Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Great Guest Chefs Liven Up the Athenaeum

As a Caltech grad student, I've been paying $8/month (reduced grad-student rate) to be a member of The Athenaeum, Caltech's private club. While I dined there somewhat frequently in my first year - for easter buffet, dinner, quick lunches, etc - I haven't gone in quite some time recently. I decided to go to the Guest Chefs Night featuring 5 chefs, 4 of whom are guest chefs from the LA/Pasadena area and beyond. I invited LA&OC Foodie and his friends to enjoy this night with me and keep me company!

The night started off with a reception in one of the halls at the Athenaeum, with raspberry champagnes and hors d'oeuvres such as this cajun shrimp in a sweet-and-sour cocktail sauce.

When the time came, we walked to our assigned tables which were all set up out in the patio - it was a nice night and the outdoor seating was a beautiful idea. As we walked to our tables though, immediately our eyes were drawn to ... the centerpiece!
The entire centerpiece was made from chocolate! Made by Bruno Marcy from C... Is for Chocolate.
We all had to restrain ourselves from devouring them throughout the night ...

Each table sat about ten people, so since there were only five of us, we were joined by other Athenaeum members and some of us seemed to have struck exciting conversations with the other party (which included a patent lawyer and his family).

The dinner started with Scallop with Chicken Skin Crust -- Chef Craig Strong, The Dining Room at the Langham
Wine pairing: Kabinett Riesling, Gunderloch, Jean-Baptiste, Rheinhessen 2007
The scallops were okay but the chicken skin crust was definitely interesting. It apparently was too strange for some people on our table, but I liked the novelty and fried chicken skin is always pretty yummy.

The next course is from chef Christopher Eme of Ortolan:
Lobster Spaghetti, herbed caviar and sea urchin sauce
Wine pairing: Chardonnay, Flowers, Sonoma 2006.
This was definitely the most interesting dish of the night and probably our favorite also. It must've been painfully delicate work to wrap the thin spaghetti strings around the soft lobster mousse. It definitely looked beautiful and was delightful to eat as well. The sea urchin sauce had a subtle but nice sea urchin flavor - it was there but definitely approachable by first time uni eaters.

Salad of Fall Beets with a Confit of Fennel, spiced walnut crusted chevre with vanilla bean vinaigrette.
Wine pairing: Rose, Les Domaniers de Puits Mouret, Cotes de Provence 2007
I loved the spiced walnut chevre here! Not only did it have a nice texture but also a nice flavor with a nutty touch due to the walnuts. The beets were pretty good. I'm not sure about the confit of fennel - I would've been happy with just the beets and the chevre.

Our main entree was from the executive chef of the Athenaeum, Kevin Isacsson:
Pumpkin Seed Crusted Suckling Veal Rack, wild mushroom marrow stuffing, truffled cognac sauce.
Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon, White Rock, Laureate, Napa 2004 - the only red wine of the night. The veal was slightly cold but definitely very tender. Slightly pink, definitely not overcooked, but again, do wish it was warmer. I loved the marrow stuffing, nice flavors from the mushrooms and nice texture combination with the marrow.

For dessert we had Honey and Light Chocolate Mousse by chef Bruno Marcy from Sara J. Pastries & Cakes and C ... Is for Chocolate.
Wine pairing: Black Muscat, Quady, Elysium, California 2006.
I really liked the mousse and especially the combination with honey. The wine was interesting to me as it was the first Black Muscat I've had. It was a little sweet of the mousse cake, but I like the Muscat by itself nonetheless.

After 5 glasses of wine, everyone was merry, to say the least. The entire meal, with wine pairing, was $110 - which I think is a pretty good deal.
Although I've eaten at the Ath several times, this is my first time attending a special event there and I thoroughly enjoyed it, from the ambiance, food, and of course the company!
I'm definitely looking out for more special events like this there and utilize my membership (finally).

The Athenaeum at Caltech
551 S. Hill Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626)395-8200
http://athenaeum.caltech.edu/

The Athenaeum on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

Loving Annie

Burumun,
It all looked so good in your pictures ! Do you know what torture that is when I've only had a protein shake for dinner tonight ?!?
lucky you, to dine so splendidly, sigh...

burumun

hehe sorry Annie. Mmm to make you feel better I haven't had dinner when I read your comment!! So protein shake is better ;)

TonyC

Fi,

how can i pencil myself for next month's???

burumun

TonyC: That won't be a problem! Just let me know which event/dinner you want to go to :)
You can look at their upcoming events here: http://athenaeum.caltech.edu

Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital

TOP