Last night five of us joined together in what must now be our "neighborhood" favorite, BLACKSALT (www.blacksaltrestaurant.com). Now open several years, perhaps I shouldn't tell you how wonderful Chef Jeff Black's seafood spot is, because it is virtually impossible to get a weekend reservation unless you book a month or two out (which we did!).
We started with a sadly boring HIEDLER 2005 "Loss" GRUNER VELTLINER. With the 60+ degree heatwave we had yesterday, I was feeling so summerlike, I thought the GruVe would be appropriate. The wine though had little aroma and died quickly on the palate. We moved quickly to a WEINGUT BRUNDLMAYER 2005 GruVe also from Kamptal in Austria that was much more satisfying and also a dream with our mussel appetizers, a must at Blacksalt. We actually started with some of the superb CONCH FRITTERS which are extremely tasty and tender and come with a spicy CHIPOTLE REMOULADE.
I split a yummy CHIOGGIA BEET SALAD with Spiced Pecans, Amish Cheddar & Tupelo Honey-Cider Vinaigrette which was beautifully prepared and served.
The MUSSELS are prepared many different ways, but the top choice at our table seemed to be the THAI STYLE with Coconut Kaffir Lime Broth, Red Bird Chile & Opal Basil. NOt too spicy yet creamy and tasty, this dish is a hit. My SPANISH version was the spicy one and I LOVED them with CHORIZO, Romesco Sauce & Marjoram so much that I used numerous pieces of the tasty bread to mop up the sauce.
We moved to an interesting SERENITY Unoaked CHARDONNAY 2005 from Santa Barbara that was also superb and drank nicely while we awaited our entrees and schmoozed with our friends. Our final wine with the entrees was an amazing (as it always is) FIDDLEHEAD CELLARS 2002 Pinot Noir "OLDSVILLE Reserve" from Oregon that was huge and tasty..loaded with fruit and a monster finish as well.
The fish dishes at Blacksalt are, for the most part, quite intense and can easily stand up to wines like this. The LINE CAUGHT ROCKFISH with Truffled Polenta, Braised Leeks and Cremini Mushroom Jus was quite popular, and I was thrilled with my WOODGRILLED CUTTLEFISH with Cuttlefish Ink Pasta, Piquillo Peppers & Saffron Butter. This was actually an appetizer that I had deliciously doubled into an entree. The squidlike fish was so tender and just slightly charred at the edge for extra taste.
Our excellent server Moses (I forgot to mention how super Jason was the night before at David Greggory) knew we were up for dessert and quickly convinced us to try several. The TRIO of CREME BRULEEs included Milk Chocolate, Hazelnut & Coffee and had no complaints. The BUTTERSCOTCH Pot de Creme had Milk Chocolate, Almond Brittle and Scotched Milkshake and Butter Shortbread and would make anyone looking for several desserts happy with just the one. I went for and was thrilled with the CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CRUNCH CAKE with Caramelized Bananas & Peanut Brittle!
Back home we opened a bottle of 1994 Muscat de Beaumes de Venise that was just an added treat to a wonderful evening of food, wine and friends.
Please remember that this coming Thursday, March 8 is DINING our for LIFE to benefit FOOD & FRIENDS and that many of our area restaurants will donate portions or all of their proceeds to Food & Friends. Please support this important charity and event. You can find us along with Samuel at MIMI's on P Street at Dupont Circle!