The thrills and chills at the Travel and Adventure Show at the convention center last week were not from the food (a few vendors kept us from near starvation), but a myriad of exhibitors luring us to climb mountains, scuba dive, zip line or go on safari in South Africa.
Seasoned travelers Samantha Brown of The Travel Channel; Pauline Frommer of the famed Frommer’s Travel Guides; Patricia Schultz author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die; and Marc Peyser, Editor at Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine, were on hand to give tips to a packed and rapt audience Sam, as her fans call her, was her adorable, ever-effervescent, elfin self – even prettier in person, if you can imagine that.
Dining with Two Presidents, one First Lady and a James Beard Award Nominee
During a private luncheon last month our first FLOTUS Martha Washington regaled me with tales of her life with George, and their elegant style of non-stop entertaining. The afternoon featured an historical menu drawn from the estate’s records of the Washingtons’ favorite foods and created as a tribute to the General and his wife by chef, author and television personality, Walter Staib.
Here’s what he prepared starting with a refreshing raspberry shrub: Vol au vent prepared with Virginia ham and Rappahanock oysters; West Indies pepper pot soup with Scotch bonnet peppers and cheese straws; local sturgeon collops (quite lavish with sturgeon going for $300 a pop these days) stuffed with Maryland crab; a trilogy of turkey – pot pie, stew and terrine with mushrooms and pecans, and a casserole of sweet potato and apple; finally the legendary “Excellent Cake” from Martha’s recipes, a many-layered affair made with black tea, spiced rum syrup and orange buttercream icing, and an array of scrumptious 18th Century tarlets, cookies and shortbreads. It’s no wonder Staib has been nominated for a James Beard Award this year!
Staib, whose critically acclaimed Emmy-winning program A Taste of History on PBS, came down from his City Tavern restaurant in Philadelphia to prepare the six-course luncheon to celebrate the opening of “Hoecakes and Hospitality” – a new exhibit about food and entertaining at the Mount Vernon Estate, Museum and Gardens in Virginia.
Opened in 1773, the original City Tavern played host to George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, but you can dine there on Staib’s 18th Century style gourmet cuisine today.
This week at The Jefferson hotel in the Private Wine Cellar at the Plume Restaurant I dined with Thomas Jefferson. Well not quite, but all his favorite foods in a seven-course dinner as interpreted by Chef Chris Jakubiec. Sommelier Michael Scaffidi, formerly of the French Laundry, purposefully selected seven vintages, from the hotel’s extensive wine collection of 1,300 labels, to echo Jefferson’s travels.
Despite the current scandale about foie gras (now banned in California) who could say “non” to fois gras parfait paired with 1993 Zilliken Forstmeister Riesling Auslese, followed by a cool mint-scented English pea soup with pea mousse and pea shoots accented by an Albarino from Bodegas Adega; and a rich gratin of braised rabbit. On to a distinctive pave of roasted cod with a “red” Cumieres champagne made from the pinot noir grape; filet of beef with truffled pommes dauphine indelibly charmed by an exquisite Massolino Barolo; and summed up with Jefferson’s favorite floating island served with Klein Constantia “Vin de Constance” from South Africa. So yummy! Gilding the lily were chocolate mignardises served with Blandy’s Malmsey Madeira. If only we had booked a room for the night. Sigh…
The hotel will be offering “Jefferson’s Journey Tasting Menu” from April 10th through April 14th. View the rest of the delectable dishes and wine pairings.
Pave of roasted cod with Savoy cabbage, lardons and mushrooms at The Jefferson – photo credit Jordan Wright
Ramping It Up For Spring
Throughout March and April all eight Chop’t Salad DC locations are using the seasonal delicacy ramps in a vinaigrette available for any of their create-your-own salads. The ramp, a mash up between garlic and leeks, has a very short season to tempt you. In addition three spring salads take you to Morocco, Sardinia, and the American Southwest.
Try the roasted Moroccan Cobb made with farro, roasted carrots, parsnips and cauliflower on a mix of romaine and spinach with charmoula vinaigrette; or inspired by Italy’s beautiful island of Sardinia, the Sardinian, a unique rendition of the classic Caesar salad made with organic baby kale, FreeBird grilled chicken, Fiore Sardo Cheese, flatbread crisps, and romaine lettuce with a lemon Caesar dressing. Or giddyap to the Southwest with the Four Corners Cobb made with FreeBird chipotle chicken, rattlesnake beans, cotija cheese, avocado, tortilla chips, and romaine and served with green onion cilantro vinaigrette. So healthful, so spring!
Watch a video profile of Chef Christopher Jakubiec of The Jefferson.