|Hosts Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray|
Capital Cooking Contributor
Last week, the DC area's most celebrated chefs, vintners, and whiskey makers participated in the 12th Annual Sugar and Champagne Affair to benefit the Washington Human Society.
Hosted by Chef Todd Gray (chef and co-owner of Equinox) and Ellen Kassoff Gray, the dessert and champagne reception honored local crusaders against animal cruelty -- Washington Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement Officers, Animal Care and Control Officers, and Humane Educators. This celebration of all things sweet showcased the DC area’s most talented chefs from local restaurants including 1789, The Source, The Federalist, Marcel's, Cuba Libre, Chef Geoff's, Central, and Old Angler's Inn (just to name a few off a long list!). The savory treats, sweet desserts and delicious beverages at this event went as far as the eye could see... it was unbelievable. I felt like I was in my very own version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The VIP Chef's Tasting Room featured delicious canapés and savory treats such as cauliflower panna cotta, snakehead "Fish and Chips," salmon profiteroles, Parmesan and fig scones, and Brussels sprout salad with cured trout. Out of all the treats offered by the Chefs, my two favorites were the potato croquette with capers topped with a creamy remoulade (light and crispy, with a perfect balance of bitter capers paired with creamy remoulade) prepared by Chef Todd Gray:
and the "Meat Candy" - savory and tender beef short ribs wrapped in wonton wrappers served over a house-made red chili sauce and topped with hosin sauce.
These little dumplings, created by Marcel's Chef Paul Stearman, were steamed to perfection and were so creative in terms of playing on the "sugar" theme for the evening. The short ribs were wonderfully matched with the slight heat of the chili sauce then tempered by the sweet hosin. It was perfection:
Joining in the fun and festivities were lots of four-legged friends (all more well-behaved than my dog!) like Chili, a rescued standard poodle from Richmond who clearly got all 'prettied up' for a night out on the town.
Smaller versions of our animal friends found places to snack and rest at the party, like this little dog (who was very ferocious and maintained quite a territory in his "travel home").
After so many delicious appetizers, it was time to get down to business... and enjoy some champagne, A delightful bubbly was provided by Thibaut-Janisson Winery near Monticello in Charlottesville, VA.
And move on to part of the evening I was waiting for. SUGAR. And there was lots of it...
Like banana strawberry moon pies, coconut cupcakes, chocolate hazelnut mousse, popcorn, egg cremes, candied bacon and a candy table with gummy bears! It was all sugary sweet and I probably need to go to dentist as soon as possible so they can put more "watches" on my teeth. But it was totally worth it. Especially for this....
This chocolate pastry/candy provided by The Source was outstanding. When I asked the Chef what it was, he said it tasted like a Kit-Kat. That's all I needed to hear -- SOLD. And it did. It was more dark chocolaty and definitely had the crispy inside with a little creamy texture, but forget Kit-Kat. The Source's version of my favorite candy was to die for.
They also had this sculpture made out of cake, chocolate and marizpan which was so cute.
It was a tasty celebration of sugar and champagne to benefit a wonderful cause - the Washington Humane Society. Be sure to mark it on your calendar for next year -- it's an event you won't want to miss!