In my ripe old age of 32, I’ve somehow gotten braver about going places alone. It started with my friends being unavailable, or broke, or living too far away, and has actually morphed into preferring to go some places alone. Benefits of going places alone:
- You are on your own schedule.
- You get to do whatever you want.
- You are you awesome company, and it’s fun to hang out with yourself.
- You can meet new people (if you want).
One night, laying in bed (doing 1, 2, and 3), I checked my email and learned about the Aces of Taste “Woman Rising” dinner. Aces of Taste hosts pop-up dinners featuring local chefs at unique locations around the city. They encourage interaction with the chefs and other dinner-goers with peeks into the prep kitchen, Q&As, and communal tables. This dinner would feature Benjy’s on Washington’s Chef de Cuisine, Maria Gonzalez and The Foodie Chef, Morgan Jankovic, tunes by DJ Honey B, and a Q&A with successful women entrepreneurs and business leaders. I immediately bought a ticket.
I walked in the door and let out and audible “wow.” The venue, Merchant and Market, is a beautiful space with eclectic, custom furnishings and pieces. As their website describes, “The Market is a place that can not be easily explained, it [is] a place that needs to be visited to understand The Merchants creative vision.”
I was handed two drink tickets and was soon offered either the Pairs Mule (Cointreau, fresh lime juice & ginger beer) or the Cointreau Apple Rosemary Rickey (Cointreau, fresh lime juice, tart apple & club soda). I chose the Rickey and found a seat at one of the large tables coincidentally next to another woman who came stag, and even more coincidentally to a college-mate I hadn’t seen in 13 years! Chatting and sipping next to my new friends, the staff passed the appetizers: steak tartare with local egg on toast and rock shrimp with cucumber and tahini. Both were unique and delicious and I was reminded how much I like steak tartare. The first course was served and we all got out our phones to snap photos.
Roasted beet and kale salad with toasted pine nuts and pickled white strawberries. Chef Maria explained to us later that she has the farmer pick the strawberries before they are ripe, and then she pickles them. They went great with the smokey spiced flavor of the toasted pine nuts. And now I want to put toasted pine nuts on everything.
The second course was harissa crusted albacore with curried cauliflower puree and charred leek oil. The fish was cooked perfectly, and I almost licked the curried cauliflower puree off the plate. Note to self: buy purple cauliflower to make things look fancy.
Third course was a braised boneless short rib with warm potato salad. It would have fallen off the bone, if there was one.
This decadent dessert was the creation of Chef Morgan. A super fudgey and sweet brownie with meringue, honeycomb, heart shaped macarons and ground pistachio. I’m definitely going to start using more pistachio in my desserts.
After the last course there was a short Q&A with the chefs, and they told us a little about their background and inspiration. In furtherance of the “Woman Rising” theme, we then heard from three special guest speakers who are excelling in their fields of small business, big business, charity, and more. We were encouraged to set goals for different areas of our lives and let our voices be heard, even if what we have to say may be risky or unpopular. Being a small business owner, it was really inspiring to hear these women speak not only about how they got to where they are, but about how they are continuing to work for things they believe in. I left my “solo” dinner feeling inspired in business, and life, and cuisine, and with new contacts and friends – everything I hoped for the night, and then some.
My first Aces of Taste event was truly exceptional. I’d highly recommend getting on their email list to get the first invite to their next dinner. Go with a friend, or partner, or by yourself. I can’t say enough good things about the novel experience they provide.
Julie of Aces of Taste kindly shared two of the above photos for me to use in this post.