprofit organization that provides access to nutritious, locally farm-sourced food with the vision that knowledge and choice of local food becomes the norm, not the exception, for all segments of the community, and that small farms have a strong economic foothold in the marketplace.”