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Autumn Harvest Festival: Giving Thanks to DC's Foodie Scene

This foodie is thankful for Washington, DC's rising culinary scene: 1. Sashimi prepared at home by my photographer with Kampachi Belly sourced from BlackSalt Fish Market; 2. Master Fishmonger of BlackSalt Fish Market and Black Restaurant Group, MJ Gimbar, meticulously shucking premium oysters; 3. J&G Steakhouse's Sautéed Lobster with Butter Cabbage, Green Chilies, Scallion, and Ginger; 4. J&G Steakhouse's Nourishing Home Made Sodas.

The autumn equinox is almost upon us, meaning it is time to celebrate the autumn harvest.  Better known as Chuseok to Koreans or Moon Festival to Chinese, this year’s celebration falls on September 30, 2012.  Whether it is giving thanks to ancestors, the heavens, or deity, the autumn harvest festival is about showing appreciation for nature’s bounty.

With the continuing evolution of the foodie scene in the Washington, DC area, I am thankful for many things related to food.  Looking back on the past two decades, I have witnessed and experienced such great progress in the quality, diversity, and creativity in the options for dining and shopping for food in the DC metro area.

In terms of quality, the single greatest innovation for seafood lovers around the world has been improved transport of fresh seafood overnight from the docks to the world’s major cities.  DC has been one exemplary case.  Since 2005, BlackSalt Fish Market has led the way by retailing super premium quality seafood—used in the adjacent high-end seafood restaurant BlackSalt Restaurant.  While more expensive than the typical chain supermarket, BlackSalt Fish Market offers great value when considering its pristine quality.  With offerings from around up and down both U.S. coasts, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, The Mediterranean, and Japan, walking up to their fish case is like a sweet toothed child walking into a candy store—an exercise in self-control!

In addition to having access to “day-boat” seafood, Washingtonians have been seeing the growth of farmer’s markets.  Not only are the quantity of the farmer’s markets rising, so too have been the quality of offerings with many vendors supplying naturally-raised (hormone, pesticide, and antibiotic free), organic, and humanely raised meats, dairy, and produce as well as prepared foods.  Central Farm Markets is a great example with weekly set-ups in Bethesda, Rockville, and Upper Northwest Washington, DC.
As with other major U.S. cities, the DC area’s culinary diversity has reflected it most populous ethnic groups, including Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese/Taiwanese, Salvadorean, and Ethiopian.  With outstanding restaurants like Woo Lae Oak, Honey Pig, Indique, Passage to India, Peking Gourmet Inn, China Bistro, and Samantha’s, there are always plenty of great options—each with distinctive style high on quality and flavor yet affordable for regular visits!

The diversity extends to the New American fine dining genre, where chefs have incorporated elements and dishes from the cultural salad bowl that is the U.S.  J&G Steakhouse has been exemplary, a dazzling Modern Asian-American fine dining restaurant that is simultaneously exciting for the palate and healthful for the body.  J&G Steakhouse is remarkably strong in all facets of the meal, from the non-alcoholic cold beverages bursting with spice or herb flavor (alone can be enticing for a visit), dynamic appetizers and entrées, to stunning consistency of excellence across the desserts.  Every dish has a little something that makes you “hmmm” and “mmmm” thanks to the strategic inclusion of a dry or wet spice.

Symbolic of DC’s foodie scene, J&G Steakhouse reflects two elements to be thankful for living in The Beltway: 1) the abundance of phenomenal places to savor a variety of excellent food; 2) the rise of interest and regard by chefs, restaurateurs (i.e. Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten), and foodies for the nation’s capital.  This Autumn Harvest Festival, I am thankful to experience the awesomeness that has been DC’s continuing ascent as one of America’s hottest dining destinations!