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The National Cherry Blossom Festival has officially commenced, and peak bloom is expected to begin around Thursday, April 1. So the time to toast (and taste) the season is now. Here are some initial offerings.
Immigrant Food, the socially conscious fast-casual downtown eatery — or “cause-casual restaurant” — co-founded by Chef Enrique Limardo known for its globally adventurous fusion bowls, is celebrating by returning Pink Dragon Mylk to its menu. The iced, bright pink concoction blending oatmilk, pink dragon fruit, blue agave, yellow raisins, and cardamom is $6. Visit www.immigrantfood.com.
Named after Bill Murray’s character in Lost in Translation, the Blue Duck Tavern and Lounge in the Park Hyatt Washington, D.C., will shake up the Mr. Harris ($17), a heady concoction of Bluecoat gin, Mancino cherry blossom vermouth, Cocchi Americano wine, and Gran Classico Bitter created by Bartender Rob Aveau. Visit www.blueducktavern.com.
Mi Vida, the Wharf’s multilevel Mexican palace overseen by Chef Roberto Santibañez, is serving The Cherry Royale ($14), mixing Volcan blanco tequila with black cherry, ginger, lime, and bubbles, along with fresh batches of Guacamole con Cerezas, or the staple avocado appetizer seasonally enhanced with cherries and roasted cherry Arbol salsa. Visit www.mividamexico.com.
Just steps from Lafayette Square, the Bombay Club commemorates the festival with the refreshing Celestial Garden ($14), mixing rosé gin, lemon-rosé cordial, fresh lemon juice, rose water, and Peychaud’s bitters. Visit www.bombayclubdc.com.
Some cherry blossom specials are just more special than others — none more so than the Four Course Menu imaginatively foraged by Executive Chef/Owner Bart Vandaele and his team at Capitol Hill’s Belga Café. The spring bounty kicks off with Terrine of Octopus and Squid, a first course exploding with color from red apples, purple carrots, pink onions, pomegranates, red cabbage, and purple potatoes, followed by a second course of Spring Asparagus Soup with turmeric, soft poached eggs, pea tendrils, and prosciutto crumble.
Next, choose from Pan Seared Mahi-Mahi cooked à la nage with green tea and dashi and served with spring peas, fava beans, and Romanesco, Wagyu Hanger Steak grilled with shiitake mushrooms and spring onions and served with lotus chips and wasabi mayonnaise, or New Zealand Rack of Lamb glazed with hoisin and served with mousse of cauliflower, shiitake crumble, lamb basil jus, and parmesan. Cap it off with the wild dessert Cherry Blossom Chocolate, a mix of red and white chocolate, cherry mousse, confit red beets, crisped rice cereal, hibiscus, sour cherries, and beer foam. The cost is $55 per person, not including tax and tip.
Wash it all down with a choice of cocktail, either Walk with Me along Potomac ($15), mixing Belvedere Smogory Forest vodka with nigori sake, cranberry juice, peach puree, and rose, or From the Land of the Rising Sun, stirring together Gin Lane Pink, lychee puree, grapefruit juice, Angostura bitters, and bubbles. Or opt for a featured beer from the kingdom: whether Kwaremont ($9.50), a zesty but mild blond ale, Petrus Oud Bruin ($12.50), a slightly sour Flemish brown ale with notes of chocolate, vanilla, and passionfruit, or Oud Beersel Framboise ($16), a traditional dry and tart Belgian Lambic fermented with raspberries and wild cherries. Visit www.belgacafe.com.
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