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The Experience Chilean Food Culture event was held on November 3, 2014 at the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. The event was co- hosted by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and Foods From Chile. The event showcased how wonderful ingredients from Chile are in addition to how skilled local chefs are at integrating these ingredients to make delicious dishes and drinks. This event featured six restaurants, their chefs crafting dishes and mixologists creating cocktails while utilizing Chilean ingredients, competing for best food and best cocktail. In addition several wines, olive oils and avocado oil were available for sampling. I was highly impressed by the flavor and presentation of all of the food and drinks at the event. I would not hesitate to dine at any of the restaurants that participated in the event. Each attendee was given two votes to cast, one for their favorite dish and the other for their favorite cocktail. In addition, there were judges’ awards given to best dish and best cocktail as well. The culinary competition was sponsored by Belair Produce, Pisco Waqar, Chile Olive Oil, National Restaurant Association, Patagonia SeaFarms, Watermark Foods, TerraMater, Andes Mountain Water, Acme Paper & Supply, Inc., Wines of Chile and Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.
Chef Riyad Bouizar made Savory Chicken Tartlets with Chilean Berries. This dish featured a pastry puff cup with a savory and mildly sweet chicken bastilla filling. Plump raspberries and blackberries sat atop each tartlet, topped by a dusting of powdered sugar. This was a delicate dish, mild flavors allowed the natural sweetness of the berries shine through.
Recipient of Judges’ Best Cocktail Award
Mixologist Mary Kelly made a specialty cocktail of Chilean Pisco Waqar, grapefruit juice, house made thyme syrup, fresh lemon, and Lillet rose. The acidity of the grapefruit and the thyme infusion created a sweet, sour and savory drink that was incredibly refreshing.
Chef Victor Albisu made Smoked Chicken Liver Crostini with burnt Chilean Blackberry and Malbec Mostrada. Crisp toasts topped with velvety chicken liver pate and a topping of a slightly sweet, sour and a hint of bitter Chilean blackberry and Malbec Mostrada was perfectly balanced in flavor and texture.
Chef Justus Frank made Chilean Olive Oil- Poached Octopus, which featured Chilean Extra Virgin Olive Oil, chickpea puree, aji peppers, hearts of palm and lime zest. This dish was incredibly visually striking with bright orange and green. The octopus was cooked to perfection, which is no easy feat. The olive oil was well balanced by the acidity of the lime zest.
Recipient of Judges’ Best Dish Award
Chef Kazuhiro Okochi made Chilean Salmon Soup, which featured Chilean Salmon, Miso, Cream, Onion, Carrot, Potato, Napa Cabbage and Dill. Paper cups were filled with a few pieces of slightly cured, bright pink Chilean Salmon had steaming hot soup ladled over top. The result was perfectly poached salmon and a super comforting soup. The soup was creamy without being overly heavy. The flavors of the soup were mild enough to bring out the flavor of the salmon.
Recipient of the Peoples’ Choice Award for best dish and Peoples’ Choice Award for best drink
Mixologist Francesco Amodeo made a cocktail that showcased Pisco Waqar, with prickly pear liqueur, aperol, lime juice and muddled red grapes. It was delicious and sweet.
Chef Domenico Apollaro made the dish Terra E. Mare, which featured Buratta, homemade fried smoked Malaiti Pasta, raspberry caviar, prawns carpaccio, Chilean extra virgin olive oil, thyme, chives emulsified, shaved bottarga, volcanic salt and crystralized roses. In my opinion, this was the most aesthetically beautiful dish. The bright red, green and yellow was truly beautiful on the plate.
Chef Felipe Milanes made the dish, The Essence of A Port, which featured Puerto Montes Cured Chilean Salmon, Crispy Arepas, and cannela sauce. This was a humble, crispy bite of arepa topped with cured salmon with pickled vegetables on top. It was a very simple but tasty dish. I liked the textural composition of the soft salmon with the crunch of the arepa.
Until this event, I had limited experience with Chilean wines. Thanks to Sommelier Brent Kroll of Neighborhood Restaurant Group, my eyes are now open to how delectable and affordable Chilean wines are. The event provided the following wines for tasting and I’d recommend trying all of them.
Los Vascos, Sauviginon Blanc, 2013- A crisp and citrusy white wine.
Los Vascos, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012- A dry red wine with notes of raspberries and black cherries.
Ritual, Pinot Noir, 2013 – A dry red wine with a fruity bouquet and notes of plum.
Ritual, Sauviginon Blanc, 2013- A dry white wine with notes of tropical fruit and oak.
Santa Rita Triple C, 2010- A Bordeaux blend, full-bodied red wine with complex flavors of fruit, vanilla and floral notes.
Santa Rita, Reserva, Sauvignon Blanc, 2013- Dry white wine with clean, crisp and citrusy notes.
Santa Rita, Reserva, Carmenere, 2011- A dry medium bodied red wine with notes of black berries, black cherries, vanilla and oak.
…this seems excessive, no? This is from the Shop Rite in Silver Spring, Maryland.
We all know that expiration dates on many items are little more than educated guesses. I grew up in my family’s small grocery store near Annapolis, and we often would eat the foods that were either nearing or were at their expiration date, generally with no ill effects. Sure, the dates on milk cartons are pretty accurate, and it’s wise to avoid eating deli meats, breads, or prepared foods much past their sell-by date. But most frozen foods can last well past the date stamped on their packages, as long as they’re stored correctly. Even now, seeing food a week or so past the sell-by date just doesn’t bother me.
Which makes this dented and worn box of Steak-Umm’s chicken steaks I found at the Shop Rite so ridiculous. Super market freezer doors open and close all the time, and that simple action changes the storage temperature. People often will put a refrigerated item in their cart and carry it around the store for an hour and then randomly plop it in between the Oreos and the Chips Ahoy. How many times have you seen a shopper put back ice cream in something that wasn’t a freezer? Seven additional months of who-knows how many random grabs and placed into how many carts, going through how many freeze/thaw cycles, not including how long it sat on the shelf before April 2014?
That leads me to the sale price – the store had two boxes left, they had different items behind the chicken Steak-umms ready for purchase, AND they just happen to have a two for $7 sale?? Coincidence? Interesting… . I’d guess somebody in the store knew this box of Steak-umms was well-past the expiration date and either didn’t care, or were told to ignore it and sell it anyway, clearing the shelf space at any cost rather than lose a couple of bucks. Given that this location is near a large senior citizen community, perhaps the buyer wouldn’t be able to see the small print, or wouldn’t have the taste buds to tell the difference.
Seeing this mangled box in the freezer reminds me to start paying attention to the sell-by dates again. Back when I was a kid, that meant counting the chocolate milk boxes that would expire in the next 24 hours, and figure out how many would be left over for me to drink. Now, it means to keep an eye out for potentially dangerous food.
No matter the reason or the excuse, this is bad grocery store managing. I wasn’t giving the store the Anthony Melchiorri white-glove dust test from “Hotel Impossible;” I was looking for frozen vegetables I could keep at work.
Although…now I’m totally ready to pitch “Grocery Impossible” where I fix horribly-run grocery stores. Food Lion can be my pilot episode. Maybe the whole first season.
Note : I moved the other box of chicken Steak-umms out of the way for the photos, and it had a “best if used by” date labeled comfortably in 2015. Having tried the Steak-umm chicken flavor, my personal recommendation for a “best if used by” date is “never.”
I recently attended the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show. Above are some pictures of the show’s highlights.
Bobby Flay was the show’s headliner Sunday evening. He is great with kids.
A girl was at the microphone to ask a question.
Bobby: “How old are you?”
Bobby: “When is your birthday?”
Bobby: “That isn’t nine and a half; you are nine and three quarters. What is your question?”
Girl: “How do you like your burgers?”
Bobby: “Medium rare to medium.”
Girl: “We went to Bobby Flay’s Burger Palace and my father… (she is getting angry) MADE me order MEDIUM WELL. I wanted medium rare.”
Bobby: “Is your father here?” (No.) “Is your mother here?” (Yes.) “Get your mother for me.”
Bobby: Asks mother: “What is this I hear about her father making her eat medium well burgers?”
Mother: “I think he sees it as a food safety issue.”
Bobby: “It’s Bobby Flay’s Burger Palace, it’s safe! Let her have the medium rare burger.”
Another kid (also a girl) asked him if he is going to do the next season of Worst Cooks in America. He said that it is really Anne Burell‘s show and that he wouldn’t be hosting with her this year and the kid was on the verge of tears.
Bobby: “Don’t cry! Tyler Florence will be co-hosting this season.”
The kid: “Tyler Florence?” And she brightened right up.
Bobby: (Faking jealousy:) “You don’t have to be so happy about it. (To the audience:) “She likes Tyler.”
I recently hosted DC Food Blogger Happy Hour at Chef Ferhat Yalçin’s new restaurant, Fishnet DC. All of Chef Ferhat’s dishes were excellent, and it was nice of him to make my a scallop without mushrooms (since I am allergic). I definitely want to go back and try more dishes.
You also can’t beat $3 craft beer on tap at Fishnet’s happy hour (4-6pm and 9-10pm). The HH beer selection includes:
Ping Pong Dim Sum introduces their new brunch menu with an eastern flare. Dim Sum is already considered Chinese-style brunch but fusing it with the western brunch style makes it a Ping Pong brunch to remember. Dupont Circle’s location introduced their newest East West Brunch dishes and cocktails in late October. They flew their Beverage Director, Daniele Ziaco, from London for a quick mixology lesson on how to make one of their signature cocktails, Lemon Grass and Lime, a complicated cocktail of 5 different ingredients (vodka, lychee sake with fresh lemongrass, lime and lychee juice).
Ziaco brings 15 years of experience to Ping Pong, and has developed regional bar programs in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. Before joining Ping Pong’s first store in London in 2006, Ziaco managed the bar programs in London for the critically acclaimed Hakkasan restaurants by Alan Yau. Born in Tuscany, much of Ziaco’s inspiration for his methodology, and appreciation for quality and freshness, comes from his childhood in Italy.
My favorite cocktail of the night was their Brunch Champagne with Bubbles. Think of it as an adult beverage Bubble Tea although instead of your typical tapioca bubbles it’s filled with poppers. And if you’re unfamiliar with poppers, I highly suggest that you go out and try them. It’s unlike it’s tapioca counterparts because instead of being a solid ball of tapioca, the center is filled with fruit juice; the skin encasing the juice is so light that when bitten, a burst of juice fills your mouth.
But now for the important part…the food! I’m not a huge fan of western brunch foods as I’m not really a breakfast person, but these dishes really did wow me. So here’s a take on my favorite dishes on the menu. Let’s start with their egg and cheese spring rolls, which is a fried egg roll wrapper filled with scrambled eggs, sharp white cheddar, peppers and spring onion, and served with a five-spice tonkatsu sauce. This dish will make you rethink your breakfast burritos.
Next up is their chicken and waffles. Who doesn’t like chicken and waffles, but how about green tea flavored waffles with an Asian spice kick? It is a sweet and savory matcha made in heaven (see what I did there?) Matcha green tea belgian waffles topped with sesame seed crusted fried chicken with lemongrass and ginger maple syrup! Doesn’t the description alone get your mouth watering? It has mine watering so much that it makes me want to drink the syrup.
Do you have a sweet tooth for breakfast? I certainly do. In my non-executive chef mind, an eastern French toast would just be French toast with some Asian Fruit compote. but this is why I’m not an executive chef. This French toast is no ordinary french toast; it’s a mango black tea steeped brioche French toast topped with exotic fruit and served with a ginger maple syrup. It’s that ginger maple syrup that brings you to tears of happiness.
And my final top dish would be the Char Sui Buns, an ultimate favorite dim sum dish of mine made up of honey roasted pork in a mantou (fluffy white Chinese bun). Although I don’t feel that Ping Pong’s rendition beats the original version, it is rather tasty and I’m a fan of the open face mantou.
So with all that’s said and eaten, I highly suggest that you grab some friends and run, don’t walk to the nearest Ping Pong Dim Sum and have yourself a East West Brunch.
OTHER ITEMS ON THE MENU:
The Secret Life of Food was a delightful event hosted by the National Press club featuring Shirley Corriher and Susan Delbert. Shirley is a biochemist and winner of the James Beard Foundation award who just happened to write a couple practical and tasty books; Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking and Bakewise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking. Aside from her impressive resume she is a delight to listen to. Her insightful and witty anecdotes about food and why it acts the way it does when interacting with other foods were both educational and entertaining.
She covered such varied topics as why potatoes won’t get soft during the baking of an au gratin to why some crème brûlées come out like scrambled eggs instead of custard. The first issue has to do with acid from such sources as vinegar and the second due to the use of beet sugar versus cane sugar in the brûlée. Her animated storytelling was engaging considering most of what she was speaking on was heady science topics pertaining to food. Overall, the evening was a hit with demonstrations explaining how to fix a rock hard mess of chocolate in a pan by adding water and so much more delivered to a packed room. I am hoping she will do more events such as this in promotion of her books. I know I will be in attendance.
As one would expect of such an event there were appetizers provided as well as Sangria and a cash bar. The Sangria was lovely with large chunks of apple inside that were particularly flavorful. The buffet-style offerings included mini spanakopitas, or spinach pitas, raspberry goat cheese tarts and deep fried ham and cheese balls. The spanakopitas were light and flaky filled with a mixture of spinach, feta, egg and herbs. It was a touch heavy on the dill for my liking but otherwise they were lovely, buttery and delicious. The tarts were a particular favorite of mine with a melt-in-your mouth crust topped with raspberry preserves and a touch of tangy goat cheese that blended perfectly. Luckily they made up for the more bland ham and cheese balls. The could have used a bit more seasoning in my opinion.
But putting aside the sampling of foods, this was a night well worth finding parking downtown and trying to locate the entrance to the National Press Club. The levity, information and engagement provided by Shirley and her lovely assistant Susan Delbert were the jewels of the evening by far.
The next DCFBHH is hosted by me (Jason) at Fishnet DC (a new seafood restaurant) in Shaw on 11/5, 6pm-8pm. It is located at Shaw metro, next to Uprising Muffins.
In celebration of Howard Homecoming weekend, Moët & Chandon hosted a brunch at STK Steakhouse & Lounge location in Dupont Circle. It was an event for the beautiful and not your average brunch crowd. Set up as more of a nightlight lounge, the complimentary champagne was flowing generously for the first half of the event. Passed hors d’oeuvres from STK’s brunch menu poured from of the kitchen. Although they have your typical brunch items such as steak and eggs on their menu, you’ll find it to be anything but average. My favorite on item by far was their Grilled Cheese and Smoked Bacon. Who doesn’t love a grilled cheese sandwich but add some bacon to it and it’s a little piece of heaven. However they didn’t place the back inside of the sandwich, the strip of bacon was placed on top which maintained its juicy crispiness.
My second favorite was their smoked bbq which had a nice sweetness to it with a slight tanginess to the sauce topped with a little bit of blue cheese this little morsel gave you a nice taste of the south. I am a big fan of Tuna Tartare. It’s a dish that I normally have to order if it’s on the menu but most restaurants leave me disappointed. STK’s unfortunately left me in the disappointed state. Although the tuna was fresh, their soy honey emulsion left little to be desired. It sounds amazing but it lacks flavor. Their Glazed Sea Scallops tasted a lot like a ceviche, however, there was nothing to help balance out the overwhelming vinaigrette dressing. The Chicken Skewers lacked flavor and were on the dry side.
I ordered the Blue Crab Potato Fritters off of the menu and although the flavor and texture was out of this world. The blue crab was lacking. It was a nice crisp fritter that tasted more like a potato fritter than blue crab with potato, and the pepperonata sauce that accompanied them was a pleasant addition
Overall the experience was pleasant; it’s definitely not your average steakhouse but a great hangout spot for young professionals. Mix. Mingle. Drink. That’s what STK ‘s brunch environment is best for in my opinion.