Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Zaytinya Hosts its Third Annual Grape Festival

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It’s that time of year to celebrate the harvest season of the most iconic fruit, the grape. José Andrés and his team at award-winning mezze restaurant Zaytinya, led by Head Chef Michael Costa, commemorate this event with a two-week festival, which runs from September 22 – October 5, 2013. This is third consecutive year that Zaytinya is raising glasses to the most cherished fruit of Mediterranean cuisine with many variations of this respected harvest through wine tasting events, dinners, a grape-inspired menu and a handcrafted specialty cocktail.

To kick off the festivities, on September 22, guests are invited to celebrate with an exceptional wine dinner crafted by Head Chef Michael Costa highlighting wines from the famed producer Ktima Pavlidis from the Drama region of northern Greece. This dinner starts at 7:15pm and is priced at $75 per person (excluding tax and gratuity).

On Monday, September 30, the "Zaytinya Road Trips 2013" dinner will be led by ThinkFoodGroup’s Wine Director Lucas Payá and Zaytinya’s Beverage Manager Daniella Senior, who will feature highlights of their most remarkable wine experiences from their recent travels through Greece. This fun and casual family style dinner will start at 7:15pm and is priced at $65 per person (excluding tax and gratuity).

The Grape Festival provides a great opportunity to taste and learn about the diversity and complexity of talented Mediterranean winemakers through a series of complimentary wine tastings on Wednesday, September 25 (Lebanon) and Thursday, September 26 (Turkey) and the following week on Wednesday, October 2 (Greek) and Thursday, October 3 (distilled spirits from grapes) from 5:00 – 7:00pm.

There's More Than
One Way to Skinos a Grape
Additionally delightful, a limited Agiorgitiko offering in magnum size, Skouras Megas Oenos, Peloponnese, Greece 2003, will be available by the glass for guests to experience throughout the festival. Cocktail enthusiasts can look forward to the distinct libation, There’s More Than One Way to Skinos a Grape, created by ThinkFoodGroup’s Cocktail Innovator Juan Coronado. This is a delicious combination of Skinos, Verjus, Dolin Blanc, Fee Bros old-fashioned bitter, a lemon twist and garnished with frozen peeled grape. It is priced at $11.

To finalize the festivities, Zaytinya will host a Greek Harvest Patio Party on Saturday, October 5 from 12:00 – 4:00pm. Priced at $10 per person, guests are invited to stomp on grapes, kick up their heels and dance to live music with a complimentary glass of wine or grape juice, and delectable snacks.

I had an opportunity to preview this year's Grape Festival specials.  My favorite bites were the Prawns Arak and the Kampachi with Concord grapes and sea beans.  Both were accented perfectly by the subtle addition of grapes.   Keith enjoyed the Lamb Mutancene explained to use by Head Chef Michael Costa as being made from a 15th century Ottoman Empire recipe they learned on a recent trip to Istanbul.  Zaytinya will feature the following special menu items during the two-week festival:

Grape Festival Specials

Border Spring Farm lamb shoulder braised in honey and grape vinegar
with almonds, dried plums and apricots ($12)

Prawns Arak
Head-on shrimp sautéed with Arak, roasted grapes,
red Fresno chiles and aromatic herbs ($14)

Lebanese-Style Preserved Labne
Served with raisin grape molasses spoonsweet ($8)

Muscat Grape Granita
Orange flower scented yogurt espuma, candied orange,
lemon verbena (Mezze Style $4, Full Portion $8)

Part of José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, Zaytinya serves an extensive array of various mezze "little dishes" reflecting the rich regional diversity of classical and contemporary Greek, Turkish and Lebanese cuisine. Open seven days a week. Zaytinya is located at 701 9th St., NW, Washington, DC, in the heart of the Penn Quarter. For additional information call 202.638.0800 or visit www.zaytinya.com.

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