The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2018

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28  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2018 CAP TOL Bidding Farewell to Lazy, Hazy Summer Days H ave you ever spent a Friday evening noshing on ants from the Brazilian rainforest before realizing they taste uncannily like lemon and ginger? That's precisely what I did to kick off Amazon Week in Washington, D.C., which celebrated the Independence of Brazil in 1822. Sponsored by the Embassy of Brazil and Destination DC, a dinner held at Siren by Robert Wiedmaier featured dishes by Brazilian chefs Felipe Schaedler and Alex Atala. Together they developed recipes with ingredients straight out of the Amazon, including black tapioca, seared pirarucu filets, and crispy tambaqui ribs. (That's right, fish grow so large in the Amazon that they actually have baby back–sized ribs.) After finishing a citrus-y, well-shaken Leblon Cachaça Caipirinha, we sampled a selection of wines from Brazilian producer Vinícola Salton. Highlights were the complex and refreshing rosé sparkler and the fruity yet earthy Pinot Noir. As for those ants, the little buggers served as the perfect topping for sweet potato puree. I could have had a sprinkling or two more: legs and all. While you can't get ants at chef Victor Albisu's new upscale Mexican restau- rant Poca Madre, you can order the Charlie & the Chapuline Factory, a mezcal cocktail garnished with grasshoppers. On a sweltering summer evening, I opted instead for the 1821 Gin Tonic, which mixes a mezcal/gin hybrid from Gracias a Dios with Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic. It's adorned with dried orange, hibiscus, juniper, and a cucumber ribbon. On the other side of the drink spectrum was another mezcal sipper: the Fat Duck Old Fashioned with Ron Zacapa 23 Years, foie gras honey, and mole bitters topped with honeycomb and a thin slice of black truffle. If you're a fan of funky and earthy flavors, don't overlook the huitsquites, Albisu's corn risotto with parmesan, truffles, Tajín, popcorn, and huitlacoche, the fungus that grows on ears of corn. Does it look like something you shouldn't think of eating? For sure. Is it addictively delicious? Absolutely. I finished the night by cleansing my palate with Mezcalito Pal'Alma, a cannabis-infused mezcal. It's perfect for when you want a little toke with your smoke. Sometimes, though, you just want a fruity drink outside on a sunny evening. The blue umbrella–topped patio tables at Café du Parc in The Willard InterContinental Hotel overlook Pennsylvania Avenue and make for perfect people-watching spots, especially when it comes to the confused throngs of summer tourists descending upon the double-decker tour buses. We may have a long wait until the flowers bloom again, but it's endless spring when you order the Blushing Blossom, a sweet, bright-red libation inspired by D.C.'s iconic pink blossoms that features sparkling wine, rosé, triple sec, and cherries. Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits, and lifestyle writer and wine educator in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website,, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics. Sauva ants from the Amazon, which taste like lemon and ginger, were served at a recent dinner at Siren. photos and story by Kelly Magyarics, DWS The Fat Duck Old Fashioned at Poca Madre is topped with earthy truffle.

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