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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.

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