The Grandest of the Grand!April 19, 2012
By Judith Mazza, Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.
Our Chaîne induction in April is always an event to look forward to. Thanks to Vice Conseiller Culinaire Honoraire, Reinhard Danger, the Bailliage of Greater Washington was once again able to have our most formal and important event of the year at the elite Metropolitan Club where he is the General Manager. The Metropolitan Club has been a destination for many national and international leaders, including nearly every U.S. President since Abraham Lincoln, and at our induction dinner, the Club hosted the national president of the U.S. Chaîne, Bailli Délégué George Brown. Located just one-half block west of the White House grounds, the Metropolitan Club is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a District of Columbia historic landmark. The walls are covered with ornate wood paneling and the floors covered with beautiful antique carpets, all of which add to the grandeur of the occasion.
A tasting committee of Bailli/Mid-Atlantic Chambellan Provincial Paul Haar, Dame de la Chaîne Xiangnan Haar, Argentier David Burka, Vice Echanson des Etats-Unis Honoraire Tony Busalacchi, Gastronomique Steven Lustig, Vice Conseiller Culinaire Honoraire Reinhard Danger, Chef Rôtisseur Michael Redmond, Chevalier Allan Kam and Vice Chargée de Presse, Judith Mazza met in advance to pair the wine and make final adjustments to the menu. Given that this was going to be the largest induction that the Bailliage of Greater Washington ever had, and that the Induction was to be done by Bailli Délégué George Brown, everyone wanted to make sure that the menu was perfect. Chef Vincent Horville rose to the occasion and planned an innovative and interesting meal for us.
Our reception, held before the formal induction ceremony, began with smoked salmon canapés, vegetarian pot stickers served in steamer baskets, Maryland crab cakes and bacon wrapped figs stuffed with blue cheese, all enjoyed with Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut Champagne. For the induction itself, we were treated to Bollinger Champagne Brut La Grande Annee 2002. Once again the energy in the room was fantastic as new members, about to be inducted, were embraced by long-time confreres. We were quite excited to have George H. Brown, Bailli Délégué des Etats-Unis, his wife Elizabeth and Thomas E. Cassidy, Conseiller Gastronomique des Etats-Unis in attendance. The men were elegant in their tuxedos, the women resplendent in their gowns.
Once all were seated for the induction, Bailli Délégué George Brown discussed the history and rules of the Chaîne and gave the inductees the oath. One by one, all of the inductees came forward to officially join the Chaîne. We were proud to induct Chevaliers Guido Adelfio, Adrian Aquino, Patrick Carroll, Rory Coakley, Michael Edwards, Mehdi Fateh, Allan Kam, Phillip Reiman and Mohammad Soleimani. The Dames de la Chaîne who we happily inducted were Leslie Binns, Julie Carroll, Stephanie Fateh, Claudette Ferron, Xiangnan Haar, Kendall Houghton, Michelle Macasaet and Judi Newman. We then had the privilege of inducting Maître de Rotisseur Domenico Cornacchia, Maître de Rotisseur Dennis Friedman and Chef Rotisseur Mariano Ramos into our Bailliage. One might think that we were done, but there were two special awards given. Reinhard Danger became a Commandeur, and Gastronomique Steven Lustig was awarded the Bronze Star of Excellence for his contributions to the Bailliage.
We made our way to the tables which were elegantly set and prepared to enjoy a wonderful meal. We began with filet of Dover sole with salmon mousse and crayfish tails with a Cardinal sauce, accompanied by 2008 Château Lynch-Bages Blanc. As we awaited our second course, Chef Rotisseur Michael Redmond, Assistant General Manager who has been awarded the prestigious Rising Star Award for Excellence in Club Management, arose to announce that we were about to be served a surprise course! The seared sea scallops with tomato coulis and finished with organic micro greens, were accompanied by Stuhlmuller Estate Chardonnay, Alexander Valley 2010. They were luscious and perfectly cooked. The paupiette of pheasant breast filled with confit of legs, Oregon sage blue cheese, chervil jus and beech and porcini mushrooms soon followed and was beautifully paired with the 2007 Bergstrom Pinot Noir.
Our meal was gleefully interrupted by a procession of men in elaborate robes and caps! It was time for the Mondiale Induction. Bailli Délégué George Brown led the way followed by Bailli/Mid-Atlantic Chambellan Provincial Paul Haar and Gastronomique Steven Lustig. Called to raise their glasses and take the oath were Chevaliers Patrick Carroll, Michael Edwards, Dame de la Chaîne Julie Carroll and Maître Rotisseur Domenico Cornacchia. We all rose and lifted our glasses to welcome our newest members into the Société du Vin Mondiale. Bailli/Mid-Atlantic Chambellan Provincial Paul Haar, in fine form, sang and was most entertaining, contributing to the sense of joy and frivolity.
As our new Mondiale inductees returned to their seats, the next course of orange zest venison loin tartare with white truffle oil, grilled baguettes, fried capers and a twenty-five year old balsamic was served. We had the privilege of enjoying a 2005 Silvio Nardi Brunello as an accompaniment. Our last savory course of a perfectly cooked Elysian Field rack of lamb with a bacon potato galette, thyme rosemary jus and a spring medley of green beans, asparagus with morels and carrots was paired with the 1996 Château Léoville Poyferré.
There was yet to be one last surprise. The lights dimmed. We turned to see the wait staff in a procession carrying the chocolate soufflés, each plated with a brightly lit sugar sculpture, each sculpture holding a perfect white truffle. As we sipped our 1997 Fonseca Vintage Port, the room was abuzz with sounds of appreciation for the Chef Horville’s creativity and execution of this final course. The chef and his staff arrived to great applause. Although the hour was late, confreres lingered, wanting yet another memorable Chaîne induction not to come to an end.