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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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The Oval Room – Washington’s Oval Office Restaurant: A Post-Valentine’s Day Sortie

February 17, 2016

By Claudette Veronica Ferron, Vice Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.

The Greater Washington D.C. Bailliage shared the love and shook off the winter blues at a post-Valentine’s Day sortie to the Oval Room, one of Washington D.C.’s premier power restaurants on February 17, 2016, located just steps from the White House’s Oval Office. Under the critically acclaimed culinary direction of Chef John Melfi, Bailliage members and guests experienced innovative Mediterranean influenced American cuisine, presented with lovingly creative artistry. Ensconced in the modern elegance of Oval Room’s newly renovated dining room, the Bailliage experienced a dining intimacy normally afforded, a virtual “Who’s Who” of Washington, D.C. politicians and media personalities. With stellar creativity, and culinary quiver full of fresh ingredients and techniques, Chef Melfi demonstrated his talent for transforming modern American cuisine into a ravishing Mediterranean adventure.

Beginning his gastronomic seduction, the Chef tempted diners with exquisite appetizer during an intimate reception. The Chef began his romance by tantalizing palates with unctuous crab cakes with creole aioli; a velvety foie gras mousse, with red currants; a tangy goat cheese tart with sweet black pepper honey and a luscious tuna tartare, with a seductive yuzu emulsion. And when the enthralling morsels were paired with a vibrant, Pierre Péters Cuvée de Reserve Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut, NV, (Champagne, France), the flirtation with eager appetites, was a fait accompli.

Moving gracefully to the grande affair de cuisine, the Chef continued his culinary courtship. Plunging into the first course, guests were enchanted by a blissful turnip velouté, dark cherry purée, black walnuts, and pickled celery, enhanced by an exceptionally expressive 2013 Rudi Pichler Smaragd Hochrain Grüner Veltliner, (Wachau, Austria), with lemon peel and grapefruit notes and hints of white pepper. The second course deepened the taste-filled liaison with a voluptuous Chicken Liver mousse, accompanied by Red Wine Apple butter and Pistachios, topped with a Brioche tuille, paired with a perfectly balanced and luscious 2014 Domain Huet Vouvray Clos du Bourg Demi-Sec, (Loire, France) with hint of vanilla and fresh acidity. An opulent pan seared fluke, paired with a squash-apple purée, crispy cauliflower, and tender golden raisins, matched with a critically acclaimed 2012 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Pur Sang, (Loire, France), showcased a superb minerality and rich floral notes, and heightened the experience of the third course, with its delicate but flavorful profile. The fourth course followed, carefully continuing the culinary crescendo towards contentment. Sumptuous duck breast, reposed on parmesan polenta, with crispy Brussel sprouts and delicious vanilla onion jam, paired with classic and unapologetically complex, 2004 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva (Rioja DOCa, Spain), was a lavish provocateur to the climatic consummation of the feast.

The rapturous repast was completed with a voluptuous dessert of a scrumptious goat cheese cake, citrus, pistachio cake with a sanguine blood orange sorbet seduced by a 2014 Quady Winery Red Electra Moscato, (Madera, California) a softly buoyant, dessert wine with dried orange and spice notes, the perfect ending to a sensuous meal.

Finally, the culinary tryst was delightfully punctuated by Chef Melfi’s skillful commentary on the nuances of the hedonistic feast. And in the end, Bailliage members and guests were enticed, romanced and seduced as Chef Melfi’s masterful creations left every palate pleased and every sense satisfied.

What’s next for the spirited Bailliage? An exotic culinary exploration to Thip Koa and an emersion into authentic Laotian culture is scheduled for the Ides of March! The Chaine on the Edge event will showcase the spectacular Laotian cuisine of Chef Seng Luangrath, and features a performance by the Laotian Heritage Society. Ma khaohuam phuakhao – Come join us!

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