Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Eating Around Town: Masters of Food and Wine Breakfast

by Samantha Grieder
Capital Cooking Contributor

Every season, Park Hyatt hotels around the United States partake in Masters of Food and Wine events. Within the same week, the hotels host events that showcase fresh, locally sourced food and add in a learning aspect of some kind.

The latest Masters event was held at the Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt Washington. On a hot Sunday morning, guests arrived for breakfast in the courtyard. The group of 45 sat down at their assigned seats at three large communal tables, shaded by umbrellas and surrounded by the restaurant's fresh herb garden.

Housemade smoked salmon with johnny cake and avocado
Breakfast was served family-style, and every guest was able to sample the very best of what Blue Duck Tavern had to offer. Fresh-squeezed juices (try the pomegranate orange or smoothie-like pineapple mint!) were ordered and the coffee poured generously. RAMMY nominated Pastry Chef Peter Brett came out to serve his delectable pastry selections. From his favorite pain au chocolate to freshly baked muffins to absolutely decadent sticky buns, Brett smiled as he doled out each of the morning's selections.

Soon after the first pastries were served came one of the most mouthwatering array of foods. Housemade smoked salmon was served with silver dollar-sized johnny cakes. Top with a slice of fresh avocado and a lemon spritz, and it was a light, refreshing mouthful. Maryland crab with scrambled egg whites was another light dish, as was a slowly poached egg served over spinach, mushrooms and an English muffin.

Short rib hash and scrambled eggs
Moving on to some richer dishes, guests delved into some fried chicken liver, served with a sweet pepper relish and fried eggs. Another treat was a homemade brioche turned into a bread pudding french toast. Topped with fresh berries and cream, it was served with the ultimate: Blis pure maple syrup, which is aged in bourbon oak barrels to give it a deeper flavor. The favorite of the day, while a bit heavier and ever so rich, was the short rib hash. Normally served with olive oil poached eggs, this was served with a light and creamy scrambled version. The short rib is marinated overnight and slow cooked to perfection.

Each dish was proof that no matter what the dish, you can't go wrong with breakfast at Blue Duck. For fans of the restaurant's dinner fare, breakfast or weekend brunch is a must-try.

Blue Duck Tavern's Chef de Cuisine John Melfi tosses ingredients together for a fresh crab salad.
After breakfast, all the guests gathered for a walk to the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market, where Blue Duck Tavern Executive Chef Sebastien Archambault and Chef de Cuisine John Melfi were there to demonstrate how to make a simple, healthy and delicious chilled cucumber soup. Melfi put together a market-sourced crab and cucumber salad while Archambault made the soup. He blended together cucumber, grated parmesan cheese, simple syrup, roasted garlic, onion, water, and sour cream. After passing the soup through a chinoise, it was finished off with a bit of salt and pepper, Tobasco for heat, and champagne vinegar for acidity. After the fresh crab salad was placed in cups, Archambault poured out the soup. And for those who are really trying to impress, there's always the option of topping the soup with a small scoop of Dolcezza's basil gelato for a fun twist.

Weekly fresh produce from Dupont's FRESHFARM Market
After the demonstration and a tasting of the refreshing cucumber soup, guests had the option of going on a guided tour of the market or wandering off on their own. Armed with reusable bags and inspiration from the locally-sourced breakfast, the group ran off to find the freshest produce that the Mid-Atlantic has to offer. It was a great finish to the morning's activity.

With Masters of Food and Wine events being held seasonally and at many locations around the states and beyond, there will be many more to come. Keep an eye out for the next event, coming to a Park Hyatt near you!

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