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Dishes of India Sparkles with Innovative Wine Dinner

Guests enjoy second of special wine-pairing dinners.

<bt>Dishes of India sparkled last week as it hosted a special Four-Course Sparkler Dinner. Conducted by John Barth from Virginia Imports, it featured sparkling wines from Italy, France, Spain, Napa and Sonoma, coupled with special menu items from the restaurants.

“We picked out what we thought were really good ones [sparkling wines],” said Heidi Koontz, owner of Intuitive Fare, Grassroots Marketing and PR. She helped Manoj Duwady, restaurant manager, set up the menu for this dinner, as she did for the Alsatian Dinner, held earlier this year. Duwady explained each dish as it was served, while Koontz and Barth spoke about the wine selections.

“Looking at the reaction I’m getting today, I may have a special dinner every month,” Duwady said. “We are definitely having a New Year’s Eve Dinner.”

Several groups of regulars attended the Sparkler Dinner; one of those groups included Sharon and Doug Ackerson, Robert Bell and Mark See.

“We went to the other dinner and have been devotees of Dishes since it opened,” Bell said. “When it was closed, we kept sending e-mails, asking when it was going to reopen.”

“These guys are doing a great job,” See said.

And while the group likes to dine in at Dishes, the restaurant also does a lot of carry-out business.”

“We like to take it and eat by the pool in the summer,” Bell said. They each have their favorite dishes, but See said, “Half the fun is ordering something new.”

Bell liked the concept of pairing the food with sparkling wines, saying, “I think people don’t drink it [sparkling wine] enough; they think it has to be for a special occasion.”

All of them agreed that they never had a bad meal at Dishes and that it was a great pairing.

COOKING FOR THE EVENING was Chef Ramanand Bhatt, who came out during the evening to visit with guests.

“These are the more popular dishes. I like the Rogan Josh, because it’s something that you don’t find in every Indian restaurant,” said Bhatt, who likes to experiment with different dishes on the weekends. “If something is popular, we add it to the menu.”

The fresh chunks of leg of lamb, cooked in Chef’s creamy yogurt curry sauce, was the third course for the evening; it was paired with a Green Valley from Sonoma. The reception featured Proseco do Conegliano from Italy. The first course — samosa with spiced potatoes and green peas — was served with Charles de Fere Blanc de Blancs Brut; the second course — Jhigha Karahi with Basmati rice — was served with Cristalinio Brut Cava; and dessert — Indian pistachio “cheesecake” — was served with Schramsberg Cremant dessert sparking wine.

David Kaplan and his wife, Dorothy Spencer, enjoyed the evening. They had attended the Alsatian Dinner as well and thought that this most recent dinner was even better.

Kenneth and Gunnell Hamilton sat at another table, and Kenneth said, “It’s wonderful, but that’s no surprise. We just got back from a seven-week trip, and this was the first place we came to eat.”

“We love Indian food,” said Gunnell.

<ro>How To Find:

<1st> In addition to the regular menu, Dishes of India will offer a six-course dinner for New Year’s Eve, starting at about $50 per person, and will also offer a special reserve list of Alsatian wines and sparkling wines — perfect with Indian food. Call for reservations. Dishes of India is located at 1510 Belleview Blvd., and it can be reached at 703-660-6085 or via the Web site, www.dishesofindia.com.