Monday, November 20, 2000
Norbert Bomm* & Hayssam Barakat*
CHICAGO FAIRMONT’S - MAIN MAN
Chef Rôtisseur Norbert Bomm’s acute sense of structure has brought him through ten years at The Fairmont Hotel culminating in a wonderful crescendo of creativity. His unerring dedication to gastronomy once again showed itself during the Chicago Chapter’s Game Dinner on 20th November. Norbert entered the culinary world in Hamburg, Germany and from there carved an international career for himself with Hilton International who propelled him into a kaleidoscope of posts in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. Joining the Fairmont in 1991 he became the driving force within the culinary department. Bestowed with multiple honors and awards as well as the Gold medal for the Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Chef Rotisseur Norbert Bomm actively exploits his own talents for the benefit of charity and raises significant dollars doing it.
There is a powerful tendency during the reception to devour the canapés! This was no exception. A light, crisp Gruet Brut Champagne from New Mexico accompanied Peking Duck; potato pancakes with caviar; smoked salmon rillette; and smoked venison sausage wrapped in a beggar’s purse. Dinner then took center stage. The hunting season evokes the scents of Autumn, redolent of damp, fallen leaves underfoot and often grey falling curtains of rain. The realm of Entre Nous took us in and re-stoked the fires. The gentle terrine of Ring Neck pheasant was served on a gold charger plate and opened this marathon dinner. Rare squab came next which had been marinated in Mirin wine and ginger and then cold smoked over Hickory wood and roasted. It had been cleverly lain in a hearty lentil soup flecked with diced red and yellow bell peppers and fennel. A 1995 Pierre Sparr Pinot Blanc d’Alsace Reserve was served with these two first courses. This wine turned out to adjust itself on the palate giving us a dry-sweet sensation with the pheasant and transformed itself into a solid, fruity match with the squab. A 1995 Witness Tree Chardonnay Vintage Select had been chosen to complement the perfectly seasoned fillet of red mullet - flown in direct from the Mediterranean - and butter clams in a clam broth. A duck foie gras marinated in Hoisin, Oyster sauce, ginger and Asian chile sauce was the fourth dish. Its presentation was astounding inasmuch as it perched upon a hot, black rock after having been pan seared. A cabbage and ginger-pear relish accompanied it together with a 1989 Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos. A very hot glass cradled the next course - a deep-fried, breaded Quail egg nestling in a ragout of wild boar from the St. Antonio ranch in Texas. This dish gave the impression of an egg cooking in burning embers, the scent of white truffles rising up - masquerading as ashes. A 1995 Chateau du Meursault, Beaune Premier Cru drank cleverly and cleanly, giving forth cherry fruit. This dinner was turning out to be an expression of ideas rather than a mere collection of dishes for consumption and the sixth of eight courses was still to come! Again Chef Bomm came through - the Axis Venison loin had been prepared with a port wine sauce, sweetbreads and caraway cabbage. A 1978 Château Leoville Barton gave us a spicy, cedar pairing. European cheeses were served together with a scroll illustrating each cheese’s provenance and its position on the marble plate. A big-bodied, peppery 1998 Yalumba Oxford Landing Shiraz completed the pleasure. A flying saucer plate held the chocolate pavé and the 1996 Rosenblum Black Muscat held our attention. Stunning mignardises were served in a chocolate rabbit to complete the range of game foods. Norbert had emerged from the kitchen at various times during the dinner to give an enlightening food commentary and Vice-Chargé de Missions/Caviste Charles Lockhart enlarged upon his choices and impressions of the wines.
The eye had been ravished by the balanced presentation of each course. Ensembles were formed, the plate poised. There had been visual movement yet the whole was immobile. Each course was held together by its response to the premise of the game dinner theme, and indeed, the accomplishment was rich, abundant and varied. A diverse selection of bold dishes had been served, which were certainly not for the feeble of appetite, culminating in vigorous accolades for The Fairmont and its professional and competent staff.