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More than 40 Alexandria Restaurant Compete with Cherry Menu Items

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Alexandria’s annual “Cherry Challenge” culinary contest has kicked-off with more than 40 restaurants across the city competing to win by crafting a cherry-oriented appetizer, entrée, beverage or dessert.  The “Cherry Challenge” is the first event of Alexandria’s annual George Washington Birthday celebration that culminates with the nation’s original and largest Washington birthday parade on Monday, February 18th.

Blüprint Chocolatier’s “Cherry Bounce” truffle featuring George Washington’s signature on its top

Blüprint Chocolatiers (1001 King Street) is new among this year’s entrants with a dessert featuring George Washington’s own signature on top of a chocolate truffle. “We’re quite excited to be in the Cherry Challenge,” said owner and chef Kim Gustafson. “We’ve made a ‘Cherry Bounce’ which was one of George Washington’s favorite drinks and we turned it into a chocolate.”

Blüprint Chocolatiers owner and chef Kim Gustafson inside her store

The dessert category is especially competitive this year. Glory Days (3141 Duke Street) manager José Bamon says ‘this is our first year doing the Cherry Challenge and we’re going to do a cherry cobbler made fresh, in house, with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and fresh cherries.”

Last year’s winners included Taqueria el Poblano (2400 Mt. Vernon Avenue) for its cherry taco appetizer, Jackson 20 (480 King Street) for its cherry pork entrée, Dishes of India (1510A Belle View Boulevard) for dessert and Café 44 (44 Canal Center Plaza) for best cherry beverage.

The Cherry Challenge began on Sunday, January 27th and ends on February 10, Diners are given a ballot at each restaurant to rate the cherry dish or beverage they

Glory Days manager José Bamon

tasted. Completed ballots are deposited into a ballot box at each restaurant. Winning restaurants are invited to participate in the George Washington Birthday Parade.

“Judging is based on three criteria: taste, presentation, and creativity. Diners rate each item from one to three cherries for a maximum score of 9 on each ballot,” explains Cherry Challenge sponsor and Co-Chair Danny Smith, who is a realtor with TTR Sotheby’s.  “We divide the total points for each dish by the number of ballots for that dish to get the average score. The highest average in each category wins.”

“It is very intriguing to me and I’m excited about participating,” said Lori’s Table (1028 King Street) owner and chef, Lori Leetz. “I want to get in there with the big dogs and see what I can do!”

Patrons are encouraged to Tweet photos and descriptions of the cherry items they tasted by using the hashtag “#GWCherryChallenge” or by posting them to the George Washington Birthday Celebration’s Facebook page:

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