Bountiful fare at Share our Strength's Taste of the Nation

So here it is, right on time, the rundown from the Beautiful Dish staffers on Share our Strength's Taste of the Nation event from April 8. Apologies to our growing legion of readers (and Professor Robbie Russell) for the delay, but I will happily use the two-year old daughter, pregnant wife plus being injured card in my defense (editors note – I like the nickname Professor Robbie Russell).

Onto the evening...

I've been really excited for Taste of the Nation ever since Professor Russell mentioned it. Some of the best chefs and restaurants in the city combining to support a cause that's very close to my heart = a win-win for me. The Professor was a late scratch due to an illness of unappetizing details that have no place on a food blog. So the Beautiful Dish was ably represented by myself and James Riley at the National Building Museum.

Before I get to the food and drink, I will say that I couldn't, in good conscience, criticize any chef or restaurant donating his or her time for a good cause, so the point of this entry will be to give you a feel for the event as well as some of the food and drinks that really stood out.

Not knowing what to expect, I was admittedly overwhelmed heading inside the museum. There was a line wrapping around the block that we avoided thanks to our VIP tickets. I had no idea there would be so many restaurants and bars represented, a testament to the chefs here in D.C. The whole atrium (what a beautiful space) was full of restaurants serving samples at stalls. If there was logic behind the layout it was lost on me, I got lost, surrounded by every type of food and cuisine you could imagine: Italian, Indian, Japanese, Belgian, French, Mexican (in big numbers), Greek, barbecue, seafood, comfort food, all intertwined with cupcakes, gelato, cookies, with some cocktail and wine bars thrown in to top it off.

I arrived hungry, which was great in the sense that I easily ate three times what the normal attendee would, but maybe at the expense of serving the purposes of this blog somewhat. (Note to self: avoid preoccupation with rushing to taste everything at the expense of taking pictures and remembering details.) If this event is any indication of food trends in the city, which I think a safe assumption given who was involved, braised anything, soups, and burgers are so hot right now.

On that note, will the cupcake bubble ever burst?

It was great to see a few favorites of my new city represented: Founding Farmers, Hank's, Dolcezza Gelato (go for the Salted Caramel) to name a few, and a few others that are worth mentioning.

Belga Cafe, which I went to last weekend, had the best stall/stand, a faux food truck and served up some sort of braised beef with a waffle, not a combo I'd ever experienced, waffles have always been breakfast food for me, but it worked.

I loved Rappahannock Oyster company, just fresh oysters served simply with the usual fixings.

I appreciated the quail egg that topped each mini burger at the BGR stand.

Best drink goes to Matt Ficke of the Columbia Room, who crafted up an amazing cocktail unlike anything I've ever tasted with Green Hat distilled gin.

All in all, it was a great night, a great opportunity for me to get a taste of the city, all in the name of a good cause.