The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2015

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april 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  89 tracting Opposes L ike a good PB&J, it was a night of welcomed contrasts. Haute cuisine set in a diner. It was a trendy, social media-reliant "pop-up" dining experience in the historic Fountain Coffee Room of the Beverly Hills Hotel, whose wavy 1959 counter was the stage for fresh local foods presented art- fully and informatively by Executive Chef Kaleo Adams and his crew. I was particularly excited about promised pairings with the inaugural 2012 vintage of Domaine Anderson, the new still wine contingent of esteemed sparkling producer Roederer Estate. We started with what Chef Kaleo jokingly dubbed the "McGriddle." With its smoked salmon and caviar and the residual sugar in the Roederer Estate Brut Rosé perfectly offsetting the smokiness, this would have been drive-thru fare only for a Rolls Royce. The amuse-bouche, two thin slices of soft, crispy- edged Japanese A5 beef, finished with minced young ginger and shiso atop a petite bao bun, was presented alongside a tiny cup of savory matsutake tea. It was immensely rich, yet somehow delicate: unexpected as a Renaissance painting in a Mid- Century Modern home. Executive Pastry Chef Michael Aguilar snuck a perfect crackly popover onto our bread plates. The Domaine Anderson 2012 Anderson Valley Chardonnay served as its buttery accompaniment. Next came the Nantucket Bay scallops with winter citrus, tomatillo and sea beans with a pouring of the subtler Domaine Anderson 2012 Walraven Vineyard Chardonnay. Lemony notes synced with the winter citrus in the scallops, and its lengthy finish caught up to the spicy tomatillo, lingering long after I'd cleaned my plate. You heard me: I cleaned my plate. If scallops are the sea's candy, Chef Kaleo is Captain Willy Wonka. The main course—grilled Snake River Farm pork loin, Swiss chard ravioli and crones—was paired with a duo of Domaine Anderson's 2012 Pinot Noirs. The Anderson Valley Pinot was richer, bursting with red fruits, better suited to the slight char on the pork loin. Although, without this dish, the Dach Vineyard outperformed both, offering a precise balance of raspberries and silky tea-like tannin. Dessert was Chef Kaleo's take on a classic carrot cake using locally-grown Nantes carrots. Nantes is a sweeter—and in my opinion cuter—variety of carrot. (Don't tell regular carrots I said that.) The cake was topped with compressed pineapple and paired with Ramos Pinto, Quinta de Ervamoira Ten Year Tawny Port; it was impossible to miss the Chef's careful cal- culation in choosing this specific dessert to follow the pork. There was an expert throughline in the dinner that celebrated the contrasting but complementary, like the pink and green of the Beverly Hills Hotel. OVER THE TABLE A "POP-UP" DINING EXPERIENCE AT FOUNTAIN COFFEE ROOM OF THE BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL story and photo by Jessie Birschbach The Beverly Hills Hotel's Executive Chef Kaleo Adams calls his smoked salmon and caviar appetizer a "McGriddle." When paired with the Roderer Estate Brut Rosé, it is drive-through fare fit only for a Rolls Royce.

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