Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you love the holiday or hate it, check out our guide for where to party, what to eat, and who’s selling chocolates for last-minute shoppers (better late than never).
Tuesday, February 15
Take an island escape without leaving Washington at Open Kitchen’s hands-on Caribbean cooking class from 6:30 to 9:30. Chef Mia Kang will lead the group through recipes such as shrimp-mango-and-papaya salad, jerk chicken, and rum-raisin ice cream. The class is $79 per person, but get a group of five together and knock $10 off each person’s fee. For reservations and more information, check out the Open Kitchen Web site.
Washington’s Restaurant Week season isn’t over yet: National Harbor’s version of the special starts today and runs through February 27. Eleven restaurants, including Rosa Mexicano and Bond 45, are offering three-course lunches for $20.11 and dinners for $35.11 (a full list of participating spots and their menus can be viewed here).
Wednesday, February 16
Author Jessica Harris is at Eatonville restaurant for a dinner and book signing for her work High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey From Africa to America. It’s a mix of recipes and a history and exploration of African-American cuisine from slavery to the present. The event, which begins at 6:30 with hors d’oeuvres and a special cocktail, includes a three-course themed dinner. Guests start with West African shrimp-and-spinach soup, which is followed by curried goat with chapati bread, smashed plantains, and jollof rice. Banana fritters are for dessert. Click here for information and to make reservations ($57.60 per person, all-inclusive).
Thursday, February 17
Sample preview dishes for Graffiato, Top Chef: All-Stars contestant Mike Isabella’s restaurant, set to open in spring. The American Institute of Wine & Food has teamed up with the young chef for an evening at Boffi in Georgetown (3320 M St., NW) from 6:30 to 8:30. Guests can browse through the store’s showroom of Italian home-design goods while sampling an array of hors d’oeuvres from Isabella’s upcoming menu. The spread includes Virginia “prosciutto,” tuna crudo with cannelloni beans, roasted clams with kale and pancetta, and fried-sweetbread ravioli. There’ll also be wine from Boxwood Winery in Middleburg. Reservations for the event ($70 for AIWF members; $85 for nonmembers) can be made by e-mailing Carolyn Margolis at firstname.lastname@example.org by February 14. (This event has been postponed.)
If you didn’t get your fill of chocolate on Monday, stop into any Kimpton hotel in Washington for its annual Chocolate Lover’s Day, when the hospitality chain offers free chocolate sweets to anyone who comes in from 5 to 7. Drop by the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria for mini chocolate-pecan pies and chocolatinis, the Hotel Madera in DC for red-velvet cakes, or the Hotel Palomar in Arlington for a chocolate fountain. Other participating locations are Hotel Palomar in DC, Hotel Monaco in DC, the Morrison House, and the Lorien Hotel & Spa.
Friday, February 18
The 23rd annual Chocolates Galore & More, from 7 to 11 at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, is a showcase of desserts, hors d’oeuvres, and Champagne from a host of Northern Virginia restaurants and purveyors. Patowmack Farm, Vintage 50, Sweetz Bakery, and more will provide food, and there’ll be live music, dancing, silent and live auctions, and competitions for the best desserts and hors d’oeuvres. All proceeds from the tickets ($70 for reserved seats or at the door; $60 general admission) go to the Loudoun County YMCA. Visit the Web site for reservations and more information.
Saturday, February 19
Learn about cognac, armagnac, brandy, and grappa at a tasting at Acadiana. Wine and beverage director Scott Clime will lead guests through ten different drinks, and give participants details on their history and production process. You won't be facing strong beverages on an empty stomach: Lunch is provided during the class, which runs from 1 to 3 and is $75 per person. Call 202-408-0201 for reservations and information, or e-mail Jillian@passionfoodhospitality.com.
Sunday, February 20
For a good antidote to Sunday-night blues, check out Pharmacy Bar’s chili contest from 7 to 10. The competitors are the first 25 people who show up with ten servings of chili. The judging panel includes chef Billy Klein of Café Saint-Ex and Marvin’s Brendan L’Etoile. Tasters are admitted for free. Call 202-483-1200 for more information.
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