In May, the annual National Harbor Wine and Food Festival combined some of Washington’s top chefs with tastes of food and drink. Then they threw in a great venue – right on the water – and good spring weather. That’s the formula for a great weekend!
Alas, we could only stay for Saturday, but it was enough to see chefs Mike Isabella, Rock Harper, and Scott Drewno playing to the crowd (especially Chef Rock, who had his homies from Alexandria cheering him on!)
First, though, some observation on that crowd and the venue. The pier had a new attraction this year: the just-about-to-be-completed Ferris wheel.
The bubbly flowed at the Opici tent as Ann-Marie poured tastings. Sparkling wine is my favorite tipple, and they had Cava, Prosecco and Champagne varieties to be savored.
Patrons could pose in a Big Chair with the river in the background and pretend they were on a cruise.
One guy wore his sentiments on his back.
There was a bachelorette party having a good time, posing and procuring headgear from the Balloon Man.
At the Stella Artois tent, I sampled the new line of cidre (European style cider) and admired the hostesses in their matching dresses.
Off the pier, a large beer tasting tent was pitched on the grass. It was a great place to picnic and chill.
And more cider for tasting – my choice over beer any day!
Now, about those chefs. Mike Isabella of Graffiato in Washington, DC did a little tasting himself before his demo.
Then he got down to business and showed us how to make gnudi, which are like gnocchi (and just as much fun to say), poached in water and showered with goat cheese, prosciutto, eggplant and basil.
Chef Rahman “Rock” Harper continued the Italian theme with his preparation of risotto, using mascarpone, butter and Parmesan cheese (what wouldn’t taste good with those ingredients?) “It’s rice and cheese at the end of the day!” So true.
The Italian spell was broken by Chef Scott Drewno of The Source by Wolfgang Puck, who opted to prepare lamb skewers with Asian spices. He showed off his new toy, a stone mortar and pestle he got from Eden Center for $20.00, perfect for grinding spices and making marinades.
The crowd at the demo tent appreciated the big monitors so they could get close-ups of the cooking action.
After the demos, the three chefs posed for pictures by Nycci Nellis of TheListAreYouOnIt, who organized the demos for the festival.
On the way back to the car, I couldn’t help but peek into the Peeps store. If you are hankerin’ for a sugar overdose, that is the place!
But we were sated for at least the rest of the day. Sweet wine, cider, food, and cooking camaraderie were plenty for us!