Sunday, May 23, 2010

Zoofari 2010

Since finishing my one-class a week, four year long MBA, I have been a bit crazy about weeknight dining; DC provides a lot of opportunities to support some great causes and have fun in the process, in spite of the probable headache the next morning.

This year's Zoofari, billed by the Zoo as the “premier foodie event” turned out to be a really well put together event on a lovely spring evening. While the cocktails and mixologists that were the main attraction of the Taste of the Nation were sadly absent, the food choices were more varied and extensive. And the awesome entertainment included a cake decorating contest judged by Charm City Cake mastermind Duff from Ace of Cakes, several live music troupes, and access to the Zoo's small mammal, reptile and gorilla houses.

And perhaps my favorite part, the useful tray pictured below, which you will note included a drink holder, made walking around and enjoying the many drink offerings much easier -- maybe too easy.

The night’s main food theme seemed to be endless variations of gazpacho; I recall several traditional recipes, as well some sort of watermelon varietal. As would be expected, Michel Richard hit this dish out of Woodley Park with Central's yellow tomato and goat cheese rendition.

A surprise standout was the surf and turf from Mitsitam Cafe, the Smithsonian Native American museum's cafeteria. A rich, juicy fresh ground bison and duck burger was served along side a seared sea scallop with a cherry reduction. If you have not yet tried this museum, it's worth it just for a visit to the ground floor cafeteria; the offerings are affordable and as varied as the cultural exhibits upstairs.
Mitsitam Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wolfgang Puck's Asian Fusion restaurant The Source showcased a succulent, caramelized chicken dumpling.

And below is 1789's oyster with house cured bacon. The intense flavor of this chargrilled oyster made for a perfect bite, and unexpectedly reminded me of a food field trip last fall.

And a far less haute choice, but a surprisingly delicious combination was M and S Grill's pot roast nachos. Though the chef at the Reston location pioneered this item, the chef downtown promised me that he will add it to his menu later this week. Yes, it sounds strange, but the tender pot roast was rich and offset by crispy tortilla chips, fresh roasted corn and bright red peppers.
M & S Grill - Reston on Urbanspoon

And of course, Georgetown Cupcake was there, with animal fondant topped cupcakes. What can I say? I am sucker for these and really enjoyed my lava flow cupcake, a rich chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream and a fudge core.

Since there were over 100 restaurants, this is only a small sampling of the best offerings. And the only let down of the night was Morton's sad, filet mignon sandwich that is usually available at their bar's happy hour. I suppose I will cross that one off the to-try list.

This event was a lot of fun; the animal viewings were limited. So while it is a great night out, those who brought children were a bit disappointed. But we did get to spend some quality time--beers in hand--with B's favorite family.

I am looking forward to next year; Zoo supporters who double as foodies should definitely consider attending this event.

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