Thursday, January 20, 2011

Magnum Pop-Up with Joseph Mahon and David Haskell

Oftentimes pop-up restaurants leave you to your own devices as far as booze-pairing goes. The team of chef Joseph Mahon and sommelier David Haskell (dubbed 'Magnum') promised to be different -a full tasting menu with pairings, and their own back-of-house and front-of-house team.
Joseph MahonIMG_5116

Chef Joseph Mahon was the latest Bastide "alum" and trained under Daniel Boulud and David Bouley in New York before moving back to California to work at David Myers' Sona. David Haskell had also worked in New York, including Le Cirque, before opening Bin 8945 in West Hollywood, which he then sold a couple years back. The pop-up was held at Biergarten in Koreatown. Koreatown?? Considering David Haskell's notorious love for Korean food, it wasn't that surprising. Mahon's menu turned out to be quite influenced by Asian cuisine (kimchi included). The pairing was also a nice mix of wine, beer, sake, and soju (hey, we're in Koreatown).

I was accompanied by Eating LA whose birthday, like mine, was coming up. It ended being a great pre-birthday dinner for both of us (read her post here).

Haskell visited each table for each course to explain the pairing that he had chosen.
The first course was Carrot Pudding  with orange granita and shaved peanuts.
Paired with: NV Jules et Michel Beauchamp: Champagne, France: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier

Haskell wanted to use the strawberry notes from the rosé combined with this course to invoke the taste of a creamsicle.

#2: Coconut Soup (mussels, tapioca, cilantro pistou, lime)
Wakatake "Onigoroshi", Junmai Daiginjo: Shizuoka, Japan
Coconut Soup with Mussels
Yes, it did say "tapioca" on the menu but nonetheless I was surprised by the texture it gave; the soup was a very pleasant surprise filled with great mussels. This dish along with a few others that night were nice examples of how seamlessly Chef Mahon can incorporate influences from Asian cuisine.
The richness of the coconut soup balanced out the slight bitterness of the sake.

#3: Wild Mushrooms (dashi, pork cheeks, rice paper, bearnaise mousse)
2006 Domaine Jo Pithon "Les Blanches Bergeres": Anjou, France: Chenin Blanc
Wild Mushroom Under Rice Paper

Wild Mushroom 2
This dish was pretty heavy, but so good. Fatty, tender pork cheeks, creamy bearnaise, chewy mushrooms. Luckily there's the acidity of the wine to cut it. The rice paper was too greasy and stuck to my teeth, though, the only downside of the dish.

#4: Fried Chicken (arugula, bacon, dried tomato, celery, radish, buttermilk dressing)
2007 G. Moulinier "Les Sigillaires": St. Chinian, France: Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre
Fried Chicken
As much as I'm baffled by the fried chicken hype lately, this was probably my favorite dish of the night. The chicken was so juicy, the skin so crispy, and the wine pairing was spot on. Haskell explained that here he was doing a classic pairing. As the wine had blueberry notes, it is as if he's adding blueberry sauce to chicken. On the other hand, the fried chicken adds spice to wine.

#5: Butterfish (pickled cabbage, cucumber, daikon, kimchi broth)
Brouwerij Bosteels "Tripel Karmeliet": Buggenhout, Belgium.
Butterfish with Kimchi Broth
While nicely spicy, the kimchi broth didn't overwhelm the delicate butterfish. The combination of the succulent, sweet butterfish and the acidic kimchi broth was a nice balance act by Mahon. Haskell used the richness of the beer to bring out the fish. At the same time it helped cut the acidity and the spice of the kimchi.

Duck Confit (lentils, swiss chard, black vinegar sauce)
2008 Pithon-Paille: Bourgueil, France: Cabernet Franc
Duck Confit
With this pairing, Haskell showcased how bad wines can still work well with food. The Pithon-Paille is very acidic but works nicely with gaminess of the duck which thickens the wine. At the same time the acidity cuts the richness of the duck confit (which, when you're 6 courses into your dinner, really helped - trust me, you wouldn't have wanted to stop eating the duck).

Ginger Bread Waffles (cranberries, clover honey, whipped creme fraiche)
Jinro "Chamisul Soju": Seoul, South Korea
Ginger Bread Waffle
Think waffle-shaped crispy churro, topped with cranberry compote, honey, and creme fraiche. I know Eating LA really loved it, despite her not being a big dessert person.
In Haskell's own words, soju tastes "like rubbing alcohol" so it has to be paired with something sweet. It did help cut the rich, sweet aftertaste of the cranberries which I had found to be a little too sweet (the clover honey, on the other hand, was perfect).

I've experienced David Haskell's pairings before and was never disappointed - this dinner was another great demonstration of his talents. I never did make it to Bastide to try Chef Joseph Mahon's food, though, and I am now regretting it. This expertly executed meal showcased his creativity and honed abilities in the kitchen. I can't wait to see what else he can do and will be looking forward to more dinners from the "Magnum" team.

And yes, there will be more. Look out for more Magnum pop-ups in March.



It was great to finally meet you at MAGNUM! I agree on the duck. I actually threw in the towel on that one. I was out of wine and the richness was weighing me down. Would I eat it again though? Hell yes!

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