Last night, the National Cherry Blossom Festival held its official kickoff fundraiser celebration, the annual Pink Tie Party. DC's own José Andrés and Hawaii chef Roy Yamaguchi hosted the event at the Mayflower that was a celebration of all things pink, cherry and edible. And, of course, the US-Japan relationship on what is the 100th anniversary of Japan's gift of the cherry blossom trees to the United States. Local restaurants were on hand with small bites for the revelers, specialty cherry blossom cocktails flowed and food celebrities such as Art Smith and Adam Richman roamed the Promenade. Here are a few observations from the evening.
1) In his introduction to the evening, Yamaguchi reminded attendees that the cherry blossoms are a sign of "world peace and friendship."
2) Andrés also talked about the importance of cherry blossoms in his own life, sharing that he once lived in Spain's largest cherry-producing region and could see thousands of trees out of his window. So it meant a lot to him to discover that DC has its own fair share of cherry blossom.
3) Organizers rolled out a cake from Charm City Cakes depicting both the monuments on the National Mall and symbolic Japanese buildings. Duff Goldman, however, sent his regrets.
4) Marc Vidal of the recently opened Boqueria in Dupont Circle was there stopping passersby to give them a taste of his gazpacho and passing out cards offering complimentary tapas.
5) Nen Daiko performed traditional Japanese drumming in the ballroom as guests wandered from food table to food table.
6) The Travel Channel's Adam Richman, formerly host of Man v Food, was in the house and reportedly seen swarmed by women and television cameras. Eater glimpsed him walking quickly through the Promenade on his cell phone, all business.
7) Art Smith was also there hanging out at the Art and Soul table with his executive chef Wes Morton.
8) José Andrés was nowhere to be found after his opening remarks, which apparently was because the chef was feeling under the weather. Get well soon!
9) Restaurants with tables included the likes of Bibiana, Brasserie Beck, Estadio, J&G Steakhouse, Zaytinya, Mie N Yu, Ardeo + Bardeo, The Source, Kushi and The Majestic. Some served savory dishes like duck breast or buffalo short ribs, while others were on dessert or cocktail duty. Many things involved cherry and/or the color pink just in case anyone missed the memo that this was a party for the cherry blossom. Sidenote, J&G Steakhouse had a great whiskey cocktail.
10) By 9 p.m., most of the food was running out and the restaurants were shutting down their tables. Eater left the building at that point, but word was that the booze was still flowing and maybe dancing was going to happen after that? The Pink Tie Party's designated end time was 11 p.m.
· National Cherry Blossom Festival [Official Site]