Tuesday, April 25, 2006

May is for mushrooms at Jaleo (480 Seventh St. NW, 202/628-7949; 2250A Crystal Drive, Arlington, 703/413-8181; 7271 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, 301/913-0003). From May 16 to 28, all three restaurants will feature daily mushroom specials.

Jaleo has invited renowned mushroom expert Llorenc Petras of Barcelona, Spain, to work with Jaleo’s culinary team and share his recipes for the festival. Mr. Petras will talk about cooking tricks with mushrooms at Freshfarm Market on Eighth Street Northwest on May 18. The festival culminates with a wine dinner at the three Jaleo locations, featuring a selection of Spanish-inspired mushroom dishes paired with Spanish wines for $75 per person.

May is also asparagus month at 1789 Restaurant (1226 36th St. NW; 202/965-1789) where the new executive chef, Nathan Beauchamp, is preparing a five-course tasting menu showcasing different species of asparagus (called the food of kings for Louis XIV, who had a special greenhouse built so he could enjoy asparagus year-round). Four asparagus courses, such as asparagus custard of roasted lobster and white asparagus of veal tenderloin, crispy sweetbreads, crab and asparagus ragout, and a fifth dessert course (without asparagus) by pastry chef Zoe Behrens will be available throughout the month. The dinner is priced at $65 per person or $100 paired with a selection of wines.

At Oceanaire Seafood Room (1201 F St. NW; 202/347-2277), chef Rob Klink has partnered with Chilean chef Pilar Rodriguez to offer Chilean seafood dishes, products and wines in honor of Chile’s Month of the Sea holiday. During May, the restaurant will feature such classic Chilean preparations as red abalone in white wine sauce and seared conger eel in olive oil.

Fogo de Chao (1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202/347-4668), will celebrate National Salad Month this May by featuring its outstanding salad bar, which can be enjoyed at lunch, without meat, for $19.50 per person. It is said that romaine lettuce was named for the Romans who believed it had healthful properties.

The Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe (National Museum of the American Indian, Fourth Street and Independence Avenue Southwest) is offering a new spring menu in May and June. The menu includes such regional dishes as grilled baby octopus with tomato, onions and cilantro (South America); fire-grilled flank steak with spicy corn relish on jalapeno roll (Great Plains); and fiddlehead fern with grilled fennel and spring onion salad (Northwest Coast). The cafe’s full menu is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; a small menu is available from 3 to 5 p.m., daily.

Up on Connecticut Avenue, Ardeo (3311 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202/244-6750) has introduced a weekly tasting menu wine dinner every Thursday night for $52 per person, including wines. The four-course menu and wines change weekly. Ardeo has recently appointed Christopher Bradley as its executive chef.

Up the block from Ardeo, Dino (3435 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202/686-2966), now under executive chef Daniel Amaya, a self-taught chef who has worked at several prestigious Northern California restaurants, is offering a wine special on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Memorial Day. Guests who come for dinner and spend a minimum of $20 per person on food are eligible for a discount on bottles of wine priced over $50.

May 15 is “I Love Crab Cakes” competition day. The event will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Phillips Flagship Restaurant (900 Water St. SW; 202/331-0421) for both professional and nonprofessional categories. Proceeds from the competition, which is co-sponsored by the American Institute of Wine & Food and Phillips Seafood, will benefit the National Capital Area Chapter of the institute for its internship and scholarship programs. The winners in the nonprofessional category will win gift certificates from the competing chefs and cookware from Calphalon. For more information on the competition, call Rebecca Penovich at AIWF at 301/588-3060.

Cinco de Mayo will be celebrated five times — May 1 to 5 — at Ceiba (701 14th St. NW; 202/393-3983) with a special menu featuring Mexican dishes such as chicken mole and guacamole, oysters, salsas and rice pudding. A special four-course dinner is priced at $35 per person.

Ceiba is offering a Latin-inspired cooking class Saturday for $75 per person. Chef de cuisine Travis Timberlake will demonstrate how to make several of Ceiba’s most popular dishes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dishes will be paired with South American wines. To register, contact Amy Allworth, 202/222-0987.

Executive chef Bryan Voltaggio is introducing his first-ever cooking class series at Charlie Palmer Steak (101 Constitution Ave. NW; 202/547-8100) on May 6. Dishes created during this session are designed to help participants host a family celebration in honor of Mother’s Day. Limited to 10 to 12 participants, the classes will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and include a continental breakfast, tour of the kitchen, menu with recipes that can be prepared at home, hands-on preparation of dishes, lunch and a commemorative gift bag. The price is $135 per person. Additional classes will be held June 10 (grilling techniques) and 24 (Fourth of July celebration).

On Sunday, Zaytinya (701 Ninth St. NW; 202/638-0800) is hosting a Greek wine tasting open house for the All About Greek Wine Roadshow 2006 with a walkaround complimentary tasting of Greek wines.

There’s still time to celebrate Thailand’s new year holiday at Bangkok Joe’s (3000 K St. NW; 202/333-4422), where chef-owner Aulie Bunyarataphan is offering a special menu of authentic Thai dishes traditionally served during Songkran, the Festival of Pouring Water, and are thought to promote health and longevity. The special menu items are priced from $6.95 to $24.95 and available through April.

Don’t forget Mother’s Day on May 14. Brunch specials abound all over town, including 1789, where spring arrivals will be featured; 701 (701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202/393-0701), which will offer a three-course menu for $35 with such delicacies as poached eggs on lobster roulade; Primi Piatti (2013 I St. NW; 202/223-3600), where the $39 ($20 for children) prix fixe brunch includes a magic show; and Rasika (633 D St. NW; 202/637-1222), where guests can enjoy a three-course Indian feast for $35.

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