I had the pleasure of attending D.C’s Taste of the Nation this past Monday. The evening is a beautiful charity event that brings the finest chefs, sommeliers, and mixologists together to combat children’s hunger. It was a remarkable night of dining and sipping in support of No Kid Hungry.
Let’s start with the location: the National Building Museum—a building dedicated to buildings. The space and venue is gorgeous and breathtaking. Complete with string lights and a rocking DJ booth, the space and atmosphere was a crowd pleaser. In five years of Bitching, Cori Sue (my date) had been to many food and charity events here, but this was my first.
I appreciated the organization and layout of the space. There were strategically placed clusters of restaurants and vendors, making the evening easy to navigate. The drinks are located in the middle for easy access. There is even a separate Dessert Room which, obviously, did not disappoint.
Most of the food is easy to eat in one bite or with one hand. However, there is some balancing and maneuvering required if you want to drink and eat at the same time. My recommendation is to divide and conquer. Scour the drinks and try them all. Hey, it’s for charity. After you’ve had a couple drinks, start on one side of the room and hit all of the booths and vendors as you make your way towards the other side. Make sure to stop in the middle and grab another drink or two. Finally, take a tour of the Dessert Room for a perfect ending to a great night. You’ll be sure to feel tipsy, full, and very satisfied at this point.
There were plenty of wine options and they were all delicious and refreshing. The cocktails were very funky and strong. There was even a cotton candy drink from Maryland Live! Casino that was quite sweet but incredibly tasty.
Some of our favorite vendors included Eat the Rich, Le Diplomate, Maketto, Honeysuckle, The Royal, Medium Rare, Woodward Table, Pinstripes, Vinoteca, and Bourbon Steak. Make a note that this is not an event for picky eaters. You will have to be open to trying different and creative concoctions from gifted chefs. Think salmon tartar, octopus, fois gras macarons, and creamed prosciutto. There were also plenty of yummy crowd pleasers such as bruschetta, ravioli, and short ribs with mashed potatoes.
The evening began at 7 p.m. for regular ticket holders and ended at 9 p.m. (We were lucky enough to gain access at 6 p.m. with media!) However, I noticed that many vendors seemed to begin packing up closer to 8:30 p.m. Maybe they were running out of food or had to be cleaned up by a certain time—but the packing made the last 30-minutes seem rushed and a little frantic. As someone who doesn’t go to these types of events every week, I would have liked to get the full two hours of experience.
Overall, we would recommend this event for all D.C. dwellers and out-of-towners. If you’re someone who is new to D.C., this would be a great event to familiarize yourself with the D.C. food landscape and meet other foodies as well. To recap—we suggest you scope out the scene before diving in and work your way from one end of the room to the other. Then, repeat. Sip your drinks separately so you can enjoy every taste and not spill anything on your cocktail dress. Most importantly, save room for dessert!