The dinners and luncheons are sit down affairs with excellent service. We try to stagger our events to give us some time to recover.
The event started off with a champagne reception. They were pouring Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin non-vintage brut from magnums. It was a very good champagne, crisp and yeasty with tiny bubbles that seemed too last forever (compliments to the glass polishers as well as the champagne).
The first course was prepared by ERIC RIPERT of LE BERNADIN in New York. It was Steamed Halibut in an Orange-Ginger Scented Dashi Broth with a Maitake, Oyster Mushroom Medley. The halibut was fresh and tasty and steamed just right. The dish was light, and made a good first course, but it was not a big hit at our table. One person described it as "Spa Food". First there wasn't any sign of orange or ginger that any of us could detect. The flavor of the broth was all from the dashi and smokiness of the mushrooms.
The Halibut was paired with a 2001 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc. This wine is a blend of 44%roussanne, 22% viognier, 18% grenache blanc, and 16% marsanne. It was a crisp, clean wine, and well crafted, but it didn't really excite me the way the red did.
The secon course was prepared by MARC ORFALY of PIGALLE in Boston, MA. This was Pan Fried Maine Lobster in a Thai Curry Broth, Black Rice Cake and Foie Gras Melt. The lobster was a whole claw out of the shell in a very tasty not too spicy sauce. The foie gras added anice complexity to the flavors and evrything blended well. The rice cake just supplied visual and textural variation.
The wine for this course was a 1997 Maison Louis Jadot, Volnay, " Clos de la Barre". It was marvelous. The nose was what you want from a fine Burgundy and the wine has really come together and was a pleasure to drink. It also went very well with the Lobster.
The third course was prepared by HIRO SONE of TERRA in St. Helena, CA. This was Confit of Pork Belly with Connie's Roasted Forest Mushrooms in a Red Wine Reduction. Pork bellies seem to be all the rage these days, and I've tried them in a number of first class restaurants. I've only found two that I thought were really very good. This was the second. It was a very rich and flavorful dish with all the flavors blended very well. I've eaten at Terra once, and had Sone's offerings on opening night before this. He has hit a home run on every occassion.
The wine paired with this course was a 1999 Lail Meritage "J. Daniel Cuvee" Napa V. It was a shame to serve this wine now. It is a very good wine, and I would have loved to have it at a tasting and to cellar it for a while. It would probably be ready to go with this meal in about five years. It was very tannic and puckery and just way too young to be served at a meal like this.
Dessert was prepared by FLORIAN BELLANGER of FAUCHON in New York. It was Jasmine Sabayon on a Mandarin Tart with Indian Mango Sorbet, Citrus Sauce and Black Tea "Cremaux". It was very good. The Sabayon on the tart gave a kind of sweet and sour soft and crunchy yin-yang effect. The sorbet was wonderful and the cremaux really had a good tea flavor.
This was paired with a 1997 Weingut Alois Kracher, Muskat Ottonel "Beerenauslese " #1 from Austria. This wine was heaven in a glass. It had a perfect acid sweetness balance and a lovely complex flavor.