Small Plates: Cook Up a Few Valentine Treats

Posted January 20, 2010 at 4:51pm

Are you stumped on how to sweep your lady friend off her feet this Valentine’s Day? Never fear, Art and Soul (415 New Jersey Ave. NW) is ready to help. This Capitol Hill restaurant — owned by chef Art Smith, who used to cook for Oprah — is offering a cooking class designed specifically for men who are looking for a little Valentine’s Day help.

Those in attendance will learn how to break down (in other words, cut up) a duck, as well as which wines pair with which dishes. The class will also include tutorials on making salmon and caviar hoecakes as well as roasted duck with risotto and black truffles. The class costs $50 per person and includes passed hors d’oeuvres, a recipe book and some take-home ingredients to be used when you prepare your own special meal.

The class will be from noon to 2 p.m. on Jan. 30. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 202-393-7777.

Let Good Times Roll on Mardi Gras

While Valentine’s Day may be on the horizon, Mardi Gras is right behind it. Fat Tuesday falls on Feb. 16 this year, a fact that is not lost on local French chef Michel Richard. Richard will open the doors of Central (1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) for a New Orleans-style celebration.

Executive Chef Arthur Cavaliere will be cooking a special menu of “French Quarter New Orleans— fare. The menu will include oysters Rockefeller, shrimp remoulade and jambalaya. The restaurant’s regular menu will also be available.

General Manager Brian Zipin has created a cocktail menu that boasts old-fashioned drinks, some of which are more than 60 years old. The list will feature drinks such as the Suissesse-Lucid Absinthe, a mixture of orgeat syrup, orange flower water, cream and citrus sugar, and the Café Brulot, composed of Pierre Ferrand cognac, Mandarine Napoleon orange brandy, cloves, cinnamon, orange peel, espresso coffee and whipped cream. This specialty list will be available from Feb. 10 to Feb. 24.

This Mardi Gras celebration will be preceded by a weekend filled with New Orleans-style cuisine, beginning Feb. 12.