December 1, 2002 brought the Cincinnati Bailliage across the Ohio River to Covington and the Metropolitan Club for the annual Induction Dinner. Situated in a riverfront building on the 19th floor, the Metropolitan Club matches a fine dining experience with its magnificent panorama of the river and city beyond.
Veteran members and inductees gathered in the Grill to enjoy a picturesque sunset and sample a diverse selection of hors d’oeuvres accompanied by Mumm Brut Cuvée Prestige Napa in anticipation of the upcoming induction ceremony.
At the appointed hour Midwest Provincial Bailli Jill Kummer formally brought newcomers into the Confrérie, followed by elevation of officers. Special recognition was given to Vice Chargé de Mission Irwin Weinberg for exceptional service to the Bailli with the award of a Bronze Star of Excellence. A high point in the ceremonies came with Sénécshal Robert Epstein welcoming three members into L’Ordre Mondial to the delight and entertainment of all singing the “Boar’s Head Carol.”
As everyone was ushered into the Governor’s Room, they saw beautiful white rose centerpieces and tall white candles adorning crisp white tablecloths to provide elegant and tasteful surroundings. The industry and imagination of six cooperating chefs led by Executive Chef Kelsey Yerger were immediately evident in the first appetizer of roasted red pepper and basil bisque with crème fraîche in a bicolor presentation of red and green. Its fresh flavors with a hint of smokiness were well matched by a Fess Parker Viognier 2000, which started with a sweet lemon nose leading to citrus melon creaminess and a subtle oak finish.
The attentive staff soon brought another amusement in the form of sweet potato and scallop ravioli. Its rich taste invoking the sea was nicely complemented with a decorative langoustine under an edible “lobster trap” on the side.
Christmas seemed to arrive early in the first entrée of turbot and lobster wrapped like a present in rice paper with a ribbon of green scallion. A complex rainbow of flavors and colors made this a favorite of many, and the Clos Pegase Hommage Artist Series Chardonnay 1998 carried the artist theme forward. Clos Pegase is well known for the extensive artwork that Jan and Mitsuko Shrem have collected and reproduced art on the labels grace their most exclusive wines, in this case with a ripe fruit forward nose, outstanding rich mouth feel, and beautifully well balanced oak finish.
A divertissement came next as the group returned to the Grill while the Governor’s Room could be prepared for the next entrée. As they entered each diner was presented with an artist palette, paint, and brush! In this case the palette was an oversized sugar cookie with several colors of icing, the paint a trio of fruit sorbets in red, green and yellow, and the brush a chocolate straw with dipped white chocolate tip. Additional entertainment was provided by a painter working at his easel and a “da Vinci” photographer offering attendees to pose with a living “Mona Lisa” in frame.
Upon reentering the Governor’s Room for the next entrée the members and guests found a new decorative scheme. Centerpieces made from actual painter’s palettes topped tablecloths of diffuse striping in red, green, purple, and narrow gold banding. Long bamboo shoots mimicked paintbrushes with wispy flowers in the ends for bristles.
On the plate, roasted lamb chops were encrusted with arugula and morel to provide a wonderful flavor and texture contrast with the tender meat and a duo of cabernet sauvignons offered alternatives in style. The Kenwood Jack London Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 started with a very aromatic soft rich fruit and hint of oak, progressing to rich, yet mild body and a sweet finish, standing very strong on its own. The Newton Napa Valley Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 had similar ripeness of fruit but earthier nose, more elegant restraint in structure, and excellent balance in finish hinting more to a classic Bordeaux wine rather than the bold California style found in the Kenwood. These wines carried through into the salad course with a complex mix of greens, fruit, nuts and well matched cheeses.
Dessert was a final flourish in culinary construction by Pastry Chef Terry O’Conner with a chocolate hazelnut genoise layered in contrasting colors and flavors, garnished with amber sugar lace and fanciful long twirl of thin chocolate cookie in layered stripes of light and dark.
After well-deserved recognition of Executive Chef Kelsey Yerger, the other five chefs, assistants, and servers, the entourage exited through the Library where, in true club fashion, those so inclined could partake in an assortment of fine cigars and cordials while basking in satisfaction of a grand repast. An evening truly pleasing to the eyes as well as tastebuds made for a memorable event provided by artistry of the noteworthy staff at the Metropolitan Club.
By J.T. Mayer, Chevalier