[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: June 25, 2012]
I'd like to make a quick trip to Washington DC some time this summer to catch Richard Diebenkorn's "Ocean Park" series at the Corcoran. Ten years ago I made a cultural expedition to the capital, primarily to catch some of the Sondheim Celebration at the Kennedy Center, but also to visit some galleries.
I had modest eating plans too.
Speaking of nudes, can it really be ten years ago I watched dumbstruck as Melissa Errico climbed out of the bath in "Sunday in the Park With George?" It was an emblematic moment, because this production of the show, with Melissa as Dot and Raul Esparza as George, had a sexual charge largely absent from the other versions I've seen - especially the thin-blooded 2008 Broadway revival.
This was a revelation, because a deep passion between the artist and his model succeeded in tying the two, notoriously disparate halves of the show together, and it finally made emotional (if not necessarily logical) sense. The two stars clinging to each other at the end, in floods of tears, meant not a dry eye in the house. The best Sondheim I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot).
This was a matinée, and I'd lined up some serious dining for the evening. My old eGullet post about the experience is still online. Here are the highlights:
Elysium is in the Morrison House hotel, a Relais and Chateaux property designed in the style of an eighteenth century mansion, with some period furnishings, and a maze of public spaces - parlor, library, bar and two restaurants, Elysium and a more informal grill room.
Elysium is a small space, which makes it practicable for the chef, Gian Piero Mazzi, to offer bespoke meals. He comes to the table, describes the produce available in the kitchen, consults on preferences, and then retires to send out dishes tailored to each diner. This presents considerably more flexibility than tasting menus which must be taken by the whole table, and might be difficult with larger numbers of covers.
We received eight courses each, by my count, and with the exception of the amuse bouche and the desserts, each diner received a different dish in each course. Even Cabrales would have had trouble noting all this down, especially as each dish was intriguingly garnished - so I'll only attempt to describe my own menu.
A pair of amuse bouches of raw tuna and raw escobar
Filet of escobar with English peas
Seared foie gras with sun-dried tomatoes and frisee salad
Buffalo flank steak wrapped in maple smoked bacon, peas and black beans
Salad of corn kernels and crab meat, wrapped in a strip of cucumber
Peach sorbet with pieces of fresh white peach
A tray of chocolates and petits fours, including a spong cake coated with coconut, star-shaped lemon jellies, and a delicate version of what the Brits call "cream horns".
Just $67 with $30 for wine pairings. Truly ten years ago. I especially liked "the pairing of foie gras with sun-dried tomatoes, a nice change from the sweet fruit garnishes ubiquitous in NY; [and] the explosive crab flavor in the salad."
I finished the evening at a piano bar. Cheers.
The next morning, more Whistlers in the permanent exhibit at the Freer, then "Open City": urban photographs 1950-2000 at the Hirschhorn.
Walking around in the hot afternoon sunshine, I happened across a big, open-air "BBQ Battle" and learned the sad lesson that judges only were permitted to taste what the serries ranks of pitmasters were smoking. There were some concessions, though, and I enjoyed Texas Ted's Hickory Smoked Ribs.
To the Kennedy Center and its blessed air-conditioning for a solo performance by Mandy Patinkin, "Celebrating Sondheim" -- a typically extreme Patinkin affair; so stripped down it consisted of the singer, dressed in black, standing in a spotlight, belting out a catalog of songs without pause or comment.
Home on a late flight to asopao de camarones, pollo al horno, and a brave attempt on Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel."