All photos by the author
Capitalizing on his new cookbook Nature, as well as an economy in the early stages of recovery, Chef Alain Ducasse is launching a new lunch program at Adour at the St. Regis hotel. I was invited to attend a preview of the new “simple, healthy, and delicious” lunch menu hosted by the chef himself. Having enjoyed one of the best meals of my life at another of his restaurants, I jumped at the chance.
Capitol Christmas Tree
courtesy of kimberlyfaye
It seems like we’re all still working off those pounds from Thanksgiving. If you want a more hassle-free holiday this Christmas Day, how about you keep the pots and pans in the kitchen and head out to one of your favorite DC restaurants open on the holiday.
After the jump are my top five choices of where to go. Keep in mind some are a bit pricey, but special menus can be worth it if you chose wisely.
‘Seared duck foie gras’
courtesy of ‘yosoynuts’
It’s time for another item on the DC Omnivore 100 list of the top one hundred foods every good omnivore should try at least once in their lives.
Since the launch of this feature back in 2008, there have been a few items on the list that we knew could be controversial – horse, for example, is one of the more obvious ones (and I plan to write about it soon). Foie gras is another, falling in and out of favor depending on whether taste trumps compassion. Some seasons it seems like every restaurant in the city is serving it, others not so much. What’s the deal?
Foie gras is the liver of a duck or goose that has been fattened, either force-fed through a traditional French method known as “gavage” or naturally overfed in say, the American method known as “double bacon cheeseburger with fries.” Kidding. It’s an ancient practice going back to the Egyptians and is protected under French law as part of their cultural heritage. The U.S. is actually the something like the fourth-largest producer of foie gras in the world. Basically the fattening process is exploiting a physiological capacity of migratory birds to store large amounts of food in their expansive throats, to sustain them over long journeys. The birds are fed larger and larger amounts of food until their livers are roughly ten times their ordinary size. With gavage, in the last phase they are force-fed through a pneumatic pump.
Grossed out yet? Morally appalled? If you are, you should read about abattoirs and where burgers come from as well. Personally, I’m with Bourdain. There are humane ways for us to get our guilty pleasures.
The reason so many people are willing to overlook the process is the result, one of the most luxuriant tastes on earth. Continue reading
courtesy of ‘maxedaperture’
Of all the venerable hotel bars that this city offers, the one that never really spoke to me was the St. Regis Library Lounge. With an air that screamed lobbyist power broker, it just never provided the quirky elegance that I find essential in a grand old hotel. That changed for me this past autumn when I popped in for a look before the most scrumptious Thanksgiving meal ever (if you have a serious special occasion coming up, go to Adour, it’s incredible). I knew the hotel had been renovated but I assumed it would be more of the same. Wrong.
The Bar at the St. Regis (its official name) is soothingly decorated now in shades of violet and grey, adding Art Deco touches like crazy 1960’s biomorphic light fixtures to a 40-seat room dominated by an intensely elaborate Italianate ceiling. Lacquered, metallic, mirrored surfaces abound. It’s simply gorgeous, but not overwhelming. You can easily tuck into a soft corner and broker your deal or impress your date. As for the drinks, they’ve undergone a change too. Sure, there’s the high-end madness one might expect (Remy Martin’s Black Pearl Magnum, anyone? $1,926 – the year the hotel opened – for a two ounce pour out of the only bottle in DC…).
But you can also have a little luxury for less, and enjoy some wacky molecular mixology too! Continue reading