Guam Diner Bytes: The Affinity of Food and Wine
An amazing wine dinner was held January 25 at the Westin and I count my blessings that I was on island and able to attend. The occasion was essentially a haute cuisine guided tour led on one hand by Westin Executive Chef Daniel Lenherr, with the fine folks at IWS (Island Wines & Spirits) steering us with the other hand offering perfectly paired libations for each of Chef Daniel’s inspired creations.
IWS had brought an expert team from one of their principals, the esteemed spirits giant, Moet Hennessy. Andrew McLaren, Travel Retail Director, Moet Hennessy Asia Pacific was the introduced us to the wines served with each course. He was accompanied by Junko Tanaka, Travel Retail Manager, International Key Accounts for Moet Hennessy Asia Pacific.
Invited guests were treated to hors d’oeuvres paired with Chandon Brut on arrival. I recall one particular shrimp appetizer that came with a syringe infused with a flavored liquid. That was a taste of the fun things to come. The ballroom was laid out with two large tables with guests facing each other. The servers worked with precision in bringing out the various courses and pouring the appropriately paired wine with each one. It was a definitely one of the finest dinners in recent memory. You can’t go wrong with a high quality champagne starter.
The first course was a herb-marinated Tuna Carpaccio “Nicoise” paired with the Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label. There is a reason why champagne plays such a prominent role in tantalizing the palate. The Brut Yellow Label exudes a fresh and playful confidence that resonates fruit notes and aromas. Chef Daniel’s team had created the food art with this tribute to Nicoise with quail eggs, cherry tomatoes, and an exquisite herb infused olive oil decorated with edible flowers. The colors were as mesmerizing as the flavors!
The next course, Alaskan King crab and cured salmon tian, mango, lime and beetroot, was brought out to join the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2010. This is one refreshing and very drinkable white wine that’s tinged with citrusy grapefruit. Intensely vibrant, this wine is well-bred with an elegance befitting its regal bearing. The salmon and king crab was displayed on cobalt blue plate and tightly stacked with both competing for dominance. Both settled for a draw when wowed guests couldn’t decide which they preferred and decided on them both together.
Next on the menu was a duck breast, braised red cabbage, shiitake mushroom, cherry and five spice sauce. No ordinary duck this! It was a glorious and magnificent rendering, with a crisp crunchy exterior beyond its nature with a succulent, tenderness that basked in five-spice bliss. This fine duck was married to a worthy Cape Mentelle Shiraz 2010, which stood up and embraced the duck with its peppered and aniseed spice notes. A brilliant and notable collaboration. This was followed by an intermezzo palate cleansing by the green apple and mint refresher.
The main course was brought out to murmurs of guest appreciation. It was grilled beef tenderloin with foie gras, sweet potato in a malbec reduction. The beef was substantial, cut handsomely revealing an enticing grain of perfectly cooked meat. The pairing was a Terrazas Reserva Malbec, 2009, which delivered a resounding chorus of plum and boysenberry in ripened fullness. Nothing subtle or shy about this guy who’s definitely aromatic. The foie gras’ richly flavored elegance was cut by the wine. The Sweet Potato was like a party on the palate-fresh processed and bright tasting, almost fruity. This was another superb creation with a sophisticated pairing.
The dessert course finalized the dinner. Goat cheese cake, lemon fresh raspberries, dark chocolate, paired with the Moet & Chandon Moet Imperial Brut. No ordinary Brut, this Moet seduces the palate with its elegant maturity and bright fruitiness. Crisp with notes of apple, pear and lemon, this noble champagne provided the perfect ending for an evening of unabashed uninhibited dining ecstasy where tributes were made and appreciation was showered, especially on the award-winning team lead by Chef Daniel! Bravo, Team Westin! Can’t wait until the next chef table!