Tuesday, February 23, 2010

PS 7's serves up superb 7 course special (2-23-10)

We always enjoy going to PS 7's (www.ps7restaurant.com) and last night
was no exception with Chef Peter Smith and Uber mixologist/Sommelieuse
Gina at the helm. We had heard about the 7 course tasting special for
$77 INCLUDING DRINKS per person that is offered and this has to be one
of the best dining deals around.
Be forewarned this menu is not available unless you pre-arrange
directly with the restaurant. Usually, the guests are seated at the
bar, although, we opted for a table since the bar can be a bit noisy.
The menu comes folded over with a wax seal embossed "PS7" setting the
scene for a special evening. Upon opening the menu it is not easy to
decipher, so we simply let Gina and Peter do this for each course.

CAST IRON -celery root, mushroom, sweet potato
was the first course which came after we had already munched on the
always miraculous bread (cottage cheese-dill rolls, bacon biscuits and
focaccia). It was a "Canneloni styled" poached and roasted celery root
with divine mushroom duxelles a duchesse style sweet potato puree all
topped with frizzled leeks in a mini cast iron pan. Rich and filling
the dish had hints of Italian pasta with vegetarian overtones that
would start to fill anyone on a cold winter's eve. Gina's TEA PUNCH is
her version of a drink from Sint Maarten made with fresh sugar cane,
bitters, rum, lime juice and packed a puckery bite that worked well to
balance the creamy rich dish.
As you can see this "special" is not a wine pairing, but a
mixmistress' genius at work. Her next "work" was CYTRAS SAKE made from
a new Polish vodka on our market called Cytras mixed with sake, lemon,
rosewater, lime and Cava sparkling wine. This drink had a subtle
flowery flavor (from the rosewater) and was perfect with
RED BULLET-kombu,guajillo, dashi,
a seared bonito flake encrusted sushi-top quality tuna that had a red
bullet rare center. A small salad on the side was made from kombu or
seaweed kelp which was like fried noodles with Hen of the Woods
mushrooms. A dashi lime broth was underneath with guajillo or little
rounds of chili gel on the side for flavor. This was one of my
favorite dishes of the evening, but also, one of the best tuna
presentations in town!

(hold your breath) was listed next on the menu alone and I asked, "for
how long?" It turned out to be a home made beef jerky that was spicy,
chewy and tasty and reminded me of the biltong I so adored in South
Africa (we asked to take some home as well, it was so yummy!)

PhO - noodle, thai basil, sprout
was indeed the traditional Asian noodle dish with rice noodles in a
duck broth with slices of tasty rare duck encrusted with coriander,
caraway, fennel and star anise. On top was a small slice of Foie Gras
Torchon with sherry. The dish was finished with soy sprouts and was
another wonderful modern take on a very traditional dish.
SOOOO...SAKE was the accompanying drink and I had stepped away from
the table to return to a tablefull of "can you guess what this is"
faces. Well, I knew there was sake, but had lots of trouble
deciphering the other flavors. I thought there was a yeasty champagne,
which turned out to be MILLER HIGH LIFE BEER! The other ingredients
were Cognac, Ginger, Lemon and of course, Sake.
It was actually a very refreshing drink, but I must admit pairing
anything with a broth soup is not easy.

TATONKA -rutabaga, mushroom, apple
was the BISON itself (from Gunpowder Farms, MD) seared to perfection
with a mushroom powder crust and apple gastrique. The dish was
accompanied by more of those divine frizzled leeks and wild mushrooms.
If you like bison, this was a dish to be reckoned with!
TOASTED SPICE PUNCH was the drink made from apple (picking up the
apple flavor from the dish) and bourbon as well as Navan (a vanilla
cognac), Madagascar vanilla, orange peel, toasted star anise and green
cardamom. As always, Gina manages to combine flavors to perfection
even to the point where I can not taste the anise as it all blends so

our first dessert was not at all what we expected....a chocolate
enrobed Hazelnut Mousse and lacquered swatch of crunchy chocolate
adorned the plate in a gorgeous presentation with caramelized sugar,
and a little dollop of whipped cream. The dish was rich, but not too
intense and we all devoured every bite.
As Gina is wont to make fun of many things, last night she chose
Starbucks (and the coffee bar biz in general) and her accompanying
warm drink was entitled
Steamed Frangelico milk was seasoned with Kojete Mexican cinnamon and
laced with Benedictine B&B. Give me this after dinner instead of
coffee and I might just give up lattes forever!

was one of Chef Peter's signature tasty DOMAINE de CANTON CHEESECAKE
Lollipops here decorated with Gold Leaf petals.
Gina paired it with SCORCHED MILK which was a chilled milk having been
scorched with Cardamom, Vanilla and powdered ginger laced with
Sauternes & Bourbon and touched off with Cinneamon & Fleur de Sel. It
was a nice farewell "glass of milk and lollipop" before we headed home
to bed.

By the way, it was celebrity night at PS7's and I would have had no
clue had someone told us (I'm not into sports) that New Orleans'
Saints' footballer REGGIE BUSH was just a couple of tables away.
Someone brought up this photo on their I-phone (click below)http://
concreteloop.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/08/rbush4.jpg and I still
didn't recognize him, but wished that he would take his shirt off!

Anyway, despite the lack of abs at our table, we had one of the
funnest and most delicious meals available in town!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tom Sietsema's rave review (dated Jan 31) of MASALA ART in Tenleytown
(www.masalaartdc.com) got me all spiced up to head to this new little
gem. The four of us settled in (ask for a rear table on a chilly night
as the door draft can be inconvenient) to this simple spot with blond
wood floors, medium noise levels and not much decoration at all
indeed. The place seemed to be a bit understaffed as we stood at the
door for a while and then when we asked for some wine, it took three
more requests to get our first bottle. Once the staff knew we were
serious eaters and wine-o's we had no problem.
We started with a bottle of NAUTILUS Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from New
Zealand and I must say that at $17 this was a steal. All the wines are
1/2 PRICE on Sunday-Thursdays and with a maximum bottle price of $36,
you can't go wrong. I just wish they had a big red Zinfandel to match
the spice of the food. Our second wine was a PAVILION 2008 Chardonnay
from Napa, our third a very light bodied (it was no deeper than the
hue of cranberry juice) PETER HOWLAND Pinot Noir 2008 from New
Zealand, which would never have stood up to the food, but worked well
between courses. We chose well with the final wine being an ERNESTO
CATENA "Padrillos" MALBEC from Argentina which did indeed stand up to
some of the huge intense spice in the food.
MASALA Art's food is not the kind with lingering, break into a sweat
spice. It is the kind that heats up in the aftertaste and dies fast,
making it easier to handle and to move on to another dish with
different flavors. There is also a huge vegetarian menu.
We took some of Mr. Sietsema's suggestions and started with the Aloo
Aur Pyaz Bhaji. At $3.95 these Potato & Onion fritters are deliciously
fried in a ChickPea Batter and all the starters come with two dipping
sauces: Yogurt & Mint or Tamarind. They are both superb with all the
various dishes. SHIKAPURI KEBABS are crumbly lamb and lentil cakes
stuffed with hung curd (our server desperately tried to explain this
to us) and onion; another great option for the dipping sauces.
NUKTI KABAB on Khastha Roti is a boneless baby lamb served on crispy
pita-like bread. Speaking of breads the ROCK SALT & CILANTRO NAAN is
not to be missed.
Our spiciest starter was the CHICKEN 65 which is fried and tossed in a
Southern Indian quite spicy Masala sauce. It was irresistible.

The main courses (we chose way too many and ended up with PILES of
leftovers!) included LASSONI CORN PALAK a superb creamy spinach with
corn & garlic, one of the vegetarian standouts. The TANDOORI MALAI
PANEER with Tamater Cut was a tangy tomato sauce with cubes of cottage
cheese that was nice but did not win the same awards as all the other
dishes. TAWA BHINDI is a novel style of cooking (griddle cooking) and
here the okra is not slimy at all and beautifully seasoned with sesame
seed and cumin; another veggie winner for sure. I just finished this
off for my lunch as was taken right back to all the great flavors of
MASALA ART in seconds! (Indeed, the leftovers seem to intensify in
spice after a day or two!)
If you seek seafood choose the AJWAINI JUMBO PRAWNS a beautifully
presented dish of four huge prawns foil wrapped in a saffron marinade
with carom seeds. Mr. Sietsema apparently did not like the other
shrimp dish (Pilli Mirch ka Jhinga) but he may have missed this tasty
The lamb dishes were supreme from the BHUNA GHOST being a stir fried
curry with intense spice. If you seek more meat and less sauce and
spice go for the ADRAKI LAMB CHOPS which are ginger flavored and cumin
marinated rack of lamb quality chops that melt in your mouth.
If you crave for chicken try the SOUFIYANI MURG a superb fennel-hinted
sauce with chunks of tender chicken and be sure to order bread to mop
up the sauce (on the curry too!!) The MISSI ROTI is a chickpea bread
and the ALOO PARANTHA a potato based bread. There are many choices and
we can't wait to go back and try more...breads, dishes, and just plain
The only bad thing about Masala Art was the freezing cold bathroom
which was unisex and oddly had TWO toilets in one bathroom; would you
We could not even think of dessert, so packed up our goodies and
planned to return soon! Even better news is that Masala Art will
deliver for free to our home as we are within their 2 mile free
delivery distance!