The end of August was my most hotly anticipated trip of the year: going to the NOVA Open in Washington DC. The event itself has nothing to do with food (it's actually a miniature waraming convention), but there is new and delicious food on every corner. We stayed in a different hotel this year than last, and this one came with a full service restaurant in it as opposed to a tiny cafe to pick up breakfast and breakfast only.
We ate there twice in one day just because it was so easy to get to and fit in a nice, sit down meal in between events at the convention across the road. Lunch service was our first experience at Socci, a little Italian-American type joint that doubled as a semi-fancy bar. I would never call what I ate there full blown, purist Italian, but that’s not to discount the value of what they’ve got going on there. The name Socci didn’t betray the actual cuisine we’d see there, so when I saw a lot of Italian ingredients on the menu, I was a little surprised.
This day was the first day in DC in which I had any real appetite, so I did my best to take advantage of it by starting the table with a salumi and cheese board. This was a great snack to carry on through to the next day when the four of us didn’t clear the whole thing out while we were eating. It refrigerated well in the tiny hotel room fridge, and it didn’t require any kind of warming up. The salumi and cheese came with some yummy jams and tiny pickles to cut through the fat, and god, I wish there were more of those pickles for my entree.
I bought a chicken and pesto panini for my lunch, and I definitely needed the pickles to cut through the fat of the melted provolone cheese in the middle. The bread was toasted perfectly, and the chicken, pesto, and red peppers played very well with the cheese. After a few rough weeks of not eating well, it was a welcome flavor combination.
When we returned later for dinner, I didn’t have the room in my stomach for another entree, so I ordered a plate of buratta to snack on when a friend came into town to see us between events. That soft ball of milky cheese, coupled with roasted tomatoes, still more pesto, and toasted, crusty bread, definitely helped carry me through the last event I had that day. We cleaned it up as a group, and I was mighty glad I didn’t get another entree.
We learned during dinner that there is a bar only menu with some pretty different offerings, but we never did find out what they made for bar patrons only. I imagine that the bar snacks would go well with their somewhat limited cocktail menu, and it probably gets a good amount of use from hotel patrons over any extended stay. If we are in the same hotel next time, we might be checking out some snacks down there.
Arlington has a lot of interesting food within walking distance of the Renaissance hotel we stayed at, so Socci benefits most from guests who drop in when they can’t be bothered to go down the road several blocks for Jose Andres’ tapas location, Jaleo, or the other restaurants in that area of Arlington. I don’t regret going to Socci, but when we visit in 2020, I don’t think I will be going out of my way to go back. The convenience is its strongest selling point.
The real gem of the NOVA open is the food cart line up, and we’ll discuss that here between food waste articles and vendor highlights as the month of September rolls on.
I wanted to say thank you for the tremendous support that came in after the Nash’s Veggies vendor highlight earlier this week. It was the best performing article I ever had in terms of foot traffic and ad revenue (as minimal as ad revenue is here at Eating Normal). We are also one like away from 100 on our facebook page. I want to do something fun to commemorate the tiny milestone. Any ideas?
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
Pledge monthly to our patreon!
Or, you know, support the mission with caffeine! Buy me a coffee through Ko-Fi.