The Weekly Whisk - 3/19/19

Musings from a foodie…

An Incomparable Experience – Over the last couple of decades, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to visit some of the very finest restaurant establishments across the world.  I’m thinking Steirereck in Vienna, Da Dong in Beijing, D.O.M. in Sao Paulo, The French Laundry in Napa, Charlie Trotter’s before it closed or LaGavroche in London.  Each of these places – among many others – represents a site of artistic culinary cuisine that for those of us with taste buds can be a real-time dream in the midst of reality. So, my tastebuds were humbled when I recently had the opportunity to visit The Inn at Little Washington [ * * * * * *].  It’s been on my culinary bucket list for some time and I finally made it.  Whoa!  It was indescribable!! 

First and foremost the Inn provides a lesson in exquisite attention to detail.  From the table grooming to the silver change with each course to the close observation of the diners to the truly scrumdiliumpcious flavors of each and every course – it is worth every penny.  We started dinner with bell pepper source and a puffed muffin and quickly proceeded to Wellfleet oysters with glazed hollandaise sauce and caviar.  And, if that were not enough we went on to Hawaiian big eye tuna doused with a juniper and lime vinaigrette and truffle oil accompanied by fois gras served from the tin.  I lost myself for a moment as I swirled my bread throughout the tin to capture every last drop of oil.  We then moved on to scallops with a poached apple, currants and apple puree accompanied with a cashew curry sauce.  Beyond the two seafood entrees, we then went onto buffalo short ribs in a truffle sauce and again, fois gras (I was in heaven) with a millefeulle (multi-layered, very thinly cut potato baked with cheese – ay yi yi :-) .  And to finish off there was a decorative chocolate smore and a delicate white chocolate feather crafted for the finale.  What an evening… 

I won’t even go into breakfast the next morning when it started all over again with a perfect eggs benedict!!  What a dining experience.  As I said, “…worth every penny” and then some.  There is a reason that Chef Patrick O’Connell has garnered 30 consecutive years of AAA and 29 years of Five Diamonds.  I rank it as one of the very best of the best.  And, going back – after I save a few more pennies.  The Inn at Little Washington – Middle and Maine Streets – Washington, Virginia 22747 – (540) 675-3800 – www.theinnatlittlewashington.com.  Go for it.  You only live once!

The Weekly Whisk - 1/24/19

Musings from a foodie…

I must admit that I’m a sucker for pasta.  Sfoglina Pasta House [* * * * ] has several locations in the DC area and, if you’re so inclined to indulge, you should consider a visit.  It’s basically pasta heaven.  In fact, it’s the only thing I’ve ever had and, there are all types pastas on the menu – all of which are made in house.  Fabio Trabocchi is the founder learned from the Sfogline, who are the masters of pasta making in Italy.  He learned the craft and brought it to America.  You can’t go wrong.  Enjoy with family and friends.  Sfoglina Pasta House – 1099 New York Avenue, NW – Washington, DC  20001 – (202) 525-1402 – www.sfoglinadc.com

The Weekly Whisk - 12/31/18

Musings from a foodie…

I recently had the opportunity to visit San Francisco and on the last evening ended up alone in the Mission District.  So, I decided to do a search of restaurants in the area and found this little bistro – Brenda’s French Soul Food [* * * * * ] over on Polk Street.  It was a charmer of a restaurant. First and foremost, it had the ambiance and feel of a bistro in New Orleans.  When you enter, you write your name on a chalk board near the maître’s table and sit down on a bench to await your turn.  It didn’t take long once I figured out what to do.  Chef Brenda is the Proprietor and grew up in the small town of Harvey, Louisiana on the West bank of New Orleans. It’s near another town I absolutely love - Lafitte, Louisiana which is known for its fishin’ boats and crawfish trapping.  She picked up the cooking bug that incorporated the wild blackberries, pecans and local fish (“rad fish” – red fish) and the cuisine styles imbued with her Sicilian, French and Filipino ascendants.  She eventually landed in San Francisco and earned three stars from the SF Examiner, the SF Magazine, and was listed as among the Top Five Bold Newcomers in the New York Times. She’s also been invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City – an honor I’m still looking for to add to my repertoire :-) . But, I digress – as usual.

The food was true comfort.  It was indeed French Soul Food.  I adorned my plate with Crawfish Beignets and French Onion Soup for starters and went to heaven.  I then went for the Crawfish Etouffee but instead of the pilaf – asked (actually begged) them to serve me a half portion of red beans and rice.  It was at this point that I went back to heaven for the second time in the same evening. Perhaps it’s because I’m such an easy mark when it comes to Southern French cookin’ but Brenda’s is on my list of “go-again-as-soon-as-possible” places.  You will not be disappointed.  It’s casual.  It’s fun.  And the food is fabulous. And, the wait staff were very accommodating.  Brenda’s French Soul Food – 652 Polk Street – San Francisco, CA 94102 –www.frenchsoulfood.com – (415) 345-8100

The Weekly Whisk - 11/12/18

Musings from a foodie…

I recommend that everyone go out and get a Cheeseburger, Veganburger or hotdog of your choice this Veteran’s Day from your personal favorite restaurant [* * * * * ].  Do it with a friend who holds a different perspective than you on any number of issues.  Put the issues on the table. Then, I want you to listen intently to what they say.  “Practice makes perfect” as they say!

The Weekly Whisk - 11/5/18

Musings from a foodie…

Sometimes the best food is right in front of you – and, you don’t even see it.  Not for months…or, years…or, decades…or, even half a century!  So, it was brought to my attention that one of the places where I have become a regular, frequent devotee – Markie’s Place and Grill [****** ] – had been waiting to be mentioned in one of my reviews for a long time.  When the thought was shared (by none other than Markie himself) I was chagrined that I had not thought of it. 

Markie’s is a very special place where friends and family come together all the time.  Most recently, when I stopped by, Markie was serving a potpourri of meats brushed with a special thyme sauce (he would not share the recipe when I first asked).  He was busily engaged in preparing some special chicken parmesan sausages, chicken French apple sausage, spinach feta sausage and – the piece de resistance – pork tenderloin.  Boy oh boy were they good but, it was all in the thyme sauce.  And, I had to work hard to get the recipe.  But, before I digress, just note that the meats were accompanied by an assortment of vegetables including squash, mushrooms, Belgium endive and mild peppers. 

So, back to the sauce.  Knowing Markie I knew the dinner would be simple but elegant.  After much cajoling, he finally shared that it consisted of 5 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoons of freshly crushed thyme, 2 cloves of garlic with salt and pepper to taste.  It was liberally brushed on everything that was grilled.  And, it was not that difficult to concoct. 

But, after the meats and vegetables, there was “Mom’s Potato Salad”. It was exquisite.  You see “Markie” is my brother and he made this special dinner as a reminder of what family is all about.  And, he kept repeatedly reminding me how he wanted to make it into my restaurant review.  So, I’ll give him five stars with an extra big star for being my brother.  You made it buddy.  You were always there, I just forgot to recognize it.  Love ya!!  I’d share the address but then he would be overwhelmed with outsiders trying to get in so, I’ll keep it a (sort of) secret.  With a last name like “Fickenscher”, I’m sure you can find it.  BTW – the appetizers were rice crackers with American cheese – an All-American, Midwestern boyhood favorite…

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