Nava Thai Creates a Grand Summertime BanquetAugust 10, 2011
By Judith Mazza, Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.
Summer in the Washington area is languid and slow paced. It’s when Washington’s southern “DNA” is most evident. Traffic is light, people are on vacation, and events are often suspended. This did not stop the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C. from holding its second ever “Chaîne on the Edge” event in August. The D.C. Bailliage created this new category of event the year before, to accommodate those informal ethnic restaurants which have wonderful and authentic food, but which do not have the ambiance or facility usually found at a formal Chaîne dinner. Vice Chargée de Presse, Judith Mazza and Vice Echanson, Ellen Kirsh after having visited this restaurant many times, suggested Nava Thai as the venue for our next Chaîne on the Edge adventure. Ladavan Srigatesook, Chef and owner (along with her husband, Suchart Srigatesook) worked with our tasting committee to create something quite wonderful and unique. The tasting committee which included Bailli Paul Haar, Gastronomique Steven Lustig, Dame de la Chaîne Louise Harkavy and Jon Harkavy, Vice Echanson Ellen Kirsh, Tony Clifford, Allan Kam and Vice Chargée de Presse Judith Mazza, met for two tastings. The second meeting was to finalize the menu, choosing which of the off-menu dishes (which could not be tasted the first time) would appear in the final selection. The grand banquet which resulted had five courses in addition to three passed appetizers. Each of the courses had three to five different dishes served. We made a point to have both mild and spicy choices for our members with every course.
The event was held in a private room where we asked to have the tables arranged as one long continuous table since we had a very special plan in mind for the seating. Inspired by a dinner held by the London City Bailliage, which Vice Chargée de Presse, Judith Mazza and her husband Allan Kam had attended the previous year as Chaîne ambassadors, every other person was to move four seats to their right after each course, taking his/her beverage and napkin with them. Judith Mazza had prepared for the event by numbering each of the seating positions with a place card. Each seating position listed the name(s) of the person or persons who would occupy the seat for each course. In addition, each person was given their own place card when they arrived. It let them know if they were someone who would be a “mover and shaker” or someone who would be seated throughout the dinner in the same seat. The planning paid off, there was no confusion, and the change in seating after each course added to the fun, informality, warmth and frivolity of the event.
The food was delicious and interesting. There were three passed appetizers which consisted of chicken and pork satay, curry puffs and chive cakes. With the exception of the soups and the desserts (which were plated in the kitchen), the other dishes were all served family style. The meal was accompanied by Thai Singha beer. Among the many standouts were the yam nuer (lemon beef salad), the ped paloh (duck noodle soup), the hoi tod (crispy mussels), the crispy duck kaprow, the Panang curry and the pad Thai. The lovely plated dessert was a trio of sticky rice with mango, coconut ice cream and sweet banana roti.
At the end of the evening, Bailli Paul Haar presented Ladavan Srigatesook with a beautiful Chaîne plate as a token of our appreciation for her hard work and outstanding cuisine. There was so much food, that we asked the restaurant to put aside “leftovers” and prior to the dessert course suggested to our members that they bring home what they wished in the provided containers. This was a bit unorthodox, but so was the entire meal! The “leftovers” on the side table were gone by the end of the evening. The combination of great generosity from Nava Thai and a sense of genuine connection among the confreres as we changed our seats throughout the meal made for a warm and unique event. As we left Nava Thai, we said we would be returning soon, and also hoped that the next Chaîne on the Edge event wouldn’t be too far in the future!