Monday, December 17, 2007
With Chef Rotisseur Matt Maroni* and General Manager Nicole Quaisser*
Chicago Chapter Holiday Dinner - Above The Clouds
The prestigious Mid-America Club, 80 floors high above the city, provides a 360-degree panoramic view of Chicago’s famous skyline and unparalleled vistas of Lake Michigan and Millennium Park. A festive venue for the Chicago Chapter’s Holiday Dinner and a haven from frigid temperatures, high winds and horizontal snow. The club General Manager Maître Hôtelier Nicole Quaisser graciously hosted our evening and introduced her new Executive Chef, Chef Rôtisseur Matt Maroni, originally a member of the Houston Bailliage and newcomer to our city. Sharing the evening with us were Bailli Provincial Southwest Mark Bermann and Bailli Honoraire de Houston Mary Helen Bermann both of whom had traveled from the sultry climbes of Texas to brave the prairie state of Illinois.
Our holiday affair started with butler-passed hors d’oeuvres and a 1992 Mailly Grand Cru Champagne, Grande Montagne de Reims reflecting big Chardonnay notes. This aristocratic launch to the evening set the tone as a seven-course menu was carefully prepared and served. Three unique flavors defined the Cauliflower Purée and its velvety texture, creamy full cheese aspect and sweet/sour cherry froth making the opening dish a statement as to what was ahead. A big creamy white 1995 Chappellet Chardonnay accompanied a Tasmanian steelhead trout. This was a successful pairing allowing the pancetta to show off its accents to the fish whilst handling the high oil content of its pink flesh.
Chevalier Todd Fisher was the narrateur des vins for the evening and successfully combined analysis, history and opinion all bound together with a little whimsy. The pièce de resistance to accompany duck prepared three different ways was a 1985 Château Pichon-Lalande which proved to be at the top of its class. It is no co-incidence that Vice-Conseiller Culinaire David Danielson led us through the accompanying food commentary with aplomb and culinary knowledge. These commentaries hold together a pertinent part of a Chicago Chaine evening and portray a sense of meaning and value. This consequently reinforces the importance of our professional members and the eagerness of all present to learn a little more each time about the culinary arts.
Maitre Hotelier Nicole Quaisser introduced her team; Bailli Provincial Mark Bermann spoke to Chef Maroni and complimented accomplishments. Always a sure sign of a successful evening was its inability to actually end. Mignardises and digéstifs continued to be enjoyed extending the evening until the stroke of midnight.