DC State Fair: this Sunday, 9/24

Friends in and soon-to-be visitors to the DC area: this Sunday, September 24, is the 8th Annual DC State Fair. It promises to be a wonderful, festive afternoon. In addition to the myriad food/drink/arts/crafts vendors, eating and dancing contests, and pet parade, there will be a number of awards given to the best agricultural, artistic, and artisanal talent in the District. I will be judging Pickles and hope to see some familiar faces in the crowd. 

The weather is forecasted to be beautiful so before the rains return and cool weather causes us all to pack our shorts and sundresses away until next year, head to Waterfront Station in SW DC on Sunday (the fair runs from 11am - 8pm) to enjoy a terrific day.

Steve Martin Short, San Fran, the Good Food Awards

Y'all cut me some slack on this post because not only am I typing furiously on my phone a la Lisbeth Salander during her recuperation in the hospital in book 3 but also I tasted approximately 2,000 jams today and am sugared to the max. In a great way, but dang. 

Let's go chronologically because that makes easy sense to me right now. 

On Friday night, Tom (just back in town and tired from four days away) and I (gaga tired and slightly frazzled because of his four days away) dropped the boys at his parents' house and headed to Wolf Trap, an outdoor concert venue, for a picnic and a few hours with Steve Martin and Martin Short.  

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I adore both men, as comedians and actors, and admire Martin also as a writer and banjo player. They did not disappoint. Oh my gawd, did we laugh and laugh. 

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"It's more than a thrill to be here; it's an obligation," deadpanned Steve. They roasted one another, took swipes at Hollywood and a few named celebrities and politicians, Martin sang and put on an absurd show that involved him stripping down to a flesh-colored onesie bedecked with Sharpied muscles and (generous) genitalia, and Steve slung a banjo over his chest.

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I have always considered Steve such a handsome man, and that estimation was enhanced considerably when he began to play. He was later joined by an incredible bluegrass band out of North Carolina, the Steep Canyon Rangers, whose fiddler is a masterful genius. It is unclear to me how he can play with such sustained and racing intensity; I wonder if he's just so good and has been playing so long that fiddling is like breathing- you don't think, you just do.

We made our way home and I threw a few last items into my suitcase before throwing myself into bed and willing myself to sleep. 

For at the crack of dawn on Saturday, it was west, young man.  

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Gorgeous, huh? That's Utah, the Hanksville area if my GPS is right. 

Touch down in San Francisco and my aunt Renee is waiting for me.  We head straight for Golden Gate Park, as she generously honored my desire to see the Art of the African American South exhibit at the de Young museum and then putz around the park. We wandered through the Japanese Tea Garden and ate lunch and a separate dessert too before I faded and had to call it a day. 

the drum bridge in the garden

the drum bridge in the garden

One of the several stone pathways across various creeks and ponds in the garden. 

One of the several stone pathways across various creeks and ponds in the garden. 

I slept like a baby until 4:30 this morning. Still on east coast time, I took advantage of the quiet, early morn to tear through much of Everything I Never Told You, the 2014 novel by Celeste Ng. It was her debut work, and my god is it stunning. The only reason I willingly inserted my bookmark between late pages was my need to get to the Good Food Awards on time. 

Unsure about what to expect, I shyly entered Impact Hub, the multi-story Mission District site of today's blind tasting.  It was abuzz- registration, a line for fresh pour-over coffee, breakfast provided by local joints. I met a dynamic food and spirits writer with great style and gratefully took the spot next to her on a couch. A half-hour in and we were checking each other's teeth for post-bagel poppy seeds. 

She headed to Spirits and I to Preserves, and the games began. 

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In my judging trio were a cheese aficionado from Austin and one of the owners/founders of Petrichor Vineyards. Both were utterly delightful, and I couldn't have more enjoyed spending today and 900 jams with them.

Nicholas, me, and Margaret

Nicholas, me, and Margaret

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Jam

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More jam

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More. Also I think we each drank 90 liters of water today and spit as much jam as possible. We were jam sommeliers, y'all. You want to try and avoid getting drunk on sugar! OMG, the heady headachiness that sugar can impart. 

It was SO.much.fun. The finalists are well-deserved.

Afterwards, after submitting our rating forms and hugging goodbye, I simply had to walk.  I took 15th to Guerrero to 18th and spent some time at Bi-Rite Market, knowing that as much as I wanted to attend the GFA after-party, I was too sleepy and in need of some solo time. So, take-out, top-quality dinner. And wine. 

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Then for a stroll through the Mission and to Dog-Eared Books, via 18th and Valencia and past the Women’s Building, too.

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I meandered languidly through the aisles, deeply content with the luxury of slow time that was just for me. My hair and teeth hadn't been brushed for hours, a recyclable bag of takeaway and Edible Marin and a gifted cookbook hung from my right shoulder, my phone battery was nearing dead, and I was utterly content.

Me too. :( #stillwithHer

Me too. :( #stillwithHer

And then, back to my hotel. For a bath, some dinner, finishing one book and starting a new one, and packing up to head home tomorrow. What a rich and satisfying three days. 

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To California and the Good Food Awards

Y'all, guess where I'm going tomorrow? San Francisco! For two nights. By myself. And do you know why? Because after my strawberry-cardamom jam scored exceptionally well in last year's Good Food Awards, I was asked to be a judge this year. So enthusiastically, I said "YES!"

The GFA believes that "For a long time, certifications for responsible food production and awards for superior taste have remained distinct—one honors social and environmental responsibility, while the other celebrates flavor. The Good Food Awards recognize that truly good food—the kind that brings people together and builds strong, healthy communities—contains all of these ingredients. We take a comprehensive view, honoring people who make food that is delicious, respectful of the environment, and connected to communities and cultural traditions."

I'm going to spend all day Sunday tasting the delicious entries in Preserves. My co-judges sound like fascinating people, the other categories are as fabulous as preserves (think: charcuterie, cheese, oil, beer...), and there's an after-party at The Perennial that I can't wait to attend.

I leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow, will spend a few hours with my aunt Renee once in SF, and fly home Monday. A whirlwind and an exciting one. Woo-woo!