Food. Travel. Politics. Three subjects close to my heart.
After 5 days in Washington D.C., it is obvious our nation’s capitol is like no other city in America. Only in D.C. can you watch and listen to the awe-inspiring sight of the Supreme Court in action (btw, those nine lucky justices have, by far, the best diggs in town, Oval Office included). Only in D.C. can you attend a session of Congress and see your elected politicians working on your behalf (when they actually decide to show up). Only in D.C. does your cab driver have C-Span Radio tuned in 24/7.
And last, but certainly not least, only in D.C. can you freely engage in a highly-charged, blood boiling, fight-till-the-death political discussion, that is not only acceptable protocol, but rather a greatly encouraged local pastime.
Politics is truly a way of life here … But so is the food.
The food scene in D.C. has changed quite dramatically over the past 20 years. Haute cuisine at CityZen with Chef Eric Ziebold coming from The French Laundry in Napa Valley. José Andrés, who trained under Ferran Adria at the acclaimed El Bulli in Spain, keeping its coveted spot as World’s Top Restaurant for 2009, has taken over the city with tapas-styled restaurants such as minibar and Jaleo, to name a few. In addition, with the largest population of Ethiopians outside of Ethiopia, D.C. has become a mecca for authentic Ethiopian fare.
All of that is well and good, but the culinary delight of the trip centered around Old Town Alexandria – hometown of our first Founding Father, in a special little place called Restaurant Eve, with a special little thing known as a scallop. Now, this wasn’t just any ‘ole scallop. This was the big daddy of them all: a single Maine Diver Sea Scallop. Maine Diver Sea Scallops have their name for a reason. They are hand picked, one by one, off of rocks in the ocean floor by professional divers. And I’m telling ya, the difference is earth shattering! Perfectly seared in a creamy sauce of risotto, chanterelles and potatoes. I’ve never in my life had a scallop like this. I almost cried when I took the last bite.
Pan Seared Maine Diver Sea Scallop with Chanterelle Mock Risotto
From the menu at Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
The Lickity-Split menu for lunch is heaven sent. Choose any two items for dining at the bar/lounge for $13.50. An unbelievable deal!
Music Pairing: How Sweet It Is, Marvin Gaye, The Very Best of Marvin Gaye (who else but Marvin Gaye, DC’s native son and Prince of Soul).
6 U10 Diver’s Scallops (2 to be used for sauce)
- 2 of the scallops
- 1/2 bulb fennel, diced
- 1 leek, diced and washed
- 2 shallots, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 pint cream
- 2 tbsp chives, minced
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 large yukon gold potato, diced small
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1/2 lb Chanterelles, diced
- 3 tbsp butter
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 3 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Sweat the shallots and mushrooms in 1 tbsp of butter until tender. Add the diced potato and bay leaf. Begin to add chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time and allow to thicken before adding more. Continue to cook until the potatoes are done. Finish with remaining butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Sweat the fennel, leek and shallots in 1 tbsp of butter until tender. Add the scallops and wine. Cook until the wine is reduced by half. Add the cream, bay leaf and thyme; bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer until the cream is reduced by one-third. Add the remaining butter, strain and blend the sauce. Add minced chives for garnish.
Season both sides of scallops with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil over medium high heat. Saute both sides until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side).
In a large bowl, place a spoonful of the risotto and encircle it with 1/2 ounce of the sauce. Place a seared sea scallop on top of the risotto and garnish with microgreens.