Yesterday I volunteered at the first annual American Lamb Jam here in Washington, DC.
The event is sponsored by the American Lamb Board and strives to bring attention to the quality of domestically raised lamb and highlight its suitability to a variety of preparations.
Locally raised lamb was supplied to Washington, DC area chefs to prepare dishes for event guests to enjoy. The food was deliciously paired with local beers from Dogfish Head and Heavy Seas and surprisingly Washington state wineries. When I asked no one could give me a clear reason why Maryland and Virginia wineries were not represented.
Not that I’m complaining about the wine choices. They were great, and I certainly support the Washington State wine industry. I especially enjoyed the 2008 Carmenere from Smasne Cellars and the 2008 Red Blend from Novelty Hill. They were both terrific paired with the lamb dishes. But, it would have been nice to bring attention to our local folks, too.
The lamb dishes were not just for attendees enjoyment. The chefs also participated in a friendly competition:
Best Loin – Chef Richard Brandenburg at Cafe Atlantico
Lamb three ways
Best Shank – Chef Michael Costa at Zaytinya
Hunkar Begendi (roasted lamb shank with eggplant puree)
Best Shoulder – Chef Nick Stefanelli at Bibiana
Border Springs lamb shoulder confit with charred eggplant, lamb ravioli, and ramps
Best Leg & Best of Show – Chef John Critchley at Urbana Restaurant & Wine Bar
Slow-cooked leg of lamb with preserved lemon, dried herbs, and flowers with rosemary-scented gypsy peppers and cipolini onions
People’s Choice – BLT Steak
Braised lamb shank with paella and charred ramp gremolata
This was one of several regional events leading up to a final event in New York City. As Best of Show winner Chef John Critchley from the Urbana Restaurant will represent Washington, DC and compete against winning chefs from Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco.
In addition to be able to enjoy delicious food and wine, attendees also got to take home some fun lamb-related swag.