I attended the Degustibus cooking class at Macy's taught by Didier Elena, the executive chef at ADNY.
It was a good deal at $85/person, taking into account the participants' sampling of the below menu items and the receipt of instruciton on the various dishes' preparation.
1. Sea scallops, clear osetra caviar, watercress veloute, with Taittinger Brut. Pour on Taittinger was generous, with refills. Kobrandt representative described the wines at a later stage of the class.
Scallops are diced, with oscetra and quenelle of lemon cream, which is predicated on sour cream. Saucing is in ring surrounding circular mound of diced scallops. Sauce is quite buttery tasting. Average dish, because I am very demanding when it comes to scallops.
Rim or beard of scallops can be base for sauce. Butter, shallots, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, Vin Jaune (acidity and sugar, per Elena), chicken stock, watercress puree or watercress, etc go into the sauce.
Scallops in shell come from Maine. Elena said one of the ADNY suppliers is Wild Edibles. Didier buys caviar largely from Caviar Russe.
2. Grilled duck foie gras, apples and grapes sauce, still with the Taittinger Brut (not ideal, but sufficient)
Grilled foie that was overcooked in the case of the piece that I received. Oven in cocotte was manner of prep. Sauce is based on foie, green apples, white chasselas grapes, duck jus, port wine, butter, etc Garnish is cooked green apples and grapes.
Elena uses Palmix foie from Quebec that d'Artagnan also carries. According to Elena, this Quebec foie is more yellow in color, and also somewhat more sugary. He likes to cook big lobes.
3. Foie gras-black truffle ravioli, with Domaine de la Chapelle aux Loups, Saint Veran, Jadot.
This dish is useful, Elena describes, because one can use less than ideal parts of the foie. Goose was first foie gras in France and originates in Alsace, it is typically bigger, per Elena.
The raviolo is average-minus. The pasta portion of the ravioli is nothing special, and the saucing is limp. Saucing is based on chicken bouillon butter, foie grease, truffle jus, but seems a bit thin in the mouth. Appropriate sensation of diced black truffles.
Saint Veran (2000) is too neutral. It is too bland, which is less common a critique I have of dishes and wine in general.
Elena shaved thin pieces of a truffle, added olive oil, and passed the slices to class participants. I had a slice -- it was appropriate.
4. Sturgeon cooked "au plat", grapefruit, avocado, Esplette pepper, reduction of aged Balsamic vinegar
The fish was somewhat overcooked for my tastes, but the wedge of grapefruit and the little bit of avocado were appropriate as accompaniments. Saucing was a bit dark, with balsamic, olive oil and Piment d'Esplette.
5. Farm raised chicken a l'ancienne in a truffle consomme
It's almost like a warm ballotine, but it's less manipulated than a ballotine. Moist, flavorful chicken. Very nice by North American standards. By a wide margin, the best dish of the meal.
This chicken is stuffed with chicken heart, liver, foie, cepes, shallots, chicken stock, some bread dipped in milk, egg yolks, chervil, black truffe. Chicken is gentle and nice. Saucing is very nicely communicative of black truffle, althoguh consistency is surprisingly thin. The black truffle taste lingers in my mouth for an attractively long time. It is a very good chicken dish by North American standards.
The cooking is based on wrapping the stuffed chicken in plastic wrap, and then immsersing it in boiling liquid.
Elena notes he cooks legs 10 minutes more than rest of the chicken.
The paired wine is a Beaune red from Jadot, 1999.
Overall, Elena was not cooking at ADNY and his cuisine was acceptable under the circumstances of a class with several dozen participants. The chicken was nice, and sort of saved the meal for me.
According to Elena, he met Ducasse about 13 years ago, in Monaco and started working at Louis XV. Before meeting Ducasse, he has aspired to become an MD.
As to sourcing of white truffles, Elena said D'Artagnan.
Elena has 18 in kitchen and 5 in pastry. ADNY has 22 tables. Elena said that truffles are expensive this year.
He has no preference as to the sourcing within France of sea salt (that's surprising).
He likes pairing caviar with cauliflower, presumaby puree or veloute.
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