Locally produced food and fresh seasonal ingredients are a leading culinary trend and our latest induction dinner was a salute to this movement. Kenwood Country Club hosted as guests arrived in formal attire with anticipation of great merriment and delicious cuisine. Chef Rôtisseur Christopher Ropp fashioned a menu to familiarize everyone with the meaning of “locavore” as a grand welcome to fourteen new members into our bailliage. Tasty appetizers awaited and, although not local, platters of oyster ceviche seemed to embody the essence of the sea. Vegetarians could enjoy fresh flavored cannelloni with jicama, ratatouille, and a stripe of roasted tomato jam on top while meat lovers and baseball fans could sample locally sourced wild boar and cranberry “dogs” on pretzel bread. Peter Michael L’Après-Midi Sauvignon Blanc made a refreshing apértif before the approaching induction ceremony.
Chambellan Provincial Midwest Dr. Geoffrey Bland and his wife Brigette were special guests and Dr. Bland guided our many inductees into the Confrérie with panaché and efficiency. Along with Chevaliers and Dames de la Chaîne were included two Professionnel du Vin members. A notable addition was Chef Rôtisseur Alan Neace of Midwest Culinary Institute who has been instrumental in coordinating our local Young Chef competitions.
Our first dinner course was a bit surprising but again exuded the feeling of spring. Tomato and melon were made into chilled gazpacho with chili crème fraîche and a salty bite of prosciutto crisp. A duet of Proseccos in two shades of rosé made for an interesting combination and good match with the food. A salad course of house cured salmon with arugula, beets, and blueberries was bright and enlightening. Beef carpaccio was dressed with hand pickled baby vegetables to enhance a clean unsullied charm. We now had a Pinot Noir comparison of Old World versus New World, with a velvety Louis Latour Beaune Perrières Premier Cru facing a rich fruity Dutton Goldfield bottling from the renowned Dutton Ranch. Our Pinot Noir fans were very pleased!
The chef’s penultimate course was a generous portion of deboned breast of guinea hen with ravioli made from the dark meat. Fiddlehead fern and oyster mushroom added to the seasonal local flair and the dual presentation showed deft skill from Chef Ropp. Cade Napa Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon, made by the partners of PlumpJack Winery, was featured to add an overwhelming sense of opulence that made all feel sated. Finally we ended with a perfectly subtle Grand Marnier panna cotta that had a wonderfully creamy texture. When our chef was asked to compliment the pastry chef he confessed she was absent and he made this little marvel himself! As we departed, many contented souls were glad they got in the swing for this grand affair.
J.T. Mayer, Chargé de Presse Provincial Midwest