Foodie Adventures

**This is a hypothetical film treatment I produced for my Digital Storytelling and Strategic Communication class. This production is not affiliated  with Taste of D.C. in any way.

With a documentary and video journal “vlog” style, Foodie Adventures is part of a digital campaign that intimately showcases D.C. residents and food enthusiasts’ explorations of Taste of D.C., a two-day culinary event that provides access to more than 70 of the District’s very best and up-and-coming restaurants, breweries, and live entertainment.

At the heart of Foodie Adventures’ first installment is Los Angeles, Calif. native—Cathryn P., a self-described foodie experiencing Taste of D.C. for the first time. In the midst of the lively festival, we follow her as she samples an assortment of food offerings ranging from a chili dog from Ben’s Chili Bowl to a Chipotle grilled cheese sandwich from The Big Cheese to snickerdoodle cookies from Captain Cookie & the Milkman. In between shots of Cathryn devouring and commenting on the food, we also hear some of her “foodie” confessions, see her peruse a brand-new white Fiat, and receive directions from a fellow festival-goer. Along the way, Cathryn observes and films an impromptu dance party, prompted by high spirits and flowing libations, taking place in front of Fado Irish Pub & Restaurant. Through her eyes and indelible charm, viewers receive a “birds-eye-view” of the enjoyment in store at the Taste of D.C. festival.

**This is my second serious video effort.

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District Residents Take a Bite out of Taste of D.C.

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**Photo Credit Erin Robertson

The Taste of D.C., the largest Mid-Atlantic culinary festival, came back for another taste this year on Oct. 12 and 13.

In its third year, the two-day culinary event delighted foodies with access to more than 70 of the District’s very best and up-and-coming restaurants and breweries, along with live music.

There were also eating contests, including Ben’s Chili Bowl World Chili Eating Championship and BGR The Burger Joint’s first Burger Eating Competition as well as live food demonstrations.

The festival took over five blocks along Pennsylvania Avenue between 9th and 14th streets and drew a crowd of 50,000 people, despite the gray backdrop and occasional sputtering of rain drops.

**Photo Credit Erin Robertson

**Photo Credit Erin Robertson

The festival drew many first-timers, including Satya Malladi, a 4-year D.C. resident.

“I’m here to taste all different beers that D.C. has to offer and try different foods.  This is my first Taste of D.C. event, so I’m all excited about it,” he said sipping on a dark German beer purchased from the festival’s beer garden.

Although the food offerings such as half-sized chili dogs from Ben’s Chili Bowl, chipotle cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches from Big Cheese and pumpkin ice cream sandwiches made fresh at Captain Cookie & the Milkman were mostly under $10, some festival-goers eyes and stomachs were bigger than their wallets.

“The food is good, but I thought there would be more free taste tests. I didn’t know everything was going to be paid, but they’re featuring a lot of good restaurants,” said Niki McElroy of Laurel MD.

However, Molly Guntli of Bethesda, Md. and her friends got quite a bargain with a Living Social deal; a $30 ticket included $25 in drinks and admission. General admission tickets were regularly $10. Taste also catered to those affected by the government shutdown with a furlough special, buy one get one free tickets with valid government I.D.

The Taste of D.C. organizers covered their bases, so that food could be enjoyed by all.

“They’re excited that there’s vegetarian food here other than typical vegetarian (options),” said Suzanne Simon, co-founder/owner of Chaya, a pop-up restaurant that sources local and sells travel-inspired vegetarian tacos with rustic Mexican undertones.

**Photo Credit Erin Robertson

**Photo Credit Erin Robertson

Daiya, an alternative cheese company, appealed to festival-goers with lactose and soy intolerance and fans of free things by passing out samples of their newest offerings, including three flavors of their specially formulated cheeses and cream cheeses.

“We always like to introduce our product to someone new. It’s great for anyone who has allergies or is looking for a healthier option,” said Jocelyn Chan, a Daiya representative.

**Photo Credit Erin Robertson

**Photo Credit Erin Robertson

At the festival, there was also a corporate presence with kiosks featuring Fiat, Car 2 Go, and Power Home & Modeling Group, among others. But they had their work cut out for them attempting to distract foodies from their lust.

“People obviously are not coming here just to talk about windows, siding, and roofing. They’re coming here to taste the food and drink wine and so we have to grab their attention,” said Davvid Saidman representing vendor, Power Home & Modeling Group.

Prompted by flowing libations and mega-hits like, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and “Ignition Remix” by R. Kelly played by a cover band, spirited festival-goers danced carefree in front of the 11th Street music stage.

**Photo Credit Erin Robertson

**Photo Credit Erin Robertson

“We want this to be the event that people circle on their calendars because there’s nothing like bringing people together with food, music, and libations and really just having a wonderful time on one of the most beautiful streets in America,” said Matt DiVincenzo, Taste of D.C. organizer and senior at American University’s Kogod School of Business.

‘Crafty Bastards’ Explain How to Take D.I.Y. Crafting to the Next Level

Although tough decisions whether to dress up as Miley Cyrus from her raunchy MTV VMA performance this year, complete with a foam finger, or a zombie from the successful AMC TV show, “Walking Dead” for Halloween haven’t been decided, buying a $5 day pass to Crafty Bastards Arts & Craft Fair and getting a jump-start on Christmas shopping was a decision definitely worth making over the weekend.

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Photo Credits: http://www.empowernetwork.com and aprew01.wordpress.com

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Crafty Bastards presented by the Washington City Paper for connoisseurs of all things novelty such as monster-inspired historical prints and maps, chic hand-crafted knit accessories, creepy stuffed animals and doggie bling was, “bigger, better, and craftier” than ever.

“If Etsy were a mall, it would be kind of like this,” said festival coordinator, Nikki Caborale.

Only a brisk autumn stroll from the NoMa metro station and in its second year across from Union Market, the fair blossomed into a weekend-long affair with bigger tents housing more independent artisans selling handmade wares.  It also whetted shopper’s appetites with D.C.’s best food trucks and a selection of craft brews at the new Belgium Beer Garden, perfect for shopping breaks.

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Crafty Bastards Entry Signs

Urban and stylish shoppers, young and old, came from across the District and surrounding areas to engage D.I.Y professionals, hailing from all over the U.S., to discover and buy unique handmade goods, the variety that can’t be found in big box stores like Target.

“I like supporting original and individual craftsmen and buying unique things, so I was really excited to check it out and see things that I hadn’t seen before and support the artists,” said Laura McNeil, a shopper who traveled from New York City to attend the fair.

“It’s fun every time and it never disappoints me and it keeps growing and growing. It’s bigger this year, I think,” said repeat shopper, Rachel Wallach, a Los Angeles, Calif. native living in the District.

A lot of hard work goes into organizing Crafty Bastards each year, including a jury selection process that considers each artist’s mission statement, creativity, quality, uniqueness of materials, and decides who out of the 450 applicants will earn a highly-coveted spot to sell their goods in the festival’s 158 booths.

Despite Crafty Bastards’ competitive selection process, many of the vendors have participated in the fair since its inception, originally conceived to make Washington City Paper’s classified section come to life.

Crafters’ products continue to shock, awe, and evolve based on trends and their inspirations. Debbie Lee, 60 bugs owner, who sells products that come in the hand-embroidered variety, and Rania Hassan, goshdarnknit owner who sells Japanese gocco screen printed notebooks, lunch bags, and other knit-inspired items said they return each year to Crafty Bastards, even participating in the selection jury, because it is an event that has turned their hobby into a bonafide business.

Crafty Bastards 60 bugs

Crafty Bastards Gocco Notebooks

The fair has also fostered an artist community in the process.

“There’s an aesthetic that the creators of Crafty Bastards have tried to instill and it’s a sense of making things from the sheer joy of making things,” said Sean Hennessey, a sculpture artisan who runs self-titled company, Sean Hennessey.

“I think you have to support each other in this community and everyone does and that’s sort of why I think I’m part of it, why I think I like it, and why I’m here,” he said.

Many of the artisans haven’t quit their day jobs, but they craft as a creative outlet and a way to connect with their customers.

“When people identify with and connect with what I’m making and they like it, then it inspires me to make more,” said Tiny Henry of Tina Seamonster that specializes in zombie themed small gift items.

Crafty Bastards Tina Seamonster Magnets

Crafty Bastards Tina Seamonster Logo

However, getting into the D.I.Y. crafting business isn’t for the faint of heart.

Here’s some advice on how to take your crafting game to the next level:

“Always have passion. Never give it up. Make sure that you love doing it because starting a small business requires a lot of sacrifices and a lot of hard work and if you don’t love what you do, then you’re not going to be happy,” says Virginia Arrisueño, a D.C. based full-time crafter and owner of DeNada, a company that sells luxurious knit accessories for men and women.

Crafty Bastards DeNada

Still don’t know where to start?

Henry says don’t be afraid to fail.

“That’s how you learn, that’s how you grow, and that’s how you end up doing something awesome,” she says.

Henry says her company is a product of five failures.

“You have to make a lot of something. The mere fact of making something will inspire you to perfect it, will inspire you to make something better, to make it more unique. You’re not going to find your voice until you make a lot of things. Give it away at first, charge nothing for it. Sell it really cheap,” Hennessey says.

Jeffrey Everett, American University alumnus who majored in design and owner of El Jefe Design, a company that sells fringe culture merchandise, including posters and stationary, offers his wisdom exclusively for AU students.

Crafty Bastards El Jefe

 “When you go out into the real world, make sure that your first job is (one) that you actually want to do and pursue because you’re building on the experience you have. Take classes that are outside of your major. If you’re an artist, take business classes. If you’re a film studies major, take some literature classes. You really need to know all angles of the profession you’re doing. You have to be very broad in what you do and you have to be really smart,” he says.

H Street Festival Didn’t Let The Rain Reign On Its Parade

On Saturday, residents from across the D.M.V area converged on the revitalized H Street NE Corridor, some for the first time, under threatening gray clouds, for the highly anticipated and popular 4th annual H Street Festival organized by non-profit, H Street Main Street.

The festival sprawled an additional four blocks this year from Fourth to 14th streets, NE and featured over 50 local and visiting artists, 80 performances on 10 stages with music genres ranging from rock, bluegrass, fusion, to gospel as well as a myriad of local, regional, and international cuisine served in food trucks or in stands set up in front of the restaurants that regularly call H Street home.

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As if the competing aromas of barbecued ribs, Korean tacos, or freshly fried donuts weren’t enough to entice the anticipated 100,000 festival-goers, they could also browse over two-hundred booths lining the corridor varying from vendors selling colorful and unique dangling earrings, graphic t-shirts, vintage clothing, and artwork.

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Chickie Brown, a self-described history geek, was among the vendors hoping to increase brand recognition and revenue for her business. She is founder of Chickie Brown M.A.N.- Monarchs and Nomads, a men’s graphic t-shirt line that combines her love of art and history. The graphic t-shirts hallmark pop art, highlighting a blend of historical characters with flashes of intense color that draws the eye.

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Brown explains why she decided to participate in the H Street Festival, “To sell my tees and…be a part of the community. There are a lot of changes and I do really want to be a part of that. They’re kind of bringing this community (together) and making it more vibrant,” Brown said.

Shoppers that visited Brown’s tent reflected the diversity of the crowd, which ranged from young to old and every possible race and ethnicity.

However, H Street did not always lure an assortment of people or engender exuberance.

One festival-goer, Steve Mesker, a Capitol Hill resident since 1999, visited H Street in the 1980s with a friend for breakfast and recalled being the only two white guys on the entire block.

H Street has come a long way not only in terms of diversity, but it has also managed to advance beyond its reputation, once mired in urban decay and defined by its fire-charred and cracked sidewalks and vacant buildings with broken windows, attracting many frequenters.

“You know the eighties was not a great time in some neighborhoods here,” Mesker said referring to H Street. “It’s improved. Just in general, Washington has gotten a lot wealthier.”

Prior to the revitalization effort which has taken place over the past decade, native Washingtonian and Inspire BBQ vendor, Akisha Greene noted, “H Street was messed up during the riots of Martin Luther King Jr., so they burned (it) down, so it was a part of town that D.C. kind of wrote off.”

With the influx of wealth generated by real estate developers, rising property values has forced out some local businesses, paving the way for a number of new businesses that have cropped up along the H Street Corridor over the past few years, a trend that has been impacting the District’s trendiest neighborhoods.

“There wouldn’t be an H Street Festival without gentrification, but the cool thing is, I think they’ve done a good job. As you can see there’s a mix of crowd(s) here, all kinds of different people. That’s cool. I think D.C. still has that and hopefully that will stay,” Mesker said.

Mesker observed that while the festival has grown and was comprised of a mishmash of arts and culture and places to eat and drink, it also flaunted a tamer, corporate element by including kiosks for Ford, ZipCar, Car2Go, Geico, REI, and Arsenio Hall as compared to the funkier street festival held several days earlier in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood.

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Once shopping was no longer on the agenda, revelers could watch small-scale fashion shows, attend educational events, converse with local entrepreneurs, artists, and community organizers, or take their children to have their faces painted.

Additionally, there was a lineup of psychedelic and steam-punk inspired cars and trucks and Burning Man-esque installations that the crowd could meander around and snap photos of.

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Some the attendees became attractions too, for instance, a woman pushing around an electric blue stroller overflowing with four Dachshunds captured the curiosity of onlookers while others fawned over a 9-month-old cat on a leash.

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Despite the weather reports promising a cloudy day, by mid-afternoon the sky opened up and rain poured with a fury, slightly dampening the joviality of the festival.  Attendees caught off-guard without umbrellas scattered to find shelter and their movements throughout the festival appeared to be timed with the intensity of the downpour.

“As soon as I got out onto the street, it started raining and I had to just go and find a place to shelter from the rain, so I didn’t really get a chance to listen to any of the music,” said D’lena Duncan who drove in for the festival from Germantown, Md. and spent 30 minutes locating a parking spot.

It seemed the rain was determined to turn the H Street Festival into the H20 Festival, prompting jokes from the Fanthom Comics booth.

The vendors and festival-goers braved the inclement weather, but eventually with the rain unrelenting, the vendors, one by one, began to pack up prematurely.

Despite the clash between the spirited festivities and the uncooperative weather, the organizers of H Street Festival seemed to have successfully accomplished their goal of attracting people throughout the District and beyond to experience the hidden gems of the new and improved corridor.

“I generally like street fairs. I think it brings out the best in every neighborhood,” said Adar Schneider, a San Francisco native and junior at George Washington University.

All in all, it was a sublime day to sing in the rain on H Street, NE.