On the last day of April this year, I had the exciting opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. for a special dinner event with ALDI. I received an invitation in my email inbox after I recently highlighted my return to ALDI on the blog and mentioned how impressed I was with the store’s affordable organic produce. I shopped at ALDI on occasion when we lived in Ocala but I hadn’t popped in since we moved to North Carolina until a conversation about reducing our monthly food budgets came up as I was chatting with my girlfriends.
After my friend Jess raved about the affordability of the organic items at ALDI, Ryan and I made it a point to pop in after church one day since the church we attend is quite close. I instantly texted Jess and my other girlfriends after we left the store and thanked her for her recommendation because our local ALDI recently got a makeover and also features a LOT more organic and natural products than I remembered from my last visit about three years ago. The organic produce at my local ALDI is honestly cheaper than the conventional produce at many of our local grocery stores, which absolutely blew me away. Instant fan!
When the ALDI team invited me to fly out to Washington, D.C., I couldn’t wait to experience a delicious meal in a vibrant city. (I also had my fingers crossed hoping I might still be able to see the gorgeous cherry blossoms, but we just missed them.) I flew to Washington, D.C. from Savannah after our girls’ weekend and arrived in the mid-afternoon. With only about an hour of free time to spare, I wanted to take full advantage of my quick visit and headed out for a run around the National Mall. I knew I had to run if I wanted to see everything, so it was the perfect motivation to work up a sweat and snap some pictures along the way.
After a quick shower back at my hotel room, I met up with my new blogging friend, Terri, and we made our way to the dinner at Mintwood Place. The restaurant was bright and beautiful and served as the perfect space for such a fun and delicious event.
We had the chance to meet the chef and sommelier the knowledge they shared with us about food and wine was incredibly interesting. (I feel like I kind of geek out whenever I get to meet a sommelier after watching the documentary SOMM on Netflix, which gave me a new appreciation for the profession.)
Our evening began with a variety of appetizers and my favorite dish was, without a doubt, the deviled pickled eggs made with SimplyNature Organic Cage-Free Eggs. When I was growing up, I remember my dad’s mother making pickled eggs and beets for our family whenever we’d come to visit because my dad and I loved them so much. It’s not a recipe I make very often, so biting into the vinegary yet slightly sweet and tangy deviled egg felt like a blast from the past!
As we snacked on appetizers, I chatted with the other bloggers at the event and was especially excited to be reunited with one of my favorite blogging buddies, Anne!
We grabbed seats next to each other at the bar for the wine and cheese pairing portion of the evening and had a blast catching up!
My favorite combination from the tasting was the first pairing of a sweet Riesling wine with a mild and creamy Happy Farms Preferred Goat Cheese that I topped with orange marmalade. It was an incredibly refreshing combination for a warm spring evening and when I looked at the price of the wine I loved so much, I realized I’m quite the cheap date! (The Landshut Riesling is only $4.99 at ALDI and the comparable name brand is $8.76 at other retailers.)
The two additional cheeses, Happy Farms Preferred Brie Cheese and Specially Selected Aged Reserved White Cheddar, were both fantastic as well. I loved the buttery flavor of the brie (especially with a drizzle of honey) and the white cheddar was sharp and delicious on its own but I think it would be fantastic in a homemade grilled cheese made with avocado and bacon. Yum!
Shortly after our wine tasting, we were seated at a long table for dinner and made our way through six indulgent courses of flavorful and seasonal ALDI favorites paired with a variety of ALDI wines.
The courses included an assortment of French onion soup and Caesar salad, crispy duck fat roasted potatoes, Never Any! tender hormone-free chicken, fresh Atlantic crispy skin salmon from ALDI, bacon-roasted Brussels spouts and pasta with Bolognese sauce made with ALDI organic grass-fed ground beef.
While we ate our meal, I had the chance to ask some of the ALDI team members a few questions. One thing I’ve been curious about ever since I compared the prices of their organic items to other grocers’ organic produce is how ALDI can get their prices so much lower. It seems to me that lowering the prices of organic foods would be a wonderful way for all grocery stores to attract customers especially since high-priced organic produce often scares people away from purchasing organic fare. It sounds like the low prices on organic items all boils down to the way ALDI stores are run. ALDI doesn’t have bags (you bag your groceries yourself using your own bag), items are not unboxed once they arrive at the store, they limit their products to weekly staples and carry a lot of ALDI-exclusive brands (90 percent!), etc. All of this translates to lower prices on all products, including organics. Interesting, right!?
Our meal concluded with cold and creamy coffee ice cream paired with a rich chocolate stout cake dusted with powdered sugar.
Our evening concluded with goodbyes to my fellow blogging friends and the ALDI team before I headed back to the hotel where I was staying with Terri and Kate. When Kate suggested hanging out for a bit longer, Terri and I were game and the three of us ended up talking away until 1 a.m. when we finally said goodnight and goodbye. Loved them!
I was up less than five hours later to catch an early flight back home to Charlotte and left feeling grateful for being included in such a fun event. It’s rare for me to be able to spend time with other bloggers in person these days and I am so glad I had the chance to meet some new blog friends and reunite with Anne over one heck of a tasty dinner! Thanks so much to ALDI for such a memorable experience! You can find an ALDI near you by using their store locator here!
Note: Prices mentioned in this post are based on an average of prices for brand name products sold at leading national competitors in the area where ALDI has stores during the period 4/2/17-4/7/17. Savings at individual stores may vary.