Wednesday, February 16, 2011

a totally unnecessary uber-romantic valentines day re-cap

Cafe Atlantico
Photo by Flickr user,  fenography
So you're sick of the love-fest, I know, I know, but I couldn't let the week get away without a brief re-cap of our best valentine ever. Maybe it was the added pressure of the six-month wedding anniversary or the incredible wedding gift certificate burning a hole in our pockets - but we went big and boy was it worth it.

I'm going to add the disclaimer that for many years our V-day has consisted of sitting on the couch watching HBO on demand and dining on the finest in delivery pizzas. And yes, I have also had some valentines without a valentine, so you can't totally hate me even though I'm getting ready to gloat, big time.

We started the evening with two glasses of champagne and a round of oysters on the half shell at Poste nestled in the Hotel Monaco in DC's Chinatown/Penn Quarter before walking the half block down to Cafe Atlantico. We'd been looking forward to cashing in on one of our incredible wedding gifts of dining bliss for a while, and it was worth the wait. While waiting for our table at the bar D. enjoyed a 'Spicy Dove' that was some sort grapefruit, gin and cinnamon fizz while I had the highly recommended 'Magic Mojito' which arrived in front of me as a martini glass full of cotton candy that quickly dissolved as the bartender drenched it with a shaker full of deliciousness.

Once seated we started the seven-course tasting menu featured for Valentine's - 'A Night in Old San Juan.' Since we were apparently feeling extra indulgent we decided to partake in the wine pairings as well, which meant a special pairing for each of the seven courses - on top of the champagne and cocktails we had already enjoyed. Bombs away!

Course one: "Oysters and Uni Royale"

Translation:  Raw oysters nestled into a sea urchin custard with an oyster espuma (foam) and topped with a slaw of passion fruit, green apple and radish. Pleasantly peppery, creamy and fresh

Paired with: Willm Crémant d'Alsace Cuvée Leon IX Brut

Translation: Bubbly

Couse two: "San Cocho de Pescado"

Translation: What we were told was a traditional Puerto Rican soup - Swordfish carpaccio with dried yucca and plantains drizzled with an incredibly savory chicken stock. Warm and salty with a little bit of spice

Paired with: Couly-Dutheil Chenin Blanc Lest Chanteaux

Translation: Sweet to smell and an incomparable companion to the cilantro studded soup

Course three: "Lobster and Pineapple"

Translation: Fairly self explanatory, rich poached lumps of lobster on top of a slice of grilled pineapple in turn on top of a parsnip puree with a swirl of cilantro sauce. D. deems the pineapple too overpowering for the subtle buttery lobster - I'd have to agree.

Paired with: Catena Estate Chardonnay Mendoza

Translation: Oaky, buttery traditional chardonnay

Course four: "Black Bass Mojo Isleno"

Translation: Flaky bass with a lightly crisped skin perched on top of a briny compote of peppers and olives with a rich garlic puree. The bite of the olives and peppers serve perfect offset to the garlic - together with the fish; perfection.

Paired with: Weingut Brundlmayer Gruner Veltiner Kamptal

Translation: Slightly sweet without cloying - not quite a riesling, but close

Course five: "Suckling Pig"

Translation: We're seven drinks in and the details start to get fuzzy - a slice of gloriously fatty pork next to a pool of spicy tangy mojo rojo. Incredible, incredible, incredible. Can we have more of this?

Paired with: Mongeard-Mugneret Pinot Noir

Translation: I will never drink anything except pinot with pork ever again.

Course six: "Beef Adobo"

Translation: A small sliver of medium rare filet encrusted with coffee and chile served with a blend of pigeon peas and rice and topped with a small sprinkle of puffed coconut rice. The plate is edged with black olive oil. What is that? Delicious.

Paired with: Alceno Monastrell Blend

Translation: Yeah, that tastes good

Course seven: "Molten Chocolate"

Translation: A molten chocolate cake, coffee cardamom ice cream, swirls of other sweet sauces.

Paired with: A decaf café con leche for me, espresso for D.

Translation: D., "Why don't they have another drink for this course?"

So you get the drift - it was amazing. It cost more than our couch. We had the best night ever and I sang Lady Gaga in the cab on the way home.

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