The Delicious Heartbreak of Fire, Flour & Fork

You can't eat everywhere.



It all comes down to choices — hard choices. The city’s big food event, Fire, Flour & Fork, is a four-day extravaganza of fancy dinners, seminars and demos. Chefs from across the country flew in this week to sell books, talk about the industry and demonstrate how to make a dish or two via overhead cameras and occasionally cranky equipment. The upshot? The samples that chefs pass out show why most of us sit in front of the stove instead of working professionally behind it.

But there’s a lot going on. Thursday night's dinner at L’Opossum sold out shortly after tickets went on sale, so I was unable to go. I was whining like a 3-year-old who just ate sand until I saw that there was another dinner, Farm-to-Fork, at Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market with James Beard Award-winning chef Joe Kindred, of Davidson, North Carolina’s Kindred restaurant.

Six courses, paired with wine, made you forget the menu was gluten-free. Or I should say, it made a lot of people realize that food free of gluten is just food. Nothing odd, nothing strange, and nothing last night was missed. The clear flavors of outstanding ingredients were allowed to shine without a lot of impediments in the way. Dessert by Ellwood’s pastry chef Ingrid Shatz — a honey pie with an oat crust, served with apples and honey-pecan brittle — made me feel a little emotional, it was so good, and I pray to the gods of dining that the store soon will sell these little pies so that I can eat them again — possibly every day.

Meanwhile, Style contributor Jack Lauterback pulled up a chair at Graffiato’s Beer vs. Wine dinner the same night and files the following report:

Despite the absence of Graffiato head chef Mike Isabella (because of a family/personal matter), the Devil's Backbone/Breaux Vineyards dinner last night lived up to its boozy billing.

George Pagonis, Isabella's partner in Kapnos and Kapnos Taverna in Washington and Arlington, joined fellow Washingtonian Marjorie-Meek Bradley of Ripple and Roofers Union in the kitchen for five courses, each paired with its own wine and beer selection.

The anise hyssup cavatelli paired with the Devil's Backbone Smokehaus Dunklewiezzen was this writer's star of the evening. The pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin with the Breaux "Graffiato" Nebbiolo also had the sold-out crowd buzzing — or maybe that was just the endless rounds of beer and wine.

Dinners continue through Sunday — hopefully, we'll all survive — and you can catch Lauterback in person at Amuse at VMFA tomorrow at 3 p.m. for the Devil Made Me Do It bartender battle.

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