LAFW: Dining with Michelin Stars Dinner Recap
The Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival is one of the best food festivals in Los Angeles. This year I attended the special Dining with the Michelin Stars dinner at Vibiana, the home of soon-to-open Redbird by Chef Neal Fraser. The dinner featured the talents of high-profile Michelin-starred chefs including David Kinch of Manresa (Los Gatos), Michael Cimarusti of Providence (Los Angeles), Pierre Gagnaire of Twist at the Mandarin Orienta (Las Vegas) and Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn (San Francisco).
We started with a variety of hor d’oeuvres which set the tone of the dinner. The playful beggar’s purses from Chef Kinch were bursting with caviar and creme fraiche.
Providence is one of my favorite restaurants and I need to go in since they have recently remodeled. The middleneck clam with chorizo, coriander and red pepper by Chef Cimarusti transported you to the ocean and dreamy balmy days.
Then came a pair of delights by Chef Crenn. I love her quirky humor and could not decide which of the two I enjoyed more. The rich uni pudding with caviar or the little oyster shot?
In the end, I decided I couldn’t pick a favorite. All four were stunners with the Champagne Krug Grande Cuvee which was also served with our first course.
What’s a tasting menu without fine wines to go with? Starting with an effervescent champagne is always good.
The many-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire took the stage, literally. Vibiana has this beautiful stage which probably was the former altar of the former rectory. Chef Gagnaire charmingly explained his dish of exquisitely tender Wagyu tenderloin. I also adored the eggplant cannelloni with the ratatouille piquillos puree.
The next wine was Sohm & Kracher’s Gruner Veltiner. I had posted a photo on Instagram where you could see some of the major players in the wine world pouring at the dinner. Naturally there would be some master sommeliers in attendance with such a stellar menu.
Chef Gagnaire was also responsible for the next course. His bouillon Zezette or cod cake was delicious. The cake was perfectly crispy and the sauce was great.
Next we had a burgundy wine from Aurelien Verdet located in the town of Nuits-Saint-Georges. The wine was paired with seafood. It’s always interesting to me when red wine is served with fish but I suppose it’s not very daring these days. The medium-body burgundy went quite well with the striped bass.
From Chef Cimarusti, we had the wild striped bass. I thought it was interesting to call it a “haunch” when I feel that implies it’s from the leg but it just means the backside. While my table debated the issue, we tasted some amazing fish. I loved the almost bouncy-texture and had fun investigating all the sauces that included roasted eggplant and tomato.
In honor of the next dish, we had a wine from Napa Valley. The Mayacamas 1989 was instantly recognizable as a Cabernet Sauvignon from California.
I had a fabulous time at David Kinch’s Manresa and was horrified to learn it burned earlier this year. Chef Kinch has vowed to reopen. While that’s taking place, it has freed him up some to travel and cook at events. Los Angeles received his talents with gratefulness. His beef in onion broth reminded me of sukiyaki but in a way that destroyed normal sukiyaki for me. The beef was beyond tender. I ate this so slowly because I didn’t want the experience to end. This was my favorite dish of the night.
I thought the Mayacamas was a great choice with this dish. The rich beef was further enhanced by the almost earthy cab sauv. It was one of the oldest wines we had that evening.
For dessert, we tried red moscato from Kracher. I had tried some of the wines from Kracher at the LA Food and Wine Lexus Grand Tasting event earlier in the day and was pleased to see it again at dinner.
Chef Crenn was on deck for dessert. The pretty dish showcased corn which one doesn’t normally think to use for dessert. But I have observed that corn has made its rounds lately, particularly in San Francisco, in dessert. I find it’s great because the desserts are too sweet. Luckily for those with a sweet tooth, there are little dabs of chocolate.
Chef Kinch brought his pastry chef Stephanie Prida with him. She made us wonderful mignardise ranging from chocolates to gelees.
I can’t wait for next year’s LAFW!