Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller with Open Kitchen's Chef Ken at German Riesling Dinner
Chef Ken, head chef at the fairly new Restaurant Open Kitchen in the Washington DC area, prepared a Riesling dinner for the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter). This is how it worked: The German Wine Society suggested 7 Rieslings, moving from a dry Rheinhessen wine to sweet-style Mosel wines, and Chef Ken came up with a menu. During the dinner, Chef Ken presented to us his ideas that had lead him to the dinner selection. As this is an “open” kitchen, we were also able to observe a bit the team's techniques and talents.
Riesling in the World
Worldwide, there are about 34.000 hectares planted with Riesling. Germany – with 22.400 hectares – accounts for 2/3 of the total. The second largest Riesling producer is Australia, with 4500 hectares. But this is only about 1/10 of the total. Alsace follows with 3500 hectares. Austria, the US with Washington State and New York State as well as New Zealand make up the remainder. But overall Riesling is really a niche wine, accounting for only less than 1 percent of total wine production in the world - but a very special niche wine.
Riesling in Germany
Riesling is Germany’s signature grape, although other grape varietes are also grown. In particular, there is red wine boom going on in Germany right now. German Riesling wines span a broad range of styles, being produced in both dry to sweet variations. Germany’s botrytised noble-sweet and icewine Rieslings are exceptional wines. German Rieslings are categorized based on their style (level of dryness) and the grape's ripeness level at harvest (i.e. QbA, Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, etc).
Increasingly, German winemakers use the predicats Kabinett, Spaetlese. Auslese, etc only for sweet style wines and sell all dry wines, up to the highest quality level, as QbA (Qualitaetswein besonderer Anbaugebiete).
Open Kitchen offers the dining public a four-in-one choice of bistro, rentable kitchen space for pros, catering services and cooking classes. As its name suggests, the space is pretty much open, with the meal preparation going on in front of your eyes, especially if you snag a counter seat.
Pictures: Open Kitchen
Open Kitchen was recently awarded certification by Virginia Green as a certified Green Restaurant. “This certification requires that we meet certain standards in terms of energy efficiency, waste reduction, sustainable food, and pollution prevention, just to name a few.” Said Chef Ken. He continued: “At Open Kitchen, we believe we have a responsibility to help offset the restaurant industry’s ecological footprint and create a more sustainable Earth for future generations of restaurateurs (and non-restaurateurs) to come. To help in this endeavor, we are committed to being an eco-friendly food establishment.” During the dinner, Chef Ken came around and showed us some of the products he was using and talked about from where he had sourced them.
Pictures: Chef Ken
The decor of Open Kitchen is modern. When you enter the place, you see the "open kitchen" with Chef Ken and his team at work. The kitchen is surrounded by a large wooden bar. You have the option to sit at the bar where Chef Ken serves you, the dining bistro area, which includes pub style butcher block tables or the fully covered patio. Open Bistro is open for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We sat at the counter so that we could watch the action in the kitchen, which was fun, although a large metal part of the kitchen equipment was blocking a bit the view.
Open Kitchen is owned by Hue-Chan and John Karels. Kenneth Hughes is Executive Chef. He did all the talking during the dinner. Chef Ken is a Washington DC native with over twenty-five years of culinary experience, trained in the classic French style of cooking. Chef Ken, as we could observe, likes to interacting with guests.
Pictures: Owner Hue-Chan Karels and Chef Kenneth Hughes
The Riesling Dinner
Platter of Artisan Blue Cheeses: Cambozola (Germany), Paladin Blue Cheese (Germany), and Domestic Wisconsin Gorgonzola (US) with Toast, Water Crackers, Grapes, and Apples
Koester-Wolf Riesling 2008 trocken - Rheinhessen
1st Course: Jumbo Sea Scallop on Basil with Sauteed Rainbow Swiss Chard & Dry White Riesling Reduction Butter
Dr. Loosen 2009 "Dr. L" QbA - Mosel
Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Ernst Loosen in Washington DC
Kruger Rumpf 2009 Riesling Feinherb "Schiefer" - Nahe
Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Georg Rumpf in the Weingut Kruger-Rumpf vineyard in the Nahe region
Main Course: Grilled Pork Chop with Onions & Cracked Mustard, Yukon Potato & Summer Vegetable Melange
Meulenhof 2009 Erdener Treppchen Kabinett - Mosel
Merkelbach 2009 Uerziger Wuerzgarten Spatlese #20 - Mosel
Dessert Course: Virginia Peach, Apple & Cherry Crisp with Locally made Moorenko Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Selbach Oster 2009 Graacher Domprobst Spaetlese - Mosel
Haag, Fritz 2009 Braunenberger Juffer Spaetlese - Mosel
Open Kitchen is located at 7115 Leesburg Pike in Falls Church, VA 22043.
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