Great time at the DC American Lamb Jam yesterday, held in a ballroom at the Ritz Carlton: 19 local restaurants serving tastes of locally (regionally?) grown lamb prepared nineteen different awesome ways, with plenty of Washington State red wine flowing (plus a few beers). The organizers did a great job, the crowd was big enough to feel the buzz and seem well-populated, yet there was plenty of room to move and little if any waiting for most tastes or pours.
We all got to vote for best dish, plus there were some official judges giving various awards,
but we didn’t stay to find out who won and I don’t see that results have been posted anywhere online yet (UPDATE: results! Courtesy of EatMore DrinkMore). Our group consensus favorites were the lamb shank from Jackson 20 & The Grille at Morrison House, and the Hunkar Begendi — i.e. another lamb shank — from Zaytinya, both incredibly, delicately tender and flavorful, the difference mainly a rosemary lamb demiglace beneath the former and an eggplant puree beneath the latter. I also particularly loved Bibiana’s lamb shoulder confit, an enormous (by “just a taste” standards) and tender portion, served with a delicious lamb ravioli atop a charred eggplant paste. The youngest among us went baaaaananas for Weekend Bistro’s (beware Flash on website) braised lamb shoulder with horseradish grits and butter bean ragu, and we all agreed that was also a great choice.
Really, every one of the 19 offerings was at least very good; some were truly sublime. Among the five of us, we tasted nearly all 19. The lamb was highest quality — the folks from Wagshal’s were there, too, giving some butchery demos. Fun! I have literally no complaints about the event; if I did have a complaint, it would be that the portions in some cases were too large, I was only able to try about half of the dishes, I just ran out of room. A tower of Georgetown Cupcakes out in the hallway also disappeared quickly (I didn’t go there). About twenty Washington State wineries were pouring several different wines apiece, a bit overwhelming really and I tried only a couple, both very good and of course well-paired with all the lamb.
The only trouble was, it was just so much bacchanalia that we were hard-pressed to stay awake driving home (at 5PM!). Partially the volume and richness of the food got us in the end, and partially I’m sure it was simply having counted all those