SoBeWFF Dinner with Daniel Boulud and George Mendes – db Bistro Miami
This past Friday, I had the pleasure to attend a decadent dinner at Daniel Boulud’s Miami outpost of db Bistro Moderne during the 2016 South Beach Wine & Food Festival. The dining event featured French and Portuguese flavors as presented by chef-owners and friends, Daniel Boulud and George Mendes of ALDEA in New York City.
The Food Network & Cooking Channel’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF), presented by FOOD & WINE magazine, is the biggest Food and Restaurant Industry event in the U.S. Over a long weekend on February’s last week, the festival hosted over 50 dinner and tasting events, typically on the beach and under tents with throngs of foodies.
So it was a special privilege to sit down at a SoBeWFF Intimate Dinner event. Even more so to have a five-course meal prepared by Michelin-starred restaurant owners and chefs.
Daniel Boulud, a native of France, is one of the most revered French chefs in New York City, his home since 1982. The multiple James Beard Award-winning Boulud is Chef-Owner of 18 restaurants around the world, and author of nine cookbooks, but best known for DANIEL on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Born in Danbury, CT to Portuguese parents, George Mendes is chef and owner of two New York restaurants, the rustic Portuguese spot Lupolo, and the one Michelin-starred Iberian restaurant ALDEA.
Mendes started off the meal with his inventive Bacalhau Chicharron with Dill Mayo dressed with Cucumber and Fennel. While chicharron is typically made from pork, dried and crackled salty cod fish skin is used instead as a snack chip to scoop up the creamy ‘dip’.
The starter is paired with Mendes’ favorite champagne, the elegant Henriot Blanc de Blanc NV. Made with 100% Chardonnay, the pale yellow bubbly had the nose of buttered toast, the taste of apples and lemons, and a delightful crisp finish.
Next up was Boulud’s savory potato salad dish with Stone Crab, and Vadouvan Chutney, Purple Pomme a L’Huile, Avocado and Root Chips, which was accompanied by William Fevre Montmains Domaine 2013, a fruity Chablis with a floral aroma and mineral notes.
As each chefs’ dish progressed with creativity, the Henriot wines elevated right along with them.
Founded in 1808, the House of Henriot is family-owned and run by Thomas, the son of Joseph Henriot, the wine executive who helped build Veuve Clicquot Champagne into a global icon. After leaving LVHM (the Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessey merged luxury goods company), Joseph re-energized his family’s Champagne house and acquired Bouchard Père et Fils and Domaine William Fèvre as well as established an American import firm, Henriot Inc., before his death in April of 2015.
Mendes’ seafood course, Red Snapper Confit was topped with Uni, or Sea Urchin. Uni has a moist custard-like texture, with a strong metallic taste that immediately generates a “love it” or “hate it” response. My fellow food-blogging companion, Eddie, aptly described it as having the favor of a licked “9-volt battery”. This Portuguese version of a Bouillabaisse arrived as foamy pool of Caldeirada Broth, made with Fennel, Potato, Orange and Saffron. Thankfully, there was a basket of fresh baked bread on the table to sop up the remaining soup, after the slow-cooked, sweet and nutty fish was devoured.
2012 Domaine Ramonet La Boudriotte Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru (92 points from Wine Spectator) was paired with the Portuguese Fish Stew. The young, but approachable, pale green Chardonnay had the immediate aroma of pine needles, but a rich stone fruit taste with a long and crisp finish.
Boulud’s meat course, Oxtail Ragout and Filet Mignon was served with Swank Farm Carrots and Parsnip-Potato Mousseline (purée). The perfectly medium rare filet de bœuf dominated the plate, while the Oxtail, braised in both French Red Wine and Portuguese Port, laid hidden underneath, waiting for my happy discovery. If I knew no one was looking, I would have been tempted to lick my plate clean of Boulud’s rich wine sauce.
This delectable course was accompanied by the most excellent 2011 Bouchard Pere & Fils Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvee Carnot (94 points from Wine Enthusiast). This outstanding deep cherry Pinot Noir had the aroma of spices and red currant aroma, with a delightful raspberry and peppery flavor, and slightly dry.
Mendes, with the assistance of db Bistro Miami’s Amanda Coy, created the dessert finale; Pineapple Curd nestled in Vanilla Meringue, and plated with Cinnamon Ice Cream. The meringue had a great crunch on the outside, while the inside was marshmallowy, and melted in the mouth.
Boulud’s db Bistro Miami is located inside the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, at 255 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami, FL 33131. For reservations or more information, visit: www.dbbistro.com/miami
Mendes’ ALDEA is located in New York City’s Flatiron District at 31 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011. For reservations or more information, visit: www.aldearestaurant.com