Thursday, April 25, 2013

MATCHBOX Capitol Hill makes it and also misses the mark (4-24-13)

Matchbox Capitol Hill is one of several incarnations of this wonderful
dining spot where I have not been in ages since the opening of the
first location in Chinatown DC ( Last night
a group from our office was treated to a mostly superb dinner at their
Capitol Hill location at 521 8th Street SE. I was given the privilege
of ordering the wines and went for the blends to start: A very
aromatic Rousanne/Viognier ATREA "The Choice" 2010 from Mendocino
which was not the biggest hit at the table, so we switched to an
excellent Matanzas Creek 2011 Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma (another
wine I love, but have not tried in a long time) which was a big hit.
Sadly, it was their last bottle. The red blend was Zin, Cab, Petite
Syrah and Verdot from Rutherford/Napa and called Tres Sabores "Porque
No" 2009, a name that intrigued me, but a wine that was delish!
A number of us were ready to share dishes so I enjoyed the MANGO-LIME
CEVICHE with scallops, shrimp, salmon and sriracha served with tasty
blue corn chips. It only needed a dash more sriracha. The TUNA TARTARE
with  honey-garlic sauce & wasabi oil came with crispy yucca chips
which was a nice and healthier change, but still did not compare to my
now most-popular home made version! Crab and Avocado Salad was quite
rich with a bit too much mayo in the Tarragon Aioli.
The main course had hits and misses but I adored the BLACKENED
FLOUNDER served with excellent fresh baby veggies in the form of
zucchini, sunburst squash, green beans, fava beans and crispy fried
leeks. A pineapple salsa was a nice tart and light accompaniment. The
salmons, Creole pork and pizzas all got raves but the Korean Style
SHORT TRIBS had a lot to be desired as they were a bit too greasy. The
accompanying house made KIMCHI was spectacular and the Jasmine rice
We were all so stuffed there was no room for dessert, but a great time
was had by all!

Monday, April 15, 2013

spring is sprung, the blossoms in bloom when in NY, THE SMITH is for you (4-8-13)

I was in NY for a quickie opera last week and headed to THE SMITH
which opened several months ago across from Lincoln Center where
several other incarnations used to be including my beloved Sushi A-Go-
Well, it may be pricey, but it's fabulous food and highly recommended,
if a bit noisy and clamorous.
The tables are marble surfaced, the tile  floors are uncarpeted with a
painted copper (copy?) ceiling and the space is huge and open. In nice
weather, and it was, the walls lower to open to the sidewalks seating
outside. The chairs are okay, not too comfy, but the benches along the
wall are better. The rest rooms are downstairs, which could be a
problem for people who can't climb stairs (maybe there is an elevator
somewhere; I assume the law requires it).Once downstairs, it's hard to
detect which is men and women and since the wash area is joint, you
might wonder into the wrong side!

My server Kurt was a gem helping me with ideas and suggestions from
the varied menu.
I had started my diet, so I kept to oysters for first and they were
all divine:
Beau Soleil from New Brunswick
Cotuit Bay from Cape Cod that were the saltiest
Fisher Island from NY
and Montauk Pearls, also from Long Island
It was fun to have top notch NY oysters for a change and these came
with a mignonette as well as another habanero sauce which worked
perfectly to cut the saltiness of the Cotuit Bays!

I enjoyed a glass of Weissburgunder 2011 from Schrouk in Austria which
was light yet creamy and enjoyable with both the oysters and my main
course of TROUT MILANESE which came with two huge filets with a panko
mustard crust, baby kale, artichoke, fingerlings, dill aioli and
pickled onions. It was a superb fish with great flavor as well. I did
switch to a glass of Domaine Faiveley Mercurey Blanc 2009 a bit later
in the meal.

I forgot to mention that on arrival Kurt brought over both fizzy and
flat house bottled water--all at NO CHARGE!

I could not resist dessert and ate about 3 or 4 bites of a divine
SMORES IN A JAR which was homemade Graham crackers, toasted
marshmallows, mighty fine chocolate pudding and a dash of sea salt.
We have to return so Samuel can try the Liquid Center Chocolate Cake!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Chef Davide MARTINS gets praise for PORTUGAL and the Embassy here in DC(4-6-13)

Last night we attended the Washington National Opera Ball and one of
the best parts of the ball is being invited to an ambassador's
residence for dinner. While this is not something everyone can do as
the cost is high, should you have the opportunity to dine here in DC
at the Portuguese Ambassador's home then GO!
Chef Davide Martins is truly a wonder in his mid-twenties and already
headed for sure fame when he returns to his country. Prior to working
here he was on the team at the two-Michelin starred SEA GRILL in
Last night he prepared a simple ASPARAGUS Salad with Poached Quail
Egg, Grapefruit Reduction and a divine Grapefruit Hollandaise Sauce
(yes, I know I am not supposed to eat grapefruit, but who could
resist). Will even asked for extra sauce as they served it. the white
wine was a delicious FOLLIES 2011from Minho made from Alvarino and
Loureiro grapes. It was special to enjoy these new wines and varietals
(well, we have had the former grape in its Spanish name Albarino) as
we will be in Portugal on a cruise this summer and are sure to
encounter them.
PORT WINE SORBET was creamy and tasty and easily one of the best
sorbets I have ever had!
The main course was BEEF WELLINGTON with Honey, Fried Sweet Potatoes
and Baby Carrots. While this is easily an English dish, Ambassador
Brito advised us that the Portuguese fought alongside the English
against Napoleon and hence can claim some part of the Wellington name.
The meat was superb and the cehf showed that he can use foie gras and
make a superb pastry crust to boot.
The DUAS QUINTAS 2008 from Douro was a superb pairing and it at its
drinking peak as well.
The trio of cheeses was uneventful, but the two accompanying homemade
preserves were fabulous.
The OFFLEY TAWNY PORT arrived and I could not get enough refills in
the tiny glass :-)).
Dessert was a wonderful "Pasteis de Nata" which is a traditional
Portuguese pastry with custard that was gobbled up by everyone within
It was indeed a fun night and the huge ball at Villa Firenze, the
Italian Ambassador's residence afterwards was just as fun with Vice
President Joe Biden in attendance--but all we did was gobble up the
Prosciutto, Salami, Bresaola, cheeses (Parmeggiano and blue) as he