Thursday, October 25, 2012

Island Destinations gets it all done up for lunch at 2941 RESTAURANT in Falls Church,VA(10-24-12)

Here I go again saying that it's been YEARS since I went somewhere;

this is more than years.

We used to go to 2941 in Falls Church ( regularly, but

stopped when Chef Jonathan parted ways with them. I have watched them

over the years and today provided the perfect opportunity for me to

observe the

cuisine, service and more. There is nothing harder to do in MY

business than a decent luncheon or dinner, and many hoteliers and

vendors often fail. We have been lucky over the years to have some

wonderful vendors provide luncheons at Citronelle, Marcel's and such,

but today's lunch out in the serene setting by the waterfall at 2941

was one of the best.

It was courtesy of ISLAND DESTINATIONS which is one of our best luxury

top end providers when it comes to sunny vacation spots and they

pulled out all the stops with excellent wine, wonderful service and a

superb meal.

BEET SALAD came with a tasty Pear Marmalade, Goat Cheese, Crisp

elongated Endive and Caramelized Pecans. One of the other people at my

table said the ROMAIN & BIBB Salad with Sahved Pecorino Cheese,

Grilled Red Inion and Balsamic was also great.

She was very impressed with her main course of BUTTERNUT SQUASH

RAVIOLI with chestnuts, roasted squash and sage brown butter. The CEO

and President of the company sat next to me and adored his ROASTED

BEEF TENDERLOIN with Pomme Puree, Sauteed and Fried Kale and a Green

peppercorn sauce; it was divinely pink at the center. My PAN SEARED

SALMON was perfect with tasty Parsnip Puree, Crisp Savoy Cabbage,

Squash, Celery Root and an omigod SYRAH SAUCE....that begged for red

wine with this fish (the Pinot Noir was perfect).

There were two desserts and I ate a bite of my WARM CHOCLATE CAKE

which came with a spiced ganache crumble, Gingerbread Ice Cream, a

thin Shortbread Cookie and Creme Anglaise. The molten center flowed

out and it was an explosion of flavor. Nobody at our table had the

Caramel Apple Cheesecake, but I am sure it was great as well as every

dish was indeed so perfectly created for our group.

Kudos to all at 2941!

and thanks so muh to ISLAND DESTINATIONS....

PS- they only work with travel agents, but you can always book their

AMAZING deals thru me!

Monday, October 15, 2012

we all say ooh la la for A LA LUCIA (10-14-12)

I always find myself saying that it has "been too long since we visited this place or that," and I must repeat that again as we re-visited A LA LUCIA (, Alexandria's bastion of traditional Italian value food located just off the river north of Old Town.

Six of us moseyed in with Samuel in tow last night and I was thrilled to note that there is a 3 course menu regularly for $33.95 PLUS a 25% discount on some wines on Sundays to boot! We started with a small plate of bruschetta, which Samuel kept saying "no" to, but when the plate came round to him at the end with one piece left, he gobbled it up and his eyes rolled with pleasure at the fresh marinated tomatoes and small chunks of mozzarella.

We started with a bottle of FALANGHINA from Terradova di Paolo 2011 that was refreshing and tasty, so much so we had another. It was perfect with the MUSSELS in SPICY WHITE WINE sauce, which is not that spicy, but still has to be mopped up with the tasty focaccia bread. Other starters that were divine were the Grilled SHRIMP with GREEN BEANS, Cherry Tomatoes in Limoncello Dressing. the shrimp are breaded and grilled and juicy as can be. BURRATA with Beets is also great if you adore that irresistible creamy cheese!

We moved on to a DOLCETTO d'ALBA from Marchesi di Gresy "Monte Aribaldo" 2009 that has a hint of residual spice and lots of big fruit. It was perfect with our pasta dish (we ordered this as an extra course over the fixed price, but it can also be part of it) of MUSHROOM RAVIOLI in Truffle Oil and Sage &; Butter Sauce.....divine. Indeed, the pastas at A LA LUCIA are some of the best you will find in this entire area.

We have known our server Debbie from the UK for many years going way back to Galileo where she worked for many years and then came here when Galileo's manager Michael opened A LA LUCIA. The team his is great and the service is impeccable. Our every need was handled and the meal was paced to perfection.

We moved on to a BARBARESCO 2005 Riserva Rio Sordo from Produttori di Barbaresca that breathed for a while and was absolutely smooth and tasty. It was great with most of the main courses, save for perhaps the superb ROCKFISH with Sauteed Fennel in Beurre Blanc (that is on the lighter side). Filet of BEEF in Red Wine Sauce comes with A La Lucia Potatoes and Spinach and I thought this portion was huge until my Grilled VEAL with Parmesan Gratinee, Sage Wine Sauce and Green Beans arrived basically covered the entire oversized plate!

The veal was tender and tasty and it has been also too long since I have had veal as well!

Samuel loved his Spaghetti with Meat Balls &; Meat Sauce.

For desserts we tried the TIRAMISU, PUMPKIN CHEESE CAKE, and the CHOCOLATE CAKE with Ice Cream.

I refrained and went my way for the simple cheese plate of
SOTTOCENERE, MANCHEGO &; GORGONZOLA DOLCE with slices of poached pear.

A sparkling sweet STREVI was a nice touch. Samuel went even lighter simply munching on the mint leaves from one of the plates!

We all went home full promising not to wait so long for our next visit!

Friday, October 05, 2012

FUEGO in Arlington(VA) will light your fire (10-2-12)

Earlier this week we were invited to the "mock service" at Arlington's newest dining hotspot, FUEGO Cocina y Tequileria ( in Clarendon at 2800 Clarendon Blvd. served up by that wonderful PassionFood Hospitality Group (DC Coast, Ceiba, Acadiana, District Commons, etc..).

The dining room is upstairs with a large bar area downstairs as well, all with tall ceilings and very open airy space. There is a large private dining area behind a see through steel beaded curtain and the kitchen is open as well separated by long "rope" pillars from the dining area. As the name FUEGO is "fire" one small wall of the dining room has a flaming glass-enclosed fire in it!

As we perused the huge menu Samuel declared he would like the non-alcoholic "Queen of the Pacific" made from agave, lemon-lime, mint and strawberry puree. It was a hit, but a bit pricey for a small kid's non-alcoholic drink. The "Mala Suerte" was habanero-infused tequila with triple sec grapefruit, lime and a sugar rim, but came with no habanero, sugar rim, and I felt tequila as well. A second one arrived after a while for a replacement and had a peppered rim as requested (sugar seemed to much for me). Will went for the high end "El Perfecto" Margarita of Tres Generaciones Plata Tequila, Patron Citronage, Lime, Agave Nectar and a salt rim; it was nice, but I think the plain ones would be just as fine. There are dozens and dozens of tequila by the glass (also many by flights of 3 for a fabulous $13!) and over two dozen each of red and white wines as well by the glass. We were bowled over by the earthy intensity of a 16% alcohol EARTHQUAKE 2010 ZINFANDEL with a berry hint and coffee finish from Lodi that works brilliantly with many of the spicy salsas.

Superb chips arrive with a tomatillo salsa (milder) and a rojo that has a kick, but Samuel declared the GUACAMOLE with serrano and lime some of the best around; I must agree. He went on to an order of Chicken TACOS...there are many taco options and two to an order allow you to share and taste many. They come with small soft tortilla shells and loaded with meat. There are 3 salsas on each plate: habanero(very hot), tomatillo and rojo. Mixing these can give you different flavors as well. We tried the BIRRIA TACOS of Jalisco style roasted Goat which were superb; next time I must go for the LENGUA, as I adore tongue!

COCTEL de MARISCOS is a nice starter but intense on the spicy tomato cocktail sauce. Shrimp, tender Octopus, Tilapia and Salmon abound with the salsa and avocado.

Choosing dishes was hard, so we went with our trusty server Seth's suggestions. For main courses we chose the ENCHILADA de MARISCO a lighter version of the usually heavily sauced Mexican dish here full of shrimp, crab and a 1/2 lobster tail to boot on the plate all with a Salsa Chile de Arbol. This is a top notch dish and won't send you home overly full as well. The CARNITAS come in a miniature copper pot and the slow fried pork is divine. You can wrap it in the small housemade corn tortillas and again choose from the multiple salsas on the side. Side dishes here are not to be ignored although the Hongos, sauteed seasonal mushrooms, could have used some extra seasoning. The Platanos Machos are tequila glazed plantains with a dash of Latin Crema and are decadent and rich, while the YUCA FRITA with Chile Garlic Mayo dip will beat any good fry in town!

Desserts here are tasty and varied with a yummy Fresh Lime & Coconut Tart with Passion Fruit Caramel or should you need more carbs go for the excellent Sopaipillas with a Canela Caramel Agave Nectar dipping suace, decadence at its best!

We all had a great time and know we will go back to FUEGO to enjoy the oh so many wonderful dishes and wines!