I should have guessed that the whole “actually focus on the foods and chefs of the place where you’re filming” thing from last week was going to be short-lived.
It’s a shame, too, as the Cold War-inspired elimination challenge would have provided a great opportunity to feature a location like the International Spy Museum or the Embassy of the Russian Federation (with its strategic location overlooking all of official Washington). It could have put the contestants on one of the highly informative and entertaining spy tours that are run by individuals with varying degrees of connection to the events they’re describing (though the producers score points for the use of the USS Sequoia in a cameo role). And I suspect they could have found a chef a little closer to Washington than Miami to judge the episode.
As a result, this week’s map has just one addition. But if you’re looking to enhance your own Cold War-related experience while you’re in Washington we’ve got a few more suggestions for you after the jump.
USS Sequoia Presidential Yacht
The USS Sequoia has been in service since the 1920s. During that time it has served a dozen US Presidents as well as Queen Elizabeth, and it has hosted foreign leaders including Winston Churchill and Mikhail Gorbachev. Today, the Yacht is primarily used for private charters and can be rented for events that accommodate up to 50 guests.
The Sequoia can be found on the Southwest Waterfront, near the various companies that offer dinner/booze cruises up and down the Potomac. I had to smile at Carol Blymire’s spot-on description of such trips in her weekly Top Chef recap over at Washingtonian. If you’re not reading them, you should be.
In addition to its role as the Presidential yacht, the Sequoia was actually an inspired choice on the part of the producers because it was the site of a meeting between Nixon and Brezhnev during the negotiations of the first strategic arms treaty between the United States and Russia.
So that’s the only legitimately relevant who, what or where from this week’s episode, and it should come as no surprise that none of our contest entries came close to this one. Patricia Fitzgerald suggested a spy-themed challenge set at the Spy Museum or Zola, but no references to the Cold War or cold dishes.
But we’re not letting you off that easily. If you’re interested in incorporating a little bit of Cold War history into your own trip to DC, you should check out the Five Guys on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. It was the site of a re-defection by Vitaly Yurchenko, who had previously defected from the Soviet Union to the United States. He slipped out a bathroom window and headed up Wisconsin Avenue to the Russian Embassy.
You might also consider a side trip to check out some more recent spy history: the River House Apartments in Arlington, where two of the recently discovered Russian spy ring were living here in the DC area.
And if you’re hungry for some wild game meats like the cheftestants cooked in the Quickfire Challenge, plan a trip to Serbian Crown Restaurant in nearby Great Falls, VA. Not only do they offer a wide range of traditional Russian dishes, they also have emu, antelope, rabbit, wild boar and – wait for it – lion on the menu.
For a taste of Russia inside the city, your best bet is Russia House near the cheftestant’s house and the Washington Hilton where they cooked. Our advice? Stick with the infused vodkas and appetizers and make a fun night of it.
<<EDIT 10:50 AM 7/22/10: As luck would have it, today’s Groupon just happens to be $20 for $40 worth of food and drink at none other than Russia House. One more incentive to add it to your tour.>>