Zentan- The Legend of a Master Chef

Special Feature to The Washington Examiner by Jordan Wright – Monday July 12th, 2010
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/entertainment/The-legend-of-a-master-chef-98429204.html

Zentan Chef Susur Lee - photo courtesy of

Zentan Chef Susur Lee

Master chef Susur Lee glides through space as fluidly as a man performing his daily tai chi exercises. Exuding grace, elegance and economy of motion, he has replaced the traditional sword and sabre of a ninja warrior for the more utilitarian kitchen knife, his weapon of choice to create his tantalizing dishes.

Chef Susur Lee's "Top Chef Masters" highest scoring elimination round Roasted Chicken Curry - photo by Jordan Wright

Chef Susur Lee's "Top Chef Masters" highest scoring elimination round Roasted Chicken Curry - photo by Jordan Wright

During his 30-year career, Lee has studied classic French, Chinese and Japanese cuisines and developed his own vocabulary by fusing all three.

With the opening of his first since-shuttered restaurant, Lotus, in Toronto, he parlayed his worldwide notoriety into consulting for the posh Ritz-Carlton and starting his own string of successful restaurants. He now owns the eponymous Lee Restaurant and Madeline’s in Toronto, Shang in New York and Chinois in Singapore. And, thankfully for us, he has opened his latest outpost, Zentan, in Donovan House, just off Thomas Circle, where I found nirvana in his inspired menu.

Lee is on a mission to conquer the world by introducing his guests, dish by brilliantly innovative dish, to his New Asian Cuisine.

Towering Singapore Slaw at Zentan - photo by Jordan Wright

Towering Singapore Slaw at Zentan - photo by Jordan Wright

Our evening’s menu began with Singapore slaw, a stunningly beautiful tower of 19 ingredients, dressed with salted plum sauce and topped with toasted hazelnuts, daikon sprouts and scattered with orange marigolds and yellow pansy petals. Black and white sesame-crusted tuna, slightly seared and crowned with chopped egg and Thai mint, was followed by Cantonese marinated skirt steak with shallot brown butter, chili ponzu and crunchy hazelnuts. Many dishes sported two sauces, further ratcheting up the dynamic.

It was around that time that I morphed into a sybaritic diner on overdrive as we dove into Mongolian rack of lamb with chili mint, carrot cardamom chutney and Penang peanut sauce with a foil of sugary glazed bananas. There was a perfect sweet and sour soup with shards of chicken and vegetables, roasted salmon cloaked in yuzu-tarragon hollandaise, topped with avocado wedges and wasabi mashed potatoes, and a lusciously caramelized black cod that benefitted from a miso mustard sauce and Cantonese preserved vegetables, a house version of kimchi.

Black and White Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna at Zentan - photo by Jordan Wright

Black and White Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna at Zentan - photo by Jordan Wright

We tried chicken two ways. The first offering was rolled chicken breast prepared Pekin style. A technique more commonly employed with duck, it is a two-day preparation that requires the chef to blow air between the skin and flesh, and hang it to dry for 10 hours. The result renders the skin sweetly lacquered and the meat tender and moist. I imagined the accompanying delicate shrimp chips as a perfect cocktail snack. The second chicken dish we tried was Lee’s “Top Chef Masters” award-winning roasted chicken with curry. It had earned him the highest “elimination round” score in the show’s history, and it does not disappoint.

In each of the dishes I found the global influences Lee uses in designing his food, and the elements of sweet, salty, spicy, tart, juicy and crunchy that bear his unique signature and complement each dish. His mastery of

Caramelized black cod with a miso mustard sauce and Cantonese preserved vegetables - photo by Jordan Wright

Caramelized black cod with a miso mustard sauce and Cantonese preserved vegetables - photo by Jordan Wright

technique, flavor and artistry roared off the plate, and I reveled in the most memorable Asian meal I have had since my last visit to Singapore.

This summer the restaurant has been serving some of Zentan’s nibbles and sips beside the hotel’s rooftop pool overlooking the city, where the bar scene is hot. Friends can lounge and take a dip from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. while enjoying spicy ginger martinis and grilled skewers of curried coconut shrimp, garlic chicken, Korean chili skirt steak, teriyaki pork belly, and miso and brown sugar glazed vegetables. Try the scrumptious sushi, sashimi and spicy lobster roll with shiso and caviar. On Saturday and Sunday, they grill the skewers poolside from noon to 5:30 p.m.

www.zentanrestaurant.com

South Carolina – A Food Lover’s Dream

Jordan Wright

June 2010

Lena Mae Brown's Carolina Gold Plantation Rice Pudding at the home of Campbell and Meredith Coxe - photo by Jordan Wright

Lena Mae Brown's Carolina Gold Plantation Rice Pudding at the home of Campbell and Meredith Coxe - photo by Jordan Wright

A quest for the traditional “receipts” of the Old South and the emerging epicurean landscape of the New South drew me to tour South Carolina on a nine-day culinary adventure.  Along the way my partner and I sampled pickled cherries, okra, mushrooms and leeks and beheld gleaming glass jars of green beans and purple baby beets.  From top restaurants to roadside stands we tasted blackberry, raspberry and tomato jams and jellies and reveled in the fresh fish and shellfish from oceans, rivers, and bays starring on every menu.

We found the art of charcuterie enjoying a revival with chefs preparing their own rillettes, patés, terrines and dry-cured sausages.  Here and there refrigerated walk-ins were crammed to bursting with whole pig’s heads, pork belly, fresh sausages from hogs and rabbits and bacon…tender, salty and smoky…to flavor antelope, quail and earthy slow-cooked greens.

We met and dined with chefs whose kitchens were a hive of creativity and experimentation, and whose near-religious devotion to local and sustainable foods was palpable.  Notable American cooks from Greenville and Latta, to Charleston, Pawley’s Island and Beaufort are adapting and reinterpreting Southern flavors, adding French Haute Cuisine, Nouvelle French, American Modern, Mediterranean, and Pacific Rim influences to their gastronomic conversation to create a new Southern gastronomic paradigm.

Below I give you some of the most delectably innovative food we feasted on and the historic properties where we were ensconced.  Follow my dishes, if just vicariously now, until you can visit for yourself.  I wouldn’t want you to miss a morsel.

Upcountry Greenville

Pickled beans, okra, cucumbers, cherries, peppers and turnips at High Cotton - photo by Jordan Wright

Pickled beans, okra, cucumbers, cherries, peppers and turnips at High Cotton - photo by Jordan Wright

Shrimp and Grits at High Cotton - photo by Jordan Wright

Shrimp and Grits at High Cotton - photo by Jordan Wright

Greenville's Reedy River as seen from High Cotton Restaurant - photo by Jordan Wright

Greenville's Reedy River as seen from High Cotton Restaurant - photo by Jordan Wright

Brunch at High Cotton with Executive Chef Anthony Gray: Elderflower Mojitos;Shrimp and Grits with Fried Green Tomatoes, Braised Beef Benedict, slathered in pimento cheese and Carolina sweet onion gravy; Plum Cobbler with peach ice cream.  Chef Gray is a font of information about local farmers and growers and proudly turns locally produced Spanish heritage Ossabaw hogs from Caw Caw Creek farm into his own charcuterie.

Rejunvenated at: The Spa at West End with a Volcanic Earth Clay Ritual, Sea Salt Body Scrub and a totally addictive Vichy Shower.  In case you’ve not had one yet it is a long horizontal wand with seven large showerheads attached.  You lie on a soft shallow bed while a steady stream of warm water pours over your entire body.  It is sheer bliss… like a tropical rain forest during a downpour but without the bugs!  As soon as it started I hoped it would never stop.

Calamari Salad at The Lazy Goat in Greenville - photo by Jordan Wright

Calamari Salad at The Lazy Goat in Greenville - photo by Jordan Wright

Roasted Banana Pudding at The Lazy Goat - photo by Jordan Wright

Roasted Banana Pudding at The Lazy Goat - photo by Jordan Wright

Fried Branzino stuffed with crabmeat and preserved lemons  - photo by Jordan Wright

Fried Branzino stuffed with crabmeat and preserved lemons - photo by Jordan Wright

Dinner at The Lazy Goat with Chef Vicki Moore: Fresh Blackberry Mojitos; Grilled Calamari with ahi dolce and pickled pepper salad; Fattoush Salad; Roasted Mussels and Chorizo; Moroccan Braised Lamb Shank with plantain chips; Whole Crispy Branzino, with charmoula and shaved fennel; Pan-Roasted Grouper with lobster and rapini risotto, and saffron vanilla sauce; Roasted Banana Pudding; Pecan Pie with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

Last fall Moore was chosen by Esquire Magazine’s food writer, John Mariani, as one of four “Breakout Chefs to Watch”.   In September she will create dishes with DC chefs, Bryan Voltaggio of Volt and David Guas, author of “Dam, Good, Sweet” for the city’s “Euphoria” festival, where nationally known chefs pair with local chefs to prepare exquisite gourmet dinners in the town’s finest restaurants.  In recent years this food and music extravaganza has featured such top chefs as Thomas Keller and Bobby Flay and artists like Chris Isaak.  Check www.euphoriagreenville.com to get this year’s schedule.

Beef Tartare with compressed cucumber and scallion wings at Deveraux's - photo by Jordan Wright

Beef Tartare with compressed cucumber and scallion wings at Deveraux's - photo by Jordan Wright

Rare seared tuna, pearl pasta, Honshimeiji, Edamame, sake black beans at Deveraux's - photo by Jordan Wright

Rare seared tuna, pearl pasta, Honshimeiji, Edamame, sake black beans at Deveraux's - photo by Jordan Wright

Devereaux's in the old tobacco factory - photo by Jordan Wright

Devereaux's in the old tobacco factory - photo by Jordan Wright

Dinner the following evening at Deveraux’s with Executive Chef and Partner Spencer Thomson: Beef Tartare with Japanese mustard; Bison Carpaccio; Hudson Valley Foie Gras with ice wine cherries, marcona almonds and vanilla sunchoke; Sashimi of Japanese Snapper with cucumber, cilantro and peanuts; Charred Beef Filet with portabello-potato hash; Black Grouper with summer succotash, shaved turnip, tomato concassé and truffled corn broth; Pekin Duck on white corn polenta, with duck sausage; Strawberry Shortcake in a white chocolate orb.

Chef Thomson will stage with Guy Savoy in Paris this October, where he will no doubt continue his love of reinventing the classics.

On our road trip across the state we visited owner and grower, Glenn Roberts, at Anson Mills where we learned firsthand the history of rice and its legacy in America.

Mid-State Latta – Quaint with a Touch of the British

Breakfast at Abingdon Manor - photo by Jordan Wright

Breakfast at Abingdon Manor - photo by Jordan Wright

Italian Breakfast BLT at the Manor - photo by Jordan Wright

Italian Breakfast BLT at the Manor - photo by Jordan Wright

The drawing room at Abingdon Manor - photo by Jordan Wright

The drawing room at Abingdon Manor - photo by Jordan Wright

Abingdon Manor, an exquisite former private estate and gardens made us feel we were at home in England.  We loved that it’s a mere five-mile hop off I-95 to be coddled by owners Michael and Patty Griffin.  Patty is an accomplished chef who hosts her own local cable TV show and conducts monthly cooking classes for guests in the Manor’s spacious kitchen.  The inn’s china and silver grace the damask-draped tables beautifully showing off her dishes.

Dinner by Chef Griffin: Shiitake Mushrooms with Hoisin-chili glaze, Dilled Carrot Soup; Home-grown Tomato Stack; Hypnotiq Sorbet; Seafood in Parchment; Poached Pear with amaretto cream.

Breakfast by Chef Griffin: Italian Breakfast BLT; Fresh fruits; Herbed Biscuits.

Pawley’s Island Coastal Charm

Sunset over Pawley's Island - photo by Jordan Wright

Sunset over Pawley's Island - photo by Jordan Wright

Pawley's Island Firefighters - photo by Jordan Wright

Pawley's Island Firefighters - photo by Jordan Wright

Daybreak at Litchfield Plantation - photo by Jordan Wright

Daybreak at Litchfield Plantation - photo by Jordan Wright

Litchfield Plantation, a quintessentially Southern Lowcountry inn, set on six hundred acres of a former rice plantation, channeled my inner Southern belle.  Its balconies overlook an avenue of ancient live oaks dripping with Spanish moss.

Trio of Ice creams at Bistro 217 on Pawley's Island - photo by Jordan Wright

Trio of Ice creams at Bistro 217 on Pawley's Island - photo by Jordan Wright

Chef Adam Kirby at Bistro 217 - photo by Jordan Wright

Chef Adam Kirby at Bistro 217 - photo by Jordan Wright

Asian Salad with SC Pink Shrimp at Bistro 217 - photo by Jordan Wright

Asian Salad with SC Pink Shrimp at Bistro 217 - photo by Jordan Wright

Lunch at Bistro 217 with Chef Adam Kirby: Tomato, Crab and Jalapeno Soup; Pan Sautéed Vermillion Snapper with lobster sauce; Trio of Homemade Ice Creams, Mint Chocolate Chip, Strawberry and Pistachio.  Chef Kirby grew up on the Island and has a strong relationship with its watermen who provide him with the freshest seafood in the area.

Eminence blueberry detox facial preparations at Stox & Co. - photo by Jordan Wright

Eminence blueberry detox facial preparations at Stox & Co. - photo by Jordan Wright

Rejuvenated at: Stox & Co.  A beautiful salon and day spa in Litchfield Beach with a stunning yoga and Pilates studio.  I enjoyed a Blueberry Detox Firming Peel using Eminence skin care products, a line of natural organic skin care developed in Hungary and made from fresh fruit extracts.  It was almost good enough to eat!

Blackberry Cobbler at Frank's - photo by Jordan Wright

Blackberry Cobbler at Frank's - photo by Jordan Wright

Softshell Crab at Frank's on Pawley's Island - photo by Jordan Wright

Softshell Crab at Frank's on Pawley's Island - photo by Jordan Wright

Chef Pierce Culliton of Frank's - photo by Jordan Wright

Chef Pierce Culliton of Frank's - photo by Jordan Wright

Dinner at Frank’s with Chef Pierce Culliton: Tomato Pie with Four Cheeses; Grilled Watermelon Salad with balsamic vinegar, goat cheese and arugula; Soft Shell Crab with whole grain mustard sauce; Sautéed Flounder with Shrimp and yellow stone ground grits; Blackberry Cobbler.

Charleston – Le Grande Bouffe in the Lowcountry

Wentworth Mansion in Charleston - photo by Jordan Wright

Wentworth Mansion in Charleston - photo by Jordan Wright

Charleston street scene - photo by Jordan Wright

Charleston street scene - photo by Jordan Wright

Tiffany glass windows at the Wentworth Mansion in Charleston - photo by Jordan Wright

Tiffany glass windows at the Wentworth Mansion in Charleston - photo by Jordan Wright

We had posh digs in the Wentworth Mansion, a glorious property and one of the nation’s premier historic hotels.  Built in 1886 as a private home for a local cotton baron, we found elegance, distinction, luxurious appointments and deluxe service.

Charleston Chews, Lemon Chess Bars and Sweet Potato Cornbread from Dixie Bakery - photo by Jordan Wright

Charleston Chews, Lemon Chess Bars and Sweet Potato Cornbread from Dixie Bakery - photo by Jordan Wright

Breakfast snacks on the run from Dixie Bakery and Café:  Charleston Chews; Lemon Chess bars; Sweet Potato Cornbread.

In the kitchen at Carolinas - photo by Jordan Wright

Sous Chef, Jill Mathias, in the kitchen at Carolina's - photo by Jordan Wright

Chef Don Drake of Magnolias - photo by Jordan Wright

Chef Don Drake of Magnolia's - photo by Jordan Wright

Magnolia Plantation - photo by Jordan Wright

Magnolia Plantation - photo by Jordan Wright

Nibbles and Sips:  At Magnolia’s with Chef Don Drake, Pimento Cheese; Shrimp and Grits; at Carolina’s we quaffed Carolina Sweet Tea; at Cypress with Chef de Cuisine Garrett Hutchinson, in-house patés and dry cured charcuterie; at Tristan with Chef Jesse Sutton, House-made Mozzarella.

Pork, Pine, Morels and Green Garlic at McCrady's in Charleston - photo by Jordan Wright

Pork, Pine, Morels and Green Garlic at McCrady's in Charleston - photo by Jordan Wright

SC Crawfish, Sweetbreads, Sweet Onions and Artichokes at McCrady's - photo by Jordan Wright

SC Crawfish, Sweetbreads, Sweet Onions and Artichokes at McCrady's

Seared Grouper with Courgettes, Cucumber and Bonito at McCrady's - photo by Jordan Wright

Seared Grouper with Courgettes, Cucumber and Bonito at McCrady's

Dinner at McCrady’s with recent James Beard award-winning Chef Sean Brock:  Stone Crab with orange, coconut and sour mix; Seared Grouper with courgettes, cucumber and bonito; Crawfish, sweetbreads and artichokes; Pork Pine, morels and green garlic; Beef Marrow and carrots four ways; Banana Puddin’; Chocolate Hazelnut, Chewy Caramel and Malt.

Chef Frank Lee of S.N.O.B. - photo by Jordan Wright

Chef Frank Lee of S.N.O.B. - photo by Jordan Wright

Fried Chicken Livers with Cheese Corn Grits - photo by Jordan Wright

Fried Chicken Livers with Cheese Corn Grits - photo by Jordan Wright

S.N.O.B. Restaurant - photo by Jordan Wright

S.N.O.B. Restaurant - photo by Jordan Wright

Lunch at S.N.O.B. with Executive Chef Frank Lee: Gazpacho; Corn Bread; Fried Chicken Livers with Cheese Corn Grits; Southern Crab Salad with fresh fruits; Shrimp and Black Beans.  The charming and self-effacing Lee is a mentor and guru to many nationally known chefs who cook in the Lowcountry style.

Countertop pies at the Carolina Cider Company - photo by Jordan Wright

Countertop pies at the Carolina Cider Company - photo by Jordan Wright

Tasting room at Firefly Distillery and WInery - photo by Jordan Wright

Tasting room at Firefly Distillery and WInery - photo by Jordan Wright

Third generation tea grower and taster, William Barclay Hall at Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island - photo by Jordan Wright

Third generation tea grower and taster, William Barclay Hall at Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island - photo by Jordan Wright

Breakfast at the Wentworth: Fresh orange juice, Rabbit Sausage, Waffles with piles of fresh berries, and Eggs Benedict.

Rejuvenated at: The Spa at Charleston Place with a relaxing Swedish massage and dip in the saltwater pool overlooking old Charleston.

Nilgai Antelope Filet with lentil and foie gras stew, heart of palm, crispy leeks and baby carrots at Circa 1886 - photo by Jordan Wright

Nilgai Antelope Filet with lentil and foie gras stew, heart of palm, crispy leeks and baby carrots at Circa 1886 - photo by Jordan Wright

Jelly Doughnuts, house made strawberry and peach jellies, John's Island honey and peanut butter milkshake at Circa 1886 - photo by Jordan Wright

Jelly Doughnuts, house made strawberry and peach jellies, John's Island honey and peanut butter milkshake at Circa 1886 - photo by Jordan Wright

Carolina Flounder with crab and shrimp pilau, grapefruit sabayon, candy striped beets and basil lacquer - photo by Jordan Wright

Carolina Flounder with crab and shrimp pilau, grapefruit sabayon, candy striped beets and basil lacquer - photo by Jordan Wright

Dinner at Circa 1886 at the Wentworth Mansion with Executive Chef Marc Collins: Vichysoisse with toasted haricots verts; Crab Cake Soufflé with mango purée, pineapple relish and sweet potato frills; Foie Gras “Cherry Coke Float”; Nilgai Antelope Filet with lentil and foie gras stew, crispy leeks and baby carrots; Country Ham-wrapped Angler Fish with black-eyed pea “baked beans”, fennel pollen onion ring and apple cheddar slaw; Carolina Flounder with crab and shrimp pilau, grapefruit sabayon, candy striped beets and basil lacquer; Jelly Doughnuts with house made strawberry and peach jellies, John’s Island honey and peanut butter milkshake (Oh yes, he did!); Pan Fried Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake with fresh berries and honeysuckle ice cream.  The notoriously shy Collins never peeked his head out of the kitchen to accept kudos or give up his honeysuckle ice cream recipe.  One can only swoon with the memory.

After dinner: Port, sherry and an assortment of liqueurs are offered to guests of the Wentworth, and taken on the veranda.

Beaufort - The Sea Islands

Beaufort Inn in the Sea Islands - photo by Jordan Wright

Beaufort Inn in the Sea Islands - photo by Jordan Wright

Beaufort - photo by Jordan Wright

Beaufort - photo by Jordan Wright

Beaufort in the Lowcountry - photo by Jordan Wright

Beaufort in the Lowcountry - photo by Jordan Wright

On our final evening we lodged at the charming Beaufort Inn, a pink and white Victorian home built in 1897 in one of the most beautiful towns in America.

Pink Shrimp at Gay Fish Company - photo by Jordan Wright

Pink Shrimp at Gay Fish Company - photo by Jordan Wright

Stone Crab at Gay Fish Company in Beaufort - photo by Jordan Wright

Stone Crab at Gay Fish Company in Beaufort - photo by Jordan Wright

Gay Fish Company in Beaufort - photo by Jordan Wright

Gay Fish Company in Beaufort - photo by Jordan Wright

Here in the Lowcountry, where Daufuskie Island Gullahs still speak their West-African patois, we found a thriving seafood industry with Bulls Bay oysters, stone crab, pink and brown shrimp and restaurants that reflected the local catch.

Brick oven Spinach and Sausage Pizza at Paninis Grill - photo by Jordan Wright

Brick oven Spinach and Sausage Pizza at Paninis Grill - photo by Jordan Wright

Cinnamon Pillows with Creme Anglaise at Paninis Grill - photo by Jordan Wright

Cinnamon Pillows with Creme Anglaise at Paninis Grill - photo by Jordan Wright

Chef/Owner Nick Borreggine at Paninis Grill in Beaufort - photo by Jordan Wright

Chef/Owner Nick Borreggine at Paninis Grill in Beaufort - photo by Jordan Wright

Lunch at Panini’s Grill with Chef/Owner Nick Borreggine: Buttered “Coosaw River” little neck clams; Italian Sausage Panini; Almond Crusted Calamari with spicy aioli and burnt honey; Rosemary-infused Crème Brulée and Cinnamon Pillows with crème Anglaise.  Borreggine was the former pastry chef at The Inn at Little Washington under chef/owner Patrick O’Connell.

Saltus River Grill - photo by Jordan Wright

Saltus River Grill - photo by Jordan Wright

Fricasseed lobster tails with creamed corn - photo by Jordan Wright

Fricasseed lobster tails with creamed corn - photo by Jordan Wright

Executive Chef Brian Waters at Saltus River Grill - photo by Jordan Wrigh

Executive Chef Brian Waters at Saltus River Grill - photo by Jordan Wrigh

Dinner at the Saltus Grill with Executive Chef Brian Waters: Raw Bulls Bay Oysters; Seviche of Dorado; Crispy Fried Lobster tails with cream corn and pea tendrils; Pommes Frites with truffle butter; Braised Pork Belly with soy glaze, bok choy salad and pineapple sambal; Pecan pie.

During our madcap epicurean escape we relished sweet potato butter on biscuits, tomato pies, and Hoppin’ John salad with country ham at a small private luncheon cooked by Lena Mae Jackson whose Carolina Plantation Gold Rice Pudding with blueberries sent us into a chorus of hallelujahs.  We fell hard for fried peanuts, pork BBQ at Mama Jean’s, blackberry cider, rice grits (pronounced as one word) and cowpeas, real pimento cheese, and “Charleston Chews” from the Dixie Bakery and Café.  To hold our memories close, we slowly made our way back north with treasured family recipes, Low Country Winery’s Blueberry Wine, Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon, the Mast Store’s Toasted Pecan Syrup, Breakfast Tea from the Charleston Tea Plantation, and sacks and sacks of Carolina Plantation Gold Rice, without which no self-respecting Southern hostess would dare serve her guests.

Sweet Potato Butter from Lowcountry Produce  - photo by Jordan Wright

Sweet Potato Butter from Lowcountry Produce - photo by Jordan Wright

Soda pop for sale - photo by Jordan Wright

Soda pop for sale - photo by Jordan Wright

The road less traveled - photo by Jordan Wright

The road less traveled - photo by Jordan Wright

Already we hear the clarion call to revisit the chefs, watermen, tea and rice growers, dairymen, farmers and innkeepers of South Carolina whose generosity of spirit and indomitable passion to share their journey have inspired us to further explore America’s culinary roots.  I hope you’ve been inspired too.  May your travels be as delicious and memorable as ours!

For questions or comments about this article or to tell of your best experiences in the Palmetto State, contact Jordan@WhiskandQuill.com.  Visit us on Facebook to see more photos of our stay.

Nibbles and Sips – At Puro Café’s Georgetown Patio Opening

Guests at Puro Cafe

Guests at Puro Café - photo by Sara Mosqueda

A steamy night at Puro Café in Georgetown last week was enlivened with bracing spirits and sublime hors d’oeuvres.   Stunning Euro stylistas in tiny shorts teetering on 4-inch heels mixed with chic localites for the opening of the new all-white trellised patio.  It was easy to keep our cool under a draped pavilion replete with comfy lounges and twinkling lights while sipping “Copper Fox Bayou Cooler”, created and served by Alembic’s Chief Mixologist, Jon Arroyo.   The soothing summer punch recipe, given to me by Arroyo, consists of Wasmund's Single Malt Whiskey, agave

sweetened iced tea, fresh lemon juice, Grand Marnier, Peychaud's Bitters and Angostura bitters.  A few pitchers of this magical elixir and the blazing heat will be a fleeting memory.

42˚ Catering, who does special events around town and for Puro Café’s private parties, created heavenly savory and sweet delicacies for the evening’s guests.  Here’s what Chef Frederik de Pue prepared for the guests.  I wouldn’t want you to miss a bite!

Seared Sea Scallops with a minty ginger miso mustard sauce - photo by Sara Mosqueda

Seared Sea Scallops with a minty ginger miso mustard sauce - photo by Sara Mosqueda

Menu of Savory Treats

Carpaccio of Foie Gras with a remoulade of celery root and coffee liquor dressing; Hearts of Palm Vol-au-Vent with little cilantro pesto jellies; Grilled Baby Octopus rolled into in a phyllo cigar with tapenade of kalamatas and pine nuts; Seared Sea Scallops with a minty ginger miso mustard sauce; Muscovy Duck Breast in a spicy mango cube with balsamic vinegar and Thai basil; Crisp Arctic Char with Steamed Leeks with apple cider coulis and parsley chips; Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Tempura with black truffle soy sauce and chervil salad; Confit of Rockfish Filet with Creole salsa, Peruvian aji pepper and watercress cream; Queso Blanco Tequenos topped with avocado cream and scallions; Black Pepper Chicken Spring Rolls with rice vinegar dressing; Beef Tenderloin Marinated with Chardonnay and soy sauce.

Sample of Sweet Treats

Sweet Treats from 42 Catering

Sweet Treats from 42 Catering - photo by Jordan Wright

Sweet - Single-Origin Venezuelan Chocolate; Saigon Caramel Mousse; Chocolate Caramel Mousse with vanilla sponge cocoa liqueur; Mango Cilantro Bavarois; Goat Cheese with Dark Chocolate Mousse and fresh raspberry; Cherry wrapped in Single Origin Tanzanian Dark Chocolate.

The gracious Chef de Pue was kind enough to provide this recipe for his crazy delicious crab tempura.

Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Tempura with Black Truffle Soy Sauce and Chervil Salad

1 lb of fresh jumbo lump crab meat
2 cups tempura flour
1 teaspoon curcuma (turmeric)
¼ bunch chervil
3 TB mayonnaise
2 TB truffle juice
1 TB soy sauce
Salt
Pepper
Frying oil

Mix mayonnaise, truffle oil and soy sauce with a pinch of ground black pepper. Depending on saltiness of soy sauce you might need to add little more salt.  Add one tablespoon of chopped chervil to bring color to sauce.

Place whole pieces of crabmeat gently on a paper towel to dry the crab so batter will stick.

In separate bowl mix tempura flour and curcuma with a little water to create a thick, smooth batter.  Add several ice cubes to batter (the ice will cool down batter and will create a nice crispy tempura).

Preheat frying oil to 320˚.  Place spoonful size pieces of crab into the batter and then into the oil.  Give them enough time to create a nice crispy outside and once golden, remove and place on paper towel.  Serve immediately with dipping sauce on the side.

Visit Puro Café at www.PuroCafe.com

For private parties www.42CateringServices.com

For cocktail catering www.DrinkAlembic.com

For questions or comments on this article contact Jordan@WhiskandQuill.com or visit www.WhiskandQuill.com.

Poolside Sushi, Absolut Cocktails and the Summer Scene at DC’s Donovan House

Jordan Wright, Nibbles and Sips, June 2010

Photo by Jordan Wright - Sushi served by the skyline

Sushi served by the skyline - photo by Jordan Wright

Photo by Sara Mosqueda - Washington Life magazine interns

Washington Life magazine interns - photo by Sara Mosqueda

How do you gauge the start of summer?  If you’re downtown try Donovan House’s rooftop pool, perched atop Thomas Circle with spectacular views of the city.  Pair it with an orange crush sunset and a smooth breeze fluttering over party dresses and pink button-downs.

At Washington Life’s summer bash last night we had Zentan Chef Jamie De Oca’s Spicy Tuna Sushi and Scallop Sushi with fresh ginger, Singapore Slaw served in little Chinese take-out boxes and Crusted Vegetable Dumplings.

Photo by Sara Mosqueda - Savory appetizers from Zentan!

Savory appetizers from Zentan - photo by Sara Mosqueda

DC DJ Seyhan Duru kept it hot and “Pirate Punch” made with Absolut Raspberry Vodka kept it cool.

Photo by Jordan Wright - DJ Seyhan Duru really likes the view

DJ Seyhan Duru spinnin' and grinnin' - photo by Jordan Wright

So cute and yummy!

Old Town Boutiques Gather at the Lorien Hotel to Launch “Shop Local Alexandria”

Jordan Wright, Nibbles and Sips, June 2010

Photo by Eileen Cambell

The Sugar Cube sweets - photo by Eileen Campbell

Photo by Eileen Cambell - starting left: Jordan Wright, Marie Coleman, Kristina Hopper

From left: Jordan Wright, fashion reporter for Washington Examiner Marie Coleman, photographer Kristina Hopper - photo by Eileen Campbell

This week the luxe Lorien Hotel played host to Alexandria’s Old Town Boutique District’s get-together and campaign for “Shop Local Alexandria”.  Darling girls in darling dresses from the best boutiques in town gathered to bond over nibbles and sips.

Brabo Tasting Room in the hotel’s complex served “Napa”tizers and delicious charcuterie to compliment the wine and fresh lemonade.  Alexandria confectionary, The Sugar Cube, brought their Red Velvet Devil Dogs, Lemon Almond and Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies, that were downed faster than you can say, “Let’s shop!”

Photo by Eileen Cambell - Brabo's charcuterie expertly displayed

Brabo Tasting Room's crudetés beautifully displayed - photo by Eileen Campbell