It’s restaurant week.
We’ve kinda had this regular Friday thing going, 3pennyjane and 5starjoe and me. Started as a small holiday lunch, Friday before Christmas, but 5*j was out so it was just 3pj and me at Luigi’s. Then the next week we went with 5*j to Mackey’s. So then it became this regular thing. Last week it was Penang.
But, like I said, it’s restaurant week in DC this week, so 3pj researches and comes up with two options, in lieu of Vidalia on Friday, which has no tables, no room at the inn. One is Vidalia on Tuesday; other is i Ricchi on Friday. I immediately declare, in the spirit of Solomon, that it should be both.
3PJ agrees, but 5*j has like some work or something to do. So I get 3pj all to myself today. This more than makes up for the fact that we can’t get a table until two o’clock. I’m like Jack dining with the gunroom, grumbly with hunger by the time we sit down.
3PJ starts off with the wild mushroom soup0, which is a “creamy purée with red wine-truffle emulsion1 and house cured shoat2 pancetta3.” I go for the seasonal lettuce blend, which I generally just call the salad, that’s apparently a “roulade4 of hazelnuts, brad’s goat cheese, dried apricots, fines herbes and champagne vinaigrette.” 3PJ then has the roasted briar hollow farm rabbit leg, “with ginger-carrot purée, heirloom onions, herbed spaetzle5 and amish mustard-rabbit emulsion6.” I go with the cape hatteras stew, which has “octopus, mussels, shrimp and oysters with heirloom beans, preserved tomatoes7, croutons and saffron-mussel broth.” For dessert we both have the vanilla bean cake, layered with strawberry-champagne jam, valhrona8 white chocolate mousse and poppy seed crème anglaise9.
I mean to get wine, but I chicken out. 3PJ gets the ginger cola. Possibly Blenheim’s, but I don’t remember now. I get the Cricket Cola, even though the waiter warns me away from it. Tastes awful, he says.
I have been to Vidalia once before, years ago, with Erin Sellman and Don & Gloria, I believe. Looks nothing like I remember it. I seem to remember it as one big room, whereas now it’s broken up into different sections. I like it, mind. It’s very nice. Nicer than I remember actually. Still way out of my price range, my league, my class, usually. So it’s nice to come, to splurge, blow some Christmas money.
0 All of the descriptions reflect that the entire menu is in lower case, so certain things that I would assume to be proper nouns are not capitalized. But I imagine that it’d have been Brad’s goat cheese, Amish mustard-rabbit emulsions, Cape Hatteras stew, and Valrhona white chocolate mousse.
1 An emulsion in general is a mixture of two things which can’t be mixed. In food terms, let’s say like with oil and water. Oil and water famously don’t mix, of course, but shake them together and they seem sort of mixed-ish, for a while anyway. So to emulsify something is to disperse the one substance within the other. They’re technically not really mixed, even though for our purposes here, say eating them, they’re mixed. Here, specifically, they’re serving a red wine-truffle emulsion. One imagines the truffles dispersed throughout the red wine. What else would you call it?
2 A shoat is a young, weaned pig. They claim that it’s house cured, although I’d go with the hyphen, house-cured, here. Either way, they’re somehow doing it on the premises. Is what they’re saying, anyway. We won’t go so far as to assume that they’re also, say, slaughtering the little fellows here.
3 Pancetta is cured belly of pork. An Italian thing. And not just any belly in this case, but of the aforementioned young, weaned pig, remember. But the -etta seems to denote that as well, the diminutive, the little one. And think of the panc- part as like paunch. Paunch like belly. So, little paunchy. Or, better yet, lil’ paunchy, how about?
4 In music, a roulade is a quick succession of notes sung as one syllable. In cooking, it’s some sort of filling rolled up in something else. Either way, the name’s from the French rouler, to roll. I guess the musical use suggests rolling off the tongue or something. On my plate today it’s like a daub of cheese, evidently from a goat, and possibly made by somebody named Brad. Unless they mean that the whole thing is a roulade in the sense that it’s tossed. Could go either way here.
5 Spaetzle (or spatzles) are German noodles or dumplings, in this case dumplings. The name comes from the German for little sparrows. They look like tiny gnocchi, which name comes from the Italian for knots, as in knots in wood.
6 See 1. Not sure if the mustard or the rabbit or the emulsion itself is Amish. Or I suppose you can imagine some Amish dude suspended in mustard, if that’s your thing.
7 Preserved tomatoes sounds so much ritzier than canned, don’t you think? I like it also since it’s Killick’s first name. Honest to God.
8 I believe they mean Valrhona here, transposing the r and the h. It’s a French brand of chocolate.
9 Literally English cream, although it’s in fact a light custard. A custard has cream, of course, as a basic ingredient, but it necessarily involves mixing with eggs as well. The word custard seems to come from some sort of bastardization of crustade. (The OED in fact calls it a perverted form of crustade. Kinky, yeah?) And that comes originally from the French for crust, of course. It was originally a sort of pie, with the c/r/ust/ard on top.
(And all of the preceding smart tidbits are courtesy of research in the OED. I didn’t know any of this stuff.)