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Alexandria: DC’s New Dining Capital

Monday January 27, 2014
It’s Restaurant Week!! Learn about Alexandria’s magnet restaurants and what they mean to our city’s regional and national appeal.

In recent years, the reputation of Washington’s restaurant scene has soared nationally. Not coincidentally, more Alexandria restaurants are climbing the list of DC’s top dining venues. Our celebration of Alexandria’s dining scene features Chef Cathal Armstrong – one of the best-known chefs in the culinary industry, exhibiting great culinary command creativitiy, technique, presentation, and even business. He will share his vision – including why he chose Alexandria as the base for his growing gastronomic empire. Alexandria-based food writer Jordan Wright will talk about Alexandria’s rising stature in the DC dining scene and share tips on places you should know about. Claire Mouledoux of the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association (the organization that gives us “Restaurant Week”) will explain how this dining renaissance benefits our city.

Cathal ArmstrongStar Chef Cathal Armstrong

Irish chef Cathal Armstrong’s cuisine and philosophy reflect ideas planted in the atypical Dublin household of his childhood, where garlic was used fearlessly and fruits and vegetables were grown in the garden. The family’s travel business launched Armstrong into a myriad of different countries, cultures and cuisines where he began to develop an appreciation for gastronomy in the differing landscapes of Europe. As the family traveled, Armstrong was educated in the languages he now speaks fluently: English, French, Spanish, German and Irish. For those not versed in the Dubliner’s native language, the “t” in Cathal is silent.
At the age of seven, Armstrong began his annual student exchange in France with the Boudain family. His food curriculum involved visiting truffle-farms and vineyards, eating peasant-style food and picking fruits and vegetables on the farm. These early culinary experiences inspired Armstrong’s philosophy. He is committed to sourcing locally, valuing animals and respecting the land, so much so that Armstrong cites innovative farmer David Lankford of Davon Crest Farms in Maryland as one of his biggest inspirations. Armstrong is now an active member of The American Farmland Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the nation’s agricultural resources.
At the age of 20, Armstrong opened a fine dining restaurant in the Dublin suburbs with two partners. After a two-year tenure atThe Baytree, Armstrong decided to move to Washington DC where for the next 11 years he moved his way through various top kitchens learning the fundamentals from mentors including Greg Mitchell of New Heightsand Jeffrey Buben of Bistro Bis. It was during his time spent at Gabriel under Gregory Hill that Armstrong met his future wife and business partner Meshelle Armstrong. Together, they dreamed of a place where they could balance a commitment to farmers with their vision of fine dining.
The Armstrongs found it in Alexandria, where in April 2004, 13 years after first arriving in DC, they opened Restaurant Eve. The modern American restaurant (with French, Spanish and Irish influences) showcased Armstrong’s playful personal style and deep-rooted commitment to purveyors. In the summer of 2006, Armstrong openedEamonn’s A Dublin Chipper and PX, or The PX, a cocktail-driven speakeasy lounge five blocks from Restaurant Eve. Both venues are named for Armstrong’s children, Eve and Eamonn. Armstrong has since been inducted into the Share Our Strength Leadership Council, a group of culinary notables from around the country who advise this non-profit dedicated to eradicating childhood hunger in the U.S. Armstrong’s self-described “pork fetish” and the Irish roots at the base of his culinary experience are showcased in decadent but playful dishes like “Bacon, Egg, and Cheese.” The dish makes full use of the versatility of pork fat with a cured and braised pork belly, seared to order, a tender crepe with ham and leeks, and a rich golden cheddar foam.

Claire Mouledoux
Claire Mouledoux
Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association

Claire is the Director of Communications for ACVA, Alexandria’s nonprofit tourism marketing organization, which contributes to the economic vitality of the city. Each year $738 million in visitor spending generates $23.7 million in tax revenue, providing needed city services and helping to support the community’s many small businesses. Claire directs the overall message and voice of the Alexandria visitor brand by managing ACVA’s communications strategies and guiding a team of professionals in media relations, social media and digital marketing. An Old Town resident with a passion for the city, she has been promoting the allure of Alexandria’s remarkable dining, shopping, arts and history for nearly four years as part of the ACVA team. Formerly the Director of Communications for the Torpedo Factory Art Center, she currently serves on the advisory board of The Art League and is an active member of the Mid-Atlantic Tourism Public Relations

Jordan Wright Jordan Wright
Whisk & Quill
Jordan Wright is an accomplished writer on food, spirits, travel, and theatre. Her clients have included the tony Georgetowner and hip sister publication the Downtowner, the Washington Examiner and San Francisco Examiner, as well as, DC Metro Magazine, Washington Life Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine,, Indian Country Today On-Line and Print Publications, The Alexandria Times,, and now DCMetroTheaterArts. Her articles feature restaurant openings, food and wine events, food-oriented film reviews, food trends, restaurant reviews, food memories, new food products, hotels, spas, resorts and interviews with the country’s leading chefs – from Jose Andres and Top Chef’s Carla Hall, to CakeLove’s Warren Brown and Top Chef’s Spike Mendelsohn. She has also interviewed famed chef and TV star, Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, cookbook author Joan Nathan, and director Robert Kenner for an in-depth article about his film Food, Inc.

Alan Dubow, Shari Bolouri, Terri Hauser andMichael Hobbs

All programs are held at:
Holiday Inn Eisenhower Metro Center – 2460 Eisenhower Avenue CLICK HERE for directions
Reception at 6:15 p.m. (Cash Bar) Buffet Dinner at 6:45 p.m.

$28 $33 with reservations made by 5:00 pm on the Friday prior to each meeting
$35 $40 for late reservations and walk-ins

Program only  7:15 p.m. (free to members/$5 non-members) –  Presentations are followed by a question and answer session based on written questions from the audience.  Programs end promptly at 9 P.M.

Dinner reservations strongly encouraged. Seating is not guaranteed for walk-ins.   CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE

Agenda:Alexandria, a non-partisan, non-profit organization which began in 1998, sponsors eight dinner meetings a year with presentations on topics of interest to Alexandrians.  Membership is only $35 a year and open to anyone, whether or not you live or work in Alexandria. Topics are wide-ranging and past topics have included such issues as transportation, education, the arts, public safety, history and preservation, public health, the City budget, the waterfront, the environment and aging in Alexandria.

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