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Georgetown Tour – Part 2

This post is the second part about our tour of Georgetown – for the first part, click here.

I had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC in late March for the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) 2015 annual conference.  The conference always has optional day tours of the area for the first day of the conference. I decided to take the Tour of Georgetown. This tour was organized by the Georgetown Business Improvement District ( I covered our first two stops at Pizza Paradiso and the Hotel Capella last week. Our last two stops were at the Fiola Mare Restaurant.

There were two things in the tour description that caught my interest – learning to make pizza at Pizza Paradiso and learning how to filet a whole cooked fish tableside at Fiola Mare. If you remember our trip to Las Vegas from last summer, we had an incredible experience with a salt crusted whole fish (Post is here if you don’t remember….). When they brought the fish to our table and our waiter proceeded to filet the fish for Lori and I, I was very intrigued. I’ve read about cooking whole fish as being one of the best ways, especially with smaller fish, I was eager to see how you get the fish to the filets after cooking whole. I’ve been wanting to try at home and maybe do this in a class sometime, but I’ve been intimidated by having to break down the fish after cooking it.

We arrived at Fiola Mare and our group was taken to a private room in the back of the restaurant. While they serve a wide variety of seafood dishes, grilling whole fish and then fileting it table side is now something they have become know for (If you are visiting DC, I highly recommend trying this place! Fiola Mare) . Our host started by showing us two raw fish ready to be cooked. The two he showed us were the Branzino and Monkfish. After he talked about what they do with the fish, the raw ones were replaced with a grilled Branzino. He then proceeded to show us how to filet the fish. Sorry to bore you with all of the pictures, but I took a bunch so I would hopefully remember how to do it….

We started by removing a small section behind the head of the fish. Then he removed a small section by the tail. Next he scored behind the head. The next step was to run down the line directly across the back of the fish and remove a section of bones there. Next he separated the top filet into two sections along the main bone through the middle of the fish. Now we were ready for the top filet and they easily slid off of the center bones. There were still a few pin bones to be removed and next was the really cool part. He called this the “Garfield” moment as we started at the tail and lifted off the center bone and all of the attached bones from the middle of the fish and moved that aside along with the head. The next step was to remove the remaining pin bones from the bottom filet and move the bottom filet to the plate. He put the two parts of the top filet on the plate and then drizzled some olive oil and salt over the fish. All that and now we were ready to eat….but were we….

Nope – now it was our turn. They brought in more cooked fish so we could do the fileting. Lori took some pictures of me fileting the fish we ended up eating. They served us a nice chardonnay and a little sauce to go with the fish and if our pizza and appetizers we already had weren’t enough, we were feasting on some fantastic Branzino!

Someone else didn’t want to filet their fish, so I volunteered to practice again and took apart a second fish for them. It was great to have this process demystified for me and I’m looking forward to trying this at home.

Unfortunately, we had to leave the restaurant for our fourth and final destination. I’ve got a lot of pictures so you can see the process as we were taught.

Fiola Mare

Fiola Mare at the Washington Harbor in Georgetown

Raw fish ready to cook

Simple preparation, herbs and lemon inside the fish

Our host and a cooked Branzino

Ready to filet

Removing a small section behind the head

Removing a small section by the tail

Scoring the filet behind the head

Going along the bone across the back of the fish

Finishing the back (Notice the pin bones at the side of the pan)

Separating the top filet along the center bone

Ready to remove the top sections of the filet

The top half removed

Bottom half of the filet removed

Separating the tail to pull the center bone

Removing the center bone

Moving the center spine and head off to the side

Cleaning the remaining pin bones

Plating the filets

Ready to serve!

A little something to go with the fish

Now it’s my turn – starting by the head

About half way done – the top filet is off

Cleaning the pin bones

My “Garfield” moment

Starting with the cut edge of the fish, pulling out the herbs and lemons

Plated and ready to serve

After leaving Fiola Mare, we walked to the Four Seasons Georgetown where we headed to the Bourbon Steak Restaurant. This stop is about cocktails and the staff at the lounge of the restaurant took us through two cocktails. The first one was a special cocktail they created and the second one was a standard cocktail.

They told us about their bar program and the different options they like to provide their customers. The whole staff works together to create new specialty cocktails. Such was the story of the Jido – our first cocktail. The drink started in a short glass with a hibiscus ice ball in the bottom of the glass. Next they added some flavorings with fresh lemon and almond. The spirit in this cocktail is Gin – they use Botanist brand for the gin. The key ingredient in the cocktail is Calpis. Calpis is a non-carbonated Japanese soft drink made from a base of milk. This mixed to give the drink a pleasant white liquid which accentuated the light red color of the ice ball. I normally don’t like these kinds of drinks, but I have to say that this one was very tasty!

Our host is of Japanese heritage, so he was able to tell us all about the Calpis, and also about the ritual that goes along with mixing and presenting cocktails from his background. At Bourbon Steak, they will bring the cocktail trolley table side to mix some of the drinks.

Up next was a very standard drink – the Moscow Mule. Their Moscow Mule is made from Vodka, Lime and Ginger Beer and traditionally served in a copper mug. We got into a discussion about Ginger Beer and Bourbon Steak uses Regatta Ginger Beer. This can be used anywhere Tonic or Ginger Ale might be used. The Ginger Beer was very good, but I’m just not a fan of Vodka drinks.

Along with our drinks they served us more appetizers (like we needed to eat more, but that didn’t stop us!) We had the Lobster Corn Dogs with mustard sauce. They also brought out a Tuna appetizer. The food was wonderful.

(Just a note on the pictures, I sat in a very bad spot and was often shooting into a bright window….)

Bar at Bourbon Steak

Entrance to the restaurant

Rolling cocktail cart for table side preparation

Front of the cart

Our host at the Bourbon Steak Bar

The beginnings of a “Jido”

Adding a little fresh lemon

The Gin for the Jido

The Jido – made with Calpis (Japanese beverage)


Presenting the cocktail

Starting the Moscow Mule

Finished Moscow Mule

Yet more snacks (Like we haven’t eaten enough…)

Amazing Corn Dog snack

Wow – we had a wonderful day visiting just a few of the spots in Georgetown. I would love to go back and visit everyone of these (plus many more). If you are in the DC area – and I know a lot of Huntsville folks spend a fair amount of time up there, you ought to try these.

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