Get Local Flavors at Taste of D.C.

Posted October 3, 2003 at 2:29pm

In a city loaded with diverse restaurants, from Ethiopian and New American chic to sandwich shops and hot dog stands, it’s sometimes hard to take full advantage of all the flavors it has to offer. That will all change this weekend, when the 12th annual “Taste of D.C.: A Salute to Our City” hits the streets of downtown Washington with the perfect crash course in D.C. flavor.

The Washington D.C. Convention and Tourism Corp. will host the all-day culinary event Oct. 11-13, which will feature food from more than 40 of D.C.’s favorite restaurants, a fine dining pavilion, a wine tasting pavilion, arts and crafts displays, live music and more.

“There’s something for everyone,” said Dawn Poker, media relations manager at the WCTC.

“It has a lot of different elements to it, with experiences everyone can enjoy.”

Popular with locals as well as visitors, the festival aims to illuminate the city’s cultural heritage through food.

“We can tell who we are by the kind of food we eat,” said D.C. City Councilman Harold Brazil (D-At Large), adding that the festival creates a venue for people of the “huge jurisdiction” to meet. “Food is about fun, it’s about tradition, fun, vibrancy. I am giving the stamp of approval on this fine activity.”

Last year, the culinary festival attracted more than 600,000 people, a number event organizers hope to increase this year. Taste of D.C.’s highest attendance was 1 million visitors in 1996, the year the AIDS memorial quilt was on the National Mall.

Nevertheless, with thousands of visitors, Taste of D.C. is the largest outdoor food and music festival on the East Coast. From 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., booths line Pennsylvania Avenue between Seventh and 14th streets Northwest that will allow visitors to taste the city’s signature culinary experiences, ranging from Chesapeake crab totopos to cucumber gazpacho.

New to this year’s event is the “Wines of the World” tasting area on Woodrow Wilson Plaza. To complement the fine dining experience, the Taste of D.C. will serve wines from eight different vineyards from the United States, Chile, Italy and Australia.

Next to tantalizing taste buds, Taste of D.C. will also host a variety of local and international artists and cultural groups.

Featured entertainers include seven-time Grammy winner Eddie Palmieri, Chuck Brown, Josh Kellel, Mem Shannon & the Membership, and Last Train Home. The new Arts and Culture stage will host performances from Washington-based performing arts groups, including choral groups, jazz ensembles, dance programs and educational demonstrations.

Other new features to this year’s event are the Seagram’s Vodka DJ Lounge, showcasing DJs from local nightspots, and Avon’s Let’s Talk Beauty mobile salon, featuring on-site manicures and makeovers.

Admission to the Taste of D.C. is free, but visitors must purchase tickets to sample the food. Six dollars buys five tickets, and $28 will buy 25 tickets. Most of the samples cost between four and eight tickets.

A percentage of the ticket revenue is given to participating restaurants, but the remainder will go to local community charities: The Children’s Care Foundation Inc., Project Harvest Inc., D.C. Central Kitchen, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, and the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade.