Curry Club

Posted March 7, 2007 at 5:44pm

Adding a new twist to Washington, D.C.’s favorite working meal, the Mandarin Oriental recently introduced a $16 “curry power lunch,” served in the hotel’s Empress Lounge. [IMGCAP(1)]

The buffet-style presentation features regional curries from Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and India, along with two kinds of rice and an Asian breadbasket offering naan, papadaam, roti and pita.

Examples of the curry dishes include Japanese brown chicken curry and Malaysian Nyonya crab curry with Sarawak pineapple and fried shallots. Traditional condiments and spices are served alongside, and an Asian-inspired dessert also is included.

The curry power lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The Mandarin is located at 1330 Maryland Ave. SW.

Eat Out Tonight. The annual Dining Out For Life event, which raises money for Food and Friends, takes place tonight at 150 area restaurants. Participating restaurants donate at least 25 percent of sales to the nonprofit organization that provides home-delivered meals, groceries and nutrition counseling to individuals in the community who are battling HIV, AIDS, cancer and other illnesses.

Participating restaurants on Capitol Hill include The Old Siam (50 percent), Mr. Henry’s (35 percent), Banana Café, Café Berlin, Capitol Hill Tandoor and Grill, Ellington’s on Eighth, Fusion Grill, La Plaza, Starfish Café and Trattoria Alberto.

Restaurants donating a noteworthy 100 percent of sales include downtown’s Ristorante Tosca, Addie’s in Rockville, Md., and Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant in Arlington, Va. For a complete list, visit diningoutforlife.com.

Mad About Saffron. The tiny and valuable stigma of crocus flowers, saffron is a trademark ingredient in many Spanish dishes. A new tasting menu from Spanish chef Santi Zabaleta at Taberna del Alabardero is taking that influence to the extreme.

Zabaleta has incorporated the spice into every dish on a six-course tasting menu, available throughout March for $78.

“The spice has been revered by Spanish chefs for centuries and is one of my favorites,” Zabaleta said. “A tiny thread of saffron exudes a radiant yellow color, strong aroma and intense flavor that make it incredibly unique.”

Diners can experience the spice’s full flavor range in dishes like cauliflower and saffron soup with diver scallop and clam gelée and seared saffron pineapple with foie gras, as well as unusual creations such as smoked saffron ice cream, saffron egg yolk custard and a white chocolate saffron lollipop.

Taberna del Alabardero is located at 1776 I St. NW.

Raise the Bar. It seems more chefs these days are recognizing that their dining public is getting a little noncommittal. Why try only one large dish when you can try three smaller ones?

Chef Michael Harr of Butterfield 9 is making that possible with a new bar tasting menu that debuted Feb 20. The menu features smaller portions of menu items, priced from $4 to $6, with suggested three-ounce wine pours for $4.50 to $6.

Parmesan truffle fries, for example, are paired with a Petite Syrah from California’s Russian River Valley, while a fricassée of veal sweetbreads with chanterelles, onions and a sweet garlic emulsion is paired with a German Riesling.

The menu is available Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Butterfield 9 is located at 600 14th St. NW.

One-Pot Cooking. If juggling multiple pots and pans to get dinner on the table isn’t your thing, head to Rosa Mexicano’s One Pot Meals cooking demonstration on Saturday to learn a few recipes that require getting only one pot dirty.

The class begins at 10 a.m. and is followed by lunch. The cost is $45 per person, which includes tax and gratuity.

Chef James Muir will demonstrate how to make slow-cooked pork shoulder with pinto beans and guajillo chiles, cantina seafood stew made with jumbo shrimp, clams, mussels and white fish, and a traditional hominy soup with chicken in a green pumpkin seed-jalapeno broth.

Rosa Mexicano is located at 575 Seventh St. NW. Call 202-654-7010 for reservations for the class.