Photos by Nicholas Karlin
For the second dinner in REI’s Wild Kitchen Summer Supper Series, we gathered our gold dipped cement tealight holders (thank you Urban Orphans!), and tropical floral arrangements (thank you Taffy Floral!) and headed over to the newly opened German beer paradise that is Wunder Garten at NOMA for an evening celebrating sustainable seafood and charity.
This time the dinner paired Chef Johnny Spero of Cappy’s Crabs with the Anacostia Watershed Society, with ALL the proceeds from the tickets going to the non-profit (and they’ll need all the help they can get, their aim is to make THAT OTHER D.C. RIVER swimmable by 2025).
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Cappy’s Crabs. As a fake vegetarian (as my boss calls my dietary restrictions), I hadn’t yet been to Cappy’s and despite the best of intentions I was never lucky enough to eat at minibar while Chef Johnny Spero was executive sous chef. Big mistake. Spero’s cooking is so transformative I can’t even really even verbalize my thoughts properly. Armed with refreshments from Atlas Brew Works, we dove into four courses of a culinary seafaring adventure. I even ate some roe.
Next up was a dashi custard with cured scallops, enoki mushrooms, and scallop chips, which kind of looks like a sheet of brown paper until it was broken up and mixed into the custard. As a big fan of the first season of Mind of A Chef (yay David Chang!) I like to pretend I know what dashi is, but I still had to google it. It’s a broth base used in Japanese cooking just FYI, for your future chef show viewing convenience.
Third course was Fluke infused with the “flavors of green curry”. At first people seemed a little confused that the main course wasn’t crab. But everyone got over their trepidation fairly quickly when they realized that the gorgeous plate they had in front of them was way better than crab (also not a huge crab fan so I do have a bit of a bias – guys they are the SPIDERS OF THE OCEAN).
Dessert was definitely the highlight. Not only because while the Fluke was being licked clean off the plates, the founders of Compass Coffee rolled up with their fancy little coffee machine and started serving up cold brews, which paired perfectly with the seaweed granita and black sesame yogurt dessert (sounds weird, tasted delicious.)
With that Wild Kitchen #2 was over and we all scuttled (crab pun? maybe?) home, filled to the brim with coffee and sea grapes. While there’s two more Wild Kitchens still to come they are (very) SOLD OUT. However, if you’re dying to get in, sign up for the waitlist and we might just see you next time.
REI is also gearing up for the NEXT two events in their United Outside 100 Days of Recess- O Brother Where Art Thou at NOMA Summer Screen tomorrow (Free, July 20th, 7:00pm) and the Inaugural Jerky Fest THIS SATURDAY (Free, July 23rd, 12pm-4pm, Wunder Garten). It’ll be great. Lots to chew on.