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21 for 41

It’s Art’s birthday today!  How did we celebrate Art turning 41?  Well with a 21 course meal at Volt!  Not that we don’t love our local DC restaurants — goodness knows we do — but we’d been talking about heading out to Frederick to try out Volt for a while, and Art’s birthday seemed like a good reason.  (woah — long sentence)

I started the process of trying to book reservations almost two months out, because I knew I was looking at a popular place.  Turns out, I don’t have a clue about how far out you have to make reservations when a a celebrity chef is involved.   Table 21, the 21 course tasting extravaganza, was booked through the end of the year.  I decided the chef’s table would have to do, and  I still couldn’t get anything for Saturday night, so I booked for Friday and planned to combine it with a tour of Flying Dog Brewery in the afternoon.

On Thursday my phone rang and I got the awesome notice that there had been a cancellation at Table 21, and would I like that instead of my chef’s table seats?  Heck, yeah!!!

What I can say is that it was a total experience.  We were a few minutes late, and missed the “flavors of sazerac” course, but made everything else.  I expected the food to be killer, which it was.  But I was also totally impressed with the service, especially my “no shellfish, no pork, no rabbit” requirements.  The staff was fabulous and gracious about it.   The few dishes that had one of the above in it, were made without and the staff would let me know each time they announced the course that mine had been made without it.

Out of the 21 courses we tried, only one was lack luster and it came at the very end (the “wedge salad,” which was something like lettuce granita with frozen blue cheese powder.  Can’t really speak highly for frozen lettuce…).  At that point I was so full, I was almost grateful that I didn’t to eat something.

What’s not listed on the menu below are the Hot Buttered Rum (NOM!!) and the take home treats.  Art ate the take home treats in the car right after the meal.  I couldn’t even look at them….

For those into the celebrity chef thing, yes we did see Bryan Voltaggio.  No he didn’t come over and say hello or anything.  We did get to see Sous Chef, Graeme Ritchie, and the entire Volt team in action all night.  Table 21 is literally in the kitchen, so you get to see the amazingly well choreographed chaos that is a restaurant kitchen.

Table 21 Menu for 10.21.2011

Table 21 Menu for 10-21-2011

Table 21 Menu for 10-21-2011

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

My birthday was last week and Art surprised me taking me to the bar we go to just about every week.  Needless to say, that wasn’t really surprising.  What was surprising was that he had not only arranged for them to get me birthday cake, in the form of cupcakes from Buzz Bakery, but also got the bartenders to sing me happy birthday.

Apparently a perk of tithing my income to Churchkey is that the bartenders will take odd requests.  *Note to self….(dirty thoughts).   It was seriously awesome of them to do this, and the cupcakes were amazing!

I took a few pictures with the “Retro Camera” app on my phone using the polaroid like filter, which I love but for some reason turned CKDC into a Blade Runner-esque looking place.

Birthday Cupcakes

Eric at Churchkey

Paul at Churchkey

Churchkey - Distopian version

We Eat Well

Coming Soon! To a Dinner Table Near Me!

Coming Soon! To a Dinner Table Near Me!

Roast Leg of Lamp! er…Leg of Ramb? Bone-in leg of lamb from Moutoux Orchard in Purcellville, Virginia. Rubbed with a spice mixture (smoked tea salt, pepper, tarragon, coriander, oregano, fenugreek), and studded with sliced wild-collected ramps.

House Renovations

We’re working on the house.   “We” being mostly the royal we, since Art is doing all the work.  I picked the paint color, though…

If you make the slideshow full screen, you can also see the descriptions for each shot.

Back to the Gibson

разтегателни дивани

The Gibson

The Gibson - It's a speakeasy style bar. No sign on the door, no info on the website. Do make a reservation if you can.

In our efforts to spread the love around DC a bit more, I headed to The Gibson with a couple of girlfriends for happy hour Friday night.  Of course, Art and I go into withdrawal if we don’t hit ChurchKey on an incredibly frequency — so he headed over there while I was off with the girls.  We didn’t have a reservation, but thankfully they had space in the outside area.

I’ve been to The Gibson once before.  It always seems like a place that I should be spending more time at, but Art’s not really into cocktails — which is why we don’t go there much.

I have to say the cocktails didn’t disappoint on my return visit.  They are still incredibly expensive, but totally worth it.  I will never understand why a bar can charge $15 for a vodka martini, which takes no effort to make.  At the Gibson, you know why your cocktail is costing $15.  They are complicated, use amazing ingredients, and flawless.  The favorite drink of the night was the Tidal Basin Picnic, which featured Creme de Violette and lemonade (and a bunch of other liquors).  I’ve been wanting to try Creme de Violette for a while, but haven’t a chance to.  I totally jumped at this one.

It was so good, that for our third, and final round — we all ordered it.

The only flaw with The Gibson, which I was hoping they’d remedied was the food — or lack there of.  We were there for 3 hours, drinking very, very, very strong drinks.  There’s just not enough food.  The menu said they had “small plates” and to ask the waitress for the plates o’the day, and I was happy to see that.  Sadly the waitress said the 3 things on the menu were it, and they mostly involved meats that I really don’t eat.  We did have the gnocchi, which was brilliant (I picked around the salami).

Meridian Pint: Beer is Proof that God Loves Us

Art and I have been fairly loyal customers of Churchkey and Birch and Barley since they opened.  Honestly, it’s the first place that we’ve wanted to go to on a regular basis (and frequently) in years.  The last time we had a “home” like that, we lived on the Hill and hung out at Hawk and Dove.  Our Hawk and Dove days are long behind us, and really no other bars or restaurants had that “third place” vibe for us until Churchkey came along.

We’re big craft beer people, and we love good food.  That’s the magic mix that Churchkey/Birch and Barley have.  The staff there is also awesome and super friendly, which really helps too.  These days a lot of the staff knows us on sight, and by name.  It makes it really fun to be there.  Personally, I love the overall vibe of the place too.  It just feels right.

But with all the great places popping up around DC,  we thought we’d venture out.  So last night, we hit the very recently opened Meridan Pint (good pics on Lagerheads Facebook Page).  The first thing we noticed was the staff.  It’s clearly staffed with Churchkey alumni, so the place felt kind of homey right away.  The beer menu was respectable (24ish taps) of good craft brew.  They focus on American craft beer, so it was kind of sad/disappointing to see Miller Light and PBR on the menu.  Guess they decided to cater to the groundlings a bit.  We had a few brews, my favorite being the Summer Solstice cream ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company.

The most impressive thing about the menu was the real selection of vegetarian food.  I’m not a vegetarian, but my relationship with meat is complicated and I very infrequently order it at a restaurant. Most places do a passing nod to vegetarian food, especially beer places.  That’s why I was so impressed with the menu.  Art had  the seasonal chilled pea soup, which was freaking awesome and I wish I had ordered it, and the grilled polenta with wilted arugula.  The polenta was also awesome, but the arugula was bit too old and bitter for him.  (no comments about the wife, please).

I had the fried tofu with chili sauce, which was amazing — but gave me this rapid fire sudden heartburn.  Seriously.  It was crazy.  I ordered the seitan kabobs for dinner, but the heartburn kind of killed my appetite.  The kabobs were good, but not great.  I’m not a huge seitan fan, and I think it was just a little too much for me.  The grilled tomatoes on the kabobs were good, but there were too few of them and too many onions.  A mushroom or two would have balanced it better.

We still had home made sour cherry pie at home, so we skipped dessert.   We did take a quick peek at the downstairs bar, which we’d heard about.  Yes — there are a couple of tables with taps built in.  It had a couple of pool tables and some cozy little seating areas.

All in all, a good meal with great service and great beer.  We’ll definitely be back.

Grilled Cheese, anyone?

Lunch

Grilled cheese sandwiches

Homemade Rye bread (this is picture from July – before the 12-pound loaf came into our life) with Woodcock Farm (Vermont) blue cheese.

We visited Woodcock on our cheese tour in ’03 and ’05 and met owners and cheesemakers Mark and Gari Fischer. At the time they were not, as far as I remember, making any blue cheeses or using cow’s milk, so we were excited to spot this cheese at the Brattleboro Co-Op. We were not able to make a visit to Woodcock again, but were glad we could keep up with what Mark and Gari have been doing. The CurdNerds have an excellent post about Woodcock Farm here: www.curdnerd.com/node/168

[tags]artisan cheese, cheese, lunch, rye[/tags]

Souvenirs from our Trip to NYC

Souvenirs from NYC

Much tastier than postcards.

Local Honey from the Rockefeller Center Farmer’s Market

Alcyone Tannat Dessert Wine; from Uruguay. A port-like wine we had with dessert Thursday night

Vinedo de los Vientos Brooklyn Buzz Mead made from NYC honey

Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey another small batch distiller, I thought about picking up a bottle of this when we were in Denver, but I did not want to have to check a bottle of whiskey and/or let the TSA drink it.  Much easier to bring it on a train from New York than a plane from Colorado.

Bagpiper’s Scottish Ale; a fine example of the style from Pennichuck Brewing Company of Milford, NH.. Not too bitter, low carbonation, and it came in a 1 liter swing-top bottle!

Greylock Gin from Berkshire Mountain Distillers; sawe it in a liquor store on Madison Ave; one of my vendors had called to tell me that there was a problem with the credit card I gave him. I decided to test this assertion by buying some booze for my wife. (there was no problem).

And, lastly, the twelve-pound loaf of Lithuanian Rye bread from Silver Bell Bakery in Queens.

[tags]food, travels, nyc, small batch,  artisinal[/tags]

Dinner 3/7/2009

Last Night's DinnerrnrnBlue Cornmeal pancakes made with homemade buttermilk; Chicken Apple Spice Sausage; and Broccoli Hache.rnrnInitially served with a sparkling Pinot Noir, but that did not work at all. I should have trusted my original instinct and had the Blue Dawg Wild Blue Blueberry Lager we had in the refrigerator.rnrnThe inspiration for the meal was the desire to use the buttermilk left over from Carly’s recent butter making experiment.rnrn[tags] cooking, pancakes, buttermilk, brinner[/tags]

Obama Apple Pie*

No pie for you if you vote McCain.  Art’s already voted because he’s working at the polls on Tuesday.  I’ve got my pencil sharpened and ready.  Hey — Barack — how about a vote in Congress for your loyal DC voters?  (knocking on wood…)

*contains no obamas

[tags]obama, election, apple pie, voting[/tags]

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