Borderstan welcomes new contributor From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com
9:30 Club and DC Central Kitchen teamed up recently to host another successful Soundbites DC. Under the groovy guise of a sixties tie-dye, outdoor music festival, DC music lovers and foodies reveled in tastings from the city’s best restaurants. I had the good fortune to be one of them. Tents lined V Street NW outside the 9:30 Club with vendors hawking tasting plates ranging from Shake Shack’s Oatmeal Pie frozen custard, to Indique’s chicken tikka masala, to Pepe the Food Truck’s Spanish ham and cheese. And with all food donated by the local restaurants themselves, ticket sales directly benefited DC Central Kitchen.
With my hand finally stamped and my mouth hanging open, I realized fairly quickly after cleareing the gates that I couldn’t simply eat my way from station to station; a Mac Rib slider from Sixth Engine, shrimp polenta from Policy, and a focaccia sandwich from Cork later, my strategy had to change. The sheer volume of samplings gathered in one place imposed a degree of selectivity. My passion for food and appetite to give each dish a chance drove me to literally overstuff myself. Even so, it was physically impossible to taste every single dish. Within the first 45 minutes, I was packed to the gills.
Nevertheless, I managed to sample a few of the dishes I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself for missing. One highlight included the ceviche from Pearl Dive Oyster Palace that otherwise would have required a two-hour wait on a Saturday night. A salty, crunchy tortilla chip was the vehicle for a tender and acidic octopus topped with red onion and cilantro. Mandu represented both East Asian flavors and upper Dupont’s 18th Street with a spicy kimchi and pork taco.
Herbivores, however, flocked to the Mediterranean dish at Room 11, offering one of the few vegetarian dishes at the event, tahini dressing and cayenne complimented the smoky, garlic roasted cauliflower well. Meat eaters rejoiced over the range of sliders offered, but unfortunately those with more classic interpretations often went overlooked in favor of the more exotic renditions. Harry’s Smokehouse provided a favorite, and practically a whole meal—the tasting plates (let alone my stomach) could hardly fit the juicy barbecued pulled pork slider, collard greens and cornbread.
Soundbites DC was the perfect marriage of philanthropy, music, and food, entirely designed and targeted for the active Washingtonian and highly representative of some of Borderstan’s very best. I keep my own bucket list of restaurants I have been meaning to visit, and this event allowed me to cross many of them off (and in quite the cost effective way). Knowing that the proceeds of ticket sales directly benefited DC Central Kitchen made the $40 deal even more delicious.
So what’s your strategy? How do you survive the enormity of DC’s food festivals? Let me know and I’ll try it out at DC’s next food event!