- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2004


October is upon us, and so is campaign fever. All through the month until Election Day, Nov. 2, diners at the Madison Hotel’s Postscript bar (15th and M streets NW, 202/862-1600) can exercise their right to vote by participating in the Chili vs. Chowda campaign.

The candidates on the ballot are Texas chili, served with Lone Star beer, and New England clam chowder, which comes with Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Postscript also will be playing classic political movies each night for its patrons.

Charlie Palmer Steak (101 Constitution Ave. NW, 202/547-8100) is continuing the prix fixe menus aimed at saluting each candidate with Tex-Mex flavors honoring the president and New England dishes for Sen. John Kerry. The menus, offered only at lunch, are priced at $20.04 and will be available until the election.

The Helix Lounge (1430 Rhode Island Ave. NW, 202/462-9001) is getting into the act by creating two cocktails, priced at $9 each, until Nov. 2. There’s the Republican Pink Elephant — brandy, cranberry juice and pineapple juice with a lemon twist — and for the Democrats, there’s a Disco Donkey — Stoli Raz, peach, sour apple schnapps and sour mix.

Oct. 18 appears to be a hot night in town. Cafe Atlantico (405 Eighth St. NW, 202/393-0812) will be presenting a four-course Latin-inspired tasting menu for $75 per person. The meal includes clam chowder, a lobster Caesar salad, steak and huitlacoche (that delicious Mexican corn fungus) and dessert. Each dish, including cocktails and “tapitas,” is paired with a different Argentine wine produced by Catena.

The restaurant also has created two new drinks to ease the transition from Washington’s sultry summers to crisp fall evenings: Uva de la pasion is a mix of mango, rum and red wine, with passion fruit juice, fresh lime and sugar. Lime and salt air margarita is a combination of triple sec, tequila, sour mix and orange juice topped with a froth made of fresh lime juice, water, soy and salt blended together. Both drinks are priced at $7.

Oct. 18 is also the date for the Calvert-Woodley Park Hyatt fete de Bordeaux (Park Hyatt Washington, 24th and M streets NW, 202/966-0445). A reception followed by a progression of 16 wines, with discussions of each from Jean-Guillaume Prats, is itself followed by a five-course dinner created by Melrose executive chef Brian McBride. The price of the dinner is $180 per person, including tax and gratuities. The menu, which starts with Washington state oysters and ends with a spiced pear and black walnut cannoli, is quite spectacular.

Firefly (1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW, 202/861-1310) is celebrating its second birthday Oct. 18. Chef John Wabeck is planning a special evening, featuring a three-course menu for $55 per person all inclusive, for which “food is art.” The culinary evening coincides with the opening of the Phillips Collection exhibit of Alexander Calder’s mobiles and Joan Miro’s poem paintings, co-organized with the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland.

The chef has designed the courses around a work by each artist and paired each dish with a vintage from the region in which the artist lived. The menu will include “the tilled field,” inspired by Mr. Miro, a dish of roasted beets, braised Belgian endive, goat cheese, saffron and squid ink, and “duck,” a combination of duck confit with smoked duck risotto and cranberry relish that commemorates Mr. Calder’s first piece, created when he was a child. For dessert, honoring both artists is a vanilla panna cotta.

During the evening, Elizabeth Hutton Turner, senior curator for the exhibit, will share anecdotes about the artists. Firefly will donate 25 percent of the $55 to the Phillips’ education and community programs.

On Oct. 14, Oyamel (2250 Crystal Drive, Arlington, 703/413-2288), the new Mexican small-plates restaurant, the sister restaurant of the new Jaleo in Crystal City, will host a fund-raising opening for three nonprofit organizations. All proceeds raised over three nights (Oct. 12 through 14) will go to the Michoacan Reforestation Fund, the Children’s National Medical Center and Human Rights Watch.

Executive chef Jose Andres has put together an authentic menu featuring pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern versions reflecting the rich culinary heritage of Mexico. Signature dishes include goat cheese with mole; stuffed quail in rose petal sauce; and braised rabbit with corn, mushroom and spicy crab soup. Oyamel will offer tequilas, mescals, liqueurs and quality Mexican wines.

Until April 3, the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle NW, 202/842-1300) will allow guests to toast marshmallows for s’mores at the International Bar from 6 to 10 p.m. “Fixings” are provided: personal Bunsen burners, graham crackers, marshmallows, Ghirardelli chocolate squares and two dipping sauces (Bourbon caramel and fresh raspberry). The cost is $18 for two, plus gratuity.

October is pumpkin month, and Taverna del Alabardero (1776 I St. NW, 202/429-2200) is celebrating the region’s autumn harvest with its Pumpkin Festival. Throughout October, executive chef Santi Zabaleta will offer a five-course menu of pumpkin and squash dishes with a Spanish flair. Patrons will learn how to use the pumpkin leftovers after carving jack-o’-lanterns at home, and copies of the pumpkin recipes will be available at the restaurant for guests.

The dinner is priced at $65 per person, excluding tax and gratuity, and includes a chorizo, onion and pumpkin mousse; seared pumpkin, goat cheese and toasted pumpkin-seed salad; grilled flounder with pumpkin puree; beef strip loin with spaghetti squash; and pumpkin cake with manchego cheese.

Now that Washington’s children have learned how to prepare Italian dishes at Tosca, they can attend Saturday classes in October at Sushi-Ko (2309 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202/333-4187). Classes are slated for groups of eight to 10 children age 9 and older at $30 per child. The children will learn about making sushi and will get a taste of Japanese culture and history. They also will get a sushi lunch.

Cesare Lanfranconi, chef-owner of Tosca (1112 F St. NW, 202/367-1990), has moved on from the children and is offering Saturday classes for adults. Classes are from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; the classes are priced at $85 per person, with 14 persons per class. Topics are sauces, this Saturday; fresh pasta, Oct. 16; and risotto, Oct. 23. Classes are scheduled through Dec. 18, ending with a traditional Italian Christmas.

Also this Saturday, rain or shine, the Taste of Georgetown festival will take place on the grounds of Grace Church and on the block of Wisconsin Avenue between M and South streets. Twenty-two of Georgetown’s restaurants will sell sample portions of their signature dishes; 15 of Georgetown’s artists and craftsmen will display items such as Turkish tiles, glassware and paintings. Freshfarm market will sell produce, and all sorts of children’s activities are planned. Live entertainment will be provided by Blues Alley. Proceeds will be used to support the Georgetown Ministry Center. The festival hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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