Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bibiana Celebrates Summer

By: Laurie Walllin
Capital Cooking Contributor

It has been several years since I visited Bibiana, and with the arrival of Executive Chef Jake Addeo, I have been looking forward to a return visit. Addeo has completely re-done Bibiana’s menu, and I was excited to have the opportunity to try his new creations, especially the Crudo section of the menu, which I found incredibly intriguing. Chef Addeo discussed one of the things he really likes about cooking in DC is getting to “work with the seasons” and his menu, filled with items inspired by summer's seasonal items certainly reflects this preference!

First things first, however – I started with a cocktail. Bibiana’s drink menu includes a “Cocktails della Casa” section where all cocktails are made with house-made liquors. I chose the Fragola e Pesto – made with a house-made liquor from Virginia strawberries, zucchini pesto, and prosecco - summer in a glass. This unusual, savory more than sweet combination was refreshing with a slight tang and made for a wonderful start to the meal.

Next, I sampled several items from the Crudo section of the menu, including the Fluke (sashimi-style fluke with pink peppercorns, pickled watermelon rind, and Ligurian olive oil), the Sockeye Salmon (with house-made herbed cream cheese and salmon skin cracklins) and the Ostriche (Well Fleet oysters on the half shell with prosecco and mignonette granitta). Each dish was fresh and light.

I had the opportunity to sample several selections from the Antipasti section of the menu, including the Burrata (creamy mozzarella, onion agro-dolce, green tomato jam, and aceto balsamico) and the Moscardini (grilled baby octopus, fresh seaweed, and marinated tomato vinaigrette). The Octopus was grilled beautifully and the burrata was incredibly creamy – I really enjoyed the balance of both dishes. 

My pasta dish of choice was the Scialatielli, which was Amalfi-style spaghetti, littleneck clams, rock shrimp, zucchini blossom, and cherry tomatoes. The pasta, thicker than I’m used to (very hearty!) was a nice al dente and held up well to the shrimp and clams. The clams were not briney at all, which I appreciated. Overall, it was a light, yet flavorful dish (and I love that Bibiana features half portions of pasta).

For my main course, I had the Anatra (a dry aged duck breast with sour cherries, roasted chanterelles, and purple eggplant). The tart cherries accented the rich and sweet duck beautifully. One of my dining companions ordered the whole Mediterranean branzino which is baked in and arrived at the table completely encased in a sea salt crust, which was pretty awesome.

No meal is complete without dessert, and I had the opportunity to sample the Torta (Ligurian olive oil & lemon cake, basil emulsion, almond cookies, and strawberry sorbet) and the Bignè al Caffè (coffee custard, salted caramel, hazelnut tuile, chocolate filled beignets, and mascarpone gelato). I loved the moist olive oil and lemon cake and the beignets with the salted caramel were absolutely delicious.

I was looking forward to my return visit to Bibiana and Chef Addeo’s new menu did not disappoint! I look forward to returning again when the seasons change.
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