Check Out DGS's Modern Take on Passover Dinner in D.C.
A relative newcomer to Dupont Circle, the Jewish sandwich shop and restaurant, DGS, fills a logical niche for the D.C. area demographic. Growing up in the D.C. area suburbs, I lived in a school district with a large Jewish population, where it seemed like school shut down every other day for either a snow day (even the thought of snow flurries was enough) or a Jewish holiday. That said, it makes sense that DGS, so named for the historic Jewish District Grocery Store, is offering a special Passover meal from March 23rd to 31st.
Chef Barry Koslow put together a four-course Seder that's a modern interpretation of the traditional family meal. "It's never really the idyllic, Martha Stewart meal, but it could be." Koslow envisions his Seder at DGS as a chance to have the traditional feast, but without the dysfunctional family.
The first course in the DGS Seder is a marrow matzo ball soup (pictured at top). The matzo ball is made rich with the marrow, but the soup is flavored with ginger and scallion, a nod to a common Jewish affinity for Chinese food (especially on Christmas). The soup recalls the sweet, slightly spicy flavors of Asian soups and pairs nicely with the richness of the marrow. Each course is also paired with a different wine determined by beverage director Brian Zipin.
The matzo ball soup is paired with a Bodegas Hildalgo "Faraon" Oloroso sherry, which Zipin picked for it's richer, fuller mouthfeel. "The weight of the spirit has to be heavier than the soup you're consuming," explains Zipin. The higher alcohol content and stronger body of the sherry make it a more appropriate pairing for a hot soup than wine.
The second course is a bitter herb crusted halibut with asparagus two ways and beet chrain. The bitter herb (parsley and horseradish) in the halibut crust, instead of between two pieces of matzoh as is traditional, represents the Jews' suffering in Egypt. The halibut is served over a bed of blanched and puréed asparagus and topped with a beet chrain (relish) made with more horseradish. Zipin's pairing for this course is an Austrian Grüner Veltliner white wine (Schloss Gobelsburg 2011).
The third course (not pictured) is a braised lamb with tzimmes spiced carrot, crispy artichokes, and peas. It's an updated version of what Koslow's mother used to make at home. His mother's "tzimmes" dish, made with carrots, prunes, and sweet potato, was a sweet stew of sorts, but Karlow wanted to "make it less sweet and introduce spring elements." The inclusion of peas provides a dash of spring color and freshness. The lamb is paired with an appropriately heavier Cabernet Sauvignon from Israel (Teperberg Winery 2011).
The fourth and final course is a dessert: an apple, rhubarb, and walnut crumble topped with cardamom frozen yogurt. The crumble is made with granola crumbs instead of flour and baking powder for a denser quality. The apple and cardamom are another instance of the sweet-spicy interplay present in many Seder dishes and the crumble represents the traditional charoset. The dessert is paired with Eden Heirloom ice cider from Vermont. Made with fruit that's been picked while frozen to achieve a higher acidity, the ice cider cuts through the richness of the ice cream.
The meal is available with wine pairings ($60) or without ($40). Traditionally, you're supposed to drink four glasses of wine with the Seder, so for the truly traditional Passover feast and to experience the meal as envisioned by Koslow and Zipin, you should feel compelled to spring for the booze.