So last year for my birthday, Ellen arranged a four-hour cooking lesson with one of DC’s best chefs.**

Pretty special.

This year, she topped that with reservations (HT to Penn S for help in securing said reservation) and an evening at DC’s Minibar, a six person extavaganza of small bites of tastes and combinations you’ve never had but somehow (mostly) work wonderfully.

Briefly, Jose Andres has created a laboratory for testing various dishes, combinations, and concepts for his other restaurants. What you get is a visual delight as each presentation more than pleases the eye. Art (visual) as well as science (eating).

There were 27 ‘courses,’ each lasting from just one bite to three or four at the most. Often one bite offerings are just a tease, but these 27 preparations were more than a tease. Many were actually three bites, and what you get are combinations and presentations that you have never had before. And most of them brought exclamations from all six of us.

The best I can do is post Ellen’s pictures below of each course to give you some idea of what you get. Do yourself a favor (?) and check them out.

We usually celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other good times at Patrick O’Connell’s wonderful Inn at Little Washington, which we still agree is the best all around eating in this area.

But last night’s Minibar tastings certainly is in the same category of memorable meals.

(A couple of hints for those of you who might want to try Jose’s creations):

1. Reservations are more than difficult to get. There are two seatings, 6 PM and 8:30 PM, Tuesdays through Sundays. They take reservations one month in advance. Their two phone lines begin ringing 10 minutes to 10 AM to get a reservation one month from the day you are calling. The phones cut off by 10:30 AM as the 12 reservations are filled by then.

2. All three of the couples last night got there via the ‘wait list.’ One couple came from Philly expressly for the meal as they were called that morning that two seats had opened. Both Ellen and myself and the third couple were called the previous day with openings from the wait list. Apparently, the two best nights for getting in off the wait list are Sats. and Weds, as often seats are released that may have been saved by Jose for friends and others he knows.

3. In order not to totally deprive your kinder of any inheritance, it might be smart to limit one’s wine orderings, especially if you can enjoy good food without the need to have the exact wine accompanying each of the 27 ‘courses.’ While limiting yourselves to say one bottle of wine might keep the tariff ‘down,’ expect to pay more than your parents ever earned in a week.

Here is a list of the courses in the order that they were presented below. If you link to Ellen’s Flickr pictures you can see these courses for yourself.

*Oaxacan Snowball

*Golden Nugget

*”PB & J”

*Sea Bean Tempura

*Almond Tart with Blue Cheese

*Mint Leaf Mojito

*Chicken “Oyster”

*Oyster Escabeche

*Zucchini in Textures

*Thai Peanut Soup

*Chicken “Shawarma”

*Sea Urchin Ceviche with Hibuscus Air

*Fabes con Almejas

*”Lobster & Grits”

*Espardenyes with Bone Marrow

*Charcoal Grilled Eggplant with Black Garlic

*Parmesan Egg with Migas

*”Adam & Eve”

*Olive Oil Soup with Mandarin

*Vermont Snow

*”Mango” Coconut Rice



*Apples in White Chocolate


*Bacon and Chocolate

*Fizzy Paper

See all the Pix

And finally, I can’t imagine what could Ellen possibly do for my 70th birthday.

I can’t wait to find out, tho I’m in no rush for March 31, 2013 to arrive.

(**Actually, that cooking lesson was a Father’s Day gift, I see, now that I went back and found the post. I guess my medium term memory is going the way of my short term memory.)