Every year on January 2nd, we spend a day together doing a thorough physical inventory of the store. It’s a time to reflect on the previous year, correct the little mistakes we’ve made along the way, and, usually, eat a lot of sandwiches.
This year, we decided to do our annual staff holiday dinner after the holidays and after our arduous inventory day as well, so that we could truly enjoy some fantastic food and wine and each others’ company without the stress of the holidays weighing on our minds. It turned out to be a great idea, made even better by the incredible food, wine and service we received at 2941 in Falls Church.
Doug was kind enough to bring along two show-stopping bottles, and wine director Jonathan Schuyler did a fantastic job of pairing them with just the right courses as well as choosing delicious, interesting wines to go with the rest of the tasting menu. One of the most fun things to do in a restaurant is to put away the menu and simply tell the kitchen and service staff, we’re in your hands. We did exactly that, and were treated to a truly special evening.
We started with bubbles, of course, a but then it was off to the races, with a squash soup dotted with spiced marshmallows. This was paired with a white wine made from Pinot Noir from none other than our friends at Brandborg cellars. The deeper flavors in this deceptively colored wine were a great match with the sweet baking spices in the soup.
When the Alphonse Mellot Sancerre was poured for the next course and we took a sip or two without the dish that went with it, the table was divided. Some loved the wine, and some thought it was a little aggressively oaked for their tastes. These quibbles melted away once the wine was paired with an incredible lemon risotto with perfectly cooked prawns. The intense citrus flavors, richness, and brininess from the seafood somehow made the oak disappear, leaving you with nothing but refreshing fruit and just enough structure to stand up to the dish. Pairings like this seem magical, but they are more often than not the product of a lot of hard work, tasting, and really knowing food and wine.
To go with the 2007 Lamy Pillot Le Montrachet that we brought, the kitchen outdid itself, pairing it with mascarpone ravioli covered with truffle shavings. The smell alone was decadent. The Lamy Pillot was exactly what great white Burgundy should be: massive power and structure, but balanced and beautiful, like the giant supermodels in the Rolling Stones’ “Love is Strong” video. Good pairings complement or contrast; great pairings manage to do both, and the ravioli were a great pairing with this wine.
Next we took a refreshing trip to Spain with a piece of grilled rockfish paired with savory paella broth. To go with it we had a 1994 Lopez de Heredia Rioja. At this point it was clear that the chef and sommelier were having almost as much fun as we were. Pairing an oaky, aged wine with a seemingly delicate fish dish was a risky move, and it was glorious. After the crazy decadence of the Montrachet, this brought us back to earth in the best possible way.
Next came the 2004 Latour, courtesy of Doug (thanks, boss!), which was paired with an inventive twist on surf and turf. The Latour was in a great place, showing ripe, balanced fruit and beautiful notes of tobacco leaf and leather.
We finished with a light, but flavorful dessert, perfect after all of the rich savory courses. Paired with the light, fruity, frozen souflee was a Clairette de Die, an off-dry sparkler from the South of France. Starting *and* ending with bubbles – what better way could there possibly be to ring in the New Year?
Thanks to chef Bertrand Chemel and the kitchen team, to wine director Jonathan Schuyler, and the rest of the staff at 2941 for an incredible evening of wine, food, and great service. You all made it look easy.