dinner: linger a little, laugh a lot…

Stella!

What do you serve to Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Jerome Bocuse when they arrive together at your restaurant for dinner?

That’s a question that Scott Boswell recently had to answer.

The night before the B.I.R.D.S./Bocuse d’Or dinner, Chef Boswell and his team hosted a small, private dinner for the guest chefs, their sous chefs, and a few friends at Stella!

I was extremely honored to have been invited.

Daniel Boulud
Daniel Boulud
Stella!, New Orleans

There were about 20 of us seated in the Chartres dining room at Stella! that night, an intimate and cozy gathering.

Because I was a guest, and because I respect the privacy of my fellow guests, I won’t go into too much detail about the dinner other than to share the menu with you and a few notes about the food (i.e. I acknowledge that objectivity may be even less achievable than normal; this is not a “review”). Suffice it to say, I was in great company and enjoyed getting to know everyone.

Dinner was initiated by a short speech and toast by Thomas Keller. It ended with a round of applause for Scott Boswell and his staff, who came into the dining room for a well-deserved bow.

Here is our menu for that night.  CLICK HERE to see all of the photos in the set, or click on the course titles below for the individual photos.

*   *   *

Amuse Bouches

Watermelon Sashimi
Canteloupe, seven fleurs de sels, and wasabi honeydew.

Cornmeal-crusted Frog’s Leg
Tomato jam and chipotle butter.

J. Lassalle, Brut, 1er Cru, Chigny-les-Roses, France

1st Course

Scallop Sashimi
Pickled cucumelons, yuzu, radish salad.

J. Lassalle, Brut, 1er Cru, Chigny-les-Roses, France

2nd Course

Risotto
Shrimp, andouille, shiitake, and scallions.

Tement, “Grassnitzberg”, Berghausen, Styria, Austria, 2006

3rd Course

Miso and Sake Glazed Japanese Mero Sea Bass
Udon, green tea and soba noodles,
Canadian lobster, blue crab and shrimp broth.

R. López de Heredia, “Viña Gravonia,” Crianza, Rioja, 2000

4th Course

Yuri-Juro Kobe Beef
Korean barbecue-glazed Yuri Juro Kobe beef, tempura okra, purple haze carrot,
seared Japanese yam, and baby bok choy.

Talenti, “Vigna del Paretaio”, Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino, 1998

5th Course

Bananas Foster French Toast
Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, spicy candied walnuts and crisp plantains.

Mignardises

*    *   *

Daniel Boulud
Daniel Boulud
Stella!, New Orleans

I’d venture to say that everyone in the party would agree that the “Yuri-Juro Kobe Beef” was the highlight of the dinner.

Due to a devastating outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease among Japanese cattle, Japan banned the export of Kobe beef in April of this year. Although all had hoped that the disease could be curbed and contained quickly, the situation seems only to have worsened.

But Chef Boswell had a stash of Kobe beef that he had ordered before the meat was embargoed. Sealed air-tight, the beef had been aged for over 250 days.

4th Course: Kobe Beef
Yuri Juro Kobe Beef
Stella!, New Orleans

The cut of meat came smothered in a thick “Korean barbecue sauce” that offered a wonderful balance of sweet, sour, spicy, and savory. To say that this meat was tender is a gross understatement. You still needed a knife to cut it, but it practically melted away in your mouth.

I often find Kobe beef too rich, too much. Despite the rather heavy treatment here, this dish managed to stop shy of overkill and linger in luxury.

The beef was accompanied by a delicious tempura-fried okra, a candy-sweet nugget of roasted Japanese yam, and some baby vegetables that had been donated by Farmer Lee Jones of Chef’s Garden. It was excellent.*

Dessert might have been overkill, but I wasn’t going to object.

Thomas Keller
Thomas Keller
Stella!, New Orleans

There are many adjectives that I could attach to the “Bananas Foster French Toast” at Stella!, beginning with buttery and ending with fantastic. I loved this dessert when I had it at Stella! in January, and I wasn’t going to turn it away when it arrived again.

It seems almost silly to say that service was very, very good.  Well, it was.

Our wines were poured and presented by John Mitchell, Stella!’s shockingly young and faultlessly upbeat sommelier. The most memorable pour of the evening for me was the “Charleston Sercial, Madeira, The Rare Wine Co. Historic Series,” which was surprisingly savory, a perfect brine for our sweet ending.

Linger a little? Sure, why not?

The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspects
Stephen Baldwin & Daniel Boulud

Laugh a lot? We sure did.

After dinner, Chef Boswell introduced me to his personal Sir Francis Walsingham, a young man I’ll call Lex Luthor (no one gives away the name of a ninja). The night still young, Lex took a few of us out for some good music and drinks.

Thank you, Chef and Tanya Boswell and the entire house at Stella! for welcoming me back like a rock star and hosting such a lovely dinner party.

Stella!
1032 Chartres Street
New Orleans, Lousiana 70116
504-587-0091

* If I’m not mistaken, Chef Boswell said that the Kobe beef dish is available on the dinner menu at Stella! for $90 a plate.

~ by ulterior epicure on September 21, 2010.

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