Monday, February 18, 2013

The fabulous food from the Federalist comes to Foxhall or Chef Harper at our home (2-17-13)

Every now and then we purchase a chef's dinner at a charity event and this past fall we had the pleasure of buying Chef Harper McClure of The Federalist (, now the only restaurant in Washington DC's Madison Hotel. We had a superb meal there last month, but last night was one of the most wonderful events we have had at our home in a long time!

We started with Israeli Osetra Caviar and US Paddleback. It was fun to contrast the flavors and quality, and of course, the Osetra won hands down. This newly developed Israeli industry is my first taste of the new divine fish egg import, and it is very high quality indeed. Blanc de Blanc Schramsberg 2008 from California flowed freely as we all gathered.

Our first course was a SCALLOP CRUDO with Citrus Salad & Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette. It was fairly light, but even the huge thinly sliced raw diver scallops had a heft and superb taste that paired wonderfully with the slightly citrus-y Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Elizabeth Spencer in Napa Valley.

Next came one of the best Foie Gras dishes we have ever had due to many factors, but clearly the chef's love and devotion to this dish shone through: Perfectly Seared La Belle Farms FOIE GRAS from Long Island was served with divine CHESTNUT AGNELOTTI with Asian Pear over a Sunchoke Puree. I adore chestnuts and with all the cold last night, this was a wonderful warming and heartfelt dish that exuded great cooking to the best! "Bouche D'or" Bouchaine 2010, a wonderful sweet Napa Valley dessert wine that was again a wonderful pairing.

Butter Poached MAINE LOBSTER had a decadent Mascarpone RISOTTO with shaved Radish and White Truffle Butter. Need I say more? Yes, this all seems like everything was intensely rich, and while it may have been we were resting between courses and really enjoying not only the company, but the wonderful knowledge of the folks from The Federalist, a place you must try soon. Mersault, Domaine Henri Darnat 2009 was again a simply perfect pairing. I should mention that Samuel was enjoying a house salad during all this (prepared by moi!).

Samuel's main course was especially prepared by Chef Harper and he gobbled up his favorite Chicken Tenders in town with French Fries of course! We, on the other hand, were treated to a Duo of Dry Aged RIBEYE: Roasted Eye and Cap Roulade with Roasted Trumpet Mushrooms, Swiss Chard and Madeira Jus. A superb and just ready to drink 2003 CHATEAU SIMARD from St. Emilion was our one but perfect red wine for the night. The meat was superb and both preparations were so different it was like having two more courses. The eye was slightly rare and as tender as could be with tons of flavor and a real aged taste. The cap was like having a prime rib crust stuffed and rolled; I adored the slight crispiness on the edge.

Dessert was thankfully light but still excellent: Greek Yogurt PANNA COTTA with Roasted PINEAPPLE, Marcona Almond Puree and Shortbread Cookie. While the panna cotta was great, it was the puree of almonds (think almond butter with a crunch or something akin to Skippy crunchy, but thinner and with a big almond bang) that was the hit. Vidal Ice Wine from Jackson Triggs in Niagara Canada was a treat as we love this place since we visited there last summer! It brought back such sweet memories!

I know that we will return again and again to The Federalist because it is one of the best places in town for sure, but it was even better having Chef Harper come to us and not have to cook or drive at all!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

the winemakers of CHATEAUNEUF du PAPE pile into PLUME Restaurant (2/13/13)

Last night some twenty-odd folks were treated to a rare wine-tasting experience. It was a wonderful evening for wine as five vignerons (and of course close neighbors) from the tiny enclave of Chateauneuf du Pape presented their superb wines. I had not been to PLUME (in the Jefferson and was excited to be there for the first time as well.

I had the pleasure of being seated between one of the vintners and the gentleman who heads up the importing company in the USA for their wines. It was fun to switch back and forth between French and English and understand so much wonderful information being given to us about these wines, only two of which I knew beforehand.

We sat down to a simple amuse-size Garlic & Sunchoke Veloute which was nice, but would win no awards. The Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils 2011 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc was superb, if served a bit too cold. As it warmed up the flavors opened up and popped out big time, as they should for a wine that retails at way over $50 a bottle. The wine was presented by owner/couple Thierry & Sandrine Usseglio(seated across from me), whose family hail from Piemonte and moved to France about three generations ago before WWII.

The highlight of the meal was the MUSSEL GRATIN with crisp fresh fennel shavings, Chorizo & Mussel Glacage.

I could not get enough of he divine sauce and the bread was all gone when I finished mopping it up. Domaine J.P. Lafond-Roc Epine Tavel Rose 2011 was a nice pairing, but again quite cold, especially for a cold wet night. Pascal Lafond himself (two seats away from me) explained that the wine is a blending of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. It is unquestionably one of the best Rose wines from the area and indeed France.

Roasted Stuffed QUAIL was a plate of two birds with Chestnut & Foie Gras Stuffing, Spiced Red Wine Jus and Wilted Seasonal Greens (Chard and others). This was indeed another wonderful dish and would have been perfect with just a bit more of the jus! We received two red Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines with this: First was Le Vieux Donjon 2007 presented by Francois Michel and is a blend of Grenache,Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. The wine had been open for a while (these two were poured from magnums) and it was still a bit tight. It opened up later as I saved a bit for the end of the meal, but it was not as fine and smooth a drinkas the Chateau Fortia "Cuvee du Baron" 2007 served by Pierre Pastre next to me. His Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend was easily the best wine we drank last night. I have already ordered some!

A selection of cheese arrived billed as "Rhone Cheese Selection" which may have been a poor move by the folks at Plume. The St. Nectaire, always one of my favorites, was not ripe enough, as can often be the case with imported French cheeses. The Tomme de Savoie was nice, but not intense enough for the two big red wines paired with the course (and it is not from the Rhone). I think if they had chosen a Grayson from Virginia it would have offered that intensity of pairing with the two huge Chateauneuf-du-Pape reds: Cuvee du Vatican 2010 introduced by vingeron Jean-Marc Diffonty and the superb but expensive ($140 per bottle--NOT a magnum) Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils 2010 "Cuve de Mon Aieul" from Thierry and Sandrine again made from 100% old vine (75-100 years old) Grenache.

Dessert was a sad event for me in the form of a dish called Apple "Matefaim" with Salted Caramel Sauce (this was superb) and Whipped Creme Fraiche. I asked several of the vignerons what "Matefaim" was and after checking around, we discerned it was a rare name that derives from an old word "mate" meaning "kill." the "faim" of course means hunger...hence this dessert "kills the hunger." The French pastry chef at Plume gave us a small unexciting pastry topped with some diced apples and not much more.

So, if you go to Plume, you know which of these wines to order and to stay away from the Matefaim, but order Mussels and Quail!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chef Cedric Maupillier of MINTWOOD PLACE makes pleasure in/at FOOD & FRIENDS (2-12-13)

Each year we are invited as major donors to a special Celebrity Chef Dinner in the kitchens of FOOD & FRIENDS, one of our favorite charities here in DC. You can join us next time should you make a major donation this year!!

It's a great event and last night may have been the best dinner ever.

Chef CEDRIC MAUPILLIER of Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan wowed us from the first bits of hor's d'oevres:

Guerande Sea Salt Buttered Radishes were amazing. The radishes must have been slightly par-boiled then smothered with a buttery compound with Guerande Sea Salt (fleur de sel). They were on sticks and looked like mini lollipops and were oh so delectable. The Deviled Eggs with Pickled onion on top and Pickled Beet below were yummy, but it was the PISSALADIERE that absolutely blew me away. I had FOUR of these amazing pastry leaves which had sauteed onion confit on them and a marinated fresh Italian anchovy and olive atop each pizza-like creation. OMG!!

We sat down to dinner in the Food & Friends kitchen and more magic appeared.

BURRATA, Deep Fried Red Russian KALE, Hazelnuts, Apple and Tamarind was one of the most exciting "salads" ever and while I am not a fan of Pinot Grigio-the Pradio 2011 from Friuli Para's floral tones were completely hidden by the ingredients on the plate making it an ingenious pairing.

Lightly smoked SALMON was LEEK Crusted and served atop Chestnut Puree, Cocoa Nibs and Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oil. I really felt this dish was true French cuisine at its best. Not a person to order salmon that often, here the fish took on new meaning and a completely different taste with the sauteed leek encasement and the rich chestnut puree was superb. Domaine Alary Cotes due Rhone-Villages Cairanne "La Font d'Estevans" Blanc 2010 was a perfect Rhone white pairing again.

Braised Shenandoah Valley LAMB NECK NAVARIN was a wonderful creation as well and came with a potato puree and a rosemary skewered with carrot, onion and mini-potato. This dish was not a typical stew, but a roulade of lamb meat with a bacon wrap that was sublime. Only the Domaine L'Oustal Blanc Minervois Giocoso 2009 was too light for the meat's intensity. I was also a bit confused with a French wine with the Italian label "giocoso" or happy.

Dessert was OPERA CAKE and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream atop a crumble. The cake was made with both milk chocolate and a crunchy wafer with a dark chocolate ganache top and a small piece of edible gilded gold flake.

We went home feeling very special and knowing that Mintwood Place is on our list.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

NEW HEIGHT's new chef, worth note (2-11-13)

Last night we visited NEW HEIGHTS (Woodley Park DC- where Chef Takeshi Nishikawa recently took over the helm in the tiny kitchen and beautiful setting over Rock Creek Park.

It's been a long time since we visited and the place has not changed much, which is good; same great service, same classic decor, and this always works.

Will chose the 4 course tasting menu for $48, I went for 3 ala carte. We started with a bottle of Vino do Campo 2010 Godello from Ribeiro, Spain which was green apple intense, very flavorful and crisp. A small Gruyere/Duck Confit "gougere" or bouchon arrived and we were very "amuse"d with this tasty one bit tidbit.

The crispy crust hot bread also arrived with a lemon-rosemary butter that was superb.

My CRISPY OYSTERS, lime, cilantro, "trinity" were deep fried and served with lime cubed gelees as well as the trinity sauce of mayo, soy & sriracha which was really tasty. I do have to say that while I used to love fried oysters, maybe I have grown less fond of them and moved to raw ones...who knows?

Will's excellent SWEETO POTATO SOUP was hot, rich and had a dollop of creme fraiche.

He moved on to the divine HOUSE MADE FETTUCCINE, bacon. 63degreeC egg, black pepper and I quote him as saying this was "Carbonara on crack" even if the crack was the cracked black pepper! It was indeed rich, but sublime.

Our red was an excellent ELK COVE 2010 Pinot Noir from Oregon which was fine with Will's full-bodied Pan Seared Spanish MACKEREL, fennel, smoked celeriac, castelnuovo olives. The fish was tender with a tasty crunchy skin, the fennel (which we normally don't like) was crunchy and tasty and the chip-like deep fried celeriac root was fun.

My Pan Roasted SQUAB, beets, currants, corn oats suffered a bit from some sinewy meat despite its wonderful gamey taste. There was a fun entry here too with the quinoa scattered with popcorn.

Chef Nishikawa was upset about the squab and sent out a fab extra dessert Panna Cotta with Spun sugar, menthol and mint. This sounded less appetizing on the menu and I am so glad it came out as it was superb in a wonderful deconstructed way with molecular crumble and superb flavors.

Will had the Granny Smith APPLE, graham cracker, caramel, all spice which was another wonderful construction and presentation.

We heard that New Heights was looking for a pastry chef; we told them "NO--let Chef Nishikawa do his wonderful preparations!"

I had a wonderful cheese plate with divine Rosemary Honey (infused in house) and an Apricot/Pearl Onion Marmalade. The cheeses were

French Comte

Wisconisn La Cabrie goat brie

Le Chatelain -Normandy camembert (one of my faves)

Petite Basque-French goat

Dante-Wisconsin sheep (it was better two nights earlier in NY)

Cambozola Blue from Germany which is surprisingly mild.

Mile Chocolate Truffles arrived before we went home having gone to New Heights yet again.

Monday, February 11, 2013

NYC's TELEPAN is Terrific (2-9-13)

I have been trying to take more time to dine on recent trips to NYC,

and this trip I really wanted to return for a leisurely meal at

TELEPAN ( where I had been several years ago


I had made a reservation for two and asked a client of mine to join

me, but he was out of the city, so I asked another. He got stuck in

Canada due to the big snowstorm. Well, I'm a great travel agent, and

managed to get him on the first flight to NY as soon as the airport

opened up, and he showed at dinner 10 minutes after I arrived. To my

surprise, my other client's plans changed with the storm, and ended up

in NYC.

Now, on any given Saturday night near Lincoln Center, or for that

matter at any great dining spot in NY, there are no extra tables, but

Nemo was a blessing and we easily got a prime table for three at


I started with the tangy housemade SATSUMA MARGARITA (I had some time

waiting at the bar) and then we ordered a Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc

Domaine Montpertuis 2010 that had a bit of grass and wonderful Rhone

flavors. Tasty Cheese Gougeres arrived as a snack and we went on to

our starters:

Marinated Gulf Shrimp, Coddled Egg, Organic Grits and Bay (operative

word-BAY) Seasoning which had great flavors and was oh so Maryland in

flavor due to the bay seasoning.

House Smoked Brook Trout is one of the Signature dishes here not to be


The breads arrived in the form of Ciabbata Rye, Organic Semolina,

Whole Grain and was hard to choose.

Two of us split the LOBSTER BOLOGNESE which was Spaghetti with Shallot-

Garlic-Tomato Broth and a Lobster Tail. It was divine. At this point

Chef Bill Telepan emerged to chat and see "who" we knew in DC. I

always believe in one degree of separation, and we had many mutual

friends; he was a genuinely friendly guy and a superb chef to boot.

Another middle course was the fabulous Smoked BRUSSELS SPROUTS wutg

Egg Pasta, Poached Egg & Pecoino Romano!

We switched to a wonderful North Valley Vineyard 2009 Pinot Noir from

Soter in Oregon that was a good choice with so many varied main


SEA SCALLOP CHOWDER with Manila Clams, Bacon, Leeks and Potato Puree

was my divine choice and just right on that cold post-blizzard night.

The Signature HERITAGE PORK with Pierogi, Sauerkraut, Celery Root &

Apple is always a great hit on a cold winter night and the Roasted

Chicke, Coq Au Vin Style was moist and tasty.

Desserts were as varied as all other courses with my guests having the

Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie, Citrus & White Chocolate Salad and the

Sticky Toffe "cake" which of course, since he was British, he called

"pudding" but it was more cake-like and served with Creme Fraiche Ice

Cream & Candied Cranberries; yummy, but not traditional at all.

I, of course, chose the superb cheese selection which came with Honey,

Huckleberry Gelee, Sugared almonds and pistachios and a selection of


Bonne Bouche from Vermont Butter & Cheese company

Hudson Flowers from Old Chatham Shepherding in upstate NY

Dante-Wisconsin sheep

Rogue River Blue-Oregon bathed in pear brandy

This was a great American cheese tray that deserved an award for sure,

as the entire meal did.

I forgot to mention our excellent server Steve who was there for our

every need and explained anything we needed so wonderfully; Telepan

indeed has a great team!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Lincoln Center's ATLANTIC GRILL makes NYC's Restaurant Week random (2-8-13)

I made it to NYC yesterday for a weekend of opera just before the NEMO Blizzard hit and the airports closed. I heaved myself through the wind and snow about 7 blocks from my hotel to try the highly-rated ATLANTIC GRILL just a block from Lincoln Center (
It's quite a large place and quite pricey, but I expected better as I have always enjoyed dining at the BR Guest localities and always loved it's sister Blue Fin, down at Times Square.
Maybe the Restaurant Week menu was too limited or lacked love...I guess I have to try the much more expensive ala carte menu at another time to find out.
The parkerhouse rolls and tasty nutty bread roll were good, but not warm, and the butter was whipped nicely for spreading. The wines are all about $12-19 by the glass and I enjoyed my Framingham Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from New Zealand, but kept it to one glass (it is a good pour from a tiny carafe) as I had a long opera.
A young woman brought over a small shot glass of tasty Cauliflower Soup "from the chef," as an amuse. I noticed this was her only job around the entire restaurant all evening.
I chose the SKUNA BAY SALMON & SHRIMP MAKI ROLL with Shiso, Cucumber and Miso-Yuzu Sauce which was a nice 6 -piece sushi portion.
The restaurant is seafood centric and specializes in sushi and raw bar specialties as well, and while this was nice, I have been more impressed recently (like at Natsumi in Times Square a couple of weeks ago).
I wanted fish and the 3 main courses were steak, pasta with seafood or the SCOTTISH SALMON a la Plancha, which I chose and came with Chive Spaetzle, Braised Red Cabbage, Almonds and a Cider Beurre Blanc Sauce.
The dish was indeed tasty and the salmon, with its crispy skin atop, superb.
Only the cabbage was too intense and indeed overpowered the sauce and the entire dish. I adored the tasty small spaetzle and more of these would have been welcome as they were quite small and spread out. The portion was a good size, but it was just not well thought out.

I chose the Lemon Meringue Tart for dessert which came with Strawberry Sorbet on a bed of chocolate crunch and a dash of Vanilla Anglaise. It was a good lemon flavor, but the pastry was a dud. I could only remember my Passion Fruit Meringue from Empellon Taqueria in the West Village last month (the one drizzled with Mescal and that soft mezcal infused meringue). The pastry chef at Atlantic Grill had little love for this basic and unexciting tart.

Tonight--TELEPAN for a tasting.(NYC does not offer Restaurant Week on Saturdays at most locations)

Friday, February 08, 2013

District Commons Restaurant Week is wonderful(2-7-13)

Restaurant week continued for us in DC as we took a friend to a birthday dinner at District Commons ( which was heaving when we arrived at 6:30pm. This can be a problem during Restaurant Week, but the service never failed and our server Eric, as well and general manager, Boo, made sure al our needs were handled. It was a superb experience overall.
On a previous visit, Samuel had discovered the Pretzel Bread which is divine, especially when shmeared with the accompanying mustard butter!
We tasted the Ship of Fools 2011 Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc and passed it up as slightly sweet and went for a wonderful Cardinal Point 2011 Viognier from Virginia for our appetizer fish courses:
the special for the day which needs to be added to the menu was the
SCALLOPS over Arugula & Pickled Red Onion with Crispy Bacon in Orange Butter--this dish had everything going for it, especially that caramelized sweetness on the scallops, and was quite large to boot.
SEAFOOD CHOWDER is always a hit here loaded with fish and shellfish and hot and creamy on a cold night.
2nd DATE CAESAR SALAD is one of the best in town with a lighter than usual dressing (I hate it when it's too thick and creamy) and a nice spattering of yummy white anchovies.

We moved on to a superb Darcie Kent Petite Sirah 2008 Madden Ranch which goes well with lots of varied dishes (it's available by the glass) and it was indeed just right with even the
Grilled SALMON, Parsnip Puree (rich and intense), Roasted Honey Mushrooms and Warm Truffle Vinaigrette.
The District Common BURGER is made with Braised Pineland Farms Shortribs for super flavor and has a sweet & spicy slaw with AP sauce and a side of yummy fries with lemon-garlic aioli.
I had to return to the Roasted DUCK Low & Slow with Wild Rice & Sweet Potato Hash, Sorghum Chili and Samuel was entranced with his
PORK RACK CHOP Blue Ribbon stuffed with Benton Ham & Mozzarella. He chose to have fries with his instead of the regular sides. We were okay with that.
The $35.13 dinner includes dessert and we were way past full but dove into the CHOCOLATE BANANA CAKE which came with salted caramel sauce and Chocolate Ice Cream that was an intense and rich homemade variety.
Boston Cream Pie is deconstructed here and also a nice choice.
Before we left the macaroons, cranberry pear pecan treats, berry gelees, wonder bars and vanilla bean shortbreads appeared. I had one wonder bar and we packed the rest up "for later......"
What a wonderful meal.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

make it MIO and Restaurant Week will fill you (2-5-13)

We had not been to MIO in it's 6+ year existence, which is a shame. Last night we discovered a truly warm, friendly, Latin establishment that we will return to for sure.

MIO ( is right on Vermont & L downtown (street parking) and was jammed last night as Restaurant Week is on and the prices are $35.13 for three courses (albeit from a very limited menu). The choices here are wide and the food is indeed VERY filling.

We were warmly greeted by owner Manuel Iguina at the entry, who keeps a hawk's eye on every going on. He checked with us and always was cheery. We did tell him that we thought the very loud woman in the corner (which we called the "cackle corner") was having high-pitched piercing cackling orgasms; he laughed alot. Yes, the din this week is a bit too loud for us, but perhaps when it's less busy, the place is calmer.

I had thought MIO was Italian - stupid moi - and promised Samuel pasta, but he would have none of the Latin dishes, not even the Puerto Rican Lasagna! Uh-oh! Well, he loves steak and garlic and was thrilled with a main course of CHURRASCO skirt steak with chunky ajili mojili (Puerto Rican garlic sauce). Our wonderful server, Daniela (who was 7 months pregnant!!!) even offered to replace the rice and tostones with superb cheese, cilantro, garlic fries.

Will started with a Spicy Machu Pisco with Aji Amarillo, Passion Fruit and Lime Sour which was a bit too sweet. My Mio Margarita was divine with Tequila, Cointreau and Blood Orange. Samuel discovered the Virgin LimeAid Mojito! We moved on to a superb smooth bottle of Tierra Crianza Tempranillo 2009 from Rioja that Daniela suggested and was spot on with. Oddly the front of the bottle said 2009, but the back said 2008?!

Manuel's wife Karla is in the kitchen, and she loves the food she creates; it is clear. Will and I both started with the Pastelrelleno, a Puerto Rican Pastel (enchilada in banana leaf) stuffed with chicken in pimento sauce. It was quite filling, but do watch out for small chicken bones as Karla leaves them in for extra flavor.

Samuel tired the Tostones starter with beans, escabeche and cured salmon, but would only eat the crunchy tostone on the bottom. Will and I polished off the tasty bean and flavorful salmon!

For the main course, Will and I both had Chuleta de Cerdo, a tasty boneless pork chop with a yummy rum sauce, stir fired kale and a divine Yuca Mofongo. I haven't a decent mofongo in ages and this was a good one with the escabeche-like kale spread over it.

I forgot to mention the bread which is superb, crusty and warm and comes with the most divine cilantro-garlic butter than even the no-butter Samuel adored.

Dessert was a success with CHOCOLATE CUATRO LECHES and COCONUT CARIBBEAN TIRAMISU (more of a gelled custard cake than tiramusu) being medium-size portions that had us beyond full!

It was a great restaurant week start-off, even with my Mio mistake!

Monday, February 04, 2013

Falls Church, VA's PEKING GOURMET is still great! Happy Chinese New Year (2-3-13)

Last night we joined dear friends for a birthday celebration at Falls Church's renowned PEKING GOURMET ( which is actually less than 10 minutes from the Potomac bridges to Virginia without traffic! It was a grand feast indeed and also an early celebration of the Chinese New Year (next weekend).

We drank (Samuel had a magnificently decorated Shirley Temple and then a Mango Smoothie--also replete with fans, straws and more) yummy rich Four Hearts Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 from Hartford Court Winery in the Russian River Valley as well as a 2010 Foley Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir.

When we arrived there were those irresistible Chinese noodles on the lazy Susan and we gobbled them up with an even more irresistible Sweet Garlic Sauce which is a wonderful honey-based garlic sauce that is to die for.

Pan Fried Pork Dumplings came first and these are served with your choice of various sauces. There was a soy marinade chock full of jalapeno slices that was perfect. I asked how they get the peppers so mild, and was told by our charming server, Wendy, that the marinades are prepared in the morning so that by evening the jalapeno has become milder--it's perfect. There were also vinegar sauces and a hot chili oil if you need that extra spice.

Vegetable Spring Rolls were crisp and not the least bit greasy and here more sauces arrived in the form of hot Chinese mustard along with sweet & sour.

Back to Wendy, our dream server.....I asked her what her original name was and it was very hard to pronounce, then asked how it became Wendy. She told us that her smile was like Wendy's in Peter Pan--HUUUGE! And it is!

The PEKING DUCK presentation is amazing at Peking Gourmet and worth the splurge. The duck is carved tableside without a touch of fat, the skin perfectly sliced along side it, so you can choose if you wish to make it with just meat or meat and skin in the pancakes. The servers come from all sides to prepare your first pancake with the tasty hoisin sauce, which is not too sweet here as it can often be too cloying. Cucumbers and scallion slices are also served making a truly perfect dish.

Seafood Pan Fried Noodles are homemade and very different from the traditional lo mein or other Chinese noodles. This style is from the north and is closer to a dumpling-style noodle and loaded with shrimp, scallops and amazing tasty Chinese, Tree and Black Mushrooms that are so earthy they really imbue the dish with an extra flavor.

Four Season String Beans are smothered with Garlic and then seasoned with fresh simmered onions and soy sauce; this was a dish that even Sam adored, as we all did.

JEO-YEN SHRIMP are a highlight (well, everything is!) and come with that amazing sweet garlic sauce from the start!

LAMB CHOPS PEKING STYLE are something one does not usually hear about at Chinese establishments. Here, they are tasty New Zealand racks that have been lightly crusted and then deep fried to a medium rare perfection.

Since Chinese desserts are not famed, our friends brought their own HUGE dessert from Gerard's Pastries in Prince George's where they live: a gigantic apple tart loaded with cream in a flaky pastry shell a la PARIS BREST. The restaurant complimented this with MANGO Ice Cream and Candied Walnuts as well as the necessary Fortune Cookies. Another gift from our hosts was an amazing 2006 Bouchaine Bouche d'Or Chardonnay Dessert Wine that disappeared fast!

To quote a famous personage:

I can't believe I ate the whole thing!

Happy Birthday!