The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2014

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Page 81 of 136

december 2014  /  the tasting panel  /  81 Tart territory: Chef Harper McClure varies his ingredients for his wood-fired tarts, an Americanized inspiration from Robert Wiedmaier's Belgian upbringing. "Unlike pizza, the dough is not activated with yeast, therefore, it is fresher and brighter and less dense," explains Chef Harper. Brewed exclusively for Chef Wiedmaier restaurants is Antigoon ($32 for 750 ml.), a Belgian double blonde ale (6.8% ABV) so food-friendly that it paired with every dish brought out at Brabo Tasting Room. The beer was named for a mythical giant that once threatened Antwerp; local hero Silvius Brabo cut off the giant's hand and saved the day. Antigoon's lovely, refreshing notes of chamomile and lemon mingle with orange spice. It's fruity and juicy, with a summertime melon and citrus palate. being well thought out. The roasted mushroom, pancetta, Taleggio cheese and arugula on one tart did not outweigh the deliciousness of the mort- adella, ricotta, roasted garlic and a purée of lemon zest on the other. Each was a unique experience save for the commonality of yeast-free dough on which the toppings settled with finesse. Chef de Cuisine Harper McClure Chef de Cuisine Harper McClure is the fresh face of Brabo and Brabo Tasting Room. While he oversees the exciting on-point casual menu at BTR, he is quite committed to changing his tasting menu at the fine-dining Brabo every three weeks, a four-course meal with an option of three courses when seated at the bar. In the D.C. area since 2004, Chef Harper was Sous Chef at the stellar Vidalia, and has worked under three James Beard Award–winning chefs. Now a rising star for the Kimpton Group, he says, "I hope to get my own [James Beard Award] someday," he tells PREP. His most recent stint was at the now-closed Federalist and then at Wiedmaier's other D.C. hotspot, Marcel's. Harper McClure lights up a room, tall and colorful with his copper hair, always excited to demonstrate his elevated style of cooking. "My approach is ingredient-driven, not a specific style. What's in season is first and foremost; the textures of food and its pairing ability are the accent," insists the 33-year-old. At the moment, he was working on the housemade mortadella and other sausages (sounds simple enough . . . chicken, pork fat and ice). He'll serve the mortadella on the tarts or stuff sausage into the cavities of quail for holiday meals. McClure has decisive ideas about flavor balance and the close relationship between food and wine: "Don't kill food pairing with too much vinegar in the food. Let your palate adjust from course to course, from brighter to bolder wines. If a wine doesn't go well with one of my dishes? I'll scrap the dish first." For the insiders, Chef Harper hosts an industry night at BTR and personally DJs for a group of local somms, chefs, distributors and suppliers on the third Friday of every month. Chef Robert Wiedmaier's freshly sourced Prince Edward Island mussels at Brabo Tasting Room in Alexandria, VA. Many preparations are offered, but this one is the classic brasserie presentation with a white wine–garlic broth with shallots and parsley.

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