Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Break with the Family!

Sorry to have disappeared for 10 days or so. I just got back from a family vacation with Henry and my stepkids  --  a week in Baltimore, Colonial Williamsburg, Washington, DC, with side trips to Richmond, VA and Annapolis, MD for lunch. We ate a lot of Maryland crab and mid-Atlantic rockfish (aka striped bass), and a some local pork, and duck duck goose!! 

I will proudly admit, I did a great job at selecting locavore restaurants and a variety of really nice hotels-- my only regret is I ate too much and gained a few pounds -- three to be exact. Argh!

Our first day we spent most of the afternoon at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Our friends had arranged for us to have a behind-the-scenes tour with Allan Sutherland, Director of Exhibits and Production -- an extraordinary place. We stayed at the Harbor Court right on the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore. On Monday, we drove to the Williamsburg Inn via Richmond, VA and stayed in a quaint (and tiny) cottage decorated in colonial antiques in historic Williamsburg. Our cottage was called the Brick House Tavern Shop (circa 1720), and a two bedroom, two-bath house with easy access to the sites and impressive reenactments. To complete our historic mid-Atlantic tour, we stayed at the Hotel George,  a stylish, 21st century (!!) boutique hotel -- near Capitol Hill and Union Station. After a whirlwind museum filled stay (Air and Space, Spy, Newseum, Holocaust) we stopped by Annapolis, MD on the way back to New York City for lunch. 

We had some great meals and were able to get quite a bit of local food even though it's early in the growing season. 

410 W. Duke of Gloucester St
Williamsburg, VA
(757) 229-3333

Hands down, the best restaurant in Williamsburg, the Fat Canary would be top notch in NYC! I had the rockfish special served with grits (what more could you ask for in a meal in VA -- fresh caught local fish lightly sauteed with some southern- style GRITS). 

1201 24th St. NW
Washington, DC 

One of my top ten dining experiences ever! I'd go back to Washington just to eat at Blue Duck Tavern. For New York foodies it's like Gramercy Tavern meets CRAFT. While not entirely local/regional -- there are items from Louisiana, Iowa and Hawaii - the menu is 100% American AND A THOUSAND PERCENT AMAZINGLY SOPHISTICATED HOME STYLE COOKING (and great for young teenagers). Mike, our server, was top-notch and really nice. Many of the dishes were served family-style so I got to taste quite a few. Chestnut Soup with Burnt Marshmellow, Winter Endive and Watercress Salad with Hazelnut Dressing and Black Truffles, Smoked Jurgielewitz Farm Duck Breast and Ragout of Confit Leg (can't miss the duck at the Blue Duck -- Long Island style duck raised in Pennsylvania), Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Bacon and the extra crunchy and flavorfully seasoned (and don't miss) Hand Cut BDT Triple Fries. Cory and Camille both ordered the molten and delicious (and theatrical) Warm Semi-Sweet Chocolate Cake Flamed with Bourbon, Cranberry Compote. I ate the compote and enjoyed a few bites of rich, chocolate, hot and delicious cake. 

818 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC
202-331-8118

More "grown up" and quieter than Blue Duck Tavern, Equinox was another over-the-top treat. Located right behind the White House (and where the Obamas ate dinner shortly after the Inauguration), Equinox has a weekly menu of mostly local and seasonal foods. The pan-fried Rappahannock VA Oysters served with caper butter and celery root puree was sweet and delicious. And, the uniquely prepared and equally as sophisticated Maryland Rockfish (my third rockfish of the trip) was served with braised pork "osso buco", escargot, Beech mushrooms and Bourguignonne sauce. The super tender braised pork and rich brown sauce was a wonderful compliment to the light and flaky Rockfish. This rich and autumnal dish reminded me of Basque fish recipes that feature a local white fish and a brown meat and red wine sauce. Outstanding! Camille had the Raviolini with Camalier Farms Roasted Veal with lots of Parmesan Reggiano, Cory ate the Striploin and Henry enjoyed the not local (Pacific Ocean) John Dory. We ended dinner, once again, with the chocolate cake:  Semi-Sweet Chocolate Truffle Cake with coconut/lime sorbet, tropical fruit and mint syrup. I ate the sorbet and fruit and a bit of cake (how moderate of me)! 

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