By: Jennifer McNinch
Capital Cooking Contributor
José Andrés and ThinkFoodGroup held a private reception at Zaytinya to kick-off the 5th annual Greek Easter celebration. At the hands of Head Chef Michael Costa, the event featured Lenten dishes, traditional Easter favorites and the much anticipated spring lamb which guests got to admire as it rotated on the spit in the open kitchen.
We were greeted with an unusual but delicious ‘Lenten’ cocktail composed of brandy, unfermented apple juice and maple syrup, garnished with a pickled carrot and quail egg.
Shortly after that, a parade of mouth-watering mezzes was presented to the anticipating crowd. First up was grilled zucchini on pureed eggplant topped with roasted tomato. I loved it so much that I begged the manager, John Livanos, to put it on the regular menu.
The next mezze took eating food off a stick to a new, fresh level: arugula and mushroom salad on a stick topped off by a tasty hazelnut! Along side it was a shredded cabbage and carrot salad served in a steamed Brussels sprout leaf, topped with a roasted walnut.
The following mezzes continued to delight the guests who could be quick enough to grab them as the servers tried to weave into the crowd. It definitely paid off to stand closest to the kitchen, although everyone eventually got to sample everything.
Kale Quiche on crème fraîche
Risotto with snap peas and artichoke
True to the ‘molecular gastronomy’ talents of José Andrés, the event could not be complete without a fresh clam topped with ‘lemon air.’
Topping off the evening was the wonderfully spit-roasted lamb resting in a butter lettuce leaf topped with tzitziki and pickled onions. C'est manifique! Bravo Chef Costa! Unfortunately, these tasty morsels disappeared before a photo could be taken so trust me, it was delicious.
Head Chef Michael Costa with Lindley Thornburg of Heather Freeman Media/PR, and guest, Jill Grozolsky.
If you have not made plans for the Easter season, the Greek Easter festival lasts five weeks starting March 31 and will feature more inspirational dishes and cocktails. For more details, visit http://www.zaytinya.com/index.php/about/calendar/greek_easter_festival_march_31_-_may_5 or call (202) 638-0800.