Merveilleux Metier - A Chef d'Oeuvre Cloistered in the Heart of Washington, D.C.April 17, 2017
By Claudette Veronica Ferron, Vice Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.
Un moment exquis dans la collection de moments precieux de la vie – An exquisite moment in life's precious collection of moments. *
Imagine standing in the heart of the commercial center of the Nation's capital - clattering rush-hour traffic, gritty concrete sidewalks, and harried, distracted pedestrians...then quietly a door opens. Now, imagine stepping through that door into the luminous opalescence of a magnificent Limjfords-oyster setting – fresh, clean – elegant, simple perfection. Pause for moment and relish the vision...Now, as you luxuriate in the captivating ambience, imagine another door opening and discovering a magnificent Akoya pearl – natural, flawlessness, lustrous and seductive, inside a pristine chamber. Finally, enter the chamber and find, framing the pearl, an open view to the hallowed ground of artisans transforming alluvial bounty into ambrosial jewels. Such was the mise en scène that beckoned members and guests of the Greater Washington D.C. Bailliage into the epicurean intimacy of Métier. More than a restaurant, Métier is an exquisite culinary experience. The singular creation of renowned Chef Eric Ziebold and his Managing Partner Célia Laurent, Métier conjures into reality a dream that could only have been conceived by gastronomic genius. Deceptively located and secluded on the lower level of the historic Eighteenth Century brick building which also houses Chef Ziebold's, Michelin starred "Kinship," Métier is a tour de force of gastronomic enchantment.
Born in Iowa, Chef Ziebold began his culinary career as a teenager, then studied under master chef's including mentor chef Matt Nichols, world renown Wolfgang Puck, Jeffrey Buben of the acclaimed Vidalia's in Washington, D.C., and Thomas Keller of the famed French Laundry in Napa Valley, California. He was also named one of the "10 most influential chefs in America" by Forbes in 2007, and received his first Michelin Star in 2016. Possessing the expert technique of virtuoso master chefs and the creativity of a 21st century visionary, Chef Ziebold proves that not only can "the student become the master," but the gift of culinary genius can serendipitously defy geography.
The evening's epicurean rapture began upon entering Métier's elegant outer salon, where members and guests of the Bailliage were wooed by soothing, plush ivory decor and furnishings, nurturing appetites to a subtle and receptive renewal. During the Champagne reception, the Chef beguiled diners with extraordinary hors d'oeuvres – jewels of sumptuous delight. First to titillate palates were voluptuous ingots of Lentil Falafel crowned with a golden drop of cumin aioli and pickled carrot, followed by seductively succulent Braised Short Ribs adorned with velvet smooth horseradish mousse, delicately nestled atop a scrumptious potato gaufrette; and virginal, seafoam fresh, Tuna Tartare caressed by a gossamer crisp Pappadum. Pairing the morsels with a provocatively expressive and bright, Henriot Champagne, Blanc de Blanc, heightened the allure of the sybaritic morsels, exciting appetites to an expectant crescendo. But even these tempting epicurean flirtations were only a hint of the culinary captivation to come, especially for some of the Bailliage's new members in attendance, Dames de la Chaîne Helen Onufrak and Leslie Sandler.
Leaving the sequestered comfort of the outer salon behind, members and guests were guided into a softly luminous dining room – the hidden pearl -- where invisible sconces cast halos of subdued light on works of fine art, beautiful antiques, and refined, contemporary tablescapes. The quintessential elegance of the intimate epicurean sanctuary was the perfect setting for Chef Ziebold's artful unveiling of his celestial celebration of the senses. Further intensifying the pleasure of the meal was the eloquent narrative about the dinner's luxurious wines, procured from the Bailliage's own cellar, provided by master sommelier, Vice Echanson Ellen Kirsh. And the pairing of each course was revealed to be an extraordinary collaboration between artists and their cherished mediums.
Moving deftly to the grande moment du expectation, the Chef continued his gastronomic indulgence with a playful, multi-faceted first course. Palates were tantalized by Takenoko Tempura resting gently on a clementine and radish salad with Haas avocado – crisped, succulent bamboo shoots, as fresh and comforting as the first tender buds of spring, wooed by a precocious and delicately layered, 2012 Loimer Riesling, Niederosterreich, (Kamptal, Austria). The second course deepened the sensual exploration for all, with a rapturous Confit of Chesapeake Bay Rockfish, reposed on a gossamer mélange of creamed leeks, Gnoochi a la Parisienne and a smoked Salmon emulsion. A dish so ethereal, it near vanished on the tongue, leaving only blissful reminiscence of a passionate interlude in a luscious froth of seafoam. Accompanied by an iconic, aromatically complex and vanilla hinted, 2013 Domaine Jean-Claude Bachelet et Fils, Puligny-Montrachet, "Les Aubes," (Burgundy, France), the course was a heavenly culinary chimera. Further seducing diners, tender niblets of handmade bread were served between courses, tiny delectable puffed clouds floating among treasured epicurean offerings. A rich Agneau au Loin, lamb cooked in "hay" with lush melted peppers, indulgent goat cheese and an herbaceous Oregano broth, elevated the decadence with its flavor-filled, earthy texture and delicious redolence. An overtly seductive, sanguine, and flirtatious 2000 Chateau Grand-Puy Lacoste, Pauillac, (Bordeaux, France), consorted with the complexities of the dish, thrilling diners. The fourth course followed, deftly continuing appetites arousal towards satiation – a superb Chicken Spice Roasted Cauliflower, enrobed in a salacious spring garlic coulis and caressed by a blissful Der Weichen Gehl fondue. This ravishingly alluring dish, could deceive many with its voluptuous meatiness and convert the most ardent carnivore. Married to an elegant, deeply flavored, blackcurrant noted, 2012 Stephane Robert, Domaine du Tunnel, Cornas (Rhone, France), the delightfully deceitful dish was a perfect punctuation to the savory conjurings of the Chef.
But the sybaritic affaire was yet to be consummated. Awaiting guests was the hedonistic creation of Pastry Chef Anne Specker. A hypnotic Valrhona Chocolate Custard Cake, provocatively splayed on a lavish Chicory mousse, was accentuated by tantalizing Aniseed bark, caressing a sinfully luscious Roasted Cashew Gelato. Consorting with a devilishly indulgent 2000 Fonseca Port, Douro Portugal, a smokey, balanced, and fulsome port with a hint of fruit, the sweet offering was sheer epicurean ecstasy.
Beyond a refined dining experience, Métier is a dangerously delicious culinary enchantment, an unabashed expression of the superb skill, gifted artistry, and utter soulfulness of its creators. The dinner was multi-faceted perfection, and guests were willing captives of Chef Ziebold's paradisiac gourmet delights. "Métier" – a singular moment to be savored.
Fortunately, for the favored Greater Washington, D.C. Bailliage, its next event does not have to walk in the shadow of Métier and Chief Ziebold. In a class of its own, the national finals of the Young Chef's Competition being held at the L'Academie de Cuisine, with all its attendant events, will be an exciting and extraordinary experience for everyone.