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Messa, Chef Restaurant

January 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Once again, I would like to state the obvious – it is great to have friends. I’m in Israel again, and thanks to my dear friend Kfir, the culinary journey continues (I already wrote about few of my favorite places in Tel-Aviv, and you can read about it here and here). The new discovery – Messa, Chef Restaurant in Tel-Aviv.

Few years ago, I was quite lucky to visit (well, the right word is “to experience”) restaurant called Orca in Tel-Aviv ( lucky simply because the place is now closed – and it was on the list of 100 best restaurants in the world). This might be a bit far fetching, but Messa reminded me of that Orca visit. May be in ambiance, may be in food presentation and quality, may be in expectations – but I found some resemblance between the two.

For wine, we decided to go with Judean Hills Har’El Syrah 2008 from CLOS de GAT, one of the boutique Israeli wineries (it also represented very good value at about $55 on the wine list). This wine was round and polished, with hint of spices, leather and dark red fruit, complemented by soft tannins.

Messa doesn’t offer tasting menu, however, a lot of appetizers and main dishes are offered in small and large sizes, which essentially allows to create a tasting menu – this is what we decided to do. We had three different appetizers – Purple Calamari, Veal Sweetbreads and Foie Gras, out of which the Foie Gras had the best balance of flavors:

Purple  Calamari with lemon cream, eel and goose liver

Veal Sweetbreads with sweet potato tortellini, sunchoke cream and pearl onions

Foie Gras

 

For the main dishes we decided on Black Truffle Ravioli, Seafood Couscous in Crab Lemon Broth and Mushroom and Goat Cheese Risotto.  The first two dishes listed Lemon among the ingredients – and it was A LOT of lemon in those dishes. To be more precise, it was too much of it, so the winner of the entree taste contest was Mushroom and Goat Cheese Risotto, which had amazing earthy and heart warming taste profile. And of course, with the pictures:

Black Truffle Ravioli

Seafood Couscous in Lemon Crab and Thyme Broth

Risotto with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

 

Dessert? Of course there was dessert – your waistline doesn’t take priority when you in a restaurant like this. We ordered one dessert, Valrhona Chocolate Delight, and got a nice surprise in a form of Strawberry Banana Crumble desert “on the house”. There was no competition here – both were great:

Valrhona Chocolate Delight

Strawberry Banana Crumble

Israel is growing at tremendous pace as a country, and its culinary landscape is getting better and better all the time. I wish all of us many pleasant discoveries along this culinary journey…

Experiences: Chef’s Tasting Dinner at Hotel Fauchere

October 22, 2010 7 comments

This is the last post in the series about our experiences at Hotel Fauchere in Milford, PA ( previous two posts can be found here and here). Have to warn you upfront – if you thought that there are too many photos in my posts, this one will be extreme – there are way too many pictures I want to share. Here we go…

Culmination point of our weekend getaway was chef’s tasting dinner, long anticipated and planned for. The dinner took place at The Delmonico Room at Hotel Fauchere – for historic reference behind the name and relationship with The Delmonico Room in New York, you can click here. Anticipated is fine, but what’s up with planning? Considering love of wine in the group, we decided to take upon the pairing of the tasting menu by ourselves. For the tasting and pairing experience, this was a good decision, for the service part – not so much. Not that I can really complain about service, all the plates, decanters, glasses and silverware were flying around properly, but the service was delivered in the stark contrast with “everybody smiling” (if you read my previous posts), I would say it was delivered with the stone face. There can be some objective reasons to that ( we brought our own wine, therefore I guess we questioned the level of wine service)… Anyway, let’s talk about food and wine

So we had 7 course tasting menu with two very small “single byte” dishes at the beginning and in the middle of the dinner. Menu focus was on the local, seasonal and fresh ingredients, and I think mission was accomplished quite well. We selected 7 different wines to pair with the dishes – 4 whites, 3 reds.

Here are the four whites:

2009 Domaine Eugene Carrel & Fils Rousette de Savoie Altesse, France

2007 Staglin Family Vineyards ‘Salus’ Estate Chardonnay, Napa Valley

2009 Jorge Ordoñez Málaga Botani Sierras de Màlaga

1995 Domain Cazes Ambré Riversaltes Languedoc-Roussillon

We made a lot of good decisions with this set – but more about it later.

And here are the three reds:


2007 Mara Pinot Noir Laughlin Road Ranch, Russian River Valley

2005 Bradford Mountain Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley

2005 Chateau La Grange Clinet Premier Cotes de Bordeaux

This was also a great selection, all worked very well with food – so lets get some details.

The first dish in tasting was Tortelloni A La Zucca (Seared Diver Scallop, Black Walnut, Sage Butter). Wine pairing – Rousette de Savoie Altesse.

I would honestly question composition of the dish, as pumpkin tortelloni didn’t do anything to the scallop, tortelloni looked almost as a presentation piece. At the same time, wine worked very well with all of the components in the dish – apple, leeches and earthiness worked well with pumpkin filling, and wine had enough fruit and acidity to complement scallop. One important thing to mention here – with this wine I was able to make a progress in the treble journey, as Altesse is a grape from Savoie which I never tasted before. Color me happy – 273.

The next dish was Foie Gras De Canard (Porcini Mushroom, Brussles, Pear, Pomme Maxim). Wine pairing – Staglin Salus Chardonnay.

As we didn’t miss a single pairing ( pat on the shoulder), at least in my opinion, I will omit redundant [great pairing] in front of each description.

Salus is produced by Staglin Family, one of California cult wine producers from Napa Valley (Staglin Family Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 just got WS 98 rating). Salus was one of the most beautiful chardonnays I tasted lately. Vanilla, butter, caramel, toasted oak and acidity of the wine worked perfectly with heavy but creamy texture of the foie gras.

Next dish was Roasted Black Sea Bass (Caramelized Sunchoke, Garden Chard, Cabernet Franc Emulsion). Wine pairing – Mara Pinot Noir.

In case you wonder, there are actually two reasons why there is a wine label above instead of picture of the dish:

1. It was one of the best versions of Roasted Sea Bass I ever had. So, by the time I realized that I didn’t get a picture of the dish, it was too late.

2. And I guess it was also too late because everybody got carried away after taking a sip of Mara Pinot Noir.

Mara Pinot Noir was really a centerpiece of the tasting. “Oh my god” was major phrase at the table after the first sip of the wine. I don’t think that wine should be described in terms of color, fruit and acidity. This wine should be described in terms of opulence and decadence it cast upon the table. “Total and absolute balance” would be the right way to put it. Anyway, if you can find a bottle, you should experience it for yourself ( about 250 cases total production). In my “drinkability” ratings it is defnitely a 9+.

Next dish: Sautéed Squab (Confir Potatoes, Red Peppers, Serrano Ham). Wine pairing – Bradford Mountain Zinfandel.

Deep earthy and gamey flavors of the dish ( tasted almost like a fried liver), were complimented well by spices and acidity of the wine. This was definitely a good combination.

Following on, major entree: Duo of Farm Raised Rabbit (Bacon Wrapped Loin, Rabbit Scrapple, Chestnut, Garden Carrots, Natural Jus). Wine pairing – Chateau La Grange Clinet Premier Cotes de Bordeaux.

Bordeaux had being nicely decanted, so it was open enough in time for this dish being served. Coming from magnificent 2005 vintage, this wine can be drunk right now, but will improve with some time in the cellar. The wine worked well with the flavors of the dish – combination of tender, a bit gamey loin and fresh garden vegetables was well complemented by dark fruit flavors in the Bordeaux.

And now it is time for desserts: Cheese Soufflé (Pinot Noir Must, Grape Aspic, Rose Champagne Granite). Wine pairing – Botani Sierras de Màlaga.

I discovered Botani Muscat at the dinner at The Capital Grille. This wine delivers incredibly bright acidity and fruit combination, every sip feels like it is full of live. That acidity was instrumental in this pairing. The wine worked quite well with both Granite and Souffle components of the dessert.

And last, but not least, one more dessert: Gala Apple and Granola (Apple Jack Caramel, Foraged Crabapple Confit, Cinnamon Gel, Pecan Brittle, Mulled Cider Ice Cream). Wine pairing: Ambré Riversaltes.

If Mara Pinot Noir was best of tasting, then this was the most interesting wine. This wine, made out of White Grenache, is made in the Solera style – it spent 7 years in the open tubs, developing delicate flavors. Ambré Riversaltes exhibited fresh and balanced flavors of toasted apple and caramel, which perfectly worked with “apple many styles” flavors of the dessert.

That’ s all, folks – it is time to conclude the report on the Hotel Fauchere experience. All in all, we had a great time, and will gladly do it again. The life journey continues…

 

Hotel Fauchère
401 Broad St
Milford, PA 18337
(570) 409-1212
http://www.hotelfauchere.com

Delmonico Room on Urbanspoon

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