Exalted Excitement Evident at Equinox on the Equinox!March 21, 2009
It was with great aplomb that Bailli Paul Haar, in full Druid robe with staff in hand, arrived on the Equinox to bequeath Dames de la Chaine with garlands of flowers, and Chevaliers with wreaths of ivy, as we cheerfully welcomed the arrival of spring at Equinox Restaurant in Washington, D.C. Smiles were evident as we playfully donned our new chapeaus.
Vice Conseiller Culinaire Francois Dionot, Dame de la Chaine Roslyn Wolf, Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Steven Lustig and Chargée de Presse, Judith Mazza, met in advance to pair the wine with this delicate spring menu, artfully crafted by Chef Todd Gray. Chef Gray is known for his passion for locally sourced seasonal preparations. The Janisson & Fils Tradition Brut NV was passed with seasonal canapés as we arrived. The tempura of early spring asparagus with black truffle mayonnaise along with shooters of green garlic soup and bites of shad roe with hazelnut butter were a perfect metaphor for the nascent spring season. Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Steven Lustig and his wife Jessie enjoyed animated conversation with Vice Conseiller Culinaire Honoraire Reinhard Danger and his wife, Pamela. Xiangnan Haar, and her parents who were visiting from China, Lizhi Su and Yujie Wang, joined in the fun. Many photos were taken of members and guests resplendent in their springtime attire.
The first course of John Dory filet with a crispy Rappahannock Oyster was paired with the Chasseur Chardonnay, Russian River Valley 2005. Argentier David Burka and his wife Rebecca smiled with delight as they caught up with long time Chaine members Dame de la Chaine Peggy Smith, her guest Gerry Pilzer, and Dame de la Chaine Mary Kleinman.
Chef Gray had hoped that ramps would be available for our dinner and they were! They perfectly accented the gnocchi of Jerusalem artichoke with smoked sausage ragu, which was paired with the Guillemot-Michel Quintaine, Macon Villages 2006. Voices in cheerful conversation were heard as members and guests made each others acquaintance. Dame de la Chaine Dixie Butler and Arshon Parker discussed the wine pairing with Dame de la Chaine Roslyn Wolf, and Chevalier John Boyer and his fiancé Maryam Abdool enjoyed meeting Francisco and Natalia Lopez. The cider brined Marcho Farms veal saddle with fava ban coulis, spiced sweetbread and moel mushroom voloutè was a sublime combination of spring flavors and was delightfully paired with the elegant Jean-Michel Guillon Cambolle-Musigny 2000. This wonderful wine from the Côte de Nuits was fabulous with the cheese course. It married beautifully with the Persille de Tigne and Torte de la Serena. Needless to say, the raisin chutney and candied hazelnuts added wonderful texture and counterpoint to the cheese.
Our meal ended all too soon with a trio of early spring citrus which was a pastry cannoli with passion fruit cream, and kumquat-blood orange salad and coconut-lime sorbet. Chef Gray and his staff arrived to a round of applause and generously answered questions about the meal and its preparation. The smiles of contentment told the story that everyone enjoyed the equinox at Equinox!