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The Top Five Tastes of Inauguration Weekend

01.22.09
Chestnut pancakes with José Andrés and his daughters, Najmieh Batmanglij’s amazing chicken shish kebab, and more.
Ruth Reichl and chefs

From left to right: farmer John Jamison, Tom Colicchio, Alice Waters, Joan Nathan, José Andrés, Michael Isabella, Ruth Reichl, and Rick Bayless.

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Fried clams at Kinkead’s

Walking to the concert at the Mall on Sunday, we were so cold we simply had to stop in somewhere to thaw our fingers. Suddenly there was Kinkead’s. We stumbled in, sat at the bar, and had the best fried clams I’ve had in an urban setting. Awesome.

Najmieh Batmanglij’s chicken shish kebab (and amazing rice)

On Sunday night Joan Nathan threw a party for the chefs (Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud, Tom Colicchio, Lidia Bastianich, Floyd Cardoz, Nancy Silverton, Rick Bayless, José Andrés, Dan Barber) who flew in to cook a series of charity dinners honoring sustainable food. The entire Washington food world showed up, and as you might imagine, the spread was incredible. Andrés roasted a whole baby lamb and Waters baked cookies. But the star of the evening was Batmanglij, who met people at the door with skewers of tenderly marinated chicken. “Have some,” she said, stuffing a bite in my mouth. Celebrities were everywhere, but for me the thrill of the evening was meeting Rachel Maddow.

Bottarga at Zaytinya

The DC crowds on Martin Luther King Day were huge everywhere—people waited in the cold for hours to get a look at the Declaration of Independence. At Zaytinya, the crowds were also enormous as people warmed themselves by tucking into incredible mezze. My favorite was the avgotaraho (Greek bottarga), but I also loved the Lebanese steak tartare, the pide with ground lamb and egg, and the crab cakes.

Chestnut pancakes with maple syrup and caviar

What can I say? José Andrés is a crazy chef, and when his three adorable daughters made chestnut pancakes on Monday morning, he threw a little caviar on top. The combination was irresistible. Then, still hungry, he opened the refrigerator and put some seaweed salad and uni (which he just happened to have) onto the next pancake.

Orecchiette with fennel sausage and Swiss chard

The dinner that Nancy Silverton cooked at the home of Mary Challinor and Henry Richardson (son of Elliott Richardson, the Attorney General who refused Nixon’s order to fire the Watergate prosecutor) was simple and superb. I loved the stracciatella with celery herb salad and the pancetta-wrapped quail, but this pasta was my favorite. Not to mention the ’93 Hermitage served with it.

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