Monday, September 25, 2006

Chef / Owner Jean Joho


The Symbolism of Alsace

By Chevalier Frederic S. Lane

The Chicago Chapter’s first dinner of the 2006-2007 Season was prepared by Chef/Patron J. Joho within the hallowed walls of Everest, located on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange Building.  An exquisite view of the sunset over the prairie that has become the west side of Chicago - dead flat to the horizon – shaped the setting and tone of the evening for the Champagne reception.  A Diebolt-Vallois Brut Blanc de Blancs 1976 was poured. This wine of rare elegance had held its age beautifully and was a perfect foil for the Alsatian hors d’oeuvres served in abundance.

Although Chef Joho has a distinctive Alsatian leaning and influence throughout his dishes and world class wine cellar, our first course reflected Chef’s ten year experience in Italy.  It consisted of Le Risotto Carnaroli Millésimé aux Petits Gris et Herbettes paired with a Klipfel Kastelberg Riesling 1999, en Magnum.  The organic vintage Carnaroli rice remained well formed, not too creamy even though it was gently whipped and served with an herbed escargot that resulted in a smooth delicate dish.  A taste of each wine on the palate before food was introduced brought good results, but when blended with the ingredients, flavors broke open. 

The Risotto was followed by a pumpernickel-crusted, line caught black cod topped with a thin layer of a very delicate sauerkraut and placed on a bed of pea pods; all topped with a touch of caraway and hazelnut vinaigrette.  The wine was a Kreydenweiss Clos Du Val d’Eleon 1998, en Magnum.

A magnificent Filet D’Esturgeon Sauvage Rôti à la Choucroute et Jambon du Pays proved to be one of the highlights of the evening.  Covered with thin layers of cabbage and proscuitto and placed on a bed of finely chopped chives, the unusually flaky gentle taste of the sturgeon, was beautifully matched with a soft red Alsatian Lorentz Pinot Noir d’Alsace Speciale 2003 completely enhancing this ancient prehistoric fish.  A 24 hour braised venison served with a Sauce Grand Veneur kept the standards high and complemented the full bodied, deeply colored Chateau Clinet 1998, en Magnum.
At the end of the evening, Chef Joho very graciously talked to us in detail about each dish illustrating the unique melding of the influence of Alsace with his trademark, upscale cuisine Française. Accolades were vibrant and the mood throughout the evening was one of comradeship and appreciation for this paragon of gastronomony - a fitting first dinner for our new Chicago Bailli, Jane Tracy