Tuesday, April 12, 2016

RIPPLE rules in DC with Top Chef-testants Marjorie Meek-Bradley hosting Carl Dooley from The Table in Cambridge,MA (4-11-16)

I was lucky enough to snag a seat at last night's awesome dinner at RIPPLE (rippledc,com) where Chef Marjorie Meek0Bradley has held court now for several years. After her recent turn of Top Chef (where she should have won at least Fan Favorite) she is in the process of expanding her empire as well as growing her worthy name. For this amazing dinner she was joined by co-Top Chef contestant CARL DOOLEY who reigns at THE TABLE(www.cambridgetable.com) in Cambridge, Mass. These two are indeed a natural team (as so many of this year's Top Chef-testants were, so hopefully we will see more visiting here) and presented a superb evening of varied and exciting foods while also taking time to greet each diner and chat (catch my FB photos of the meal as well of me with Chef Marjorie).
As I sat down, I decided to take the option of paired wines for each of the five courses but also started with a 1/2 glass (yes, they offer half pours on wines by the glass!) of Weingut Tinhof, Blaufrankish Sparkling wine from Burgenland in Austria which had a sweet nose, a tinge of cherry in the mouth, but was bone dry on the finish; a truly wonderful summer treat for sure.
The magnificent piping hot Salted & Seeded Parker House Rolls arrived in a cast iron pan with 4 to a pan. I was alone, yet I still got four (but ate only 3:-))......while most couples got four as well. The salted butter was divine as it melted faster than I could spread it.
The courses were indeed divided by chefs and we started with the out-of-town guest, Chef Carl, who it turns out had a stint in DC for over a year at the now-departed Palena under DC uber-Chef Frank Ruta.
Terrine of oie Gras & Rabbit Confit was a delight and while it came with a deliciously grilled bread, I skipped most of that and left my carbs for the rolls in between and as a sauce mop. The terrine was beautifully plated with slices of Rhubarb, little dots of Purple Mustard (Chef explained to me this is done with grape must) and Spiced Almonds. As my wine was poured, a Donkey & Goat "Stonecrusher" Rousanne 2014 from El Dorado, California, the server explained it was "orange wine" and my face dropped. I had orange wine only a couple of times prior and the last time it was funk, fermented-tasting and truly awful (check my blog to find out where last year). This was not really funky or offensive like the previous incarnation, and indeed it paired quite well with the dish, although I could never drink this on its own.
Chef Marjorie was up next and always excels at pasta: Here we got a magnificent dish of Spring Pea Agnolotti with Chanterelles, Pickled Ramps, Hazelnut Dukkah & Pea Shoots. The dish was divine and these were my first ramps of the season (oh, I did make Ramp Pesto on Sunday and our son had it with pasta yesterday for lunch, but I have not partaken yet). Christian Lauverjat "Perle Blanche" Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Sancerre from France was a superb Sancerre oddly more citrusy than Sancerre tends to be with a full mouth of acidity that was just right.
I adore tongue, but can't ever recall having pork tongue. Chef Carl here mixed Pork Tongue with Brown Rice Congee, Carrots, Beans, Spring Vegetables, Black Garlic, Ginger, Basil and Coriander that was a miraculous wonder of mouth tastes that had me won from the first bite. We had moved to red wine with an Alain Coudert, Clos de la Roilette 2014 Gamay from Fleurie that I instantly fell in love with. I should note that while the servers worked as a team all night, so I had what seemed to be a dozen different and totally excellent folks serving, it was Matt who won me over with several extra pours. I am already inquiring about this magnificent wine which while light packed a mouthful of great tastes.
Chef Marjorie returned to the fore with La Belle Farms Duck Breast seared rare and served with Braised Endive, Roasted Beets and a White Asparagus-Mustard Puree that was heavenly. I even told her point blank, that this duck was excellent and better than that at Brushstroke in NY just last week. The wine pairing was an Olga Raffault "Les Picasses" Cabernet Franc 2009 from Chinon in the Loire was delicious but had the funkiest nose that I got past quickly. I still was in love with the Gamay I guess.
Finally came Miso-Carrot Cake which was rich and decadent with a White Chocolate Cream Cheese-like Frosting, Benniseeds & a scoop of superb Strawberry Ice Cream. I love carrot cake, but am not a big icing fan, although this dish was superb. The Candied Ginger sprinkled around was perfect to cut the richness and I truly love that stuff, I could have eaten it alone. The wine was a viscous treat with Donnafugatta "Ben Rye" 2013 Zibbibo from Sicily that was loaded with sweet apricots and would give any top notch dessert wine a run for its money and sweetness.
On departure we were treated to a small 3 inch rectangular wrapped treat from The Table in Massachusetts which I opened this morning and was thrilled to find a fruit/nut/grain bar which was just perfect with my coffee. How nice to remember the meal all over again at breakfast. I am so anxious for another event like this as it was indeed a special treat.