A cause worth tasting for

Imagine if all it took to give charity was eating a multi-course meal from Georgetown’s finest restaurants.

The Taste of Georgetown event made this a reality for the 18th year Saturday. With over 40 restaurants and featuring over 60 dishes, this year’s event was the largest yet and included jazz performances and wine and beer tastings, all just off of M Street on Wisconsin Avenue.

Grace Church Volunteer Coordinator Helen Buhr said the event used to be held in the church itself.

“We used to have to pick up food from the restaurants ourselves and bring it back to the church to sell to customers,” Buhr said.

Most of the proceeds go to the Georgetown Ministry Center, located next door to Grace Church. They offer services for homeless people, who can shower, use computers and see a doctor, a psychiatrist or even a housing specialist in the facility. Since 2004, the event has raised $100,000 for the charity.

Serendipity’s “Frojo,” a frozen hot chocolate made with 17 different cocoas, was sweet and refreshing with layers of chocolate flavor.

Filomena, who won the competition for best dish last year, took it up a notch with massive slices of pumpkin cheesecake. Although slightly frozen, it was creamy and luxurious. The restaurant’s house-made tortelloni were filled with tender braised brisket and topped with a rich sage brown butter sauce.

“I feel like we’re on Bravo’s ‘Top Chef,’” Capri Baylor, 28, said.

Baylor said the event was comparable to the Taste of Chicago – the original taste event.

“It’s of the same caliber,” she said. “The vibe is wonderful with the music in the background.”

The jazz performances included the Michael Bowie Trio, Blues Alley Youth Orchestra, Sandra Y. Johnson Quintet and Jacques Johnson and Friends, whose lead singer, Lil Margie, scatted with soul and sang with a pure, blues-y tone.

The jazz provided an entertaining interlude in between feasting sessions. Bodega Spanish Tapas & Lounge, in honor of its “paella month,” cooked a 20-liter batch of paella that could serve an estimated 200 people. The supersized paella pan and cook-top, 8 feet in diameter, cost $2,000 and were shipped directly from Spain.

Those who were not crowded around the Spanish spectacle were lined up at the Morton’s Steakhouse tent, which served succulent filet mignon sandwiches: thick-cuts of pink filet prepared simply on a roll with a mayo-mustard sauce.

“Every year, the event grows by about 10 to 20 percent,” Business Improving District marketing manager Debbie Young said, emphasizing the uniqueness of the event. “This is a truly Georgetown event.”

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