I love Jose Andres! He has some amazing restaurants in the D.C. area as well as his own cooking show "Made In Spain". I love his show because he has a big personality and interjects cooking at home with scenes from his travels in Spain. He is also the Chairman Emeritus of DC Central Kitchen which is a wonderful program in DC that not only feeds the hungry but offers job training.
We have enjoyed the tasting menu at Cafe Atlantico which included some Mini Bar treats. One of those treats was a beet tumbleweed which was delicious but the show stopper of that meal was the Foie Gras soup. I tasted the grilled octopus at the Zaytinya table at an event, Sweet Charity, last year and kept going back for me. We have been to the Jaleo in downtown and recently visited the Crystal City location where we enjoyed the following.
Papas arrugas - Canary Island-style wrinkled baby potatoes served with mojo verde (cilantro, cumin, garlic, Sherry vinegar and olive oil sauce). Those little potatoes were delicious and creamy inside and I loved the sauce.
Dátiles con tocino ‘como hace todo el mundo’- Fried dates wrapped in bacon. I didn't expect them to be breaded in fried which was the turning point in the meal when I tossed out any hope of being gluten free. The dates inside were melted and their sweetness played well with the salty pork of the bacon.
Butifarra casera con ‘mongetes’ “Daniel Patrick Moynihan” - Homemade grilled pork sausage with sautéed white beans. The sausage was incredible, I love pork and the flavor of this sausage was comforting on such a cold winter night. I could have done without the beans as their flavor didn't speak to me.
Codorniz con salsa de romero y alioli con miel - Grilled quail with rosemary sauce and honey alioli. This was one of my favorites! I love to eat little birds and this one was so tender and the sauce was sweet and savory. I was happy to mop this sauce with some bread. The bread was disappointing as I do not often indulge in bread I always want it to be fresh, crusty on the outside with a softness inside. This bread seemed dried and old but a decent vehicle to eat more rosemary sauce and honey alioli.
Arroz cremoso de setas - Wild mushroom rice with Idiazábal cheese. This was my other favorite of the evening. As you can see I forgot to take a picture until it was mostly enjoyed. I love Idiazábal which is a firm smoked sheep's milk cheese but it does not have a strong smoked flavor.
Pato con peras - Marinated duck confit with pear sauce. If you haven't noticed, we love meat and like to eat a variety of animals both cute and ugly. The duck was tender and complimented by the pear sauce. I prefer my duck skin crispy while this one was heavy and fatty which was not so good once it got cold.
Conejo en salmorejo con purée de albaricoques - Canary Island-style rabbit confit with apricot purée. We eat a lot of rabbit as I can pick them up fresh from the dairy farm I visit on a weekly basis. I understand they are boney but I was not expecting to be served what amounted to a section of backbone which was more bone than meat. The chunks of white meat were slightly dry but very flavorful. I would not consider it confit as if it had been cooked in fat I would expect it to be more tender.
Cordero a la brasa con salsa de romero* - Grilled lamb chops with rosemary sauce. They were tasty, hard to share among 3 which is the issue with a few of these tapas. Some can be shared, some tasted, and some are best enjoyed alone. It is easy to rack up a big fat bill at Jaleo and still want to order more food as the selection is so appetizing.
This was one of the specials, I believe it was grilled eel served on mashed potatoes with balsamic onions. It was very delicious, we love eel, and the mash was very creamy.
Espuma de avellanas y chocolate - Chocolate and hazelnut mousse torte. I loved the hazelnuts they were crunchy, nutty, and sweet. But the cake did not seem very chocolatey or hazelnutty. I should have ordered some cheese.
Flan al estilo tradicional de mamá Marisa con espuma de crema Catalana - A classic Spanish custard dessert with ‘espuma’ of Catalan cream and oranges. Basically a flan and decent.
Pastel Vasco con helado de leche merengada - Basque cake with semolina cream, cinnamon-vanilla sauce & ice milk. This was interesting and the inside of this cake fascinated me. The stand out dessert was the ice cream served with this dish. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out its flavors as it was more than ice milk. There was vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, and something familiar.
I highly recommend Jaleo but when we visited the downtown location we were dissapointed by the Paellas. Be sure to go to Jaleo with people who are willing to share and have good taste.