In McLean It’s All About Food

In McLean It’s All About Food

Seventh annual Taste of McLean event opens this weekend at the McLean Community Center.

Imagine trying new and different foods for $1 a sample.

At the Taste of McLean this Saturday at the McLean Community Center, restaurateurs from across Fairfax County will prepare and present some of their best fare and allow patrons, who pay a $5 admission fee,

“The theme of this year’s event is ‘It’s All About Food,’ so we’ll have cookbooks, some chefs from our cooking school will teach people how to select wine to go with certain foods and how to cook without a recipe, courtesy of Chef Joel Olson,” said Sam Roberts, community events director at the MCC.

The event, in its seventh year, is a fund-raiser for the Center, paying for advertising and administrative costs. “A portion of the proceeds also goes back to the vendors,” Roberts said.

In addition to cooking classes and vendors, 14 restaurants will be giving samples of their food to patrons, usually favorite items from their menu.

“You really get a lot of good food for only a dollar,” he said. “It’s good for the patrons because they really get to try everything.”

VICTORIA WU, owner of Cakes by Happy Eatery in Centreville, decided to participate for the first time this year to support her home community.

“We’ll be bringing eight to 10 different flavors and styles of cakes, including our signature Genoise cake, which is a European-style sponge cake,” she said. “We’ll also be bringing our chocolate decadence cake, along with other kinds, so there’s plenty to try, regardless of what you like.”

Hoping to expand its customer base, Cakes by Happy Eatery also features wedding cake selections and can customize cake recipes for various nutritional needs and restrictions.

“We can make pretty much whatever kind of cake you want, any way you need it,” she said, adding that she hopes “everyone will give us a try.”

LISTRANI'S ITALIAN RESTAURANT, located on Old Dominion Drive in McLean, had a great experience at last year’s event and signed up for another round.

“We had to replenish our supply three times last year, it was great,” said Mazen Iskandar, who owns the restaurant, which specializes in all foods Italian.

“There was lots of traffic, and the people loved our food.”

This year, Listrani’s will offer lemon herb chicken, which Iskandar said was popular with the crowds last year, along with pizza. “We might also do some baked zittis, I haven’t decided,” he said.

“We want people to stop by and try something new. They can stop by and ask us questions and just talk with us,” he said. “This is just a nice thing to do.”

Karen Fulkerson, of TASTEFULLY SIMPLE, a gourmet food service, will be offering examples of delicacies that can be made with only two ingredients.

“We want to show people that gourmet food doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and take forever to prepare,” she said. “We will be offering our beer bread along with four seasoning blends made into dips for people to try with the bread.”

In addition, for an additional ticket, patrons can sample Nana’s Apple Cake, made from two eggs and two apples, she said.

“I decided to participate this year because it’s my understanding that people in McLean aren’t familiar with Tastefully Simple,” she said. “We hope people will stop by and try us out.”

AMERICAN EXPRESS Financial Advisors will also have a wheel of chance, giving away dinners at the participating restaurants, Roberts said. Other restaurants that will have booths at the Taste of McLean include Café Oggi, featuring cannelloni and cakes; Fleming’s Steakhouse and Wine Bar, offering roast beef sandwiches; Holiday Inn O’Malley’s Sports Pub, with Guinness Stew and Shepherd’s Pie; and J. Gilbert’s Wood Fire Steaks, providing shrimp Durango and quesadillas. J.R.’s Stockyards Inn will have sirloin sandwiches; The Lebanese Taverna will offer hummus pitas and camel wings; Maevasoa International Cuisine, a catering company, will have samosas; Marco Polo Restaurant from Vienna will offer crab dip, artichokes and chicken kebabs; Morenko’s Ice Cream Café will feature homemade and handmade ice creams; The Pie Gourmet will present various pies, cakes and cheesecakes; Tastefully Simple will have samples of easy gourmet food; and Whole Foods market will have cookies, pound cake and breads.

B. You designs, a jewelry store, will also be at the Taste of McLean, for those who might be attending to get ideas for an upcoming wedding.

THE TASTE OF MCLEAN will be held Saturday, March 5 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the $5 admission charge including three sample tickets. Each additional ticket is $1. Children under 12 will get in for free but will need their own tickets to sample food.