Written by Anita
February 4, 2009
Last Wednesday night went to the dogs (and their human companions) attending the 7th Annual Sugar & Champagne Affair held at the Ritz-Carlton in DC. Hosted by Ellen and Todd Gray of Equinox Restaurant and Salamander Resort & Spa, the event paid tribute to the work of the Washington Humane Society (WHS) and its dedicated staff.
The evening, emceed by Fox 5's Holly Morris, started with live cooking demonstrations and tastings for VIPs from three award-winning DC-area chefs: Jonathan Seningen from Hook, Todd Gray from Equinox Restaurant, and Bryan Voltaggio from Volt.
Chef Seningen first discussed how to select fresh fish based on color, scent, and feel. He then prepared a delicate yet flavorful seared tuna. Chef Gray showed the crowd how to make one of his specialties, pan fried Rappahannock oysters with caper-parsley butter, celery root puree, and golden pineapple. Finally, Chef Voltaggio demonstrated how he mixes chemistry and cooking by creating chocolate “rocks” with Clementine sorbet—flash frozen using liquid nitrogen!
The crowd then adjourned to the ballroom, where they were greeted by decadent food and drink stations from almost 30 participating restaurants and 12 beverage companies. Decorating the space were several doggy-themed tiered cakes, each layer created by one of 25 top DC-area pastry chefs. Savor offerings included Indique Heights' rich butter chicken and Nage's fluffy bacon and bleu cheese profiteroles.
But “Sugar” was the order of the evening, and there were many stellar representations to sample. Highlights included Pitango Gelato's light grapefruit sorbet and Citronelle's fluffy chocolate mousse. DC’s love affair with the cupcake was evident, with beautiful classic cupcakes from Hello Cupcake and fun doggy-themed selections from Buzz Bakery. Chocolate lovers could enjoy Artisan Confections' Salted Butter Caramels* or Locolat's rich dark chocolates. To wash it all down, there were a variety of champagnes, spirits, waters, and soft drinks available. The night concluded with a silent auction and award ceremony in honor of the WHS’s Humane Law Enforcement and Animal Control Officers, with a special award to Special Agent Scott Bray for a heroic intervention that saved a local dog’s life.
Missed out on the fun? Then mark your calendar now for the Fashion for Paws event in March and the 22nd Annual Bark Ball in June (both featured on gregslistdc!)
*You can make their Fleur de Sel Caramels at home, using Artisan Confections' recipe (see below) or get help from a professional at their next hands-on chocolate making class.
Artisan Confections' Fleur de Sel Caramels
16 oz. sugar
2 oz. corn syrup
4 oz. water
4 oz. salted butter
16 oz. heavy cream
1 vanilla bean pod (or 2 t. extract)
1 t sea salt
Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to boil. Cook without stirring until dark brown and just starting to smoke. Add butter to stop cooking process. Add cream, vanilla, and sea salt. Cook to 248 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Pour onto a silpat or into a glass pan (lightly greased) and let set. Cut into squares and dip in chocolate. Garnish with a few grains of Fleur de Sel
Yields approximately 75 pieces, depending on thickness