Top Chef DC: farm-to-table

Last week’s Top Chef episode featured local ingredients: Chesapeake Bay blue crabs and food from a local Virginia farm.

The Quickfire Challenge had the chefs cooking our popular local treasure: blue crabs. Ed won the challenge with his dish of jumbo lump crab, thai basil, mango and cucumber. Considering I’ve picked crabs for the past *three* weekends straight, I tend to agree with local boy Tim’s philosophy: you don’t need to add a lot of flavors to blue crabs — the crab can shine on its own. But, I also don’t think anyone was planning to throw a half dozen crabs, covered in Old Bay, in front of Padma with a beer, a mallet, and some hushpuppies (I’d be in heaven).

The Elimination Challenge took the chef’s to Virginia’s first totally certified farm,  Ayrshire Farm, — a farm of locally produced, humanely raised meats and organic produce — to prepare elegant rustic farm dishes. I love elegant, rustic farm dishes. I love eating outdoors. I love eating outdoors wearing a scarf. And, I would love eating outdoors, wearing a scarf, with Eric Ripert. A few other comments about the episode:

  • Speaking of elegant, rustic food, Patrick O’Connell, owner of The Inn at Little Washington, was guest judge (how about that plaid blazer, and his very interesting deliberate manner of speaking?)
  • Angelo is kinda grossing me out with his oversexualization of food. The whole “I made love to that duck” bit made me gag.
  • Remind me never to serve salad in a bowl, since it can be referred to as “a concrete truck pouring on silk.”
  • Hooray Kenny! His dish of curried eggplant won. (Tim was sent home, btw.)

The Top Chef challenge was family style fare, but turn your focus to Kenny’s Hot and Sour Curried Eggplant with Peppers & Carrot Tops

For the Top Chef Drink Pairing: Virginia is for Viognier, not lovers. In a Washington Post article last year, Dave McIntyre reported that Viognier is very popular among Virginia vintners because the grapes are suited to this climate, and can remain balanced because it tolerates the heat and humidity (apparently the thick skin and growing in loose clusters makes it resistant to rot in the humid climate).

The wine is described as nuanced: lush and opulent with exuberant fruit, but also “austere and subtle in the classic fashion of the wines of Condrieu, Viognier’s homeland in France’s Rhone Valley.”  The only Virginia Viognier I can recall buying was a bottle from the Tarara Winery in Loudoun County, Va. I think the richness and slight sweetness of the Viognier would be a good match for the spicy curry in Kenny’s eggplant dish.

posted by Ms. S&C

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