Sweet Charity Springs from the Heart

Written by Anita
May 31, 2009

Who says charity begins at home? We recently mingled at the Mandarin Oriental with over 700 charitable souls supporting a great cause.

Co-hosted by the Heart of America Foundation (HOA) and Albert Uster Imports, Sweet Charity (featured on GregsListDC!) included sweet and savory tastings, cocktail, beer, and wine stations, live and silent auctions, and a chocolate fashion show—all to benefit HOA’s Books From the Heart program. Books From the Heart provides books to children living in poverty, many of whom have no books at home. To date, it has distributed over 1.5 million books to students around the country.

Want to become part of the solution? Then you can make a donation, learn how to hold a book drive in your area, or explore volunteer opportunities here.

The evening included a variety of both sweet and savory dishes. We loved Overwood’s Succulent BBQ brisket mini sandwich and Art and Soul's seared ahi tuna over fried green tomatotes, served with pickled green tomato relish and vanilla molasses. One surprise favorite: Bobby Van’s pan-seared rounds of sea scallop with jicama and pineapple salad, dressed in a citrus-y lime vinaigrette. The scallops are fed into sausage casing, then melded together with yogurt cultures and sliced into rounds. Sweet standouts included Market Salamander's moist honey tea cake with key lime and chamomile and co co. sala's tastes-like-the-real-thing kulfi and mango lassi-flavored dark chocolates. We also fell in love with june B sweet's mini passion fruit panna cotta, studded with tiny seeds and served in adorable clear plastic pods with bow-tied miniature spoons!

The fun culminated in the Des Alpes Chocolate runway fashion show, in which local-area chefs created chocolate and confection couture that looked good enough to eat (literally!) The most creative included the Queen of Hearts (dressed in a sugar paste crown and a gown decorated with edible playing cards and sugar bows) and Cleopatra (wrapped in a fruit “leather” skirt studded with macaroons and sporting a gum paste top.) Alas, Scarlett O’Hara’s gown melted before making it to the runway. But unlike Rhett Butler, we definitely gave a damn!

We chatted with Norman Davis, frequent Food Network competitor and owner of The Sweet Life in Annandale, about his culinary career. Q: Tell us about you’ve done on TV? A: I’ve appeared in 10 different Food Network Challenges and will be appearing in a new episode June 13. I’ve won 2 gold, 3 silver, and 2 bronze medals. Q: What’s been your favorite challenge? A: The cupcake cook-off challenge was my favorite. In the end, our entry looked like a coral reef! I would have won, but messed up on the height requirement. We went from 1st to 3rd place because of that. Q: How did you get into this? A: Representatives of the network saw my demo in Atlantic City and invited me to start competing.

Photos: Photographs 3 and 4 are copyrighted to Laura Luis/Three Lights Photography




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