Bethesda bakery Fancy Cakes by Leslie is famous for fashioning edible masterpieces for everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Pope Benedict XVI. Learn how to turn your own cakes into three-dimensional figures, people, and animals using fondant in a two-hour class. It runs from 7 to 9 and is $125 per person. Call 301-652-9390 for reservations
Crabcake lovers, rejoice: The season isn’t over yet. The fifth annual Karen Cathey I Love Crab Cakes competition is tonight, featuring a variety of crustacean-centric activities. Eight local chefs, including Central’s Arthur Cavaliere and the Source’s Scott Drewno, are competing for best crabcake, and diners can graze from a seafood buffet presented by the host restaurant, Phillips Seafood. A selection of Bloody Marys, wines, and door prizes rounds out the festivities, whose proceeds benefit the sponsor American Institute of Wine & Food’s internships and educational programs. The event is $75 per person ($60 for AIWF members) and lasts from 6:30 to 9 at Phillips on the Southwest DC waterfront. For information and reservations, click here.
Tuesday, September 21
Martha’s Table celebrates 30 years of community service, providing food, clothing, and educational programs to low-income Washingtonians. Local spots such as Jetties, Cork, and Art and Soul are serving their twists on Martha’s Table staple soups, sandwiches, and desserts, alongside speciality cocktails and music from Grammy-nominated singer Christylez Bacon. Tickets ($75 for guests age 30 and under, $175 general admission) are available here or at the door. The event runs from 6 to 8 at 300 New Jersey Avenue, Northwest.
Food writer and former Washington Post columnist Kim O’Donnel is leading a lesson in vegetarian cooking from her new book, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook. Participants will learn to make roasted-eggplant stacks with romesco toasts, chickpea-and-turnip chili with barley pilaf, and chewy chocolate-walnut meringue cookies. The class, which is held at CulinAerie, begins at 6:30. The $95 fee includes wine pairings and a free copy of the cookbook. For reservations, call 202-587-5674 or click here.
Wednesday, September 22
Learn how to cook “the other red meat” with a lamb cooking class at Zola Wine + Kitchen. Participants will prepare local lamb from Green Hill Farms in such fall-friendly dishes as braised lamb-shank ragoût, roast leg of lamb porchetta-style, and lamb meatballs. The class begins at 6:30 and is $75 per person. For reservations, call 202-639-9463
Thursday, September 23
The Mexican Cultural Institute (2829 16th St., NW) presents a festive evening of drinks, dinner, and discussion with food historian Patricia Jinich, centered around the Iberian influences on Mexico’s cuisine. The event starts at 6:30 with an open bar and passed hors d’oeuvres, followed by a dinner buffet with dishes that exemplify the melding of Spanish and Mexican cooking cultures. The $70 ticket price also includes live music. Click here for reservations.
Why drink like a fish when you can sip wine with apes? The Friends of the National Zoo is hosting the annual winetasting fundraiser Grapes With the Apes in the zoo’s Great Meadow from 6 to 9. Such wineries as Anton Bauer, Fabbioli Cellars, and Sunset Hills Vineyards will be on hand. All proceeds support animal care and educational programs at the zoo. Tickets ($35 for FONZ members, $50 for the public) can be purchased at the door or by calling 202-397-7328.
Father Leo Patalinghug—a chef, author, and victor over Iron Chef Bobby Flay in a steak-fajita throwdown—is showcasing recipes from his new cookbook, Grace Before Meals. Meet the priest during a five-course dinner with wine pairings at the Fourth Estate Restaurant. The menu, which borrows from Italian, Spanish, and Asian influences, can be viewed here. For tickets ($93 or $70 for Press Club members), e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-662-7638. 6:30.
Friday, September 24
The Mid-Atlantic Red Fruit Festival celebrates the tomato, often mistaken for a vegetable. Pairs of farmers and local chefs—such as Equinox’s Todd Gray and Rogue 24’s R.J. Cooper—will make appetizers, soups, salads, entrées, and drinks that feature late-summer tomatoes. Seeds to Schools, a public initiative to bring planting seeds to local schools, is also part of the event. The festivities run from 6 to 8 at Woodrow Wilson Plaza (1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW). For tickets ($35), click here or call 888-665-6069 for reservations.
Today through Sunday, Alexandria restaurant Food Matters is hosting an Oktoberfest with currywurst, bratwurst, and wieners as well as German beers and wine. The specials are available during regular restaurant hours (Thursday 5 to 10, Friday 5 to 11, Saturday 11 to 11) and require a reservation only for parties of six or more.
Saturday, September 25
BLT Steak executive chef Victor Albisu is leading a demonstration cooking class in the restaurant’s kitchen from 12:30 to 3. The lesson focuses on local ingredients and grass-fed, natural, black Angus, and USDA beef. A four-course lunch with a cocktail and BLT’s famous popovers is included in the $100 ticket price (including tax and tip). Call 202-689-8999 for reservations.
Want to be a food writer but not quite sure where to start? Join the Smithsonian Resident Associates for an interactive seminar on an introduction to food writing. Writers and critics Amanda McClements, Dominica Marchetti, Tim Carman, Bonnie Benwick, and Monica Bhide are leading lectures on everything from blogging to cookbook writing. The runs from 9:30 to 4:30 at the Dillon Ripley Center. For more information and for tickets ($85 for members, $120 for nonmembers), click here or call 202-633-3030.
Sunday, September 26
Fiesta DC, an annual celebration of the area’s Latino population, takes place in Mount Pleasant (Mount Pleasant St., NW, between Argonne Pl. and Park Rd.) with a parade, children’s festival, marketplace, live music, and Hispanic dishes from a variety of regions. The events start at 11. For more information, click here.
Follow the Best Bites Bloggers on Twitter at twitter.com/bestbitesblog