The Bounty of the Season at J. Hollinger's
by Chevalier Wesley Jefferies
Amid the first whispers of autumn in the leafy northern suburbs of the nation’s capital, J Hollinger’s hosted members and guests of the Bailliage of Greater Washington D.C. of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs for an extraordinary dinner that echoed the changing colors and moods of the season.
As members and guests arrived, they were greeted with glass of Jean Vesselle Oeil de Perdrix, a unique Champagne wine from Bouzy, France noted for its unusual orange-pink hue. Servers passed around a medley of hors d’oeuvres that stimulated both taste buds and conversation. These include jumbo lump crab bites, delicately seasoned and paired with the house tartar sauce, followed by scallops wrapped with crisp basil leaf and soft thick-cut bacon. Mushroom caps stuffed with walnuts, caramelized shallots, celery leaves, chives, and feta cheese showcased a creative and thoughtful culinary twist while deviled quail eggs adorned with pancetta and paddlefish caviar served as an extravagant close to the Champagne reception.
As everyone took their seats, the dinner commenced with the first course – a trio of oysters on a half shell elegantly dressed with yuzu mignonette and paired with a 2022 Domaine Brigitte Cerveau Chablis. The subtle and soft sea salt from the oysters, complemented by the gentle limestone minerality of the chablis, evoked the scents and sensations of a mild fall breeze on a cloudy beach.
The second course brought forth a vibrant heirloom tomato salad, adorned with mixed greens, arugula, olive oil, balsamic reduction, and a warm goat cheese crouton. This was paired with a 2020 Alphonse Mellot “La Moussière” Sancerre which added depth and clarity with its crisp and refreshing notes that sang in harmony with the freshness of the heirloom tomatoes.
In the third course, a wild-caught Chesapeake Bay rockfish took center stage, accompanied by julienne fennel, celery root, carrots, red pepper, and a saffron mussel cream sauce. Paired with Terra Constantino Etna Bianco 2019 from Sicily, Italy, the dish embodied the spirit of the Mediterranean, highlighting the indigenous carricante grapes and the volcanic terroir of Mount Etna.
The culinary odyssey reached new heights as the fourth course arrived, a succulent rack of lamb served with shishito peppers, grilled fairytale eggplant, and olive tapenade. A 2020 Château de Font du Loup “Le Puy Rolland” Châteauneuf-du-Pape made for an astonishing pairing that reflected and magnified the complex and robust flavor tapestry of the lamb dish.
As if having scaled a summit and reached for the sky, the dinner achieved its apotheosis with the fifth course, a grilled wagyu flatiron steak topped with anchovy butter, root vegetable gratin, and a creamy bordelaise sauce. The steak was paired with a 2019 Beckman Vineyards “Cuvée Le Bec” Syrah Blend from the Santa Ynes Valley, introducing a bold Californian coda.
For the grand finale, the dessert course was a lemon posset with a fresh berry garnish accompanied with dark chocolate truffles and paired with Averna Reserve Don Salvatore, an Amaro with an enigmatic blend of herbs, roots, spices, and Sicilian citrus.
At the end of the dinner, Bailli Judith Mazza presented a commemorative Chaîne plate to Jerry Hollinger, the founder and namesake of the restaurant, to mark the occasion and thank him for the epic gastronomic journey he had prepared for members and guests of the bailliage.