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A Visual Feast at the NASFT Fancy Food Show

June 19, 2012

Imagine Rodman's purchased an empty planet and filled it with everyone who made, packaged, distributed and sold the international gourmet foods, beverages and accessories they offer. Add cooking demonstrations by well-known chefs, 30 languages spoken all at once, and more samples of cheese and chocolate and gelato you can dream of.

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

Welcome to the Summer Fancy Food Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Normally in New York at the Jacob Javits Center, but here this year while they renovate. It's put on by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc. (NASFT) and they've been doing this since 1952.  Their shows have helped launch household brands including Ben & Jerry's, Perrier and Walker's Shortbread.

Truly overwhelming (2,250 exhibiting companies) but lots of fun. Here's my take away after three hours:

1. The rest of the world really does love soccer.

Somewhere between the aisles of Germany and Italy (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Somewhere between the aisles of Germany and Italy

2. Himalayan pink salt is not only pretty but better for you.

Amelia Bonanni of HimalaSalt, 250 million year old pure salt (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Amelia Bonanni of HimalaSalt, 250 million year old pure salt

3. Belgians really do make the best chocolate.

Frederic Blondeel Belgian truffles (Photo by: chocolateque.com) Frederic Blondeel Belgian truffles

4. Good packaging matters.

Monte Ida olive oil from Ayvalyk, Turkey (Photo by: Eliunt) Monte Ida olive oil from Ayvalyk, Turkey

Many familiar brands like Rao's pasta sauces and Bahlsen cookies, and clever new products already on the shelf like Corkcicle, the icicle that goes inside your wine bottle.

Mike Hamburger from Bahlsen (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Mike Hamburger from Bahlsen

Eric Miller from Corkcicle (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Eric Miller from Corkcicle

Sometimes costumes help draw attention to the product (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Sometimes costumes help draw attention to the product

Vivianna Martinez-Gonzalez of Eliunt, the beautifully packaged international collection of olive oils (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Vivianna Martinez-Gonzalez of Eliunt, the beautifully packaged international collection of olive oils

Japanese fish cakes (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Japanese fish cakes

Serendipity 3 Frrrozen Hot Chocolate (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Serendipity 3 Frrrozen Hot Chocolate


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Mexican-Inspired Bandolero a Crowd Pleaser

June 17, 2012

Mike Isabella (Photo by: Graffiato) Mike Isabella

Since former Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella opened Bandolero last month, Georgetown’s new hot spot has been packed every night. A 20-something bar crowd filled the street level main dining room Friday evening, while upstairs proved a bit lighter and quieter for small group conversation when The Georgetown Dish stopped by.

The salsa roja is hot and the beans are tipsy (frijoles borracho) at this “Mexican-inspired” small plates eatery. Dishes are filled with “flavors that are definitely global,” says general manager James Horn.

Guacamole salsa roja, masa crisps, chicarrones (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Guacamole salsa roja, masa crisps, chicarrones

Bring a designated driver and sample from the dozen brands of tequila or mixed cocktails with clever names like 'Remember the Maine' (rye, sweet vermouth, cherry heering and absinthe) or 'Aviation' (gin maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, crème de violette).

When it comes to taco fillings, the selection is trans-continental and exotic: octopus, charred asparagus, crispy mahi mahi, skirt steak and suckling pig.

Bandolero general manager, James Horn (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bandolero general manager, James Horn

Server, Michael Austin (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Server, Michael Austin

A Bandolero signature dish, the Queso Fundido comes to the table with a sunny side up egg and ready to be mixed with the duck confit, maitake and manchego cheese.

Suckling pig taco with apple, habanero and mustard (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Suckling pig taco with apple, habanero and mustard

Have a Chilean Petit Sirah with the Alambres (spicy hanger steak and chimichurri).  Salut!

Bandolero is at 3241 M Street. Tel: 202.625.4488

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)


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Saving Georgetown's Valley of Eden: Part 3

June 13, 2012

From Parts 1 & 2 you know the treasure that is Dumbarton Oaks Park, and how it's being restored by the National Park Service and Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy.

Forsythia Gate (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Forsythia Gate

As Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy president, Rebecca Trafton says,

"We're starting with a Signature Project covering two acres of the park, but we're also planning ahead." What she means is that everyone should have a chance to experience Georgetown's enchanting 'Valley of Eden.'

"We must envision a restoration of the entire 27-acre park, in a way that is both environmentally sustainable and will capture the spirit of Beatrix Farrand's original design."

(Photo by: Judith Beermann)

In the meantime, perhaps it's time you see for yourself how enchanting this naturalistic landscape- a magical combination of woodland, meadows, and a stream with many small waterfalls, bridges, and terraces- really is, even while beset by invasive plants and stormwater runoff.

Landscape architect Liza Gilbert and Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy president, Rebecca Trafton, discuss plans to make the park more accessible (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Landscape architect Liza Gilbert and Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy president, Rebecca Trafton, discuss plans to make the park more accessible

Access is from one of three spots:

1) Lovers' Lane from R Street in north Georgetown 200 feet east of R and 31st Streets.  There's a green-on-white wooden plaque pointing the way to “Dumbarton Oaks Park.”  It descends to the Park entrance on the left at the bottom of the hill.

Lovers' Lane (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Lovers' Lane

2) Off Massachusetts Avenue from Whitehaven Street near the Danish Embassy, down the dirt path. 

Whitehaven Street access near Danish Embassy (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Whitehaven Street access near Danish Embassy

3) From Wisconsin Avenue, on Whitehaven Street past the British School and a Georgetown University building. Turn right onto a dirt path and continue down the hill until you enter the park.

(Photo by: )

As part of the 3100-acre Rock Creek Park, Dumbarton Oaks Park is connected to trails throughout the city. But as a rare designed landscape, created as the "wild garden" component of the original 53-acre Dumbarton Oaks estate, this Park is unique. Deteriorated cultural artifacts- grottoes and a pebble path, a long stone bench overlooking the stream, an old stone pump house- tell the story of a much-loved landscape that once was. Now, once again, the Park is beginning to receive the love and attention it deserves. 

With the support of the Georgetown community, this magical oasis can be saved, to reward visitors for years to come.

For more information, visit Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy.


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