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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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Gastronomic Gestalt: When the Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts

March 20, 2012

By Judith Mazza, Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.

Fusing one cuisine with another can sometimes result in rather “odd bedfellows.”  However, at The Source, Wolfgang Puck’s Asian fusion restaurant in Washington, D.C., combining pan-Asian cooking with western sensibilities has resulted in food that is sublime, exotic and yet somehow familiar, all at the same time. Chef Scott Drewno is a master of creating delicious bites which satisfy your palate and tickle your fancy.

A tasting committee consisting of Gastronomique Steven Lustig, Vice Chancelier-Argentier David Burka, Vice Conseiller Culinaire Chef Francois Dionot, Vice Chargée de Presse Judith Mazza, Dame de la Chaîne Rebecca Burka and Chevalier Allan Kam met in advance to make final adjustments and pair the wine. We made minor changes, but the concepts which Chef Drewno presented to us were exciting and delicious.

Held on an unusually warm April evening, we had the benefit of an open air balcony to enjoy the passed hors d’oeuvres as we sipped Prosecco Rustico/Nino Franco NV, while overlooking downtown Washington in all of its Spring glory. The crispy chicken bao bites, the tempura gulf shrimp with wasabi cream, the spicy tuna tartare in sesame miso cones and the Yukon gold potato samosas with tamarind chutney were simply outstanding.

We were seated and treated to silken tofu custard with pork skin dashi and barbequed eel. Who knew that tofu could taste like that?  It was the most unctuous beginning to a wonderful feast and was served with Francois Chidaine “Les Bournais” Montlouis, Chenin Blanc. Loire, France 2007. The Chinese charcuterie which consisted of thin slices of pork belly served with a tea stained quail egg filled with Chinese mustard was tender and flavorful. The pairing with the Dr. Loosen “Erdener Treppchen” Kabinett Riesling, Mosel Germany 2010 was perfect. Our third course of pan seared Loup de Mer with a citrus pepper sauce and wok fired spring vegetables was rich and moist while the vegetables were crisp and tender. The Terredora Dipaolo “Loggia della Serra” Greco di Tufo, Campania, Italy 2010 was a fine companion to the fish. The Penang hot pot of braised short rib with tongue, and spring peas had a hint of heat and yet was quite delicate. We were so pleased that we were able to pair this dish with Domaine Cros “Les Aspres,” Minervois, Languedoc-Roussilon, France 1999. It is only because of the Bailliage of Greater Washington’s Chaîne wine cellar that we are able to present this level of wine at our dinners. The calamansi sorbet with coconut espuma prepared our palate for the final savory course. The Cantonese style roasted duck with Chinese garlic sauce and stir fried rice cakes was a high point of the meal. The Pinot Noir Cono Sur “Ocio,” Casablanca Valley, Chile 2007 complimented the duck very well.

As we awaited our dessert, Vice Echanson Ellen Kirsh discussed the various wine pairings and explained the rationale for their selections. Next, Vice Conseiller Chef Francois Dionot critiqued the meal and greeted Chef Scott Drewno, who drew enthusiastic applause as he entered. Vice Chargée de Presse, Judith Mazza presented Chef Drewno with a ceramic Chaîne plate as a symbol of our appreciation for the very fine meal he and his team put together.

We soon took our seats one last time to enjoy the dessert course. The description on the menu of “saké mochi,”     did not convey the complexity or the number of elements found in this dessert, which included a rich chocolate cake, a crunchy sesame wafer, nuts and caramel sauce. It was a fantastic ending to a complicated and thought provoking meal. This was fusion cooking at its finest and many indicated that they would soon return. The Washington Bailliage, courtesy of The Source Restaurant, experienced that the whole was indeed greater than the sum of its parts.

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