A Holiday Gala in the Splendor of the Season at the World Renowned Willard Inter-Continental HotelDecember 9, 2015
By Claudette Veronica Ferron, Vice Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.
“Deck the halls with boughs of holly fa, fa la la la la la la la! 'Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la la la la! Don we now our gay apparel, Fa la la la la la la la!...”
In their quintessential annual culinary event, 75 members and guests of the Greater Washington, D.C. Bailliage celebrated their black tie holiday gala on December 9th, in regal splendor at the historic Willard Inter-Continental Hotel. One of the most kingly venues in the heart of the nation’s capital, it frequently hosts international dignitaries and this year was no exception, as the Bailliage shared the venue with an international head of state. But this year it was the Bailliage that was bestowed with the singular privilege of holding their holiday celebration in the coveted opulence of the dazzling Crystal Room. In the spirit of the season, all Chaîne members received gifts of silver wine bottle coasters, engraved with the Chaîne seal.
With Executive Chef, Chef Rotisseur Serge Devesa, Executive Pastry Chef Jason Deville, Regional Manager for the Intercontinental Hotels, Maitre de Table Restauranteur Patrick Birchall and Catering Manager Steele Stevenson, expertly overseeing the elegant soirée, Bailliage members and guests reveled in an epicurean fantasy as they feasted during the year-end festivities.
In the luminous setting of the Crystal Room, with the air filled with joyous music, the thrilling holiday dinner created by Chef Devesa was the embodiment of a mirthful celebratory feast. As exquisite and unique as each embellishment adorning the spectacular room, each plate was a stunning jeweled ornament and each course a flawless performance in a holiday spectacular.
Starting with a convivial reception, guests mingled cheerfully as they were photographed professionally in front of a dazzling Christmas tree, and enjoyed exquisite butler passed hors d’oeuvres. Sumptuous, petit house smoked salmon clubs on pumpernickel with a micro salad spread, led the delicious gourmet parade, and followed by a marvelous mini crispy beef tartare ball with a grainy mustard sauce. A delectable deviled egg mousse with paprika, American caviar on toasted bread, and a scrumptious Gulf coast baby shrimp tartlet with extraordinary Washington State caramelized Anjou pears completed the culinary prelude. The enticing hors d’oeuvres were expertly paired with a beautifully festive vintage 2004 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année (Champagne, France). After mixing in the delightful welcome, with epicurean anticipation surrounded by glittering chandeliers and dazzling intricate mosaics, members and guests settled into the sparkling table-settings of the stunning Crystal room.
Delving into the first course, diners were again treated to the culinary creativity of Chef Devesa with an extraordinary Maine lobster flan with ginger, fresh fava bean, micro cilantro and Chesapeake Bay Blue crab velouté. Deftly paired with a rich and complex 2010 Domaine Pierre Jean-Claud Bachelet et Fil Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Macherelles (Burgundy, France), brimming with refined citrus notes, a pleasant minerality and smooth finish, the dish was a triumph. Next, continuing the excitement was the indulgent second course: a succulent pan seared Hudson Valley foie gras, with cranberry and raisin relish, cinnamon and toasted mini brioche with Hawaiian black sea salt. The luxuriant dish was accentuated by a 2013 Max Ferd, Richter Spatlese Baunebergeer Juffer Sonnenuhr (Mosel, Germany), a vibrant wine, with delicate apple and pear flavors, a lively herbaceous acidity and satisfying creamy finish. Then we were presented with a delicate intermezzo of fresh passion fruit sorbet topped with its own golden sugar nest, refreshing eager palates.
Throughout the opulent meal, diners were also graced with Chef Devesa’s engaging description of each of his creations, bringing added texture to an already exceptional culinary experience. In addition Tony Busalacchi, Vice Echanson des Etats-Unis Honoraire and newly appointed Chevalier du Honneur, enlightened all with his discourse on the fine pairings. Members were also excited to welcome back Chevalier Allan Kam who received his Bronze Share the Chaîne award – conferred upon him at the induction dinner – for signing up seven new Chaine members in 2014 and 2015.
The third course intensified the hedonistic delight with a sous vide cooked Venison loin crusted with four types of peppercorn, served with winter baby vegetables, pommes Anna and black truffle sauce. Paired with an indulgent 1998 Chateau Leoville Barton (Bordeaux, France), a full-bodied wine with a ripe cherry nose, soft acidity and well-developed tannins, the course brimmed with bold flavors. The 1998 Chateau Leoville Barton (Bordeaux, France) was one of the signature wines carefully aged in the La Chaîne DC’s wine cellar by previous generations of confreres. It was a lovely indulgence.
Building toward the climatic culmination of the scintillating feast, the fourth course was an exquisite preface to the apex of the culinary celebration. A delicate crisply crusted local Monocacy Ash goat cheese cake from Sycamore Farms, topped with grapes marmalade, candied beets, baby leaves, and grape-seed vinaigrette was embellished with a vibrant Chidane Montlouis Brut Demi-Sec NV(Loire Valley, France), a finely fruity wine with a pleasingly mineral palate and medium acidity.
The crowning gem of the gorgeous gala was the fifth course -- a delicious Tapioca Coconut milk soup with Lychee sorbet, Kalamansi gelée, sesame almond sable and micro mint paired with a 2014 Domaines Des Bernardins Muscat Beaumess De Venise (Rhone Valley, France), a wonderful, golden Muscat with a spiced peach and apricot nose and candied orange notes. The dessert was a glorious consummation to a year of extraordinary gastronomic sojourns.
Thus, with appetites lavishly satiated and hearts warmed by shared culinary joy, seduced by sparkling ambience, members and guests of the Bailliage finished their culinary year and left the gala with visions of epicurean explorations to come. And 2016 promises to be a year of extraordinary gourmet adventures and illuminating experiences with dinners at gastronomic landmarks including, The Oval Room, heralded newcomer Thip Khao and the pièce de résistance, dinner at the French Ambassador’s Residence.