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Thai Restaurant Week, Washington D.C. April 13 to 19, 2009

From Washington Post's Walter Nicholls: For those who love Thai food, there is reason to celebrate in the days ahead with the Washington area's first Thai Restaurant Week, April 13 to 19, and the long-awaited arrival of a luscious fruit from Thailand, the mangosteen.

Sponsored by the Royal Thai Embassy, Thai Restaurant Week features 20 restaurants that will mark the start of Thai New Year (Songkran, April 13 to 15) with special menus of traditional holiday foods. They also will offer entertainment and prizes such as Thai cookbooks and restaurant gift certificates.

Chef Aulie Bunyarataphan of Bangkok Joe's in Georgetown, for example, will make a main course of spaghetti with wok-fried lobster and Thai anchovies in a roasted chili and garlic sauce ($24.95). The long strands of pasta signify a long life. In Vienna, chef Satther Promsumphan of Born will feature a "new twist on Thai food that returns to an ancient and healthful recipe." His tom yum shrimp fried rice ($12) relies on the assertive flavors of galangal and kaffir lime leaves balanced with sweet longan fruit, which is similar to litchi.

For dessert, Thai Restaurant Week diners will receive free samples of fresh fruits imported from Thailand, including mangoes, litchis, rambutans, longans, pineapples and mangosteens.

Known as the queen of fruits, the mangosteen is rarely available fresh in the continental United States. The cute, deep-brownish-purple, tangerine-size fruit has a cream-colored, segmented center with a sweet, tart and refreshingly delicious flavor. It is not related to the mango.

In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved importing mangosteens from Thailand that have been irradiated to kill any infestation by the Asian fruit fly. But shipping procedures were not in place at the peak of the harvest season, which runs from May to October. The first commercial shipment destined for select U.S. supermarkets are to arrive in early May.
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