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Champagne and More at the Barracks Row Culinary Education Crawl

A blustery, cold afternoon didn’t dampen the fun at the recent Barracks Row Culinary Education Crawl.  In fact, I’d say the food and drink helped keep us warm. After a few glasses of champagne, you feel no pain.

The champagne was courtesy of the tasting class at Hill Center.


The co-instructor was a Frenchman; as you can imagine, anything he said sounded legit purely based on the accent. He could have claimed champagne is made from Welch’s Grape Juice and I would have probably believed it.


We learned about champagne vs. sparkling wines, dosage, the difference between “extra dry” and “Brut,” and how a glass can affect the abundance — or lack of — bubbles.

Here are some of my friends looking quite serious as they listen.


Our four samples. From left to right:

Ca’dei Zago D.O.C. Prosecco Col Fondo 2010
Klein “Cremant d’Alsace” Chardonnay Extra Brut
N.V. Champagne Francois Diligent Rose
2006 Laherte Freres “Les Vignes d’Autrefois — A Chavot” Extra Brut


The one glass I didn’t care for was the Prosecco, which I thought tasted flat and nondescript.  Much preferred the sharper and more interesting Chardonnay and Rose.

Six happy and slightly tipsy people after four glasses.


After a short break, we were off to the pasta carbonara class at the restaurant, Zest.

I was a little disappointed, because I had thought we would be getting hands-on and making the pasta. It was more a demonstration and tasting.


A look at the recipe.


We each received a bowl to sample. Really nice — creamy from the egg and cheese, and punched up by the pork belly.


I could have used another bowl (or two), and I think everyone else felt the same. Appetites firing, we made our way to Belga Cafe, where another class was going on — I think it had to do with beer.


We weren’t signed up for this one though, so we stuck to sharing a few items off the menu.

Frites with a chipotle dipping sauce.


A waffle stuffed with crabmeat and king crab legs in a saffron sauce. Odd sounding, but it worked, like chicken and waffles’ fancier cousin.


The takeaways from the day?  That there’s a whole lot to learn about sparkling wines/champagne, that pork belly elevates any dish, that I need to spend more time exploring Barracks Row, and that culinary education crawls are a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Belga Cafe
514 8t St. SE
Washington, DC