Friday, February 14, 2014

The Year of the Horse rung in at THE SOURCE, a DC celebration of the Chinese New Year (2-10-14)

Chinese New Year has come and gone and this past Monday a group of folks from AIWF (American Institute for Wine & Food) at THE SOURCE ( where Chef SCOTT DREWNO and his amazing team prepared a true New Year's FEAST!
On arrival downstairs we were presented with a glass of Prosecco and led to a huge OYSTER BAR laden with Chesapeake beauties and all the trimmings. I always forego that red cocktail sauce, but here we also had two novel and superb vinaigrettes or yuzu or ginger that brought excellent flavor (if used sparingly) to the mollusk treats!
We were led upstairs past several Live Action Stations where teams of two or three chefs were busy preparing our first course. We sat down and Dawn, who never stopped running like crazy all night, served us Tegrnseerhof Gruner Veltliner "T26" 2011 from Wachau Austria that was a nice foil to some of the mild spices in the many options we had. Dawn offered to bring plates of anything for those of us who did not wish to get up or stand (in very short lines), but we all wanted to watch the exciting prep:
LOBSTER EGG DROP SOUP was made with Scallions and Wild Mushrooms and each bowl had a Lobster dumpling. There was an intense rich flavor to the broth on this cold night, so it was welcome as well to get a hint of Sweet & Sour spice in the soup to boot.
CHICKEN SKEWERS came with Peanut Sauce and Pickles made from both Cauliflower and Persian Cucumbers. The ground chicken was tasty and full of those fabulous Chinese spice flavors. The LAMB SKEWERS came with Cilantro Puree and because they were grilled and sat a bit, they were a bit on the dry side, but still quite flavorful.
WHOLE ROASTED PIG BAO was prepared to order with each bun stuffed with crispy skin and delicious moist meat seasonsed with chili and topped with a cucumber spear and hoisin sauce. When we went back for seconds (and I think everyone did), we all tried to cut the carbs and just take the meat and skin with spices and sauce!!
CHINESE NEW YEAR DUMPLINGS came three to each plate and were presented gorgeously with great flair. SHRIMP and LOBSTER were milder, with the PORK SHUMAI Dumpling coming with a slice of Jalapeno. YUM.
WHOLE ROASTED BRANZINO arrived at the table and was fileted with flair tableside and tasted like butter with a tasty but not too spicy SATUSUMA(orange)-PEPPER Sauce and Crispy GARLIC. There were slices of pink grapefruit and Satsuma adorning each plate and as if this was not enough tons of side dishes arrived family style:
DRUNKEN NOODLES which had a super spicy bite came with sautéed onions and peppers
FRIED CRISPY BRUSSELS SPROUTS were yummy, if a bit oily from the frying
FRIED RICE was adorned with Egg, Scallion and Cauliflower
We had moved onto a superb FAILLA PINOT NOIR 2012 from Sonoma Coast California which was perfect for the full flavored fish and sides.
Out last wine was an amazing full bodied and intense CHATEAU MONPERTUIS, 2009 Chateauneuf-du-Pape that I would buy anyday. This was poured with the WAGYU NY STRIP in a 5 VEGETABLE STIR FRY that was tender and tasty to boot. Carrots, Potatoes, Kohlrabi, Mushrooms, Peppers, Cauliflower and a Mala(Squash) Puree also filled each plate, just in case you had not had enough sides in the previous course! White Rice Noodles were a highlight of this dish seasoned with Szechuan Peppercorns and Sambal. Having been on so many Holland America cruises with its large Indonesian staff, I am a big fan of Sambal, which has a massive spice intensity, but it was used here in just the right amount. PERFECTION.
Dessert was a Chinese New Year TANGERINE CAKE & House Made Fortune Cookie with banan Custard and Blood Orange Glaze. It was so yummy, Will asked for an extra to take home!
What fun was had by all there and it was truly a spectacular celebration!