Last night, ten of us headed to the private dining room at CENTROLINA (www.centrolinadc.com) at DC's CityPlace for a celebration of our recent anniversary as well as our dear friends' Mel & Juan (they have been together an amazing 41 years!).
Chef Amy Brandwien and her team headed by server, Vidal and sommelieuse Kristen, made every bite a memorable experience for the close to four hours we enjoyed there.
Many of the dishes can be viewed on my FB page as always, although I must apologize that we all gobbled up the dessert before I thought to take a photo!
Our evening began with a toast using Ca' del Bosco Sparkling Rose and our "line" for the evening became, "Every one deserves a break this week...." not even considering a hint towards the fast food chain!
We became truly amused and intrigued by our Amuse of a Grilled Virginia Oyster with Nduja Sausage ragu that tickled our palates and make us beg for more. This was followed by Tonnino or cubes of top sushi grade yellowfin tuna, with lemon crema, roasted beets, fried sunchoke crisps and micro greens. We never did discover if the small soft onion-like ingredient was pickled shallot or ?? The larger tuna pieces mimicked the smaller beet pieces and you had to guess which was which.
We moved on to a Soave-Bertani 2012 and I can't recall when I last had this wine I was weaned on in my teenage years. It's a fascinating wine where 1/2 of the grapes are left on the vine to dry and then belended for a wonderful dry white loaded with so many flavors. Gorgeous sea scallops arrived on top of a disc of lentils and beet greens surrounded by carrot puree, lemon jus and micro greens. The scallops were seared to perfection and not salty at all, the lentil mix was a superb foil and made me want to try this at home as we saute beet greens a lot, but I never though of the lentil mix!
Our next wine was yet another revelation from Giulia Negri, 2013 Langhe Chardonnay "La Tartufaia" and even moreso I was intrigued as one never hears about women winemakers in Italy! She grows the grapes near truffle fields, hence the name, but this chardonnay is loaded with not only truffle essence but tons of minerality and earthiness. It was paired with what may be the most imaginative vegetarian dish I have ever had: Corn polenta topped with miniature Shitake Faux "Meatballs" laced with basil oil, micro greens and parmesan. Vidal explained that the "meatballs" are created from oven-roasted veggies and shitakes and then lightly fried. What a treat!
Giovanni Rosso 2008 La Serra is still a young Barolo, but was indeed smooth and beautiful to drink, but while the wine shone, the 5th course was perhaps everyone's top choice for the night: Potato Gnocchi with Truffle Butter Sauce & Parmesan that was so rich we were all squirming with delight in our seats, even from just the amazing white truffle aroma as the dish was placed before us! It made me want to make a reservation for a white truffle dinner soon; if I only had the time!
G.D. Vajra 2012 'Bricco delle Viole" Barolo is even younger, but an interestingly light Barolo but was superb with out Spinach Pappardelle with Veal Ragu, Peas, Genovese White Sauce and parmesan, another divine dish for vegetarians of which there are indeed so many at Centrolina.
Gorgeous pieces are seared very rare tuna arrived with an Eggplant Involtini stuffed with Fennel Sausage and served over a dash of Greek yogurt with intense Calabrese chilis that I can't recall ever being so spicy. Chef Amy has indeed used spice over the years and to great benefit as many of reminisced about her SPAGHETTI alla CHITARA from her previous home Casa Nonna which was superbly loaded with cauliflower and chilis! Franchetti 2011 from the slopes of Mt Etna in Sicily was an amazing treat and I would never have believed it was a majority of Petit Verdot which was huge in the mouth with an herby berry taste that had us raving. This is a winery we shall surely visit next July when in Sicily!
Next came a superb Shenandoah Dry Age Ribeye with Broccoli-Rabe and Cannelini Beans, simply grilled and full of flavor. When Kristen dared me to guess the wine (hinting it was American), I said right of the bat, "I hope its not RdV," and of course, it was the 2011 Lost Mountain from RdV in Virginia, which she had decanted for three hours and was drinking magnificently; so now I know the secret to enjoying this wine I have poo-pooed a lot because of its huge price tag and need for long aging. Lesson learned.
When attending the James Bared dinner in DC last month Centrolina's brilliant Pastry Chef Amanda Cook-Pilkerton I had her brilliant Baba Cake and begged her then and again a week prior at March of Dimes to do a riff on this brilliant pastry, The Baba was poached with Hard Cider and served with Raspberry Puree, Apples & Whipped Cream. We all gobbled it up so fast, despite being so full! The piece de resistance was the accompanying Foggy Ridge Virginia Fortified Cider made from Pippin Black Apples that won me at the first sip. I have never been a hard cider fan, but this was truly delicious, sweet and full of flavor and an insane pairing that made so much sense!
Needless to say, we were all satisfied, full and thrilled at what many declared the best meal ever. Bravi to the entire Centrolina team, and especially Chef Amy Brandwien who generously donated this awesome dinner to March of Dimes Signature Chefs last year!