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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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Feasting on Freshness in Winter at Cedar Restaurant

March 6, 2014

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

The winter of 2014 will go down as one of the longest and most tenacious in many years. The Bailliage of Greater Washington was eager to “say goodbye” to winter and planned a February event in a restaurant whose décor is more reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest than downtown Washington, D.C. where the restaurant is located. Chef Aaron McCloud, Executive Chef at Cedar Restaurant, is known for his devotion to farm to table dining; in season, he tends to a prolific garden on the restaurant’s rooftop, allowing him to preserve some of the bounty for his guests to enjoy during the cold winter months. Although Cedar Restaurant had been flying a bit below the radar and mostly known to insiders, after the culinary tour de force shown to the Chaîne, it would not remain so for long.

A tasting committee comprised of Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Thomas Walsh, Vice Conseiller Culinaire Provincial Honoraire Chef Francois Dionot, Vice Echanson Ellen Kirsh, Chevalier Allan Kam and Vice Chargée de Presse Judith Mazza had the privilege of pairing wine with the sophisticated menu.

We began with four passed hors d’oeuvres consisting of a tartlet of duck sausage and apple, grilled Florida shrimp with coconut and a Thai chili shooter, a merino lab crostini with sundried tomatoes and a spoon of pickled hedgehog mushrooms and chevre. These delightful bite-sized treats were full of flavor, perfectly balanced and enjoyed with the J.D. Temont Grand Reserve Brut NV (Champagne, France) throughout the reception. We were lucky enough to have the restaurant to ourselves that night, which gave us a comfortable space for the reception before we sat down for the plated dinner.

Mid-Atlantic Chambellan/Bailli Paul Haar was in fine form as he went from table to table to see that all guests and members were introduced. There was such a good energy in the room, that three guests submitted applications to the Chaîne on the spot, to make sure that they could be inducted a several weeks later at our annual Induction Gala. As a result, we are delighted to welcome Dame de la Chaîne Jaimie Baldinger, Chevalier Joseph Baldinger and Dame de la Chaîne Chanelle Gutari to the Bailliage of Greater Washington, as our newest members.

Our first plated course of Hamachi crudo with grapefruit, pickled fennel, spiced cucumber sorbet and micro mint was a refreshing way to begin the meal. It was fresh and light and the citrus paired beautifully with the Txakali Zudugarai Antxiola 2012 (Getariako Txakolina, Spain). As we were being served each course, Chef McCloud joined us to introduce the dish. This was very much appreciated by all who attended and reflected the attention to detail that clearly was paid when constructing each course. In addition, we had the honor of having Jay Youmans, an Advanced Level Sommelier, Certified Wine Educator, and Washington D.C.’s only Master of Wine join us to share his thoughts about the wine pairing. Between Chef McCloud’s comments and Jay Youmans comments, this was a meal that was enjoyed on many different levels. Confreres at the tables discussed the pairings and the courses with great enthusiasm throughout the meal.

Our second course was a Canadian foie gras au torchon served with walnuts, preserved cherries, pumpernickel and sauterne gelée. The textural and taste contrasts were playful and sinfully rich. We enjoyed this course with the Lake Chalice Cracklin’ Savie NV (Marlborough, NZ) which provided great balance. Our next course was an ode to a perfectly cooked diver sea scallop. This pan roasted sea scallop served atop braised kale, Meyer lemon puree and a champagne and caviar beurre blanc sang a beautiful tune and was in harmony with the Francois Chidaine, Vouvray “Les Argiles” 2012 (Loire Valley, France). The dry Chenin Blanc had the right notes of honey and fresh apples and yet echoed of the freshness of the sea.

Since we just enjoyed the bounty of the sea, we were soon to taste the wild bounty of the land as we were served a Texas wild boar chop over oxtail ravioli, sitting in a delicious oxtail consommé in which Thumbelina carrots, turnips and rutabaga were poached to perfection. The wine pairing of the Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz 2005 (Barossa Valley, Australia) was a “big” wine which stood up nicely to the big flavor of the wild boar.

The final savory course was one of the most unusual cheese courses I have ever had. It consisted of a slice of Humbolt Fog, a decadent Grayson “grilled cheese” sandwich, and an ethereal Stilton fritter served with stewed apples and beet sorbet. Wow! Talk about creativity! Those cheeses were creatively paired with the Gaja Sito Moresco Barbaraesco 1999 (Lange, Italy). Everyone was talking about the pairing and the innovative cheese preparations which seemed like a party on a plate!

Our final course was a deconstructed banana split which consisted of a very rich chocolate mousse served with slices of caramelized bananas on one side and cherry ice cream on the other. Candied hazelnuts added the requisite crunch. The Siefried Late Harvest Riesling “Sweet Agnes” 2012 (Nelson, New Zealand) ended a sweet culinary experience on a sweet note.

Vice Conseiller Culinaire Provincial Honoraire Chef Francois Dionot presented a Chaîne ceramic plate to Chef McCloud and his team to enthusiastic and appreciative applause by all.

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