Monday, January 20, 2003
Executive Chef Sandro Gamba
An Aesthetic Voyeur’s Paradise
The Park Hyatt Chicago hosted the Chicago Chapter’s January dinner. A request from Executive Chef Sandro Gamba to be able to reverse the pairing process set in motion new criteria. A list of wines was submitted around which he had crafted and honed a unique menu. This three-year-old establishment opened up the possibility to all the attending members, the intellectual challenge of being able to determine the reasons behind the ingredients chosen. Where would our palates lead us in our ability to discern layers of textures and flavors juxtaposed with the characteristics of the wines? Where would the chef lead us? What would be our conclusions as to the palate balancing between the analyses of the wines and elements of each course? This menu had been shaped and cleverly nuanced with the subtlest effects so that we might savor its dynamic and outline.
A Salamander of Laurent Perrier Brut N.V. assertively opened the evening and accompanied five stunning, labor-intensive hors d’oeuvres. Chevalier Richard Groh offered a graceful toast and the paper-thin carpaccio of sturgeon and its exotic fruit and herb vinaigrette provoked debate at the outset. Tasting the 36-hour marinated sturgeon by itself, the Chateau Brondelle ’98 seemed somewhat buttery, yet once the fennel and fruit affected the palate, an understated amertume flavor emerged from both the glass and the exotic relish giving the impression of distinctly two different wines.
The earthy and austere Puligny Montrachet ’91 “Les Folatières” provided the finesse necessary to inspire a complicated turbot dish and its accompanying citrus jams and tomato confit.
Like aged Burgundy, the Huia Pinot Noir 2000 evoked a smokiness and baked cherry nose and this mouth-filling New Zealand wine accompanied a pasta from heaven that had been loosely tossed with a perfect truffle-laced béchamel.
Braised cabbage gently shored up roasted loin of antelope, and this dish’s canvas of ingredients -that included blueberries and bacon - massaged our taste buds. It also found a haven in the sweet overtones and blackcurrent nose of the Chateau Pichon-Lalande ’85, accentuating an impenetrable complexity on the palate.
The wine “ladder” concept continued and the intense and dense Warrabilla Shiraz ’97 mellowed the cheese and its dried berry and walnut conserve. The viscous, but not too sweet Chateau Coutet ’88 was successfully paired with roasted pineapple – a paper-thin dried and shaped slice of pineapple forming a Viking vessel’s sail.
Bailli Roger Tracy warmly thanked Maître Hôtelier and Park Hyatt Chicago General Manager Rick Segal for an evening of high gastronomy and sophistication where members participated in the unique realm of a Chaîne experience. Executive Chef Sandro Gamba’s personality combined with competence and aplomb reaffirmed his place as one of the leading chefs in the competitive circles of fine dining in Chicago. Maître de Table Hôtelier Emmanuel Nony, Executive Assistant Manager, F & B Director and his staffs had been instrumental in the preparations, evolving from the embryonic ideas to the burgeoning format and onto the highly sequenced and structured event in full bloom. Accolades were loud and the dinner’s chosen trove of ingredients for the tendered wines had succeeded in maintaining an alpine level throughout.