Sunday, December 5, 2010

Crushed by Roberto Donna at Galileo III

People have opinions about Roberto Donna. I am very happy to count him as a friend.
What I can tell you is that he is one of the most accomplished chefs I have ever met. I wouldn't hesitate to have him cook for any event I had to hire a chef for. The bigger the better.
This man can cook. His artistic and culinary skills are top notch.
We went to his restaurant Saturday 12/4 with six people and he brought his A game.
The wine was flowing throughout.
We started with a Ruinart Rose Sparkling, followed by a 2001 Opus One, a '99 La Casa Montelcino Brunello, and a 1990 Barbaresco.
If there had been a wine pairing option, we would have taken it. Luckily, I had a big wad of gift certificates that I had to use, so the bill wasn't a concern. These were huge wines. Very satisfying and pleasurable, particularly the Opus.
The ten course menu was just enough, but not too much. It's not on the menu, so if you want it, you have to ask. It was very reasonably priced.
We've done chef tastings before and left feeling hungry. Hard to believe, but true.

Chef Roberto and my guests.... A cheese pudding of sorts, Budino Parmigiano...sublime.
Tuna appetizer

Cotechinoe sausage with lentils. This was a big hit with everyone.

Scallops on yellow and black polenta...the black being cooked with cuttlefish ink. Very nice.

Raviolini Del Plin...pinched pasta with trhee meats and veal jus with sage. I could eat these by the bowl full.

Pappardelle with a wild boar ragu. Perfect.

Porcini dusted veal medallions...
It took us over four hours to get through to dessert. Would I do it again? Absolutely. If you go, tell him I sent you.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bourbon Steak at The Four Seasons

Ever had a steak that was poached in clarified butter, then seared to perfection? They do it every day at Bourbon Steak in the Four Seasons Georgetown.

The restaurant is a class act however you slice it....from the second you walk in the door until the moment you float out in your cholesteral induced haze.

The fries with a trio of dipping sauces.
They have a happening bar scene here and you're very likely to run into a celebrity or an international personality of some sort.
If you stop in, tell Mark Politzer, the GM, that I said hello. He's a very friendly guy and always willing to help you out with any questions or special arrangements.
Stay tuned for a post on Galileo III.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Proof...what does it mean? How does it taste?

Proof:In the 18th century and until 1 January 1980, Britain defined alcohol content in terms of “proof spirit,” which was defined as the most dilute spirit that would sustain combustion of gunpowder. The term originated in the 18th century, when payments to British sailors included rations of rum. To ensure that the rum had not been watered down, it was “proofed” by dousing gunpowder in it, then testing to see if the gunpowder would ignite. If it did not, then the rum contained too much water and was considered to be “under proof.” It was found that gunpowder would not burn in rum that contained less than 57.15% ABV. Therefore, rum that contained this percentage of alcohol was defined to have "100 degrees proof."

That was plagarized directly from Wiki.
Is it plagarism if you write that it was from Wiki?

Anyhow, it was another birthday dinner for me. I think this was number 4 or 5! Any excuse for a good meal with great friends. Sindhu and Eric, Andrew and Allison, Chris and Lauren...

We originally had reservations for Table 24 at Vidalia, but RJ Cooper left that restaurant, leaving me flummoxed. I decided to try Proof as I recently did some business with Estadio, also owned by the same folks. We would have hit Estadio, but I like to let restaurants settle in before I have an event like this. We started at Andrew and Allison's place in CP with a bottle of Kluge Rose bubbly and a torchon of Foie I picked up at Hudson Valley Fois Gras farm. At Proof we dug into a charcuterie and cheese board. The cocktails we started off with were inventive and refreshing. Perfect for a ridiculously hot day. After that we went for the chef's 4 course menu with the wine pairings.

The starter was an avocado and cucumber soup with shrimp relish. This was served cold, but had some chili heat to it in the finish. It was served with Cerreto from Arneis in Italy. The wine had a slight effervessence and a lot of citrus. Nice pair...but it gets better!

This was the Alaskan Halibut. Perfect crust on the top, flaky and moist in the middle. It was served with a B. Diochon Gamay from Burgundy. The fish was the star of this course, though the wine was a nice companion to it. Light.

Looks like we had a few glasses here....speaking of glasses, the only complaint my crew could come up with was that we were served all of the wine in the smaller glasses you see here. It wasn't until we tasted the Elyse and ordered the bottle that we were provided the red wine balloons. They were what was probably missing from the Gamay. When you've got a crew as particular as my posse having the complaints limited to the glassware is a pretty strong endorsement of a restaurant.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the hangar steak. It looked so good and the wine that was served with it were perfect. The wine was Elyse, Le Corbeau. This was the one that was so good that we had to get another bottle.

The dessert was a warm chocolate hazelnut cake served with a red dessert wine, Voulet, Malvasia Rosso from Italy.

Overall, the value here is great. If you stick to the four courses with wine pairings it's less than $100/head. There is a reason this restaurant won for best wine program of the year.
If you stop in, tell them your read about it on Pleasures Of The Table.
Thanks for reading.
Proof on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bellevale Creamery...Best Show in Town

Have you ever found a place that shouldn't exist for purely logistical reasons? Think about The Inn at Little Washington. When that first started, there was little to recommend a trip there. Now it is the hub that supports that rest of the town.
When I visited my stepfather in NJ recently he told me about this ice cream shop called Bellevale Creamery. It was a half-hour drive into the wilderness of Warwick, NY.
His step-daughter works at the local DQ, so I figured this had to be good if we were going to make the drive. I wasn't disappointed.After spending 1/2 hour going up and down twisty 1-1/2 lane roads with very few cars in either direction you pull onto the summit of the mountain and you're greeted with a tremendous view of the Warwick Valley. Great place to catch dessert and watch the sun set.
The flavors are inventive and the ice cream is top notch.
If you're ever up in the area check them out. They're worth a detour.
Until next time.....

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Porcine Pleasures (home cookin')

Just in case you haven't heard me gush enough about Polyface Farms Food, let me start by saying that they have awesome food. Look at this pork!
I started out with a pork belly. Gordon Ramsay's recipe for "Pressed Pork Belly" seemed appetizing and of course he had to say, "That's fucking good!"Score the skin, but not all the way down to the meat. Season well with salt and pepper. Let it come to room temperature. Cut a few heads of garlic in half, throw in a few handfulls of thyme, put the meat over the herbs/garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, put some white wine and chicken stock in the pan and roast for 2 hours @ 325. I basted about every 15 minutes or so. Pull it out of the pan and let it sit while you add some more wine and stock. Deglaze, reduce, chinois the solids. Let that sit in the fridge and seperate so you can get rid of the fat.
Put the meat back in the pan, then put another pan on top of that and weigh it down. This will flatten out the belly and make for a nice presentation.After 6 hours in the fridge you're ready to rock. Let it come to room temp, then put it in the oven at 425 for 10-15 minutes. Don't let it burn, but you want the cracklin' to be crisp. Serve with some of the gravy.Have your friends bring sides! Et Voila!

BTW, the prep on this can be done easily the day prior to serving. Very impressive dish with minimal time setting it up before service.
Hope you enjoyed!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Komi. Objectivism in the kitchen.

Happy 10th Anniversary honey.

Paul, me, Johnny and John

So let me tell you a little about Komi if you are not familiar with it.
  • Getting a table at Komi on a Saturday night is pretty tough
  • Start dialing at 9:55...the phone lines open at 10:00am exactly 1 month out
  • Don't bother bringing your camera, pictures of the food are verboten (I got a waiver on my 10th anniversary dessert)
  • Do bring an appetite...this is not one of those show-horse tasting menus that leave you hungry
  • Tell the babysitter not to wait up as dinner here takes a good 2-1/2 to 3 hours
  • It is pricey...
  • If you can get the reservation, make it for 4. I'm sure you will have some friends who are willing to split the tab. We brought Craig and Laura. These folks had joined us on many other eating adventures and we thought they would enjoy it.

Ok, you still with me? Good.

Our 10th anniversary dessert, caramel with fleur de sel.

Johnny Monis is young. He's focused. I don't know him personally (yet) but from what I was able to glean he's got the mad scientist vibe going. It works for him. This is a young guy who didn't eat at a fine-dining restaurant until he was in college. He went to CIA, but left to strike out on his own before graduation.

What he took with him appears to be a very good understanding of the way meat, starch, tastes, and the various chemicals and molecules in food react to time, heat, and each other. This is molecular gastronomy, but not in the way you might be used to thinking about it. It's more about the steak than the sizzle.

The food was outstanding as you could well imagine. It starts out with a bunch of small courses, some individual, some to be shared. Sashimi, dates, pork belly, octopus, scallops, prawns as big as a baby's arm, truffles, emulsions, foams, salts, various other great tastes and textures accompanied by wines you've likely never heard of.

After the apps come the entree. I didn't mention this, but you don't order food at Komi. Johnny decides what you're eating. Anyhow, after the apps came two plates. One with a 1/4 of a suckling pig and one with a 1/4 of a roasted goat. There were warm pita quarters, hot sauce, tzatziki, eggplant spread, and, sea salt crushed with herbs served with it. This was decadence on a plate. Crunchy, rich, savory, spicy. All at once, all with great wine pairings. We were done after that, but the courses kept coming. We rolled out around 11:00pm (3 hour dinner). Stuffed, happy, and knowing that we had been in the presence of a team of people that care about what they're doing.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. Tell Johnny I sent you.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Polyface Farms

Chicken from Polyface Farms

After reading Omnivore's Dilemma I was moved to start examining where the food I ate came from. If you've read the book, you'll know what I mean. If you haven't read it, you should.

I came away with a new-found respect for the small farmer. I was also disgusted by what I learned about where most of our food comes from.
The damage that industrial monoculture farming does to the environment is astounding. I realize that we produce an outrageous amount of food and that is great as we need to feed a lot of people, but it has a cost.
I won't go into the whole thing, but in the end it boils down to paying people who you trust to grow food for you, or paying the shareholders and VP's of a multinational conglomerate to give you food that isn't sustainable, environmentally friendly, animal friendly, or in some cases even nutritious.
Stepping down from the soap box, I actually put my money where my mind was an ordered food from Polyface Farms. It's different than what you get in the Styrofoam at Giant. It's got different texture and different flavor. It takes a little more time and effort to buy responsibly, but the food is worth it. It doesn't even cost much more than what you get at Giant, and it's less than what you'd spend for the same thing at Balducci's or Whole Foods.
Not a sermon....just a thought. Give it a try. Support your local farmers.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day folks...just some musings and gossip today.

Hope everyone got a good Reuben today, or at least some corned beef and cabbage.
I made my own at home..
Just wanted to mention the article in the post today,
It's about local slaughterhouses and the trials/tribulations of trying to eat healthy, locally sourced meats. I laud these folks for trying to do the right thing by the animals and for the consumers.
The article mentions Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in VA, whom you may have heard of if you've read "The Omnivore's Dilemma". Also mentioned is one of my home-town fav's, Oren Molovinsky, GM of Mie N Yu in Georgetown.
Also of note this week:
Fire Station 1 in Silver Spring is getting closer to opening. Look for an entertainment-laden experience.
Fireworks Pizza in Arlington is looking towards a late May opening. I'm glad to see these folks venturing closer to the city. It will be helmed by Jon Hoffmeyer, previously of Legal Seafoods (old co-worker of mine) and Great American Restaurants. Look for some of the best pizza around from this crew.
Thanks for reading folks.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Taylor Gourmet on K St. N.W....good eats..

Always nice to see some young start-up guys doing something good and being patronized for it.
I stopped by Taylor gourmet with my wife and son on Sunday. They were busy...line out the door busy.
So was Busboys and Poets, which is right next door.
I ran into Andy Shallal, the owner of that place while I was walking by, and he mentioned that he's expanding. Keep your eyes open.
Back to Taylor Gourmet: This was the called the landfill I think. Pretty tasty.
This was mine. I forget what it was called, but it was good. The bread they use is substantial. It kind of reminds me of what you'd get at Breadline back in the day.

This is a high-light: A Boylen's Soda machine. I've never seen one before. Good stuff.

Decor is minimal. The place seems to be just a little too small. Mostly though, just as people got their sandwiches and were ready to sit down someone was always getting up.
This is where you place your order. It's old-school, but new kid hip. Stop by if you get a chance. It's worth the trip.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Restaurant Gossip

Howdy folks.
I just found some interesting news. First off, El Bulli in Spain is going to become a non-profit. I'm not sure how that works in Spain, but what I get out of it is that my dream of getting back to Europe and getting a table there has just diminished greatly.
For those of you who are unaware, El Bulli is the restaurant where Jose Andres got his start in avante garde cooking/molecular gastronomy.

On another note, Tony Bourdain and Eric Ripert are doing a radio show! That sounds like it would be a lot of fun. They're both very sharp guys and will be very entertaining.
Thos of you who have Sirius let the rest of us know how it is please.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Black's Bar and Kitchen in Bethesda....Old Standards that Warrant a Revisit.

My buddy Mike, on the left, suggested that we go out and get some dinner last night as our children would be hanging out together at "Club Bells Mill."
It's one of those things where the kids hang out together at their school with entertainment and such and the parents get to go out for dinner. It's a fund-raiser for the PTA as well.So, as it turns out, lots of parents decided it was time to go out to dinner as we'd all been working hard all week to catch up from the week of being snowed in. The place was crowded. The only way we were able to get a table was for me to call my buddy who happens to be the director of operations for all four restaurants. He told me they had been booked (all four restaurants) since Monday, but he'd see what he could do.
John came through with the best table in the house. A corner table for two (since Mike had to drop out) for Cheryl and me. It was stylin'. We only had two hours to get there, have dinner, and get back, so we got right to business with two glasses of a nice Pinot, a glass of sauternes for me (and my FG), Truffled Mac and Cheese, 1/2 dozen Rasberry Point oysters, and a Trout for Cheryl. She doesn't eat FG.
The Fois Gras.
Our waitress and I had a discussion about FG. She said she could not bring herself to eat it. For me, fois is one of the few foods that actually elicits a response that can only be likened to a sneeze response, or possibly a shiver, something like that...I'm not going to say orgasm, but it's something similar. When paired with a nice sauternes, or a good Champagne, it just does something I can't explain.

The oysters. Firm, briny. A great mignionette, though these were so nice they really didn't need it.

Cheryl's trout. Nicely crisped. There was a sweet potato puree on one side and some kale greens on the the other. The only thing I would recommend to Black's to improve the meal would have been to wash the greens a little better and cook them a little longer. They were still bitter and gritty.
Other than that, a spectacular meal for just over $100.00 in less than 1:30.
Check them out. If you do, let them know where you read about them.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bless the Spaniards. Jaleo Bethesda is Under Rated.

People speak of Jose Andres' restaurants like Zaytinya and Minibar as what's happening and where the innovations are taking place in his realm. They may be correct, but sometimes getting back to the roots of what made the man a success is in order. It started with tapas. My father and stepmonster came to town this weekend and asked me to make us reservations somewhere in the mid-range for prices and fun. I hadn't been to Jaleo Bethesda in a few months so I went to Opentable and made a reso. It was a good move. Here's Dad with shrimp legs hanging out of his mouth...more on that in a bit.
Here's an overview of the spread we started with...
The ever-popular cheese sampler. Love the apricots too.
These are special shrimp. You suck out the heads, then eat the rest shell and all. Slightly reminiscent of soft-shell crabs.
This is pressed caviar. We were instructed by John-Paul, who is the Exec Chef here, to spoon some out and wrap it in a small piece of the very special ham we ordered...
It was some very special pig. Lovingly raised and fed nothing but acorns. The fat in this cured pork melts at body temperature. Very tasty.
We left feeling we'd definitely got our money's worth.
Everything was good and there were no disappointments. We had a nice bottle of wine and a dish that looked so good that I dug in before I took a picture, which was a suckling pig roasted, pulled, formed, and stuffed with dried fruits and crushed nuts. Wow.
After all that it was still less than $50.00/person.
The vibe that night was very up-beat and there were a lot of families with children, so don't be afraid to bring the little ones.
Note that a few of the items shown above are not on the menu, so you'll have to ask John-Paul for them. That's one of the perks of knowing the employees of the establishment. Introduce yourself to the chefs at your favorite restaurants. They'll remember you sometimes and it can be very rewarding.
Thanks for reading.
Jaleo on Urbanspoon Jaleo on Urbanspoon