Continuing the theme of enjoying friends with connections, my good friend Kristina said she could get me into the Washingtonian’s Best of Washington party at the National Building Museum in D.C. Sadly (for me), she spends her days across the country in the land of palm trees, so this was both a time to catch up and enjoy fabulous food and drinks. While tickets sold for over $100, Kristina’s connection was a good friend who worked security for the NBM, and so I & another of her friends was invited to come one, come all through the service entrance!
What a party! Restauranteurs lined up back to back, offering a taste of their delicious genius, whether in tasty bites or sips. It was a bit of a whirlwind atmosphere, with so much to look at and try, and being with a group made it difficult to slow your pace! I wanted to try everything and document every part of it, but as I said, this was about catching up and spending time with friends. I often employ a ‘grass is greener’ mindset, where I only want to break off and let each experience sink in, only to feel lost whenever I realized my group had moved on. Anyway, I did my best and I hope I can convey the excitement and glamour of the night through my photos and recounts. It was quite magical…
Upon arriving, my first tastes were a scallop ceviche and Ultimat Vodka lemonade. The scallop ceviche was excellent, tasting like a really fresh scallop salsa, with spicy cilantro and onion complementing the refreshing scallop. I always liken really good, fresh seafood to water — it has the same healthful, invigorating qualities.
The Ultimat Vodka lemonade stand was my winner of the night. It was the first and last drink of the party and for me, the only drink that made me mad for it. They had several flavors that mixed fruit with herbs, but my jam was the watermelon & rosemary. I was amazed at its purity, tasting like a cup of sweet watermelon juice, no liquor in sight. Thinking back, I’m not sure how much vodka was actually in it because I had several drinks (along with a few others including a tequila mixer, sake, and a sangria) and was a placid drunk at best. No wildness, just an uncomfortable bladder. But GODDAMN, were they delicious. It matched the freshness of the scallop and blew every other drink I had that night out of the water.
What came next was our hurried rush around the party, trying to take everything in while satisfying each person’s need. I managed to grab a delicious bowl of meat from Charlie Palmer Steak, and oh my god — another favorite of the night. The slow roasted steak served with gravy and horseradish cream was delectable. The slow cooked steak was so tender and full of flavor, and the pungent kick of the horseradish elevated the dish and left me wanting more.
Moving onward, we were on the hunt for micro-brewed craft beers and walked over to the other side where all the people seemed to be. Food was a little harder to get to, but we did come across a bookshelf covered with little desserts from Cafe Du Parc that were positively darling. Sadly, I did not try each and every one but only the chocolate layered wafers. It was appropriately delicious with the crispness of thin wafers and creamy chocolate, and had the added bonus of being small enough to eat in one bite.
Next was the peach sangria and oysters. Upon realizing Patron was handing out personalized juicers, we decided that waiting in line for one was a proper use of our time. Kristina had spoke of a peach sangria “in the area,” and I offered to go grab us both cups of it while she waited in line. What followed was my frantic attempt at finding a table serving sangria in a sea of free drinks and people. I approached many tables exclaiming, ‘Is this sangria??’ only to be met with, ‘No, but try this instead.’ All the drinks I wasted, sipping momentarily only to toss in the trash, makes the cheap drunk in me weep. The long line for a Patron juicer turned out to be a dead end and instead of waiting in the required other line, we opted to forgo it and move on. Peach sangria (from Boqueria) was found and drank. Yummy, but no watermelon lemonade.
We sat down with our drinks and took a much needed rest, as the heels I wore started to savagely attack my feet. I mean, they make you look glamourous and all but UG, give me flats or flip flops. Needless to say, I was padding around barefoot by the end of the night. Eventually we moved on, and came across a table of oysters, which was a rather joyous moment, because they are oysters! And in our case, they were free. I was spoiled rotten with the Boathouse at Rocketts Landing being my first oyster tasting, and so most other oysters don’t have the same amazing freshness I remember from my first time. Still, it was clean and refreshing with just a little bit of grittiness.
By this time, many food vendors had run out of food, packed up and left, but the drinks still flowed heavily. I made frequent trips to the bathroom and the lemonade stand, often at the same time since they were in close proximity. I wish I had eaten more food, but when you’re at a party that grand, sometimes all the excitement makes you lose your voracious appetite.
As I mentioned, Kristina had a good friend working in security, and as a special treat, he took us up to the roof of the museum. Kevin was a very cool host, and it was quite exhilarating to be up there. It wasn’t a rooftop area that you see in so many high-rises and restaurants, it was the roof. We were walking around and sitting down on the shingles, and shimmied as close as we could to the edge to take photos. Even if I was barefoot and spilling my drink, I felt rich. 🙂
Afterwards we hung around in the security office until it was time for everyone to go. It was an amazing experience to go to this party, and despite current circumstances that have cropped up in my life, I will always be proud that I attended the 2013 Best of Washington party. I got to taste some amazing food from restaurants that I will probably never be able to afford, meet new people and extend my knowledge of what D.C. has to offer. Although she was thanked heavily, I will throw in another big THANK YOU to Kristina for inviting me along. I had a blast love, thanks for the memories!
More photos from my night: