Every year we attend a wonderful private dinner in the kitchens of one of our favorite charities, FOOD & FRIENDS. This year there were two chefs, the husband and wife team of Michelle & Chistophe Poteaux
who make their home at the brilliant BASTILLE (www.bastillerestaurant.com) in Alexandria. I often fill up on the yummy hor's d'oevres served as we gather in the lobby and at last year's event I behaved and tried one of each. This was IMPOSSIBLE last night with the most amazing creamy rich and divine torchon of FOIE GRAS served on small brioche rounds with a Fig Jam; I think I had four! There were GAUFRETTES (those lacy home made potato chips) with SCALLOP TARTARE and CREME FRAICHE that were light, airy and so easy to eat a ton of! Only the ESCARGOTS which were cooked perfectly and skewered were a disappointment as the Garlic Aioli to dip them in was so cold it took away from the warmth of the tasty little creatures.
We moved upstairs to the kitchen, where every dish was sublime, and this year even the wines were superbly paired.
First came DAURADE en ESCABECHE which was a Marinated Mediterranean SEA BREAM filet just barely seared with pea Shoots, Pickled Fennel, Artichoke Hearts, Carrots, Shallots and Piquillo Peppers. All the ingredients made for wonderful flavors as we all gobbled up this wonderful oh-so-French version of fish filet ceviche. The Kurt Angerer Gruner Veltliner Eichenstaude 2011 was indeed the perfect foil with apple and melon overtones.
Next was MAGRET de CANARD a L'ORANGE and this dish has always been a favorite of mine since childhood when I always ordered it like my Dad in a now long gone French restaurant in NYC called A la Fourchette. After dinner the chefs explained that at one point in their 8 years existence they took it off the menu, but there were so many complaints that it quickly returned after only a several month vacation!
The Hudson Valley Moullard Duck Breast was as tender as could be with just crispy skin in a rich Grand Marnier Orange Sauce with Glazed Baby Carrots and Rutabagas with a beautiful crispy fried super-thin slice of Blood Orange (thin Blood Orange Chip!). The perfect pairing with duck is often Pinot Noir and the Domaine des Moirots Bourgogne 2011 from Christophe Denizot was ideal; a wine that you can drink anytime with almost anything.
The third course was a perfectly cooked PLAT de COTES BRAISES en DAUBE for which the chefs used a Grass-fed Angus BEEF SHORT RIBS in a rich Provencal-style spiced RED WINE SAUCE. The meat, they later explained, was cooked for something like a dozen hours and partnered with Potato gnocchi that we all raved about. I haven't seen as fine a wine at one of these events as the MINER TEMPRANILLO 2011 which we have at home as well as we adore this Napa winery. Bravos to whoever supplies all the wines.
Dessert was a wonderful blessing as we approached our limits: GATEAU d'AMANDES was a simple yet tasty ALMOND CAKE with the most amazing SAFFRON YOGURT SHERBET that was as yellow as can be from the Saffron and exuded the spices essence. An APRICOT PUREE covered the bottom of the plat so you could have the cake with the apricot or the saffron sorbet. A small piece of Almond Brittle decorated the plate for crunch.
It was noted at the table that every dish was beautifully plated and presented as well. A lot of love went into this dinner and it showed. So now we ALL have to head down to Alexandria and BASTILLE!
On a side note I am sorry that we have another commitment and can not make Food & Friend's CHEFS BEST (May 13) this year, but if you wish to join us for another FAB foodie event, be sure to put Wednesday NOVEMBER 12 on your calendar for March of Dimes SIGNATURE CHEFS event!