As I'm getting ready to fly to Seattle to visit my family and friends (go salsa dancing, take some photos, cook, blog, and try not to get bitten by too many bugs), I'm leaving you with a brunch I had at Blue Duck Tavern a few weeks ago as part of my staycation.
I've imagined Blue Duck Tavern as a fancy expensive restaurant, only fitting for special occasions. I'm sure it's wonderful for special occasions, but turns out it's also great for a casual Sunday brunch after a stroll through Dupont Farmer's market (more on that later). The restaurant is gorgeous: open kitchen, beautiful wood tables, exposed walls, comfortable chairs, pretty white dishes...I could go on and on. I love pretty things and appreciate when restaurants put a lot of thought not only into the food and service, but also the decor (speaking of which, I think bathrooms should be just as glamorous as the rest of the restaurant).
Since the weekend was already filled with beer tastings and cocktails, I decided I might as well continue drinking, something I actually don't do that often. I chose a kumquat mojito and really enjoyed it. It was refreshing, sweet and pretty.
Since we could order anything we wanted from the menu, I decided to splurge and get a few of the fresh oysters with mignonette. These oysters were huge and fresh and I could have eaten at least another half dozen, but I resisted: my entree was coming.
Quick note on the interesting decor of Blue Duck: they have these two large panels covered in quilted fabric hanging on the wall: aren't these impressive? I took the photos especially for my friend Jenny who quilts and made me my own personal birthday quilt this year. (You see, Jenny usually makes quilts for her friends who are expecting children, but since I'm far from being anywhere near that stage in my life, I got one for my birthday.)
Ok, back to food. For my entree I chose Short Rib Hash with olive oil poached egg and horseradish sauce. The meat melted in your mouth; the potatoes were tender and the horseradish sauce added the needed punch to the dish. Did you know you can add horseradish to your mashed potatoes? I learned that from my friend Paige. Give it a try!
As if cocktails, appetizers, main course and croissants weren't enough, we decided to order Blue Duck's famous hand cut triple fries. OMG, just thinking about them makes me salivate. They were crispy, tender inside, not at all oily, and oh so very good!
And just when we thought we were done and ready to head back to our regular lives, we were presented with dessert!
Belgian waffles with mountain huckleberry preserve: I usually don't order waffles (I like savory things for brunch), but these were airy, crispy, and I particularly liked the not-overly-sweet huckleberry preserves and the whipped cream, which you can't see in this photograph.
The apple pie: Blue Duck is known for their apple pie. Apparently, the architect of the restaurant tasted multiple versions of the pie before settling on this one (if I have the story wrong, please correct me). I have to be honest: I did not love it. The concept was definitely interesting as it was more of a pot pie than your typical apple pie, but for me there was just too much dough. Not to worry, there were many more dessert options on the table.
I'm sorry, but I can't remember what this was. I think it's a cheesecake with berry puree on the bottom and a crispy cookie made with pistachios. I just remember it being really delicious!
Key lime blueberry tart with white chocolate cream and a citrus crisp. Just look at the presentation! Luckily, the taste was just as grand. The filling was smooth and slightly tart and the crust was buttery and crumbly.
This was one of my favorites: a simple dessert any home cook can make: warm blackberry and nectarine crumble with creme fraiche. Seriously, go to your farmer's market, pick up in-season fruit and make this dessert for your family this weekend: they will love you.