I LIVE ON a low-budget bachelor's diet. My favorite restaurant is McDonald's. I eat pizza, drink beer and am addicted to sugar," teased Will Albers, the dashing 25-year-old example of physical fitness who had just run 15 kilometers to win the District's first annual Hometown Run last Sunday.
Albers was just one of more than 1,000 runners who lined up in front of the District Building at 8:30 a.m. to run through town, surprising late-rising Washingtonians as they cracked open their front doors to get the morning paper.
Across the street entrepeneurs were setting up the 19 stands (13 sponsored by area restaurants) from which they dispersed a wide variety of ethnic food.
The event, a youth programs fund-raiser organized by the Women's Committee of the Urban League, was a huge success, according to committee member Anne Luzzatto. Not only was the turnout higher than expected, but "it got a lot of people working together who hadn't done anything like it before." There were prizes, bands, food and drink.
George Antoine wanted beer. Still sweating, Antoine, a runner who didn't know how he placed in the race but "ran his best time ever," tried to convince a reporter that beer after a run is good for you. "It's got lots of carbohydrates; if I drank a Coke right now I'd probably throw up."
Are you hungry, he was asked. "No, have to wait a couple of hours, but I think I'll have another beer," he said as he walked away, pleased with himself.
It wasn't until 11 a.m. that hunger shifted the crowd to the home-smoked salmon on toast (La Brasserie); vegetable rotis and codfish cakes (Islander); goulash and bread dumplings, German sausages with sauerkraut (Alpenhof); red pepper salad with duck (La Maree); Italian sausage sandwiches with peppers (Prego Italian Deli); shrimp chips, tofu and spring rolls (Vietnamese Food & Drink); Barbecued ribs and chicken (Grover's North Carolina Barbeque); curried chicken, rice and beans, barbecued chicken (Dianna's West Indian Food); hot and spicy beef and lamb (Mamma Desta's); fried potatoes, eggs, sausage and corncakes (Independent Church of God); the usual breakfast assortment of bagels, hot coffee, fresh fruit, and much, much more.
The runners themselves were attracted to the 450 croissants from The Bread Oven and freshly squeezed orange juice from Kitchen Bazaar, where the peels were stacked 9 cases high.
The French restauranteurs proved to be the link between food and sports. Gabe Aubouin of La Brasserie, who ran in the 1.8 mile race (3 kilometers), was tickled about Jean-Louis Palladin (Jean-Louis Restaurant), who had not yet returned from running, as it turned out, in the wrong race. Aubouin seemed little concerned about the chocolate mousse cake melting in the warm morning sun. He seemed even less concerned about additional trays full of salads and cakes sitting unsold in a van behind his kiosk. His major concerns were having a good time and getting ready for the next race, a celebrity relay with Palladin, Keith Fagon (Capitol Hill Rag) and Larbi Ddahrouch (also Jean-Louis Restaurant). Like his soupy mousse, Aubouin's team had it all together in the beginning, but melted to last place in the finals.
But then, Palladin had just recovered from finishing second-to-last in the 15 kilometer race, 12 kilometers longer than he meant to run.Between races he could be found breathless, stretched out in a chair behind his restaurant's kiosk where they were selling brioche with raspberry and blackberry fruit butters.
Esther Peterson came by and told Palladin: "I make good bread, but not as good as yours." Following a tasting of Mamma Desta's barbecued chicken. Peterson, consumer advisor to two presidents, said to the employes, "I give all of you the consumer seal of approval."
Mayor Marion Barry's summary: "Fantastic. We have good weather, and it's really nice to be downtown on Pennsylvania Avenue."
Did you eat, he was asked? "I ate some ribs, but I can't eat too much. Got to watch my weight." He patted his stomach.
He missed half of the fun -- just across the street he could have had breakfast in the Caribbean, France, Germany, Italy, and the U.s.a. all in one sitting, cooked by some of the city's top chefs.
Here are some of the recipes. GREEN PEPPER SALAD WITH PRESERVED DUCK (La Maree) (8 servings) 1 head boston lettuce 3 red peppers, sliced 1 duck gizzard confit* 1 duck breast confit* 6-ounce can tuna, drained 8 tomatoes, cut in wedges 4 hard-cooked eggs Vinaigrette: 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 2 cups oil Salt, pepper 1 tablespoon dijon mustard Sprinkling of fresh tarragon or chives
Line plate with lettuce. Lay on red peppers. Slice gizzard and breast and place around salad. Put tuna in center. Place tomato wedges and eggs on each corner. Mix vinaigrette and pour over salad.
*Note: Chicken may be substituted, but duck confit (preserved duck) is much better and can be found in some European markets. FRIED APPLES (Independent Church of God) (4 to 5 servings) 5 large cooking apples (green) 4 tablespoons butter or margarine 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Wash, quarter and core apples. Slice into 1/2-inch thick slices. Heat butter in skillet, add apples, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Cook, covered, over low heat until soft. Remove lid and simmer, stirring often, until most of liquid is absorbed. VEGETABLE ROTI (Islander Caribbean Restaurant) (Makes 10)
This is quite an ambitious recipe for large, thin pancakes filled with three curries. It takes several hours to prepare. If you do not have a 14-inch flat iron griddle, you can reduce the size of the pancakes to fit a 10-inch heavy frying pan. 5 cups flour, sifted 3 tablespoons baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 tablespoon sugar 2 cups water 1 tablespoon ghee (Indian-style clarified butter, available in ethnic markets) 1/2 pound yellow split peas 1/2 teaspoon turmeric or saffron powder 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/2 tablespoon cumin Curried potato filling (recipe follows) Chana (curried chick pea filling) (recipe follows) Green vegetable filling (recipe follows)
Mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar in mixing bowl. Add water, then ghee, mix well. Let stand for 1 hour (if possible overnight, covered airtight with plastic). Do not knead.
Boil split peas and turmeric in 4 quarts water over high flame until semi-done (about 15 to 20 minutes). Do not overcook. Drain thoroughly (until almost dry). Grind to powder. Add salt and cumin and mix well.
Cut dough into 10 pieces. Dust with flour and flatten in palm of hand. Fill each with 2 tablespoons split pea mixture and mold into loose ball. Place on floured tray. Cover with plastic as you finish forming the balls.
Roll each ball out with rolling pin on slightly floured board into a flat circle about 14 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Grease grill or flat iron pan lightly with vegetable oil. Dust all loose flour off dough. Fry over medium heat for about 10 seconds, turn and fry other side for 10 to 15 seconds. Store in foil. Pancakes can be rolled, wrapped in foil and stored in refrigerator overnight. CURRIED POTATO FILLING 2 pounds potatoes 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 large clove garlic, mashed 1/2 large onion, chopped 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder 1/2 tablespoon turmeric or saffron powder 1/2 tablespoon fresh chives Salt and pepper to taste 1 cup water
Peel and cut potatoes into small pieces (about 1/2-inch squares). Soak in water to cover to keep from turning brown. Pour oil in 3-quart pot. Fry garlic over medium heat until almost brown, add onion, stir and cook 1 minute. Add curry powder, stir and continue to cook until almost brown. Drain water from potatoes. Add to garlic/onion mixture. Continue to cook, stirring, while adding turmeric, chives, salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup water, lower heat, cover and cook 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and cook, covered, for 15 minutes more. CHANA (CURRIED CHICK PEAS) 1 pound canned chick peas, undrained, or 1/2 pound dried, soaked in water overnight 1 clove garlic, mashed 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil 1/2 tablespoon cumin powder 3/4 tablespoon curry powder
If using dried chick peas, boil in water to cover until tender. Fry garlic and onion in vegetable oil until almost brown. Add chick peas, seasonings and cook 15 to 20 minutes. GREEN VEGETABLE FILLING 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 1/2 cloves garlic, mashed 1 large green cabbage, cut in small pieces 1/2 very large onion or l medium, finely chopped 1/8 teaspoon marjoram 1/4 teaspoon cumin 1/8 teaspoon coriander 1/4 pound carrots Christophene (a vegetable available in Spanish markets), diced (optional) 1 1/2 large red peppers Chives Salt and peppper to taste
Heat oil in heavy frying pan or work to medium high. Fry garlic until light brown. Add cabbage and onions. Cook, stirring briskly, 5 minutes. Add spices. Add carrots, christophene, red peppers and chives. Cook 3 or 4 minutes, stirring briskly. Add salt and pepper taste.
To assemble, place roti on plate.Add 2 heaping tablespoons potato filling, 3 tablespoons green vegetable mixture, 2 tablespoons curried chana. Fold sides over to envelop filling. Serve immediately. GOULASH (The Alpenhof) (8 to 10 servings) 5 pounds white onions, cut in thin strips Oil for browning onions 5 pounds bottom round, cut in 1-inch chunks 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 teaspoon rosemary 1 tablespoon marjoram 1 teaspoon thyme Black pepper and salt to taste 2 tablespoons each Hungarian and Spanish Paprika 2 tablespoons flour 6 cups beef broth
Brown onions in oil in a large pot. Add meat and saute. Add garlic, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, salt and pepper. Continue to brown. When completely browned lower heat, add paprika and flour. Continue to stir. Add broth. Simmer 30 minutes. If sauce is too thin, remove meat and onions, then reduce sauce over high heat until more concentrated. Return meat to pot and reheat. Serve over dumplings. DUMPLINGS (The Alpenhof) (8 servings) 5 slices bacon, fried, drained and minced 3 cups stale bread, cut in 1/2 inch cubes (about 6 slices) 3 tablespoons finely minced onions 1/4 teaspoon salt White pepper 1/2 teaspoon marjoram 2 teaspoons fresh chives, minced 1/4 cup milk 3 large eggs, well beaten 1/4 cup flour
Mix together bacon, bread, onions, salt, pepper, marjoram and chives. Stir in milk and eggs and mix well. Let stand 10 minutes. Mix again. Add flour. Form into 2-inch balls. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in dumplings and simmer 7 or 8 minutes. Remove and serve.