Events

Fine Art | Food | Wine with Friends

Friday, October 16, 2015 –

Reception/Dinner6:30 pm/7:15 pm
Event Price$325.00 per person, all-inclusive
Dress CodeBlack tie with decorations for members
ParkingLimited street parking.
Limo, Taxi, Uber or other public transportation strongly suggested.
 

2474 North Lakeview Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60613

at the Home of Deb & John Gross, Vice-Conseiller Gastronomique Honoraire and Chevalier, respectively

Review

Fine Art with Chaîne Friends Gala Dinner

BY JOHN BLASER, CHEVALIER

On October 16, 2015, 50 members and guests of the Chicago Chaîne enjoyed an evening of fine food, fine wine and fine art at the home of Vice-Conseiller Gastronomique Honoraire Deb Gross and Chevalier John Gross. It was the first time the Chicago Chaîne had held a formal dinner event in a member’s residence – and what a residence!

Deb and John’s home across from Chicago’s Lincoln Park and overlooking Lake Michigan displays one of the largest private collections of studio glass art. The Grosses started collecting this art form about 18 years ago after meeting Dale Chihuly, an artist whose name has become synonymous with the American studio glass art movement and whom they regard as a personal friend.

Offering the traditional Chaîne toast, John introduced the theme of balance and contrast that recurred throughout the evening. “Thinking about this event, I came up with two words: lunacy and genius. Those two words resonated,” John said. “I lift a glass to the beautiful lunacy of our officers and all that they do: the creativity, the enthusiasm, the challenges they overcome and the whimsy. The genius part I reserve for the rest of us: the genius of coming to these world-class events.”

The evening began with champagne and caviar in the gallery-like upper floors. Guests admired the glass art works that adorned every wall as well as the newly installed and spectacular Chihuly chandelier suspended from the ceiling. Some even enjoyed the chilly fall night on the beautiful rooftop terrace. Guests then moved downstairs to the dining area, surrounding a stunning saltwater fish tank, where they enjoyed a five-course meal complete with perfect wine pairings.

Chef James Kozak crafted the menu in collaboration with Deb and supported by a handpicked team. “He and I created this menu together to give you the French experience – the depth of history that represents the 50 years of the Chaîne,” Deb told her guests.

“Have fun, enjoy the art – it’s as much fun as everything else,” added Deb, “because the food is art, but so is the glass.”

Food and Wine Notes

Welcome and Cheers! Tonight’s event breaks new ground for Chaîne Chicago – it’s the first time we are holding a formal dinner event in a member’s residence. For that, we express our heartfelt thanks to John and Deb Gross for opening their beautiful home to us. Appropriately, we titled this event as “Fine Art with Chaîne Friends” as we enjoy a sumptuous meal amidst their beautiful art pieces. Our menu was crafted by Chef James Kozak in collaboration with our hostess Deb, who actually initiated some of the courses.

The Bookends
We start this very special evening with one of the most delicate and refined Rosés in our cellar, NV Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Rosé. This is a 70-23% blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, both vinified white, plus 7% Pinot Noir Rouge, lending it its pinkish color. All fruits were estate-grown and farmed without pesticides from Bouzy, on the south-facing slopes of the Mountain of Reims. Light in color, its nose evokes of strawberry, rose, smoke, citrus, brioche and minerals. On the palate, it is dry with firm acidity and vibrant flavors of red berries, floral and mineral notes. This should go well with our generous caviar service and a variety of passed canapés sourced from the ocean, land and air.

To end the evening, Chef Kozak is serving as a cheese and dessert plate with three components. The first is a raw cow’s-milk cheese from the Swiss Jura Mountains originally known as Bellelay (after the abbey where it was first made eight centuries ago). It is semi-hard and dense in texture with intense nutty flavors and hints of sweetness. It is thinly shaved into ruffled petals using a device called “girolle.” Shaving is done in layers from the top, exposing a bald spot, hence earning its contemporary name “Tête de Moine” (“Monk’s Head”). The second is a cheese from Piemonte. La Tur is an equal blend of cow, goat and sheep milk. Barely ripened, it has a bloomy rind and soft, moist consistency. It tastes of buttery richness (from the cow milk), nutty earthiness (from the sheep milk) and a lactic tang (from the goat milk). The last part of the trilogy is a Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart sprinkled with Malbec salt and cocoa nibs. Linking these three components are pitted Michigan cherries and a gastrique made from tart cherries, red wine, white port and spices. Pairing this course is a Fonseca 20-Year Old Tawny Port. This wine was made from reserves of very concentrated vintage quality red ports aged in wooden casks. It went through periodic racking contributing to the oxidation process whereby the wine’s predominantly fruity qualities gradually transforms into nutty characteristics. It is amber in color and features complex notes of mature dried fruits, almond, cinnamon, wood, butterscotch, chocolate and coffee. It has a powerful, lingering finish.

In Between
Once seated, our first course is Raspberry Point Oyster en Gelée. These oysters were raised in the chilly north shore of PEI National Park in off-bottom cages, giving them a lighter salty flavor and nicely manicured shells. They take about six years to reach market size, 3 to 3½ inches. Muscadet is a classic oyster match. Our selection is the 2006 Jo Landron Muscadet Sevre et Maine Cuvée le Fief du Breil. This is the top cuvee of one of the most talented and iconoclastic winemakers in Loire Valley. The grapes were sourced from a hillside on orthogneiss with clay and quantities of small quartz stones imparting the wine its flinty and metallic tones. It is brimming with hints of ripe melon, smoke and minerals with an outstanding balance and acidity. It has the structure to age and develop into a wine of great complexity. We opened this wine two hours before service.

Our next wine is the 2006 Chablis, Domaine William Fevre Grand Cru “Les Clos” chosen to pair with our dish of Central Coast Abalone. Endowed with incredible intensity, structure and power, this wine personifies what a great grand cru Chablis ought to be. Pale hay with green tinge in color, its nose conjures layers of ripe pineapple, citrus, mint, toast, crushed stones, chalky minerals, vanilla, wood notes and spices. On the palate, it is dense but not heavy, crisp and rich, big flavors and lingering finish. This wine should go well with the delicate taste of the abalone and complement the richness of the olive oil poached fennel. Our snails (abalones are not bivalves!) were raised in sustainable aquaculture in Central California.

Our pasta, Butternut Squash Agnolotti, were hand-made by no less than our host, Deb Gross, ably assisted by Lainie Freer. The filling consisted of butternut squash, mixed with butter and a touch of blood orange and ginger. It is served bathed in a silky smooth foie gras emulsion. To provide a complementary frame to this rich course, we cracked our last six bottles of 1996 Chevalier Montrachet, Domaine Jacques Prieur Grand Cru, one of the four justly famous Grand Cru Chardonnay vineyards in Puligny-Montrachet appellation in Burgundy. True to form, this is a superb wine. It is mature without any hint of premox. Golden yellow in color. It exudes aromas of butter, honey, lemon, vanilla, honeysuckle, oak and underlying notes of minerals. On the palate it is medium to full bodied, rich and fat, but not flabby complemented by a balanced minerality and acidity. It is a joy to sip. It is sensuously elegant.

Now we switch to our first red wine of the evening, a 2006 Mazoyeres Chambertin Grand Cru from the superb estate of Taupenot-Merme to pair with our Butter Poached Turbot. “Red wine with fish?” you may asked like James Bond in From Russia with Love. Oh, yes, we’re past those rules now, James! While the Turbot is a delicate white-fleshed fish, it is poached in butter and served with brown, “meaty” grains and a rich seafood stew with saffron - flavors that we feel call for an elegant earthy Pinot Noir. Our Mazoyeres came from vines that averaged 60+ years old. It has a seductive nose of plum, dark cherries, caramel and wet forest floor. On the palate, it is rich and full-bodied. Still rather young, it is drinking beautifully now. This is a rare treat.

Concord Grape Sorbet. Suffice it to state that grapes for this palate cleanser came from the vines growing at our hosts’ lakeside property in Lake Geneva, WI. The sorbet is made with olive oil, lemon zest and Pedro Jimenez.

For our big red, our host John Gross allowed us to snag this one from his cellar - 1986 Château Montrose to pair with the Blanquette de Veau. Château Montrose, one of the best producers in Bordeaux, is known for its powerful, full-bodied, thickly-textured masculine wines. They are austere, firm, tannic and opaque when young, requiring decades to evolve. With time, the big and dense black fruit flavors becomes opulent and velvety and sweet and well integrated tannins and aromas and flavors of fruit, herbs, tobacco, spice, earth, oak and undertones of barnyard smell, come to the fore. Our 1986 is no exception. It is fully mature and drinking beautifully. A quintessential St.Estèphe claret. This will be sublime with the veal.

 

Invitation

Dear Confrères and Consœurs,
You are cordially invited to a gala evening of classical French cuisine amidst one of the largest private collections of studio glass art housed in contemporary architecture.  As you sip your champagne, you can leisurely feast your eyes on fine pieces of studio glass art by such notable artists as Dale Chihuly, recognized as the pioneer of the art movement.

Deb and John are two of Chicago’s most noted and avid collectors of studio glass art.  They started collecting about 18 years ago when they first met Dale Chihuly, whom they have come to regard as a personal friend.  On an interview published by Crain’s Chicago on November 7, 2014, the couple described their passion for the art as “. . . we are driven by desire. . . (we) share a love for the art.”

The Executive Chef for the evening will be James Kozak, supported by a team, handpicked especially for this very special event.  Chef, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, honed his skills in the kitchens of Charlie Trotter becoming Team Leader and Chef de Cuisine at Charlie Trotter’s and Trotter’s to Go.  Chef has worked with and for the Gross family for many years.  He has designed, produced, managed and executed many spectacular events for Deb and John in their home and beyond.  He was a featured Chef at the One Million Degrees event in May of this year at Morgan Manufacturing.

The evening will begin, weather permitting, with champagne on the beautiful rooftop terrace.  If the evening has a slight chill, there is a lovely outdoor fireplace to gather around.  We will then head downstairs to the dining area, which surrounds a stunning saltwater fish tank that adds to the ambience.  Chef and his team have been working closely with Deb, John and the Chaîne Officers to prepare a wonderful 5-course meal complete with perfect wine pairings.  Seating will be strictly limited to 50.  Please register early.

This will be an evening and feast worthy of launching our 50th anniversary season! We hope you will join us!

Gastronomically,

Mon Y. Roldan
Bailli de Chicago