Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A WP24 Lunch with Iron Chef Morimoto, LA Food and Wine Festival

The first LA Food and Wine Festival kind of snuck up on me. Suddenly there are a slew of celebrity chefs in town doing special lunches and dinners, and grand tastings, totaling to about 70 events!

Thanks to Lexus, I was lucky enough to attend a lunch at Wolfgang Puck's WP24 (normally not open for lunch) prepared by WP24's chef Sara Johannes and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

Iron Chef Morimoto
Chef Morimoto
I've always admired the view from WP24, but this was the first time I've seen it during the day. Lucky for us, it was a beautiful day!
The party started in the front bar area with some Scharffenberger Cellars "Brut Excellence", Mendocino (Anderson Valley). This sparkling wine was made with a base from 2007, using 2/3 Chardonnay and 1/3 Pinot Noir. I missed out on most of the passed hors d'oeuvres - they went fast. If I had known the bao was filled with foie gras instead of pork belly, I would've tried harder to procure some.

Oh well, I had a great meal ahead of me anyway.

We alternated courses made by the Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and WP24's chef Sara Johannes.
The first course was by Morimoto: Kin Medai Snapper with geoduck, papaya, peanuts and coconut foam.
This was paired with a glass of Grieve Sauvignon Blanc, Napa 2009
Kin Medai
I loved the Southeast Asian flavors that come out in this dish, especially from the peanuts and chili. I don't think I've had sashimi with southeast asian flavors before, but it certainly worked wonderfully.

The next dish is perhaps WP24's most acclaimed dish: Peking style Duck Breast, warm chanterelle salad, ten spiced confit figs, smoked duck cracklin
Paired with Recuerdo Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina 2010
Peking Duck
The ducks used are grown just for WP24, and they were all grown on water. Not only that, it then takes 3 days to process it to what is on our plates. Being Chinese I had always been somewhat skeptical of high end Chinese restaurants run by outsiders like WP24, but this dish was mind blowing. It's not a traditional Peking duck dish, of course, and that is probably for the better. All I cared about was that the skin was wonderfully fatty. The meat was equally amazing, gamey and tender with just enough fat.

The wine we were drinking was actually the premier release of this wine. We were drinking the very first vintage! Not only was it a delicious wine, it will retail only about $20. Not the name down!
Sara Johannes
WP24 Chef Sara Johannes
Next is another Morimoto dish: Washugyu Flat Iron with veal cheek tempura, compressed fuji apple, chili soy
Paired with Blackbird Vineyards "Arise", Napa Valley 2009
Bordeaux style, mostly Merlot. $50
The flat iron was all I ever wanted in a flat iron, yet it was the veal cheek tempura that stole the show. It was such a pleasant surprise biting into the light tempura batter to discover the oh-so-tender braised veal cheek, giving way to the meat juices.

As our final course, dessert from WP24: Caramel roasted apple, butterscotch Miso, sesame crisp, edamame ice cream, Ginger pastry cream, almond nougatine crumble
Caramel Apple
Fairly light desserts as a nice end to a wonderful lunch - the best part of this dish was the butterscotch miso. The edamame ice cream sounded strange but I surprisingly liked it. The edamame flavor is certainly there yet not too strong.
Paired with Ice House "Vidal", Niagara Peninsula 2006
This ice wine had a peach and buttery oak aroma. I personally love sweet wines and this is one of the best our there. Look at that beautiful golden color! I drank every last drop I could.

Morimoto came out and sang some traditional Japanese folk song, as he seems to like to do (he did this at Sashi also). I wondered if he was singing enka. Needless to say, it was one of the best Friday lunches ever. The portions were just right also, so we didn't pass out with a food coma. Can't all Fridays be like this?


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