Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Executive Chef Chris Nugent and General Manager Mary Beth Liccione
Great Wines and Elegant, Refined Cuisine at Les Nomades
It’s always a special treat to return to Les Nomades, where owner Mary Beth Liccioni welcomed members of the Chicago Bailliage on February 19 to a blissfully happy marriage of great dishes created by Executive Chef Chris Nugent with outstanding vintages from our wine cellar. Most of us have treasured memories of meals at Les Nomades over the years, so the elegance of this dinner came as no surprise.
The tantalizing hors d’oeuvres included escargots in Pernod garlic butter, gougères with truffle mousse, rich cauliflower soup, bacon and onion tarts, and more. Their pleasing variety of textures and flavors were crisply matched with our Champagne, Jacquart Blanc de Blancs 1998.
The seated dinner began with a toast to the guests led by Vice-Chargée de Missions Jeanne Cahill. A large seared sea scallop with leek confit in a fennel emulsion soon appeared paired with Pinot Gris, Lucien Albrecht ‘Cuvée Cecile’ Alsace 2001, its fruitiness matching well with the sweetness of the scallop. Next a refined dish of sea bass with a cauliflower mousseline and earthy White Alba mushrooms was paired with Chardonnay, Landmark Vineyard Damaris Reserve 1996. Its oak and smokiness balanced nicely the distinctive langoustine flavors in the sea bass presentation.
Three preparations of duck—-seared breast, an onion stuffed with duck confit, and duck liver—-were accompanied by parsnip purée and Savoy cabbage and brought forth the first red wine of the evening, Clos Vougeot, Jacques Prieur Grand Cru 1995. Vice-Échanson/Caviste Simeon Y. Roldan gave the wine commentary and noted the eucalyptus on the nose of this splendid wine. Vice-Conseiller Culinaire David Danielson discussed the food with enthusiastic appreciation.
An herb-crusted veal tenderloin with crispy sweetbread, quinoa, and sauce Périgueux was paired with Château Lafite-Rothschild Pauillac 1982. “Didn’t Robert Parker give it 100 points?” someone asked. “Could it be the best of the century?” We gently stopped and acknowledged the wisdom of those who had purchased these cellared wines over 20 years ago and marveled at the fact that single bottles are now going at auction for up to $3000. Words failed us as we swirled, sipped and savored.
The cheese course starred a Fourme de Montbrison soufflé, washed down with Zinfandel, Rosenblum Harris Kratka Vineyard, Alexander Valley 2001. Quince fruit soup with pear sorbet refreshed our palates for the frangipane almond tart with apricots, vanilla caramel sauce and praline ice cream. The Sauternes, Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey 1990 complemented it to perfection. Meanwhile, “Mon” Roldan regaled us with the tale that the owner of the original vineyard that produces this wine was guillotined during the French Revolution. We lost not our heads but our hearts to the splendid dishes and wines we so thoroughly enjoyed at Les Nomades.