WEB EXTRA: Georgetown hosts annual food and wine tasting

Celebrity guests determined the best appetizer, entree and dessert in Georgetown Saturday at the Taste of Georgetown.

The festival is an annual celebration of food along Wisconsin Avenue organized by the Georgetown Business Improvement District. Almost 30 restaurants participated in the event, which featured live music, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year proceeds benefited the Georgetown Ministry Center, an organization which offers showers, meals and computers for job-searching for the homeless.

The lawn of Georgetown’s Grace Church at 1041 Wisconsin Ave. housed the festival’s main stage, where church members offered information about the ministry throughout the day.

“It’s great to combine the Georgetown Business Improvement with the Georgetown Ministry Center,” said Elizabeth Hill, a graduate student and Grace Church member. She said it was her first year volunteering at the Taste of Georgetown.

Each Taste of Georgetown restaurant offered small portions of an appetizer, entree or dessert dish. Tickets cost $5 per tasting, or five for $20. Wine tastings were free for of-age participants in the food sampling. Attendees received complimentary tote bags, a copy of D.C. Magazine and free Starbucks coffee samples upon entering the festival, which had been advertised on Metro buses for the previous week.

Celebrity judges Marc Silverstein from the Food Network’s “The Best Of,” Amanda McClements of food blog Metrocurean, Nycci Nellis of TheListAreYouOnIt.com and Amber Pfau from Pfau Communications chose the best entree, appetizer and dessert.

Neyla, a Mediterranean grill restaurant at 3602 N St., won best appetizer for its chicken selection. Chadwick’s, an American-style restaurant at 3205 K St., took best entree for its honey-smoked barbecue ribs. Agraria, a restaurant that boasts ingredients strictly from Farmers Union members, won best dessert for its crispy pumpkin dumplings.

People lined up inside three tents for the tasting booths throughout the afternoon. Event-goers said they were pleased with Saturday’s sunny weather.

“It couldn’t be a better day,” said Andrew Tropeano of Fairfax, Va. He said last year’s rain definitely kept people away from the event.

Tropeano added that he attended the Taste of Bethesda earlier this year and said Georgetown’s event was smaller.

Food included everything from Thai cuisine, to Italian cooking, to classic American selections. Specific choices included jumbo lump crab cakes from Clyde’s, cheesecake with strawberry sauce from Chadwick’s and tomato mozzarella bruschetta from Paulo’s Ristorante.

Keisa Jacobson, of Alexandria, Va., went to the tasting to show her visiting mother the social side of Georgetown, and raved about the jumbo crab cakes from Clyde’s.

“I’m trying to branch out and try new foods,” Jacobson said.

Georgetown student Mandy Martin heard about the event from friends at school and said she couldn’t think of a reason not to attend. Along with fellow Georgetown Leah Joseph, Martin said the entree from Neyla – which was the eventual winner – was the best they had tried.

There were attractions aside from food and wine tasting. For children, a juggler and balloon artist roamed the street, and a caricature cartoonist drew kids at the Grace Church lawn.

“When the music comes on, I like to juggle to the music,” said Mikael Manoukian, an entertainer at the festival for the past three years. “That’s when I get my groove on.”

Music played throughout the day at the main stage, where performances included Six String Theory, the Blues Alley Youth Orchestra, and the Blues Alley All-Stars.

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