The Bailliage of Greater Washington Turns 50!October 26, 2017
By Bill Babash, Vice Chargé de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.
The Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C., celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a gala black-tie dinner and grand induction ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington on October 26, 2017. More than one hundred members, guests, and VIPs gathered for a spectacular evening of memories, ceremony, camaraderie, and, of course, great food and wine.
The festivities started with a Champagne reception. Gosset Brut, NV, from the oldest wine house in Champagne, flowed freely as guests arrived and mingled. Passed hors d'oeuvres were sophisticated and delectable: Thai soft vegetable rolls with sweet chili sauce and micro basil; caprese crostini with heirloom tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and basil; tortellini-shaped bresaola with herbed goat cheese; tuna tartare with wasabi cream in a sesame cone; and house-made smoked salmon with salmon caviar and dill on miniature blini.
Bailli Judy Mazza began the program by welcoming several distinguished attendees. The Bailliage was particularly honored that Hal Small, Bailli Délégué des Etats-Unis, had traveled from San Diego, California for the event, and John Fannin, Bailli Provincial Mid-Atlantic, from Wilmington, Delaware. Judy offered a very special welcome to Mr. David Lawson, who founded the Bailliage (originally the Bailliage of Bethesda/Chevy Chase, Maryland) precisely 50 years ago – on October 26, 1967 – and was its first Bailli. She introduced and congratulated Officier Grand Commandeur Richard Sugarman, who has been a member of the Bailliage for more than 40 years.
Judy welcomed several special guests attending the evening's festivities: Franelle Rogers, Conseiller Gastronomique Provincial Southwest; Stuart Goldberg, Bailli of the Baltimore Bailliage; Rene Schiegg, Bailli Honoraire of the Northeast Florida Bailliage; Cameron Bridger, Vice Chargé de Missions of the Triangle (North Carolina) Bailliage; and Sandy Bridger, Vice Chargée de Presse of the Triangle Bailliage.
Judy shared a bit of historical perspectives on evolution of bailliage and its dinners. The first induction, fifty years ago, included 19 men; today the bailliage is a diverse group of over 130, and is one of the most active bailliages in the country. Originally, there were only three or four events a year, all black-tie. While the bailliage certainly continues to enjoy formal galas, it has become adventurous, recently adding "Chaîne on the Edge" events where members experience outstanding creative cuisine in more casual venues. And today, dinners no longer conclude with cognac and cigars – a tradition missed by some.
Mr. Small congratulated the Bailliage, commenting on how rare and special a 50th anniversary is. He and Mr. Fannin shared the history of the Chaîne, the symbolism of its logo, and their thoughts on the traditions and worldwide camaraderie of the confrérie. Judy then explained the rituals of the induction and promotion ceremony. She noted that the swords to be used were briquets, a weapon of the French Imperial Guard Infantry from 1800 to 1830 – fascinating historical links to the Chaîne's French origins.
First was the induction of 21 non-professional and five professional members into the Bailliage. As Judy announced each name, François Dionot, Vice Conseiller Culinaire and Vice Conseiller Culinaire Provincial Honoraire, placed the Chaîne ribbon on each inductee. New members held a briquet as Mr. Small placed a matching sword on their shoulder and formally bestowed upon them their new title – Chevalier or Dame de la Chaîne. John Fannin and Bailliage Argentier David Burka completed the induction by having each new member sign the "gold page," then presented them with their certificate of membership and Bailliage pin for their new ribbon.
Promotions within the Bailliage were next and followed the same ritual, with each promotee receiving a new ribbon denoting the new rank: Allan Kam was promoted to Officier; Michael McHenry to Vice Conseiller Gastronomique; and professionals Ashwani Ahluwalia and Peter Laufer to Maître Rôtisseur. Stuart Goldberg was elevated to the Mid-Atlantic regional office of Chambellan Provincial.
Judy followed the inductions and promotions with special awards. She first surprised Vice Chargé de Presse Bill Babash and his wife Whitney with a pair of Champagne flutes and an exquisite bottle of Champagne as thanks for their research and creativity on the evening's souvenir 50th Anniversary booklet. She awarded David Burka the Mondiale Bronze Medal of Honor "for his ingenuity and steadfast work on creating and maintaining the wine cellar and the cellar's climate control system," noting that the D.C. Bailliage is among the few that maintains its own wine cellar. Finally, Judy presented Bailli Honoraire David Lawson a special certificate of appreciation for his unique and distinguished role in the establishment and history of the Bailliage. The crowd showed its appreciation with an extended standing ovation.
Hal and Judy concluded the ceremony with the presentation of "Share the Chaîne" pins, awarded to 13 confrères who were instrumental in inviting new members to join the Chaîne.
The gathering then adjourned to the eagerly anticipated dinner. They were not disappointed. Ritz-Carlton Executive Chef Yves Samake had crafted a menu perfectly suited to the first crisp evening of autumn in the nation's capital, with wines expertly selected by Bailliage Vice Echanson Ellen Kirsh to accompany each course.
Dinner began with a lightly smoked cauliflower soup, inspired by the classic Potage de Paris. Onions, leeks, chicken stock, and cream were the base for the distinct but nuanced smokiness of the cauliflower. The presentation was superb, as servers poured each diner's soup into bowls that held roasted tri-color cauliflower, fresh chervil, and croutons. The Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner Steinsetz, 2015, from Kamptal, Austria was a perfect match. Light and dry, with a hint of pepperiness, it gracefully highlighted the wonderful smokiness of the soup. Often bread is an unremarkable accompaniment, but not at the Ritz-Carlton: Delicious miniature baguettes were made by the celebrated Lenôtre in Paris, partially baked there, then frozen and flown to Washington where the Ritz finished them. A true Parisian baguette – what a treat!
The next course was frog legs prepared two ways – panko crusted and fried, and traditionally, with butter and garlic. Parsley coulis, Jerusalem artichoke purée, and a dice of sautéed Jerusalem artichokes were delicious accompaniments. An herb salad and black garlic purée completed the dish. Domaine Heresztyn-Mazzini, Chambolle-Musigny, 2012, from a 13-acre estate just south of Dijon in Burgundy, paired beautifully. This pinot noir is made with 35-40% whole bunch grapes with the fermentation process beginning with naturally present yeast. The wine is aged in oak barrels (30% new wood) for 16 to 18 months before being estate bottled.
Seared duck breast with "fruits and roots" followed. Lingonberry gastrique and oven-roasted carrots, parsnips, and turnips accompanied perfectly seasoned and beautifully cooked duck. The spicy notes and round, fruity flavor of the Nicolas Rossignol, Volnay Premier Cur Clos des Angles, 2012 was superb with the richness of the duck and tartness of the lingonberry. Rossignol is a fifth-generation winemaker in Volnay, located in the Côte de Beaune area of Burgundy.
Braised veal short ribs were a perfect savory culmination to dinner. Kombucha squash purée, Brussels sprout leaves, Dauphine potatoes (light-as-air pillows of deep fried mashed potato mixed with choux paste, not to be confused with Potatoes Dauphinoise), and porcini sauce completed this delicious autumn composition. The medium body, crisp acidity, and velvety texture of the Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur-Champigny La Marginale, 2011, was a great pairing. This certified organic wine from a 70-acre estate in the central Loire Valley is predominantly Cabernet Franc.
The induction ceremony for the Société Mondiale du Vin was a festive and fun interlude prior to dessert. Hal Small, John Fannin, Judy Mazza, and Ellen Kirsh donned the traditional robes and hats of the Société and joined François Dionot for the ritual. Ellen wielded and waved the ceremonial vine stock. With a glass of Champagne in hand, ten inductees joined Hal in the loyal toast to the "enlightened discernment and full enjoyment of fine beverages in moderation." The toast emphasized that "such fine beverages do bind together friends and enhance the occasion of good food and good fellowship." With that, the newest Chevaliers and Dames de la Société raised their glasses to the Chaîne and Société Mondiale du Vin.
Dinner concluded with a perfect fall dessert – Executive Pastry Chef John Quinn's baked apple brûlée with calvados ice cream and millet nougatine crisp. The gorgeous plate was garnished with calvados butter and caramel sauces and crystalized and dehydrated cranberries. Several diners commented that it was the best crème brûlée they'd ever had. A glass of Tenuto Col d'Orcia Pascena Moscadello di Montalcino Vendemmia Tardiva, 2011. made it even better. Produced in the famous Tuscan hilltop village of Montalcino, best known for its sangiovese wines, this wine is made from the moscato bianco grape, one of the oldest grape varieties in the world.
It was a grand celebration of the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.'s first half century. The Bailliage was honored to have so many special guests attend and to take the opportunity to reflect on a half century of history and great food and wine. All departed eager to embark on the next 50 years of culinary discovery and camaraderie of the table.
Inductions — Non-Professional
Whitney Babash, Dame de la Chaîne
William Babash, Vice Chargé de Presse
Kathy Bailey, Dame de la Chaîne
William Begal, Chevalier
Susan Beimler, Dame de la Chaîne
Alexandre Bess, Chevalier
Anthony Del Monaco, Chevalier
Michelle Mwalimu, Dame de la Chaîne
Helen Onufrak, Dame de la Chaîne
Priscilla Roberts, Dame de la Chaîne
Jane Runnels, Dame de la Chaîne
Leslie Sandler, Dame de la Chaîne
Theodore Sandler, Chevalier
Rajeev Sharma, Chevalier
Seema Sharma, Dame de la Chaîne
Paras Sharma, Chevalier
Aman Sharma, Chevalier
Jeremy Skog, Chevalier
Joshua Taylor, Chevalier
Susan Tull, Dame de la Chaîne
Veronica Williams, Dame de la Chaîne
Inductions — Professional
Kerem Arat, Maître Restaurateur
Heidi Kabath, Chef Rôtisseur
Enrique Limardo Moncada, Maître Rôtisseur
Robert Mertz, Maître Rôtisseur Traiteur
Sudha Srinivasan, Professionnel du Vin
Promotions — Non-Professional
Allan Kam, Officier
Michael McHenry, Vice Conseiller Gastronomique
Promotions — Professional
Ashwani Ahluwalia, Maître Rôtisseur
Peter Laufer, Maître Rôtisseur
Promotion — Regional
Stuart Goldberg, Chambellan Provincial
Inductions — Mondiale du Vin
Stephen Allis, Chevalier de la Société
Kerem Arat, Chevalier de la Société
Whitney Babash, Dame de la Société
Kathy Bailey, Dame de la Société
Richard McCormick, Chevalier de la Société
Michelle Mwalimu, Dame de la Société
Rajeev Sharma, Chevalier de la Société
Seema Sharma, Dame de la Société
Paras Sharma, Chevalier de la Société
Ray Villarreal, Chevalier de la Société
Share the Chaîne Pin