Friday, November 18, 2011

Holidays With Our Restaurant Family

Falling leaves and that nip in the air inspire hot mulled cider by the fireplace! That also means that the winter holiday season is drawing close. The holidays remind us of how grateful we are to be surrounded by family, and in our business that includes our team. We have some great plans for our holiday season, which you can read about below. To kick it off, we want to introduce some of our restaurant family. We'll be spending good times with each other this season, and hope you will join us!
Executive Chef Karen Nicolas (Photo by Emily Clack)
For the first time in over 12 years, Todd handed over the reins to a new Executive Chef at Equinox. We are proud to introduce Karen Nicolas, who started in mid-October. As Todd put it, “Chef Nicolas has the experience, talent and collaborative spirit to carry Equinox through the next decade of dining in Washington. I will continue to collaborate with Chef Nicolas on dishes, but her culinary vision will be reflected in the menu.”

Karen comes to us with more than 16 years experience in some of the country's most distinguished restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern in New York City, Simon Pearce in Philadelphia, Soul in Chicago, and Aureole in Las Vegas.

In Washingtonian magazine, Karen described some dishes that she is looking forward to serving our guests: "I want to do a savory chestnut flan or custard with porcini mushrooms, coffee soil, and candied coriander seeds. And I'm thinking about a sous-vide guinea hen dish with some quinoa, preserved lemon, and...roasted banana squash."
Citrus Marinated Beet Salad (Photo by Emily Clack)
Executive Pastry Chef Tom Wellings dreams up the dreamy desserts for all three of our restaurants. If you have been tempted by any of these delights on our menus, blame/thank Tom! He came to us two years ago with impressive experience at wd-50 in New York City, as well as Maestro and Restaurant Eve in Virginia. We love his philosophy: "The synergy between the pastry kitchen and Equinox’s savory kitchen elevates the dining experience, and allows diners to really engage with ingredients." 
Executive Pastry Chef Tom Wellings
Tom's dessert below, "Brown Sugar and Pear" (pear sorbet, brown sugar, cream and brandied milk) inspires thoughts of a good Sunday morning cereal—this dessert will evoke mornings in your jammies. Instead of using typical oats, he used buckwheat kernels and manna to give it honey-like sweetness (Manna is tree sap from the middle east—what the Israelites survived on in the desert during Exodus. Yes, it will be in the cookbook!)

Brown Sugar and Pear (Photo by Emily Clack)
Adding Todd Gray's Watershed to our group was a tribute to our love of Eastern Seaboard seafood—especially oysters! So, we needed an Oyster Master, and found Will Sexton. Most recently from Charleston SC, Will has intesive training in handling delicate seafood in the Japanese tradition for a sushi restaurant, and he honed his awesome shucking chops at Coast restaurant. The guy really knows his seafood and has mad knife skills! He has great ambitions for his work at Watershed, including hosting oyster tastings and educating guests about The Oyster Recovery Project's Shell Recycling Initiative.
Will Sexton (Photo by Emily Clack)
Will has even influenced the cocktail menus to change with the raw bar offerings.
In that spirit, we have the Grand Raw Bar Platter (below), a selection of east- and west-coast oysters, jumbo poached shrimp cocktail, steamed lobster and cucumber salad, Carolina mahi mahi, crudo with avocado, and noodle salad with jicama and orange. We like to think it pairs well with some of our new Happy Hour cocktails, including the Boyd & Blair (Boyd & Blair potato vodka, lavendar bitters, horseradish, lemon sour and red ink splash).

Raw Bar Platter (Photo by Emily Clack)
Will's demonstrating his shucking expertise at our (sold-out!) Friday Night Oyster Roast on November 18, 7–10 p.m. We're serving a selection of east coast oysters roasted on the grill; New England clam chowder; fried chicken and more. The Billy Triplett Trio will entertain and we're featuring local brew, DC Brau. 


Market Brunch: Sunday, November 20, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. is our next Market Brunch at Todd Gray's Muse at the Corcoran. Please join us in the exquisite atrium of the Corcoran Gallery of Art for a brunch buffet featuring our signature seasonal and locally-sourced menu, with dishes such as Brussels-Style Waffles with Cinnamon Maple Syrup & Whipped Vanilla Cream, and Baked Vegetable Frittata. Classical guitar by Jarret Laskey will accompany your meal as you gather your energy to tour the provocative 30 Americans and other great exhibits. For reservations, please email.

Thanksgiving Dining:  Let us cook for you! 
Join us for Thanksgiving Dinner at Equinox, 12–7 p.m.; or,
Menus feature Traditional Roasted Heirloom Turkey, 
Chestnut Brioche Bread Stuffing, Little Green Beans, Cranberry Compote—and so much more! 

Friday Night Game Roast: Friday, December 16, 7–10 p.m., we are hosting a Game Roast at Todd Gray’s Watershed. Last week’s Oyster Roast sold out, so, please be sure to make reservations to taste the offerings on this uniquely wild menu, featuring Warm Quail Eggs in Toasted Brioche, Pheasant & Port Wine Cherry Sausage, Chablis Poached Pear with Whipped Armangnac Vanilla Cream—and more. $75 per person, all inclusive. Please call for reservations: 202-534-1350.

Christmas Eve: Join us for Christmas Eve dinner at Equinox. We'll have all the delicious details soon.

Holiday Parties: 
We are booking holiday parties at Equinox & Watershed restaurants and happy-hour cocktail parties at Todd Gray’s Muse at the Corcoran. We also offer Todd’s holiday meals for you to bring to your own home and full catering services for larger parties.

Holiday Getaway to Cap Cana, in the Dominican Republic: Join Todd & Ellen at a luxurious tropical resort, Fishing Lodge Cap Cana, Dec. 26–30! Todd is the Culinary Director for Salamander Hospitality (a member of the Salamander Hotels & Resorts family). Please check out these very special rates for this exotic retreat!

Sugar & Champagne Affair: On February 1, 2012, The Washington Humane Society presents the 11th annual dessert and champagne reception to honor local crusaders against animal cruelty: Washington Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement Officers, Animal Control Officers, and Humane Educators. This celebration of all things sugary and sweet, showcases tastes from the DC area’s most talented pastry chefs complemented by some of the world’s finest sparkling wines. The VIP reception presents an exclusive savory gathering prepared by the finest chefs of the national capital region. For tickets and info, please visit the Washington Humane Society website.

New Cookbook: We are wrapping up a project very close to our hearts: an ethnically diverse family cookbook that mixes Jewish cooking with today’s modern cuisine trends from a professional and home-cook point of view. We have excellent collaborators who share our joy in the process of bringing to life this labor of love: co-writer, David Hagedorn; and, photographer, Renée Comet. As soon as we can, we'll let you know how to get your own copy. Meanwhile, to learn a little about it (and to see some beautiful photos of our recipes), please visit Renée Comet’s blog, CometPhoto.

Beignets (Photo by Renée Comet)

Blogger Marissa Bialecki wrote a cool two-part profile of Todd on the DC News website, "We Love DC." Part two even includes Todd's recipe for Shrimp and Grits.