Monday, September 25, 2006

an IRON CHEF evening with White House IRON Chef WALTER SCHEIB

Earlier this week we had the pleasure of attending a Reenactment of the IRON CHEF Television show (so to speak) that resulted in past White House Chef WALTER SCHEIB championship. The event was held at the CITY CLUB and was a fun night for all, starting with those wonderful renditions that Chef Scheib is just so GREAT at.

He related the story of how the IRON CHEF AMERICA folks tried to get him to do the show, which he called "Professional Wrestling for Cooks!" Even his children told him it would be so cool. He kept telling them "no way" until public relations got the best of him and he gave in. Off went Chef to Kitchen Stadium, and the show appeared on the Food Network back in July with a victory over Iron Chef Cat Cora. The pre-show preparation and run throughs here in DC took about two to three weeks to get in the swing and to be ready for the final showdown. The team knew that the "secret ingredient" would be either venison, bacon or Dungeness Crab; it was ultimately the latter.

Our evening began with a superb CREMANT ALSACE from Rene Barth that was dry and sparkling and a great way to get us all in a festive mood with some dumplings, mushroom & meat puffs and phyllo with cheese. The actual show ran on a TV, but all we wanted to do was schmooze with the chefs. This was a bit one sided, as Cat Cora could not come, but we still had great fun enjoying the five courses prepared by the excellent team of Chef Scheib.

Sitting down at the table we enjoyed a PINOT GRIGIO 2004 from ROCCA BERNARDA that was so acidic (in a good way) that I was convinced it was a Sauvignon Blanc. It's acidity was perfect with the CHILLED MEDLEY of FRESH STEAMED DUNGENESS CRAB with AVOCADO, TOMATO & LIME. We also had the opportunity to see the special plates and serving utensils that the team had prepared in advance to enhance the presentation. Of course, as only a handful of these exist, and were created at great cost, the
almost 1000 of us had to do with regular china!

The next wine also came from RENE BARTH and was an excellent Alsatian GRAND CRU "Marckrain" 2004 GEWURTZTRAMINER. It was perfect with the best course of the evening: SWEET POTATO SOUP with THAI CURRY and COCONUT MILK, SAUTEED BOK-CHOY Cabbage & THAI GLAZED CRAB LUMPS. The creamy soup was heavenly and the crunchy bok-choy a foil to all the textures within. We stayed with the same wine for the SMOKED DUNGENESS CRAB CAKE over TROPICAL FRUIT FRICASSE with CHIPOTLE CHILI and CORN COULIS as this Gewurtz was so excellent with the mild spices in the food. My only complaint was that the Dungeness Crab is now out of season and in the crabcake it did not show its flavor and taste as well as it could have. I yearned for good ole hometown Chesapeake Crabs here.

The CHEF SALAD with GOLDEN & RED BEETS, ASPARAGUS TIPS, GRLLED VIDALIA ONION, CRAB MEAT & ORANGE CEVICHE DRESSING was paired with a delicious ST VERAN 2004 VIELLES VIGNES from Domaine Bernard-Gousse. The dessert was interesting as Chef Scheib explained, most competitors DON'T DO IT. He did, and went North African style with a SAFFRON & POMEGRANATE BASTILLA with TOASTED ALMONDS in PHYLLO DOUGH. Of course, the dish had crab in it, which some folks thought did not work; I loved it, considering the ingredient was really used and made a quite tasty dessert. The MONARCHIA "Demeter" 2004 TOKAJI Late Harvest Furmint was a special treat and gave the dessert a sweeter hint as well.

What a fun event, and may the competitors win!