Saturday, August 16, 2008

Food Induced Coma

Of all the places I've traveled to, the DC area is one where I've kept the most friends.  The first time I was ever there, beginning of '07, I became buddies with a phenomenal chef named Andrew Markert.  When I returned in August of that same year, I met Scott and Jenn.  Through the magic of the Internet (and Facebook) I’ve luckily been able to keep in touch with them all.

Since I knew I was going to be spending two weeks back in their neck of the woods, I made sure to call them up.  Andrew recently became the new executive chef at a restaurant named Tallula.  Looking to kill several birds with a stone, I invited Scott and Jenn to Tallula in order to sample Andrew’s new menu.  The last time I tried his tasting’s menu was when he was chef de cuisine at Vermillion. My girl and I went into a food coma after finishing.  It was the first time I felt drunk off of food.  Needless to say, I was looking forward to his new menu.

Tallula - Tastings Menu

Scott and Jenn picked me up from my hotel and we shot down to DC.  As some of you may know, DC is a bitch to get around.  One wrong turn and the spider web of one-way streets would divert you from your destination for miles.  Let’s just say we made a couple of wrong turns.  I blame the GPS and its posh British accent. 

When we finally arrived the place was in full swing, enjoying the hustle and bustle of a Friday night.  Our reservation was for the “Chef’s Counter” which gave us an up close view of the kitchen’s inner workings.  It also allowed us to chat with Andrew as he went around being “executive”.  Waiting by our place settings was a printed copy of the evening’s menu (shown right).  Each course was one or two dishes along with a wine pairing.  We didn’t know who was going to get what, but since we’re all relatively germ free we decided to share.

I’ve always wanted to get deeper into wines, but without all the bullshit pretentiousness.  I wanted to experience aromas and flavors because I could, not because they were written on the side of a label.  Surprisingly, the wine pairings were a meal unto themselves.  The complexity and uniqueness of the wines not only complimented the flavors of the dishes but opened up my concept of what wine could taste like.

All in all, the meal was fantastic.  Great company, delicious food and lots of wine made for a memorable evening.  After our bellies were full with all these delights, Andrew gave us a tour of the kitchen.  Massive wheels of foreign cheese filled a walk in freezer alongside assorted meats, mushrooms and an entire pig.  Then we were shown the meat room where they cure their own salami’s and meats.

Andrew had a child like grin while showing off this last place.  I’ve never seen anyone so happy about a room of hanging meat.  We returned to our seats and continued chatting for a bit.  We finished our wine while he started in on pints (and I do mean pints) of vodka/tonic.  When you’re 6’7” a rocks glass just isn’t going to cut it.

We took some pictures, but because I forgot my camera and they had the wrong lens we only snapped a couple of slightly fuzzy ones.  The one crappy part of the evening was the fact that my girl wasn’t there to join us.  In her defense she was stuck in the Philippines over 8000 miles away.  We did tip our glasses in her honor and I promised the next time I would be in town, I’d drag her with me.

It was really good seeing everyone again.  With as much traveling as I do and the myriad number of places I’ve lived, it’s hard to keep friends.  When you do bump into good people you tend to collect them like rare pieces of art.  Sometimes they get lost in the shuffle, but the few that remain in your grasp become that much more precious.

Beginning of September I’m supposed to return, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.  If I do, I’ll have to repeat this gastronomic experience with my lady, now that she has returned to civilization.

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