For the Love of Lamb! What are “ewe” looking at?
If you were at DC’s historic Eastern Market on Monday, May 21st, then ewe were one of the lucky ones to witness eighteen of the nation’s capital baaad-est chefs engaging in a fierce competition for who would take the title for serving the most lambtastic dish at the 2nd Annual DC Lamb Jam. Sponsored by the American Lamb Board and other local vendors and purveyors, a sold out crowd enjoyed each competing chef’s dish, specialty cupcakes, local beers and wines, craft cocktails, and a myriad of activities throughout the evening. A portion of the proceeds from the event were donated to Share Our Strength, a non-profit organization that works locally and beyond to ensure that no child goes hungry.
While attendees sampled the fare at their leisure, a host of media judges, including Dining in DC’s own Lisa Shapiro, Girl Meets Food’s Mary Kong, Leo Schmid of Thrillist, Nycci Nellis of TheListAreYouOnIt, and Sylvie Nguyen of Thrifty DC Cook, rated each dish, with the winner receiving the honor of Best in Show and a trip to compete in the Lamb Jam Masters competition in California. The judges rated entries on Taste (15 points), Originality (10 points), and Presentation (5 points).
Aside from the delicious food, fans of lamb also enjoyed live music from Reverend John Delore and Steve Lewis, a lamb personality quiz (I was “baaad to the bone”), lamb swag (who can say no to “I love lamb” lip balm?), lamb caricatures, and a DIY lamb rub blending station. Georgetown Cupcake also sent guests away with an adorable chocolate peanut butter cupcake, donned with a tiny fondant lamb.
In addition to the delectable dishes, beer, wine, and spirits from locals, such as Mad Fox, Chocolate City, Port City, Flying Dog, Barboursville Vineyards, and Boxwood Estate, were relished until the cows (sheep?) came home. Bourbon slushies from Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon also helped cool down the crowd, as did a deliciously refreshing cherry-hibiscus tea and rum infused cocktail, aka “American Beauty” from master mixtress herself, Gina Chersevani, who judged Mixology Madness at Soundbites just the day before.
Before the announcement of the 2012 winners, Pam Ginsberg of Wagshal’s, affectionately known as simply Pam the Butcher, demonstrated how to break down a lamb and educated the audience on different cuts of meat, cooking techniques, and a bit of trivia. At the conclusion of her presentation, several lucky attendees got to take home the fresh cuts of meat. See her “easy as can be” directions for preparing a leg of lamb at home.
Finally, after all votes were tabulated, the winners for each award were announced. This year’s winners were the following:
Best leg dish – Papusa with Queso Blanco and lamb tongue curtifo by Chef John Crutchley, Urbana
People’s Choice – “Sausage and peppers” Lamb sausage, piperade, fried onions, and basil by Chef Adam Sobel, Bourbon Steak at Four Seasons
Best Loin Dish – Grilled Lamb loin salad, baby greens, beets, shaved onions, pickled beet mushrooms, rhubarb vinaigrette by Chef Rodney Scruggs, Occidental Grill & Seafood
Best Shank Dish – Braised lamb shank ravioli, wild mushrooms, and summer truffle by Chef Dimitri Moshovitis, Cava Mezze Restaurant
Best Shoulder Dish – Lamb shoulder stuffed with cacio cavallo and rosemary, arugula, pickled cherry peppers by Chef Nick Stefanelli, Bibiana
And the Winner is … Drum roll … For the second year in a row, Chef John Crutchley, who competed last year in New York, took the title for “Best in Show”, with his creative presentation of Papusa with Queso Blanco and lamb tongue curtifo and will represent DC in the Lamb Jam Masters competition. Congratulations and thank you to all participating chefs, sponsors, judges, and fans for a stand-out event!
Pam the Butcher’s Simple Leg of Lamb
Using celery ribs as your rack, season the leg with salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, and lemon. Fresh juices and herbs are best. Put some of the seasoning in the bottom of a pan. Place the leg on celery to look like train tracks. Add water to cover the celery. Roast the leg at 425 def. Fahrenheit for 16 minutes per pound. To serve the lamb at a medium temperature, cook for about 1 hour and 35 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes. Baste the roast every 10 – 13 minutes to ensure that it is not dry. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving. Enjoy!
Look for more posts from Lindsay to get information on the special event and music scenes in DC and the surrounding areas. Follow her on Twitter @theycallmeHOVE and her forthcoming blog, Hunger Hierarchy.