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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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Mid-Atlantic Assemblage Delights with Inductions, Awards and the Ultimate Spring Repast

May 30-31, 2009

It was with great fun and ceremony, the Bailliage of Greater Washington hosted the Mid-Atlantic Assemblage in May, 2009. The weekend festivities began with the multi-Bailliage Grand Induction and black tie Dinner at the elegant Park Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. The extraordinary menu was designed by Chef Brian McBride.   Vice Eschanson Ellen Kirsh, Vice Chargée de Mission Carol Assmann, Bailli Honoraire Len DePas and Vice Conseiller Culinaire, Francois Dionot all attended the tasting dinner to finalize the pairing of the wines with each course.

The evening festivities began with an induction ceremony hosted by Bailli Provincial Georges Muller. For the first time in many years, a National officer from the Chaine, Chancelier Sandra Miller joined us, and was the inducting officer for the event. She explained the history of the Chaine to those gathered and soon began the induction ceremony. With a nod to their warm family friendship, Christina Marie Renda was inducted as Ecuyer by Bailli Provincial Georges Muller.  Chancelier Sandra Miller inducted the following as Chevaliers into the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.:  John Robert Boyer, Christopher (C.W.) Gilluly, Richard Seale and Mr. Daniel Silva.  Joining them, as newly inducted Dames de la Chaine in the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C., were Martha Alice Gilluly and Dorothea S. Skodon.  Heidi L. McLain was inducted as Professionnel du Vin.  Although not present, Ellen Kirsh was elevated as Vice Echanson of the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C. at the National Meeting of the Société Mondiale du Vin in Napa, California.  Also in attendance for the festivities, were David Lawson, the very first Bailli of the Washington, D.C. Bailliage, and his wife, Beth Meyers.

There were two very special awards also given at the induction ceremony. Bailli Provincial Georges Muller presented Bailli Paul Haar with the Silver Star of Excellence for his outstanding service to La Chaine and the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D. C. Bailli Haar, surprised and delighted by this award, has invigorated the Washington, D.C. Bailliage with his energy, charisma and vision.  Last, but by far, not the least, was the title of Conseil d' Honneur, which was awarded to Vice Conseiller Culinaire Francois Dionot for his many years of outstanding contribution to the Chaine.  Chef Dionot is the founder and director of L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland and taught, influenced and is revered by generations of chefs throughout the United States. His wife Patrice, son Christophe and daughter Clarice were all there to see him receive the award.

As we moved to the reception area, we were greeted with passed appetizers and Louis Roederer Brut Premier. A special guest was introduced to those gathered, Roland Celette, Attaché Cultural, Directeur de al Maison Française of The Embassy of France to the United States.  As we took our seats, the first course of lobster, yellow beet and pole bean salad with rosemary vinaigrette was served along with Guegniard Savennieres La Croix Picot 2003. The pan braised turbot with spring vegetable minestrone and lemon verbena was a delight. The pairing with De Pavie Macquin Le Rose 2008 was absolutely perfect.  As we awaited the Moulard duck breast over Israeli couscous "risotto" with Cepe mushroom, the Domaine de l'Arnesque Chateauneuf du Pape 1998 was being poured.  Each course surpassed the other in a symphony of flavors. The loin of lamb wrapped in fennel and prosciutto with potato gratin was paired nicely with the Ricci Vineyard Zinfandel 2000. The next course, the foie gras crème brûlée was a sinfully delicious combination of foie gras with nuts and dried fruit set atop the caramelized topping.  The Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume 2003 was a perfect complement.  Finally, when we thought we could consume nothing more sublime, we were served a lemon panna cotta with strawberry sorbet atop fresh strawberry soup with a citrus crisp. The wine served was di Lenardo Vineyards (In my next life, I'll be Thin) Pass the Cookies 2007. All agreed that this was one of the finest Chaine dinners they had experienced in many years.

Chef McBride and his staff arrived to warm accolades and heartfelt applause.  He generously answered questions about the preparation of the meal, which represented what was fresh and seasonal. New relationships were forged among confreres, and despite the end of the meal, many lingered engaged in animated conversation. We reluctantly parted with the knowledge that we were going to be together the next day for a champagne brunch cruise down the Potomac. We met at the ship Odyssey and continued our great conversations, watching the Washington, D.C. skyline go by.  As we relaxed on a picture-perfect day, we experienced the warm camaraderie and good times found only at the best of Chaine events. Vive la Chaine!

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