For animal and food lovers, the best way to combine both passions is to attend Zoofari, THE premier culinary event that features more than 100 of the top Washington D.C restaurants and vintners–all in a vibrantly wild setting at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo–and all to support the zoo’s mission to save the species.
I attended both the event and the Pre-Party on May 18, 2017, in an Ann Taylor leopard print dress ( I have NO SHAME), and was somewhat prepared but not really for the muggy hot weather.
Naturally, I had to pair my fierce outfit with a glass of chilled white wine. So I moseyed on through the pre-party, and was quickly impressed with this bar trick the people behind Doi Moi/Estadio/and Proof concocted:
Apparently the bar tender mixed a few liquors and juices together and instigated the crowd to quench ones thirst by aiming the oblong glass straight into your own mouth. My biggest regret of that day was not participating. Darn!
Although I regret missing out on this cool bar parlor trick, I made sure I ate everything at the pre-party so I wouldn’t have anymore regrets for the rest of the day. I dined well at: Baked by Yael, Captain Gregory’s, Casolare, Doi Moi / Estadio / Proof, Equinox Restaurant, Purple Patch, TenPenh, and, my personal favorite, Sweet Home Cafe.
I really enjoyed my unique pastry puff with lima beans, fruits, and a watermelon cube to curb out the motley of colors and flavors this dish had. Jerome Grant, the executive chef of Sweet Home Cafe located inside the popular National Museum of African American History and Culture, was a complete doll! He told me a brief history of the dish and added an extra warmth to the overall tasting experience! Now, all I need to do is visit this renown museum to better compliment this tasting adventure.
General Admission later opened up so I walked on down to embark on a delicious journey of food, fine wines, a night of unforgettable entertainment with live music, exotic animal encounters, a silent auction and much more.
I noshed on some yum-worthy delectables from 1789 restaurant, Masa 14, Ted’ Bulletin, Bistro Bis, Circa, Osteria Marzano, Dirty Habit, Rasa, Ris, The Prospect, Hank’s Oyster Bar, Range by Bryan Voltaggio, Redwood Restaurant & Bar, Sugo Osteria, Tico, Dino’s Grotto, Cuba Libre Restaurant, Zentan & possibly Hill Country BBQ. All the tastings were complimentary, mesmerizing, and have contributed to me possibly having a protruding belly by the end of the night.
Since I was driving back home in a couple of hours that day, I wasn’t able to partake in any cocktail tastings with many celebrity bartenders or popular mixologists in the area.
I did, however, encounter some interesting animals along my foodie journey and learned a lot about the Zoo’s most popular residents. Guests had after-hours access to the Small Mammal House, the Great Ape House and the Reptile Discovery Center.
I was lucky enough to get into the MGM VIP cat house. The ambiance was 1920’s Hollywood style and clearly, the star that evening were the tigers.
So my favorite animal of all time is the tiger. I don’t know why but I’ve had a grand affinity for these regal beasts since I was 5 years old. Anytime I hear that there’s a tiger at the zoo, I revert back to my kindergarten self and stand so eagerly by the arena, hoping that my dream cat notices me, growls, and finds me equally fascinating too.
Around this time, the clouds were graying, and droplets of rain were diminishing my kid-like dreams. Regardless of the bipolar weather, I had an exhilarating and delicious time at Zoofari.