Posts Tagged ‘DC culinary events’
Everything is Bigger in Texas, but their wines are actually pretty subtle..
Andrew Stover of Vino 50 Selections presented some really great wines from his Texas portfolio at the TasteDC 6-Course Texas Wine Dinner at Mayfair & Pine on Saturday, March 2nd, 2013. Andrew is a well-known Sommelier and wine broker in the Washington, D.C. area who has a passion for American wines. My first question to Andrew prior to the event is how could Texas make great wines when the grapes have to suffer through such high heat and desert conditions. His reply was that hot dry weather is actually perfect for grapes – in fact, the dryness also prevents pests and allows the winemaker to actually make more natural/organic style wines. As far as we know, this was the first Texas wine dinner in the history of Washington, D.C. and thus an introduction of McPherson wines and Duchman Family wines to the dining public.
<Note: We have an Upcoming Anchor Beer Dinner on March 27th, 2013 at Mayfair and Pine>
The Dinner was my second at Mayfair and Pine, the first being the Champagne Dinner I attended in December at the restaurant. Chef Emily Sprissler is a Top Chef alum from Season 2 and she knows how to handle the heat! This event was held on a Saturday night which had the restaurant bustling both upstairs and downstairs – a real challenge for the chef.
Here’s the menu, the dishes and some comments about the dishes and wine pairings – Enjoy!
Duchman Family Vermentino
I really enjoyed this pairing – I’m not a big white wine fan, but the acidity of the wine cut through the citrus butter beautifully and actually made the dish much lighter to enjoy more food!
McPherson ‘Tre Colore’ Mourvedre/Carignan/Viognier Blend
Anything wrapped in bacon is great, and these little oysters were nicely nestled in this crunchy chewy porky goodness. This wine was a classic Rhone varietal blend and the slight earthiness of the Mourvedre and Carignan is nicely balanced by the fruit and acidyt of the Viognier – this just goes to show you that America can produce French style wines that are just as good if not better than the originals – American wine ingenuity!
Halloumi Cheese & Radicchio Enchiladas
Duchman Family Sangiovese
Sangiovese is the grape of Chianti and so many spaghetti Italian dinners and it was a pleasant match in this wineries rendition. The slight spicyness of the sauce (almost like an Italian marinara) was tastefully offset by the roundness of the wine and created a nice marriage. Another fallacy is that traditional Mexican foods don’t go with wine (Cerveza!), but this again proved that wine is a great bedfellow with Mexican and authentic American cuisine.
Wild Boar Swedish Meatballs
McPherson ‘La Herencia’ Tempranillo
These were some spicy meatballs! The Tempranillo grape is grown in the dry hot regions of Spain, so this wine really shined..Probably my favorite wine of the night..well, except someone brought a 1o year old McPherson Syrah that was really Super!
Bacon Chocolate Pretzel S’mores
Coffee & Tea
It was overall a very nice meal and Texas wines will now be one of my Go-To staples – I’ve learned (over and over again!) that you should never assume with wine – just because you think a State is too hot, or cool, or whatever to produce wine, well then they’ll start producing wine, and you’ll be surprised. According to Andrew, Texas is the 6th largest producer of wine in the U.S. What other states are producing wine in the 7th to 50th positions? Who knows!?
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
And the Winner is..
I attended a Startup Kitchen competition sponsored by ThinkLocalFirstDC on Monday, February 25th held at the Tabula Rasa event space at Barracks Row, a main street of Capital Hill in Washington, D.C. The competitors for this competition were Yael Krigman of Baked by Yael , Nadia Mitchem of S’Mores Amore and Meg Murray of Thunder Pig Confectionary. The Concept of this event was that 3 food producers in the DC area compete to raise funds for their culinary venture. In a nutshell, The winner was offered an 8-week incubation and mentorship program with Penny Karas of Hello Cupcake in her Barracks Row location – here’s the actual competition info:
Through a competitive process modeled on the Kauffman Foundation’s StartUp Weekend, food entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to present their concepts before a panel of food industry veterans who will critique their business plans, offer constructive advice and review the general soundness of the concepts. The selected winner of the competition will be given access to an existing restaurant during its off hours, mentorship of the incubating business owner as well as assistance marketing and running a ticketed Pop-Up of their concept for six weeks. The restaurateur will receive 75% of ticket sales from restaurant as well as feedback from the consumers dining. The long-term goal is the growth of StartUp Kitchen incubators citywide. StartUp Kitchen is a joint partnership between Think Local First DC and NURISH: Center for Creative Culinary Economy.
The evening began with a nice reception of sparkling wine and tons of sweets – take a look..About 50 people watched the Judges and the competitors each make 10 minute presentations with 10 minutes of mostly Judge questioning. Yael started and of course we got to sample her Cakepop. Yael was very seasoned and professional, but maybe the presentation was a bit “canned” – her background was as a Corporate Lawyer, and it really showed for 2 reasons: 1)she’s a perfectionis and she had pretty much memorized her verbal presentation, 2)she was very secretive about her financial matters. Although I understand were she was coming from, she really needed to let go a bit and show the passion..maybe even show a little emotion – it’s obvious she could make WAY more money as a corporate attorney, the only reason to get into a Startup food business is an emotional release and the “possibility” of one day making it Big. I also thought her Cake Pops were too sweet and when I heard the retail price was $2.75 for essentially 2 bites of cake and icing, I didn’t get it! Having said this, I spoke with her afterwards and I actually felt her desire to succeed – I mentioned that her concept would do best as a corporate event giveaway or for weddings and personal catered events – there is no reason to open up a storefront and compete with the world!
The next competitors were the S’mores Amore ladies – they focused on their presentation on the vegetarian and potentially vegan aspect of their s’mores. To be honest, I really enjoyed their product with the crunchy cookie and chocolate, but the marshmallow..well, it wasn’t really a marshmallow – it had no fluff to it..this is because they don’t use gelatin because it’s an animal-based product. My thoughts were these were 2 passionate food producers who don’t really need a storefront – there are enough family, friends and friends of friends in their circles for them both to make a nice profit just selling there. Too many entrepreneurs want to open a storefront and expand too quickly before they’ve exhausted their existing resources – the people they already know. The other reason to focus on your existing personal networks is feedback – is there really enough demand for vegetarian desserts, should this just be an option that they offer?
And the final presentation was the winning presenter – Megan Murray of Thunder Pig Confectionary (here’s an article of her win on Eater) – This was an easy choice for a few reasons: 1)She showed the passion and even a bit of nervousness in her presenation that just made it very Real, 2)Her background and culinary training plus she works at a fine dining restaurant in the region (The Foodie Mafia!), 3)Even though she sampled 3 products, they were all very good (especially the Salted Caramel and the Marshmallows!) and 4)She knew her competitive market or at least mentioned that – it’s next to impossible to find decent caramels and handmade marshmallows in the DC market. I also found out that she was already producing her products for wholesale at Union Kitchen, a new culinary incubator which just began in the area. She won the competition and I’m sure you’ll hear about her products soon in the DC area!
The Tequila Journey Begins..
I hadn’t been to Top Chef Mike Isabella’s newest restaurant – Bandolero at 3241 M St., NW in Georgetown, so I decided to try it out at a special 5-Course Espolon Tequila Dinner offered by CityEatsDC “Exclusive Eats”. The Thursday, November 8th, 2012 pairing dinner was a chance for me to attend my 2nd Tequila Dinner ever – the first one had been in Aspen, CO many years ago as part of the Aspen Food and Wine Festival. This time, all I had to do was make the Reservation and walk about 5 blocks from my townhouse which is also in Georgetown!
Actually, this event was more of a Cocktail Pairing Dinner because all of the Tequila was served in 5 separate cocktails that were paired with the meal. Tasting events like these are no longer unique and unusual – in fact, I guesstimate that DC has at least 20 dinners every week with pairings of craft beer, wine, whisky or other spirits. What they all tend to do is have a quality speaker – and Phil Piper of Skyy Spirits/Gruppo Campari which owns the Tequilas (Espolon and Cabo Wabo) spoke and also introduced the Master Distiller of Espolon, Cirilo Hernandez who spoke about the differences of Espolon’s Silver, Reposado and Anejo. Cirilo was a really charming guy and very authentic – his English was pretty good, but his spirit and passion (over-used, but true this time!) really set the tone for the event – it felt very much like this Master Distiller enjoys making his product and taking pride in ownership. I hope the Campari people bring him to more tasting events – he really had an energy to him that just plain seemed “Real”..
As sort of a side note to this event – I sat next to Tom Brown who with his brother Derek Brown own The Passenger/Columbia Room in Washington, D.C. which is a haven for serious Cocktail aficionado’s. Tom told me that they are planning to open a Tiki Lounge concept nearby – still a bit hush,hush, but he confirmed that the lease had been signed..more details soon. Derek wasn’t at the event because he as in China doing some kind of drink promotion – which tells you how much the cocktail culture has become part of the international scene – food and drinks are hot – I guess everyone has to eat and drink!
The 5-Course Tequila Dinner Menu: