Sunday, July 28, 2013

ORSO is always moreso and great for all kinds of dining and food in Fall's Church, VA (7-27-13)

Last night, again prior to a performance, we headed to ORSO where we are in love with the fresh ingredients and brilliant cooking style of Chef Will Artley.
For a Saturday night the place was busy as could be with couples, families, extended family groups and singles. This place makes everyone happy.
When you have staff like our server Steve who takes time to offer suggestions for food and wine, then you also are going to have happier clientele.
It was hard to decide as we wanted to enjoy several small plates as opposed to the larger ones or pizzas (still trying to diet!).
Steve told us to shy away from the Tomato Basil Bisque as it was a cream base, so we ordered two spectacular salads to start:
GRILLED WATERMELON SALAD with Smoked Blue Cheese, Grilled Onion and Balsamic Vinaigrette is as refreshing and light as a salad can get. the melon was sweet, juicy and
worked brilliantly with the greens and smoky cheese.
BABY BEET & CARROT salad sounds simple, but is one of the best I have ever had with Purple & Yellow Beets, Purple & Orange Carrots, Smoked Ewe's Cheese, Greens and
two swaths across the side of the plate....a Carrot Vinaigrette that was more like a puree (think baby food, if you must) and an unreal Pomegranate Molasses. Love went into the creation of this dish as well as the freshest of local and heirloom-style ingredients around.
I asked Steve for a glass of the dry Rose from Domaine La Blague, but all he had left was a taste as the bar had only the last drops in a bottle. I liked it and we settled for the RUEDA, Palacio de Vivero which was a citrus, smoky white from Spain.  Steve insisted I try to Terre del Barolo 2007 BARBARESCO and it was a treat.
We next enjoyed Caramelized Shallot & GOAT CHEESE RAVIOLI with Forest Mushrooms, SunDried Tomatoes, over a bed of Sautéed Chard. The sweetness of the goat cheese was tempered by the chard and I have to say, Chef Artley knows his pasta well. Even better was the Smoked Gulf SHRIMP with what was called a CORN RAGU and Fire Roasted Red Pepper (Fresno) Coulis, really more like a paste or sauce.
The shrimp were excellent and the ragu consisted of String beans, peas, mushrooms, garlic, garbanzo beans and roasted peppers. Again those local fresh veggies that make this place tops for ingredients. The "coulis" paste was so good, I said that it needs to be bottled as pasta sauce. Chef Will told me I could have it as a sauce on pasta anytime; I guess that's next best!
The dishes are served on giant wooden paddles which is really adorable, but beware when someone places it in front of you with the handle as that handle sometimes has some food on it that might drop in your lap!
I wanted one more little bite and asked Steve if Chef would prepare for me a 1/3 portion of the THREE LAMB BACON SLIDERS with Smoked Aioli and Tomato Jam. One was just right. Three is a meal!
The lamb was tender the aioli zesty and the jam should also be bottled for sale! It came on a grilled warm bread that had a pita-like consistency; maybe it was made in the pizza oven? I did not ask. I called it a lamb gyro gone wild with GOAT CHEESE and PICKLES!
No dessert, but we got a subscription to the Creative Cauldron Theater next door for next season, so we will be back a lot. ORSO offers a discount if you are going there! 


You gotta get to THE CURIOUS GRAPE in Shirlington, VA for great eating. (7-26-13)

We are regulars at Signature Theater in the Shirlington area of Arlington and last week we tried Carlyle Café and couldn't fell really great about it, but then since Extra Virgin closed there isn't really a great "fine"
dining spot nearby. UNTIL I discovered THE CURIOUS GRAPE  ( hidden at 2900 S. Quincy Street actually behind Carlyle!
I always thought this was a wine store, but it is much more. It offers up a winse shop, cheeses, great food and a wonderful place to dine when art the theater nearby or just
to go out for a wonderful meal.
We had two servers introduced as Veronika and Katy, as Katy was in training. We perused the wonderful meanu offering many wines by the glass or bottle as well as many portions in 1/2 size; I love that for more tastes. Our friends were drinking a red sparkling HUBER Austrian Rose made from Zweigelt and Blaufrankisch which I quickly ordered a glass of and marveled at the dryness yet full fruit flavors in each sip.
Focaccia arrived with oil and after one tiny bite, I knew I could easily resist the bread; it was not their highlight for sure.
We perused the menu more and finally decided on numerous dishes for the fours of us.
Starters included ALBARINO-Steamed MAHONGONY CLAMS with house made Chorizo, English peas and Tomato Bread which was as tasty as clams get. My only quip is that the larger Mahogony clams, while very flavorful, can be chewier than the smaller Manila or Cherrystone varieties.
Warm BABY ARTICHOKES with Crispy Panko, mint and Red Chili is a dieter's delight as the dish is not fried, just served with crispy crumbs atop. The chokes are tender and the chili has a little bite; the mint is mild and makes for flavor as well.
Pan Roasted SCALLOPS with Black Rice, Baby Bok Choy is in Plum Wine Beurre Blanc and comes as a starter/half portion or full. The scallops were superb, the black rice divine and the sauce irresistible!
Fried GREEN TOMATOES are served with Bonito Tuna (salad style) with Pickled Ramp Mayo, Espelette Pepper & Spring Radish. This dish was another fab creation due to the ramp mayo that was so amazingly flavorful.
We first tried a 2012 Assyrtiko from Hatzidakis in Santorini that one of declared to be like sulphur! Instead a fun earthy and mineral-intense white COCCOCCIOLA 2011 from Terre Valse, Cantina Frentana in Abruzzo got us all excited about a new grape varietal. Suzanne McGrath is the wine person here and really knows her stuff.
Main courses were truly unbelievable, especially the 5 SPICE Pan-Roasted CHICKEN with Summer Squash, Pioppini Mushrooms and White Miso Chicken Jus which I declared one of the best restaurant chicken dishes on earth! The BRONZINO was just as sublime with Soffrito-Braised Greens, Creamy Cauliflower "Grits", Roasted Cauliflower, Verjus Soaked Raisins and Toasted Almonds. Every element here was a hit even down to the tasty "grits" which are made only with cauliflower and the crunchy almonds!
My DUCK LEG CONFIT came with "Creamed Corn," Piquillo Pepper and Grilled Tomato jus. The corn was grilled first then "creamed" but again with little no cream so that it was not too rich. The duck fell off the bone and was superbly cooked. I had a glass of 2008 Tempranillo from Sierra Cantabria in Rioja, Spain which is drinking beautifully now. This lasted through our shared cheese course as well.
You really can't come here without enjoying some cheese so we all decided to split one plate. we choose three:
CORNELIA from the Netherlansds which is a tangy coriander semi-hard goat
FROMAGE d'AFFINOIS is always a creamy rich French brie-like cheese that oozes
SHROPSHIRE BLUE is a brilliant blue that has a darker hue but also not too made me want to get on the plane to England, which I shall do later this week!
The plate was beautifully arranged with bread, olives, caperberry, nuts, dried fruit, berries and quince paste.
We had the pleasure of meeting Chef Joe Hornbeck who worked with Wes Morton of Art & Soul, whom I adore. He has been at The Curious Grape only for several months. I know it won't be that long before I return.
I do wish that since wine is so important here they took greater care in their glassware, as it is a bit thick and needs more delicacy. Lots of love went into choosing the plates, stainless and other items on the table, just not the glasses.
It can get very crowded in here as we were there on a Friday at 6pm when it was just filling up, but by 740pm, we had to search far and wide for our server to get the check and be at the theater on time; so do allow extra time if the place is full....

Friday, July 26, 2013

LEVANTE's is lovely for just about anything and everything in Dupont Circle(7-25-13)

Last night I took two dear clients and a performer (who happens to be Israeli) to LEVANTE's at 1320 19th St, NW ( just south of Dupont Circle. I have never been to this superb Middle-Eastern/Eastern Mediterranean restaurant where the service is super friendly and food is varied and tasty.
As the weather was so gorgeous, the large outdoor patio was jammed. It was a bit windy and we opted to sit inside in one of the booths facing the somewhat open kitchen.
I perused the wine list and was excited to see Georgian wine on the menu and since it was offered by the glass our server John offered to bring us a taste.
Sadly one of the reds was gone so we tried the SUPERAVI '07 from Chateau Mukhrani in Kartli, Georgia which we all declared fabulous and similar to a very fruity medium bodied Pinot Noir. Later the owner came over to greet us and mentioned this wine was from near his hometown. This explains the fact that you see Georgian, Turkish, Greek and other Eastern Mediterranean specialties here on a really wonderful menu
that can make it hard to decide.
I suggested that we all share the COLD MEZZE APPETIZER as the hot one seemed to be overladen with some fried items (and I am still trying to watch the weight as I near our summer trip to Europe next week).
The platter was jam packed with Hommos, BabaGhanouj, Tsatziki, Olives, Feat Cheese, Dolma (Stuffed Grape Leaves), Shepherd's Salad(a simple cucumber, tomato type salad) and a slightly spicier salad called EZMESALAD which was a delight. There was warm pide bread (I was told this is the proper name for the slightly puffier than pita bread Turkish version--one of my guests is in Turkey regularly!) to mop up the various items on the plate and we left a spotless plate to go back to the kitchen. The variety and seasonings were great and we really had some time to peruse the menu for our entrée choices as well.
We had a variety of entrees from the SWORDFISH on SKEWERS with Arugula and Mixed veggies that our Israeli guest declared tasty and moist. The KOFTE was grilled ground lamb with tsatziki and the
BEYTI was a similar skewer with parsley, garlic and pepper. Our server John said the ADANA was the spiciest version of the same skewer and I loved the way it came laid on a long grilled piece of zucchini that matched the size of the lamb skewer. the meat was just past rare and absolutely divine and tasty. the spice level was not too hot and indeed the garlic on the BEYTUI was intense so my guest said she thought hers was a bit spicier! No matter we loved them all and the zucchini, peppers and veggies that come baked on the side.
No room for dessert, but a wonderful evening had by all!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

ALEX & IKA in Cooperstown still offers an inventive menu (7-21-13)

For our last night we returned to downtown Cooperstown to ALEX & IKA's ( where the menu has not changed much in a year, but the food still remains great.
Samuel begged for the PORK DUMPLINGS starter for us all to share and these come with Seaweed Salad, which he now loves, and Wasabi Mayo which he does not. They were oh so fab.
I had the regular IKA's SWEDISH MARTINI, but they were out of Aquavit, so it was just Svedka Vodka with Lingonberry. Will had the Luka's Monster Margarita with Rancho Alegre Tequila, Cointreau,
Lime and Orange Juices. YUM.
I was going to start with the clams, but they ran out of that so I switched to the SEASAME NOODLE SALAD which is a great Asian/Green version of the traditional here loaded with Udon Noodles, Arugula, Cucumber, Toasted Peanuts and Carrot Ginger Kimchee with Sweet Tamari and Ginger Oil. Will and I split starters and I moved to his TUNA TATAKI, another huge delightful portion with Coriander Seared AHI,
Kimchee, Sweet Tamari, Ginger Oil and Pickled Ginger. Each element was great and together it was a treat.
We ordered a bottle of Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2009 from Terruzi & Puthod which was a great pairing; I was surprised how good the 4 year old vintage was.
Samuel had a plain burger and fries for his main course and it was a tasty one; he didn't even want ketchup!
Will ordered the Fish Tacos with Fried Cod, Roasted Corn Salsa, Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado and Chipotle Aioli with Lime Wedges and we decided again to split entrees.
Mine was the TANDOORI Roast LAMB SPARE RIBS with Dry Rub, Tamarind Glaza and Wasabi Dip which only suffered from a bit too much fat. Next time, I'll go with the leaner meat!
Paper napkins don't work with this type of food and a finger bowl was truly missing!
A glass of PETITE SYRAH from CONCANNON helped with this dish and Will's tacos were paired with the Cotes du Rhone Blanc from Le Plan Classic 2010.
Off we went, very full to pack for our trip home and our next adventure...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

when in Cooperstown alwyas bring me back to the Blue Mingo(7-20-13)

On our extended weekend here in Cooperstown, NY for this year's Glimmerglass Festival for operas and shows, we have dined at the theater most often taking advantage of the patron gatherings there. Last night we took the Young Artist we were sponsoring to dinner and the four of us had a grand time as the storms had passed and the temps had dropped from 90 to 75. We dined on the porch and it was one of the best meals we have ever had there.

Will started with a BOSSA-MINGO made from Absolut Peach, Cachaca Brazilian Rum, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime and Fresh Local Mint. I tasted a NY State white from Red Tail Ridge in the Finger Lakes called Good Karma which was a Riesling/Chardonnay which was a bit too sweet for me, so we moved on to a bottle of St. Supery Napa Sauvignon Blanc 2012 that is intense in citrus, especially lemon and goes well with many of the starters as well.

A basket of hot Pecan Cinnamon Rolls arrived and they were gone almost instantly!

Samuel ordered up the GOLDEN POTSTICKERS of chicken in a lemongrass and soy broth. Nobody else could get near this dish for a taste as it seemed to disappear before it even appeared.

Will had the CALAMARI and was a bit distraught when it came fried (the preparation was not indicated and he did not ask) with Sea Salt, Red Pepper and a tasty Garlic Lemon Pesto. It was crispy and tasty, though.

Both Andrew and I had the excellent French Country SALAD which was a huge plate of superb baby greens withe of  sour apples, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, crumbly bleu cheese in a warm bacon vinaigrette.

An indulgence none of us needed, but we all partook of was a plate of the famous housemade potato chip drizzled with gooey tasty balsamic and doused with crumbly blue cheese....these are to die for.

The only thing we did not like was the silly round plates that were at our places having oval appetizer plates placed on them that just wobbled to no end.


Our server Kristi indulged me when we wanted to taste some red wines and I first tried the Long Island (NY) BEDELL CELLARS First Crush Red 2009 made from 82% Merlot and 18% Cab Franc which was tasty, but not too big. We then tasted an Abadia Retuerta Seleccion Especial which tasted totally off and then ended up ordering the Primus Carmenere 200, which they were out of. After all that, we ordered a bottle of the BEDELL which actually worked best with Will's PANANG SHRIMP CURRY (he ordered it medium heat, but it comes, mild or hot as well). It was aso a nice pairing with Andrew's half rack of MINGO BABY BACK RIBS which he declared delicious with Pineapple Ginger BBQ sauce, Shoestring Fries & Slaw.

After we had just finished our starters, we asked Kristi to hold the mains, but alas, my fault, it was too late and out they came.

I stared at my excellent RACK OF LAMB for a while and just ate slowly savoring every little double rack (there were FOUR double chops!) and the meat in-between! The medium-rare lamb had a Moroccan rub, a moist tasty Tomato Coucous and a divine Minted Yogurt Cheese with Cucumber and Vinegar that was mild and a foil to the spices in the rub (that were not intense, just fully rounded).

Samuel went for the simple kid's meal BOW TIES with Butter Sauce after filling up o n those yummy potstickers.

None of us could face dessert, but Will ordered a slice of White Chocolate Cheesecake to take home which he later declaimed to be "cheesecake."


We love the atmosphere at the Mingo and always return each year to superb cuisine and excellently prepared meals.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hawley, PA.'s got good food I say at the GRILLE ROOM at Woodloch Springs (7-17-13)

Each year we head north to Cooperstown, NY for the Glimmerglass (opera) Festival and we decided to stop halfway for a night on the way this time. 

Woodloch Springs Resort is an amazing monstrous complex in the middle of nowhere offering everything for everybody from adult spa to family camp.

We stayed at Woodloch Springs which is a golf community with only private/rental homes which is magnificent. The dining room there is the Vista Room

or The Grille Room (same menu, just more of a bar feel with big screen TV's, etc.)

Chef Ryne Spaulding does an amazing job preparing tasty foods and the young summer workers are really friendly, cheery and helpful.

The wines are all under $40 for the most part and we loved an $18 bottle of Las Rocas de San Alejandro 2012 Rose from Calatayud, Spain that was oh

so refreshing in the 90 degree heat that we had a second bottle of the same.

Samuel started with the EDAMAME POST STICKERS with Porcini Mushrooms (he skipped those), Soy Sauce Broth and Micro Greens which were gone in seconds.

Will and split two starters both of which were so huge they could have been a main course:

STEAMED MUSSELS were juicy and plump in a very mild fennel, onion and Roasted Tomato broth with EVOO that was superby flavorful, but we avoided mopping it up with the

large grilled bread that came with it(still trying to watch calories and count carbs!)

TUNA "NACHO" is a huge pile ofsushi grade Yellowfin TUNA with Wakame(Seaweed) Salad, Ginger, Wasabi, Teriyaki & Tobiko Caviar with fried wontons. We skipped the wontons, which were not that great

anyway, but the overall flavor of the dish was superb and the spice was nice but not overpowering. A super refreshing dish to boot.

For mains, Will and I split the super excellent and almost all meat LOBSTER-CRAB CAKES with Avocado Lime Mousse, Pico de Gio and Tortilla which we declared to be of the quality we find in DC,

and the TUNA cooked rare with Sesame Crust, Edamame Hummus, Lemon Grass Rice Pilaf and Soy Ginger Broth was another hit and could easily have fed a couple!

Samuel loved his FREE BIRD CHICKEN with Grilled Vegetable Ravioli, Kalamata Olive Tapenade, Fresh Mache Salad, Crispy Pancetta and Lemon- Pepper Vinaigrette which only

suffered a bit from being too dry. He loved it all.

He followed this up with the "GOOEY" FUDGE BROWNIE, Vanilla Ice Cream, Whipped Cream & Caramel Sauce for Dessert, while Will had the LEMON MERINGUE ICE
CREAM PIE with Graham Cracker Crust and Lemon Vanilla Ice Cream, which I tasted (it was good) but resisted.

We loved everything here and know we have a great place to stay now on our annual trips.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Shirlington's (Arlington, VA) Carlyle Grand isn't that grand anymore, but the food still finsihes first (7-14-13)

Last night after attend the fantastic new musical SPIN at Signature Theater we took one of the leads and her husband to dinner at CARLYLE GRAND ( down the street where I had easily not been in well over a decade. It was one of the few places still serving food on a  Sunday at 10pm, and it was a very enjoyable evening, for the most part.
We settled in to a tasty super citrus-y refreshing bottle of CLOUDY BAY 2011 SAUVIGNON BLANC which I always adore; it's even better when the temps are in the high 80's!
Orders went in and after a while our server returned to apologize she was out of the LOBSTER ROLLS and then 9after we had all ordered ) mentioned the special! Instead, I chose the PECAN CRUSTED TROUT in '
their ORIGINAL Chardonnay Citrus Sauce with Lemon Dressed Arugula. Instead of the sweet potato fried, I opted for the evening's "special" veggie of Parmesan Broccolini. The dish was top notch as was
the Parmesan & Herb Crusted FLOUNDER with Creamy Mashed Cauliflower and Lemon Caper Butter which both our guests raved about.
Will ordered one appetizer and after I had "re-placed" my order the manager came over to say they were out of the Beet Salad and apologized, but he did not have a menu in hand so Will could choose a replacement. These were the silly things that went wrong and really are not necessary. Will chose the Warm GOAT CHEESE & Spiced PECANS Salad with Field Lettuces, Sundried Cranberries, Dates, Tomato and Balsamic Vinegar which was very nice as well as the very tasty (he said one was super spicy) TUNA TACOS which actually is a sushi tuna on Jicama "taco" slice with Guacamole and Cilantro.
While everything was tasty the kid's meal of Penne and Tomato Sauce that Samuel had tasted dreadfully bland and boring and had a lack of sauce for sure.
Otherwise, we did very well and headed home happy, probably not to return there for another decade, or maybe less....

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The National Press Club's Fourth Estate is for everyone, but not for everything (7-12-13)

Ever since Chef Jim Swenson left the Fourth Estate on the top floor of Washington's ever-famous National Press Club, I think things have fallen into a slump
inventive-wise here. We were invited for a wonderful dinner on Friday night and came away feeling that while everything tasted fine, the food needed a bit of something more.
Our service was excellent and even the tasty garlic butter served with the bread makes an impression.
The wine list is simple and reasonable for sure with almost everything under $40 a bottle.
We had a Domaine de la Saraziniere Macon0Bussieres 2008 which was a crisp steely French chardonnay with a hint of oak.
It was very nice with the SMOKED SALMON which comes on two pieces of toasted French bread with Horseradish Sour Cream Capers and Onions.
For starters the salads were plentiful if plain. BABY SPINACH Salad with Strawberries and a couple of Mozzarella Balls (they seemed to be like those from a jar),
came with not very SPICY PECANS. The dressing was a simple and bland vinaigrette. ARUGULA, WATERCRESS and Cilantro-Marinated MUSHROOMS (pickled) with Goat Cheese
came with peppered Almonds and seemed to fare better.
The hit was the SHRIMP COCONUT SOUP that our host mopped up with the bread!
Samuel enjoyed the CHICKEN FINGERS & FRIES (he will be off this kid's menu thing soon!) although he did not like the fact that the batter had sesame seeds in it.
Three of us ordered the JUMBO LUMP CRAB Cakes which were excellent huge cakes with no filler with a Red Pepper-Mango Salsa that needed a punch The dish was complemented
by awesome Battered & Fried GREEN BEANS with chunks of FETA; this is a hit side dish I would go back for.
The Seared DUCK BREAST came with Wild Rice, Cashew Ginger Salad, Avocado Dumplings and Orange-Mango Salsa (again no spice on this salsa).
The service was constant and attentive and everyone kept asking if we were happy, and for the most part, we were, I just wanted some spice in my food.
Same loved the BROWNIE with Chocolate Sauce for dessert and I adored the simple PANNA COTTA with Pomegranate Seeds, that came with no seeds but loads of fresh BERRIES.
The WARM PEAR with WALNUT CRISP and Vanilla Ice Cream was also a treat.
In a nutshell, I would recommend the Fourth Estate if you are taking someone who needs simple food, no spices and seeks a truly simple, yet very quiet (the sound level here is basically nil)

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Alexandria's BRABO gets mutliple bravos and new Chef Harper McClure will allure (7-3-13)

Yes we were bad on our diet last night, but then a rare indulgence seems to allow the diet to reinforce :-))
We had planned to go to BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier for years and just never got there. I forced myself to make a visit to the adorable LORIEN Hotel in Alexandria
which houses the restaurant allowing me to do a site visit of their accommodations and then take in dinner at BRBAO ( right on King Street
just blocks from the Metro. They also have complimentary valet parking for diners, something you don't find too much any more!
We knew Chef Harper McLure had left the Federalist last year shortly after our visit to move to Marcel's, but we were thrilled to see that Chef Wiedmaier trusts him enough to let him helm this superb fine dining establishment. He is joined by Pastry Chef Jennifer Short and Sommelier Matthew Carroll with a wonderful team including our server Greg.
Another bonus here is the unlimited pours of bottled water from the Vivero system (either flat or fizzy) at $2.00 per person.
We perused the drink menu and Will chose a Gin Gimlet (they specialize in gin cocktails) made with Bluecoat Gin, fresh lime and simple syrup. My TOMMY's MARGARITA (named for
the one of San Francisco fame, we were told) was heavy on the ice and not very big, but tasty with Herraduro Blanco Tequila, Lime & Agave Syrup.
The bread was fine, but we avoided it for the most part and the butter seemed to be covered with salt, which was the only problem we encountered all night!
After much procrastination we agreed on the tasting menu of seven (plus) courses at $70 each with wine pairings for an extra $50, which at $120 each is a real deal these days.
Will was craving the GRILLED SPANISH OCTOPUS, so we had Chef Harper squeeze in a small plate of that along the way.
All of the items on the tasting menu are new for Brabo from Chef Harper's cookbook and the entire menu will be overhauled this Saturday night.
First came a GAZPACHO CONSOMME that I could have eaten for days and taken home gallons of. A clear tomato consommé bursting with flavor and chilled perfectly for a 90 degree day was
garnished with Confit Cherry Tomato, a tiny square of CUCUCMBER PANNA COTTA with a slice of Boquerón ANCHOVY atop, a flowering mini cucumber and Espalette Pepper for spice.
The pairing was ingenious as tomato acidity is so hard to do: STEININGER GRUNER VELTLINER SEKT 2010 from Kamptal, Austria was a sparkling version of the great fine Austrian white wine
that we drink so much of all summer.
GRILLED JUDITH POINT CALAMARI was on the menu at the Federalist and reappears here with a Roasted GARLIC PUREE, CIPOLLINI ONION and a HARISSA AIOLI that shows Chef Harper
is not afraid of using intense spices. The onion was topped with an edible nasturcium flower petal and Red Mustard Greens adorned the dish which was as tender as squid can get.
ABAZZIA di NOVACELLA from Alto Adige 2010 in Italy is a Sylvaner Grape that has an unripe honeydew flavor and again paired wonderfully. With each bite, the wine changed and Will got more creaminess,
while I got citrus and acidity!
Here we veered to the GRILLED SPANISH OCOTPUS with Fingerling Potatoes, Piquillo Peppers, Olive Oil & Balsamic Glaze which was the dish with the most spice all evening, yet treated the tender octopus with great respect. Our server Greg, brilliantly if I may say so, suggested we split a glass of the BURGANS ALBARINO 2011 from Spain that was just right to fight the spice. I could not help remarking that I had discovered that Chef Harper did not have a fear of spice, despite the fact that his cooking style is so traditional, yet so wonderfully American and novel.
SEARED DIVER SCALLOP brought us back to the tasting menu served with a light Sweet CORN RISOTTO with Mascarpone and Lemon Butter. This was the dish we feared the most for on our diet, but it
was handled with care and perhaps Chef Harper lightened it a bit for us with consideration. No matter, the flavors were simply superb and the MESTRE-MICHELOT, Domeain de Montmeix, 2009 Chardonnay
from Burgundy was a treat. The top of the scallop was cooked just to a super crisp and the inside was just right and Red Vein Sorrel graced the dish.
LA BELLE FARMS SQUAB came just past rare with a Roasted Breast touched lovingly with Maldon Sea Salt, moist & luscious yet crispy confit leg, Pearl Barley, Epazote & Cherry-Rhubarb Jus that was not sweet at all. The wine was a virgin treat for
us as it was our first one from SERBIA: FRANCUSKA VINARIJA 2009 "Obecanje" is from Rodljevo and is made from Grenache but has a soft and smooth in the mouth finish like a good Burgundy Pinot Noir.
The last meat course was ECO FRIENDLY FOODS PORK LOIN served with a Summer Cassoulet, Chanterelle Mushroom & Pork Jus. The Michele Laluce "Zimberno" AGLIANICO from Basilicata, Puglia 2007
was not a typically spicy (like Zinfandel) Aglianico and we liked it a lot.
The cheese course was BURRATA with Balsamic Glaze and garlic Croutons which comes from Murgella also in Puglia and was creamy rich and everything burrata needs to be.
RASPBERRY SOUP with Mint Sorbet & Crème Bavarois is the perfect light and refreshing dessert after a meal like this that lasted 3 hours. Genius was at work as I normally do not like mint, and it was simply sublime here.
Elio Perrone "Bigaro", a sparkling BRACHETTO/MOSCATO 2012 from Piemonte is also as refreshing as it gets. Lots of love went into thinking how to do a large yet not overindulgent tasting menu in the heat of a DC summer.
We were treated to Chocolate Caramel Squares Walnut Cherry Brownie, Pate de Fruit, and an unexciting Lemon Spritz Cookie before heading home praying that the scales did not explode today (and we each only gained ONE POUND!)
Back on the diet! HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!