With the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival in the rearview mirror, The Monster looks back at the Delicacy Dinner Friday evening at the Montage Hotel sponsored by DFS.
As the ‘99 Palmes d’Or Champagne flows (wonderful) and appetizers make the rounds (hit or miss), the crowd looks horrendously plain and boring. The event is filled with…people who plunked down $500 a ticket for what may be a gourmet wedding meal. Luckily, The Monster was a gracious recipient of a gifted pass so it’s easy for him to be so effortlessly glib.
Once the cocktail hour is over The Monster feels a tad perky from the bubbly and in fine spirits so he’s ready to give the evenings tastings a fair shake. And it is an impressive collection of chefs and wines filling the bill.
The music however in the main dining room is horrendous and out of character with the event. More mambo club cheese then upscale affair. And it seems to be on repeat. Lovely.
At first it appears they do not have there shit together. Adding chairs and settings to our table, moving us around like cattle. Attendees are still standing, wine glasses are empty, the service is even a touch haughty and indifferent.
The event features fifty-seven thousand speakers none of which say much of anything interesting nor understand the concept of brevity. There is no food. Not even bread. It’s a beautiful prison.
The first course, marinated bay scallops with caviar, smoked tomato jelly, avocado crema and crispy potatoes makes up for many missteps. It’s a marvelously complex starter, hitting so many different textures, temperatures and tastes. Chef Kris Morningstar from Ray & Stark’s hits the first course out of the park. The wine offered for this course is Hirtzberger, Gruner Veltliner, Smaragd, Honivogl, 2010 and proves a delicious and bright wine pairing. Things are looking up.
And at this juncture the service has become smooth, accommodating and gracious.
Ocean red abalone pressed in smoked kelp with locally foraged seaweed is John Cox from Post Ranch Inn’s contribution. This is not a favorite for The Monster nor does it seem to resonate for the table. It is a valiant effort to bring the flavors of the sea to the event but ultimately misses the mark. The Clendenen Family ‘Le Bon Climat Vineyards’ 2008 Chardonnay holds its own but suffers from the lack of excitement engendered from the abalone.
As The Monster opens up to the people around him he finds them to be wonderful tablemates, the whole evening opening up and becoming much more enjoyable.
Next up is Lumache agnolotti, chanterelles and truffle-spinach puree. Standout even as it is immersed in The Monster’s nemesis, funghi. Effervescently simple and delightful. Scarpetta’s Scott Conant deserves kudos for this creation. The Paul Jaboulet Aine, Hermitage la Chapelle 2006 is another standout pairing.
An audible is called and The Monster begs out of the “Calotte de Boeuf Grillee” from Rory Hermann of Bouchon and instead is offered halibut with truffles and trumpet royal mushrooms and corn. It is a perfect end to the dinner portion of the meal. The Hundred Acre ‘Ark’ Cabernet might be the best of the wine on offer.
Sandeman 40 year old Tawny Port and Johnny Walker Blue Label finish off the night along with the dessert course which is Tainori chocolate delice, cherry, caramel, hibiscus from Limncoln Carson of Michael Mina. Laws were enacted to stop The Monster from doing certain illegal things to his dessert. He hears more “oh my gods” moaned than at a Vegas Whorehouse from his tablemates.
While walking in a skeptic, The Monster will be the first to admit he was wrong. The evening featured fantastic food, wonderful wine and fine company. The Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival and The Montage Hotel and all the participants deserve praise.