Urban Butcher-A Multi-Cuisine Feast at a Carnivore´s ParadiseJanuary 11, 2017
By Michael McHenry, Officier, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.
Members of the Washington Bailliage gathered the evening of 11 January 2017 at the Urban Butcher restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland, for a casual "Chaîne on the Edge" dinner at a true carnivore's paradise, thanks to the artistry of Chef Raynold Mendizabal and his team. Chef Mendizabal is known for his skill in "nose-to-tail" cooking, breaking down and aging ingredients on site (his curing room was visible off of the main dining room, with a selection of hams and salumi aging), and his butchering skills and charcuterie abilities were highlighted throughout the courses served during the evening.
Attendees were welcomed with examples of Chef Mendizabal's house-made charcuterie, including three pâtés, a lightly smoked lamb bacon, and a cured capocollo (a flavorful custom cut from a pork shoulder and neck); Chef Mendizabal rounded out these appetizers with local artisan cheeses; Cuban beef enchiladas with chimichurri, which were slightly spicy with a nice balance of flavors; a blue crab and avocado salad seasoned with olive oil and cilantro; and a delicious ceviche of hand-diced tuna, with seasonings expertly balanced between a mild heat, citrus, and a light touch of olive oil. Served with the appetizers was a Billecart-Salmon Sous Bois Brut, NV, from Champagne, France.
In brief welcoming comments, Chef Mendizabal commented that the menu reflected his desire to cook for the Chaine "the way I like to eat," and he encouraged attendees to "eat, drink, and have fun"—which we did.
Dinner was served "family style"—dishes were presented and then plated table-side. The first course was a Tasmanian Salmon with a Latin Spice Crust—cooked rare to medium-rare, accompanied by a sauce that included red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. The side was Brussel sprouts, with a smoked tomato compound butter and a splash of soy sauce to provide both seasoning and a touch of "umami." A white wine, Domaine Remi Jobard Meursault "Sous la Velle" 2011, accompanied this course.
The second course was a roasted beef capocollo, slow-cooked "sous vide" and served "Farm House" style, garnished with grilled lemons, rosemary, garlic, and hot peppers. Mashed potatoes were served on the side. The wine was a D'Angelo Caselle Aglianico del Vulture Riserva 2009, Basilicata, Italy.
The third course on the menu was identified as "Agneau pour les Gourmands!!!" –which was probably a Chaine first, at least for the Washington Bailliage.
Presented tableside before finishing, this was a whole braised lamb head seasoned with Moroccan spices, including cinnamon and cilantro. When finished, the braised lamb cheeks were shredded and served with roasted potatoes that were simmered with the lamb and were accompanied by a side dish of fragrant rice with cumin seed. The wine served was a Domaine de Fontavin Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Tradition 2011, Rhone, France.
After a brief break, dessert was a vanilla tiramisu, served in cast-iron skillets and garnished with powdered chocolate. The dessert wine served was Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2011 Mosel, Germany.
This was a "Chaine on the Edge" event—a chance for the Washington Bailliage to try a new chef in a casual setting and a more adventurous cuisine and menu. Chef Mendizabal, born in Cuba, showed his mastery of charcuterie and custom meat cuts (and the appropriate cooking techniques for each cut), as well as his understanding and incorporation of seasoning influences from Latin, French, and Mediterranean cuisines. Presentations were simple but effective—even when served "family style," the presentations highlighted the main ingredients and attracted the diners' attention and interest.
Attendees also noted that the informal setting for this event encouraged a relaxed atmosphere for the evening—members enjoyed the welcoming reception, circulated between tables during the dinner, and some stayed after the dinner ended to finish conversations and plan for upcoming events. (For one evening, this inside-the-Beltway crowd kept its post-election/pre-inauguration conversations free of politics and focused on the dinner that we were about to enjoy and future dining adventures!)
During the evening, the Bailliage welcomed guests, new members, and prospective members. Jim and Karen Segrist, visiting from Saint Louis, were our "long distance" attendees; new members Rajeev Sharma and his son Paras Sharma (both new members), attended, along with Rajeev's younger son, Aman; and Leslie Sandler brought her son, Ted—we hope that Ted and Aman will join us soon as Ecuyers.At the end of the evening, Bailli Judy Mazza and National Chaine Jurisconsult Paul Haar presented Chef Mendizabal with a commemorative Chaine plate to honor the work of Chef Mendizabal and his team in making this evening a success.
Looking ahead, the Bailliage's 2017 calendar is filling up with some interesting venues and culinary adventures. On 15 February, we're scheduled for a Valentine's celebratory dinner at Chef Robert Wiedmaier's Marcel's, then, on 20 March, we will celebrate the Vernal Equinox at Chef Todd Gray's Equinox Restaurant. Chef Eric Ziebold's Métier is on the schedule for 04 April. Further down the road (but dates to keep clear) is the Chaine's National Culinary Weekend, featuring competitions for the title of the best Jeunes Chef Rotisseur (top young chef) with contestants coming from all ten regions in the United States. That competition will be held at L'Academie de Cuisine. At the awards dinner on May 6th, in addition to the announcement of the winner of Les Jeunes Chef Rotisseur, the winner of the top Pastry Chef in the USA will also be announced. We are also working on the details of a July 12th mid-summer visit, celebrating and close to Bastille Day, to Chef Patrick O'Connell's Michelin two-star Inn at Little Washington—always a highlight of the Bailliage's calendar! Please also save the date for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Bailliage of Greater Washington, which will be a gala dinner and induction held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Washington on 26 October.
Finally, any Bailliage members interested in working behind the scenes to help organize and support the activities of the Washington Bailliage—one of the most active in the U.S.—should contact Bailli Judy Mazza about participating in planning and preparation for upcoming events.