I had the pleasure of attending the CIRA (Council of Independent Restaurants of America) "Dine Around DC" function on Monday night.
This was an event where 15 of DC's top chefs from independent restaurants collaborated with each other to put together a stellar 5 course meal with wine parings. About 75 people attended and were divided into three groups. Each group was assigned a different 5 course/5 chef menu and was then shuttled to one restaurant for the first two courses and then to a second restaurant for the remaining three (no groups went to the same restaurant.)
Everyone met for hor'dourves and champagne at the Reefs in Adams Morgan and then was assigned their menu for the evenings festivities. I wasn't too fond of the hor'dourves at the Reefs, but luckily it was uncharacteristic of the rest of the evening.
My assignment took me to Zatinya where Jose Andres (Zatinya/Jaleo/Cafe Atlantico) and Cesare Lanfanconi (Tosca) prepared first courses. Jose Andres' take on mezza was amazing. There were some traditional selections but two items, a fois gras wrapped in cotton candy and a spoon of trout roe with lemon and herbs that were over the top. The second course prepared by Cesare Lanfanconi was a seafood salad on top of a spinach puree. The dish was overly abundant with seafood including mussels, oysters, crab, lobster, squid, & langoustines. They may have been more but my eyes were rolling into the back of my head at this point in the meal. Wines from Greece and Italy were served with each course respectively.
We then were shuttled over to Marcel's. Robert Wiedmaier (Marcel's), Patrick Orange (La Chaumiere), and Michel Richard (Citronelle) were the chefs that completed the meal. The first entree was a seared halibut with a gruyere potato cake in a light mustard cream sauce. It was perfectly executed. The second entree was a braised Paleron (shoulder & neck) of beef, butchered angulette style so it was similar to a filet. This was truly one of the best pieces of meat I have ever had. To coin a phrase from Joe H, it was a "great dish". Last was Michel Richard's signature cookie bar dessert along with a glass of Fonseca port.
Other restaurant chefs that collaborated for another meal were Fabrizio Aielli (Teatro Goldoni), Todd Gray (Equinox), Ann Cashion (Cashion's/Johnny's), Susan McCreight Lindeborg (Majestic Cafe), Jeff Heineman (Grapeseed). The third meal was presented by Alison Swope (Andale), Ris Lacoste (1789), Bob Kinkead (Kinkead's/Colvin Run), Gerard Pangaud (Gerard's Place), and Damian Salvatore (Persimmon).
It was truly a treat to experience what these chefs do best. Better yet, it was great to support great local independent restaurants. The event was $100pp including tax, tip & transportation (not to mention copious amounts of wine.) I am unsure what events are planned in the future, but I would urge fellow Chowhounds to check out their future events.
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