Monday, May 21, 2012

WINE and more at WOLF TRAP--a special food and wine event(5-19-12)

Even though we were dieting (and I am starting to regret it today), it was my birthday on Saturday and I really wanted to go to the annual WINE AT WOLF TRAP event which is a terrific catered dinner with wine AND music pairings, as well as a silent auction of some superb wines. On arrival we enjoyed some of the small hor's d'oevres which were served with a slightly sweet Proscecco, that I dumped fast for sparkling water (see how good I was, for an hour at least!). The best were the little potatoes with dollops of Lobster as well as some light puff pastry shells with sour cream and a dollop of caviar. I passed the bread on the yummy garlic carpaccio and left many of the others. We sat down with a super group of people to enjoy a terrific meal and then headed to the bidding table ending up with a 40+year old bottle of vintage port! Grilled Black Cod with Celery Root Puree, toasted Hazelnuts and Huckleberry Gelee was a nice, but simple dish served with a wonderful crisp, but aromatic 2010 Villa Antinori Bianco Toscano IGT Spring Pea Risotto had a crisped slice of Golden Baby Beet with truffle oil and was quite yummy, though we tried not to eat all the al dente carbs! The 2010 Castello della Sala Bramito del Cervo Chard from Umbria was just right from its touch of oak (5 months)--all the wines were from Antinori. I think my favorite course was the DUCK BREAST with Fennel Puree that was so mild it could have been potato. A single slice of Hash Brown was crunchy and yummy, but the rare duck was divine, especially with the 2008 Villa Antinori Toscano Red IGT which is a steal at around $20! Hickory Lamb Loin came with Creamy Cheddar Polenta (just a taste) and Apple Cider Reduction and Brussels Sprout Leaves. The meats all night were truly the best quality and here the tasty lamb was paired with two divine reds: 2007 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva that was best with the meat and 2006 Pain delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino that was aged so beautifully, yet so smooth, I savored it all on its own. Braised Rhubarb with Celery Ribbon and Sheep's Milk Frozen Yogurt was a novel deconstructed type dessert that got a bite or two, but I resisted the rich yogurt. A 2007 Vinsanto Tenute Marchese Antinori was a nice choice with lots of acidity, yet not lacking sweetness like some Vin Santos. What a superb night and I know we will return next year!

Friday, May 18, 2012

KINKEAD's always conquers and is great on a diet! (5-16-12)

As you know we have been dieting and I am proud to say that in 2+ weeks, Will & I have dropped over 10 pounds each. We have been super well behaved and decided to head out with Samuel and two dear friends/ clients to Will's ould haunt KINKEAD's in Foggy Bottom. We made a great choice, as they still have the best seafood around and many of the options are much less fattening to boot. I arrived before everyone else and ordered a bottle of creamy, yet crisp CASTELO de MEDINA VERDEJO from Rueda 2010 in Spain; it was ideal with our starter of OYSTERS. We chose from Blue Point (Long Island), Ninigret Cups(Rhode Island) and tasty Creek Pungoteague (Virginia); it was very hard to choose a favorite. Meanwhile, Samuel ordered the Grilled Free Range CHICKEN BREAST with Parmesan Crusted Thigh, Roasted Artichokes, Mushroom Sauce (that he would have none of), Tomato, garlic & Lemon. He let us eat the tasty smoky arrtichoke hearts (odd, cause he loves them at home in garlic butter) and gobbled down with his chicken a side order of Boardwalk FRIES. We moved on to a MACON-VERGISSON Les Courthoges 2010 from Domaine Jacques Simonin which was a fruit intense Chard pairing ideally with our three different main courses: Pepita Crusted SALMON with Cilantro, Chilies, Crab, Shrimp & Corn Ragout Crispy Whole SNAPPER with Thai Curry Coconut Milk Broth, Straw Mushrooms, Thai Herbs & Cucumber Relish and my divine Cornmeal Crusted SOFTSHELL CRABS with Tasso (ham), Crayfish,& Artichoke Salad in Corn Butter Sauce All of the dishes were superb and yet not huge or very rich. Excellent diet choices if you stay away from the bread! Our server Beth was so kind when we hesitated at the dessert menu and was happy to bring out 5 forks with the one order of Kinkead's unbeatable APPLE TARTE TATIN with Vanilla Ice Cream & Caramel Sauce. Even Samuel's eyes rolled when he downed his forkful of tasty apple with the yummy crust. We went home and were both happy to see that the next morning our weight had yet dropped again. Hopefully we have fooled our metabolism and it will work hard all weekend as we have a charity dinner tomorrow and will need all the help we can get!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Mike Isabella's GRAFFIATO is a mighty inventive modern Italian take(5-1-12)

While I started my diet this week, I had to be very careful and picking GRAFFIATO ( across from the Verizon center at 707 6th St, NW turned out to be a great choice. Of course, we avoided the pizzas and his famous flatbread with his grandma's sauce (if you watched Top Chef), and settled in with a bottle of CASTELLO di LUCIGNANO "Il Solissimo" 2001 which is a great cab/Sangiovese blend that will truly fill your mouth with flavors and work with all the foods served here. We also tasted the GRAFFIATO Red Nebbiolo from Purcellville, VA (I forget which vineyard makes this for them) and it was spicy, but a bit light. All he wines are served by the bottle or the glass! The SPICED PISTACHIO Nuts that come to each table are a nice little treat and not a carb loader, which I am trying to avoid. Dishes here are "tapas" style and meant to be shared. The Polenta- Crusted SOFT SHELL CRAB is one crab split in two with ARUGULA PESTO, PICKLED RAMPS and Micro-Arugula. It's a divine and not heavy at all preparation of this local treat. We were hooked. SPRING GARLIC SOUP with Crispy SWEETBREADS & PICKELD RAMPS (do u sense a theme?) is an indulgence, and I later found out is cream-based (oops!) but was a superb novel soup with several small crsipy sweetbreads for crunch in the bowl. Marinated OCTOPUS comes with Romesco Sauce, Calamata Olives and Almonds. It is marinated in Red Wine Vinegar making it quite tangy, but if you like slight pickling and octopus, this dish is for you. It is finished in the wood oven and served hot. Our divine server Christina said it was not her cup of tea, and I can truly understand why; she was spot in that some people like it and some don't. She suggested the spaghetti or gnocchi for a pasta dish that my friend wanted, but he headed straight for the LOBSTER RISOTTO with MASCARPONE. I had a couple of bites, and while it was a very tasty dish and quite rich too (and loaded with lobster), it was way past al dente. I am a firm believer that risotto must be al dente; Christina explained the customers seem to prefer it softer, even though it is the wrong way to serve it. The restaurant is very plain, with unfinished floors and ceilings and wobbly wooden tables with not too comfy metal chairs. We had a nice big table upstairs at the front window which was nice, but very chilly with the a/c vent above us. The noise tended to be centered towards the rear and kitchen, so we were happy we did not have to raise our voices to converse as some others might have. While we loved everything, a highlight here is the veggie dishes: BROCCOLINI come with a slightly spiced pepper relish (red pepper puree), walnuts and feta which adds the perfect taste to a wonderfully prepared al dente vegetable. Roasted CAULFILOWER is also sheer perfection cooked with Pecorino Cheese, Red Onion and a slight hint of mint. This is a great place to go with friends and try many different dishes, or just for a pizza after the Verizon Center show or game, but be sure to reserve; the place was full by 7pm on a Tuesday!