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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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A Perfect Pair: Pre-Holiday Inspiration and Innovation

November 11, 2010

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

Jose Andres is known for his enthusiastic promotion of foods with Spanish or Latin American inspiration. Café Atlántico, located in the Penn Quarter in Washington, D.C., under the leadership of Chef Richard Brandenburg, takes that vision and continues to refine it with finesse and a healthy respect for what is local and seasonal. When a dinner committee consisting of Vice Conseiller Culinaire Francois Dionot, Argentier David Burka and his wife, Rebecca, as well as Judith Mazza, Vice Chargée de Presse, met with Chef Brandenburg and his staff for a preview tasting dinner, we found ourselves amidst a sea of riches. We had asked the Chef to dream and be creative when contemplating this very special dinner held for the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C. Chef Brandenburg did not disappoint. In fact, he said that he had been thinking about some of these dishes, but had not executed them nor (as of this writing) put them on the menu. We expect that is likely to change.

Not only was the menu delicious and prepared in a healthy manner, but the service and accommodation to various food preference was fabulous. If a Chaîne member had a special dietary request, a personalized menu was printed for that member and was at their place prior to service. The entire staff did everything they could to make this a carefree event.

We were delighted to welcome Chevalier Thomas Walsh and his wife, Kendall Houghton, who just transferred to the Washington Bailliage from Paris. We were also honored to have Bailli Rene Scheigg join his daughter, Dame de la Chaine Nicole for this event. Vice Echanson Ellen Kirsh was back from her sojourn in Italy, studying Italian and deepening her expertise in Italian varietals. The room was energized with new acquaintances mingling with old. Bailli Paul Haar welcomed members and guests, making everyone welcome.

We began with a few treats from the Café Atlántico Mini-bar. For those familiar with the world of molecular gastronomy, liquid olives were followed by "tumbleweed" of crisply fried beets. These were just enough to whet our palates and we soon were seated to begin our eight course journey through land and sea. The first seated course was a Spanish mackerel and caviar tartar with mango jicama, chive and lime, paired with Reserve Durand Sancerre 2009 which was light and refreshing. This was followed by oyster café which consisted of two perfect oysters topped with sea urchin, ginger and lime. Our palates were clearly awakened and we eagerly awaited the next course which was a Kabocha squash soup with apples, mushrooms and calamari, paired with Chateau Moncontour Vouvray 2007. This warm and seasonal soup was most comforting, yet unctuous and delicious. Scallop ceviche with charred tomato water, papaya puree, peppers, onions and popcorn was soon followed by grouper dende. The latter course was paired with Domaine Larue St. Aubin 2002 1er Cru les Combes. The meat courses followed consisting of Kobe malanga with habanero roasted tomato and paired with Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2008; and baby pig feijao with black beans, farofa and oranges served with Glen Eldon 2002 Dry Bore Shiraz. The rum cake spherefication, served with R.H. Buller Muscat Victoria (Solera) was a perfect finish. The courses were delicious and well prepared, and overwhelmingly light. Everyone remarked on feeling fresh and energized from the healthy yet exotic preparations. The meal ended with Chef Richard Brandenburg and his staff arriving to enthusiastic applause.

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