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Starting 2013 Right!

January 9, 2013

By Judith Mazza, Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.

When contemplating the wonderful choices for dinners we had for 2013, the Washington Bailliage decided to begin 2013 with a dinner at Newton’s Table, in Bethesda, Maryland.  Maître Rotisseur Chef/Owner Dennis Friedman specializes in a “new American” style of cooking in which French techniques are applied with an Asian twist.  The results are healthy, creative, perfectly executed, and just downright delicious.

A tasting committee consisting of Vice Echanson Ellen Kirsh, Dame de la Chaîne Carla Mayuri, Vice Chargée de Presse Judith Mazza, Vice Chargée de Missions, Louise Harkavy and Chevalier Allan Kam, met in advance to pair the wine and adjust the menu.  Newton’s Table General Manager and resident wine expert, Robert Hall was also helpful to the committee.

We began with three passed hors d’oeuvres, one more delicious than the last.  The first were the lightest gougeres we had tasted in recent memory, a savory Black Angus filet carpaccio, and a perfect bite of a spoon with poached lobster, hearts of palm, mango and a chorizo sofrito.  These were thoroughly enjoyed with Champagne, A. Margaine, Premier Cru, Villiers-Marmery Marne, France, NV.

We took our seats and began with a tri-colored meet salad paired with Dry Riesling, Pike’s, “Traditionale,” Clare Valley Australia, 2011.  The baby beets were filled with an herb cheese and pine nuts, fennel with a citrus and port wine reduction on the plate.  The second course was an ahi tuna, wrapped in nori and briefly cooked tempura style.  The sauce which accompanied it was rich and garnished with black sesame seeds.  The Soave, Corte Adami, Verona, Italy, 2011 was a perfect pairing adding a fresh acidity to the dish with tones of lemon and almond.

Our third dish of a Scandinavian style poached salmon, cooked rare and with a dollop of caviar on top reminded us as to why salmon is such a popular fish.  It literally melted in our mouths.  The Sancerre, Alphonse Mellot, “La Moussiere,” Loire Valley, France, 2011 comes from the best vineyard site of Sancerre and is made from organically grown grapes by a family who has been in the wine business for 18 and 19 generations!  The dry minerality balanced the richness of the fish.  Prior to being served our last savory course of a herb-rubbed venison tenderloin over a rosemary-parmesan polenta, we were treated to a grapefruit sorbet topped with a candied basil leaf.  The freshness of the sorbet cleansed our palates, making the venison all the more delicious.  The polenta was very light while retaining a delightful texture.  The Valpolicella Ripasso, Veneto, Italy, 2009 had the depth and complexity to stand up to the venison.

The last course was a whimsical preparation of a “banana split” where banana sorbet was accompanied by chocolate, caramel, peanuts and black sesame.  Lovely lemon curd macaroons and miniature chocolate cappuccino cups filled with chocolate mousse ended the meal, leaving everyone quite satisfied.  The dessert was accompanied by Dulce Monastrell, Bodegas Olivares, Jumilla, Spain, 2008.

Mid-Atlantic Chambellan/Bailli Paul Haar made sure that all guests were introduced.  We recently purchased a wireless microphone with a portable battery operated speaker so that the microphone can be passed around the tables as confreres and their guests are introduced, making it easier for all to hear. Our Vice Echanson, Ellen Kirsh commented on the wine and the rationale for the pairings toward the end of the meal, and entertained questions. 

Vice Conseiller Culinaire Francois Dionot commented on the meal after Maître Rotisseur Chef/Owner Dennis Friedman emerged from the kitchen.  He noted that the wine pairings were terrific.  He also remarked on the lightness of several of the preparations and made sure that the serving staff was acknowledged for their seamless service.  Chef/Owner Dennis Friedman introduced his culinary team, lauding them for their effort and talent.  It was clear that the staff of Newton’s Table were delighted to be given the opportunity to cook for the Chaîne and the Confreres enjoyed the fruits of their labors. 

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