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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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"Subtle Culinary Music" at Plume In The Jefferson Hotel

February 21, 2010

By Paul S. Haar, Bailli of the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D. C.

On Sunday, February 21, 2010, the Washington, D.C. Bailliage was warmly welcomed by General Manager Franck Arnold to Plume Restaurant at The Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C., recently selected as the only Relais et Chateaux hotel in Washington, D.C. Its namesake, Thomas Jefferson, is renowned as a true lover of fine food and wine (with his own vineyards at Monticello) and one of our country's greatest Francophiles.

We felt magically transported to Paris as we entered Plume's ornate formal dining room illuminated by crystal chandeliers and animated by a dancing fire. Chef Damon Gordon teased our palates with spectacular passed hors d'oeuvres including house-smoked salmon, caviar and a delicious tempura, accompanied by Lamiable Brut Grand Cru Cuvee Les Meslaines Champagne 2003 from the wine cellar of the Washington, D.C. Bailliage. We all raised our glasses in a festive toast to Chevalier Dan Regard and his beautiful bride, Elizabeth Duall Regard.

Chef Damon Gordon commenced the evening's culinary adventure in earnest with a pre-appetizer of an enticing Scallop Boudin Blanc with Cauliflower Cream, Caviar and Micro Chives, a delight to the senses, accompanied by Chateau Doisy-Daene Grand Vin Sec 2006.  This seductive dish was followed by an amazing foie gras tasting of royale, seared and croquant with three garnishes, married with a Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Herrenweg de Turckheim Reisling 2006. Chevalier C.W. Gilluly, a decorated naval aviator, and his beautiful wife, Dame de la Chaine Marney Gilluly, were effusive in their praise for this amazing dish.

Chef Gordon then treated us to an extraordinary entrée of noisettes of Elysian Fields lamb with fennel boulangere and pollen with licorice lamb jus, perfectly paired with a delightfully rich and intense Chateau Clerc Milon Grand Cru 1996. The following cheese course was nothing less than Epoisse Royale with broche wafer and local honeycomb, a Burgundian delicacy (in which the cheese referred to by Brillat Savarin as "The King of All Cheeses" is rubbed with cognac) which reminded our beloved Vice Conseiller Culinaire Francois Dionot of his childhood in France. Dessert was indeed a treat – a cinnamon financier with roasted green apple and cinnamon ice cream. Both the amazing cheese course and the divine dessert were intriguingly paired with a Warre's Late Bottled Vintage Port 1999.

As we lingered over mignardises and chocolates and coffee, Bailli Paul Haar commended our Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Steve Lustig, Vice Echanson Ellen Kirsh and Professional du Vin Heidi McLain for their inspired wine pairings and presented a Chaîne pewter plate to Chef Gordon in grateful appreciation for his culinary artistry. Chef Damon Gordon and Sommelier Michael Scaffidi then presented their superb kitchen and service staff to thunderous applause.  As one restaurant critic stated:  "Gordon likes to impress his audience in quiet ways, with the tinkle of a chime rather than the crash of cymbals."  We were all so fortunate to experience such "subtle culinary music" and look forward to the opportunity to welcome visiting Chaîne members to experience such a culinary epiphany at future dinners of the Washington, D.C. Bailliage.

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