Monday, September 25, 2000
Pierre Pollin* & Michael Maddox
LE TITI DE PARIS - Venue of Chicago Chapter’s FIFTH GRAND CRU of the Millennium
Le Titi de Paris has long been regarded as one of Chicago’s special treasures and represented the culmination of the Chicago Chapter’s Millennium wine program - hopefully unrivalled in the United States and world wide. A 35 minute drive, on a good day, from Chicago, it stands on the side of a classically bustling, suburban freeway. The soft, muted tones of the décor, and the comforting aromas emanating from some secret place were a portent of what had been planned by this well-ordered establishment. In accordance with the expectations of those members attending, Pierre and Judith Pollin together with Executive Chef Michael Maddox had prepared an ornate menu containing all manner of meats and fish displayed on exquisite china. Pierre Pollin, a proud Norman, has carefully and successfully cultivated a culinary repertoire over the twenty-five years of living and succeeding in the Chicago area. A selection of five unusual canapés - including Flying Fish caviar - opened the evening, served with a rare full-bodied Gossett Brut Champagne. After the reception we were decanted into the dining room where Maître Rôtisseur Michael Lachowicz made the toast.
The first of seven courses was then served. Consider this. A triangular mosaic of seafood terrine was presented garnished with a dainty salad and Thai vinaigrette. The soft, perfectly defined layers of crab, Ahi tuna and Norwegian salmon had been delicately put together. This paired elegantly with the 1999 Alsace Pinot Blanc Klevner which was not too high in acidity but mellow and easy-going. The seared sea scallops followed surrounded by a bright green puree of broccoli, home to pearl pasta, fava bean garnish and a carrot stamped out in the form of a lobster. The nutty eight-year-old 1993 Ridge California Chardonnay fell somewhere between a white burgundy and a Californian Chardonnay. Following an unctuous apricot sorbet came a cognac-marinated ballottine of pheasant with the more than unique watercress/pecan sauce. It was presented dramatically displaying two or three black stripes and/or blobs comprising a syrupy and rich Balsamic vinegar reduction. 1997 Sancerre Rouge made an audacious transition from white to red.
Once again, during this outstanding season, we were privileged to not only draw on Vice-Chargé de Missions/Caviste Charles Lockhart’s great reservoir of knowledge - a kingly gift to our Chapter - but to be able to drink our FIFTH Grand Cru Bordeaux in the Millennium Year at this point in the dinner. The 1983 Chateau Haut Brion/Graves. Noses delved deep into the glass finding a big red cherry bouquet from this oldest of the Bordeaux vineyards. With the tenderloin of venison it proved to be a fine marriage - the venison being not too strong. The port wine sauce with wild Myrtilles devised a tamed palate ready to accept this classic, well-structured Bordeaux - its grace and beauty reminding us of the perfect equilibrium idiosyncratic of the Bordelais. Chef/owner Pollin and his team performed yet one more dazzling somersault using experience and integrity to not only elevate the establishment’s professionalism but the care taken to heighten and maximize the majestic quality of this living chemical entity through the sauce’s artful composition.
Normandy cheeses and a lavish dessert involving a warm apple tart with a uniquely presented soufflé on top concluded the dinner.
We experienced a top quality and complex dinner - a marvelous “démarrage” to the 2000/2001 Season. The courses were intense with compatible flavors and contrasts. Pacing and service were excellent. Accolades were loud and sincere validating Pierre Pollin and Michael Maddox’s unruffled exhibition of gastronomic profundity. Did the group at Le Titi that night have an abstemious thought in their head? Hardly. They simply dug in with a twist of their well-placed utensils.