November 13, 2008

Say Yum: Capitol Food Fight

Monday was Deacon's first experience with the Capitol Food Fight, DC Central Kitchen's A-list benefit at the Reagan Building in downtown DC.

Around 800 guests and chefs packed the atrium area to sample food from 50 of the area's best restaurants and local vendors, plus watch the signature "Iron Chef" battle, where five of the city's hottest chefs vied for top honors.

Emceed by none other than the famed Ris Lacoste (when oh when will your restaurant open??) and Mark Kessler, participants were able to see the action from a conveniently-located screen above the competition. Each chef was given just a few moments notice and ten minutes to create dishes with secret ingreds like bourbon peaches and spiced cous cous. Dishes from the first round of competition looked delightful, but the second round's cous cous created a few strange iterations - a salmon roulade stuffed with the aforementioned ingredient that looked about to fall apart, namely.

But the true spectacles of the night were the restaurant's dishes themselves. Sampling all 50 would have been nigh impossible, but we are happy to list a few of our faves (and the surprising disappointments as well).

Salmon Belly & Yellow Tail Hamachi Tartare and "Pop Rocks" in mini ice cream cones from 701.
(See above photo). They sound disgusting, but were darn good.

Dark chocolate covered chocolate macaroons with salted caramel interiors, from Cacao Chocolates.
Oh my lord I could have eaten my weight in these. And the other desserts were beautiful too ...

Spicy chicken lollipop on a sugarcane skewer with fresh mango relish by Rasika.
I now have an unbeatble craving for Indian food, thanks.

Braised Kurobuta Pork Cheek Sandwich with Roasted Cipollini Onion Jam and Bacon from The Grill at Morrison House.
This station was nearly empty, and the mini rolls were almost as good as the sandwich interior. I need to make a rez here soon.

Foie Gras & Ruby Beet Macaroons with Fennel Powder from Volt.
Bryan Voltaggio has done wonders. This restaurant would be a hike, but the tastes here show it's probably worth it.

Art and Soul's Maracini.
Don't get me wrong, fried mac n' cheese balls are delish - these in particular, but I wish I'd seen something more inventive ... the dishes at the opening party were better.

Korean Slow Roasted Local Pork, Pickled Vegetables & Scallion Relish with Bulgogi Sauce from Mie N Yu.
This dish actually tasted fantastic, but it was in what looked like a mini stromboli shell and thus incredibly hard to eat without a knife. And since I could barely balance fork and wine ... it goes in the "medium" category for this reason only.

In general, I'm a fan of Kaz Sushi Bistro, but the crunchy shrimp cone I attempted to at was so flavorless (and almost rancid tasting) that I had to spit it out and run to the nearest trash can. I'm shocked ... and disgusted.

Mushroom en croute from Citronelle.
Come on, you're the most famous restaurant in the city ... and you serve me a dish that tastes like it came from Costco. Step it up, people.

Tortellini with Basil Cream from Bebo Trattoria
Same with this dish. If I wanted my food to taste like it came from a box I would have gone to Olive Garden.

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