A Winter Evening's Black Tie Escape to Sunny Southwestern France at Alain Ducasse's AdourJanuary 27, 2010
By Paul S. Haar, Bailli of the Bailliage of Greater Washington, D. C.
Just close your eyes and let your senses carry you to the banks of the romantic Adour River in Southwestern France, the birthplace of 3-star Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse. That is exactly what the lucky members of the Washington, D.C. Bailliage experienced when they were transported gastronomically to the culinary pleasures of France by Executive Chef Julien Jouhannaud (who previously tantalized gourmets at both Alain Ducasse’s Louis XV Restaurant in Monaco and the Harbor Hotel in Singapore). Well-loved and admired Sommelier Ramon Narvaez expertly married the exquisite dishes with extraordinary wines from the cellar of the Washington, D.C. Bailliage. Bravo on Ramon’s beautiful new baby boy!
And what a meal it was! While we mingled adorned in black tie and decorations in the ornate lobby of the elegant landmark St. Regis Hotel, we were treated to delicious passed hors d’oeuvres of gougeres, pissaladiere and tuna tartare with mango chutney, complemented with Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Champagne. We embraced long-time members Chevalier Carl and Nancy Gewirz, Dame de la Chaîne Mi Hillefors, Dame de la Chaîne Ruth Morelli, Chevalier Gene and Joan Shugoll, Chevalier Richard and Judith Sugarman and Dame de la Chaîne Roz Wolf, and welcomed several guests and potential new members.
The lustrous Restaurant Director Marianna Alfa then graciously escorted us to the lovely dining room where Chef Jouhannaud playfully teased our palates with a delightful amuse bouche of butternut squash cappuccino, followed by a divine daurade ceviche with espelette, corn emulsion and popcorn, all perfectly paired with a Clos Floridene Graves 2003. The next course was an inspired pan seared John Dory “Matelote” sauce with pearl onion and braised pork belly paired with a sumptuous Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2007. Our culinary voyage to southwestern France continued with a seared foie gras with apples and grapes paired with a Rene Mure Gewirtztraminer Alsace 2006. This delicacy was followed by a Colorado lamb rack with farro and piquillos, married with a Kay Bothers Amery Vineyard Shiraz Hillside McLaren Vale 2003.
The evening’s idyllic culinary sojourn continued with a rousing “Happy Birthday” to Shields Hood, the honored guest of Professionnel du Vin Heidi McLain, as pastry chef Fabrice Bendano treated us to an amazing dessert of a contrast of raspberry and chocolate with raspberry sauce paired with two amazing ports, a Taylor Fladgate Porto LBV 2001 and Fonseca Porto LBV 2003. The evening concluded with the presentation of a coveted Chaîne pewter plate by Bailli Paul S. Haar to Chef Jouhannaud and applause to his wonderful team of culinary professionals.
Special kudos go the discerning palates of our wine committee who selected the wines and maintain the superb cellar of the Washington, D.C. Bailliage, including Vice Echanson Ellen Kirsch, Vice Conseiller Gastronomique Steve Lustigand Professionnel du Vin Heidi McLain. Heartfelt thanks also go to our tasting dinner team which included Chargée de Missions Carol Assman, Vice Chancelier-Argentier David Burka, Vice Conseiller Culinaire Francois Dionot, Chevalier T.J. Jubeir, and Bailli Honoraire Len DePas.