The Terrace at Blue Duck Tavern is Now Open and BDT Features New Seasonal Dishes and Cocktails

The terrace at Blue Duck Tavern is officially open! Along with the opening of the terrace, the seasonal Spring menu was also unveiled yesterday. It includes an abundance of bright, seasonal produce from regional artisans and producers. The team at Blue Duck Tavern includes Executive Chef Frank Loquet, Chef de Cuisine Brad Deboy, Pastry Chef David Collier, and Cheese Specialist Sophie Slesinger.

A basket full of gorgeous strawberries

Here are some of the seasonal Spring offerings:

Cheese Specialist Sophie Slesinger showcasing Spring cheeses

 

Spring cheeses

 

Maine scallop crudo with buttermilk panna cotta, cucumber, & smoked trout roe

 

One of my favorite dishes of the evening: green pickled strawberries & ripe sweet strawberries with Aleppo pepper & white balsamic vinaigrette, whipped house made farmer’s cheese, radishes, crunchy granola, sliced green almonds, & reduced grape must.

 

Elysian Fields rack of lamb with lemon yogurt and baby Spring vegetables

 

Strawberry & rhubarb shortcake that was later topped with strawberry sorbet right before serving

Carrot Cake Pop

There are also new seasonal cocktails: Strawberry Gin with rhubarb & espelette tonic, The Lady Bird with gin, rosemary, pineapple, versus, & house grenadine, and The Oak Park with rhum, kiwi, and lime cordial.

I can’t wait to go back and enjoy some of these light & bright dishes at their terrace on a sunny afternoon.

Blue Duck Tavern
24 & M Streets, NW
Washington D.C. 20037

Disclosure: I was invited to a tasting at the restaurant. I was not compensated for writing this post. All views are my own.

The Flower Workshop

Flowers can have a dramatic influence on the particular mood that a space conveys. Simply placing a mason jar filled with a random mix of foraged flowers, can make a space feel more joyful.

I have  picked up a few tips and tricks here and there, and learned from working with an interior designer, however, I have not been able to master the ephemeral and soft arrangements that are very much in style now. This particular style that is full of movement is what attracted me to the book The Flower Workshop: Lessons in Arranging Blooms, Branches, Fruits, and Foraged Materials by Ariella Chezar. Chezar is a celebrated flower designer whose work has been featured in many publications.

This book is a flower lover’s dream. Chezar shares her passion for flowers and has put together an inspiring volume. She frequently refers to her style as painterly, and the description  fits perfectly.  The book includes tips and tricks such as using the concepts of chiaroscuro and ombré to create depth and movement. There are sections that cover essential techniques, tools, and a very helpful seasonal flower guide. In addition, there are  recipes that list the precise flowers needed to replicate a particular arrangement along with detailed written instructions and stunning photographs. The recipes cover a wide range of floral arrangement styles and they will inspire you to create beautiful arrangements at home.

 

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Flower Workshop: Lessons in Arranging Blooms, Branches, Fruits, and Foraged Materials for review purposes. I was not compensated for writing this post. All views are my own.

Cherry Blossom Cupcake Decorating Class at the Fairmont Hotel

Last month I had the pleasure of participating in a fun cherry blossom cupcake decorating class at the Fairmont Hotel taught by Pastry Chef Elizabeth Teuwen. This was perfect timing, so that I could learn how to make some cherry blossom decorations before the cherry blossoms start blooming in the DC area.

I attended the class with my friend Kaoru, and we were greeted with sparkling wine and hors d’ouvres upon arrival. After a short intro from Chef Teuwen, we got to work.

Sparkling wine & hors d’ouvre

I was impressed that we would be decorating the cupcakes with fondant, and gum paste flowers. We tinted the fondant and gum paste, and got to work. We used cutters and tools to shape petals and to form flowers, spread icing on the cupcakes, covered the cupcakes with fondant, glued the flowers to the fondant with royal icing, and gilded our finished decorations with edible sparkling powder. I had never worked with fondant before and, let me tell you, it is hard work!

Cake decorated by Chef Teuwen

At the end of the class, we left with our decorated cupcakes in cute pastry boxes. I learned a lot about working with fondant. And I’m looking forward to using my new skills.

My decorated cupcakes

 

Decorated cupcakes with texture and marvled effects. Photo courtesy of Kaoru.

Check out the Fairmont’s website for other upcoming classes. The next one is the Fairmont’s second annual chocolate egg decorating class with the Easter Bunny on March 26, 2016. The Fairmont Hotel in Washington DC is located at 2401 M Street NW, Washington, DC.

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Last year’s chocolate Easter egg decorating class with the Easter bunny. Photo courtesy of the Fairmont Hotel.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the class at the Fairmont. I was not compensated for writing this post. All views are my own.

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

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Grapefruit and avocado salad

I love citrus fruits. I stock up on Meyer lemons, cara-cara oranges, and pink grapefruits as soon as I see them in the store. This is the end of winter and citrus season, so I’m trying to enjoy the last few weeks of these delicious fruits.

The book Citrus is a dream cookbook for citrus fruit lovers. It includes 75 citrus centered savory and sweet recipes. It’s a small format hardcover, with gorgeous photographs. There are so many recipes I want to make. The breakfast crepes with candied tangerines, and the dark chocolate waffles with maple kumquats sound divine for a brunch with friends. And I can’t wait to make the dungeness crab with lime and chili dipping sauce, and the orange and rosemary polenta cake for date night.

Spring is slowly approaching and I’ve been craving lighter dishes like this grapefruit and avocado salad from the book has become a go-to dinner option. It is delicious served with slices of toasted artisan multi-grain bread. I used pink grapefruits and added smoked salmon. Most importantly, it takes no time to put together.

Yellow Grapefruit and Avocado Salad
From Citrus by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson

Serves 4
Ingredients for Salad

1 yellow grapefruit, peeled
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced
2 cups baby kale or similar greens
4 ounces smoked salmon (I added smoked salmon, this is optional)

Ingredients for Vinaigrette
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons chopped tarragon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Quarter the grapefruit, then cut into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange on a platter or in a shallow bowl. Top with the avocado slices, then sprinkle with the baby kale.
To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and serve.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Citrus for review purposes. I was not compensated for writing this post. All views are my own.

Chef Ryan Ratino Introduces New Dishes to Masa 14’s Latin-Asian Menu

Masa 14 is one of my favorite brunch spots. Their bottomless brunch is one of the best in DC.

I recently had the opportunity to sample their new menu designed by Chef Ryan Ratino. Chef Ratino recently joined Masa 14, and he has revamped the Latin-Asian menu. New appetizers include tuna sashimi, scallop crudo, Spanish octopus, lamb carpaccio, and house cured & smoked steelhead. There will now be main dishes that are served family style such as the black garlic marinated striploin served with bone marrow, and Korean fried chicken with yucca fries. The striploin is perfectly cooked, and the fried chicken is crisp, tender, with just the right amount of spicy-tart glaze. Desserts include a passion fruit pavlova, and a Nutella tart served with togarashi and salt caramel.

It is clear that Chef Ratino has great attention to detail. He has selected gorgeous new ceramic serveware, and the garnishes on every menu item not only add pops of color to the plating but also perfectly compliment each dish. My favorite garnishes were the olives on the lamb carpaccio,  fresh celery leaves on the scallop crudo, and the pickled vegetables served with the striploin. They truly took the dishes to another level.

In addition, there is also a new, super secret menu item: a giant raviolo stuffed with slow cooked shredded short rib meat, topped with chunks of seared foie gras, mushrooms, black truffles, and watercress. Certainly consider ordering it next time you are there. It is to die for.

 

Tuna sashimi

 

Scallop crudo

 

 

Lamb carpaccio with garlic confirm, oaxaca cheese, and olives

 

 

Spanish octopus with romesco sauce and grapefruit

 

 

House cured and smoked steelhead

 

Black garlic marinated striploin with bone marrow and pickled vegetables

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Korean Fried Chicken with yucca fries topped with mojo and kimchee aioli, and Japanese pickles

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Passion Fruit Pavlova: coconut cake, passion fruit cream, and fruity pebbles

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Nutella Tart with togarahsi, salt caramel, and sour cranberries

 

The secret menu ravioli: one giant raviolo stuffed with slow cooked shredded short rib meat, topped with chunks of seared foie gras, mushrooms, black truffles, and watercress.

Disclosure: I was invited to sample the new menu at Masa 14. I was not compensated for writing this post. All opinions are my own.