When I saw the 2014 Washington D.C. International Food & Wine Festival on a local website, I couldn’t wait to see if I could attend via press, so I could write about the event for all of you! I’ve been to a number of these events in Columbus, Ohio with my friend Janine who owns Camelot Cellars so I imagined the one in D.C. must be a million times bigger and better. Especially since we recently attended the Sugar and Champagne fundraising event for the Washington Humane Society and found numerous vendors with gluten-free options. I was so excited.
The day of the fancy event I went to my girl Diana at Salon Nordine and Day Spa to do something fun with my hair. Typically when we attend events I get my hair blown out but I decided to do something funky this time! Inspired by a few different things I saw on Pinterest, we came up with this killer braid.
This event was held at the Ronald Reagan center in downtown DC. It’s a phenomenal building and coincidentally also hosted the Humane Society event so we knew exactly where we were going this time.
Check in was easy. I was able to obtain my press pass with no line around 7:30pm. The event was from 7-10pm, so I was surprised to see no line for this event. Coat check was easy as well. They made it very clear they weren’t checking purses or bags, so if you attend next year, make sure you leave all those items at home or you will carry them around.
The first section of the event was a huge Jeep/Chrysler tent with cars and people asking if you wanted to take your picture with a Chrysler 500. I immediately thought this was a very strange entrance to the event. A photo booth with props seems like a more fitting thing than a giant promotional/sponsorship car as soon as you walk in. We headed into the main room and saw beautiful and well lit center pieces. The white branches and flowers reminded me of a modern winter wedding table setting. To the right and the left were tables of deserts and upon further inspection it was a smore’s-ish chocolate fondue table with marshmallows, chocolate chip muffins and various toppings. Nothing appeared to be gluten free. But I figured the food vendors would have plenty of food for me so I didn’t worry too much about it.
On the other side of the main walk way, across from the modern winter wonderland was a mountain ski lodge themed area with an elk head, fireplace and leather chairs. Again, I was very confused as to how these two areas were related. I envisioned two angry party planners fighting over a main theme so they picked a side and decorated it with their vision to allow attendees to vote on the better choice. Only there was no voting and I just left wondering what happened there.
We made our way over to the spirits room where vendors filled the area with a wide variety of rums, gins, vodkas and other hard liquor. Upon first glance, I didn’t notice any food. Was this the alcohol room? Where was the wine? Where was the food? I came here starving to try as many delectable treats I could stuff in my mouth – now where was my dinner?
As we walked around, we spotted Tito’s Vodka and of course had to make a pit stop there. LOVE Tito’s and always select it if the bar we go to carries the brand. That’s a no brainer for us! Gluten-free 4eva, right?
The room had a band and we made our way over there to check it out. That’s when I saw it and I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes.
I saw this…
An enormous table right in front of the band in the spirits rooms filled with…turkey sandwiches? I’m sorry, what? The tickets for this event were $120 each and it had the word “food” in the title so was I wrong to assume there would be food vendors here?
At first, panic set in. I was starving. There were several empty griddles too and a while later I literally saw people pushing each other to get some of the flatbread pizzas and quesadillas. They were gone before the servers even put them on the table.
There were NO food vendors at this event. Not one! Each large room was filled with alcohol vendors but no restaurants, chefs or even food companies had a booth. I was so confused!
That’s when I realized I was going to starve to death at this event and/or be wasted within a half hour for drinking on an empty stomach, plus being a major light weight.
We headed over to the other room and I prayed there would be other food on that side. The good news was that there was different food on the other side. The bad news was it was just cheese, crackers, hummus and bread on the same tables as the funeral sandwiches and no food vendors.
Sigh. Cheese for dinner it is. Along with dairy farts, so I apologize to my husband and anyone else I encountered that night.
The best part of the night was spending a beautiful evening with my husband for Valentine’s Day. We laughed, took pictures, people watched and enjoyed spending quality time together.
We also enjoyed meeting the Yelp peeps! They had a cool booth there too Maybe I should have read the other attendees reviews of the event prior to coming? Nah, then I would have been biased. I came into this with open eyes!
If you plan on attending this event next year, make sure you get some dinner before or you will be disappointed with the “food” component of the Affair.
DC is so progressive when it comes to living gluten-free, I can’t emphasize my disappointment in the lack of food at this event. But, lesson learned to always keep gluten-free snacks in my purse!
What would you have done if you attended this event?