At the International Food & Wine Festival. Ends tomorrow!

Today my husband and I attended the “Grand Tasting” of the  The International Wine & Food Festival being held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC which was going on Friday and Saturday and will conclude tomorrow afternoon,  Sunday, February 14th. The 11th Annual Washington D.C. International Wine & Food Festival  gave Washingtonians the chance to sample  over 600 different wines from hundreds of international and local wineries from some of the world’s great wine producing regions including; Spain, France, Italy, Greece, New Zealand, and the U.S. I think that the majority of wineries present were from Spain. I noticed one from Greece and one from New Zealand (both I sampled). 

My husband and I who have been married over 6 years and been a couple for almost 9 hardly ever agree on a wine. I lean white; he prefers red. Being able to attend the Wines Fest today allowed us to try a variety of wines – and some of them we both actually liked. Some of mutual favorites included a Spanish wine from winery, Rias Baixas called Laxas Albarino. It was dry, fruity and crispy. We also agreed on an interesting inky colored Petite Sirah by Michael David Winery called Earthquake. We also had an opportunity to sample a variety of Greek wines – but the winery didn’t have any literature for reference.  

My husband, Ben forced me to try Absinthe (classified as a “spirit” and not a liquer) which is a very strong, highly alcoholic, green tinted liquor made from anise. The exhibitor, Vieux Carre, offered a variety of samples – one; however was plenty for me. I wouldn’t know, but Ben said the sample wasn’t very strong compared to other producers (luckily for me). 

Rachel Martin, The Boxwood Winery with Stacey Sheetz, Visit Loudoun

In addition to many international wines, there were also local wineries and wine organizations represented such as DC’s Wine Country and the Maryland Wineries Association.  The name is somewhat misleading as DC Wine Country provided samples of wines from various Virginia wineries in Loudoun County, located just 25 miles from Washington, D.C (I suppose that is close enough). At their both copies of “Touring Guide to DC’s Wine Country” by Ellen Kassoff-Gray were available. Does that name sound familiar? Yes; it should. She is the wife and partner of Todd Gray, Chef of Equinox restaurant located in Washington, DC. This publication by the Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association has grouped the county’s 22 wineries into 5 clusters and provides a colored coded table that lists wineries by region including hours and location. This guide has really inspired me to take some tours and explore my neighboring county. Rachel Martin, Executive Vice President, The Boxwood Winery (pictured) said that they just opened a new wine bar in Chevy Chase (5330 Western Ave.) called, “The Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop“.   

Jason Tesauro and Charlie Adler

I was also very happy to run into celebrated sommelier and style aficionado Jason Tesauro, author of The Modern Gentleman, as an exhibitor for Barboursville Vineyards. He is a very impressive man. Also at the next booth, I spotted familiar face Charlie Adler, local wine expert and recent author of I Drink on the Job. A Refreshing Perspective on Wine. Without asking, Charlie signed and gave me a copy of his book. I’ve already starting reading it and have been impressed about how much I don’t know about wine. This is a great book for folks who really want to learn about wine and especially those, like me, who want to explore food and wine pairings. 

In addition, there were some food samples from various exhibitors such as local favorites The Copper Pot Food Company that offered home-made jams and oils, others such as Muir Glen offered sample of their organic bruschetta, Bistro Blends of Ashburn offered delicious barrel-aged balsamic vinegar blends and specialty oils such as white truffle oil and my favorite Spice Rack Chocolates from Fredricksburg that offered herb-infused chocolates like you have never experienced in flavor combinations such as Grapefruit and Lavender and Mango and Black Pepper. I purchased a bottle of the Sweet Basil Oil from Copper Pot Food Company and wanted a bottle of Blackberry vinegar from Bistro Blends of Ashburn. I was really interested in the specialty teas and “tea enhancers” made from gourmet spice blends such as Catalyst Gourmet. 

Me sampling the Alaskan Cod

I thought that the “Street Fare Food Show” or street-foods pavilion was supposed to be part of the tasting. Upon arrival, we were denied entry and were told we didn’t have the right tickets. About an hour later, PR maven Jill Collins and her husband John present Ben and I with all access tickets to the pavilion! We were thrilled! There were six different tastings available: 1) Poached Alaskan Cod with Qunioa salad and lemon Preserve emulsion; 2) Falafel; 3) Pan Bagnat with Nicoise salad served in a crusty bread bowl; 4) Australian Lamb Loin pan roasted with winter root fricasse and cilantro mint sauce; 5) Ham and cheese sandwich; 6) Gelato. 

Of the offerings, the most impressive was the Alaskan Cod, although does not necessarily meet the “street food” theme. It was delicate and moist and was perfectly cooked and I just love Qunioa, although I didn’t taste too much lemon; I barely noticed it at all. The falafel was also very good served in a small triangle of pita bread with yogurt sauce and probably fits the bill better as street food. 

Lamb

My favorite of all of the pavilion offerings was the pan roasted Australian Lamb Loin with winter root vegetables in the cilantro mint sauce. The lamb was tender and juicy and the sauce tasted as if was poured right out of the pan – it was delicious. I loved the fresh cilantro and the carrots and beets (or turnips) were perfect to my taste, still slightly firm. I was impressed especially for the Cod and the Lamb, that the food didn’t seem like typical “banquet” food, which has a reputation for being pretty disgusting. 

Overall, we thought that the event was a lot of fun! There were a lot of great wineries offering samples of some pretty fantastic wines. Best of all, the exhibitors were knowledgable and spent the time to talk to you and find out what you like and dislilke. I really felt today, I learned more about wine. 

** Special thanks to Dusty Lockhart for the invitation – Ben and I haven’t had a better “date” in years! ::Hugs:: **

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One Response

  1. Lisa,

    If you or your readers would like to experience leisurely excursions into DC’s Wine Country, Reston Limousine offers public wine tours that transport guests to two area wineries each Saturday and Sunday — even through the winter! For a schedule of tours, please visit our online Calendar on our Web site.

    Cheers!

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