We’ve heard of fries that venture beyond the humble potato, but no chickpea comes equipped with what’s needed for Mintwood Place’s new bar snack. “Lamb fries,” as they’re listed on the menu, aren’t like any I’ve had before; instead of puréed starch, the crispy fritters are a cousin of Rocky Mountain oysters—a.k.a. bull testicles. Given that Mintwood’s sheep variety comes from the nearby Virginia Hills, think of them less like ram balls and more like Shenandoah Mountain oysters.
Faced with a platter, it’s easy to see the comparison to bivalves. Chef Cedric Maupillier slices the raw product into bite-size ovals (sorry, guys), and soaks them in buttermilk overnight. The “oysters” then marinate in hot sauce, shallots, garlic, and lemon juice, which mimics a South American preparation for bull testicle ceviche. We’re not quite that adventurous in Washington, so Maupillier does what many chefs do to make strange foods seem friendly: He breads and deep-fries them.
So what do Shenandoah Mountain oysters taste like? Surprisingly, they’re a lot milder than the euphemistic shellfish. The crisp fritter’s soft inside faintly recalls lamb, but is less robustly flavored than a loin or chop. Dunked in spicy house-made ranch dressing, you could mistake the fries for sweetbreads—though thymus glands now seem tame by comparison—or if you’re not an offal eater, a very tender chicken nugget. My dining companion and I happily polished off the whole stack (to quote Chevy Chase in Funny Farm, “Call me Mr. Lamb Fries”). As for a pairing, a nice lambic feels appropriate.
The buzz hasn’t stopped since Stephen Starr’s French brasserie Le Diplomate debuted on 14th Street; in fact, it might be even louder since Sunday night, when Vice President Joe Biden dined there with wife Jill and their granddaughter. A tipster spotted the couple entering the restaurant—he in signature aviators, she in a floral sheath—on the balmy summer evening, with the restaurant at typical bustling capacity.
Le Diplomate’s team maintains a “no comment” policy when it comes to diners, but other sources confirm that the trio sat on the terrace. Joe Biden opted for the Obama administration-approved item: a burger, in this case the “burger Americain,” a riff on the fast food classic with pickles, American cheese, and a side stack of pommes frites. Fitting for the VP, the dish arrives with a diplomatic smattering of miniature French and American toothpick flags. According to the source, diners gave the Bidens a round of applause as they left the restaurant.
While the President and First Lady are known for their trips a deux to hotspots such as Komi and the Source, Joe Biden is more often spotted at low-key destinations like Liberty Tavern and regular trips to Pete’s New Haven for pasta pomodoro. (Another tipster mentions Georgetown’s swanky Cafe Milano is a regular stop for the vice presidential couple.) Perhaps President Obama will follow suit, making those 14th Street restaurant waits even longer.
When celebrities gather without Mario Batali, it's seldom about the food. And admittedly, the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner is no exception. Spendy gowns, Governor Christie's girth, Lindsay Lohan's relative screwed-up-edness: These things are all heavily reported on. The type of bruschetta served at the People party? Not so much. Still, we diligently scanned the various party reports fluttering about the Internet for signs of food. Here's what we came up with.
At Saturday night's dinner, guests were served a "bread presentation" (read: dinner rolls); black lentil terrine, crab, and tomatoes over "artisan greens"; and Texas-rubbed petite filet with a Calvados sauce, with red curry jumbo shrimp, haricots verts, and risotto. A dessert dubbed "the galaxy" featured "chocolate truffle mousse layered with chocolate genoise and almond macaroon." [People]
Speaking of that mousse, the Washington Post saw fit to report that while Sofia Vergara ate half her portion, New Jersey governor Chris Christie "cleared his plate." [WP]
Wonder what that main course looked like? Politico's Mike Allen posted a photo in Sunday's Playbook. [Politico]