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Release Date: May 8, 2008

Garden Café: Silk Road at National Gallery of Art to Offer Cuisine by DC-Area Chefs for Exhibition Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul New Menu Starts May 19; Exhibition Opens May 25, 2008

Washington, DC—Visitors may enjoy cuisine inspired by the nations along the Silk Road—from Rome to Afghanistan, India, and China—including signature dishes from local chefs, when the National Gallery of Art transforms its West Building Garden Café into Garden Café: Silk Road in conjunction with Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul. The exhibition, co-organized by the National Geographic Society and the National Gallery of Art, is on view in the Gallery’s East Building, May 25 through September 7, 2008.

The buffet and à la carte menu in Garden Café: Silk Road is available May 19 through early September. One of the most distinctive dining spots in the nation’s capital, the café is situated around a fountain near the West Building entrance at 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. The East Building Terrace Café and the Cascade Café on the Concourse will also offer Silk Road–inspired items.

Garden Café: Silk Road and Public Tasting with Chefs on May 20

The Garden Café: Silk Road à la carte menu features tataki mashawa (seared tuna and five-bean salad) by chef Tim Elliott of Mie N Yuin Washington, DC; kebab degi (lamb chops, onion, and mint) by chef Nasrullah Malang of Bamian Restaurantin Falls Church, VA; and kebab-e-murgh (chicken kebab with coriander chutney) by chef David Rogers Restaurant Associates at the National Gallery of Art. The chefs worked with Rogers, who also developed the buffet items.

All chefs will be present for a free public tasting of their signature dishes from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20, in the Garden Café: Silk Road. They will be available to answer questions and sign recipe cards.

Buffet menu selections include traditional dishes such as sabzi rahwash (spinach with rhubarb); maush pilau (basmati rice, mung beans, and apricots); burani bonjon (eggplant and yogurt); salata (romaine lettuce, spring onions, radish, bell peppers, tomato and lemon dressing); chutni nahna (mint chutney); turshi tarkari (pickled vegetables); and qurma-e-kashmiri (chicken with yogurt). To cool their palette, guests may enjoy yogurt with honey, pistachio, walnuts, and dried fruit; firni (Afghan custard); Afghan flat bread; and grapes, apples, and plums.

A selection of desserts includes Afghan baqlawa (baklava); daygcha (sweet, sticky rice pudding); and miwa naurozee (fruit compote). Wine, beer, juice, bottled water, and soda, as well as cappuccino and espresso are also available. The price of the full buffet is $18.95; à la carte items are priced accordingly.

Garden Café: Silk Road is open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m. A special dessert and beverage menu is served from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. to accommodate visitors who attend the free Sunday evening concerts in the West Garden Court. To reserve for groups of eight or more, please contact the café manager at (202) 714-7454.

The Cascade Café, located on the Concourse between the East and West Buildings, with a view of the picturesque waterfall, features a rotation of Silk Road–inspired dishes, including a variety of flatbreads. The Cascade Café is open Monday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The adjacent Espresso & Gelato Bar is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

On the weekends only, the Terrace Café, which is located on the Upper Level in the East Building and overlooks the monumental mobile by Alexander Calder, offers prepackaged light fare. The Terrace Café is open Saturday and Sunday, 12:00 to 2:30 p.m., through September 7, 2008.

For more information about the Gallery and its restaurants, visit www.nga.gov/dining.

The Exhibition

Revealing Afghanistan’s multicultural heritage are some 228 extraordinary artifacts. They range in date from 2200 BC to the second century AD and were uncovered in modern-day Afghanistan—once the heart of the Silk Road which linked cultures from Asia to the Mediterranean. Until the dramatic announcement of their survival in 2003, the objects had long been feared lost or stolen.

Drawn from four archaeological sites, the artifacts belong to the National Museum of Afghanistan, Kabul. Works include fragmentary gold bowls with artistic links to Mesopotamia and Indus Valley cultures (modern-day Pakistan) from the Bronze Age site of Tepe Fullol; bronze and stone sculptures and a gilded silver plaque from the former Greek colony at Aï Khanum ("Lady Moon"); bronzes, ivories, and painted glassware imported from Roman Egypt, China, and India and excavated from ancient storerooms discovered in the 1930s and 1940s in Begram; and more than 100 gold ornaments from the Bactrian Hoard, found in 1978 in Tillya Tepe, the site of six nomad graves, and revealing a synthesis of Greek, Roman, Persian, Indian, Chinese, and Siberian styles.

Washington DC, Celebrates the Silk Road

At the heart of the Silk Road, Afghanistan was the historic link between China, India, the Middle East, and the West. As the National Gallery of Art welcomes the U.S. premiere of Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul, museums, cultural institutions, and restaurants throughout the city are joining together to celebrate the Silk Road cultures that also intermingle in the nation’s capital.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Washington, DC Celebrates the Silk Road showcases the city’s distinctive international flavor and role as a crossroads of culture, evident in the collection of more than 170 foreign embassies, residences, chanceries, and diplomatic missions and high-profile international organizations that make their homes here. Museums, theaters, and cultural organizations complement Washington’s global character by exploring topics that appeal to the city’s well-traveled, worldly residents and visitors in their permanent collections and special programs.

Washington, DC restaurants will incorporate into their menus the culinary traditions, spices, and flavors that evolved along the Silk Road. Ingredients that traveled along the route between the Mediterranean and Asia, such as noodles, pasta, bread and rice, are staples of Afghan cuisine. Traditional dishes often include lamb, goat, beef, or chicken; yogurt and dairy products; and spices such as saffron, cardamom, coriander, and cumin.

While classic Afghan cuisine is offered daily at local eateries including Bamian Restaurant in Falls Church, VA, and The Afghan Market in Alexandria, VA, Silk Road culinary traditions and ingredients will be highlighted this summer at nearly one dozen Washington, DC restaurants, including Bombay Club; Café Bonaparte; Napoleon Bistro; Mie N Yu; Spezie Restaurant; Topaz Bar; and Zola Restaurant.

Exhibition Partners

The exhibition is organized by the National Geographic Society and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

It is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

At the National Gallery of Art the exhibition is made possible by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.It is also supported by The Charles Engelhard Foundation.

Corporate support is provided by National Construction & Logistics and Hamed Wardak.

The works in the exhibition are the sole property of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

General Information

The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. For information call (202) 737-4215 or visit the Gallery's Web site at www.nga.gov. Follow the Gallery on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NationalGalleryofArt, Twitter at www.twitter.com/ngadc, and Instagram at http://instagram.com/ngadc.

Visitors will be asked to present all carried items for inspection upon entering. Checkrooms are free of charge and located at each entrance. Luggage and other oversized bags must be presented at the 4th Street entrances to the East or West Building to permit x-ray screening and must be deposited in the checkrooms at those entrances. For the safety of visitors and the works of art, nothing may be carried into the Gallery on a visitor's back. Any bag or other items that cannot be carried reasonably and safely in some other manner must be left in the checkrooms. Items larger than 17 by 26 inches cannot be accepted by the Gallery or its checkrooms.
 
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