Previous month:
December 2007
Next month:
February 2008

January 2008

Aspara*gasp* and Arti*choke*

419286_7220The flavors of asparagus and artichoke are numerous and unique-- green, grassy, earthy, slightly sweet and bitter with a pleasant crunch. You'd think these foods would be a dream for the wine lover and gastronome! Sadly, these are actually two of the most difficult foods in the entire culinary world to pair with wine. Though their inherent flavors may be complimented by any number of wines (depending on the preparation) there is a certain something in asparagus and artichoke that somehow turns even the finest wine to plonk.

17_2That certain something is the chemical compound cynarin -- or 1,4-bis[[(E)-3-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)prop-2-enoyl]oxy]-3,5-dihydroxy-cyclohexane-1-carboxylic acid for you chemists out there -- an organic compound found in great abundance in these two vegetables. On the bright side, it is suspected that this compound may actually slow the liver's production of LDL, or 'Bad' Cholesterol. Unfortunately for the wine lover, this compound also makes wine and other beverages taste a good deal sweeter than they actually are. This is perfectly fine if you are drinking, say, water -- in fact, it's even kind of pleasant. With wine, however, other elements come into play and most wines come out of the situation tasting of aluminum siding and iron shavings. This phenomenon is both colorblind and inattentive to quality -- be it Charles Shaw Chardonnay or Chateau Lafite, the result is almost always the same -- the invigorating flavor of tin foil. Yum!

Fortunately, there are a few wines that are seemingly immune to this reaction.
In my experience the white wines of Alto Adige have been the best of the best. This northernmost region of Italy produces some of the finest Pinot Grigios, Rieslings, Gewurztraminers, Pinot Biancos and Sauvignon Blancs in the whole country. Thanks to the region's stony/chalky soil, cool climate and high altitude the whites are dry, full-bodied, high acid and very mineralic. Bold fruit and lush texture take a back seat here to more bracing and rocky qualities. Cantina Terlano makes an outstanding line of whites and reds including the finest Pinot Grigio that I've had the fortune to come across under $25. Nals Margreid is another fine producer who has a few pretty well priced and widely available whites in the $15 range.

If you are eating your cynarin heavy meal out and can't find a wine from Alto Adige on the list there are a few basic rules you should follow. First, see if you can pick the wine with the highest mineral content -- being that that is what your wine is going to taste like anyhow, its best to have one that has been made to that end (this may indeed be why the northern Italian whites take so well to these foods). These wines include but are not limited to Alsace Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, Sancerre, Anjou, and some Oregonian Pinot Gris. High acid is also a plus, and avoid oaky Chardonnay like the plague -- the sweetening effect of the cynarin picks up on oak to a cloying degree. Also, I'd say avoid reds, unless the main course is so rich or so spiced as to conflict with a full-bodied white. In that case, a red Sancerre, certain Burgundies, or any high acid, high mineral, less fruit-driven Pinot Noir would be your safest compromise. Finally, do not hesitate to ask the sommelier for his opinion -- if he is working in a restaurant that regularly serves artichoke or asparagus then he almost certainly has something up his sleeve.


Bistro At Home-Roasted Chicken With A Pomegranate Balsamic Sauce and Pistachio Butter Topping, Oven Roasted Tomatoes And Sweet Potato Fries

Small_bistro_chicken_with_cranber_2
The thought of tucking into a plate full of comfort food is quite appealing at any time of year, especially during winter. Apparently we here in the DC area have an appetite for hearty simple dishes as evidenced by the immense popularity of such restaurants as Brasserie Beck and Central as well as the perrenial Bistro D'oc, Montsouris and Montmartre on the Hill.
I would like to bring some bistro favorites to your table and from time to time, will share a bistro meal from my home to yours. For me, the goal is to make bistro food accessible both in terms of easy preparation and affordablity. This meal for four can come together in about an hour and involves no work ahead of time. Spatchcocking, or butterflying the chicken expidites cooking at high roasting temperatures. The tomatoes roast quickly and cooking overlaps with the chicken at the same oven temperature. The fries take only minutes to get crisp and slightly browned using a twiced-fried method.

I hope you enjoy the tastes of this meal, from the juicy chicken with a  sweet yet sharp sauce to Small_sweet_potato_fries_6the  nutty salted topping to the rich tomatoes which have been concentrated by oven roasting.

Roasted Chicken With a Pomegranate Balsamic Sauce and Pistacho Butter Topping, Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients

1 whole chicken (I used a 4.25 lb. organic bird from Balducci's), spatchcocked (here's a how-to video)

2 T. vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

2 T. butter

2 shallots, diced

1/4 t. cinnamon

1/3 cup pomegranate balsamic vinegar(you could use regular balsamic vinegar or go for another flavored balsamic-I found the pomegrantate balsamic at Whole Foods at a reasonable price)

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup dried cranberries (dried cherries would work too)

1/3 cup chicken broth

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup roasted and salted pistachios, chopped

2 T. butter

1 pomegranate, seeded

Campari, cherry or grape tomatoes-about 6-8 per person depending on size

4 green onions- white and green parts chopped 1/2 inch.

2 T. olive oil

1/2 t. dried marjoram

1/2 t. dried oregano

Salt and pepper

2-3 large yams, peeled and cut to your preferred thickness

Vegetable oil for frying

1 T. cumin

Kosher salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

For pomegranate balsamic sauce
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan. Add shallots and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, several grinds of pepper, cinnamon, chicken broth and cranberries. Simmer over medium heat until cranberries are plump, about 5-7 minutes. Add salt to taste. Set aside until chicken is done.

For chicken
Generously salt and pepper chicken on both sides. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in an oven safe pan/roasting pan. Place chicken skin side down and sear for 2 minutes, making sure that oil coats the bottom surface of the chicken for even browning. Transfer the chicken to oven and roast for 15 minutes. Turn chicken breast side up and continue to roast for an additional 15-20 minutes or until juices from thigh run clear when pricked (internal thigh temperature is recommended to be at 165 degrees).

Set chicken on a platter (allow to rest for 10 minutes) and discard all but 2 tablespoons of pan drippings. Pour balsamic sauce into pan and heat on high for 2-3 minutes allowing sauce to reduce and thicken. Cut chicken into serving portions and spoon sauce over chicken. Top with melted butter with pistachios. Sprinkle pomegrante seeds to taste.

For pistachio butter topping
While chicken is resting, place 2 tablespoons butter into a small saucepan. Melt over medium heat. Add pistachios and cook for 2 minutes.

Small_roasted_tomatoes
For oven roasted tomatoes
Place tomatoes in oven safe dish and add 2 tablespoons olive oil,marjoram, oregano salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Place tomatoes in oven 5 minutes before chicken is done. Roast for 10 minutes, stirring occastionally. Add green onions and continue roasting 5 minutes. The tomatoes will be done just as the chicken is finished resting.

For sweet potato fries
As the chicken is resting and tomatoes are finishing in the oven, bring about 3 inches of a light oil (vegetable,peanut) to 325 degrees in a heavy bottom pan. Fry sweet potatoes for 4-5 minutes to cook through. The potatoes should be limp but not take on any color yet. Remove fries from oil and drain on paper. Increase oil temperature to 375 degrees. Place the fries back in the oil for an additional 1-2 minutes until they brown a bit on the outside. Drain fries on paper. Immediately dust with a pinch of cumin and kosher salt.


DC Restaurant Week - January 2008

CHECK OUT DC RESTAURANT WEEK PAGE FOR THE LATEST INFO ON DC RESTAURANT WEEK.

As we do every DC Restaurant Week, here's everything that the D.C. Foodies writers could track down about the menus. I think this is the most extensive list that has ever been published here, because of the help of the new D.C. Foodies writers, Mike, Ramona, and Robert.

Restaurants Extending DC Restaurant Week
Whole Month of January
Dino
Il Mulino
Tabaq Bistro
Oya

2 weeks
Domaso Trattoria - Jan. 31
Farrah Olivia - Jan. 31
Mio - Jan. 31
Posh - Feb. 2

1 week
Cafe Atlantico - Jan. 27
Corduroy - Jan. 26
Georgia Browns - Jan. 25
IndeBleu - Jan. 27
Jaleo - Jan. 27
Mie n' Yu - Jan. 27
Neyla - Jan. 27
Oyamel - Jan. 28
PS 7s - Jan 26th
Teatro Goldoni - Jan. 27
Urbana - Jan. 27
Willow - Jan. 26

Menus for DC Restaurant Week

100 King
Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and Dinner menus are available on the 100 King web site.

15Ria
Lunch & Dinner
15Ria's Restaurant Week menus are available on their web site. For dinner, they're offering a choice of 4 appetizers, 4 entrees, and 3 desserts. For lunch, they're offering a choice of 2 appetizers, 4 entrees, and 3 desserts. Click for their Lunch and Dinner menus.

701 Restaurant
Lunch & Dinner
Participating in D.C. Restaurant Week for Lunch and Dinner. 701's Restaurant Week menus are available on their web site. Click "Events" then Restaurant Week 2008 to see their menus for lunch and dinner.

Acadiana
Lunch & Dinner
Like the other Passion Food restaurants, Acadiana usually offers a good portion of their menu with some upcharges. We'll post the menu when it becomes available.

Ardeo/Bardeo
Lunch & Dinner
Ardeo and Bardeo are offering their full menu with some upcharges on certain items for dinner during DC Restaurant Week. Their latest menus are on their web site.

Bastille
Dinner Only
For D.C. Restaurant Week, Bastille will be offering a special menu for dinner found on their web site here.

Beacon Bar and Grill
Lunch & Dinner
Beacon Bar and Grill is offering their full regular menu for lunch and dinner. Here are links to their current menus. Lunch, Dinner, Dessert.

Belga Cafe
Lunch & Dinner
Belga Cafe's menus for lunch and dinner are available on their web site.

Bistro Bis
Lunch & Dinner
Bistro Bis usually offers their full menu for lunch and dinner during D.C. Restaurant Week. Check out their sample menu here.

B. Smiths
Lunch and Dinner menus are available here.

Bombay Club
Lunch & Dinner
Bombay Club has published their lunch and dinner menus on their web site under the "Events" tab.

Cafe Du Parc
Lunch & Dinner
Offering a special menu for lunch and dinner during D.C. Restaurant Week. Click for the menu. The regular a la carte menu will be available as well.

Ceiba
Lunch & Dinner
Ceiba is usually one of the more popular places to dine during DC Restaurant Week.  They usually offer most of their regular menu.  Click here for their current Restaurant Week menu.

Ceviche
Ceviche's menus for DC Restaurant Week are available on their web site.

Charlie Palmer Steak
Lunch & Dinner
Offering special menus for lunch and dinner. It should be noted that the special lunch menu is available all year.

Chef Geoff's
Lunch & Dinner
Downtown Lunch & Dinner
New Mexico Ave Lunch & Dinner

Circle Bistro
Lunch & Dinner
Circle Bistro always offers their full menu for DC Restaurant Week with some upcharges. Their current menu is available on their web site here.

Coeur de Lion
Lunch & Dinner
Lunch and Dinner menus for DC Restaurant Week.

Corduroy
Lunch & Dinner
A diner favorite during DC Restaurant Week, Corduroy is always a good choice. They offer their full menu for Lunch and Dinner with a couple upcharges, but it's a very good deal. Corduroy is also extending DC Restaurant Week until January 26th.

Cucina Vivace
Dinner Only
Cucina Vivace is only open from Tuesday to Sunday, so they will not be starting Restaurant Week until Tuesday, 1/15.  They will be offering a range of choices from their a la carte menu, but it should be noted that they also offer a three-course chef's menu featuring a trout entree for $33 or a pork entree for $38 every day.

D'Acqua Ristorante
Lunch & Dinner
D'Acqua's DC Restaurant Week menu is available on their website, but the site is Flash-driven so we can't offer a link directly to it on their site.  You can, however, view it here

Daily Grill Downtown - 18th Street location only
Lunch & Dinner
They will be offering selections from their menu, but they have not yet finalized their DC Restaurant Week menu. 

Daniel O'Connell's Irish Restaurant
Lunch & Dinner
Their DC Restaurant Week dinner offering will actually cost $32.08, and it will include a choice of soup or salad, escolar (white tuna) or lamb, and creme brulee or bread pudding.  Current menus can be found here. 

DC Coast
Lunch & Dinner
As in the past, DC Coast will offer several selections from their regular menu for DC Restaurant Week.  The menu has not yet been finalized, but you can see their current menu at their website. 

Dino
Dinner Only
Dino remains a standout among DC Restaurant Week participants - they will be offering their entire menu at the Restaurant Week price for the entire month of January (with a few upcharges).  From their website, it appears Wine Madness (33% off all wines $50 and over on Sundays and Mondays) will remain in effect, though several of their other deals - including a $24 three-course menu della serra that is normally offered Sunday through Thursday until 7 PM - will not be offered from the 14th to the 31st.

District Chophouse & Brewery
Lunch & Dinner
The Chophouse is offering several choices for each course from their regular menu for DC Restaurant Week.

Domaso Trattoria
Lunch & Dinner
One of the few really new restaurants participating in this Restaurant Week, Domaso is located in the new Hotel Palomar in Arlington (a Kimpton property).  Their menus can be found on their website, and they are offering their full menu with no upcharges. 

Extra Virgin of Shirlington
Lunch & Dinner
Extra Virgin is still setting their menus for DC Restaurant Week, but they will be offering selections from their current menus, likely with some upcharges.  They will feature live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday during Restaurant Week (7:30-11:30 on Thursday, 8-12 on Friday and Saturday).

Farrah Olivia by Morou
Lunch & Dinner
Chef Morou Ouattara's recent appearance on the Food Network's "The Next Iron Chef" has raised his already high profile even higher, and reservations for Restaurant Week proper have gone quickly.  However, Farrah Olivia will be offering their Restaurant Week special through the end of the month, so you may still be able to make a reservation to try Morou's unique fusion cuisine at Restaurant Week prices.  Their menus can be found under the "Events" section of their website (which is Flash-driven so we can't link directly to the menu). 

Filomena Ristorante
Lunch & Dinner
Filomena has not yet set their DC Restaurant Week menus, but their current menus can be found on their website.  They expect to have their menus available early this week.

Finemondo
Lunch & Dinner
Another restaurant taking full advantage of the chance to show off the full range of their cuisine, Finemondo will offer their entire menu (with a few upcharges).  Finemondo is only open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday.  They are not accepting reservations via OpenTable (unlike most participating restaurants), so you will need to call them at (202) 737-3100.

Firefly
Lunch & Dinner
Their DC Restaurant Week menu is not yet set is now posted on their web site. You can view their brunch, lunch, and dinner menus here. There will a $4 or $5 supplement for some dishes.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Dinner Only
Offering a choice of: Caesar salad or soup of the day; broiled New York strip loin, baked chicken with a Marsala wine mushroom sauce, or the fresh catch of the day; and New York style cheesecake or the sorbet of the day.  No upcharges, though sides will be available at regular menu prices.

The Fourth Estate at the National Press Club
Lunch & Dinner
The Fourth Estate is only open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, and their menu changes daily.  During DC Restaurant Week, the Fourth Estate will offer each day's lunch and dinner menus at the Restaurant Week prices.  Check their website on the morning of your reservation to see that day's menus.

Georgia Brown's
Dinner Only
As they have in the past, Georgia Brown's is extending their DC Restaurant Week participation through January 25th, though it should be noted that they are only participating during dinner hours.  Their Restaurant Week menu can be found on their website. 

Gerard's Place - also known as Gerard Pangaud Bistro
Lunch & Dinner
Although Gerard Pangaud Bistro is to be applauded for participating in the first Restaurant Week following Pangaud's return to the kitchen (after a year as an instructor at L'Academie de Cuisine), several of their menu offerings seem to miss the point of DC Restaurant Week.  Looking over the menus, you will find an upcharge of $12 for one of the entrees offered at lunch (a 60% increase in the price of the two-course meal).  Selecting the priciest menu item for each course at dinner would carry upcharges of $13.50, $13, and $14, respectively - for a total upcharge of $40.50 on a meal with an initial price of $30.08.  That being said, their menus offer quite a few options at the standard DC Restaurant Week prices as well, and most of them look delicious.

The Grille at the Morrison House
Dinner only
The Grille will be offering a pair of choices from their standard menu for each course during Restaurant Week.  Those choices can be seen here.

Grillfish
Lunch & Dinner
They're still working out their offerings for DC Restaurant Week, but you can expect to see them on their website early the week before Restaurant Week. 

Harry's Tap Room
Lunch & Dinner
DC Restaurant Week Lunch and Dinner menus.

Hook
Lunch only
Although only participating for lunch, Chef Seaver has created an entire menu for DC Restaurant Week that combines regular menu items with special items (pasta 'crabonara' made with Jonah crab, for example).  And because it is a Restaurant Week menu, guests can select any appetizer, any entree and any dessert for $20.08 with no upcharges. 

Hudson Restaurant and Lounge
Lunch & Dinner
Hudson is offering selections from their regular menu for DC Restaurant Week. They're also offering a late night menu for restaurant workers.

Il Mulino New York
Lunch & Dinner
Il Mulino
is an offshoot of the famous West Village restaurant in New York City, and they are among the more expensive Italian restaurants in Washington.  Restaurant Week offers a great chance to check out their menu, and they are extending their offering throughout the month of January.  They will be offering a mixed greens or Caesar salad for starters; a choice of pappardelle pasta with sausage, veal Marsala, chicken fra diavolo, or salmon with porcini mushrooms for entrees; and tiramisu or cheesecake for dessert.  There are no upcharges on any of their offerings.  Guests who don't want to participate in the Restaurant Week promotion can also order from the a la carte menu.

indebleu
Lunch & Dinner
indebleu separates their Restaurant Week menus into Smaller Plates, Larger Plates and desserts.  Guests are invited to choose one of each at both lunch and dinner.  Both of their DC Restaurant Week menus are available on their website, and they will be extending their participation through January 27th.

Indique & Indique Heights
Lunch & Dinner
As in the past, Indique will be participating for dinner only while Indique Heights will offer their DC Restaurant Week specials at both lunch and dinner.  Menus are now available on their web site: Indique and Indique Heights. 

J. R.'s Stockyard Inn
Lunch & Dinner
Their Restaurant Week menus is selections from their regular menus.

Jaleo - 7th Street, Crystal City and Bethesda
Lunch & Dinner
Offering their full extensive menu of tapas for DC Restaurant Week at all three locations for lunch and dinner through January 27th.

Juniper
Lunch & Dinner
Selections from the regular menu will be offered for 2008 Restaurant Week, and they do not anticipate any upcharges. 

KAZ Sushi Bistro
Lunch & Dinner
KAZ will be participating for both lunch and dinner, and their menus from January 2007's Restaurant Week can be found here.

Kinkead's, an American Brasserie
Lunch only

Kinkead's has indicated that they will only be participating in DC Restaurant Week for lunch from Monday, the 14th, through Friday, the 18th, and that they are almost full already.  Their menu will feature selections from their menu with a few specials. 

La Bergerie
Lunch & Dinner
La Bergerie is going to offer selections from their normal menus - including souffles - without upcharges.  It should be noted that they also offer a $20 two-course prix fixe lunch every day and a $35 three-course set menu daily from 5-6:30 PM every Sunday through Thursday. 

La Chaumiere
Lunch only

La Chaumiere will offer selections from this menu for $20.08 from Monday through Friday (1/14-1/18) only. 

La Tasca Spanish Tapas Bar & Restaurant - 7th Street, Alexandria, Clarendon & Rockville locations
Lunch & Dinner
The four La Tasca locations listed above are all offering the same special during Restaurant Week - all you can eat tapas from their regular menu for $20.08 at lunch and $30.08 at dinner. 

La Tomate
Dinner only

La Tomate will be offering several selections from their regular dinner menu, though the exact menu has not yet been determined.  They do not anticipate any upcharges.

Lavandou
Lunch & Dinner
Lavandou is offering set Restaurant Week menus for lunch and dinner, but patrons will also be able to order from the regular menu (though not at Restaurant Week prices).  It should be noted that Lavandou regularly offers three prix fixe menus every Wednesday night that offer three courses for $20.50, $26.50, and $31.50.

Legal Sea Foods - 7th Street and Crystal City locations
Dinner Only
Legal Sea Foods will offer a choice of Maryland Cream of Crab Soup or a Tortilla, Apple and Goat Cheese Salad as an appetizer.  Their entree choices will include their Signature Crab Cake Combo, Grilled Swordfish and Shrimp, a Fried Fisherman's Trio of shrimp, scallops and calamari, or a Yellowtail Flounder Stuffed with Crabmeat.  For dessert, they will offer Key Lime Pie or Boston Cream Pie. 

Leopold's Kafe
Dinner only

Leopold's Kafe will offer a unique menu for DC Restaurant Week that has not yet been posted, but patrons will be able to substitute for items from their standard menu for an upcharge.  They anticipate changing their Restaurant Week offerings midweek, as well, so you may want to call ahead.

LIA's Restaurant
Lunch & Dinner
Lunch Menu
Dinner Menu

The Liberty Tavern
Dinner only
Great participation from a relatively new restaurant!  Liberty Tavern will be offering any starter, any entree or pizza, and any dessert from their menu for $30.08 with no upcharges.

Lima Restaurant & Lounge
Dinner only
Lima's dinner menu changes weekly and has not yet been set for DC Restaurant Week, but their menu frequently features ceviches and entrees with a focus on South American flavors.

Mark and Orlando's
Lunch and Dinner
Mark and Orlando's will be offering their full menu for RW.

Mendocino Grille & Wine Bar
Dinner Only
Mendicino will offer their full menu and a few chef specials.

Mie N Yu
Brunch, Lunch and Dinner
Menus available here.

Mio Restaurant
Lunch and Dinner
Mio has both lunch and dinner DC Restaurant Week menus here on their website. Note that there are a couple of vegetarian options. Mio will also be extending RW Jan. 14-Jan. 31.

The Monacle on Capitol Hill
Lunch and Dinner
Both the generous lunch and dinner menus can be seen here.

New Heights
Dinner Only
New Heights is offering several imaginative choices for each category. RW menu here.

The Oval Room
Lunch and Dinner
Three course menu here.

Oya Restaurant and Lounge
Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and dinner menu on their website. Look under "menu". Oya is offering Restaurant Week for the entire month of January!

Oyamel
Lunch and Dinner
Oyamel is extending DC Restaurant Week through Jan. 28.

Perrys Restaurant
Dinner Only
Perry's is offering an extensive menu for DC Restaurant Week with only 2, $4 upcharges for beef and lamb.

Pinzimini in the Westin Gateway
Lunch and Dinner
Lunch menu here and dinner menu here.

Posh Restaurant & Supper Club
Dinner
Posh Restaurant is extending their DC Restaurant Week offer from until Feb. 2.

Poste Moderne Brasserie
Lunch and Dinner
Poste will be offering their full menu (plus or minus depending on the chef, last minute)

The Prime Rib
Lunch and Dinner
Luncheon and dinner menu here.

PS 7's Restaurant
Lunch and Dinner
PS 7's has a PDF page bookmarked on their website. Check back for details and book soon as they note they are filling up! PS 7's will also be extending RW an additional week according to someone who answered our call, but she didn't seem 100% sure. We will follow up to confirm.

Rasika
Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and dinner menu listed on their website here.

Restaurant K by Alison Swope
Lunch and Dinner
Restaurant K's RW menu will be posted on their website sometime the week of Jan. 8.

Ristorante iRicchi
Lunch and Dinner
A single menu is available here.

Ristorante Tosca
Dinner Only
Ristorante Tosca will be offering a version of their full a la carte menu.

Rasika
Lunch and Dinner
Rasika is offering a pretty comprehensive list of favorites for both lunch and dinner; a full list is available under the events section of their website.

Ristorante iRicchi
Lunch and Dinner
Ristorante iRicchi will be serving a special menu for both lunch and dinner-- the dinner menu is up and posted here.

Ristorante Piccolo
Lunch and Dinner
Ristorante Piccolo's menus are available on their web site.

Ristorante Tosca
Dinner only
Though this hasn't been confirmed, Tosca will likely offer a slightly altered version of their usually superb full menu with a few up charges. The menu should be posted here within the week.

Rock Creek Mazza
Dinner only
Rock Creek Mazza will be offering a special menu for dinner. It will be posted on their website by January 8th.

Ruth's Chris Steak House
Dinner only
Ruth's Chris will offer a limited menu with two choices of steak, one fish, and chicken. It will also include salad, side and dessert, also limited to two choices

Sake Club
Lunch and Dinner
Sake Club will be offering a sampling of sushi and items from the kitchen. An exact menu should be available on January 10th

Sea Catch
Lunch and Dinner
Sea Catch will be offering the following special Restaurant Week menu:

Lunch
Starter -- Choice of:
Soup of the Day
Caesar Salad
Sautéed Calamari

Entree -- Choice of:
Blackened Tilapia
Chicken Caesar Salad
Salmon Caesar Salad

Dessert -- Choice of:
Blueberry Cobbler
Chocolate Cake
Cheesecake

Dinner
Starter -- Choice of:
Soup of the Day
Caesar Salad
Risotto Shrimp Croquettes

Entree -- Choice of:
Grilled Salmon
Blackened Tilapia
Walnut Crusted Chicken Breast

Dessert -- Choice of:
Blueberry Cobbler
Chocolate Cake
Cheesecake

Seasons
Dinner only
The Four Seasons' resident restaurant will be offering the following "Tasting of Seasons" for dinner this January:

Starter:
Winter Citrus and Fennel Salad
House Cured Duck Prosciutto, Bibb Lettuce
Lemon- Licorice Vinaigrette
Or
Beluga Lentil Soup
Crispy Pork Belly, Slow Poached Quail Egg
Roasted Root Vegetables

Entree:
Caramelized Scallops
Cauliflower Puree, Sour Apples, Pea Leaves
Ras El Hanout Foam
Or
Organic Chicken Breast and Foie Gras Roulade
Celery Root Mash, Vinegar Braised Napa Cabbage

Dessert:
Pina Colada Creme Brûlée
Passion Fruit Macaroon
Or
Banana Chocolate Tart
Buttered Pecan Ice Cream

Sonoma
Dinner only
Sonoma will have their full menu available for DC Restaurant Week. For the first course, choose one selection from their ‘charcuterie’ section, with any one accent or one selection from their ‘salad & produce’ section or one selection from their ‘firsts’ section. For the second course, choose one selection from their ‘seconds’ section or one ‘pizza’ with any one ‘cheese’ and any one ‘addition’. For the third course, choose any dessert or cheese. There may be a few upcharges. Their current menu is on their web site.

Spezie
Lunch and Dinner
Spezie will be offering their full regular menu for lunch and dinner.

Stars Bistro and Bar
Lunch & Dinner
Lunch and dinner menu for DC Restaurant Week.

Stone's Throw Restaurant and Bar
Lunch and Dinner
The Woodley Park Marriot's Restaurant will be offering the following:
Lunch:
1st Course
Roast Pumpkin Soup
with Caramelized Pumpkin Kernels and Port Craisins
Or
Stone’s Thrown House Salad
Mixed field greens with sherry shallot vinaigrette, shaved carrots, sliced radish, and tear drop tomatoes

2nd Course
Prime Beef Tenderloin Tips
With St. Pete Bleu Cheese and Caramelized Onion Sauce, Rosemary Papardelle pasta, Cipollini Onions, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, and Arugula
Or
Roasted Wiled Striped Bass
Verjus Sauce, Braised Red Cabbage, and Parsley Risotto

3rd Course
Ricotta Brule
With honey raspberries
Or
Milk Chocolate Mousse
With salted caramel center

Dinner
1st Course
Roast Pumpkin Soup
With Caramelized Pumpkin Kernels and Port Craisins
Or
Stone’s Thrown House Salad
Mixed Field Greens with Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette, Shaved Carrots, Sliced Radish, and Tear Drop Tomatoes

2nd  Course
Maple Leaf Farm Duck Breast
With Szechuan Spice Crusted with Curry Coconut Chutney, Snow Pea Shoots, Passion Fruit and Gastrique Sauce
Or
Forest Blend Mushroom Ravioli
House Made Ravioli with Wild Forest Mushrooms, Fried Sage, with Pecorino Cheese and Pernod Cream Sauce
Or
Braised Kobe Beef
Truffled Mousseline Potatoes, Pysane Cut Mirepoix Vegetables, and Fried Celery Leaf

3rd Course
Ricotta Brule
With Honey Raspberries
Or
Milk Chocolate Mousse
With Salted Caramel Center

Sushi-Ko
Lunch & Dinner
Sushi Ko's lunch and dinner menus for DC Restaurant Week.

Tabaq Bistro
Dinner only
Tabaq's Restaurant Week menu is now posted on their website, and will be featured throughout the month of January!

Taberna del Alabardero
Lunch and Dinner
The Taberna will be offering the following small, but impressive menu for lunch and dinner.

Teatro Goldoni
Lunch and Dinner
The Teatro will be offering a special Restaurant Week menu for Lunch and Dinner through January 27th which is available here on their website.

TenPehn
Lunch and Dinner
TenPehn will be offering an extensive set of specials (tanamount to their complete menu) for both lunch an dinner, with a small upcharge on the lobster and lamb chops at dinner.

Tuscana West
Lunch and Dinner
DC Restaurant Week menus are posted on their website.

Urbana
Lunch and Dinner
Urbana will be offering its full lunch and dinner menu at Restaurant Week prices throughout. The menu is available on their website.

Trattoria Nicola's
Lunch and Dinner
The Embassy Suites' fine restaurant will be offering the following menu for Restaurant Week:

Lunch:
First Course:
Zuppa Pasta e Fagioli
(Traditional  Italian pasta with beans soup)
Or
Insalata Caprese
(Tomato & Mozzarella with fresh basil & olive oil)

Second Course:
Gnocchi ai Quattro formaggi
(Potato dumplings in a four cheeses sauce)
Or
Salmone al Salmoriglio
(Grilled salmon in a lemon, capers, garlic olive oil parsley sauce)
Or
Pollo alla griglia
(Thinly grilled chicken breast with capers, lemon and olive oil)

Dessert:
Semifreddo al croccante
(Semi-frozen Ice cream with almond brittle)
Or
Panna cotta ai frutti di bosco
(Italian pudding with wild berries)
Or
Tiramisu
(Espresso soaked ladyfinger layered with mascarpone, coffee liqueur and cocoa)

Dinner:
First Course:
Zuppa Pasta e Fagioli
(Traditional  Italian pasta with beans soup)
Or
Gamberi Fritti
(Lightly fried floured Shrimps served with garlic aioli and marinara)
Or
Insalata Nicola
(Our signature salad with field greens, sun dried tomatoes, sweet gorgonzola, pear and red onions in a balsamic vinaigrette)

Second Course:
Pappardelle al sugo di agnello
(Pappardelle pasta in a lamb & mushrooms ragu)
Or
Sogliola al Limone
(Lemon Sole in a citrus butter sauce )
Or
Fettine di maiale alla griglia con rosmarino e aglio
(Grilled pork chops in a rosemary, garlic olive oil sauce)

Dessert:
Semifreddo al croccante
(Semi-frozen Ice cream with almond brittle)
Or
Espresso crème Brule

Vegetate
Dinner Only
Vegetate will be offering their entire dinner menu for Restaurant Week.

Vidalia
Lunch and Dinner
Vidalia will be offering a full lunch menu and an expurgated dinner menu. A sample menu (subject to change) is available here.

Willow
Lunch and Dinner
Willow will be offering an extensive special menu for both lunch and dinner during DC Restaurant Week and will be offering it through January 27th. There is an optional wine pairing available for a nominal fee. The menu should be available here on their website as of January 6th.

Zaytinya
Lunch and Dinner
Zaytinya will be offering a limited menu for Restaurant Week: for lunch, guests will select a spread, vegetarian item, meat or fish item, and dessert; for dinner, its a spread, vegetarian item, meat item, seafood item, and a dessert. Their full restaurant week menu is available here.

Zola
Lunch and Dinner
As they have done since the event's inception, Zola will be offering their full lunch and dinner menu at Restaurant Week prices. Their current menus are available under the "Cuisine" section of their website.


Mozzarella di Bufala Campana

Packaging Like most Americans, I grew up knowing three kinds of mozzarella: shredded (for use on English muffin pizzas), low-moisture blocks (for dicing and using in lasagna and other baked dishes), and Polly-O String Cheese (for use in school lunches).  It wasn't until later that I learned about fresh mozzarella - with its soft texture and its slightly salty tang, it was like a completely different cheese.  But this revelation was just a first step, and the "fresh" mozzarella I was enjoying still came from large producers like Polly-O and Belgioioso.  I had yet to try mozzarella in its purest and most delicious form:  mozzarella di bufala campana (buffalo mozzarella).

Buffalo mozzarella is a fresh cheese made from the milk of water buffalo (not the American bison many people visualize when they hear 'buffalo').  When made by hand, the process involves finely chopping the curd from buffalo milk, immersing it in hot water (to stiffen the curd), kneading the stiffened curd and separating it into individual balls.  These balls are then soaked in brine (to absorb salt to help the cheese maintain its texture), and then stored in their own whey to preserve them for up to 24 hours.  This production method can be traced back to at least the twelfth century, and it results in a cheese that is at once creamy and tangy, soft and chewy.

Eager to compare mozzarella di bufala side by side with cow's milk mozzarella, I bought both along withExteriors  some prosciutto di Parma from A. Litteri, a tiny warehouse of a store in Northeast DC nearby to H Street and Gallaudet University.  Litteri is the real deal - a more authentic version of the Italian Store in Arlington.  They carry a wide range of imported Italian food items, a variety of wines at some very competitive price points, and selection of fresh-frozen pastas and sauces.  But they are best known for their deli counter, which features a great variety of cold cuts, cheeses, and delicacies like stuffed peppers, assorted olives and salt-packed capers.  They also offer some of the best made-to-order sandwiches available in the city.  But I digress.

I returned home with my purchases and began my examination.  At first glance, the two seemed quite similar - despite the differences in their sizes, the balls had similar colors and external textures.  But there were two things that struck me about the mozzarella di bufala: it had significantly more irregularity along its surface, showing numerous strands of curd where the cow's milk mozzarella was largely smooth; and it felt softer when pressed, as though it were holding in quite a bit of liquid.

Interior I then proceeded to cut the two mozzarellas in half, so I could take a look at their interiors.  The differences between the two cheeses were more readily apparent at this point.  The knife slid through the mozzarella di bufala with minimal resistance, and the cheese immediately began to release its moisture.  As I had felt, there was quite a bit of whey stored within the cheese.  In addition to their different moisture contents, the cheeses presented very different cross-sections.  The buffalo mozzarella looked as though it were made from layered strands of curd that had been pressed together, while the cow's milk mozzarella gave a much more solid and uniform appearance.  It held its shape better and required more force to slice through it without flattening it in the process.

PlateFinally, I moved on to taste.  I plated the two cheeses on either side of my prosciutto and noticed again  the difference in texture and moisture (the mozzarella di bufala is on the left in the picture to the right).  Then I took a bite from one of the slices of mozzarella di bufala, and I was stunned.  I am a big fan of insalata caprese, a simple 'salad' of fresh basil, sliced tomatoes and mozarella drizzled in olive oil, but I often find that I need to add salt and pepper to fresh cow's milk mozzarella to give it any flavor beyond a fresh, light cheese taste.  The buffalo mozzarella made it immediately clear that no such seasoning was necessary - it already boasted a salty tang that lingered even after the slice had all but melted away in my mouth.  The wet texture and the freshness of the curds allowed them to dissolve quickly as I was chewing, something I had never experienced with fresh cow's milk mozzarella.  This was mozzarella taken to an entirely different level.

A. Litteri's sells mozzarella di bufala campana in 250g (~8.5 ounces) balls for $8.99, but it is widely available in cheese shops, specialty stores and even grocery stores like Harris Teeter and Trader Joe's at a variety of price points.  I would encourage you to think carefully about where you buy, however, as buffalo mozzarella is at its best very soon after it is made.  If it has been sitting on a grocery store shelf for a week or more, its quality is very likely to suffer.  This is a cheese best enjoyed as soon as possible, and your best bet for fresh mozzarella di bufala is a cheese shop or a trusted deli counter.  Enjoy!


Wine Gone Bad

With the holiday season just barely in our rear view, no one needs to be reminded that modern life moves very very fast-- and in a world where instant gratification is the norm and patience is not the most touted virtue, most wine is consumed well before its time. While it's true that most wine on the market is meant to be consumed in the first year of its life, many of the most 'highly rated' and interesting wines require years of bottle aging before they truly open up, and most people just don't have the time or money to commit to the endeavor. Of course, you could buy your wine from a collector who no doubt has any number of fantastic vintages in his cellar-- but alas, market price on the older stuff is insanely high, and you can never completely vouchsafe the conditions under which that bottle has been kept. No, if you are hankering for that old wine taste but haven't laid your plans 20 years in advance, your best bet is a wine thats been maderized-- a wine gone bad.


Jonesy_2

Wine in a bottle does not exist in a vacuum. Whether topped with cork or a screw-top or dispensed from a box, all closures allow for a tiny amount of air to enter and leave the container. It is this chemical interaction with the air that allows a wine which has been kept at the right temperature to age gracefully for years. If that temperature is too high, however, or the wine is allowed to much exposure to the air, the whole process occurs way too quickly, bacteria begin to grow, the wine breaks down, and one is left with a rather expensive bottle of vinegar. The same is true during production, so a winemaker must be diligent in maintaining the proper temperature throughout his facility. Excessive heat and oxygen are bad-- most of the time. If however, our hypothetical winemaker uses a lot of heat and exposes the nascent wine to a lot of oxygen, something magical happens-- he has made pre-aged wine!


Dark

This in a nutshell is the process of maderizition, or the deliberate exposure of wine to heat and air over long periods of time. Like silly putty, the popsicle, and other great discoveries, the process was discovered by accident when 17th century sailors found that the wine they picked up on the tiny island of Madeira (namesake of the process) tasted much better after a months long trek through the tropics than it did fresh in port. Believing the wine affected by the motion of the ship and not simply the heat, merchants began to send their wine on tropical voyages simply to have it return in a more potable condition. Nowadays producers are more keen on sedentary heating methods, which yield a similar effect.


Wines given this treatment will take on a dark amber or golden tone, depending on the grapes used and the exact method employed. Most are fortified wines-- meaning they have had brandy added during fermentation-- and are therefor quite strong in alcohol, ranging 18-20% in most cases. Most are sweet, in the case of Cream Sherry or Tawny Port, but there are several bone dry examples from both Spain and Madeira. In varying degrees all posses a rich, caramelized, borderline-burnt characteristic indicative of the process. Depending on the level of sweetness, they run a surprisingly wide field of food pairings: try a medium dry wine such as a Bual Madeira or a Amontillado Sherry with nuttyPearmund desserts or simple biscotti; dry offerings like Fino Sherry pair very well with cream based seafood chowders and other thick soups; sweeter wines like Tawny Port and Cream Sherry have the strength and sweetness to stand up to even the most rich chocolate cake, and certain of the latter are brilliant over ice cream!


Maderized wine does indeed taste old, and that is part of the reason it is rather out of fashion-- therefore, supply may be short, but prices are superb. The Trevor Jones Jonesy Port is a wonderful value at about $10-- this Australian answer to the Portuguese classic contains wine over 45 years old! As with all things Australian the fruit takes the driver's seat, but look for caramel on the finish accompanied by herb and cinnamon spice. To experience the full range Sherry has to offer seek out the wines of Lustau-- they produce everything from a bone dry Fino to the absolutely sweetest wine (the East India Solera) I have ever tasted, and are very well priced in the $14-$25+ range. Madeira, the most quintessential of maderized wine, is a bit thin on the ground-- however, a few producers have a pretty good presence in the DC market. Leacock's 10 year Bual (about $40) is a great medium dry wine with a fantastic viscous texture; consider putting a dash in your seafood bisque, as it will add that delicious nutty character in a way that a cheap alternative just can't replicate.


Finally, if you like to buy local, Pearmund Winery produces an esoteric, unfortified wine called Vin de Sol. Hearkening back to the early days of Sherry, this wine is actually exposed to direct sunlight in glass pipes for months before bottling-- it is dry, almost bitter, with a raisiny/molassasy finish, full but not syrupy body, and surprising acidity. It is available at the winery for around $20.