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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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Falling In Love with Autumn Through the Iron Gate

October 27, 2015

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

They say “falling in love is sweeter the second time around,” and through the culinary artistry of Executive Chef Anthony Chittum, displayed at the historic, reincarnated Iron Gate, members and guests of the Greater Washington D.C. Bailliage discovered that this optimistic sentiment can be applied to the landmark restaurant in the nation’s capital on October 27, 2015. In November 2013, the celebrated Iron Gate reopened under the direction of Chef Chittum. Prior to closing two years earlier, the restaurant was Washington, D.C.’s oldest continuously operating restaurant, and now under the guidance of its new epicurean architect, the Iron Gate has experienced a wonderful rebirth. In the warmth of the charming carriage house, where American civil war generals once strategized, diners experienced an enchanting composition of gastronomic originality, illuminating Chef Chittum’s commitment to local sourcing from premier producers and food artisans. Recognized for his devotion to fresh artisanal products and his innovative gastronomic talent, Chef Chittum was a 2015 James Beard Award Semi-finalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic Region and earned the Iron Gate three Stars from Tom Sietsema’s – Washington Post review in 2014, among several other coveted culinary awards.

The lovely evening of epicurean pleasure began in the cozy court yard, overhung with grapevines and a century old Wisteria, under a protective awning with fire-pits and torches warming the hands and hearts of diners in the cool October air. Starting with sybaritic oysters with Hackleback Caviar, followed by a succulent lamb tartare, with yogurt, carrots, and mint and luxurious sweetbread Argo dolce with Virginia peanuts, culminating with an herbaceous charred broccoli married with house Ricotta and anchovy, Chef Chittum demonstrated his Italian and Greek influenced modern American style. The scrumptious canapes and the epicurean celebration of the subtle extravagance of autumn were enhanced by a 2004 Bollinger La Grande Anne (Champagne, France), a delicately sparkling, gracefully floral, barrel fermented champagne with a crisp structure and light finish.

Retreating to the charm of the authentically appointed colonial dining room, members and guest continued to celebrate the joys of gourmet indulgence as Chef Chittum continued to showcase his penchant for locally sourced, farm to table artisanal ingredients. The culinary essay opened with a voluptuous, ocean-fresh seafood salad with a bright celery and pear compote. This first course was perfectly paired with a buoyant 2012 Chateau Medeville Respide (Graves, France), an herbaceous and slightly briny wine with hints of tropical fruit. Next diners were treated to a second course of delicate baked crespelle with subtly flavorful cabbage and Parmesan, gently enhanced with a 2012 Jean Marc Brocard 1er Cru Cote de Lechet (Chablis, France), a classic medium bodied Chablis with delicately flavored layers and fine minerality. With the third course Chef Chittum displayed his culinary dexterity presenting a succulent Duck Two Ways with delicious polenta cappellacci and an earthy kale and balsamic grape mélange. Accompanying the duck was a 2012 Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon), a ripe, intensely fruited purple hued wine with molasses and anise notes, silky tannins and bright acidity. The fourth course, a robust Virginia beef with potato keftedes, mushrooms and black truffle highlighted the epicurean renaissance. The beef course was embellished by a careful pairing with a 2012 Round Estate Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California), a Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Malbec blend with aromas of black cherry and ripe berries, nuances of licorice and cocoa, hints of roasted almonds, and smooth tannins. For those with food restrictions a sampling of tender Chilean Sea Bass substituted for the duck and beef courses.

Finally, Chef Chittum completed diners’ reintroduction to the Iron Gate with a beautiful fifth course. A caramelized Seckel pear with chocolate yogurt mousse, almonds, and cocoa nibs, complemented by a Fonseca Porto, 20 year Old Tawny Port (Doro Valley, Portugal), a dark, full bodied, velvety textured port, with complex flavors of ripe plum, warm spice and oaky butterscotch notes, with an elegant finish, was the perfect ending to the culinary affair.

Ultimately, Chef Chittum engaged Bailliage members and guests with a clear demonstration of innovative culinary skill and talent befitting the next chapter of the Iron Gate, one of the nation’s most illustrious restaurants.

What’s next for the dynamic Greater Washington, D. C., Bailliage? Their smashing Holiday Gala event at the Willard Hotel, one of Washington’s most historic and beautiful venues. And this year there will be an exceptional treat – the champagne reception and superlative dinner will be held in the Crystal Room, renowned for its spectacular beauty and rich architecture. It will be a holiday event to remember and the perfect ending to another fabulous year with a magnificent innovative Bailliage. Come join us.

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