Chef's Menu for Huyen's Birthday 11/19/11

Table set up/Wine

Chef's menu Guests/Behind the Scene Happy Birthday

6 course Chef's menu

When I get inspired I like to get behind the stove to cook.  I had so many ideas and so many dishes I wanted to serve but in the end I had to make a selection and I went with a 6 course menu. Tonight is definitely a special night and the theme is indulgence, so let's start!


Amuse Bouche - Assorted sashimi with ginger ponzu sauce in hot olive oil

 An amuse-bouche is usually a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they cannot be ordered from a menu because they are free of charge and are served according to the chef's selection alone. Usually, Amuse Bouches are served to give the guests a glimpse into the chef's approach to cooking. 

Let's start with the Amuse Bouche (supposed to be bite size but mine was on the generous side and could easily count as a 1st course)

Assorted sashimi with ginger ponzu sauce in hot olive oil:  raw Tuna, Hamachi, and Salmon are served with enoki mushrooms, daikon sprout in a mixture of grated ginger, ponzu sauce, and drizzle with very good with extra virgin olive oil.

I was able to get really good sashimi and I could taste the sweetness from the fresh sashimi, paired with a ponzu sauce which tangy soy-based sauce made with a citrus fruit definitely brighten up the dish. 


Course 1: Cheese soufflé served with béchamel sauce with sautéed crab meat

My first course is a cheese soufflé with béchamel sauce and sautéed crab meat.  Soufflés have a reputation for being difficult to make and finicky are untrue.  They are actually really easy to make as long as the egg whites are beaten until they are stiff and then gently folded into the base and that's the secret.  They puff up reliably, stay puffed up even when you open the oven door, and the pay-off is lots of ooh-aah when the soufflé is brought to the table. Truth is I wanted a grand introduction and nothing is quite like serving a puffy soufflé because it gets lots of attention!. And after you've dug in and greedily enjoyed the entire thing, you don't regret eating the whole thing because the portion is a lot smaller once the soufflé is deflated.

The presentation of the soufflé is an adaptation from the Plumed horse.




First, you have to crack the top of the soufflé and then you spoon in the béchamel sauce or you can pour the whole thing into the soufflé.  Either way, the soufflé came out excellent and the béchamel sauce is great compliment to the soufflé.  The crab meat is added for a bit of texture.

Wine Pairing for course # 1 and course #2: Mumm Napa DVX  2006 Rosé

Phuc paired the Assorted sashimi and the cheese soufflé with two bottles of Mumm Napa DVX  2006 Rosé (champagne)

Review from: CityWineCellar

92 Points, Wine Enthusiast "Mainly Pinot Noir, with 15% Chard, this pale-pink bubbly is impressive for ripe raspberry-cherry flavors, with a polished edge of bread dough and smoky vanilla. It's quite delicious, finishing dry and elegant."

Winemaker's notes: this soft, fruity sparkling wine captures you at first sight with a lovely, pale pink salmon hue in the glass. Our Brut Rose offers a bouquet of ripe Pinot Noir fruit, rich with black cherry and strawberry notes. Part of the wine is initially fermented in the press, producing the soft fruity character that gives Brut Rosé its directness, while a small percentage of Chardonnay gives the wine power and structure. This more robust quality makes Brut Rose a wonderful wine with many kinds of cuisine, ranging from Thai to Italian


Course 2: Mushroom soup with white truffle custard and sautéed mushrooms

The 2nd course is a  Mushroom soup which I made before, and every time I served it, I get rave reviews.   In order to take it to another level, I incorporated a  white truffle custard from the French Laundry (you can't go wrong with a French Laundry recipe), I tossed a bit of sautéed mushrooms and brought out the bowl to the table without any liquid.  Everyone was a bit perplex to see a soup without any broth!  Then I brought out a  tea pot and proceed to pour the soup around the custard.  It is a fancy way to serve soup but it definitely gets everybody attention.

Custard and sautéed mushrooms was brought out in a bowl without any liquid.



Then the mushroom soup was poured around the custard.


Here is the final presentation.

This soup is very time consuming to make but it is definitely worth the effort!  The soup is so flavorful, creamy, rich and so satisfying.  The custard was an interesting addition to the soup and they go together well.

Wine Pairing: Kistler Sonoma Coast, Les Noisetiers - 2008

From Wine Cellar: While Kistler may be best known for its single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, fans of those hard-to-get, more expensive bottlings, might enjoy their regional blend, Les Noisetiers, which highlights the inherent minerality of the winery's coastal vineyards. The 2008 is whole cluster pressed, barrel-fermented Chardonnay that completely undergoes malo in a combination of new and one-year-old French oak barrels. But these techniques do not make for a rich, buttery wine, rather they balance out the wine's more austere, acid-driven character. In need of food now, it's no surprise that this wine is usually only found in restaurants, with air the pear, apple and citrus fruit emerges, wrapped around a core of acidity and minerals. An ager!


Course 3 - Foie Gras au torchon w. caramelized pears, Arugula/Mizune salad in a honey vinaigrette

The 3rd course is a Foie Gras au torchon, recipe from Thomas Keller of the French Laundry. According to Keller, Foie gras is best served cold and barely cooked.  Cold, it has more body and character to it and shows off its rich creamy texture and that is exactly the description of how the Foie gras au torchon tastes like.  Torchon means "dish towel" in French, and the dish takes its name from the fact the foie gras pieces are wrapped in a cheesecloth into a thick cylinder then quickly poached.  The Foie Gras au torchon is fairly easy to make but you have to plan accordingly because it takes about 4 days to prepare and to sit for at least a day so that the flavors have a chance to mature together.


Foie gras au torchon is served with caramelized pears (they are in season now) and a mixture of Arugula and Mizuna with honey vinaigrette.

Tonight is all about "overindulgence" so the Foie Gras is serve pretty thick to make a point.. "It is all about Foie Gras".

Foie Gras au torchon is one of those foods that you just want to hold in your mouth and let it melt it.  It is pretty amazing!


Course 4 - Pan Seared Foie gras with sautéed blueberries and balsamic réduction sauce

As if Foie Gras au torchon is not enough, I followed up the next course (4th) with a pan seared Foie gras.  I know this is going overboard but I wanted my guests to experience foie gras two different ways and be able to compare Cold vs. Hot.  Cold has lots of character but Hot is totally off the chart in term of taste.  First you have to cut the Foie Gras to right thickness.  I know that Foie gras is expensive but you need a proper thickness and not skim on the thickness if you want the three textures in a perfectly sautéed Foie Gras: a crisp exterior, an almost molten interior, and a very slim center that is firm because it's still rare. 

I served the pan seared Foie gras with a balsamic reduction sauce and sautéed blueberries in butter and brown sugar... DELICIOUS!


Wine Pairing: Chateau Guiraud Sauternes - 1997


From the Winedoctor: Chateau Guiraud Sauternes-1997

This has a remarkably deep, bronzed gold hue on inspection in the clear glass bottle, and this is dense enough to still be very apparent in the glass. The nose is very rich and has lots of character, full of honey and toffee aromas, with a depth and spicy, caramel, orange, melon and apple pie complexity mostly derived, I believe, from a wealth of botrytis. The palate is immediately rich and creamy, but there is a little lift provided by the acidity, before there comes a wave of toffee and caramelized fruit which swamps the mid-palate, before again showing revealing what is quite firm acidity towards the end. Wonderful, luscious but well framed wine, firm and well composed, with a great finish and length. Although I suspect the Rieussec of the same vintage may well be the greater wine in time, on the night the Guiraud really sung. Excellent.  18.5 points

critical acclaim:

"A gold-colored wine. The palate has intense freshness as well as ripe apricot and orange zest flavors. The acidity cuts through the intense richness, leaving a wine that needs time to fully integrate, and then many more years to mature. "

96 Points


Course 5 - Grilled wagyu rib-eye steak with ratatouille and peppercorn sauce

The 5th course is grilled Wagyu rib eye steak with ratatouille and peppercorn sauce. Okay here is our last savory course so let's talk about the wagyu beef!  This is the highest grade Wagyu beef that money can buy.  There is a higher grade than this one but they have to ship it from Japan.   The wholesale price per pound is $40 and we are serving a 12oz piece tonight.  Alexander steaks house served an 8oz Wagyu beef (same as this grade) for $250.

Amazing piece of meat, it just melt in your mouth-simply to die for. 

Wine Pairing: Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Wine-2007

Saving the best for last- Best bottle of the evening.

96 points, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate -2007 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red Wine
The sensational 2007 Proprietary Red Wine (a 7,000-case blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec) is slightly more restrained aromatically than the Merlot, but there is no doubting its extraordinary bouquet of subtle smoked meats, oak, mountain wild flowers, blueberries, blackberries, coffee, and cassis. Super-rich and full-bodied with noticeable, but stunningly sweet tannins, it possesses a rare minerality and definition, characteristics that seem to be found across the board in Napa’s 2007s. This dense, powerful red needs 3-5 years of cellaring, and should have 25 years of life ahead of it.  96+

95 points, Wine Spectator
A rich, explosive style, packed with layers of currant, blackberry, wild berry and black cherry fruit woven together in a tight way. Full-bodied, turning supple and polished on the finish, where the fine-grained tannins are ripe and let the fruit flavors flow freely. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Drink now through 2020. 6,400 cases made. –JL


Course 6 - Grand Marnier soufflé with crème Anglaise

We came to full circle with the 6th course which is the last one!  I started the first course with a cheese Soufflé and ended with a sweet note: Grand Marnier Soufflé.

Grand Marnier is soufflé is the perfect ending to a great meal.

Cracking the top of the soufflé with a spoon and then pouring the crème Anglaise on top of the soufflé

I also like the contrast of the hot soufflé against the cold crème Anglaise,

How good was it?  For you to be the judge!


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