October 29, 2015

Food has the power to nourish, inspire and bring people together in the most joyous way. It seems only natural that food was central to Night at the Yards, a celebration and fundraiser for Living Classrooms – a nonprofit organization that strengthens communities and inspires young people in the DMV to achieve their potential.

Their annual celebration is catered by some of the district’s favorite restaurants, breweries and caterers, and quickly becomes an all-you-can-eat-and-drink extravaganza. Yours truly was invited to be a food judge. I accepted. Little did I know that food judging is hard. Let’s just say that I need to work on my pacing. With local flavors like Takorean, Dirty South Deli and Goodies Frozen Custard and Treats on the ticket, it was hard to say no to seconds! Alex Quarles, Living Classroom’s Director of Development, shared that “our vendors are truly a part of the living classrooms family, they’re familiar with our programs, they know our staff and many of them have been participating in the event since its inception. We hear over and over again that our vendors enjoy contributing to an event with a cause behind it.”

Bluejacket Brewery’s “Beets Three Ways” (raw, roasted and pickled) served alongside whipped goat cheese and roasted walnut butter was a refreshing breather between heavier and fried flavors. Ice Cream Jubilee – also based at Navy Yard – was a crowd pleaser. Picture adorable mini cones filled with pumpkin honeycomb ice cream (which ended up winning best food of the night!). Just as I thought I was too full, Brandon Byrd (the dapper owner of Goodies) hands me an apple cider doughnut ice cream sandwich. What is a girl supposed to do? Eat, of course.

At some point in the night, a funky New Orleans band called Dumpstaphunk plays. The urge to dance takes over. A good reason to stop eating since I am terrible at multitasking. Much bopping about later, I leave happy and satisfied but wishing I had been smart enough to wear my stretchy pants.

To learn more about Living Classrooms, visit www.livingclassrooms.org