Thursday night we returned to DAVID GREGGORY (2030 M St, NW) after a long absence from the realm of one of our favorite chefs, GREGGORY HILL.
It was a special occasion where six of us joined to celebrate a birthday as well as a our friendship. It was a memorable night not only for that friendship, but also for the fabulous food. We started off with a glass of bubbly BAILLY LAPIERRE Rose Brut 2003 Cremant de Bourgogne and some tasty Malpeque Oysters on the half shell (from Prince Edward Islands) with a superb mignonette (chervil and other greens made it quite yummy). The meal was entitled "BIDDING SIX" as we all wanted to buy this item at a charity auction last fall, but agreed to each buy one major item and share it amongst all of us! The first wine was one of my favorites, KEN WRIGHT CELLARS 2005 PINOT BLANC from the Willamette Valley in Oregon which at first had a floral nose with a creamy start on the palate ending in a grapefruit-like acidity. However, once we tasted the accompanying dish of SEARED SEA SCALLOP & LUMP CRAB with Tasso Ham, Micro Greens and Brown Butter, the nature of the wine completely changed. Perhaps this was due to the small amount of vinaigrette on the micro greens; I'm not sure, but it was a whole other experience indeed and the wine seemed to change "in marriage" to the food, which was simply superb.
SEARED ROCKFISH FILET with MUSHROOM RAGOUT, CELERY ROOT-POTATO Mash, Pernod Cream, Roasted Red Pepper Puree and Potato Crisps was a wonderful dish, and so atypical of Chef Hill. Indeed, in looking at the menu, we felt he had almost been reborn as a new chef with so many new changes in cuisine. The DuNah CHARDONNAY from DeDee's Vineyard 2003, Sonoma Coast was a huge oaked chard reminiscent of the big oakey ones of the 90's and again paired perfectly with the excellent rich fish.
CORIANDER CRUSTED DUCK BREAST and LEG with SMOKY SPINACH, POACHED BABY CARROTS, Red Wine Cherry Glaze and Foie Gras was a revelation. The Confit was melded into the spinach for extra flavor making the spinach and carrots two of the most amazing vegetable dishes around. We later discovered that the carrots were cooked in duck fat--NO WONDER! The cherries were Ranier, making the dish even more special, and I never say "no" to duck! The two WILLIAMS SELYEM Pinot Noirs were another lesson in pairing. The first a 2003 BUCHER Vineyard from Russian River exhibited a huge berry nose and flavor with a slight bite at the end of the long finish. The younger 2004 Russian River (not vineyard specific) was more earthy in the nose and on the tongue. It, however, opened up within minutes and ended up mellowing with what our hostess described as "incredible character."
BRAISED VEEL CHEEKS with CARAMELIZED ONION-POTATO Gratin, Vegetable Melange & Glace and ONION RINGS to die for was one of the best preparations of this dish ever. A GLAYMOND 2003 "Krause's Berg" ZINFANDEL with 15.4% alcohol from Barossa Valley Australia was as over the top as the dish and made us all ask for doggie bags for leftovers.
Dessert was BACON & BLEU in PHYLLO with Spiced Pecans, White Chocolate and Apricot Puree. While the blue cheese was mild, the dish was so rich, I could only take a bite or so. A couple of extra BREAD PUDDINGS with RANIER CHERRIES & Creme Anglaise were delivered for those of us that don't appreciate blue cheese, and again, while delicious, I managed only one bite. The WHITE FRONTIGNAC 2004 from HOBBS in South Australia was a completely new varietal for me and the wine was a light, medium bodied, not too sweet dessert wine which again paired just right with all the richness in front of us.
We must thank PHILLIP SWENSON, the adorable son of our friends Jim & Karin, whose Foundation Fundraiser allowed us to have this special evening; many toasts were indeed for him and for the best of luck in his endeavor to overcome autism.