Saturday, August 11, 2012
Washington, DC 20036
My mom loves Julia Child. She's seen Julia and Julia several times and her go-to recipes for almost anything begins and ends with Julia Child. Her and I have spent countless holidays making Julia's tarte tatin recipe. I don't even know if that's the proper title but that's what it's called in my family. So, when I saw that some restaurants in DC were celebrating Julia Childs' 100th birthday, we decided to try the prix fixe menu specially for the occasion at Cafe Dupont, located in the Dupont Circle Hotel.
Before the meal started, they brought out a warm loaf of french bread (a bit fatter and thicker than a traditional baguette) in a white paper bag with homemade butter. The bag was a nice touch and got my parents thinking of their trips to France and most notably Paris when they'd buy some freshly baked bread in the morning with some cheese. Those memories came flooding back to me too when I tasted the warm bread with the butter. There was something just a touch off by it. I think I wanted it to be crustier and less chewy. Maybe it was just the thickness of the bread or maybe we just had to wait a bit longer to eat it. Who knows?
The second course was canard a l'orange. This was a duck breast served in thick slices on a bed of chick peas mixed with lardons (i think) along with a chick pea hash. It was surrounded by the traditional orange sauce and a couple of roasted mission figs were placed on the sides. The accompanying wine was a bold pinot noir from cotes des nuits. The chick peas and chick pea hash was definitely a deviation from the traditional potato mash you'd find with this dish but it did provide the same much needed starchiness and sponginess for the the sauce. The duck had that nice rich, fatty flavor and the orange taste was subtler than probably Julia intended but I liked that the duck flavor had center stage. To me, though, it was slightly overcooked and I would've like the skin to be a tad crispier. Oh, and there were roasted figs. They were simply split in half and they were like fruit crack. I could have had about 10 more.
Julia Child would have turned 100 on August 15 or this coming Wednesday. She was a huge culinary influence to many people but more importantly to me, she was a pretty big culinary influence to my mom. It was only appropriate that we celebrate her 100th birthday at a proper 100th birthday celebration. The meal we received at Cafe Dupont, while some elements were a loose interpretation of Julia's classic, was just the type of homage we were looking for. It included rich foods, great wine, and full, satisfied stomachs. Mom even bought Julia's biography, Dearie, that was displayed at the restaurant. Cheers to you, Julia. Thanks for helping teach my mom the love of food she passed along to me.