smith & wollensky.

A few weeks ago, we were invited to Smith & Wollensky by some friends for DC Restaurant Week.  We knew dinner would be a fun adventure, because a) Our friends are fun – of course, b) You never know what to expect with Restaurant Week menus, and c) We probably wouldn’t have have thought to pick Smith & Wollensky, so it was good to try something outside our normal sphere of interest!  Honestly, all I knew of Smith & Wollensky going into the dinner was that it appeared in the 2006 movie Devil Wears Prada.

If you don’t know how DC Restaurant Week works, you get to have a three-course meal (one appetizer, entrée, and dessert) from a fixed menu – all for $35.11.  (Lunch is $20.11.)  For my first course, I chose the Creamy 5-Onion Soup.  I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had an onion soup I didn’t like, and this one was no different!

Creamy 5-Onion Soup

The FIVE onion concept blows my mind, and I want to look into that more.  For entrées, I have pictures to share of Chris’ Steak & Fries, and my Crispy Organic Chicken Breast.  (The third choice was Pan Seared Grouper.)

Steak & Fries

Crispy Organic Chicken Breast

The entrees were fine… not incredibly memorable, but definitely satisfying.  The dessert choices were: Old School Tapioca Pudding (I don’t think I’m a tapioca fan!) or Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake (intriguing).  Kimberly ordered a “slice” of chocolate cake in addition, and that was heavenly.

Chocolate Cake

The highlight of the night for me was the wine a few of us shared!  A 2007 Chalone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Monterey County.  It was so interesting and smooth, and we decided it tasted like black currant and raspberries.  It was delicious with all of our dishes, and really made the meal for me!

2007 Chalone Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Monterey County

I’m not sure if I have much else to say about Smith & Wollensky.  It was a fun night out in the city with friends!  I probably wouldn’t put it on a must-go-back-as-soon-as-possible list.  Thanks for a lovely evening though, S & W!

experimenting with duck.

There are two things that Chris LOVES to eat whenever he has the chance: scallops and duck! I decided to try cooking a duck meal for us this past Friday night, and though it was somewhat intimidating at first, it turned out really well!

I think I get a little nervous whenever I attempt new meats or new fish, because I never want to overcook or undercook. Either extreme can obviously ruin a whole meal. I do have a pretty good meat thermometer though, so there really should be no reason to worry. Someday I want to try to cook a whole entire animal! I plan to learn from my amazing Greek mother at some point.

Anyway, I decided to sear and bake duck breasts for us. I watched a few YouTube videos, and learned a lot of different things, like which side is the skin side, how to know when it’s done, etc. I would say that Gordon Ramsay was the most helpful… though if you also want to learn how to drain the fat by scoring in a criss-cross fashion, you’ll have to watch this video.

Basically, I scored the duck breasts, salted and peppered them, seared them for about 10 minutes on each side, baked them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (skin-side down), and finally added some pan-fried pancetta on top. I don’t think you even need pancetta for a nice result, but I wanted to make sure something was good in case the duck itself tasted awful. :)

Baked Duck w/Pancetta & Sweet Potato Fries

As you can see, I also made some sweet potato fries! I attempted to make similar fries a few months ago, and ended up burning them and setting off our fire alarm multiple times! I think the key is remember to turn them over halfway through cooking. This go around, I also cooked the fries at a lower heat for a longer amount of time… broiling just didn’t seem to work out well before. This was the recipe I used, only with sherry vinegar. Also, I just invested in some Spanish smoked paprika, so I was excited to throw that in there as well.

The meal turned out a lot smaller than it looks in the photo (the duck breasts seemed to shrink a lot in the cooking process), but it was still filling and very yummy. I was so glad Chris felt treated! I cook a lot of veggie meals, so he definitely deserved some manly meat. :) By the way, did you know that duck is apparently the new pork?