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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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Ending the Year in an American Way

December 8, 2011

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

Chef Brian McBride had been at the helm of the Blue Duck Tavern, located in the Park Hyatt Hotel for 27 years. When the Bailliage of Greater Washington learned he would soon be leaving, we decided to schedule our Holiday Gala at his temple to locally sourced fine American cuisine, to enjoy his creations one last time. The Blue Duck Tavern, under the direction of Chef McBride, has long been known for elevating what is fresh and seasonal to new heights. We were not disappointed.

A small committee consisting of Chevalier d’Honneur, Emil Skodon and his wife, Dame de la Chaîne Dorothea Skodon, joined Chevaliers Dany Westerband and Anthony Ramdass along with Vice Chargée de Presse Judith Mazza and her husband Allan Kam at the tasting dinner. Chef McBride made a point of checking with us after each course to see if we had any suggestions or alterations to the menu. We did have a few minor adjustments and then turned our tasting notes over to Vice Echanson Ellen Kirsh for the final wine pairings.

We had a wonderful cadre of guests and members for our final event of 2011. We began with a fabulous selection of passed hors d’oeuvres during the reception as we quaffed Pierre Peters, Cuvee Reserve NV (Champagne, France). The tasty bites consisted of a quail egg and caviar in brioche, a “French kiss” (an Armagnac soaked prune filled with foie gras), crispy asparagus with prosciutto, and a crispy cilantro and crab fritter. Bailli/Chamballan Paul Haar and his wife, Xiangnan Haar made everyone feel welcome as they arrived. We enjoyed meeting Mark Andrew, Maître Hotelier, who just transferred his membership from the Vancouver Bailliage in British Columbia.

We were soon seated for our first course of scallop carpaccio with hackleback caviar in a champagne lime sauce accompanied by Cave de Saumur, Lieu-dit "Les PouchesChenin Blanc 2010 (Saumur, Loire Valley, France). The high acidity of the wine paired perfectly with the citrus in the sauce. This was followed by a slow roasted swordfish with charred eggplant puree with chick peas, olives and oregano. The Kunde Estate, Reserve Chardonnay 2006 (Sonoma County, California) was wonderful and oaky, a great pairing to accompany the smoked and roasted flavors of the dish. As we awaited our next course, Bailli/Chamballan Paul Haar arose and shared dates of upcoming events. However, when he said that the Grand Chapitre will be in Washington in 2013, enthusiastic applause broke out and members were eager to volunteer their time and creativity to make that event something quite special.

After guests and members were introduced, our third course of roasted New York State squab breast, confit of leg, Macaire potato and baby turnip soon arrived and was accompanied by Domaine du Clos des Fees,  Le Clos des Fees 2006 (Cotes du Roussillon Villages, Roussillon, France). Vice Echanson des Etats-Unis Honoraire, Tony Busalacchi led an interesting discussion on the wine as we awaited our next course. The fourth course of venison crepinette served with huckleberries, fregola sarda with Piave cheese was rich and delicious. It was accompanied by Dominus Estate 1998 (Napa Valley, California) which was strong enough to stand up to the venison. The final course of a chocolate and hazelnut form accompanied by M. Chapoutier, Banyuls 2009 (Rhone Valley, France) was soon followed by mignardises served with coffee.

Although the menu was created by Chef McBride, we had the pleasure meeting the new chef who had taken his place, Sebastien Archambault. He had only been in his position for two days and he, Chef de Cuisine John Melfi, and the rest of the team executed a wonderful dinner. They arrived to enthusiastic applause from our members and Vice Conseiller Culinaire, Chef Francois Dionot, shared his thoughts on the meal. Guests and members lingered in conversation, not wanting the evening to end. The staff was clearing the tables as the conversation continued!

If the mission of the Chaîne is to promote camaraderie at the table, the Washington Bailliage certainly accomplished that mission as we brought 2011 to a close.

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