Monday, June 04, 2012

James Beard Foundation finds DC with SUNDAY SUPPER at UNION MARKET (DC's newest foodie venue) starring 20+ of DC's star chefs! (6-3-12)

Last night was truly one of the greatest foodie events DC has seen in decades. It combined great food, wine, company, chefs, mixologists and more in what is sure to be one of Washington's hottest new foodie venues when it opens on September 8. Union Terminal Market opened over 80 years ago at 4th & Florida Streets, NE and in its heyday was probably a pretty amazing place with over 700 vendors, cold storage and a cafe! A law banning outdoor sales of meat and eggs in 1962 killed the farmer's market and in 1967 a new indoor market was built. By the 1980's the area began to change with the advent of modernization and supermarkets in the 'burbs. The historic UNION MARKET is being revitalized the EDENS, a development corporation (they did the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco) and will reopen on September 8 at 6th Street & Neal Place, NE (near Gallaudet University) ( with a mix of retail, restaurants, hotel, entertainment and more. Last night the James Beard Foundation took over the space for a fundraiser in conjunction with the charity Food Corps and it was indeed an evening to remember. Over 250 people sitting at two long tables attended and over $100,000.00 was raised. Entitled SUNDAY DINNER at UNION MARKET, we were greeted in the stark, but spanking new interior featuring bright open spaces with a chandelier of recycled water bottles over the main entrance. Waiters abounded offering sparkling water and wines and we progressed to the first "station" right inside the front door which will be the future home of uber-mixologist GINA CHERSEVANI (now serving at Eddy Bar at Hank's Oyster Bar) called "Soda Shop." She offered up the most spectacular Stormy Harbor-Rhum Clement, Buffalo & Berger Ginger-Lime Soda Cocktail that I went back for seconds only to discover they were gone and Gina had switched to a fizzy starwberry rum cocktail! Next to her was Derek Brown of the Columbia Room who had a cloyingly sweet Gin Punch a la Terrington made from Plymouth Gin, Green Chartreuse, Lemon, Cane Sugar & Mineral Water. Around the open space were counters featuring various appetizers: Spring tonic, Nettle Soup with Crispy Guanciale (pork cheeks fried to a crispy wafer) from Rob Weland of Cork Wine Bar Tabasco BBQ'd Hama Hama (California) Oysters from Jamie Leeds of Hanks Oyster Bar -I had to go back for seconds! Lardo Wrapped Fig with Lemon Honey from Nate Anda of Red Apron Butchery (see below) Japanese Deviled Egg-Half a Soy Egg with Sea Urchin from Katsiya Fukushima of Daisuke the soon to open ramen restaurant Daikaya White Gazpacho with Laughing Bird Shrimp & Cucumber Blossoms from Harper McClure of The Federalist was a refreshing summer treat. Rappahannock River Oysters on the Half Shell were served up by Travis Croxton who will open Rapahannock Oyster Co in the market this fall as well. Tables offered up glasses of various Virginia wines: Boxwood Winery Topiary (Cabernet Franc & Merlot) & Rose Veritas Winery Viognier Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay sparkling These wines were also on the table to be poured by us "Sunday Dinner style" when we sat down. Jugs of Chocolate City Beer Copper Ale also were on the table and poured draft-style during our arrival. The floor plan for the future market shows a cafe/wine bar as well as Lifestyle store from Amanda Clements, Righteous Cheese from Carolyn Stromberg, Peregrin Espresso, Oh! Pickles, DC Empanadas, Trickling Springs Creamery (dairy products), Lyon Bakery (breads), TaKorean (Korean BBQ tacos), Red Apron Butcher Shop, Dolcezza (from Georgetown) Artisanal Gelato and of course Rapahannock Oyster Co Oyster Bar and Gina's Soda Bar, as well as 40 local vendors and artisanal goods. After an hour of milling around, finding friends and meeting up with many of the star chefs cooking that evening, we were seating at the two long tables and served a four course dinner with each course consisting of three large plates passed around each section of the long tables "Sunday Dinner style." FIRST COURSE Nick Stefanelli(Bibiana Osteria) -Braised Pork Trotter with Early Summer Tomato Sauce and Poached Egg came in a deep fried rectangle in a rich sauce and I realized that I must truly beware of portion control tonight if I am to survive, having dieted for over a month now! Nora Pouillon (Restaurant Nora) served up a tasty New Morning Farm Arugula Salad with Shaved Artichokes and Lemon Vinaigrette that I begged for more of. RJ Cooper (Rogue 24) had a divine Rose Veal (tartare) with Wheat Germ, Artichokes served between two pieces of Flatbread (that I eliminated most of!). SECOND COURSE Scott Drewno (The Source) had "Angry Crab" which was a Fried Soft shell Crab with Traditional (spicy) Szechuan "Angry" Sauce and it was indeed spicy but superb Robert Wiedmaier(a James Beard Award winner - Marcel's, Beck's, Brabo, & Mussel Bar in Atlantic City ) wowed us with huge Grilled Scallops with Thyme & Aged Sherry Butter Emulsion that was darkened with Squid Ink and laced with Truffle Oil. Mike Isabella (Graffiato & Bandolero) -kept it simple but tasty with a salad of Grilled Local Summer Squash, Sweet & Sour Eggplant, Basil & Tomato I must note that so much of the food was locally grown and sourced and fresh as can be making this an even more special event. THIRD COURSE Cathal Armstrong (Restaurant Eve & more) - made the scene with a Crisp Muscovy Duck Leg Confit with Morels that begged for seconds! Bryan Voltaggio (Volt and a soon-to-open space in Chevy Chase!)-TV chef heartthrob from Top Chef showed he can truly re-invent with a Pumpernickel Radiatore (pasta swirls) with Pickled Veal Tongue, Garden Herbs & Flowers with Sea Beans. Fabio Trabocchi(another James Beard winner-Fiola) - served up a Casserole of Maitake Mushrooms, pea Tendrils and Flowering Sage that was one of the most amazing vegetable sides anywhere. Intermezzo I dare you not to finish this Lemon & Opal-Basil Gelato from Robb Duncan of Dolcezza (to open at this market as well!), a creamy delight topped with fresh micro basil greens. FOURTH COURSE As if one dessert were not enough we got TWO, plus a box to go! Warren Brown (CakeLove) -Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake with Lemon-Vanilla Syrup was a moist delight even if I only had one bite! Tiffany McIsaac (Birch & Barley, Tallula, Eatbar, Vermillion, Evening Star Cafe, Columbia Firehouse & Rustico) - easily raised the bar on desserts with a Goat's Milk Cheesecake, Glazed Cherries, Pistachios, Balsamic & Arugula Santosh Tipur - sent us home with a box of chocolates from Coco Salsa so we wouldn't starve on the way! I can guarantee that I would return for this event if it becomes annual!