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April 2009


Mushroom Hunt

Every Spring when the wild trillium start to bloom in the Blue Ridge Mountains, nature's most elusive wild mushroom, the morel, begins to come up!  So finally, with a few hours to spare last week, I made the two-hour journey from Alexandria, VA to spend a day in the woods looking for these tasty morsels. 

It's such a neat experience because each year is different from the year before, as you never know what will be found!  Below are some photos from Old Rag Mountain.


Shown here is the source of a mountain spring which flows right out of the rocks. The watercress growing here is some of the sweetest I've ever found. (I filled my bags before leaving!!)


Stepping across the creek, not five yards into the wilderness, I looked down to see the scene before you. It was a bit difficult to spot this mushroom - in fact, I saw two!


Needless to say, finding two at the start of my hunt was very encouraging. Sadly though, these turned out to be the only two of the day. But hey, spending the day in nature and finding at least one mushroom is a day well spent! The cress made an amazing salad.

For a Good Cause

Starting this Monday, May 4 through Sunday, May 10, we are donating 100% of the proceeds from sales of our homemade cookies-to-go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic.  The cookies are $9 per bag and make a very easy Mother's Day gift.

Cookies The cookies come in a few flavors, such as Chocolate Pecan Cranberry, Cherry Pistachio Almond, Rum Raisin, and my personal favorite...Raspberry Walnut Rugelach, which blends a cream cheese dough with raspberry jam, sugar, cinnamon and chopped walnuts.


Jacqueline Rodier Culinary Arts Award Dinner

Last Wednesday, April 15, Park Hyatt was once again fortunate to host the very special Jacqueline Rodier Culinary Arts Award Dinner organized by the Wine & Food Society.

For those who do not know, Jacqueline Rodier ran two local French restaurants, Jacqueline's and Auberge Jacqueline, both dubbed "gallic gastronomical" landmarks by The Washington Post. Anyone who was anyone dined at these establishments - diplomats, senators, and lovers of fine cuisine! Sadly, on November 15, 2006, Jacqueline died of complications from liver and kidney disease.

For the evening's sumptuous five-course dinner, a few of my culinary pals and DC notables, Jeff Buben, Roberto Donna, Ris Lacoste, Michel Richard and Robert Wiedmaier, joined me in the kitchen. Enjoy a few pictures of us in action. Cheers!

Rodier 007 

Rodier 009 

Rodier 010 

Rodier 006 

Rodier 011   

Rodier 004


Administrative Professionals Week

Now that the Easter holiday has come and gone - a big thank you to those who visited Blue Duck Tavern for brunch - we are moving on to our next celebration, Administrative Professionals Week, April 20 - April 24. 

To recognize these hard working individuals, we will offer our award-winning apple pie and hand Apple Pie - v2 cranked ice cream, complimentary, to those office parties dining with us at lunchtime, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm.

Did you know that Administrative Professionals Week has become one of the world's largest workplace observances as companies recognize their support staff with gifts of appreciation?


Spring Chicken: Not so young any more!

By request, here is the recipe for our Spring Buttermilk Chicken:

Ingredients: Roasted Black Feather Chicken

1 Fryer Chicken

1 quart buttermilk

1 quart water

2 sprigs rosemary

2 sprigs thyme

4 cloves garlic

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 lemons zested and juiced

10 whole black peppercorns

80 g salt

Method of Prep:

Bring water and aromatics up to the boil to dissolve the salt, do not add buttermilk yet.

Cool down in the refrigerator. Once cool add buttermilk and stir to combine and pour over the bird in the appropriate size container, so the bird is completely submerged in the liquid.  Leave to sit for two days.  Rinse the bird completely. 

Quarter the bird leaving the drumette in the breast.  Roast the breasts in the oven at 145F until you   reach 145F in the center.  The bird will look pale white, reserve.  Bone the thigh and seperate the drumstick.  Roast the drumstick and thigh in the oven at 160F until you reach 160 in the center of the drumstick. 

Heat a nonstick pan and place a film of oil in the pan. Brown the skin of the bird nicely until golden.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes and carve. 

This method will allow you to keep the bird moist by not denaturing the protein to quickly, while also achieving the browning in the end stages.  The result is a moist and tender bird, with a buttermilk flavor and beautiful carmelization.


Michael Does TV

Just a few days ago I blogged about our signature quiche, one of my favorite brunch-time entrees at Blue Duck. And today, our chef de cuisine, Michael Santoro, appeared on Fox 5's "What's Cooking" segment, preparing this dish, which is part of our Easter holiday menu.

If you plan to gather with friends and family at home this Sunday, then click here to get the full recipe and to watch Michael in action! The recipe is fairly simple and perfect for entertaining!  800px-Easter-Eggs


Sunday Brunch

From what I keep hearing, the weather in DC is supposed to be fantastic on Sunday!  Come dine with us for brunch on the terrace and enjoy our Signature Quiche or Belgian Waffle with Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup.  Top that with homemade croissants and a refreshing Inside Out Bloody Mary. I can't think of a more perfect leisurely Sunday afternoon (after spending the night before watching college basketball!)

Park Hyatt DC II (125)


My Trip to Argentina

As you know, I recently spent 9 days at Duhau, one of the restaurants at Park Hyatt Buenos Aires.  I worked closely with the culinary team, focusing on organic ingredients and presenting new items, similar to the family-style of Blue Duck Tavern. Grass-fed beef products were truly amazing as well as their local produce.

A special nod to the restaurant's waitstaff, managers and culinary team whose professionalism and focus truly made the whole trip a success.  Below are a few pictures from my visit.  I'm already to go back!


culinary team

BA ARG 029 

breads from the organic market

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hotel/restaurant terrace

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