Friday, July 31, 2015

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm - They Crank Farm to Table to 11

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
Lovettsville, VA
Looking to spend a lovely evening in the woods? You could do worse than The Restaurant at Patowmack Farms. It's a hike from the DC Metro. If you're staying at Hollywood Casino it's much closer. Pay close attention once you've crossed the little bridge and taken the right turn. It's a hard left up the mountainside. Don't bring your Ferrari's a dirt road and there are some spots where the clearance is...shall we say, low?
Here's how it works. There are three categories on the menu. Found, Grown, and Raised. None of them are exclusively found, grown, or raised, but they seem to hold fairly close to the stated genre.
Greg and I had the raised with the ladies had found and grown.
And here they are photo-bombing whilst I was trying to get an artsy-fartsy shot of the centerpiece.
Here they are being a little more civilized.
The grounds are perfect for events. The garden is beautiful with a nice view of the bridge.
From left to right: Me, Cheryl, Laura and Craig. We've had some pretty amazing dinners with this couple. 
God in the Garden
The "snacks" were creative and tasty. Everything seemed to follow the garden to table theme. 
Who doesn't like cheesy poofs?
Pork rinds.
Flat breads.
All of the snacks were good, though I was partial to the pork rinds and cheesy poofs.
This was actually my favorite dish of the evening. It was a pork liver parfait and it rivaled Michel Richard's Faux Graz for lightness, texture and flavor.
This was an interesting play on gazpacho: Apricot! It was served cold and was very nice.
Sardines with lentils...
Here's that pork liver parfait again. It was pretty as well as tasty.
I like it when restaurants give you something fun to play with between courses. Left to right: House-churned butter, Kosher salt (Malden if I'm not mistaken) and whipped pork fat.
Flavorful and grainy bread as the fat/salt vehicle.
Hopefully my doctor isn't reading this post. 
The whipped pork fat was much lighter than you might imagine. It wasn't like lard, it was more like very fluffy butter, but saltier. I liked it.
Pork belly with sour grits.
Kidney bean Akara with grilled beef hash. Tasted a wee too healthy.
Smoked chanterelle mushroom and mussel stew. The hay was what was used for the smoking. Interesting.
Nice view from our table.
The lamb kabob.
Poached chicken.
Here's a little video showing the beef on a stone.
Here it is all finished. I cooked it a little too rare though so I had to yell at myself, throw it back on the stone, and complain to the server. I comp'd myself. 8)
This was a little palette cleanser. I thought it was very pretty.
This was interesting. Cajeta Panna Cotta. When they poured the sauce over this the shell kind of melted into what you see below. The caramel sauce was off the hook.
Here it is post-melt.
Looks like RJ was up here with the blueberry sherbet dish.
The wineberry chess pie.
The sweet little bites were very tasty.
The coupe de gras: Olive Oil Chiffon.

Overall, definitely worth the trip if you have the time and the money. It's not inexpensive, but it's worth it for the experience.
Service was top notch and the wine pairings were unusual and inventive, which is what I'm always hoping for when I take advantage of the offering.
Thanks for reading! If you go, drive carefully, and tell them you read about it on Pleasures of the Table.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tosca - An Opera In Your Mouth

Ristorante Tosca
1112 F St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20004

It's unlike me to go to an older restaurant unless it's a favorite of mine, i.e. Old Ebbitt, Billy Martin's Tavern, Brasserie Beck. I'm not sure why, but I thought it would be fun to try Tosca. I've never been there before, but my son was away and the parents wanted to play so we gave it a shot.
I'd read about Tosca, and Chef Matteo had given me some pointers on Facebook, so I figured, "Why not?"
Turns out it was a good choice.
If you've followed my blog in the past you'll notice the familiar chef's table crew. These folks are always so good about humoring me on my culinary adventures.
Here we have Chef de Cuisine Jesse Long on the left and the blurry go on the right is Executive Chef Matteo Venini. They were both very pleasant and accommodating during the meal even though the dining room was full.
Here is the first course being plated.
Cured Ora Salmon with several accompaniments. Charred citrus emulsion, grapefruit vinaigrette, olive oil powder, and lychee sorbet. The salmon was like butter. Apparently this type of salmon is known for it's consistent, thick marbling and takes curing very well. 
Second course was house-made burrata with smoked eggplant crema, onion ash and beets. 

The eggplant crema brought a serious flavor boost to what could have been a boring dish. I like burrata, but it's often bland. Nicely done.
This is the braised cuttlefish stew with wild mushrooms, garlic oil and olives. There was a whole lot of flavor in this. Unfortunately, I was taking pictures while everyone else was stealing the rest of the excellent bread to sop up the broth and wipe their plates clean, or I would have done the same. The trumpet mushrooms were screaming umami. I began to enjoy this meal in a serious manner here.
Next up was the Carbonara Ravioli. Inside the ravioli was a 1-hour duck egg. Excellent combination.
The shavings of summer truffle and the smoked butter were awesome.
I had to take a shot of these entrees as they were awaiting final touches before hitting someone's table. Everything looked tasty.
Sorry I didn't get a chance to try this!
Shanks a lot!
Back to our course was a risotto with burned leeks and crispy sweetbreads. I'm not normally a fan of sweetbreads, but these were just the right size and texture. Perfectly cooked risotto as well.

The octopus had a shrimp and scallop mousse with a beet coulis. The flavor and texture was perfection.
Next was an intermezzo of sorbet and a shot of margarita! Ole!
Muscovy duck with spicy cherry gastrique. This was my wife's favorite.
Here's another look at the plate. Well composed.
Here is our dessert being plated.
The money shot!
Now I'll explain it to you: Foie Gras and Salted Caramel Candy Bar.
This may be the best thing I've put in my mouth all year. That is saying a lot. The dark chocolate and salted caramel with the chilled fois was stupendous. I can only think of a few desserts that are even close to this. Bravo chefs!
Sometimes it's worth the trip to visit something that isn't on the Eater Heatmap. Give it a shot. You won't be disappointed. If you go, tell them you read about it on Pleasures of the Table, and grab me one of these candy bars to go, would you?