Lightening Strikes Twice at Restaurant EveSeptember 23, 2010
By Judith Mazza, Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.
Having many wonderful restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area gives the Chaîne fabulous choices for our events. So you know that when we choose to have a second event at a restaurant in less than two years, it must be something special, and our decision is almost as rare as lightening striking twice. Indeed, the Bailliage of Greater Washington decided to open our 2010 – 2011 season with a sumptuous feast at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia after our members rated it as one of their favorite venues. Restaurant Eve is one of a small handful of restaurants which consistently attains a coveted four star rating and is known for its innovative cuisine supporting local, seasonal and organic farming.
A small dinner committee met shortly before the dinner and had the pleasure of choosing one of three choices that Chef Cathal Armstrong presented to us for each of the courses. Bailli Paul Haar, Chargée de Presse Judith Mazza, Allan Kam, and Argentier David Burka took on the task. It was a tough job, but “somebody had to do it!” Our wine committee made brilliant selections and all who attended the event itself agreed this was one of our best.
As we gathered in the private tasting room at Restaurant Eve, the champagne reception was lively and full of great conversation and good cheer. Dame de la Chaîne, Janice McHenry invited her brother, Kevin Crummett, and introduced him to the Chaîne. Lisa Jones and Professional de la Table David Jones animatedly chatted with Chevalier Mashaallah Ebrahimian and Jackie Talpa when Bailli Paul Haar and his wife, Xiangnan Haar joined in. Chevaliers Steven Diamond, Harry Grubert and Professionnel du Table enjoyed their conversation and were soon joined by Chevalier Anthony Ramdass, Argentier David Burka, Rebecca Burka and Dame de la Chaîne, Mary Kleiman. Conseiller Culinaire Francois Dionot and his wife, Patrice and daughter Clarice were greeted their guests Patrice and Patricia Olivon. Chargée de Presse Judith Mazza and her husband Allan Kam were busy taking photos and greeting everyone as they arrived. Chevalier Arne Paulson and his wife, Sara were all smiles as they chatted with Maître de Rôtisseur Debbie Donohey, her husband, James and Chargée de Mission Carol Assmann and her husband, Bill.
After mixing and mingling as we enjoyed the passed hors d'œuvres, we were seated and presented with two interesting amuse bouche, a delicate tuna tartare which was perfectly balanced, and set the tone for the meal. This was followed by a brilliant purple potato vichyssoise sorbet, both paired with the Louis Roederer Premier, Brut NV (Reims, France) which we enjoyed during the reception. Our palates were awake and ready for what was to come.
The first course, known as "OOO" which stands for oysters, onions and osetra caviar in a tart shell is a spectacular dish and was paired with the Pierre Spaar "Mambourg," Grand Cru, Pinot Gris 2002 from Alsace, France. We felt Chef Armstrong building toward a crescendo as we enjoyed the next course, a butter poached Maine lobster with smoked onions, topped with Arctic Char roe over a sweet onion purée. The wine, a Domaine Larue ‘Les Combes, 1er Cru, St. Aubin, Chardonnay 2002 from Côte-D'Or', France could not have been a more perfect match. The third course, local rockfish with Path Valley Farms blue corn grits, roasted Matsutakes mushrooms and pea tendrils was a bold and wonderful combination. The Domaine Maillard "Corton," Grand Cru, Chardonnay 2000 from Côte-d'Or', France was ready to drink, high in acid and delicious with the fish. Our fourth course, the loin of Shafer Farms venison with huckleberry, Tokyo turnips and rosemary venison jus was savory, tender and delicious with the Château le Bon Pasteur Merlot Blend (1998) from Pomerol, France. Vice Conseiller Culinaire Francois Dionot and Vice Echanson des Etats-Unis Honoraire Tony Busalacchi took the opportunity to discuss the wine, the food and the thought process used in pairing. Their discussion enhanced the enjoyment of the meal for all who attended. An innovative palate cleanser of watermelon and frangelico cheesecake followed the discussion.
Our savory palate now sated and refreshed, we eagerly looked forward to the cheese course which consisted of Chashel Blue, Ardrahan and Berkswell cheese, and was accompanied by honeycomb, fig puree, and delicious breads, including a wonderful fruit and nut bread. The cheese course was paired with Two Hands 'The Bull and The Bear,' Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 from Barossa, Australia.
Our final course, a delicate and seasonal plum frangipane tart, paired with Domaine des Bernardins Beaumes de Venise, Muscat 2006 from Vaucluse, France ended this sumptuous feast. However, as Chef Armstrong "gilded the lily" we were also treated to a selection of superb mignardis, masterfully made, providing just the right conclusion to an amazing meal.
Chef/Owner Cathal Armstrong, his Chef de Cuisine, Jeremy Hoffman and the rest of the staff from the kitchen appeared to enthusiastic applause. General Manager and Sommelier, Todd Thrasher and Service Director, Craig Erion and the rest of the service staff provided us with an elegant and gracious experience.
Can lightening strike twice? In the hands of Chef Armstrong and his wonderful staff, apparently it can, and we are delighted that it has.