December brings chilling winds and blustery weather but also time for seasonal celebrations such as our annual holiday gala, held at The Palace restaurant within the historic Cincinnatian Hotel. Originally built in 1882 and completely renovated in 1987 at a cost of $25 million, this elegant locale has received high praise from the likes of the Mobil Travel Guide and Zagat Survey. Arriving in formal dress, we were greeted at the entrance by decorations of Christmas trees, reindeer, and present filled sleigh on a snowscape. A flute of Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve gave the perfect instrument for a festive toast to complement a variety of hot and cold appetizers passed to the group.
Our first course was a seafood duet with a ceviche of hamachi tiradito and Georges Bank scallop done in a modified sushi style with wasabi cream sauce. A Meursault from Louis Latour provided powerful rich fruit, smoky oak notes over minerality, and citrus for a tasty array of complex aromas and flavors. Next came a creamy cauliflower soup served at the table over a dollop of sweet homemade ricotta with hints of lemon and chicken broth that also matched the wine beautifully.
Our entrée was a luxurious braised pork shank served over cheddar polenta with chanterelle shallot ragout and a smattering of edemame, topped by a thin sheet of ham cured into a jerky consistency. We now had a duet of Pinot Noirs to enhance our course with a choice of Argyle Reserve from the Willamette Valley and Dutton Goldfield from Devil’s Gulch Ranch in Marin County. The Argyle possessed a more aromatic floral nose and bright fruit to contrast the food while the Dutton Goldfield was deeper, oakier with smoky lush fruit to blend seamlessly with the tenderness of meat cooked on the bone. All was right with the world in the company of such fine wines.
Our finale came as a chocolate duet with a cherry layered flourless cake triangle and a globe of mousse filled ganache supporting the notion that there really is no bad way to do chocolate. This culmination along with the rest of the feast met our hearty approval for the talents and skill of Executive Chef Clinton Jones and friendly staff at The Palace.
J.T. Mayer, Vice Chargé de Presse