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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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Welcoming Spring in an Equinox Kind of Way

March 28, 2013

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

Todd Gray, the Chef/Owner of Equinox is one of Washington’s most beloved chefs.  Aside from creating delicious food, largely sourced from the mid-Atlantic Region, he is known for being one heck of a nice guy.  Let’s put it this way, he is as kind and generous as his food is delicious, and that’s saying a lot!  The Bailliage of Greater Washington looked forward to enjoying the hospitality of his restaurant and staff on March 28, 2013.

Chef Gray created a delightful menu that began with four passed canapés that were enjoyed with NV Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne.  The crusted Point Judith calamari served with garlic aioli was absolutely addictive.  They were tender and cooked perfectly.  A lovely counterpoint to the calamari was the tartare of ahi tuna on crispy nori chips.  The tuna melted in our mouths while the nori chip added a satisfying crunch.  The Persian style gnocchi in silver spoons with duck Bolognese was full flavored and delicious.  The final canapé was the tempura of Le Bocage shiitakes with watercress “Verde.”  These were as light as air and had that perfect balance of the mushroom’s umami flavor brightened by the acid of the Verde sauce.

We were delighted to welcome a number of new members to this dinner who will be inducted in a few weeks’ time at the Metropolitan Club.  Specifically, brothers Patrick and Harold Charles as well as Mark Lewonowski were in attendance.  Although not new to our chapter, Kevin Crummett will be joining his sister and brother-in-law, long-time Chaîne members, Janice and Michael McHenry as a Chevalier.  We also enjoyed the company of one of our newest transfers, Patrick Birchall, Maître de Table Restaurateur, and General Manager of the Willard Hotel.

When we were seated, our first course was a silky rice bean soup served with a generous slice of seared Hudson Valley foie gras with crisp pancetta and shaved scallions.  Carla Mayuri, a member of our wine committee, spoke briefly about each wine after it was served.  For this course, the Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand was fruit forward.  At first blush, one might think this was an unusual pairing with the foie gras; it was perfect when put in the context of the silky rice bean soup.

The second course which was the raviolini of sea scallops and lobster served under the roasted blue prawns with a citrus-saffron butter and coriander leaves as perfectly paired with the 2009 Borgeot Chassagne-Montrachet Vielle Vigne. The crisp mineral tones of this chardonnay was both buttery and with aromas of lemon, quite lovely with the seafood in this course.   Our seafood course was followed by the thyme roasted breast of California squab served on a pearled barley risotto with chanterelle mushrooms, a smoked onion coulis and a Périgord truffle jus.  The Pinot Noir added lovely notes of berries which were quite complimentary to the squab breast.  Our final savory course was the 142° Angus beef short rib served atop a silky blue cheese polenta with grilled Le Bocage pea shoots and accented by a green peppercorn-shallot jus.  The 2010 Catena Malbec from Argentina was a wonderful choice and strong enough to complement both the blue cheese polenta and the short rib.  Our final course was a bittersweet chocolate dacquoise served with a salted caramel gelato, espresso powder and some delightful candied kumquats.  For this course, the JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese was a fine accompaniment.

Vice Conseiller Culinaire Chef Francois Dionot, and Chambellan/Bailli Paul Haar, greeted Chef Todd Gray and his staff when they joined us at the end of the evening.  Confreres welcomed them with appreciative heartfelt applause.  In his comments, Francois Dionot declared the meal to be perfect and discussed each of the dishes.  We all concurred, as another delightful Chaîne evening came to a close.

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