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Nibbles and Sips Around Town

Jordan Wright
March 3, 2011
Special to The Washington Examiner

 

One French Fried Bucket To Go

Bucket of Fried Chicken from Central Michel Richard - image courtesy of the restaurant

Bucket of Fried Chicken from Central Michel Richard - image courtesy of the restaurant

We’re talking fried chicken with uber French chef Michel Richard, who may be on to something with his restaurant’s version of KFC.  “I’ve always liked the crispy crunch of fried food and fried chicken was one of the first things I enjoyed when I came to this country,” he recalled.

His gourmet version, only at Central Michel Richard, comes in an un-trademarked bucket with six pieces and ten chicken “nuggets”, gussied up with his signature mashed potatoes and a Dijon dipping sauce for $29.95.

When the daffodils pop and lunch al fresco proves irresistible, it should make for the perfect date nosh at the nearby National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden.  Available for lunch and dinner for takeout only he’s also offering lobster burgers, beef filet tartare, grilled sea bass and mac n’ cheese to boot.  You can call ahead at 202 626-0015 or visit www.centralmichelrichard.com.

Mexico’s Newest Food Star

 

Patricia Jinich at the Mexican Cultural Institute - photo courtesy of Jordan Wright

Patricia Jinich at the Mexican Cultural Institute - photo courtesy of Jordan Wright

Patricia Jinich, Executive Chef at DC’s Mexican Cultural Institute, spilled her big news last week at “The Molés of Oaxaca” dinner, announcing the launch next month of her brand new PBS television series, “Pati’s Mexican Table”.  It puts her in pretty lofty culinary company with the likes of Martha Stewart, local chef Jose Andres, and the legendary Julia Childs.  “The will show bring Mexican food and flavors into American kitchens,” she told me.  “It focuses on traditional and modern takes on Mexican cuisine.  The recipes aren’t too difficult or complex, but not like fast food either.  They’re definitely oriented towards healthy family-friendly meals.”

During the wine-paired dinner, Pati hosted a lively demonstration alongside her friend Chef Alejandro Ruiz, one of Oaxaca’s hottest chefs and creator of Casa Oaxaca Restaurant which boasts a Five-Star Diamond Award.  Before serving three different types of molés, the duo taught guests how to prepare the regional dishes, whose varieties number in the hundreds, by using a variety of chiles and other molé ingredients like almonds, raisins, pumpkin seeds, tomatillos, plantains, Mexican chocolate and the ubiquitous corn masa.

For info on upcoming dinners and demo evenings with Pati and other guest chefs at the Institute visit www.instituteofmexicodc.org

 

Bollywood on the Potomac – A Taste of Maximum India

 

Beginning March 5th The Kennedy Center promises a multi-sensory culinary journey hosted by twelve chefs, flown in from the four corners of India.  The master chefs will lecture on and demonstrate their cooking techniques for the special Indian menus they have created for guests in the Rooftop Restaurant and KC Café during the “Maximum India” Festival.  Continuing through March 20th .   To learn more, visit http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/festivals/

The Green Report

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, noted chef Cathal Armstrong presents his annual seven-course Irish feast in his luxe Restaurant Eve Tasting Room.  Known for his elegant interpretation of traditional Irish cuisine, the menu has his signature favorites such as Dublin Bay prawn bisque, braised lamb with baby root vegetables, corned beef and cabbage with Irish potatoes, of course! and bread and butter pudding with whiskey crème Anglaise.  For the more adventurous there’s ‘Mac Black’, a dish of black mackerel with fried squid ink risotto and braised cuttle fish.

 

This year’s RAMMY award nominee for Mixologist of the Year, Todd Thrasher of Restaurant Eve and PX Lounge, has created what he calls an immunity boosting cocktail to usher in the Irish festivities.  His healthful ‘Get it Right’ green drink is concocted of ingredients like spirulina, vitamin C powder, gin, vodka, coconut water and fresh herbs.  Let’s see…drink Irish and get healthy…a festive prescription indeed.

For reservations at the Alexandria, VA restaurant visit www.restauranteve.com or call 703 706 -0450.

 

Nibbles and Sips January 2011

Jordan Wright
Special to The Washington Examiner

Crescent City Comfort Food Comes to Arlington

Chef/Owner David Guas at his new digs Bayou Bakery - photo by Jordan Wright

Chef/Owner David Guas at his new digs Bayou Bakery - photo by Jordan Wright

Who dat on the corner of North Courthouse Road and 15th Street Arlington? Why, honey, it’s well-known Pastry Chef David Guas, his very own self behind the line in his new digs at Bayou Bakery. And, ohmylord, he’s cookin’ up gumbo and jambalaya and crawfish étouffée along with his scratch cakes and pralines.

Hot and steamy beignets at Bayou Bakery - photo by Jordan Wright

Hot and steamy beignets at Bayou Bakery - photo by Jordan Wright

Tucked kitty-corner into an office building, the restaurant is a homey hangout where you can lounge on leather sofas or sit at formica-topped tables. Lots of affordable small plates like the pork and rice stuffed sausage, boudin, or the spicy pimento cheese…served Big Easy-style with Triscuits. For a quick pick me up there’s the chicory-infused café au lait to go alongside your straight-from-the-fryer sugar-dusted beignets. On your way out work your Crescent City mojo with a little paper bag of his “porKorn”. It’s peanut-caramel popcorn made with Allan Benton’s Tennessee bacon. Good night, Irene!

porKorn - peanut-carmel popcorn - image by Jordan Wright

porKorn - peanut-carmel popcorn - image by Jordan Wright

Two For One On Connecticut Avenue

Connecticut Avenue’s little Bardeo and little Ardeo are together as one since the owner of both, Ashok Bajaj, heeded the call to “tear down that wall”. Now dubbed Ardeo + Bardeo. At last these conjoined twins are a single entity that better serves each. Now brick oven flatbreads, salt cod fritters and fontina-stuffed risotto balls can share space with the very elegant Pan-roasted Kingklip and Wagyu Flank Steak with white beets, Tuscan kale and salsa verde.

Tuscan Treasures Pair Up with Haute Cuisine

The prestigious Capital Wine Festival 2011 at the Fairfax Hotel at Embassy Row kicked off its second year with a reception last week showcasing wines from Italy, California and Oregon. It was an insider’s first tasting as some of these vintages will be featured in the upcoming wine dinners at the hotel. Poggio al Tesoro of Bolgheri and the San Polo Winery of Montalcino will kick off the first night of the 8-week series on February 2nd. The wineries’ legendary vintners, Marilisa Allegrini and Leonardo LoCascio guide the evening’s tasting and dinner with their super-Tuscan sangiovese and exquisite brunello.

Recent hire Mark Timms, Executive Chef at the hotel’s posh Jockey Club, will create the dinners for all eight evenings. Timms, who recently auditioned for Bravo’s upcoming Rocco DiSpirito cooking show, tells me he’s “excited to bring sexy fun back.” Must be a new vibe for the old guard hotel.

Celeb Chefs Share the Love

Back of the house - Volunteer chefs prepping for Saturday Night Sips - photo by Jordan Wright

Back of the house - Volunteer chefs prepping for Saturday Night Sips - photo by Jordan Wright

Truffled Scallop with sea urchin roe from Masa 14 at Saturday Night Sips - photo by Jordan Wright

Truffled Scallop with sea urchin roe from Masa 14 at Saturday Night Sips - photo by Jordan Wright

Alice Waters shares the love at Saturday Night Sips - photo by Jordan Wright

Alice Waters shares the love at Saturday Night Sips - photo by Jordan Wright

Cookbook author and co-host of Saturday Night Sips Joan Nathan addresses the guests - photo by Jordan Wright

Cookbook author and co-host of Saturday Night Sips Joan Nathan addresses the guests - photo by Jordan Wright

Speaking of feeling the love, a pantheon of beloved chefs raised money for Martha’s Table and D.C. Central Kitchen. Alice Waters, food activist and gourmand, José Andrés, known for his bi-coastal collection of restaurants and PBS show, “Made in Spain”, and one of the country’s leading cookbook authors, unabashed Francophile and recipe historian Joan Nathan, invited some of the city’s most terrific chefs and mixologists to launch the first of their 15-series nights called “Saturday Night Sips” and “Sunday Night Suppers”.

Owen Thompson of Café Atlantico, Jeff Faile of Palena, Dan Searing of Room 11, and Gina Chersevani of PS7’s shook, blended, stirred and poured cocktails while tasty plates were created by Will Artley of Del Ray’s Evening Star, Antonio Burrell of Masa 14, K. Vinod of Indique Heights, Bourbon Steak’s new chef, Adam Sobel, Garret Fleming of Eatonville and Graham Bartlett of Zengo. Cheers to the Truffled Scallop Seviche with sea urchin roe and American paddlefish caviar with candied Thai chiles from Masa 14, and the Peter’s Point Oysters with homemade kimchee and soju vinaigrette from Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak in the Four Seasons Georgetown.

“I think we’re in a place of changing the world,” said Waters addressing the cause-committed crowd. “All you have to do is connect.”

Irish Invasion Hits Shirlington

New kid on the block, Samuel Beckett’s Irish Gastro Pub in Shirlington had lines around the block last week at its hush-hush opening. Seems the neighborhood has been waiting for their unique Irish whiskies, Irish craft beers and bangers and mash since the opening was pushed back last year. The stunning space with gold leaf walls, three bars and a cozy library cum fireplace is currently serving a limited menu with lots of traditional dishes. And what owner Mark Kirwan calls “the new Irish Cuisine”, to round out the menu by February.

Will This Be the New Adams Morgan?

Managers Miles Gray and Sheldon Robinson of Smith Commons - photo by Greg Powers

Managing Partner Miles Gray and GM Sheldon Robinson of Smith Commons - photo by Greg Powers

Smith Commons has upped the ante in the Atlas District’s H Street Corridor with a three-story brick-walled dining room and public house. In a neighborhood known for late night get-your-groove-on hangouts like the H Street Country Club, The Red Palace, and Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar, Belgian chef Frederik De Pue has brought upscale international dining to this emerging quarter of the city. De Pue, who once worked under Alain Ducasse, opened Puro Café’s all-white South Beach-style patio in Georgetown this summer to rave reviews.

Smith Commons

Smith Commons

The beautifully restored warehouse, features a bar on every level serving both classic and modern cocktails. Sommelier Andrew Stover expertly presides over the wines, while owner Miles Gray steers the beer program that features over 40 craft beers from Canada, Belgium, Germany, Scotland, Italy and the US.

Recommended: Mushroom Cappuccino, a creamy soup of wild mushrooms and milk foam or the Sea Bass with grilled baby greens and balsamic basil dressing. Casual picks could be the Angus Beef or Crab Cake Sliders or Mango with Moulard, a salad with wok-sauteed mango and duck breast and green curry dressing.