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SPRINGTIME ON THE TERRACE AT BLUE DUCK TAVERN

SPRINGTIME ON THE TERRACE AT BLUE DUCK TAVERN
April 16, 2016
By Cary Pollak for Whisk and Quill
Special to DC Metro Theater Arts

Celebrating the bounty of Spring at the Blue Duck Tavern

Celebrating the bounty of Spring at the Blue Duck Tavern

Some sure signs of spring in the Washington, DC area are the cherry blossoms, opening day at Nationals Park, and the opening of the charming terrace at the Park Hyatt’s Blue Duck Tavern.  Last week’s media preview of their newest seasonal menu featured salads, entrees, cheeses, desserts and cocktails – many of which celebrated the strawberry.

Strawberry Salad

Strawberry Salad

Two of the newest dishes planned for Spring will be Rack of Lamb and Strawberry Salad.  Chef de Cuisine Brad Deboy will offer a unique combination of ripe and pickled unripe strawberries with thinly sliced raw almonds, radishes, granola, mint and his own house made farmer’s cheese with a drizzle of balsamic strawberry vinaigrette.

Executive Chef Franck Loquet prepares rack of lamb

Executive Chef Franck Loquet prepares rack of lamb

And Executive Chef Franck Loquet, formerly Executive Chef with the Sofitel in DC, will sear rack of lamb from Elysian Fields Farm in Pennsylvania pairing it with a lemon yogurt sauce and miniscule spring vegetables.  The French-born Loquet spent three years working for legendary chef Alain Ducasse, and his elegant style of cuisine is reflected in his delicate handling, and expert choice, of the finest ingredients.

Seared Lamb with Baby Spring Vegetables

Seared Lamb with Baby Spring Vegetables

Cheese Specialist Sophie Slesinger showed us an impressive array of domestically produced seasonal cheeses from the pasteurized milk of goats, sheep and cows and offered them with Strawberry Rhubarb Mostarda.  Among these was the tangy Sandy Creek Cheese from the Goat Lady Dairy in Climax, North Carolina, featuring a distinctive vein of vegetable ash.  If you’d prefer raw milk produced cheese, you may be tempted by one made from the raw milk of cows and ewes.  Patmos Peak is a mild, semi-hard cheese produced by the Bonnie View Farm in Albany, Vermont.  It is a lovely option for those who believe that both flavor and nutrients are sacrificed during the pasteurization process.

Cheese Specialist Sophie Slesinger displays her wares

Cheese Specialist Sophie Slesinger displays her wares

Meanwhile trays of tasty tidbits were offered by servers swirling around the pretty patio.  The Strawberry Gazpacho is particularly refreshing.  And one of the most delectable is the goat milk ricotta gnudi (which means “nude” in Italian).  These luscious ricotta “pasta” are graced with a rich sauce, enhanced with roasted garlic, radishes and shitake mushrooms.  Another warm weather option is the Maine scallop crudo with buttermilk panna cotta, cucumber and American smoked trout roe with squash blossoms.  A lovely combination.

Maine Scallop Crudo with Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Maine Scallop Crudo with Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Two gin-based refreshers will be on the Spring/Summer cocktail menu – the “Strawberry Gin” with rhubarb, espelette and tonic, and “The Lady Bird” made with rosemary, pineapple, verjus and house made grenadine.  A third is “The Oak Park” featuring rum blended with kiwi and lime.

Newly hired Pastry Chef David Collier, a James Beard Award semifinalist for National Pastry Chef of the Year in 2009, brings his talents from the famed Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas.  His Strawberry and Rhubarb Shortcake with strawberry sorbet proved picture perfect for dining al fresco.

Chicharone with Spring Pea Hummus and Minted Strawberry Gazpacho

Chicharone with Spring Pea Hummus and Minted Strawberry Gazpacho

A peek at the new menu revealed more seasonal delicacies.  Look for soft shell crabs, English peas, morels, asparagus and King trumpet mushrooms to make an appearance.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Shortcakes

Strawberry and Rhubarb Shortcakes

Make reservations now for next week’s Masters of Food & Wine “Garden in a Glass” on April 23rd when Bartender Alex Gordon and Chef de Cuisine Brad Deboy will teach guests how to make four distinctive cocktails using herbs from the terrace garden while enjoying delicious hors d’oeuvres.  For reservations and information visit www.Hyatt.com or call 202 419.6755

Photo credit: Cary Pollak and Jordan Wright

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