One of the things I love most about life is hearing other peoples’ stories. As the saying goes, everybody has one—and I firmly believe that if you listen to anyone for a while, you will hear some great story about his or her interests, family, friends, talents or jobs—past or present.
So it is with one of my closest friends and neighbors. In one of her “past lives”, she worked as s secretary to the Food and Beverage Director of the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., a man named Dominique D’Ermo. Originally a pastry chef, Dominique became a very well known restaurateur in Washington. His early story was of a young man from Lyon who joins the French underground as a teenager, is arrested by the Germans and escapes execution because he was only 17 years old.
My friend’s memories of Dominique are warm. In Paris, where she and her husband lived for a few years, he came to visit one summer and took them to dinner—magically managing to secure a wintry cassoulet—a favorite of her husband’s. That same trip he gave them a copy of his cookbook “Dominique’s, “More than 200 recipes from Dominique’s, the most famous French restaurant in Washington, DC and Miami Beach.” Today’s recipe is from the book.
I remember Dominique’s well. For a number of years in the ‘70s and 80s, his spot was one of Washington’s see-and-be-seen restaurants—one of those places where, politicians, celebrities and the occasional president came to eat and left autographed photos. These photographs were displayed in the restaurant among some very interesting hunting trophies —stuffed elk, jackrabbit, boar, fish along with lots of other interesting things hanging on the walls. On the menu, I recall that in addition to traditional French bistro fare, you could order rattlesnake, ostrich and other items considered quite exotic at the time.
The place had an “auberge-y” look to it—warm wood paneling inside and a large awning outside with just the name “Dominique’s visible from blocks away. And every Bastille Day, Dominique’s would host a waiter’s race on Pennsylvania Avenue right in front of the restaurant—a fun and funny thing to do in the heat of a Washington summer– I spent several July lunch hours cheering on the Dominique waiters as they speed-walked/tottered down the street balancing their trays.
Dominique’s closed in the early ‘90s, and he passed away some years ago. My friend remembers him fondly and was kind enough to pass on his recipe for lime pound cake—delicious! Keep it plain and serve it sliced with a cup of tea, or topped with berries and freshly whipped cream, or pan-toasted for breakfast—or glazed, like I’ve shown it here—all dressed up for a party.
Dominique’s Lime Pound Cake
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups lightly salted butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 heaping teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 heaping teaspoon finely grated orange zest
7 eggs, separated
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Lightly grease and flour a 10-cup fluted bundt pan or loaf pan. Sift together the flour, baking soda and 1-1/4 cups of the sugar. In a separate bowl cream the butter (I used a hand mixer). Blend the flour mixture into the butter just until combined. Add the lime juice, vanilla and lime and orange zest and stir to combine. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry, and gradually add the remaining 1 cup of sugar. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter then pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for one hour or until the cake tests done (I started to check at 45 minutes and it was done in 55 minutes). Let the cake cool for 10 minutes. Remove it from pan and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar or glaze if you like. This cake is better on the second or third day.
2-3 tablespoons Key lime juice
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Place the sugar in a bowl and add the lime juice 1 tablespoon at a time until it is pourable, but slightly thick. Spoon it over the warm cake.