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Inaugural Balls Where Food Isn't An Afterthought

Like everyone else in Washington, D.C., right now, we're gearing up for the long inaugural weekend, bracing ourselves for various events and balls around town that can be thrilling, patriotic, touristy and traffic-jamming, all at the same time.

And while we take issue with the gross mischaracterization of these parties as "the Oscars for the style-challenged," we must admit, the predictable buffets that have characterized the official balls in the past don't really help D.C.'s rep with the glitterati.

Naturally, the president will eat well — maybe 3,000 calories too well, and that's just lunch. (Call it a presidential tradition: Apparently, Abraham Lincoln enjoyed five courses of meat after his second inaugural.) But for most of us little people, it's often been long lines for cold food, just for a chance to see POTUS and FLOTUS take an awkward spin onstage for a few minutes.

But if you go the unofficial ball route, there's bound to be interesting food aplenty. Here are a few exceptions we bet will beat the rubber chicken brigade:

ChurchKey's Inaugural Brewer's Ball: As you might imagine, this "ball" at a hot restaurant in Logan Circle will focus on beer of all kinds, but it will also feature pastries, because executive chef Kyle Bailey and pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac are hosting. "Oysters with green apple mignonette, pulled pork on corn grits, house-made charcuterie and cheese" will be served, says Megan Bailey, director of public relations for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which runs ChurchKey. Tickets are $150 for the Monday night event.

The 2013 Ambassadors Inaugural Ball will be held at the Washington Historical Society Monday night, right across from the commander in chief's official ball. "We wanted to give our guests the feeling of being as close to the action as possible," says spokeswoman Trea Day. It's sponsored by the various embassies around town and will nod to the exotic flavors of their various countries through desserts incorporating cayenne, curry and saffron. Plus Biz Markie entertains!

Then there are the various state society balls, the most famous being Texas' Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball, especially when the Bushes were in town. This year, it's being held on Saturday night in Maryland, at the Gaylord National Resort at National Harbor. Cowboy hats optional, barbecue mandatory. Tickets are $250 for members, $275 for nonmembers.

And what about the Black McDonald's Operators Association Inaugural Ball at the City Club Monday night? Will they serve the fries that almost launched a boycott by the Brits at the Olympics last summer? We're waiting for a callback about the menu.

Got more goods? Tweet us your favorite food moments of the weekend and stay tuned for our slide show on Tuesday.

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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