This Week’s Food Events: Rosh Hashanah at Dino, Jaleo’s Paella Festival, Maki Making at Sushi Ko

Plus: Grapes with the Apes at the National Zoo and Pearl Dive’s birthday bash.

Pearl Dive throws itself a birthday party this week. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Paella Festival: Monday marks the start of the two-week-long tenth annual Paella Festival at Jaleo. Samples of various specials from visiting paella master Rafael Vidal will be available; there are two paella classes at Jaleo Bethesda from 6:30 to 8:30 PM that include instruction, dinner, a glass of wine, and your own paella pan ($60 per person; Tuesday, September 18 and 25). Call 301-913-0003 for reservations.

Rosh Hashanah: Dino celebrates the first of the High Holidays with a family-style meal ($49 per person; $25 kids) on Monday, starting at 6. Also worth celebrating: You can have seconds of dishes like giblet risotto and red-wine-braised brisket. Call 202-686-2966 for reservations.

Vegan week: It starts on Monday. DC Vegan has a rundown of specials, including a $45 five-course menu at Cedar and another at Bangkok Golden.

National Cheeseburger Day: Remember National Burger Month? Well, Tuesday won’t be as meat-filled, but BGR Bethesda is hosting a slider-eating championship at noon to celebrate. Aspiring speed eaters can e-mail for the chance to win $500 for ten minutes of cheeseburger cramming. Spectators, go and look for free samples from the menu. Because what else is there to do after watching a slider-eating competition but eat sliders?

Sushi class: Learn sushi skills from a master on Tuesday with Daisuke Utagawa (Sushiko, the upcoming Daikaya and Kiji Club) in his Sushi-Ko Chevy Chase private dining room from 7 to 9 PM. The course ($70 per person) covers everything from cleaning and slicing fish to preparing rice and wrapping rolls, plus lessons on the history of sake.

Wild wines:The National Zoo throws its annual Grapes With the Apes bash on Thursday from 6 to 9 PM. Wine is the focus, but you’ll also have after-hours access to the Great Ape House, live music, and bites for purchase from restaurants such as Ripple and Matchbox. Tickets are $40 to $55, unless you go VIP ($85 to $100), which gets you goodies like a private wine and hors d’oeuvres reception.

Happy birthday, Pearl Dive/Black Jack: Jeff and Barbara Black’s 14th Street hotspots are turning one on Thursday, and are throwing a big bash to celebrate from 7 PM until 12:30 AM. The $50 deal, available through LivingSocial, includes an open bar (with an ice luge!), live music, and unlimited fresh seafood and oysters—including two new bivalves from the Rappahannock River Oyster Company: Old Black Salts and Black Pearls. All proceeds will be donated to the nonprofit Food & Friends.

Bitter truths: If you’re mystified by the bitters phenomenon, head to the Green Pig Bistro on Saturday from 3:30 to 5 for a cocktail class led by Scofflaw’s Den. You’ll learn handy things like the history of bitters and how to make and use them, and sample three cocktails with essential tinctures. Tickets are $65 per person.

Calling all heavy fruits: The DC State Fair and Barracks Row Fall Festival team up for a shindig along Eight Street, Southeast, on Saturday from 11 to 5. And like any great fair, there are contests in lots of categories: pie, cupcake, home brew, longest vegetable, and heaviest fruit. Also on tap: demos on home beekeeping, plenty of food vendors, and kids’ activities.

Trucktoberfest: Haven’t had a chance to checkout the newly debuted Union Market? Though all the vendors aren’t yet up and running, Saturday is a prime time to go as 40-plus food trucks are gathering for the Curbside Cookoff Trucktoberfest between 11 AM and 7 PM. In addition to eats, drinks, live music, and a moon bounce for the kids, you can enter a sweepstakes to win 50 free lunches from each member of the DC Food Trucks Association. 

Mushroom fest: The Park Hyatt Masters of Food & Wine returns to Blue Duck Tavern on Saturday at 7 PM, where chefs Sebastien Archambault and John Melfi team up with Bryan Irwin of the R.L. Irwin Mushroom Company in Pennsylvania for a five-course ’shroom dinner. Dishes, paired with limited-production Mondavi wines, include seared bass with chanterelles and sunchokes and dry-aged rib eye with field mushrooms and black truffle sauce. Call 202-419-6768 for reservations.

More crabs: Catch the last crabs of summer at Johnny’s Half Shell on Saturday and Sunday from 5 to 10. Chef Ann Cashion is barbecuing local blue crabs Texas-stye and serving them alongside corn, potato salad, and a pitcher of beer (or two glasses of rosé if you want to get fancy). The meal of five large crabs, sides, and booze is $60 per person, with additional crabs and sides available for extra. Call 202-737-0400 for reservations.

Cuteness: The dog days of summer may be over, but here’s one for fall: a pup-friendly beer festival on Sunday in Crystal City from 2 to 6. Bring your pooch to the beer garden for samples of craft brews ($15 tickets include three tastes and a full beer) and bites from restaurants such as Jaleo.

Champagne Dinner: iCi Urban Bistro is celebrating the 200th anniversary of Laurent-Perrier bubbly with a five-course Champagne dinner on Saturday at 7:30. Call 202-730-8418 for reservations. 

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.