Monday, April 30, 2007

Les DAMES d'ESCOFFIER do it deliciously

Last night was the Twelfth Annual Epicurean Food & Wine Auction and Gala Dinner which is held every other year under the auspices of the DC Chapter of LES DAMES d'ESCOFFIER INTERNATIONAL, a charity vested in supporting and aiding women in the food and wine and related industries. This event is always a treat since much of the food is prepared by the top female chefs in the area, and last night's delicious do at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (how appropriate is that!) was no different.

If you like food events (and who DOESN'T?) then this is one to get on the mailing list for, especially with the great silent and live auction items as well.

The evening started with a reception serving MARQUIS PHILIPS 2005 HOLLY's BLEND from Australia which is always a nice refreshing choice, but I opted for the deep enjoyable BLACK WING SHIRAZ 2005 from South Australia, which may not be an oyster wine, but went quite well with most of the hor's d'oevres:

Freshly Shucked KUMOMOTO OYSTERS with Sea Bean Vinaigrette served by JAMIE LEEDS of HANK's OYSTER BAR were a light and fun start and the vinaigrette was amazing since it had seaweed but was mild and did overpower the delicate bivalves.

Antipasti of MARINATED ROAST SHRIMP, PROSCIUTTO di PARMA and Mini- Breadsticks were served with a superb CAULIFLOWER-OLIVE mixture as well from RUTH GRESSER of PIZZA PARADISO

Washington's most famous female chef RIS LACOSTE (who will be opening a new spot in DC hopefully within the year) offered up creamy tasty SALMON RILLETTES with Cornichons and SALMON ROE

The passed items included the most spectacular MAINE LOBSTER & ASPARAGUS CRISPS from LISA diSTEFANO of SODEXHO Corporate Services and yummy MINI LAMB BURGERS a la MICHEL RICHARD from CARLA HALL & LYNN FOSTER of ALCHEMY CATERERS.

I missed Janis McLean's (Morrison-Clark Inn) Nettle Gelee and while I liked the GRISSINI with BEEF CARPACCIO and SHALLOT TEMOULADE from NORA POUILLON of Restaurant NORA and ASIA NORA they did make the breadsticks a bit soggy after sitting on the plate for a while! Her AVOCADO NORI ROLLS with WASABI-GREEN ONION Sauce were nice. After about 90 minutes of munching and schmoozing with many friends, we moved downstairs to the museum's beautiful and elegant grand foyer for dinner prepared by DESIGN CUISINE. A magnificent CRAYFISH, SHRIMP & LOBSTER ARTICHOKE-SEAFOOD STACK with Dill Vinaigrette (very mild) and Julienne of SNOW PEAS got us started and really filled me up. The KENNEDY POINT 2005 SAUVIGNON BLANC from Marlborough in New Zealand was full of grapefruit and citrus and an ingenious pairing as well.

The entree was a ROAST RACK of LAMB with ELDERBERRY WINE MARINADE, Fiddlehead Ferns, Hazelnuts & Shallots served with a POTATO-BLACK TRUFFLE TIMBALE and Green & White Asparagus. WHile the white asparagus were not my beloved Marchfeldspargl from Europe, they were quite excellent. The meat was superb, the sauce excellent and I was quite impressed with the job that the folks from Design Cuisine did, not to mention the quality service staff. A DOMAINE GRAND VENEUR 2005 COTES du RHONE VILLAGES "Les Champauvins" started off a bit tight, but opened up wonderfully after about 30 minutes or so.

We were back upstairs after dinner for one of the most impressive dessert buffets ever. Jointly prepared by LAURE ALLEMAN-WEBER (of The Swiss Bakery, who did both my 40th & 50th birthday cakes!), LISA SCRUGGS (of BUZZ BAKERY) and KATE JANSEN of WILLOW Restaurant the trays kept going on forever and while I won't lilst everything we did have many tastes:

The QUARK & BLACKBERRY Torte was like a Panna Cotta and filled with a gorgeous blackberry-grappa compote! MILK CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PYRAMID was beatiful to behold and tasted even better. TIRAMISU, Passion Fruit Pates de Fruit & Red Currant Pates de Fruit and more rounded out the selections from Ms. Alleman-Webb.

"KATE's COOKIES" featured the most impressive HAZELNUT SHORTBREAD with MILK CHOCOLATE GANACHE, HAZELNUT MERINGUE KISSES and to die for CARAMEL SFOGLIATELLI which are small thimbles of puff pastry with a rich caramel filling.

Ms. Scruggs had the miniature tartlettes division with Key Lime, Berry and Chocolate Ganache.

There were impressive cheese platters from AMERICAN FARMSTEAD CHEESES including a sharp crunchy PLEASANT RIDGE RESERVE from Uplands Dairy in Wisconsin, wonderful goats from Vermont Butter & Cheese Company and many more! The evening was rounded out with JONSEY OLD TAWNEY PORT and coffee from SANTA LUCIA ESTATE!

We lingered, snacked and schmoozed making a full four hours of the spectacular evening!