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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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Savoring Siren's Michelin-Starred Cuisine

October 25, 2018

By Bill Babash, Vice Chargé de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.

Maître Rôtisseur Chef Robert Wiedmaier has been a favorite chef of the Bailliage of Greater Washington for some time. His flagship restaurant, Marcel's, hosted the Chaîne in 2008, 2009, 2015, and 2017 – each time delighting diners with his innovative and superbly executed French-Belgian cuisine. With this history, the bailliage was excited to learn that the October 2018 dinner would be at Siren by Robert Wiedmaier, the seafood restaurant that he and co-owner and Executive Chef Brian McBride opened in DC's Scott Circle neighborhood just 18 months previously. Weeks before the dinner, news broke that Siren had earned a Michelin star, building the anticipation and heightening expectations for what was sure to be a dinner to remember. It was.

Finally, the long-awaited evening arrived and the bailliage gathered in one of Siren's sophisticated private dining rooms, featuring French doors opening to an outdoor terrace and a fire in the fireplace on one of autumn's first cool evenings. A glass of Charles de Cazanove "Brut de Cazanove" Premier Cru, NV greeted members and guests, and set the stage for the delights to come. Founded in 1811, the Cazanove house produces some of Champagne's most respected wines. Their brut is subtle with floral and fruity aromas and was outstanding with the passed hors d'œuvres. The chef whetted appetites with a foie gras mousseline with strawberry mostarda; citrus flavored Wellfleet oysters with mermaid's hair seaweed; and a Chataluga prestige caviar macaron with white chocolate crème fraîche. This surprising bite was a crowd favorite. The crème fraiche restrained the sweetness of the chocolate and together they were the perfect backdrop to the luxurious, salty paddlefish caviar that filled the macaron. The combination elevated the classic sweet-and-salty duo to a previously unimagined level.

An amuse bouche of lobster coral "soft serve" in a crisp cone opened the dinner. The lobster mousse was ethereal yet full of lobster flavor, while the cone had a hint of anise. The chef garnished the mousse with furikake, a Japanese-inspired blend of nori, lemon zest, and rice pearls. The color, light style, and berry and citrus zest aromas of Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé integrated nicely with the flavors of the amuse. From the heart of the Champagne region, this wine is a blend of chardonnay, pinot meunier, and pinot noir, and is vinified as a red wine.

The evening's first course was yellowtail crudo served with ginger and scuppernong grape ponzu, pickled woodear mushrooms, and suprêmes of navel orange. The accompaniments highlighted the firm texture and mild flavor of the perfectly fresh fish. Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé "Pur Sang" 2014, creamy with a long finish, was a great match. This domaine, in the upper Loire Valley, produces only pouilly-fumés. The Pur Sang – "thoroughbred" in French – is one of its four varieties, all of which reflect the winemaker's return to very traditional methods in every phase of winemaking, including tilling his vineyards with horses.

Tuna ganoush, served in a caviar tin, was the next surprise from the kitchen. Inspired by baba ganoush, this flavorful mélange of olive oil-poached tuna with coriander, fennel, lemon, capers, herbs, roasted red pepper, black olives, and garlic was delicious on house-made lavash, the dough for which contained a bit of yogurt for extra flavor.

The skill of the chef and his team in preparing delicate seafood was on full display in the second course, which featured olive oil-poached halibut and, as the menu playfully listed, "things in their shell." The beautifully cooked fish was accompanied by variety of hard-to-find mollusks – purple varnish clams, New Zealand cockles, and razor clams – all tender and subtly flavored. Smoked trout roe and cream infused with lamb bacon added nuanced depth to the plate, with baby bok choy completing the composition. A white Bordeaux was the natural choice of wine. The clay and limestone gravel in the Pessac-Léognan region give Chateau Carbonnieux Grand Cru Classé de Graves 2014 its classic dry, intense flavor. The Grand Cru Classé is a blend semillon and sauvignon grapes, creating a nicely round and "big" wine. The cool summer of 2014 and resulting slow ripening of the fruit made this a unique and noteworthy vintage.

The third course continued to showcase the talent and range of Siren's culinary team. The Rohan duck breast was as spectacular as the fish and seafood courses that had preceded it. The succulent duck was served with delicious blue Hubbard squash puree and glazed rutabaga. A puffed rice crisp created a nice texture contrast while bronze fennel and Szechuan-spiced foie jus added complex and rich flavors. The Chateaux La Tour de Mons Marquis de Mons 2009, with its soft tannins and full body, was a great choice. From the Margaux commune in Bordeaux, this luscious wine is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot.

Dinner culminated with the evening's final surprise, thanks to the imagination of pastry chef Maddy Morrissey. Each diner's dessert plate arrived with a baby pineapple surrounded by a mix of fresh pineapple, white chocolate, and coconut. Servers lifted the pineapple to reveal a kalamansi chiboust – a blend of crème pâtissière and meringue – atop a disk of Victoria pineapple cake. The tartness of the kalamansi and pineapple was a delicious counterpoint to richness of the chiboust. The dish was garnished with tapioca pearls that had been soaked in dragon fruit, turning them a vibrant red and adding a pop of color. The measured sweetness of the Domaine des Baumard "Quarts de Chaume" 2005 was a great match for this fun dessert. Made from chenin blanc grapes from the 124-acre Quarts-de-Chaume appellation, this is one of the Loire Valley's most sought-after sweet wines.

It was a remarkable dinner, leaving no doubt as to why Michelin has recognized Siren with a star. As the evening concluded, Bailli Judy Mazza thanked chef-owner Brian McBride for a wonderful evening and presented him with a Chaîne plate to commemorate the occasion. Chef McBride shared the credit and honor with Chef de Cuisine Andrew Cleverdon, who was behind the scenes all evening making the Michelin-starred magic happen for a most appreciative bailliage.

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