Tuesday, November 29, 2011

bravos to BLACKSALT and the lovely lady chefs of DC! (11-27-11)

Many of you know that we are supporters of numerous food charities
here in DC and over the years we have had the pleasure of befriending
many chefs and folks in the food industry. After months of trying to
plan a dinner out, we were able to finally mosey down to BLACKSALT
(www.blacksaltrestaurant.com) on nearby MacArthur Blvd for dinner with
two stellar DC chefs (Tracy O'Grady of Willow and Amy Brandwien of
Casa Nonna) and their wonderful spouses (Tracy's hubby Brian is also a
very talented chef to boot!).
We started the evening at home with some bubbly and a magnificent
smooth fruit-forward bottle of 1998 TORI MAR White Star Vineyard PINOT
NOIR from Oregon that had been resting calmly in our cellar for over a
We had chosen Blacksalt for its proximity, but I should also note that
Blacksalt is rated #19 of Zagat's most popular as well as being in the
top 30 for food with a "26" rating!
We started with a bottle of RUDI PICHLER 2010 GRUNVBER VELTLINER from
Wachau in Austria and loved it so much, we had a second. It was divine
with a selection of oysters (Dragon Creek & Chincoteague from
Virginia, Moonstone from Rhode Isalnd, Kumamoto from California and
Little Creek and Island Creek from Washington State).
We were treated to a wondrous "amuse" (it was much bigger) of Toasted
Brioche with Ruby BEETS, Organic Smoked Salmon and Citrus Chive Salad
to start that got the palate very excited.
We all agreed to choose and share a cold and hot starter and a main
course; yes, overindulgent.
Pacific SHIMA-AJU SHASHIMI with Organic Radish, Ginger-Tamari Sauce,
Chilies & Scallions was the only item all evening that was good, but
did not WOW me.
TEXAS SHRIMP Cocktail has a sauce that packs a punch if you seek
Blacksalt OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER come with bacon, spinach & chive aioli
and are superb and mouthwatering.
Marinated WHITE ANCHOVIES with Fried EGGPLANT & Salsa Verde is a great
lighter choice and one of the tastiest starters as well.
Fried IPSWICH CLAMS come with a punchy MADRAS AIOLI (there is enough
aioli left to take home for a sandwich the next day!)

We moved on to a yummy WILAMETTE VALLEY PINOT GRIS from Elk Grove and
we tried to avoid the excellent bread which came with a plate of yummy
seasoned dipping oil-vinegar sauce.

PEI Blue Shell MUSSELS come in several flavors but the Spanish version
with CHORIZO, ROMESCU & Marjoram is a sure hit if yous eek a hot
starter ior double it for a main course.
Wood Grilled BABY OCTOPUS comes with House Made Fennel Sausage, Cherry
Tomato, Arugula & Balsamic and is a superb salad/starter that comes
warm as well.
They were out of the sardines, so we opted for the Atlantic Day Boat
SCALLOPS with Potato GNOCCHI, Maiitake Mushrooms, Pistachios and
Pancetta Vinaigrette which is a wonderful combination of flavors and
much heartier as well with the scallops cooked so perfectly they just
melt in your mouth.
New England CLAM CHOWDER here is another super-filling option with
house smoked bacon, Ipswich Clams and Littleneck Clams as well.
Two hot starter specials on Sunday were NOT TO BE MISSED:
Rhode Island Speckled SEA TROUT made flavorful with local APPLES,
Arugula, Prosciutto and Almond Brown Butter was top notch, but the
Wood Grilled Caribbean MAHI MAHI with Crispy PANCETTA, Leeks &
Truffled Cauliflower Puree was sheer bliss.

We moved onto a Louis Latour 2009 SANTENAY suggested by sommelier Jim
and it was a perfect choice: medium bodied but not too intense for
most of the fish dishes. Two people chose the
Pineland Farms' RIBEYE STEAK with Forest Mushrooms, Green Chard,
Maytag Bleu Cheese & Rosemary Jus which was a good tasty steak and
could have used a bigger red wine, but then four of us went the fish
Atlantic Bigeye TUNA with Caramelized PORK BELLY, Pickled Carrot
Salad, Squash & Ginger Soy Broth was another great combination of
flavors with the belly accenting the big tasty fish.
Flavorful Maryland ROCKFISH (I buy this often at the Blacksalt Fish
Market to cook at home!) was accompanied by Bacon Braised Collard
Greens, CHANTERELLES and White Sweet Potatoes. While I adore the fish,
it was the chanterelles that got me to order this and what a treat!
Wood Roasted North Atlantic SWORDFISH is another great fish here and
comes with yummy Grilled EGGPLANT, English PEAS, Olives and a Pine Nut-
Anchovy Butter (I will have to remember that combo the next time I
grill swordfish).

We got the VIP treatment as we knew we would NOT order more than like
one dessert and Pastry Chef Susan Wallace sent out a trio of tastes
along with a glass of Selig New Zealand Ice Wine from Jim.
The CHOCOLATE CHAMBORD TRUFFLE CAKE with Raspberry Compote & Whipped
Cream is for big chocoholic lovers and was a bit too dense and intense
for me after such a huge meal. The KEY LIME PIE with Blueberry
Compote, Whipped Cream and Sesame Seed Tuile was a hit, but the winner
for all of I think was the BUTTERSCOTCH POT de CREME which comes with
a tiny Dewars Vanilla Milikshake, Almond Brittle and Milk Chocolate,
Butter Shortbread. You can't with this dessert (unless you don't like

This dinner was long in the planning, long in the event and probably
won't happen again for a long time, but we promised to try for a
reunion next year! Where to go next?