Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chef Jeff Black of Blacksalt/Black's and more cooks privately for Food&Friends

Each year we try to attend one of the CELEBRITY CHEF DINNER SERIES evenings held in the kitchen at FOOD & FRIENDS amazing facility located in NE Washington. These wonderful dinners are held several times each year and are limited to guests who make major donations to Food & Friends (www.foodandfriends.org) , which is, of course, one of our favorite charities.

I am writing about last night's dinner for two reasons. First of all, it was, perhaps, the best one we have ever had in many years of attending these great events. Second, I would urge you to make a LARGE donation to Food & Friends so you too can support a most worthy cause and also get the chance to attend. This year the series includes Neal Langermann of Clyde's of Chevy Chase, Craig Hartman of the Morrison-Clark Inn, Vikram Garg of IndeBleu and last night's team headed by Chef JEFF BLACK including Chef MALLORY BUFORD of Black's Bar & Kitchen, Chef de Cuisine JOSEPH ZUMPANO of BLACKSALT and Pastry Chef JANELLE (we sadly missed her last name).

It was a memorable evening commencing with a reception (and tours of the facility for those who desired) of SAINT-GERMAIN Sparkling Brut with superb huge SALMON CAKES, CHICKEN FOIE GRAS in Pastry Puff with Plum Sauce (that was more like a mini chicken wurst), GOAT CHEESE over Pastry Straw with Beet-Pistachio Sauce and finally the most delicious TORCHON of FOIE GRAS over FIG on Brioche Round. It was very hard to resist gobbling up all the superb delicacies, but we managed to arrest our arms from grabbing everything in sight as we were escorted into the main prep area at the huge facility for our sit down dinner.

We started with a superb TUNA TARTARE that was enhanced magnificently with TRUFFLE CAULIFLOWER CREAM, HAZELNUTS, Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Flatbread. The tuna was heaven with the intensely truffly cream, and was paired with atop quality MOMOKAWA JUNAMI GINJO DIAMOND Sake that was perfectly dry.

Next came OYSTER STEW with Yukon Gold Potatoes, Leeks, FIne Herbs, Caviar & Vermouth Cream that was extremely tasty, so much so that folks yearned for bread to mop up the bottom of the bowl. No need to, there was MUCH MORE coming. The soup was paired with an excellently fruity YALUMBA 2005 VIOGNIER from Australia.

SEARED BUTTERFISH (also called white tuna or escolar) was a very rich and intense fish served with QUINOA & WILD MUSHROOM FONDUE in a medium size portion that was more than enough. I am sure this type of dish can be easily found at one of the Black restaurants, but our portions and tasting style menu was just brilliant, as was our table company, too. The MAISON NICOLAS CHARDONNAY 2005 from France was nice, but nothing to write home about.

BRAISED BEEF SHORT RIBS with White Bean Puree, Local Organic Greens & Baby Carrots proved that Chef Black and his team excel at meat as well as fish, and a superb LA SLINA DOLCETTO d'OVADA 2004 was an excellent choice of wine as well.

The desserts were top notch and each of us received a plate with a PUMPKIN FLAN (almost like a creme brulee, but with Pumpkin Seeds on top for crunch), a small round SPICED CAKE about 2 inches in diameter and a moist POACHED PEAR. I am sure that each diner found one or two, if not three items here that were satisfying. Some jellies and chocolate drops came, but I resisted and sipped the PIERRE HUET Demi-Sec POIREE CIDRE BOUCHE which was a light French sparkling cider that was like drinking fizzy water, it just was so cooling and satisfying.

There are still more dinners in the series in January & February, but I'm not sure if they are full. I am confidant a large contribution to such a worthy cause will get you in!