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What: A night filled with more than 25 food-sampling tables, silent auction items, and a fast-paced live-auction finale.
Where: The Ritz-Carlton hotel ballroom in downtown DC.
When: November 2, 6:30 to 10.
Why: To benefit March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization committed to preventing premature birth, birth defects, and infant mortality.
Ticket prices: $200 per person, $2,000 per table.
Who: The evening was a who’s who of the local restaurant scene. PS 7’s mixologist Gina Chersevani, chef Travis Timberlake of Art and Soul, and Restaurant Eve bar wizard Todd Thrasher manned their food stations while ABC 7’s Leon Harris, former Top Chef finalist Carla Hall, and Hell’s Kitchen winner Rock Harper hosted the auction ceremonies. Redskins defensive end Andre Carter was called out from his seat by the audience, and Citronelle and Central’s Michel Richard was rumored to be milling about, though we never saw him.
The food: Oh, God, the food. Big-name restaurants and drink masters handed out small plates, mini-mugs, and barrel glasses of hearty winter comfort food and cocktails. Notable dishes included Dino’s wild-boar stew on three-cheese polenta; Art and Soul’s baby biscuit sandwiches with fig, Virginia ham, and goat cheese; Extra Virgin’s extra-large tiramisu; Central’s butter-drenched miniature chicken burgers with lemon mayo; Jackson 20’s chesnut purée with duck confit; and Bastille’s apple-and-brioche pudding topped with braised pork shoulder. Our favorite from the evening, though, was the Manor House’s scrumptious butternut-squash gnocchi coupled with braised lamb belly and pumpkin mallow, bittersweet chocolate, and whole-wheat-graham s’mores.
“Can you beat an event where you get food like this?” host Leon Harris laughed. No sir, you can’t.
The scene: Guests mingled, drank, and ate their way through restaurant samples until 8:15, when emcee Harris called everyone to the dining room for (yet another) dessert of pumpkin-cream cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake. The quick-tongued benefits auctioneer, Jim Miller, kept the partygoers bidding on vacation, dining, and celebrity-laden prize packages that drew lots of money (dinner for seven cooked by Carla Hall went for $3,000). The 2009 March of Dimes national ambassador, Katelyn Hall, and her family delivered a heart-warming speech on the importance of prenatal research.
Boldface names: 3.5 out of 5.
Swankiness: 3 out of 5.
Food and drink: 4.5 out of 5.
Exclusivity: 3 out of 5.
Total score: 14 out of 20.
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