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Saturday, January 24, 2015

CHAMPAGNE AND CAVIAR


CHAMPAGNE AND CAVIAR was the theme of the Chaine des Rotisseurs gathering last night at the Pacific Club in Honolulu.  Bear with me with these titles, but heading this effort were  Kathryn Nicholson, Bailli and Consul Societe, and Eric Leterc, Vice Conseiller Culinaire.  Eric is also the head chef at the Pacific Club, although no doubt there is a fancier title.  To preserve a modicum of privacy, I'll henceforth only use first names, but sitting next to me were Qi and John Michael...and mom Kiana and daughter Angel, pronounced "ahn-jell":


Note the ribbons and decorations, all representing some level of accomplishment and experience.  Many women, though, are adorned with a demure necklace, which is a lot lighter.  You can get no lower than a Chevalier with purple ribbons, and that would be me if I ever remembered to wear them.  I actually walked from 15 Craigside to the Pacific Club, only taking 20 minutes. but it was all downhill.  The Bus #4, which takes me to my center, has a stop across the street from this club, but it is kind of dark and, maybe, dangerous, so Angel dropped me off at the end in her BMW, earning three of my books.

We were served six kinds of Billecart-Salmon (BS) Champagne, going up to $106/bottle for the Blanc de Blanc Cru.  The company was founded in 1818 with the marriage of Nicholas Francois Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon.  In 1999 one of their champagnes won first place in the Champagne of the Millennium of 20th century champagnes, beating out 150 other houses.  A magnum of this Cuvee Nicholas-Francois Billecart 1959 sells for nearly $5,000.

The first course with a B-S Brut Reserve was a simple scrambled eggs and smoked trout roe:


But cuisine is not "simple" here.  That scrambled hen's egg was a gastronomical marvel, maybe the best taste of the night.  Next with a B-S Extra Brut, three types of oysters from the Pacific Northwest:  Steller Bay, Kumamoto and Fanny Bay:


This was spartanic, for the only accompaniment was a wedge of some citrus, as we were supposed to savor the delicate differences.  However, I frankly just don't like that foul fishy tang, not to speak of some guts, so I normally drown the oyster in some concoction of horse radish, catsup and hot sauce (shown to the left), not made available here.

Following, the highlight of the evening, Sturia Caviar:  Classic, Grand Chef and Oscietra


Sturia caviar comes from France.  Like wines, the terroir provides a distinctive flavor, and the color is lighter (the right spoon is the Oscietra).  Keep in mind that sturgeon have been around from 250 million years and has long outlasted the dinosaurs.  One ounce (also same as 30 grams) of Sturia Classic Oscietre costs around $80, but Amazon does not carry it. 

Also spelled Ossetra, this particular caviar is said to be second to Beluga in cost and now also comes from Israel.  Caviars from Amazon.com:
 The Beluga sturgeon is above, with the smaller Ossetra below:


Caviars are like wine or champagne.  I can't really tell which one is cheaper or more expensive.  I'd probably be perfectly satisfied with lumpfish caviar and salmon roe (both are a small fraction the cost of the standard caviar) if I had the usual garnishments (as to the right):  chopped onions and hardboiled egg, sour cream, capers and some sort of blini or cracker.  The biggest problem is, then, the high sodium content, for salt is used to preserve the roe.  To my surprise, though, my blood pressure the following morning was not high at all.

So on to our dinner, which was next served with a B-S Sous Bois, to quote, "a delicious rich and creamy fish, simply prepared with champagne and orange miso-melted leeks"


This Glacier "51" Patagonian Toothfish was spectacular, sitting on a truly yummy leek masterpiece, perhaps, again, the best item tonight.  If you've never before seen one of these, here is a Patagonian toothfish, which is found in deep waters throughout much of the world, and sometimes called a Chilean seabass.

You would have thought that was the highlight, but, no, then came surf and turf, a mini sterling silver terderoloin and King Crab Meru's cut (jumbo chunk from the largest section in each leg) with Bernaise (said to be the child of Hollandaise) sauce, plus B-S cuvee Elizabeth 2002:


The dessert, with a B-S Demi-Sec, was Dragon Fruit chardonnay, Lychee basil and Chocolate mint ice creams in a bowl of an edible crispy something:


This was also a work of art.

Another truly great Chaine experience.  Thank you Kathryn and Eric and Angel.

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Today, 15 Craigside had a beautiful Mauka rainbow:


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