A Night Out: The Blue Jeans Ball

By: Emily Leaman

Rob Miler, who won a $950 autographed guitar, poses with Loretta DeLuca
What: Fifth Annual Blue Jeans Ball to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank

Where: Marriott Wardman Park

When: Tuesday, April 8, from 6 to 10pm

Ticket price: $150 a person

Attire: Blue jeans!

Who: Hundreds of denim-clad Washingtonians turned out with their appetites and checkbooks for the Capital Area Food Bank’s annual benefit. Thirty restaurants were on hand with their chefs—including Central Michel Richard’s Cedric Maupillier and Restaurant K’s Alison Swope—to serve up delicious bite-size treats. Bill Marriott worked the crowd—he was there to accept an award for service to the organization—as did Kathleen Matthews, Marriott International’s executive vice president and wife of MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews (the Hardball host wasn’t there). Other notable guests: Donna Brazile, Democratic political strategist; Congressmen Bart Stupak and John Sarbanes; Frank Guzzetta, former CEO of Macy’s northern group and Hecht’s department stores; and political satirist Mark Russell.

Scene: The theme was—well—denim, and it set the mood for a fun, casual gathering, a welcome change from the typical black-tie affairs. Guests were greeted by a cocktail reception and silent auction in the foyer from 6 to 7 before being ushered into the main room for dinner and dancing. Restaurants set up tables around the perimeter, and guests helped themselves to small plates. Some guests, who purchased tables, sat to eat, but most were content to stand and mingle while eating. Canned music was pumped through the sound system, but the dance floor remained empty.

All photos by Chris Leaman.

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At 8:30, Channel 9 morning anchors Mike Walter and Andrea Roane took the stage for the live auction, which included two tickets to the sold-out US Open golf tournament and a chance to shadow DC mayor Adrian Fenty for a day. Walter and Roane incited a bidding war on several items, including luxury box tickets for a Wizards game which went for $2,500; it turned out husband and wife John and Diana Jaeger were bidding against each other for the prize. The event wrapped up at 10 after a performance by the Second Amendments, the bipartisan congressional rock band composed of Representatives Collin Peterson, Thaddeus McCotter, Dave Weldon, Jon Porter, and Kenny Hulshof.

Food and drink: While most guests sipped on wine and bottled beer, the cocktail-craving crowd was rescued by Mount Gray Rum’s mint-julep riff; it packed a pretty pink punch. But the food was the main draw, and several bites had people buzzing. Butterfield 9 chef Michael Harr served up the most interesting taste—a tender slice of elk meat rubbed with spiced pecan and cocoa. It had us going back for seconds (and thirds). Vidalia and Bistro Bis chefs R.J. Cooper and Joseph Harran collaborated on a thick and creamy she-crab soup, while Trapeze offered tasty seared ahi-tuna bites doused with cucumber-wasabi and sesame-ginger sauces. Central’s chili soup—served with a rice cracker hidden in the bowl for a crunch—was welcome comfort food, but the hotel’s Stone’s Throw Restaurant missed with its oversalted lobster mac and cheese. For dessert, we liked the banana-cream-pie tartlets and, of course, the chocolate-drizzled cream puffs. But our favorite? The umbrella-laden ice-cream cart that handed out Oreo, Reese’s Pieces, and Klondike Bars. Delicious!

Boldface names: 2 out of 5
Swankiness: 1 out of 5
Food and drink: 3 out of 5
Overall exclusivity: 2 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 20

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