Food worth getting excited about

love-opera-victoria-bakerSometimes, you find something so special you just need to share it and lately I’ve become a real foodie.

I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting food experiences. On my trip to D.C. last week I found two new discoveries- both worth going out of your way for.

1789. It was the year of the French Revolution, the Rights of Man were finally surfacing and Napoleon was still a young, obscure lieutenant. On the other side of the pond George Washington was President of the United States and the venerable Georgetown University was first founded.

Fast forward to 1960 when a Georgetown alumnus purchased a federal home dating from the 1800’s in D.C.’s historic neighborhood of Georgetown and the upstairs evolved into Restaurant 1789. The classic French menu and equestrian décor soon became a favorite with well-heeled Washingtonians and it still is today.

Today the restaurant’s culinary future rests in the capable hands of Chef Anthony Lombardo. I was impressed with this chef’s passion for creativity and even more so by the discipline and love that go into his kitchen. I found him to be charming, in love with his work and eager to share his raison d’etre with his customers.

Every bite was infused with classic craftsmanship, quality ingredients and love, that elusive ingredient that transports a dish to the next level of culinary excellence. Trendy, molecular gastronomy this is not. But if you want the classics and Limoges china instead of minimalist décor, then 1789 is for you. Everything from the equestrian décor down to the plates is very much as President Washington himself might have approved.

Then, there was lunch at Jaleo. Quite simply, this was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. Jaleo is a Tapas restaurant overseen by celebrity Chef Jose Andres. The décor and the food is fun, provocative and just plain delicious. It’s not fancy. It’s trendy. It’s an authentic slice of Spain. When I visited there, there were more than a few Spaniards who had obviously got the memo this was the place for a real bite of Spain in Washington D.C.

Jaleo imports many of their specialty items like anchovies and patanegra from Spain and the difference in flavor is indescribable. It feels like your palette has been living in black and white and all of a sudden everything has exploded in Technicolor. Yes, it’s that good.

Store bought anchovies in the U.S. can be salty, skimpy and, dare I say it, “hairy,” making us think they’re not that tasty. Restaurants like Jaleo are here to remind us that they are in fact unctuous, meaty…extraordinary.

If you’re a foodie, you need to check out Jaleo. It’s absolutely worth a day trip. Some meals are fabulous but you forget about them, others live on in your memory as this one will. When you’re in D.C. by all means visit the museums, look at the White House…but don’t forget to experience the food.

It’s worth getting excited about.

 

Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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