I was so excited to have the opportunity to attend the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show in DC last weekend. MetroCooking DC is a two day annual event (this is their 9th year!) featuring celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations from local James Beard award winning chefs, culinary classes, workshops, book signings, food and beverage tastings, and local food vendors. We just moved to the DC area two months ago and this was my first year attending the event. So far, I definitely love our new home and all it has to offer.
Today, I will give a recap of the events held last Saturday and the food vendors. Part 2 will cover Sunday and the RAMW Grand Tasting Pavilion.
I started the day with an hour long cooking demonstration by Guy Fieri. He enlisted the help of WJLA news anchor Leon Harris. The duo were quite the hit and worked incredibly well together. I particularly loved that Guy brought up a young audience member to help him cook, the Step Stool Chef, and signed “Step Stool Chef You Rock- GF” on a wooden spoon for him. Guy Fieri also had another cooking demonstration that afternoon, a book signing, and a special VIP meet and greet.
While I attended the Guy Fieri demo, Chad checked out Travis Beckett’s workshop on “Better Coffee Brewing at Home”. Chad was not always a coffee drinker, but moved to the dark side after Evan was born. He learned a lot during the workshop and even took notes!
Chad enjoyed taste testing over 100 beers and wines at the Beer, Wine, and Spirit Pavilion. His favorite was the Schöfferhofer Grapefruit- a blend of Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen mixed with grapefruit juice. This was particularly surprising since he is not usually a fan of grapefruit.
We only got the chance to watch a couple of the cooking demonstrations. The first was from Chef Victor Albisu. He has two restaurants in the D.C. area- Del Campo, an upscale South American grill in D.C.’s Penn Quarter, and Taco Bamba, a takeout taqueria in Falls Church, Virginia. For the demo, he made Chupe de Camarones and Ceviche. I got to sample the Chupe de Camarones and it was absolutely delicious. It is a Peruvian Shrimp Stew made with shrimp, shrimp stock, corn, potatoes, rice, aji amarillo, a little cheese, and an egg. I definitely need to look further into Peruvian cuisine for the blog now that I have better access to the ingredients.
The other cooking demonstration I got to see was from Chef Vikram Sunderam. He is the chef of two modern Indian restaurants in D.C- Rasika Penn Quarter and Rasika West End. This year, he also won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. For the demonstration, he made Tawa Baingan, an Indian grilled eggplant dish stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes and topped with a peanut coconut sauce.
Here are just a handful of the over 300 vendors present at MetroCooking DC:
Laconiko was a familiar brand to me. I bought a bottle of their Blood Orange Infused Olive Oil while visiting Occoquan. I absolutely loved it (it was particularly delicious in a batch of orange olive oil muffins). Other infusions include lemon, basil, chipotle, Greek seasoning, lavender, rosemary, garlic, lime, and chives. All of their oils are 100 percent extra virgin. The name Laconiko comes from the region of Greece where the company’s private olive estate is located, Laconia. Click here to find a retail location that carries Laconiko near you or buy online.
Bazaar Spices is a D.C. based company offering an assortment of spices, botanicals, herbs, rice, flours, and lentils from around the world. You can find their spices and products in their shop in Washington D.C. or through their website. You can also check out their blog, Spicy DC.
Undone Chocolate is a DC based company owned by husband and wife team, Adam and Kristen Kavalier. They produce three chocolate bars: Nourish, Replenish, and Arouse. Nourish is made with only two ingredients, organic cacao and organic cane sugar.Replenish was my favorite with the addition of pink Himalayan sea salt. It complimented the dark chocolate perfectly. In Arouse, the chocolate is combined with cinnamon, cardamom, and chili pepper. It left a lingering spice and slight heat. Undone works with beans harvested from small coops that use eco-friendly organic practices in the Caribbean and South America. Their first bars will be available on November 15th!
I was particular excited to learn about Daregal Gourmet. This company offers cilantro, basil, parsley, and garlic in fresh frozen form. The herbs are frozen within 3 hours of harvesting and lightly coated with vegetable oil. They remain fresh for up to 36 months. Fresh frozen herbs would definitely be beneficial during the winter months when my garden is frozen over. You can buy Daregal Gourmet products at Giant, Stop and Shop, or online.
Karen Mary Confectionery is a handcrafted marshmallow and gourmet confection shop based in Washington D.C. Products include caramel classics (vanilla marshmallows layered with caramel, dipped in Belgian chocolate, and sprinkled in sea salt), classic vanilla, chocolate hazelnut, chocolate chip cookie, toasted coconut, orange cream, strawberry, lemon, beer, and vanilla chai. Featured in the photo above is their Toasted Coconut Marshmallow. You can order their products online or in various markets in the D.C. area.
DelGrosso is a pasta sauce company based in Pennsylvania. Their premium line of pasta sauces, La Famiglia DelGrosso, features an assortment of products made from imported whole peeled Italian plum tomatoes and named after individual family members. I got the opportunity to try Uncle Joe’s Vodka Celebration. This particular sauce is created from whole Italian plum tomatoes, special spices, cream and a splash of vodka. Vodka cream sauce is a favorite of mine and this one definitely did not disappoint. You can check to see if there is a retailer carrying La Famiglia DelGrosso near you or buy in bulk online.
Spartan Oil was founded by Greek-American, Pericles Konstas, to offer the highest quality extra virgin olive oil to consumers. The olive oil is produced from the family’s ancient olive trees in Sparta, Greece that are harvested by hand, pressed mechanically within 24 hours of harvest, and is not filtered. The olive oil is stored in all natural stoneware bottles that help keep the oil at a consistent temperature, are non-reactive, and prevent light transmission. You can buy their products online.
KarenKay’s Cakes is a cake company created by Karen Roberts in the Washington D.C. area. She uses local and organic ingredients to create her delicious pound cakes, carrot cakes, sweet potato cakes, red velvet cakes, fruit pies, muffins, and scones. Featured in the photo above is the Country Coconut Pecan Pound Cake “The Million Dollar Pound Cake”, created in honor of Karen’s mother. You can order directly from the website or visit them at local farmer’s markets.
True Honey Teas produces single serve teas in pods with the addition of local organic honey. They are compatible with brewers that accept K-cup pods. During the brewing cycle, the honey gently mixes with the tea, instead of ending up at the bottom of the mug. You can buy their products at Whole Foods (currently Vienna with more coming soon), online, or on Amazon.
The Tastes of Turkey booth by the American Friends of Turkey featured cooking demonstrations, Turkish food products, gadgets, cookbooks, coffee, and baklava. The American Friends of Turkey was created in 1982 to support and deepen the understanding between America and Turkey.
‘Chups is an all natural fruit ketchup created by husband and wife team, Matt Wallace and Kori Hill Wallace. Instead of tomatoes, they use other fruits/vegetable (Blueberry, Cherry, Mango, Plum, and Pumpkin) as the main ingredient in creating their ketchup. They do not contain any artificial colors, flavors, or ingredients and last up to 6 months. The mango was my favorite flavor. For those in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area, here is a list of stores where you can buy ‘Chups. Their products are also available online.
ChouQuette is an artisan chocolate and confection company based in Maryland. The chocolates are made with sugar, local butter and cream, natural infusions, and family-owned fair-trade Guittard chocolate. They can also make custom chocolates for your special event or business. You can buy the chocolates online or click here to find a retailer in the Maryland and DC metro area.
Virginia Vinegar Works is owned by Jay and Steph Rostow in Nelson County, Virginia. As opposed to many commercial companies that use equipment to speed the process of vinegar manufacturing, Virginia Vinegar Works creates their vinegar using the traditional French Orleans method. It takes longer, 2-3 months to create and 6 more months for aging, but the extra time definitely shows in their vinegar. Products include red wine vinegars, white wine vinegars, limited editions, and private labels. Their products are available at various stores in Virginia and D.C.
Heini’s came to MetroCooking DC all the way from Holmes County, Ohio. They have many varieties of cheese, from Amish Farm Milk Cheese to Organic and Yogurt Cultured Cheese. You can buy their products at Heini’s Cheese Chalet in Millersburg, Ohio or online. They also offer free cheese making tours.
Kaldí is run by Greg and Peter, the sons of Greek immigrants. They spent their childhood summers in Greece and developed a passion for Greek food. Their products include unfiltered extra virgin olive oil (made from handpicked Kolovi and Adramytiani olives) and Greek cooking sauces. Sauce flavors include Plaki (bell peppers, celery, and balsamic vinegar), Portokali (blood orange, black olives, and ginger), Saganaki (anise, black olives and capers), and Stifado (red wine, onions, and allspice). You can buy their products directly from their website or search to see if there is a store near you.
SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier is a gourmet chocolate company based in Maryland. The chocolate is created from cocoa beans grown on their farm located on the mountain slopes of eastern Dominican Republic. There is a boutique and factory in Gaithersburg and another boutique in Oxon Hill. You can also buy their products online. For locals wanting an extra chocolate experience, they have factory tours and chocolate making classes available.
7 Salad Dressing from Balsamo’s Family Kitchen caught Chad’s attention and he ended up taking home a bottle of their Canola Vinaigrette. Their salad dressings contain no artificial ingredients, preservatives, or trans fats. You can find their dressing at the following farmers markets in Virginia: Manassas, Spotsylvania, Dale City, and Messick’s or you can buy online.
Bee Raw Honey, owned by Zeke Freeman, offers raw honey that is not processed, heated, or filtered. I loved the pure flavor in the samples offered. Their products include multiple varieties of honey, tea, gift collections, and supplies. You can buy Bee Raw Honey online.
Hale’s Homemade was created in 2011 by husband and wife team, James and Angela Hale. They currently produce three types of salsa using a blend of vine ripened tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and jalapeño : “Hale Yeah it’s MILD!”, “Holy Hale its HOT!”, and “HOTTER than Hale” (an added punch of habanero). Their salsas contain no artificial ingredients and are preservative free. You can order online or find their products at these stores.
Chad and I were both impressed by Lilly’s Gourmet Maple Butter. The recipe for this smooth and creamy maple butter was brought to the United States from Canada by the owner’s grandmother and passed down through the family. It is the perfect autumn condiment to spread over toast, pancakes, crackers, biscuits, apples, and other breakfast items. You can buy Maple Butter on their website or in various locations in North Carolina.
Following the first day of the conference, Chad and I walked to Chinatown to look for a restaurant and found Daikaya. Daikaya is a Japanese restaurant separated into two sections, Ramen (Sapporo-style) on the first floor and Izakaya (comfort bar food) on the second. The Ramen section does not accept reservations, but we got on the list and had about a 30 minute wait. The seating area is small, but turnover is fairly quick. We tried the Gyoza, Shio Ramen (center on bottom), and Shoyu Ramen (bottom right). The Shio Ramen was light and aromatic with a Chintan stock base. The Shoyu Ramen had a deeper flavor with the addition of a dark rich soy sauce. Other ramen options include Mugi-Miso Ramen, Spicy Miso Ramen, and Vegetable Ramen. It was the perfect way to end the day. Everything was delicious and full of flavor, but we did not leave overly stuffed or miserable. I have not tried the Izakaya floor, but reservations are available for that section.