Home Plate March/April 2012
St. Patrick's Day celebrations, a new cookbook and more
Get Your Irish Up
Ireland’s Four Courts manager Dave Cahill says that this year’s weeklong St. Patrick’s Day celebration—heralded by an explosion of green décor, 100 kegs of Guinness and 400 pounds of corned beef at the ready—will be the largest in the tavern’s 16-year history for two reasons. “It’s a party to commemorate the patron saint of Ireland and to celebrate the major renovations that we’ve made since the kitchen fire last April,” says Cahill, a County Limerick native who now calls Arlington home. (The pub continued to operate after the fire, but couldn’t serve hot food for three months.)
Kickoff is Saturday, March 10, at 9 a.m. with the start of the third annual Four Courts Four Miler, a fundraising footrace that benefits the Benevolent Fund for the Arlington Police Beneficiary Association. (Last year, a sellout 1,800 runners had already signed up with a week to go before the race, and planners expect 2,000 participants this year.) Bagpipers and Irish dancers will send the runners on their way, and greet them when they return, while a heated 20-by-100-foot tent in the pub’s rear parking area will help handle the overflow crowds. The big blowout on the 17th begins with an Irish breakfast at 9 and an afternoon and evening of live music, both inside and out.
In addition to the regular menu, dinner specials throughout the week will feature the handcrafted porter cheddar, farmhouse chive and Irish whiskey cheeses that Cahill’s family still produces in the old country. “People are always intrigued that we serve my own family’s farmhouse cheeses,” he says. “It brings a piece of what my family serves at home and makes Four Courts a home away from home for me.”
Ireland’s Four Courts, 2051 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, 703-525-3600, www.irelandsfourcourts.com.
Hold the tomatoes
Step aside, marinara. Local culinary instructor Matt Finarelli has brought together more than 100 of his favorite Italian recipes in a new, self-published cookbook. And not one of them calls for tomatoes!
Instead, Beyond the Red Sauce: Classic Italian Cooking Without Tomatoes goes in another direction.
“It’s not that I hate tomatoes. I love them. My family is from Naples, and I grew up thinking Italian cooking had to have tomatoes,” says the Arlington native, who regularly teaches cooking classes at Sur La Table at Pentagon Row. “But through research, I discovered how much incredible traditional Italian cooking is out there without them.”
We like that Finarelli’s practical and easy-to-follow recipes for flavorful risottos, pastas and more don’t call for hard-to-find ingredients. “That’s the cooking instructor in me,” he says.
As a complement to her popular wine-and-cheese venue in Del Ray, curd monger Jill Erber has opened a second Cheesetique location on Campbell Avenue in Shirlington.
The 2,100-square-foot café and retail shop (which replaces The Curious Grape) offers more than 250 fresh and ripened cheeses, with everything from a Great Lakes cheddar from New York for $9 a pound to a Rogue River blue from Oregon for $40 a pound.
Also in stock: about 140 cheese-friendly wines and a wide assortment of artisan charcuterie. The 48-seat café presents a menu of cheese-inspired sandwiches, soups and flatbreads.
For Arlington readers, Erber assembled a “dream cheese plate” with five of her current favorites, offering visual variety, various textures and something for everyone. “Just add fresh walnut-raisin bread,” she says, “and you’re set.”
A Taste of Diplomacy
Each month, when the diplomats of the Washington-based Association of Southeast Asian Nations finish their meeting, the talk often turns to restaurants. “We all miss the foods from back home,” says Daryl Sng, political counselor at the Embassy of the Republic of Singapore. “I’m obsessed with great food and want the best. And who better to tell me where to find the best Thai than someone from the Thai Embassy?”
According to Sng’s counterparts, Northern Virginia is a popular destination for diplomats seeking authentic Southeast Asian fare (see their recommendations below). For the “closest thing” to Singapore/Chinese, Sng gives the nod to X.O. Taste in Falls Church. “Order the roast duck or roast pork,” he says.
Hai Duong, 6795 Wilson Blvd., Suite 7, Falls Church, 703-538-5289.
Bangkok 54, 2919 Columbia Pike, Arlington, 703-521-4070, www.bangkok54restaurant.com.
Bangkok Golden, 6395 Seven Corners Center, Falls Church, 703-533-9480 (ask for the Laotian menu), www.bangkokgoldenrestaurant.com.
Satay Sarinah Restaurant, 512-A S. Van Dorn St., #A, Alexandria, 703-370-9672, http://www.sataysarinah.com.
X.O. Taste, 6124 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, 703-536-1630.