Westin River North

Holiday Dîner

Monday, December 15, 2003

Chef Rôtisseur - Jean-Pierre Henry & Maître Hôtelier Peter Simoncelli


“Stay A Moment – I Want To Stop The Clock”

by Jane Tracy – Vice-Chargée de Presse

This German, poetic quotation was used by Vice-Echanson Manfred Raiser during his wine commentary at the Chicago Chapter’s Dîner des Fêtes at the Westin River North, to reinforce the beauty of the Chateau Gruaud-Larose St. Julien 1988. Served with both the Virginian Lamb and the cheese course, we were able to taste, degust and enjoy, over two courses, this perfectly mature, slightly smoky Bordeaux full of blackcurrants and violets.

The evening started with General Manager, Maître Hôtelier Peter Simoncelli and Executive Chef/Director F & B Chef Rôtisseur Jean-Pierre Henry. We were greeted with seventeen types of seafood composed in a magnificent display of the highest quality Sushi Nigiri, Maki and Sashimi, Malpeck and Kumomoto Oysters and Olympia Oyster Tempura – the finest from Maine, Canada, Chesapeake and Japan. Maître Hôtelier Henry Von Ferstel gave a sensitive and patriotic toast, remembering the troops and our kismet. Bailli Roger Tracy welcomed guests Dame de la Chaîne Gayla Visalli and Vice-Chargé de Missions and photojournalist extraordinaire Santi Visalli from the Santa Barbara Chapter, after which the first course was served.

Hot duck consommé was served piping hot from teapots; aromas of smoked tomato and truffles wafted skyward. The Château Carbonnieux Blanc Graves 2001 made a marvelous companion with its mineral and elegant, citrus flavors. Chef’s treatment of a labor-intensive and fragile sea scallop timbale surrounded by a saffron Lobster Sauce, epitomized the classicism of Jean-Pierre Henry. This preceded squab breast of the most tender kind with a sautéed, flambéed Hudson Valley foie gras and a cabbage purse of cherries adding yet another dimension. An austere Whitford Pinot Noir Haynes Vineyard came through with silky tannins, was well-balanced with a chocolate finish. The organic, grass-fed Virginian lamb and Chipoline onions brought flavor and a perfect combination to the main dish as well as the cheese, enabling us to “stay a while” with the ’88 Larose. Learning that the dessert had taken fourteen hours of preparation, the distinctly superior Poire Pavé closed the dinner united with the famous versatility of the Château Coustet 1983 – a delightfully dryer Barsac possessing the golden/amber of age and complex aromas.

Maître Hôtelier Peter Simoncelli introduced his established team who had made painstaking preparations to ensure the success of our dinner. Chef Rôtisseur Jean-Pierre Henry brought on his culinary brigade to ebullient accolades characterizing his Chicago legacy.