Monday, February 26, 2007
Chef Rotisseur Kevin Hickey* - Executive Chef
A Striking Palette of Tastes, Textures, and Aromas
The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago is consistently named among the great hotels in the world; a Chaîne dinner in Seasons Restaurant is always an extraordinary evening. The setting is opulent, yet comfortable. Diners, cosseted in luxury, overlook the hustle and bustle of North Michigan Avenue at Delaware – so near and yet so far. Such was the setting on Monday, February 26, 2007, when members of the Chicago Chapter were treated to a memorable evening.
Vice Chargé de Missions Honoraire Commandeur Hans Willimann, the hotel’s General Manager, most ably led his team, ensuring that all details, from the elegant setting to the beautiful tables to the impeccable service, matched the sophisticated and luxurious menu prepared by the Executive Chef, Chef Rôtisseur Kevin Hickey. Chef Hickey cultivates a modern American style, using seasonal ingredients, artisan produce, and boutique cheeses. Each dish is beautifully composed: colors, textures, shapes, flavors, and aromas. After sipping Champagne Moët et Chandon Millésime Blanc Brut 1998 with the passed hors d’oeuvres, we moved into the beautifully decorated restaurant where Vice-Chargé de Missions James Greenberger proposed the toast, welcoming our guests.
Mosaic of Lobster was cured with three citrus fruits: Yuzu juice, Blood orange zest, and Kaffir lime leaves, the citrus opening the palate for this dish, as well as those to come. The plate was completed with a sorbet of avocado, cucumber, cilantro and lime, atop a salad of julienned fresh hearts of palm. A Sauvignon Blanc from Australia, Sauvignon Blanc Babich Marlborough 2006 was paired with the lobster.
Consommé was then served, covered with a pastry crust, topped with several generous slices of French black truffles. As we broke through the crust, the intoxicating aroma of the fowl-based consommé, enhanced by paper-thin slices of braised lamb’s tongue and black truffles, enveloped the table. Chassagne-Montrachet Remoissenet 1994 accompanied the consommé.
Pork belly, braised with ham hocks, soy, licorice, and star anise, was served with parsnips, which had been caramelized and cooked in cream; The dish was garnished with micro celery, batons of apple, and tiny apple chips. The accompanying Pinot Noir, Lucia (Gary’s Vineyard) Santa Lucia Highlands 2004 matches the fruity richness & licorice of the pork belly braising liquid included star anise & licorice.
Bison tenderloin from Wooden Nickel Farm, covered in lavender, rosemary and thyme, was seared and served perfectly medium rare. Truffle-studded cannelloni were stuffed with poached sweetbreads and bison short ribs braised in red wine and veal stock. Ultra-baby carrots, cooked ‘sous vide’ were placed atop puréed carrots. Glistening winterberries completed the plate. Very few Bordeaux chateaux produce wines as consistently great as those of Chateau Margaux; they are seldom surpassed for their delicacy and elegance. The doubly- decanted Château Margaux 1986, taken from our Chapter’s cellar, was massive, the tannins and flavors of black currants and loganberries beautifully complementing the winterberry finish of the reduced braising liquid.
The trio of perfect cheeses was paired with a trio of very special wines. Though most of us mixed and matched the cheeses and wines, a consensus of favorites emerged. A panna cotta made with Selles-Sur-Cher, a slightly sweet sour Loire Valley goat cheese was best matched with the fresh quince, orange peel, pink grapefruit flavors of Savennières, Domaine des Baumard Loire 2002. The Vosne-Romanée Domaine des Perdrix 1996, with its earthy aromas of leather, mushrooms, and ripe, meaty spice, was complemented with theVacherin, combined with cream to create a slightly salty mousse. Last on the plate and in the glass was truly not least!! Soufflé of Carles Roquefort was best accompanied by the legendary Sauternes, Château d’Yquem 1986. Many claim that the 1986 d’Yquem, with its unctuous, powerful, concentrated flavor, is their greatest wine since 1937.
Vice-Échanson/Caviste Simeon ‘Mon’ Roldan, who chose the wines for the evening, gave us salient information on the wines and, particularly, why each wine was chosen for each course. Vice-Conseiller Culinaire David Danielson provided us with ‘back of the house’ details on the intricate and involved preparation of each course.
The dinner was truly the expression of artists - the setting, the chef and his staff, and the service staff – all in synchrony to provide the Chicago with a memorable evening.