This was a very elegant lunch put together bysome of the best chefs in the country.
Reception: This was a standup reception with Moet&Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne. There were passed hors d'oevres prepared by Daniel Humm of Campton Place in San Francisco. Unfortunately I missed all but one of these, since it was raining so hard I couldn't get down from the Bouchard Pere & Fils tasting that I was coming from. What I did have was Cornets of Frog Legs, these were little cone shaped affairs whose main ingredient seemed to be mashed potatoes with bits of the meat in them and fried. They were very tasty. What I didn't have was Foie Gras with black truffles, Andante Dairy Fromage Blanc Nicoise Olives, Marinated Bluefin Tuna "Barigoule", Croissant with Rabit Rillette, Seafood Ragout with Osetra Caviar, and Kumimoto Oysters En Gelee.
Course One: Charles Phan of The Slanted Door in San Francisco prepared a Pan Seared Maryland Black Bass with Pork Belly and Napa Cabbage. The sauce was a thin soupy tamarind fish stock and had a little bit of hotness, the pork belly was very meaty almost like loin. The flavors and textures blended together marvelously. It was served with a 2004 Cloudy Bay, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The wine had lots of fruit and a bit of spiciness. I really liked it and it was an excellent match with the Bass.
Course Two: Guenter Seeger of Seegers in Atlanta prepared a Sake Poached Loup de Mer with Truffle Daikon Salad and Yuzu Sauce. The loup de mer is like striped bass or branzino. It is a very delicate flavored fish, and Seeger handled it wonderfully. The fish sat on thin slices of daikon that apparently had been marinated in something to make them dark, but not overpowering. The yuzu sauce was an artistic bright green slah on the side that everyone thought was avocado when they first looked at it, but was citrusy.
The wine was a 2003 Nickel & Nickel, John's Creek chardonnay. The wine was very well balanced. It had not undergone malolactic fermentation and had restrained, but still noticeable oak. I liked the wine when I drank it by itself, but it overpowered Seeger's very delicate dish and was a very poor match. It was interesting having just come from a Le Montrachet tasting and hearing their philosophy of never making a chardonnay without malolactic fermentation and if you can taste the oak there is too much. I think any of the five Le Montrachets we tasted would have matched better.
Course Three: Michael Mina of San Francisco prepared Liberty Duck Breast with Cinnamon Cous Cous, Golden Raisins, and Foie Gras. The duck was very rare and very good. This dish really worked well and was really highlighted by the outstanding 2002 Pisoni Estate Pinot Noir that was served with it. A perfect match.
Course Four: Charlie Palmer of Aureole in NY and Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg among other places, prepared a duo of pork: Doubly Cooked Crispy Porke Belly and Slowly Poached Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Puree, and Endive Marmalade. This was an excellent dish. The belly was indeed very crispy and the flavorsall came together. The people next to me had been to his demonstration and told me he put a bit of banana in the sweet potato puree, but I never would have detected it if I hadn't been told. It was served with a 2002 Aquilon Granacha from Spain which was very fuity and spicy. It was a very good wine and matched well with the dish. Unfortunately only 36 bottles have been imported so far and they were all at this lunch.
Dessert: Niel Piferon of the Highlands Inn made a White Chocolate Mousse with Orange Custard and Caramel Orange Sauce. It was paired with a 2001 Dolce Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon which had a pleasant orangy finish. He started from that orange finish to create the dessert. Bittersweet white chocolate orange zest, ground pistachios and a tuile all went together well for a light refreshing dessert.