Hearts were Aflutter at Restaurant EveFebruary 12, 2013
By Judith Mazza, Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.
February brings with it gray skies but the occasional thaw, signaling that spring is on its way. With this in mind, the Bailliage of Greater Washington decided to have a “Love is in the Air” Valentine’s dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Restaurant Eve located in old town Alexandria, Virginia. Chef Cathal Armstrong and his team did not disappoint as they tickled our palates with one delight after another.
This sold-out event began with a series of four passed canapés including deviled quail egg, a most unusual salt and vinegar meringue, house-cured salmon on house-made crackers, and foie gras mousse on fruit and nut bread. These were enjoyed with B. De Saint-Alice Brut Champagne NV which had a delightful and yeasty depth. As we took our seats, there was a surprise Valentine’s gift from the Chaîne! Each person attending received a chrome heart-shaped wine stopper in a box carefully wrapped by our dynamic Chargée de Missions, Louise Harkavy. On behalf of the wine committee, Carla Mayuri briefly discussed each wine just after it was served so that members could think about her comments as they tasted the course. Members and their guests were introduced during the course of the evening.
We were soon presented with a delightful amuse of a rutabaga chip with black pepper mascarpone and trout roe. This prepared us for our first course of “OOO” which stands for oysters, Osetra and onions, served in puff pastry and paired with Domaine la Haute Fevrie Excellence 2010 Muscadet Sevre et Maine. This is one of Chef Armstrong’s signature dishes. The textures were balanced and the taste nuanced and complex. Our second course, a filet of Branzino with grilled carrot, crunchy yogurt, sultana coulis and chili threads, was perfect with skin that was crisp and the fish that was moist. The Beaumont Chenin Blanc 2012 was delicious with this complex dish. The third course of butter poached Maine lobster with celeriac, hedgehog mushrooms and celery-caper relish soon followed, and was thoroughly enjoyed with the Domaine Bourdon Pouilly Fuisse 2009. A refreshing grapefruit sorbet with fennel pollen prepared our palates for the meat course which consisted of Shenandoah Valley lamb with black garlic caramel, bacon relish, sunchokes and pine nuts. We enjoyed the Chateau de Chenas Fleurie 2009 which stood up well to the big flavors of the lamb and the black garlic caramel. Our cheese course of “Big Woods Blue” with honeycomb, candied walnuts, Périgord truffle purée and young celery was stunningly paired with the Chateau Cameron Sauternes 2006. The verjus granita with honey poached pears was a bite of sweet and tender goodness. The dessert of warm lemon verbena rice pudding with frozen blood orange mousse, Saffron blood orange and Cajeta was worth waiting for. The Beaumont Goutte d’Or 2011 rounded out the delicate taste of the dessert.
Vice Conseiller Culinaire Chef Francois Dionot critiqued the meal after the kitchen staff entered the room to enthusiastic applause. He praised the technique, execution and quality of the ingredients and Chef de Cuisine Jeremy Hoffman introduced his staff.
We lingered over the mignardises which were a symphony of chocolate bites! You could feel the love and warmth throughout the evening. This dinner was indeed a fitting tribute to Valentine’s Day!