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Found 11 results

  1. It's ridiculous that we don't have a thread for Mark Slater, a personal friend of mine, and donrockwell.com Member #14. Aside from Mark being exceptionally gifted as a a fine-dining sommelier - both in terms of maintaining a wine list, and in establishing a rapport with customers - I have had the pleasure of dining with him on many occasions, and he has an excellent palate. In 2007, he won the James Beard Foundation's national award for "Outstanding Wine Service" while he was sommelier at Citronelle. One thing many people don't know about Mark is that he studied harpsichord in Vienna, Austria, and is an accomplished harpsichordist. Having seen him play many times, I can verify that he is an outstanding sight reader, which is an incredibly difficult and underrated skill to develop and possess. His sub-specialty is early Rennaissance music, but he can handle most any work for harpsichord, and is a good enough sight reader to "fool" the listener into thinking he knows a piece, when it's actually the first time he's ever looked at it. Mark doesn't know I'm writing this, and may ask me to take it down, but I'm not going to - he deserves widespread recognition as one of the most important, influential figures in Washington, DC restaurant history - certainly when it comes to wine. At this point, he is truly the Patriarch of all area sommeliers, and should be recognized as such by all those who follow in his footsteps, both now and in the future.
  2. I have been to this Boulud outpost maybe 4 or 5 times dating back to I think 2003 or so. It was quite nice back then. Then, I went there for lunch a couple of times with a vendor for the overly wrought burger for fun. It was all good. Then, last fall, went again pre-theater of all things and WOW. They'd updated the dining room a bit it seemed, and the menu was great. Really great. Good wine list if a bit overpriced. GREAT service/staff. My only regret was not taking proper tme to give the place a lingering meal for justice. Next time. I've been luck enough to go to db, Cafe Boulud, Bar Boulud, Danie; and I think another instance, this db experience was near the top of the heap. Honestly, Daniel was kind of a let down (aside from the over the top service, which was a hoot). My wife and I were walking quite a few blocks after the meal as we are wont to do, and we both came to the realization 'Palena is better.' (sad in retrospect now, but true!). And Daniel itself was no slouch by any means whatsoever. It was quite fine.
  3. Andy Hayler's Numerous Reviews - Note that Bonhams is closing on Dec 21.
  4. Went to Californios this week for the fourth or fifth time, and it once again blew me away. The food is right up there with the best tasting menus in Mexico City, imo, maybe ranking just-under Pujol in my book. It would not surprise me at all to see this get a second star in the next couple years. Tickets are shockingly easy to come by for cooking of this caliber. Food+tax+service comes to $204/person (at least for the tickets I bought this time) but the wine list is really fun so you'll probably end up spending more. Thankfully, the ticketing system ensures that past-you pays for the food up-front and actually-eating-the-dinner-you only has to pay for booze. You should go. I didn't take photos but this person did: "Mexico + California - The Inventive, Engaging, Stunning Food at Californios [Review + Pics]" on foodtalkcentral.com 3115 22nd Street (22nd & South Van Ness)
  5. I have a friend coming to town who runs a small wine bar in another part of the country. Friend has asked where to go in DC for a really good wine bar, to try things, swap information with owner/staff, and have fun. I am old enough to know about Cork and Proof, which I assume are still good. Are there other places I should be thinking about? Am looking in the District proper, with good wines by the glass that would be interesting to someone who knows what they are talking about. Not looking for fancy restaurant that will serve mainly expensive old French things. Nor am I looking for some place that serves cheap-ass wine in mason jars for the sake of cuteness. Looking for a place that has good wines that are not seen everywhere, even unusual, in reasonable price range, that would provide fun, comfort, and useful information for somebody who runs a similar bar elsewhere in the country. Is there such a place these days? Thanks.
  6. Last night, I had a great meal at Charlie Palmer Steak. The menu had just been updated for spring/summer to add some seasonal elements. There's a chilled corn chowder with lobster and avocado, for example, as well as buffalo mozzarella and heirloom tomato "composed salad." I had been to CPS before and liked the whole experience, the food, etc. but this time, I came away loving the place. Everything about our meal was more personal which added to the experience, IMO, greatly. The visit didn't start off all that auspiciously. I found that our bartender wasn't very friendly, but she made my mother a rave-worthy vodka martini so...whatever. Not long after we arrived a drunk and loud rowdy crew (in jeans, no less) rolled in and caused a little commotion in the bar area. Some members of the party seemed to know the other (male) bartender and I could see that he was uncomfortable. They were seated in a quiet part of the restaurant quickly in order to get them out of the way. About our food: IMO, the bread service could be improved. I like having options (ciabatta or kalamata olive last night), but the bread is served almost cold and with unsalted butter. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar came later, but was probably intended for the salads. Warm bread makes a big difference, I think. Mom had the romaine salad with fried pancetta and blue cheese. I had some of the crisp bacon and it was delicious. Dad had the mixed greens. My friend and I shared the buffalo mozzarella. It was fine (my friend really liked it), but I've had some really excellent buffalo mozzarella lately and this just wasn't on par with the best of that lot. Perhaps it was bland? Maybe. Mom and Dad both had the CPS surf & turf, filet mignon with butter poached lobster and loved it. I tried the lobster - unusual for me, yes I know - and really enjoyed it. I had the marinated hangar steak (at $29, it's one of the lower priced entrees) and had zero regrets. It was SO GOOD, a cut of beef I pretty much always enjoy cooked a perfect medium rare and full of flavor. My friend had the lobster, also butter poached, and ate every last bit of it. Our sides were great - the most buttery (buttery-est?) mashed potatoes, asparagus and a new-to-the-menu creamed corn. When I was last at CPS, I had the bittersweet chocolate dessert and wasn't crazy about it, but I remembered enjoying my companion's sorbet a lot; I steered the group in that direction. Instead of the mix of ice creams and sorbets we had last time, we were served six little scoops - two each of mango, blueberry and rasperry. So delicious and perfect for summer. At the end of the night, we asked the wonderful host Martin if we could see the view from the roof deck (used only for private events). Upon exiting the elevator, you have a lovely view of the Capitol, brightly lit against the night sky. I suspected it would be a very enjoyable experience for my visiting parents, which is why I made the request to go up there, and I am so happy I did. It was an enjoyable end to a special night.
  7. My wife and I had a great meal at Townsend last month - low-key setting, good service, great cocktails, and for the most part, excellent, interesting food. I had the hamachi, the escargot, and the swordfish, while my wife had the gazpacho, crab risotto, and the skate. The hamachi, swordfish, and risotto were standouts, while the gazpacho was a bit underwhelming. I had a phenomenal cocktail called the One Block Down with an unusual combination of mezcal and bourbon.
  8. I just saw this trailer for a documentary on the Prestigious Master Sommelier Exam. Looks to be an entertaining film if your into that sort of thing.
  9. "What Does It Take To Become A Master Sommelier?" by Matt Stamp in Decanter.com The one thing that stood out to me most is this paragraph about blind tasting. I cannot agree more: blind tasting is a useful tool; not a parlour trick - unless you're Wayne Rogers on the Merv Griffin show who *blatantly* performed a pre-arranged blind tasting, obviously knowing the answer in advance. "Seen by some as a parlour trick, blind tasting is a useful tool. Practising this skill – and it requires practice, not innate ability – sharpens your ability to communicate a wine’s character in an objective and meaningful way. Blind tasting allows you to view a wine precisely as it is, unencumbered by the noise of scores, labels, history and perceived value. After successful completion of the introductory class, those aspiring for the rank of MS must pass three progressively demanding exams: a Certified Sommelier exam, Advanced Sommelier exam and – by invitation only – the Master Sommelier exam. In all three, proficiency in blind tasting is required."
  10. Does anyone have a favorite sommelier -- especially in the Arlington Co.(Falls Church, McLean) area? Lots of great wine lists, but not a lot of dedicated somms around. Jess
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