Archive | July, 2010

Volt

27 Jul

Last year when the Las Vegas season of Top Chef aired chef/owner Brian Voltaggio and his restaurant Volt moved into the spotlight in the DC restaurant scene. Fredrick, Maryland suddenly became a culinary hotspot. This becomes especially apparent when making a reservation. Plan to call for dinner three months out and YEARS ahead for Voltaggio’s chef’s table, Table 21. This place is not cheap brunch however is  surprisingly reasonable, three courses for $25. Not bad at all.

Reservations made month’s in advance, my family trekked out to Fredrick with high brunching expectations. The restaurant itself is a massive, old brick town home. The interior is quirky and fun and the attentive converse clad waiters will roll a wall away for you (literally) should you need to use the restroom.

The brunch menu offers five or six choices for each of the three courses. The first course brought a tasting of beets and shitake veloute to our table, both dishes offering a new take on tradition. The veloute, a rich mushroom soup is mixed with a frothy pine nut sabayon and brightened with a swirl of chili oil. The beets are an intriguing play on texture, sliced beets are accompanied by beet meringue and fluffy poufs of goat cheese.

Beet Art

Our main courses bring more creative presentations to the table, even simple dishes like omelets and roast chicken become plated works of art. My pork tenderloin is delicious, juicy and cooked to perfection. The accompanying fava beans and earthy, salty mushrooms are perfect for an early summer meal.

Chocolate, Chocolate with Chocolate

Finally dessert , no one at our table could say no to the ‘textures of chocolate,’ a ribbon chocolate ganache with a dense mousse-like texture, raw cocoa, chocolate turned to a fine powder, milk chocolate ice cream, a dab of chocolate caramel… in short: chocoholic heaven.

From the service to the plating Volt is a memorable dining experience. The restaurant mixes the whimsical and the formal to deliver a meal that is surprising, delicious  and also a lot of fun.

Battle Sweet Potato Coffee: Judgement Day

21 Jul

As the winner of last week’s Frozen Dessert Foodie Fight I was asked to judge this week’s battle, Sweet Potato Coffee. Everything looked so tasty in this battle it was hard to pick a winner and runner up. In the end I went with some seriously scrumptious looking Cinnamon Rolls from Indoorgarder_er with HippieChic’s Stuffed Pork Loin as my runner up. In the end result HippieChic’s pork dish took the cake with those cinnamon rolls as the runner up. Yum….

White Chocolate Semifreddo with Salted Caramel and Fresh Peaches

13 Jul

This week Pickles and Kumquats is participating in our second Foodie Fight, an online culinary battle (for fame not fortune). The theme of this week’s battle? Frozen Dessert! Enjoy and head on over to Foodie Fights to VOTE!

Drizzle, Drizzle!

Temperatures in the District recently have been in the triple digits. It is hot, humid and pretty unbearable… perfect for ice cream, sorbets and popsicles (oh my)! For this battle I decided to make a semifreddo. Italian for ‘half cold’, a semifreddo is a frozen treat  made from folding whipped cream with a custard or ice cream. The result is a rich dessert with a mousse-like texture. I went with a white chocolate semifreddo with salted caramel, almonds and fresh peaches… yum!

First up, Salted Caramel Sauce…

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Stir sugar and water in a small sauce pan over med-low heat until the sugar crystals are completely dissolved. Next increase the heat to bring your syrup to a boil for ten minutes or until the syrup turns amber in color. Turn heat to low and add your heavy cream, stir until fully incorporated. Remove from the heat and stir in your butter and salt.

Next in a small frying pan toast 1/2 cup slivered almonds (two to three minutes). Coat the almonds with two tablespoons of your salted caramel sauce and chill the rest until ready to serve.

Toasty Nuts

For the semifreddo…

6 ounces fine-quality white chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream

3-4 fresh peaches

Frist line a loaf pan with two layers plastic wrap, allowing extra for overhang, and chill the pan in the freezer. While your pan gets chilly, bring a small sauce pan with an inch or so of water to a simmer. Place a heat-proof bowl on top and melt your chocolate, stirring as it melts. Remove the chocolate from the heat and replace with a metal bowl. Combine the eggs and sugar over the heat and whisk or beat until the mixture is pale, thick and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in your melted chocolate and vanilla.

Ready for Freezing

In a separate bowl beat your cream until it holds stiff peaks and then fold into your egg mixture until fully combined. Fold in your caramel coated almonds, pour the mixture into your cold loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap.

Freeze your semifreddo for 8 hours or overnight.

When fully frozen unmold your semifreddo on to a platter. Heat your salted caramel sauce on the stove or in the microwave. Rinse and slice your peaches. Finally serve the semifreddo in thick (thicker the better!) slices, drizzled with warm salted caramel and fresh peach slices. (Recipes adapted from Bon Appetite and Gourmet respectively).

Slice It

And the results…

Taste Sensation

So very tasty! One taster described is as ‘an explosion of flavors’, the texture is indeed frozen mousse-like and tastes like a cross between ice cream and pastry cream. Thick, very rich, cold and delicious. The almonds lend a little crunch, the caramel a sweet salty bite and the peaches the fresh taste of summer. A perfect treat that impresses on hot summer night, plus you can make it ahead… yes and please!

Like what you see? Go to Foodie Fights and VOTE!

Masa 14

9 Jul

When one walks into Masa 14 the space seems to be equal parts restaurant and night club. Every time I have been in the place is packed, the music and conversation is loud, the décor is trendy and the patrons are well-healed. At places like this food is often an afterthought , taking a backseat the beautiful and the boozy. This is not however, the case at Masa 14, where the Latin-Asian fusion plates are routinely delicious.

Duck, Duck...

On a recent visit we started with the peking duck flatbread, a tangle of duck confit, mango, and cojita cheese all drizzled with BBQ sauce on warm bread. The combination of East, West, salty and sweet made for a tasty concoction.  Our grilled baby octopus was served in a chimichurri sauce with pickled vegetables. Interestingly Masa leaves the heads on, they have a odd squishy texture but the dish as a whole is worthwhile. My favorite dish to hit the table so far is the bulgulgi sopes, a Korea meets Mexico dish in which little fried corn cakes are topped with bbq skirt steak, kimchi , apple and cojita cheese. They are addicting little tidbits, that I would have been happy to receive another plate of.

Surprisingly the disappointment of the evening came in our glasses. Their signature sangria tasted watered down and like someone had forgotten to add the alcohol. Next time I will stick to one of their 500 tequilas.