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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Weekend That Was...aka Great Eats in DC

Just got back from a fun-filled (and food-filled) weekend @ my sister's in the DC area. Celebrated my Dad's 65th and my son's 7th birthdays with the whole fandamily! And anytime we get together...you can bet the food and wine is plentiful!

My brother-in-law subscribes to a "Go Big or Go Home" philosophy, and I am more than happy to partake and partner up. Here is a sampling...

Friday night: Italian Buffet. Veggie lasagna and two different homemade pizzas. One with roasted tomatoes; one with prosciutto. Both were fresh and tasty, and done on the grill, which really made a difference, especially in the crust. I do not have a pizza stone, but these pizzas vaulted it to the top of my list of kitchen gadgets to get. The pizzas took less time to bake than in the oven, and the crusts were an ideal combo of crispy and pliant... Larry has an extensively impressive wine collection, and he is more than generous in his sharing and sampling. After all, that's what drinking wine is all about, right?? We started with a spicy Demuth Kemos Syrah and moved onto a cultish Cab from Harlan known as The Maiden... both were impeccable...

Saturday night: Surf & Turf. Larry and I ventured to a "locals only" DC-based fish market, at a marina off the Potomac River and right near the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. One look at this market and you can tell it was legit. It was one of the more impressive and bountiful markets I've visited. Right off the boats. Eat it there in the parking lot, fresh or fried. Or take it home in plastic bags, still squirming and/or snapping. Captain White's Seafood City boasts the Chesapeake Bay's Finest catches, and who am I argue?! The place was teeming with live lobsters, shrimp, and all varieties of crab, the most impressive of which are the blue crab by the bushel. We chose five lobsters, along with some fresh, jumbo lump crab meat, and were on our way...

Larry already had a beef tenderloin marinating, and some pineapple salsa prepped for the lobster. When we got back, we cleaved our crustaceans down the middle, removed the tails and claws, stuffed the tails with butter and lemon, and placed them all on the grill. The rest of the lobsters -- shells, innards, etc. -- went into a vat to make a lobster stock for later use. Credit to my brother-in-law for his outstanding economical and efficient use of all the parts!! That's some classic chef training stuff right there!

The third and final component to this smorgasbord feast was a mushroom truffle risotto. While I was merely a prep cook/sous chef for the former entrees, this latter part was where I earned my stripes in Larry's kitchen. I was in charge of babysitting the arborio rice, as it slowly cooked amongst the sauteed mushrooms and chicken broth. After a long while of gentle stirring, we added a dose of white truffle oil, and that just took the taste over the top, not to mention aided in softening up with texture and consistency to get it where it needed to be. And when it was just about right...we finished it off with a healthy portion of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The difference between this type of cheese and straight Parmesan cheese is where the cheese is crafted. P-R is made under strict guidelines in certain provinces of Italy (Parma, Reggio-Emilia, Modena). Parm imitates it, without having the former's pedigree, per se. I have never claimed to have an experienced palette, but I can assure you there is a difference, and it is worth the extra few $$$ to splurge for the real deal!
Everything was primo. The food. The wine. And especially the family!

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