Nibbles And Sips Around Town: ‘Very Cherry Celebrations’ by Jordan Wright

Ahh the cherry…luscious fruit and symbol of spring in our Nation’s Capitol.  But why?  The cherry trees whose airy pink blossoms grace the Tidal Basin at this time of year will never bear cherries – but no matter – local chefs and mixologists have been falling all over each other to create cherry-inspired concoctions to celebrate the 100thanniversary of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  Here are some enticing examples of what you can expect around town during the five-week festival.  I’ll be posting more in the upcoming weeks.

At Station 4 they’ve added a fixed price cherry-laden three-course meal.  Chef Orlando Amaro proffers a seared foie gras with Marcona almond powder, dried cherry jelly and rosemary crusted lamb loin and sous vide cherries, finishing the dinner with cherry essence chocolate lava cake with cherry cabernet sorbet.

Hank’s Oyster Bar has a cherry salad is made with bibb lettuce, Gorgonzola cheese, cherries and cherry vinegar.  Beverage Director Dana Mosbarger’s dazzles with her festival concoction called Cherry Stone Blossom made with a combination of vodka, sake, lemon juice and a splash of tart cherry juice.

Top Chef Spike Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery in Crystal City, Georgetown and Capitol Hill is where the Obamas drop in for burgers and shakes and you should too.  During the festival they’ll feature a cherry blossom shake made with the restaurant’s homemade custard and fresh cherry puree topped with a bing cherry.

In  Dupont Circle, Agora, the Mediterranean-centric eatery, is pouring a special cocktail, the Kiraz Cicegi, which translates to cherry blossom in Turkish. This delicious elixir is made from a combination of Southern Comfort, Yeni Raki, cherry juice, fresh mint and agave nectar.

Poste Moderne Brasserie takes a more Asian approach with a sake-based cocktail called For Heaven’s Sake made with house-made pomegranate soda, Tozai sake, vodka, Maraschino liqueur and fresh lemon juice.

Torsade cerises, twisted artisan Bread studded with cherries. Photo credit Paul Bakery in Penn Quarter.

Stop by Paul Bakery in the Penn Quarter or the newly opened Georgetown location where they’ll start baking up cherry treats from March 20th – April 29th.

Any of these should satisfy.  Torsade cerises, twisted artisan Bread studded with cherries, Croissant aux cerises, a crusty and buttery croissant filled with hand-made pastry cream and cherries; Cramique aux cerises a mouthwatering brioche with sweet pearls of sugar and sour cherries; Flan aux cerises, flan in a sugary shell filled with handmade pastry cream and cherries; Millefeuille aux cerises, a Napoleon of crispy puff pastry encasing a delicious mix of cherries and fresh pastry cream; or the Éclair aux cerises, a crispy choux pastry éclair filled with a delicate balance of cherries and pastry cream.

In Alexandria The Grille at Morrison House look for both sour and smoky cherry cocktails to celebrate the season. The Sour Cherry Fizz is made with sour cherry juice, Tanqueray gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white and a splash of club soda.  But try a Smoked Cherry Old Fashioned made with Maker’s Mark, bitters, house-smoked cherry syrup and garnished with a smoked cherry and a slice of orange for a new twist on an old classic.

Also in Alexandria Jackson 20 celebrates with the Cherry Picnic made with ginger liqueur, spiced rum, fresh sour mix and Campari wash.

Firefly’s Sakura Sling is cherry and vanilla bean infused Ketel One with Leopold Brothers Michigan tart cherry liqueur, simple syrup and a splash of soda.

These concoctions should keep you in the pink!

Deals and Steals

Station 4 has a cool option for theatregoers. You gotta love this one with valet parking for $10 per car and only steps from Arena Theater. Enjoy a three-course menu for only $29 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) and walk to the performance leaving your car in the care of the restaurant’s valet. You could also opt for the first two courses of the pre-theatre dinner then return for dessert after the show.

A Washington institution 701 Restaurant offers Modern American cuisine by Executive Chef Ed Witt.  Enjoy a three-course pre-theatre menu for $30 per person from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Monday – Saturday and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.  Valet parking Monday – Saturday for $8.

The award-winning Rasika restaurant offers Chef Vikram Sunderman’s pre-theatre menu for $35 per person (excluding tax and gratuity). The menu is available Monday – Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.  Validated valet parking for $8.

Happenings

If you miss this one, you’d better hop a plane to Mexico, because you won’t find this anywhere else!  Oyamel Cocina Mexicana hosts their Fifth Annual Tequila & Mezcal Festival from March 5 – 18 the two-week festival will have informational cocktail sessions, open to the public, and intimate dinners complete with tequila and mezcal tastings.

In honor of the festival, Oyamel will offer special bar antojitos.  These small plates are served only at the bar and include garbanzos fritos – crispy roasted spiced garbanzo beans and alas de pollo con salsa naranja – chicken wings in a sauce of orange, spices and chile pequin.

Chef Omar Rodriguez is also crafting a special menu highlighting the flavors of Oaxaca and Jalisco in Mexico.  Dishes from the Jalisco region include Sopes de ostiones, traditional corn flour cake topped with an oyster, tomato salsa, lettuce and queso fresco; Pozole de camarón, shrimp and hominy soup with Hawaiian blue prawns, guajillo and ancho chilies, served with garnishes of onion cabbage and slice radishes, and Lomo de cerdo relleno con chorizo en mole manchamanteles, chorizo stuffed pork loin with a mole of almonds, chilies, tomatoes, plantains and pineapple.  Authentic Oaxaca flavors can be found in Tortitas de patas de puerco, crispy pork trotters served with a salsa of tomatillos, avocado, Serrano peppers, and cilantro, and Chuletas de cordero en chileajo con frijoles borachos, grilled lamb T-bones marinated in Guajillo chiles and garlic with drunken navy beans with pork belly and Negra Modelo.

Drinks are the highlight of every Tequila & Mezcal Festival at Oyamel and the beverage team at Oyamel has created unique cocktails just for the occasion.  Libations featuring mescal include the Oaxacan Swizzle, Del Maguey Mezcal “Vida”, ruby port, fresh pressed apples, lime, ginger and house-made orange bitters; El Bahio, Sombra mezcal, roasted pineapple juice, lemon and cardamom; Joven avocado, avocado-infused mezcal, Cocchi Americano, grapefruit syrup, grapefruit juice, Hellfire bitters, and avocado leaf; and the High Tea, Los Nahuales Reposado Mezcal, chamomile tea, honey, and house-made tobacco bittersDrinks featuring tequila are the Mexican Tailor, house-infused “Gin-quila” fresh pressed apples, lemon and basil; El Pescador, Herradura Tequila three ways, grapefruit juice, Curacao, maraschino liqueur, Honey and Velvet Falernum, and the Champs–Elysees; Don Julio 70th Anniversary Añejo, Remy VSOP, Green Chartreuse, Lemon, and Peychaud’s bitters. A complete calendar is online.

New and Notable

Jordan Wright

Cahal Armstrong’s latest Alexandria food adventure, Society Fair, has just opened on Washington Street a few blocks from The Little Theatre of Alexandria.  The pretty gourmet shop featuring fresh baked breads, a butchery, upscale food market and wine bar has some smallish eat-in tables for enjoying delicious sandwiches and cheeses with a wide range of wines by the glass offered on tap.  As the weather complies there’s an outdoor patio.

In Columbia Heights the hot buzz is all about Mintwood Place where Executive Chef Cedric Maupillier, formerly of Puro Café in Georgetown, has at last found his niche serving French food with an American twist.  Nibble on escargot hush puppies or maple pork cracklin’ to start.  Spring has arrived with the shad.  Try the delicate fish served with it’s own roe accompanied by black trumpet mushrooms and lardo.  You get the idea.

Featured Picture: National Mall cherry blossoms.

Stay tuned for lots more news and updates from Nibbles And Sips Around Town.  To read more -go to my website Whisk and Quill.

 

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