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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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Thip Khao – Passionate Laotian Cuisine, The Legendary Culinary Heritage of Laos

March 15, 2016

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

On the Ides of March, the Greater Washington, D.C., Bailliage, escaped to Laos, the emerald jewel nestled in the middle of Southeast Asia. Navigating the highways of urban traffic, members and guest of the Bailliage taxied into the heart of the Columbia Heights neighbor of Washington, DC, and landed at Thip Khao – Laos. The only Washington D.C., restaurant bestowed with the coveted honor of being named to the Bon Appétite 2015 list of the 50 best New Restaurants in America, and the top 100 restaurants in the Washingtonian magazine list for 2016. The magnificent manifestation of Laotian culinary heritage in the nation’s capital is the realization of Chef Seng Luangrath and her co-Chef and son, Bobby Pradachith, creative epicurean dream – the embodiment of exotic cuisine.

The spectacular dinner was a thrilling and spicy adventure through the unique epicurean landscape of an extraordinary Asian paradise. Throughout the feast, Chef Seng Luangrath, showcased Chef Pradachith’s innovative culinary spin on phenomenal Laotian creations, spotlighting the redolent spice of the lush grasslands, magical mountains, mystic traditions, and stunning culture, dazzling dishes enticed palates and romanced eyes.

In a vibrant, contemporary setting, the Chefs opened with fabulous hors d’oeuvres, paired with Lao Dark and Evil Twin Mission Gose beers, courtesy of Brian Kavanagh. Brian Kavanagh, local brew master extraordinaire, was responsible for the superb beer pairings for the entire meal. The Lao Dark was a crisp and clean premium authentic rice beer, brewed from a unique blend of the finest European and Laotian ingredients and the Evil Twin Mission Gose, was a tart, refreshing low alcohol beer. Both offerings perfectly accentuated the tantalizing flavors of the delicious appetizers. From the Sai Oua, tender morsels of pork infused with an herbaceous marriage of lemongrass, ginger and peanuts, and Moo Som, fabulous bursts of rice-cured pork belly, shrimp chip, pickled jicama, crispy shallots; to the Som Pah, rice cured Dorade, betel leaf, puffed sticky rice, dried chilies, kaffir lime leaf, pickled garlic, lemongrass, and ginger leaf, and Jaew Bong, a sensuous, velvety cucumber anointed with roasted Chili-fermented fish paste, diners were allured with titbits of spicy enticements.

Following the initial foray into the spiced garden of savory gastronomic blossoms, member and guests were treated to the first course: Tam Mak Houng, a refreshing shredded green Papaya salad, with cherry tomatoes, lime, Thai chilies and a seductive shrimp paste, accompanied by a Three Stars Above the Clouds, Farmhouse Saison beer, a subtle golden libation with hints of apricot and lychee, and an orange pith, bitters finish. During an engaging intermezzo, the Bailliage was generously graced with an enchanting performance by the Lao Heritage Foundation musicians and dancers, featuring phenomenally talented local Laotian children. After the beautiful presentation Bailli Judith Mazza introduced new members of the Bailliage: Joanie Brooks-Lindsay a transferee from the Tel Aviv Bailliage and John Dabbar a transferee from the Houston, Texas Bailliage.

Returning to the sumptuous banquet, the subsequent courses were a decadent feast of five exquisite offerings. Beginning with Pak Nam, ethereally crisp, flash fried watercress bathed in a silken sauce of indulgent mango, vibrant green apple, sultry cashew, shrimp and tangy tamarind paired with Atlas Rowdy Rye beer, rich nutty malt with a caramel sweetness, floral and toast notes, diners luxuriated in culinary delight. The Chefs followed with Nam Khao, crispy rice mingled with flakes of fresh coconut, earthy peanut and sour sausage wrapped in translucent lettuce, accompanied by a crisp Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin, a bright brew showcasing flavors and aromas of apricot, peach, mango and lemon. Exploring deeper into paradise, guests savored Ponh Paa Kaw a lightly pounded steamed catfish, smoked Thai eggplant, hot green finger chili, charred shallot/garlic, fish sauce, and hom peh (cilantro), deftly enhanced by a complex but smooth Stone Smoked Porter beer, with chocolate and coffee flavors infused with a subtle smokiness. Next came Khoa Soi Laung Prabang – delectable wide rice noodles, fermented soybean ragu, pickled jicama, enoki mushrooms, radish scallions and fresh herbs, paired with a Ballast Point Indian Pale Lager, featuring citrus notes with light spice, mango, yeast and hop flavors. And then there was Piing Leen, a succulent grilled beef tongue with seductive spicy lime and bitter sauce, enriched by an oaky Charm City Rosemary Mead with savory aromas and crisp flavors, mingled with a floral honey. Finally, the Chefs completed the feast with a unique Laotian dessert, Sun Kai Ya, coconut-cinnamon custard steamed milk in a luscious Kabocha pumpkin with crispy fried shallots and forbidden rice, a silken an extraordinarily exotic sweet creation, finished with Right Proper Brewing Two for the Seesaw, a light, smooth beer with delicate caramel and citrus notes.

In sum, Chef Seng and Chef Pradachith treated Bailliage members and guests to an evening of Laotian gastronomic passion at their very popular, new favorite of Washington foodies in the know restaurant.

What is next for the dynamic Greater Washington, D.C., Bailliage? Enjoying and celebrating the glories of April at 2941 Restaurant, under the direction of brilliantly talented Executive Chef Bertrand Chemel. No doubt the dinner will be unforgettable!

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