So how are local restaurants making themselves stand out during the two-week festivities? We caught a sneak peek at some of the cherry-blossom-inspired cuisine (and drinks) on the menus of 54 eateries. Some chefs are offering tasting menus based entirely on cherries and their blossoms, while others created a single dish inspired by the fruit.
At Charlie Palmer Steak, a sliced rack of roasted Shenandoah Valley lamb loin is garnished with Bing cherries. Belga Café’s Bart Vandaele channels his Belgian roots with duck breast in a kriek-lambic/cherry sauce, paired with sour cherries macerated in Belgian beer.
To go with the festival’s Japanese theme, Kaz Sushi Bistro chef/owner Kaz Okochi is replicating a traditional teatime sweet from his native country: He wraps a pocket of rice and sweet red-bean paste with a salted cherry-blossom leaf, then adds a subtle coffee flavoring for an American twist. The sushi restaurant will also offer special bento boxes throughout the festival.
The festival’s opening ceremony will take place this Saturday at 4 PM at the National Building Museum (401 F St., NW). From 10 AM to 3:30 PM, there will be a host of free activities, such as Japanese craft demonstrations and performances by music and dance groups.
Have you seen other cherry blossom-inspired dishes? Tell us about them in the comments.