Columns by John

John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly

The Obelisk: a Capitol idea !

The Obelisk:  a Capitol idea !
Good golly! I spent a good part of last week in our nation’s capitol where the temperature was a sizzling 98 degrees. And while I perspired my way through a few business meetings, I knew, at the end of the day I would be sipping some lovely beverages. I did just that and then enjoyed an anniversary dinner at my favorite DC restaurant .

Washington is a very underrated food town, and that’s a shame because the city just brims with a bevy of eateries that rival establishments in some of the more recognized culinary burgs such as New York City, Chicago and San Francisco.

My absolute favorite dining address is the Obelisk Restaurant on P Street in northwest Washington. There is no sign on the unimposing building housing the small one room Tuscan restaurant, but once you’ve experienced the food, you’ll always find your way back for more.

The four-course prix fixe menu is $70 a person, but it is worth every cent and more. The wine list is very small, but well selected with an excellent sampling from Tuscany. Before the meal began, we were treated to four appetizers that were so good it was hard to imagine that the courses to come could be any better. They weren’t…but they were just as good!

How about these little ditties for starters: imported Italian Burrata  (a fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream) with extra virgin olive oil, thinly sliced smoked duck breast with black cherries, fried, stuffed baby artichokes and cheese-stuffed zucchini flowers.

The meal that followed included porcini ravioli with a sage butter sauce, black bass with peppers and fennel, and lamb chops with sweet onions and rapini. A cheese course and dessert capped off the meal. A bottle of 1999 Podere Brizio Brunello Di Montalcino was liquid silk and a perfect match for the ravioli, lamb, appetizers and cheese course.

Next time you’re in DC, I really hope your give the Oblelisk a try, but you’ll need to call for reservations ((202 872-1180).

Warm weather does cause me to alter my usual reliance on red wine as the go-to meal accompaniment. Instead of my usual practice of sipping a glass of white as an aperitif, I am using these cooling beverages with the lighter-styled foods gracing the table at Chez Brown.

I am particularly fond of Soave, the Italian white from the Veneto. If you are one of the many out there who view Soave as an unworthy alternative to the more famous white varietals such as pinot grigio, you might wish to try these two wines.

Anselmi San Vincenzo Soave

2009 Anselmi San Vincenzo ($16) – This Soave is comprised of about 80 percent garganega, 15 percent chardonnay and 5 percent trebbiano. Fuller-bodied than most Soave’s, the San Vincenzo is full of ripe apple and vanilla custard flavors with a crisp, balanced finish. I sipped this baby recently with a smoked chicken Cesar salad.

2009 Re Midas Soave ($12) – This bottling is a more traditional lighter-styled Soave with a slightly grassy aroma followed by melon, lemon and almond flavors. It finishes with a little zing of acidity making it a great match with pasta salad sauced with basil
Chablis: It ain't what it used to be!
Cafe Cimino does it again !